Quite a while ago, I came across an amusing article at the Guardian, that I've been saving for a rainy day. First an extract:
I'm quite hardcore on this. I think every psychic and medium in this country belongs in prison. Even the ones demented enough to believe in what they're doing. In fact, especially them. Give them windowless cells and make them crap in buckets. They can spend the rest of their days sewing mailbags in the dark. The audiences that psychics prey on are equally infuriating, albeit less deserving of contempt. They're just disappointing, like a friend who's let you down. Often, they're simply grieving and desperate.
I mean, if you want to believe in psychics, fine. You're a dangerous idiot and I wouldn't trust you to operate a spoon without putting an eye out ... but fine. Your choice. Delude yourself silly. Your world is probably more fun than the real one. There's no death, just an afterlife filled with magic spirits who like to communicate with eerie, ugly, otherwise-unemployable bottom-of-the-barrel "showmen" back on Earth. But don't accuse anyone with the temerity to question your sad supernatural fantasies of having a "closed mind" or being "blind to possibilities". A closed mind asks no questions, unthinkingly accepting that which it wants to believe. The blindness is all yours.
And so I totally agree with the author of this piece. In a recent James Randi newsletter, Randi reported that American "psychic" Linda Marks, was sentenced to four years in a federal prison for conning people out of 2 million dollars. In the UK we have legislation which could be used to similar effect, called the Fraudulent Mediums Act (1951) but from what I can find, very few people have actually been prosecuted and convicted under the act.
It seems to me that science and atheism are under fire within the UK today. Creationism is on the rise and religious schools are indoctrinating a new generation with supernatural beliefs. We let people leave school ready to be swindled by all manner of hocus pocus mystical nonsense. I personally know a number of people who earn significant wages practising mediumship, reiki and homeopathy, where people hand over their money for a service which has no basis in reality. Yes, if people feel better after sitting around for hours with a man hovering their hands over their body or getting 'messages' from dead relatives, on one level people can do what they want. But as a scientist I can see that we are failing to make people understand that god doesn't exist, that we don't survive death and believing so is ignorant.
So returning to the question of what to do with bad psychics, I wonder why science does not lobby to use the Fraudulent Mediums Act more. This is a matter of public concern; if people were being infected with a virus which made them give up all their money to strangers, I'm sure medical science would investigate the outbreak. The paranormal is virus of the mind, which should be eradicated from the human mind-set. Simple as that. The alternative is that generations continue to believe in religion, ghosts and ghoulies, rather than deal with reality and the very real problems humanity has to solve. Instead of revering fraudulent mediums, psychics and the rest of them, perhaps we should put the onus of proof back onto them. Consumer affairs prosecute people selling fake goods. Well there are people selling fake ideas, for profit, to the ignorant. Let's take charge!Go Top