Jun 19 2008
“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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