Jun 19 2008

Psychic Alleges Sexual Abuse

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Comments: 60

“It’s a very dangerous thing to believe in magic.” – James Randi

Since I am currently at TAM6 I thought it would be appropriate to open with a quote from Mr. Randi. It is especially appropriate to this story of Colleen Leduc and her 11 year old autistic child. Unfortunately for Colleen and her family she lives in a world where people still believe in magic. They are the victim of a chain of gullbility – people who should have known better victimizing her out of pure stupidity.

Colleen’s daughter is in the public school system. A teacher’s assistant there utilizes the “services” of a psychic. This psychic told this teacher’s assistant that someone whose name begins with the letter “V”(the daughter’s name is Victoria” is being sexually abused by a man 23-26 years old. That was the beginning of the misadventure.


Any reasonable assessment of the evidence, in my opinion, clearly shows that alleged psychics are frauds – yes, all of them. Some may be self-deluded, while others (by the techniques they use) must be con artists. But they are all frauds – they pretend to do something they cannot do. Spreading false beliefs about reality is harmful in and of itself. But this harm is greatly magnified by great mischief ensues when alleged psychics make serious allegations based upon their intuitions. This elevates fraud to negligence, and perhaps even depraved indifference.

The teacher’s assistant, having heard this allegation from the psychic, did not do what she should have done – ignore it, considering the source. But of course, if she is visiting a psychic she has already declared that she lacks the sense to do this. She reported the allegation (based upon the equivalent of spectral evidence) to the school board.

The school board, being professionals who must deal with these kinds of issues all the time – utterly failed to exhibit even a modicum of common sense. What they should have done was immediately fire the teacher’s assistant and then drop the whole thing. If she was otherwise a good teacher and leniency was appropriate, they should have reprimanded the TA, and then ordered them not to spread unsubstantiated allegations about a student under threat of being fired if she does.

What the school board did do is stunning. On this spectral evidence they informed the Children’s Aid Society of the alleged abuse. They then called in Colleen and told her that there has been an allegation of sexual abuse against her daughter – an experience Colleen characterized as a “living nightmare.” I am sure any parent immediately relates to this. Further – because they informed CAS they were obliged to investigate.

The CAS did what they had to do -  investigate the allegations. They found no evidence to support them and quickly closed the case, calling it “ridiculous.”

The case was doubly easy to close because, by coincidence, Colleen had previously equipped her daughter with a GPS an audio recorder – to prevent her from getting lost. So there was a complete record showing that she had not been abused by anyone over that time period.

The next time someone says that psychics, even if they are not genuine, are harmless – think of this story. Believing in magic is never harmless.

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60 responses so far

60 Responses to “Psychic Alleges Sexual Abuse”

  1. Niobeon 19 Jun 2008 at 11:52 am

    And even if the psychic does score a hit (on something as vile as sexual abuse, which makes them even more predatory in my eye), they try to milk it for it’s worth.

    http://badpsychics.com/thefraudfiles/modules/news/article.php?storyid=679

    There’s something decidedly sickening about a person thumping his own chest while screaming “this little girl was RAPED and I called it.”

  2. saburaion 19 Jun 2008 at 12:04 pm

    “Colleen had previously equipped her daughter with a GPS [and] an audio recorder – to prevent her from getting lost.”

    Am I the only person who thinks this sounds creepy? Not just because a parent felt it necessary to produce an audio and position log of her child’s life, but because you can
    (apparently) have your child “equipped” with electronics, much like you could equip a car or a laptop or some other possession you wouldn’t want to misplace.

    *Shudder*

  3. Mechphistoon 19 Jun 2008 at 12:14 pm

    @saburai
    As I understand the case, it seems the mother has had previous problems with this school literally losing her daughter for long periods of time, thus the LoJacking.
    I say it’s for their benefit she’s finally removed her from that school…shame it has to be under such circumstances and at terrible cost to the family. :(

  4. DevilsAdvocateon 19 Jun 2008 at 1:12 pm

    From the link “this story”:

    “The mother was long dissatisfied with the treatment her daughter had received at the school, after they had allegedly lost her on several occasions.

    As a result, the already cash strapped mom had spent a considerable sum of money to not only have her child equipped with a GPS unit, but one that provided audio records of everything that was going on around her.”

    What strikes me as ‘creepy’ is that the mother found it necessary to provide her autistic child with said equipment.

  5. DevilsAdvocateon 19 Jun 2008 at 1:17 pm

    Addendum: Electronic locators are common. You can have a chip placed under a pet’s skin, or presumably under a human’s skin for that matter. Tracking devices are already common on automobiles and other expensive mechanical equipment – anything vulnerable to theft.

  6. azinykon 19 Jun 2008 at 3:56 pm

    I don’t think that the chips implanted in pets or children are “tracking devices” or “locators” as DevilsAdvocate suggests. As far as I know, they’re only RFID tags; labels that can be read like tattoos or bar codes, so that lost pets can be identified. If a pet comes into a shelter, they’re scanned for an RFID tag, which can tell the workers the owner’s address or phone number (possibly with the aid of an internet database) so they can call the owner.

    There are real tracking devices, like LoJack, wildlife tracking devices, or parolee GPS monitors. It sounds like the autistic child has a device more like one of these.

  7. Roy Nileson 19 Jun 2008 at 4:45 pm

    Companies such as the following sell GPS locator devices to serve purposes similar to the one referenced in this post.

    http://www.wherify.com/wherifone/kids.html?page=kids

    And yes, all psychics are frauds in one sense or the other.

  8. jonathanon 19 Jun 2008 at 4:58 pm

    As a social worker and policy wonk who has had experience in child walfare, I can tell you that despite the charges being “dismissed,” it is likely that there will be files with either the state or local department of child welfare indicating that this parent has been investigated for child abuse. In many states, cities, or local government agencies (as in the city where I live) these records are permanent and do not go away, even if the accusations are determined to be “unfounded.” Unfortunately, that a camplaint was even made is often enough for many people to assume guilt, and even unfounded reports have a way of coming back to haunt people.

    Many places have a system for screening reports just to avoid opening a record on a completely absurd case such as this one. Unfortunately, and as is often the case, the system utterly failed. This unfounded report will be “stuck” to this poor mother for a longtime to come. And people say that psychics and pseudoscience are harmless!

  9. Oracon 19 Jun 2008 at 5:58 pm

    The scary thing was this part from one of the two stories I read. After the story discussed how Mrs. Leduc was informed that CAS had been called on the basis of a story from a psychic, the article went on:

    The school officials then gave Ms. Leduc a list of behaviours that Victoria was exhibiting.

    “You must remember that Victoria has severe autism and is entering puberty so she is exhibiting behaviours that are very common with children of this age but, being autistic and not having been taught otherwise, she will exhibit these behaviours in public,” Ms. Leduc said.

    The list included putting her hands down her pants, spitting, seeking to sit on cold objects and gyrating against staff members.

    “The principal looks at me and says, ‘We’ve called CAS.’ Then I got sick to my stomach.

    “I challenged them and asked if the other children in the class with autism exhibited these behaviours. They said, ‘Oh yes, all the time.’ But they were not reported to the CAS because they didn’t have the psychic’s tip.”

    Truly, the stupid burns most brightly.

  10. Oracon 19 Jun 2008 at 6:00 pm

    Yikes, for some reason the link didn’t show up, most likely because I probably munged the HTML. The link to the story was here.

    [shameless self-promotion mode on]

    And my take on the story is here.

    [/shameless self-promotion mode on]

  11. mindmeon 19 Jun 2008 at 10:01 pm

    I found it particularly odious this story was broke by Toronto’s CityTV and the reporter dared to wonder, rhetorically, if the word of a psychic is to be trusted in cases of sexual abuse. Oddly, CityTV will bend over backwards to put psychics on its morning TV shows. If you’re telling your audience that psychics can be trusted to tell you about your dead mother or career, why should people suddenly question a psychic in this case?

  12. badrabbion 20 Jun 2008 at 12:43 am

    Drs. who commit malpractice are sued. Why not psychics?

  13. Clintsc9on 20 Jun 2008 at 1:40 am

    Unlike Saburai and DevilsAdvocate, I don’t think having the child “equipped” with such electronics is a bad thing. This is not an ordinary child, but an autistic one.
    We don’t know the level of autism in this case, but autistic people can be hard to get through to, and wandering off without warning is a major problem with these kids.

  14. Michelle Bon 20 Jun 2008 at 7:16 am

    @badrabbi (like the name!), And drug companies whose drugs cause harm are sued and sometimes even are prosecuted and convicted, why not the Church of Christ who has caused deaths of children by telling their followers to shun effective medical treatment? Oh, could it just be because they are religious they can practice crime with impunity? We are all subject to laws but not wooers and religious believers. Racists and sexists are subject to laws now, but that achievement is sullied because we insist on letting crime/abuse occur unabated because of the faith/intuition defense/deference.

  15. saburaion 20 Jun 2008 at 10:55 am

    —————————
    Clintsc9

    Unlike Saburai and DevilsAdvocate, I don’t think having the child “equipped” with such electronics is a bad thing. This is not an ordinary child, but an autistic one.
    —————————

    Clint,

    I didn’t mean to say I thought this equipping was _bad_. I’m not the parent, and I’m sure she had her reasons. She obviously loves her daughter and I’m more than willing to give her the benefit of the doubt on that decision.

    But it is certainly _creepy_. After all, if one person can be “equipped” with location and audio tracking hardware, anyone else can be too. And not everyone who’d look to do such equipping would do so with the love of a parent. (I don’t think a parent monitoring his/her child’s computer is necessarily bad either, but the idea of someone monitoring my computer–as I’m an adult–is very creepy indeed.)

    For libertarian readers, imagine such technology in George W. Bush’s hands. For liberal readers, imagine it in the hands of a stalker.

    Creepy, any way you look at it.

    Just thought I’d clarify.

    Cheers,
    D

  16. Fifion 20 Jun 2008 at 11:33 am

    saburai – As you point out, it’s how the technology is used that is the issue not the technology itself. It’s not like stalkers and governments trying to keep tabs on people don’t have all kinds of other resources available or weren’t able to do so before the advent of this technology – or were any less creepy before the advent of this technology.

  17. huntressristichon 20 Jun 2008 at 11:36 am

    I am not at all surprised to hear about this psychic’s word being considered valid enough to have it be pursued further by the Teacher Aide. Don’t you realize that psychics are routinely used in police investigations and even by our own and other governments to gain useful information about our enemies?

    That Teacher Aide was no more gullible than the rest of society. The psychic can not really be faulted, because she only provided very limited information that really could have applied to numerous individuals. Unfortunately the TA honed in on the person she thought of it being with no other evidence. The TA is the one at fault here. The real problem this case illustrates is that schools give people with very limited education and experience positions which allow their opinions to be given much more weight than they should receive. I could go on and on about the failings of the US education system. It is replete with croneism and tenured incompetents. It allows enormous power to grossly inept individuals. And that doesn’t even consider all the perverts and sadists that are drawn to the profession, and thrive there. I would liken schools to mental institutions. The best are privately run, the worst are state run.

    I do find it interesting that most comments were about the falsity of the psychic’s impressions. It reminds me of the viewing of films by people who had never had exposure to film, primate tribesmen. They only saw the chicken walking around, they didn’t recognize anything else in the film. Your opinion of psychics is all you see. The correctness of the psychic’s impression has never been proven or unproven. The psychic is not the one that latched onto that particular child as the victim. I don’t rule out anything in the realm of possibility of valid psychic experiences. We don’t yet understand everything about sensory experiences. Some people lack one or more of the known senses. People who loss a “known” sense are a lot more open to the possiblity that some people may have senses that are not so common.

  18. DevilsAdvocateon 20 Jun 2008 at 12:14 pm

    hunt: “Don’t you realize that psychics are routinely used in police investigations and even by our own and other governments to gain useful information about our enemies?”

    You are woefully misinformed. This is, well, bullshit.

    ~*~

    Clint, I didn’t say nor do I feel tracking/locator devices are bad, nor did I think it creepy. The only thing I found creepy was that the mother felt it necessary given the school’s failures (per mom’s report).

  19. Fifion 20 Jun 2008 at 12:28 pm

    mindme – It would be different producers with different mandates producing the AM chat/general interest TV shows and the news (though certainly media owners can and do influence what is published/broadcast). The same is true for print media, something that would never fly with a news editor can quite easily be folded into the lifestyle section (this will vary from publication to publication, depending on their standards and audience). There are a couple of things you can do if you object to what you see on TV or in print – turn it off and write a letter to the broadcaster saying why you won’t be watching, write a letter to the producers telling them you love their show except for (insert issue) and how much you’d love to see them cover (insert preference), write a letter to the editor.

  20. Roy Nileson 20 Jun 2008 at 1:32 pm

    huntressristich, you must be right “that psychics are routinely used in police investigations and even by our own and other governments to gain useful information about our enemies.”

    I was in the investigations business for a very long time and never realized that was the case until I learned all about it on the Nancy Grace show. (I had heard it before on the Montel Williams show, but Nancy has more gravitas.)

  21. [...] Steven Novella has an excellent commentary on this story: _Psychic Alleges Sexual Abuse_: Any reasonable assessment of the evidence, in my opinion, clearly shows that alleged psychics are [...]

  22. DevilsAdvocateon 20 Jun 2008 at 4:17 pm

    Few psychics are more despicable than the ‘psychic detective’ type, in the way they abuse grieving families just to promote their own business. Particularly odious is Sylvia Browne telling the parents of a missing child that the child was dead, dumped in a field (vaguely described, of course). I cannot imagine the horror and pain suffered by these parents in the interim -when their daughter was eventually found alive and well. Absolutely despicable.

    Only slightly less despicable are people like above poster huntress who aid and abet scam artist ‘psychics’ by making excuses for them, in this case, by blaming the TA for matching the clue “child named V” to the student named Victoria, leaving the psychic blameless of course.

    For crissakes, Huntress, read the entry on psychic detectives linked here, plus the additional linked material you’ll find at the end of it:

    http://www.skepdic.com/psychdet.html

    [$5 says another excuse will be made, that the linked material doesn't address the 'real' psychics, only the fake ones... *sigh*]

  23. mindmeon 20 Jun 2008 at 4:21 pm

    Fifi: I’m not so certain CityTV has such a hard and fast dividing line between news and entertainment. In any regard, when a TV’s breakfast news portion is telling people psychics are real and then the supper news portion is suggesting it’s foolish to believe, I have to stand by my original charge of inconsistency.

  24. mat alfordon 20 Jun 2008 at 6:27 pm

    @huntressristich,

    You say:

    “The psychic can not really be faulted, because she only provided very limited information that really could have applied to numerous individuals.”

    Hmmm… looks like you get it, after all.

  25. DevilsAdvocateon 20 Jun 2008 at 7:07 pm

    Sure… when promoting psychics you point out how they help law enforcement and the military get the bad guys, so valuable is their info, but when a psychic is caught thieving or abusing ‘clients’ you point out how their info is very limited and vague and therefore cannot be cited to indict their efficacy or blame the psychic in any way. A psychic can’t lose with blind believers like that.

  26. b_calderon 20 Jun 2008 at 8:24 pm

    Steve and others:

    Public school employees are obliged by virtue of case law to take any allegation of abuse seriously. If child abuse reasonably could have happened and it was not reported, the professional repercussions could be very serious.

    The problem everyone seems to be having is that the reporting person bore a label nobody here likes. It is irrelevant. Relevant facts could be whether the reporting individual had actual contact with the child sufficient to communicate with her.

    There are other questions. How could a small child-mounted GPS device work inside a school building? Does profoundly autistic mean the child is not able to recount facts to her mother and others? What is odd about a school office not knowing where a given child is at a given time? (Schools give students to a teacher for a specified period of each day. The teacher is responsible for accounting for the child’s whereabouts. That’s why it’s called “in loco parentis.”)

    People are frequently accused of child abuse by well-meaning citizens, by interfering in-laws or former spouses who seek advantage in court. Add self-labeled psychics to the already long list. Unfortunately people who seek to gain advantage over others often aim for social fulcrums where authority seeks to protect its vulnerable members.

  27. mat alfordon 21 Jun 2008 at 1:31 am

    @b_calder

    Yeah, you have to take it seriously…. especially when it’s happening to somebody beginning “V”…

    Sorry for the sarcasm, but this whole routine that psychics go through, which seems to be a cross between charades and “I-spy” is just so ridiculous. In this sort of case, evidence from a psychic = no evidence.

  28. mindmeon 21 Jun 2008 at 8:04 am

    ||Public school employees are obliged by virtue of case law to take any allegation of abuse seriously. If child abuse reasonably could have happened and it was not reported, the professional repercussions could be very serious.||

    I think we all agree public school employees have such an obligation, however in Ontario at least I believe the policy cites a “reasonable source”. If a man wearing a tin foil hat came to a school teacher and said bigfoot told him one of the kids whose name begins with “R” is being abused, that might not be considered a reasonable source. Clearly, a psychic that has never had contact with the children should never be considered a reasonable source.

  29. b_calderon 21 Jun 2008 at 8:23 am

    So, yeah you have to take allegations seriously when they come from complete moonbats. May I say particularly if they come from moonbats because you have a difficult time engagnin in a give and take conversation with a reality-challenged person.

    Our legal system admits evidence from anyone who is competent. This includes psychics, Christian Scientists, Holy Rollers, Satanists, global warming deniers, holocaust deniers, and anyone who isn’t incompetent.

    The idea is that you have to be incompetent either under law or by specific judicial proceeding to be excluded from the legal process. Being incompetent under law means being under the age of competence in particular. That’s why we don’t admit testimony from children.

    However the bar to competence is VERY low. Being able to manage you own finances, decide whether to go to the doctor or not, care for yourself, that sort of thing.

  30. b_calderon 21 Jun 2008 at 8:44 am

    mindme, this is not true in Broward County. We are probably dealing with administrative rules on the district level here. I don’t *remember* anything dealing with the source of the information in my training class.

    The thing is that the training is motivated on the organizational level by fear of legal costs to the district itself and an oppositional dislike of protecting the employees on the other. The district wants to limit their liability to acts of those in administrative posts and treat teachers like independent contractors. They aren’t of course, but that doesn’t keep administrators from wanting to divorce the acts of a teacher from the corporate body.

    Finally if a judge admits the testimony of a psychic in court, how would you feel telling the judge that you took it upon yourself to dismiss allegations of abuse from another adult just because she wore a tin foil hat?

  31. DevilsAdvocateon 21 Jun 2008 at 12:27 pm

    I’ve been working under ‘duty-to-report’ laws for over two decades. To suggest I am legally bound to report a claim of child abuse at my professional workplace made by someone from my personal life who has never been to my workplace nor had any contact with the victim or victimizer and claims to have gained the information by ‘psychic powers’ is patently absurd.

  32. b_calderon 21 Jun 2008 at 1:04 pm

    I think the problem would be determining with reasonable confidence that the accuser did not in fact have contact with the child or knowledge of the child. The accuser, might be difficult to talk to about it.

    The problem with psychics is that they have a need for acceptance and want to tell you whatever will make you happy within the boundaries of their delusion. If the psychic actually does have personal knowledge of something, be it lost keys or child abuse, her delusion causes her to claim a false source of knowledge. Concealing the source of knowledge while emphasizing its truth is what is causing the problem.

    It probably isn’t safe to assume a psychic is operating in a vacuum. Just because a person has no regard for truth it does not mean that she is lying in a given circumstance.

  33. Roy Nileson 21 Jun 2008 at 2:07 pm

    b_calder, the point was the psychic didn’t witness anything and could not identify the imagined or imaginary victim. So what was the psychic possibly not lying about that would have been a credible basis for taking the action that resulted? Can you answer that specific question?

  34. huntressristichon 21 Jun 2008 at 6:34 pm

    I think you do not understand that people who work as professional psychics for the general public always post disclaimers that their “readings” are purely for entertainment purposes. Most intelligent clients realise that. This protects the psychic from litigation.

    Furthermore, a fortune teller doesn’t necessarily even lay claim to psychic abilities. Fortune Tellers are trained to use systems such as Astrology, Tarot Cards, Palmistry ect. to discern personal attributes, events, abilities ect of the individual getting the reading. The article doesn’t describe the method of discernment used by the “psychic”.

    Professional Fortune Tellers have an ethical commitment to not disclose information they discern which would cause useless psychic upset to their clients. Instead of say telling a person they see death in their immediate future, a Fortune Teller who is following the ethical code of Fortune Tellers, will tell such a person things that are uplifting, comforting and positive, instead of the truth. That involves lying, but it is to protect the client from the useless painful truth.

    Did the school know that she got this “tip” from a vague reference by a psychic she had a personal reading from? If so it really is the school’s fault. If I were the parent I would sue that school district for damages. Like I say Professional Psychics that do readings for just average people in the community all have that entertainment disclaimer.

    I think the Psychic was foolish to say something that inflammatory to an obviously histeronic person; but most Psychics don’t choose the people who come to them based upon their emotional stability or intelligence. As I say, the school that employed her should have done that.

  35. Roy Nileson 21 Jun 2008 at 6:59 pm

    huntress, I’ll repeat what I said to you elsewhere that these psychics are basically frauds and thieves. To say that they “always post disclaimers that their readings are purely for entertainment purposes” and that “most intelligent clients realise that” is just not true.
    Some have been forced to post such warnings by the media services that they need to use to offer their bogus products.
    This protects the service from litigation, not the psychic – the psychics operate in ways that make them virtually impossible to successfully sue to begin with. And the “intelligence” of any clients that use them is not of the level that lets any such disclaimers deter them. They’re not paying the huge sums that show up on their bills just to be entertained.

    And again to repeat comments made earlier, there is no ethical code among professional psychics, unless it’s an unenforceable lip-service variety. Sylvia Browne, for one, did not recognize such a code.
    Also, your contention that psychics have helped in police work, for examples, is plain baloney. I’ve been in that business most of my life and the only “evidence” of any effective assistance comes from the psychics themselves, and always after the fact.
    To say, as you just did more than once, that “psychics are as likely or unlikely to be honest as any other group of people” is to be pulling words out of you know where, as just making the claim of having such ability will be either a lie or based on self-delusion.
    Scientists are as interested in documenting any such ability as you might be, but after many such attempts, any credible evidence of such abilities has not been forthcoming. Those who claim otherwise are invariably discovered to be either dupes or liars.
    You can equivocate by referring to “mystics” as an alternative, but the same considerations apply.
    I have in fact worked closely with “professional” psychics, including gypsies and the like, to learn their methods, and without the use of fraud and deception, none would have any more success in discerning someone’s past or predicting their future than any other perceptive or intuitive human.
    They are essentially thieves and any semblance of honor in or among them is notably absent.

  36. huntressristichon 21 Jun 2008 at 7:02 pm

    By the way my “defense” of the psychic does not provide any indication of whether or not I believe in his or her abilities. I also see no connection in this regard as to whether the psychic in question is an “honest” person or not.

    Unless the psychic was demanding large sums of money to in some way protect the client in question or help that client gain love or in some other way improve the client’s life, that psychic was in no way misleading or defrauding the client.

    That is assuming the client paid the standard fee for the reading, and was understood to not be under no obligation, implied or otherwise, to return to that psychic under threat of duress or injury of any kind.

  37. huntressristichon 21 Jun 2008 at 7:23 pm

    By the way, you do not seem to realize that there is a difference between “psychics” and “fortune tellers”. If you don’t believe in say Astrology, as most people do not, you won’t believe what astrologers say. That doesn’t mean that all Astrologors are deluded or defrauding their clients anymore than stores are defrauding those that believe in Santa Claus by capitalizing on Christmas and by not informing children that there is no Santa, and that they are being deceived.

    An atheist would go further than that, and say Christmas and all other religious holidays are the inventions of deluded people which create moneymaking opportunities for many industries. Since most people in this society are not atheists, these frauds continue. I think all such things are equal in degree of delusion and culpability.

    As I said there is no mention as to how the “psychic” obtained her information, and in fact no evidence that a psychic even told the Teacher’s Aide in question anything. Or is there a tape of their session? If so, that could be considered evidence, and perhaps the Teacher’s Aide took that evidence to the school which then felt this was a sufficient reason to pursue the matter further.

    As far as the use of psychics by government agencies and the police, you are correct, I learned of that on TV. I have no first hand knowledge of such involvement. By the way that doesn’t mean I think they should be used by officals in law enforcement or government, it just means that is what I have been led to believe by the news media. It is similar to my knowledge of the war in Iraq. I have no first hand knowledge. I have never been there. Also by hearing about it on TV doesn’t mean I think it is a good idea. But that argument applies to most people, not just me.

  38. Roy Nileson 21 Jun 2008 at 8:03 pm

    What standard fee? What lack of duress? Not misleading? Not defrauding? The psychic in question was more likely to be the standard variety than the benign giver of love that you so want to believe in.
    Here’s what the professional psychic is really like, and necessarily so to remain competitive:
    The ones contacted by phone milk the client for as much as possible by keeping them on the line with a demonstration of their remarkable insight. These people don’t use Tarot cards and Astrology as you disingenuously pretend – they subscribe to the same proprietary data bases that PIs and attorneys do, and pull up the client’s whole history on their computer screens based on names and phone numbers given.
    In fact the psychics have arranged with these services for a product especially detailed and fashioned to their needs. They violate the client’s privacy at every turn, morally and legally. They are a big contributor to the identity theft business, reselling your social security and other such personal information to all comers.
    Clients are treated purely as suckers and are induced by the type of magically obtained information given to return again for more that the psychic has assured them will soon materialize. The duress involved is covert and insidious. The clients are made to feel responsible for impending and dire consequences to their near and dear if they don’t return for more advice and instruction.

    To assume this particular psychic is any different and should be given a pass until she proves otherwise is ridiculous, especially as the type of “fear” reading is typical of the nefarious tactics most commonly used.
    And calling them fortune tellers is nothing but making a distinction without a difference.

  39. Roy Nileson 21 Jun 2008 at 8:11 pm

    And if you are going to reply that it’s only the phone-in psychics that are bad, the fact is that your friendly neighborhood psychic is not only using these same data bases but is running your car license through a similar service as you wait. And they love the one on one contact as they can really hook you as a customer for life (or until the money runs out) in that type of setting.

  40. huntressristichon 21 Jun 2008 at 10:42 pm

    The usual fee around where I live for a psychic reading is between $10-$50 for a 30minute to 60 minute consult. People who go to Psychic Fairs and things like that know these things. I know nothing about the call-in Psychic like Psychic Hotline. I would never use such a service.

    There are any number of kind and pleasant “Psychic Advisers” around where I live. Like I say, if you go to a Psychic Fair you can choose the type of reading you want. Most “psychics” at these local fairs are really what I would call fortune tellers as they use the traditional Tarot readings or palm reading rather than getting psychic information from some mystical otherworldly source. Of course the more pervasive are the Astrologers, which are also more universally accepted.

    The ones in my state are not wondering Gypsies or Voodoo cult types at all. My husband went to Psychics for readings for many years with no bad effect or undue pressure to come to them more often or give them more than the posted and advertised fee that every other person pays for their advice. I’m not that into such stuff, I only know about these paying type psychics from going with him to Psychic Fairs and what not for the last few years.

    I consider attending a Psychic Fair no different than going to a casino, out to a movie, or any other rather mundane form of entertainment. Face it, there are people who can not stop gambling, who stalk movie stars and on and on. It really isn’t the venue that is at fault but rather the person who is addicted to that form of entertainment.

    You by the way have totally ignored the other delusions that are considered very acceptable by this society. Stores make out like bandits with holiday shopping due to Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and countless other religious holiday inventions.

    Think about that before judging people who provide a fun, inexpensive and entertaining service to adults, and yes most adults realize that is all it is. If they don’t they are just very gullable and could be duped by any number of “professionals” and probably are.

    Think of ministers on TV, endless charities on TV with celebrities begging for money, constant phone and mail solicitations. They usually target people with the least to give with their endless sob stories. These groups are much more pervasive and they tend to target a more vulnerable audience.

    Anyway, I feel strange defending such a group as psychics. I guess I’m just not so sure you aren’t generalizing about a profession that is really more scrutinzed and policed than most, meanwhile numerous other groups take money from mostly elderly shut ins with impunity while enjoying the perks of tax exempt status.

    The real issue is how much credence was given to a report from a Teacher Aide which was based upon such hearsay at best evidence. She isn’t even the real issue, the real issue is the school and the way they jumped on this flimsy evidence and ran with it. It makes you think that perhaps they really already disliked the family that was targeted, and were more than happy to believe the worst about them. That is the real issue here, and that is why I would sue the school.

  41. Roy Nileson 22 Jun 2008 at 12:28 am

    Psychic fairs presumably don’t have people telling the gullible that there is a child molester somewhere in their immediate vicinity or future. And the topic as well as the issue was about taking evidence from a psychic seriously and the damages that can often result.

    And why should I be drawn into commenting about Easter Bunnies and Christmas when the connection you tried to make between these known fantasy items and the predatory aspects of the psychic world are just not analogous.

    And who knew you were talking about amateurs at psychic fairs when you bring up the good work psychics do hunting down criminals and the like.

    Of course there are other fraudulent activities going on out there. But in fact, psychics are managing to fly under the radar (certainly under yours), and it is NOT a fun and inexpensive service for consenting adults. Would that it were. And your contention that it is “really more scrutinzed and policed than most” is just ridiculous, when you clearly know nothing about that hidden world.

    The most interesting thing about the psychic business is that it’s almost a perfect criminal enterprise, where there are no effective penalties for fraud or for the grievous harm that a significant percentage of clients fall victim to.

  42. [...] Posts — buttle @ 21:56 So said James Randi. He wasn’t kidding. Here’s the nightmare story of what happened to one mom because the school board believed a psychic. A [...]

  43. weingon 22 Jun 2008 at 12:15 pm

    What? You mean Santa and the Easter Bunny aren’t real? No freaking way!

    Regarding child molestation, in my state at least, if there is any allegation made, it has to be reported to the authorities and they decide whether it’s credible or not. In fact, if a TA did not report it immediately to the authorities, and it was later determined that he/she had been aware of an allegation, he/she would be arrested.

  44. superdaveon 22 Jun 2008 at 12:26 pm

    huntressristich, the bottom line is that no matter what the motivations, there is no such thing as a credible psychic and any information based on a vague reading shoudl be disregarded. Though I suppose in light of what Roy said, if a psychic really did posses sophisticated research tools it is possible they could uncover some actually useful information pertaining to a crime. If this is the case however, they are doing a disservice to law enforcement agencies by not being transparent in their methods.

  45. huntressristichon 22 Jun 2008 at 12:53 pm

    I know that there is a reporting law. I had to take that class in college. Also, there should be penalites for knowingly giving false reports As I said we only have the teacher aide’s word that this “psychic” said that to her.

    The school had an obligation to investigate based upon the teacher’s aide’s allegation, that is true. More information is really needed to determine the correctness of any action taken by the school.

    I find it impossible to believe that a run of the mill “psychic”, which is all most of us would ever have access to for readings, would say something like that to this woman. If she did have information the correct channel for the psychic or anyone else would be to go to the local police.

    That said, according to the report I read, the psychic was not talking to the woman about her workplace, but rather about her personal life and associates. Regardless of anyone’s opinion of the honestly or mental stability of people who claim to have ESP, the psychic in question would not gain anything by saying that to this woman.

    Psychics usually want their regular customers to wait at least 6 months before returning for another reading. Perhaps this teacher’s aide was angry with the psychic for cutting her off.

    Another possibility could be that this teacher’s aide had suspicions about such behavior with this child, and just wanted an excuse to have the school investigate that would free her from fault if her suspicions proved to be wrong. She may then have came up with this idea that she was prompted to investigate by this psychic’s comment. My point is that we really don’t know all the facts and can not judge this case fairly.

    The prejudical view of psychics that is held by most commentors on this board should rule them out for jury duty in this case. That should tell you something.

    As far as the Easter Bunny and Santa, I used them as examples of the uses of delusional (magical) thinking to provide more kindness, happiness, and good will in the world, all the while also lining the pockets of businesses. Children are the victims of those money making enterprises by the way. Most adults aren’t gullible enough to continue to believe, but they still think it is harmless fun for them and their children. The magic of Christmas is a common phrase. I find this no different than going to Psychics for readings.

    I never said that I thought psychics should be used by the police or governments. I think it most likely that forensic psychics are not the same fortune tellers you see at the local Psychic Fairs. But I have no personal experience with forensic psychics.

  46. huntressristichon 22 Jun 2008 at 1:19 pm

    As far as the sophisticated research tools used by professional psychics comment, that may be true, I don’t know. However that is true of many industries which do research on their customer base in order to customize their product lines etc.

    Of course, if an extremely wealthy person were a client of a particular psychic there might be more reason to learn more about that client and that could in fact be what Roy is referring to. Unfortunately for me and my husband we aren’t the wealthy patrons such sophisticated research would yield much increased spending from. That may be why we haven’t been targeted by the more predatory types of psychics he seems to know so much about. So in a strange way we are lucky in that regard. However, I am sure that many professions try to get as much out of deep pockets as they can, that would not be an exclusive feature of psychic entertainers.

    By the way, true psychics would most likely not like to be lumped in with fortune tellers who claim no psychic abilities but rather are trained in fortune telling systems like tarot cards, numerology, astrology and such. Anyone could study these systems and learn to be fortune tellers.

    Real psychics claim to gain their insights from ESP or communing with spirits. Which could be construed to be religious experiences. Religious freedom is one of the cornerstones of democracy. That is why I use the term Mystic to describe a person claiming such abilities. This due to the widespread misunderstanding of the difference between fortune tellers and visionary psychics.

  47. weingon 22 Jun 2008 at 1:20 pm

    What about the tooth fairy? She’s gotta be real, doesn’t she? I don’t get it. You don’t believe in Santa, the Easter Bunny and maybe the tooth fairy, but you believe psychics are real? OK, so you burst my bubble. Let me return the favor. Psychics are phonies and are defrauding you. Scientific testing, published and unpublished, has shown no evidence of psychic ability, Santa, Easter Bunny or tooth fairy. I would never go see a psychic, unless she was really hot looking.

  48. daedalus2uon 22 Jun 2008 at 1:33 pm

    I would argue that the vagueness of the child abuse allegation is an attempt to get return business. A child with the letter “V” in their name could cover a lot of children. How to get more “specific” information? Only by going back and having another reading.

    If the teacher’s aid decided to not go back to that psychic, obviously the teacher’s aid doesn’t really care about children being abused. If she cared, she would hire the psychic to look into it more carefully. Apparently this child named Victoria wasn’t the “real” victim. That means the “real” victim is still out there and still being abused. All the more reason for the teacher’s aid to go back to the psychic and have more readings.

  49. Roy Nileson 22 Jun 2008 at 3:38 pm

    daedalus2u: Gee, why didn’t any of us think of that? Here’s this psychic almost begging to reveal more details of an ongoing crime and nobody wants to at least pay for her time as the cost of having used her professional skills to pull the facts of the matter out of the ether (or from somewhere else that the sun doesn’t shine).

    The law enforcement authorities of course cannot approach her directly for such information as, according to such experts on psychics as huntressristich, that could amount to a violation of her religious freedom to accept divine revelations in confidence.

    Plus, as huntress has learned, the psychic can’t be forced to reveal any more data for at least another six months. And the psychics union has attorneys on retainer who will argue that until the courts agree to accept psychic revelations as prima facie factual, they have no legal obligation to interfere with the rights of criminals to remain innocent until proven guilty.

  50. huntressristichon 22 Jun 2008 at 4:25 pm

    I never said whether or not I personally believe that all psychics or divination methods are “real” as opposed to “fake”. That really isn’t what the argument is about.

    All of you forget that the evidence provided is hearsay evidence by a person who regularly goes to psychics for personal guidance.

    Roy could be right. Maybe this particular “psychic “saw this tease as a way to get the teacher’s aide to come back for more information. If he or she did they were really stupid, but there is no rule that psychics have to be smart.

    If no other good comes from this event, at least psychics may learn that some things need to be reported directly to the police, not your paying customers. Then it will eliminate the possibility of questioning of motivation on the part of the reporter.

    Yes, Roy some psychics or mystics are deeply religious people that really believe they are communing with God or the spirit world. Many, many never take money for their information or advice and live lives much less flamboyant then any of us.

  51. Roy Nileson 22 Jun 2008 at 4:57 pm

    There’s no rule hat psychics have to be smart, but there is a rule that clients should preferably be stupid.

    And Huntress, I just can’t let this one pass without comment:
    “Of course, if an extremely wealthy person were a client of a particular psychic there might be more reason to learn more about that client and that could in fact be what Roy is referring to.”

    The psychics subscribe to these data base services for a monthly fee. They don’t get direct access because they don’t qualify as having permissible purposes under fair credit laws. These services are bootlegged through psychic organizations or from someone such as their friendly neighborhood attorney.

    Every client that comes in – and during one day they may have 10 or more – has their name checked before they can see the psychic in private. It may cost the psychic less than $10.00 for a voluminous report. if the purpose was legitimate, the client would be told this was being done and charged accordingly. The clients are never told about this, however, and never are asked for permission to do this research legally.
    Few to none of these clients are wealthy. The data is used to gull them into believing the psychic really does have magical powers, and the psychic’s reputation is enhanced accordingly.
    If huntress and her husband are regular customers of any such psychic, they will of course have no idea this has been done in their cases as well.
    Huntress’ belief that psychics “really believe” that they are in communication with the spirit world would depend on those psychics actually getting reliable information from such spirits, and so far none have been discovered or at least have come forward, that can credibly demonstrate such talents.
    But as we can see, people will go to incredible lengths to rationalize their need to believe in these creatures, and perhaps because the good Lord has provided them as the fodder needed for such creatures to multiply and prosper.

  52. DevilsAdvocateon 22 Jun 2008 at 6:17 pm

    It’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed a good comedy, so I’d like to thank Huntress for the whirling dervish, all over the road performance – psychics help the police and military, don’t we know that? – psychics are only for entertainment purposes, what’s the harm? – psychics haven’t hurt my husband and I, so far as we know, what’s the harm? … and so on and so on, back and forth, all over the road.

    Repeat: Psychics = Hogwash

    http://www.skepdic.com/psychdet.html

    http://www.randi.org/joom/challenge-info.html

  53. huntressristichon 23 Jun 2008 at 12:19 pm

    That’s good to know Roy. I didn’t know that, but I’m not surprised. It really doesn’t worry me though as there is nothing to be gleaned from such a service that would lead me to believe or disbelieve what any psychic may tell me.

    Also, that really isn’t the point of the article though. Unless you think that the psychic, knowing the Teacher’s Aide worked at a school, and having found out the names of students in her class, purposely gave this tip about possible abuse to the Teacher’s Aide so that the Teacher’s Aide would have that student’s family investigated for abuse. Like the Psychic had a grudge against that person’s family and used her position as a psychic advisor to cause trouble for the family.

    That is an interesting idea and probably worth following up on. If I were you I’d contact the police department involved in investigating this case and inform them of this possibility.

    As I said before, I have actually personally only gone to a psychic a few times and have never gained any earth shattering information from them. However, if I was being told frightening or unusual things, I would stop going to that psychic and perhaps, depending upon the information, would report that psychic to the authorities. That is what an intelligent, sensible adult would do.

  54. Roy Nileson 23 Jun 2008 at 2:12 pm

    DevilsAdvocate, who enjoys a good comedy, caused me to open a psychic channel to Gilbert and Sullivan, who forwarded this little ditty through the ether:

    I am the very model of a sensible adult
    I’ve information vegetable, animal, and occult
    I know the kings of England, and I quote the fights historical
    From Marathon to Waterloo, in order categorical

    I’m very well acquainted, too, with matters mathematical
    I understand equations, both the simple and quadratical
    About binomial theorem I’m teeming with a lot o’ news
    With many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse

    I’m very good at integral and differential calculus
    I know the scientific names of beings animalculous
    In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and occult
    I am the very model of a sensible adult

  55. DevilsAdvocateon 23 Jun 2008 at 2:15 pm

    I’m confused Huntress.

    You’ve taken us to task a bit in your first post for not knowing or believing that psychic detectives help police and governments all over the world. This implies you believe psychic detectives are genuine (all evidences to the contrary).

    In your last post you say you’ve received no earth shattering info in your few visits to psychics, but if you did you’d abandon that psychic and, depending on the nature of the info, might even report the psychic to the police. This implies you’ve no reason to believe psychics are geniune, and may even be disingenuous.

    How would you know the earth-shattering variety of info a psychic might give you – the type over which you’d report the psychic to the police – wasn’t true and something you ought to personally act upon?

    Your reports and claims drift all over the place, post to post, till one can no longer tell what you’re saying about psychics….

  56. DevilsAdvocateon 23 Jun 2008 at 5:24 pm

    Roy, your delightful paeon to G & S hadn’t yet posted when I last posted. When will we see this production on the stage, and will you be singing the lead?

    Funny stuff. (Though I’m more Monty Python than Gilbert & Sullivan).

  57. Roy Nileson 23 Jun 2008 at 6:41 pm

    Well I’m told that the huntress does bear a striking resemblance to Terry Gilliam, if that helps.

    As to our next production, we are right now in the Paducah tryouts and my character (see reference below) hasn’t been that well received.

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/e/eb/Grossmith_as_Bunthorne.jpg

  58. DevilsAdvocateon 25 Jun 2008 at 2:29 pm

    Well, I’ll be damned. Roy is Oscar Wilde’s little brother!

  59. Roy Nileson 25 Jun 2008 at 5:47 pm

    But why the hint of raillery and calumny? Is there after all so little importance in being earnest?

  60. DevilsAdvocateon 25 Jun 2008 at 9:03 pm

    Lemmesee… Woman Of No Importance, no… Dorian Gray, um, er.. Ballad Of Reading Gaol….

    OK, I got nuthin’.

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