October 27, 2011
1. Skeptical zombies ignored by James Van Praagh – In possibly the best PR stunt the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) has ever come up with, their president, DJ Grothe led an army of zombies on a mission to get self-proclaimed “psychic” James Van Praagh to finally take the JREF’s Million Dollar Psychic Challenge. Not surprisingly, Praagh’s goons kept the zombies from meeting with him but of course that doesn’t matter as this story is getting a lot of press.
2. Church’s bogus AIDS cure causes 3 deaths – Though this is an isolated incident, this is precisely the kind of tragedy that can be expected in a culture that demands unquestioned belief and condemns skepticism.
3. 60 Minutes pisses off anti-vaxxers – As part of their Steve Jobs-centered episode this week, 60 Minutes ran a segment on the remarkable benefits that iPads and other tablet devices have demonstrated for people with autism. And somehow by simply highlighting an important, practical tool in helping autistic people communicate, they’ve pissed off Age of Autism. And bravo to Age of Autism’s commenters for declaring war on Temple Grandin of all people. That takes serious balls. Maybe their next target will be blind nuns, adorable puppies, and AIDS-infected orphans. I’m just shocked Age of Autism didn’t rant about the fact that Pfizer is a major sponsor of the show.
4. ‘Sybil’ admits she never really had multiple personalities – The most famous alleged case of multiple personality syndrome, or what’s now known as Dissociative Identity Disorder was based on lies and manipulations.
5. Atheists doing volunteer work – This is something I want to see more of in atheist groups. This is one of the ways we’ll change people’s negative stereotypes about atheists.
August 22, 2011
1. Bionic leg gives amputee natural gait – Once again, science achieves where gods have failed, creating a practical prosthetic leg that closely simulates the function of a biological one. Now unfortunately, the article was unclear whether the leg comes with a Six Million Dollar Man/Bionic Woman sound effect option.
2. A pro-science GOP candidate? – Republican presidential candidate John Huntsman has come out in support of both evolution and climate change. It began with a Twitter post where they tweeted: ”To be clear, I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.” He then went on ABC’s Sunday morning show This Week and came out even stronger in support of science. And in doing so, he’s proven to be the only GOP candidate who seems to have graduated from elementary school and has immediately moved up to the top of my list of who I’d like to see running in the general election against Obama…at least out of the options that are currently on the table…which admittedly doesn’t say much.
I'm pretty sure this is the right Rhett S. Daniels
3. Science blogger silenced by quack’s lawsuit – Fortunately, U.S. libel cases are notoriously hard to prove and Rhett Daniels doesn’t seem to have anything even resembling a good case. But at least for the time being, René Najera has been successfully silenced by this intellectual coward’s bullying tactic.
4. Can science engineer a human with bulletproof skin? –
By mixing the genomes of spiders and humans, researchers say they can create genetically altered human skin that could withstand a bullet fired from a .22-caliber long rifle.
They just better make sure this spider-man is taught that with great power comes great responsibility. This story sounds pretty far-fetched but it still makes for an interesting read.
5. JREF targets famous ‘psychics’ following Nightline episode – Last week’s episode of Nightline looked at the world of alleged psychics. It did a pretty decent job of representing the skeptical side, featuring guys like Banachek and James Randi himself voicing their criticisms and mimicking standard mentalist tricks. And now the James Randi Educational Foundation is following up the piece by issuing personal invites for several of the famous psychics featured in the show such as James Van Praagh to apply for their Million Dollar Challenge. Of course, one doesn’t have to be psychic to predict they’ll either ignore the challenge or refuse to take it with a silly excuse.
6. Psychic family caught in fraud case:
April 30, 2010
Two of the world’s leading grief rapists fail miserably in their games of 20 questions:
Now I’ve only done one cold reading in my life, in the comments section of this very blog:
Don’t waste time for Rosemary. I’ll do it. Your mother says she’s in a wonderful place. She loves you and she knows how much you love her. She wants me to acknowledge a piece of jewelry you wear and/or old photograph you keep framed by your bed that reminds you of her. Oh, and I’m getting a what looks like either the letter J or the letter M that is somehow associated with your mother.
And that one was free on account that, like Rosemary, I have no actual psychic powers.
And I was given very high marks:
I appreciate the free reading. I realize you make no claims as does Sylvia Browne so it means a lot. Ever since I lost her in 1976 I have always wanted a reading, but never trusted a pychic enough to pay for one.
My mother’s name was Jane, so you got the “J” right. There were two “M’s” in her maiden name, and her sister’s name was Marian, in fact. My Aunt Marian was also like a mother to me.
I thought you got the rest wrong at first glance but had to think about it.
I do have a framed picture by my bed near it, kind of next to it, and have all of her old jewelry but don’t think I wear any of it regularly. The jewelry is also next to my bed.
If you get any other feelings I would welcome more.
I am extremely psychic, have predicted that someone was going to die and when, and they did. Very disturbing and haunting. Not much of a gift but more of a curse.
I don’t channel from dead people but I can read live people pretty well. I can see things other people don’t. I can take an initial dislike to someone and see a vision where something isn’t right. I have had dreams come true and predicted at least one disaster through a dream. Dreamt people died and actually heard a news broadcast before George Wallace was shot that he was shot then came home and heard the same broadcast, although it was real that time.
Thanks. I look more to hearing from you.
Praise from Caesar.
So I have a 100% accuracy rate, so clearly I’m a better psychic than both John Edward and James Van Praagh. It’s statistical fact. Suck it, bitches!
May 22, 2009
Once again, one of my letters to the editor has been published in my local newspaper. And as I have in the past, I’ll post both my original version of the letter followed by the edited published version.
So first, here’s the original:
In “Psychic pushes case for life after death” (Better Living, May 14), I was amazed by David J. Spatz’s credulity regarding the claims of so-called psychic medium James Van Praagh. There’s nothing remarkable or even mysterious about this talking to the dead act that such self-proclaimed psychics like Van Praagh and John Edward perform .Legendary magician Harry Houdini regularly debunked these scams almost a century ago and today anyone can learn to do them themselves by reading books like “Flim Flam” by James Randi, former professional psychic M. Lamar Keene’s tell-all “The Psychic Mafia,” the internet, or any decent book on mentalism.
Van Praagh is an actor doing simple magic tricks and it’s unfortunate that he fraudulently leads people to believe he has true supernatural abilities. It’s also criminal, considering he actually charges people lots of money to see him communicate with the dead when he’s really just mostly doing a kind of targeted guessing game known as “cold reading” that allows the reader to acquire information about an individual from the individual themselves and then feeding it back to them, while giving the illusion of having conjured up personal information the reader couldn’t have known.
I would love to see The Record create a kind of consumer reports column that properly investigates and cracks down on these types of conmen bilking the public under the guise of the supernatural. These days many admitted non-psychics have proven capable of performing Van Praagh’s entire repertoire just as convincingly as Van Praagh himself, which suggests that if Van Praagh really is the genuine article, then he’s doing it the hard way.
And now here’s the slightly weaker published version:
Regarding “Psychic pushes case for life after death” (Better Living, Page F-6, May 14):
I was amazed by David J. Spatz’s credulity regarding the claims of so-called psychic medium James Van Praagh. There’s nothing remarkable or even mysterious about this talking to the dead act that such self-proclaimed psychics like Van Praagh and John Edward perform. Legendary magician Harry Houdini regularly debunked these scams almost a century ago. And today anyone can learn to do them themselves by reading books like “Flim Flam” by James Randi, former professional psychic M. Lamar Keene’s tell-all “The Psychic Mafia,” or any decent book on mentalism.
Van Praagh is an actor doing simple magic tricks, and it’s unfortunate that he leads people to believe he has true supernatural abilities. It’s also questionable behavior, considering he actually charges people lots of money to see him communicate with the dead when he’s really just mostly doing a kind of targeted guessing game known as “cold reading.” It is an act that allows the reader to acquire information about individuals from the individual themselves and then feed it back to them, while giving the illusion of having conjured up personal information the reader couldn’t have known.
I would love to see The Record create a kind of consumer reports column that properly investigates and cracks down on these types of schemers bilking the public under the guise of the supernatural. These days many admitted non-psychics have proven capable of performing Van Praagh’s entire repertoire just as convincingly as Van Praagh himself, which suggests that if Van Praagh really is the genuine article, then he’s doing it the hard way.
November 18, 2008
It’s the same old remote viewing trick that magicians and psychic charlatans like James Van Praagh have been using for years. . .
. . .or at least it would have been that trick if it’d been done right. Unfortunately, this “psychic” couldn’t even do that right and yet still managed to convince this dumbass.
Here’s what the “psychic” drew:
Followed by the the “scientist’s” drawing:
Yeah, with morons like this being so easily duped by a failed magic trick, is it really so hard to understand how this myth could spread without having any real validity?