SWIFT June 20, 2008 PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

Telepathic Pets, Well Said, That Video Analysis, Follow-Up, Improving the Law, More Waldorf, and In Closing…

RS

The English, in particular, are slavishly devoted to their pets. In fact, in the UK there are few laws against quacks operating on humans, but probe a dog without a veterinary license, and the full wrath of British justice is brought against you before you have time to ask Fido if he has parental conflicts. Thus, there is a widespread belief in pet/human communication by woo-woo channels, as you’ll see by this inquiry, asked on a woo-woo site:

Does your dog seem to know when you’re coming home? Do other people in your house tell you they knew you were on the way home based on how your dog was acting? If so, your dog might be a good candidate for our experiment, and may earn a $1,000 prize offered to successfully participants. For more click here...

We're looking for dogs and owners willing to participate in a research project looking at the special bond that we share with our animals.

Table of Contents
  1. Telepathic Pets

  2. Well Said

  3. That Video Analysis

  4. Follow-Up

  5. Improving the Law

  6. More Waldorf

  7. In Closing…



TELEPATHIC PETS

RS

The English, in particular, are slavishly devoted to their pets. In fact, in the UK there are few laws against quacks operating on humans, but probe a dog without a veterinary license, and the full wrath of British justice is brought against you before you have time to ask Fido if he has parental conflicts. Thus, there is a widespread belief in pet/human communication by woo-woo channels, as you’ll see by this inquiry, asked on a woo-woo site:

Does your dog seem to know when you’re coming home? Do other people in your house tell you they knew you were on the way home based on how your dog was acting? If so, your dog might be a good candidate for our experiment, and may earn a $1,000 prize offered to successfully participants. For more click here...

We're looking for dogs and owners willing to participate in a research project looking at the special bond that we share with our animals.

You may be wondering if you've heard of this somewhere before. Dr. Rupert Sheldrake, a biologist, and former Fellow of Cambridge University investigated this phenomena [sic] in the mid-90s. He even wrote a book titled, Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home. While many dog owners, trainers and other experts have witnessed this behavior some scientists remain unconvinced. This research project aims to resolve this question. We invite you to help.

“Some scientists remain unconvinced”? Come on! Any scientist worth the paper his/her credentials are printed on, knows this is nonsense!

I’m amused at the title of Sheldrake’s book. We seldom see such a comprehensive coverage of the subject on a book-jacket, and I’m encouraged to call my next book, Credulous And Naïve Scientists Who Get Carried Beyond Their Expertise - It was previously planned as, A Magician in the Laboratory.

The shortcomings of this loosely-stated protocol as described, are obvious, but the JREF may soon be involved in pursuing this bizarre notion, if we can get parties agreed on a protocol, time, place, and opportunity for playing the magical-doggie game. When I was last in touch with Rupert Sheldrake, he informed me that the owners of a particularly gifted dog over which he’d rhapsodized were now forbidding me access to the pooch because of my negative attitude. Sigh. And they could have divvied up a million bucks, but ethics are ethics…

And, me with a negative attitude? Never!




WELL SAID

Sometimes others state a thought so well that I can’t possibly improve on it. When Bob Park, for example, comes up with an apt expression, I often simply borrow and quote it – providing appropriate attribution, of course. From “The Reality-Based Community” – www.samefacts.com/ – by Mark Kleiman:

Casting out demons

Exorcism is one of those ideas that embarrasses many sophisticated Christians; it's not surprising that Andrew Sullivan should find Bobby Jindal's account "creepy." On the one hand, most of them don't really believe in demons, or in demonic possession, other than as a metaphor. On the other hand, there it is, right in the Gospels and in Acts, along with faith-healing; it's hard to dismiss demon-cleansing as some sort of later accretion.

Of course it's wrong to make fun of other people's beliefs. But also of course there's nothing funnier than a highly dignified person or institution trying to shy away from an uncomfortable fact. So when Sullivan (a Catholic himself, remember) pointed to this account of the official Roman teaching on exorcism, I couldn't help laughing out loud when I came to the following sentence in the instructions for a parish priest called on to act as an exorcist:

He should avoid in the course of the rite everything that savours of superstition.

Well, yes. And the chimney-sweep should avoid in the course of his labors anything that savors of getting dirty.




THAT VIDEO ANALYSIS

Reader Craig Anderson came up with the best analysis of the Keith Charles “reading” we put up recently – at tinyurl.com/3kuy9l – and he used quite a good technique, testing whether Charles’ guesses would apply to himself – even though he wasn’t even there, and was therefore supplying no feedback to Charles. He wrote:

The Keith Charles demonstration was fascinating, not because he used many of the same tired old tricks that all so-called "speakers to the dead" use, but because of the way that I watched his little charade. When he addressed the young lady in the audience with the red hair, I tried to imagine what I would be thinking if he addressed ME with those same questions. (and if I were a true believer)

He's getting someone named "John," or "Michael."

Well, there are no Michaels in my immediate family, but... oh yes, my (deceased) grandfather was named "John." However, he WAS one of 16 children (Good Catholics!) and we had a falling out with that side of the family, so I haven't met many of his brothers and sisters. Perhaps one of them was named Michael.

You buried a pet recently.

Not recently, although we lost our cat not long after grandfather John died. That must be what he means.

A birthday or anniversary around the month of August.

Grandpapa John was married in August

You hurt your left foot recently.

Yes, when I was ripping out the hedges in front of our house, I got a nasty scratch on my calf.

[Grandpa John] had a recurring heart condition.

Nope, it was esophogeal cancer, but that's close, I guess. Chest region, you see. He was in and out of the hospital for a few years.

Some kind of ring that belonged to you or to your Mum.

This is where – if I were a believer – he'd have had me. My grandpa John had a ring that he wore every day on his pinky, a gorgeous gold ring with a stone of tanzanite. My grandmother kept it after he died, and then gave it to me when I graduated high school a few years later. So, although it's mine, she did "own" it for a few years before it was given to me. It's kept in my nightstand on the left side of my bed – the right side as you walk in the door, though – I wore it to my wedding.

You've just redecorated.

We just moved into the house two years ago, so we've been redecorating constantly. We do keep some pictures at the foot of the stairs, but they're not of him. For a photography class project, I took some photos of old trains at a nearby train yard. Oh of course, my grandpa John was a railway signalman for 50 years! He loved trains! That's why he must be referencing these photos!

There was a split in the family.

Yes there was! This was the huge dispute that split us off from his other 15 siblings! It was before I was born, so I honestly don't know what it was all about. That must be why he keeps talking about Michael. It must have been a close brother! I'll have to ask my grandmother about all of this! When I'm safely away from the theater that Charles was performing in, of course…

So apparently Keith Charles is not only an amazing psychic, but he is in fact SO AMAZING that he can read my thoughts over time and space and give a reading that fits me very nearly perfectly! I wonder what would have happened if everyone in the audience had interpreted his statements as being directly intended for them! He would have gotten thousands of correct hits from just one reading!

And yes, I noticed how Keith Charles kept asking things like "Do you understand?", "Are you sure?" and of course: "Well this is ‘his time.’ it's something recent to him" – in the afterlife, where time is conveniently "different" from our time. He's actually pretty good. He didn't use: "I'm getting the letter J or "the number 35," and his manner was very polite and inoffensive. I'd imagine many subjects not wanting to contradict him simply because it looked as if it would hurt his feelings.

You say “no,” he's saying “yes.” I'm just telling you what he's telling me!

Charles manages to be timid and pushy at the same time. It is a refreshing change from aggressive types like Peter Popoff and Uri Geller. No less reprehensible, disgusting, and deserving of a swift kick in a delicate area of course, but not QUITE as much of a jerk.

Remember that even if a reading seems to apply more readily to another member of the audience, that person tends to not attempt to relate to it, since it’s been otherwise directed. However, I’ve often seen someone interrupt and insist that they’re the one to whom the guesses apply – and the reader is apt to then switch over and direct the reading to them…!

Thank you, Craig, and thank you to the number of persons who sent in comments on this Keith Charles “cold reading.” In a week or so I’ll give you another such text for analysis…




FOLLOW-UP

Re the item back at tinyurl.com/5oge8h, we have a follow-up. In the Kisii district of Western Kenya, there have been cases of mobs attacking and killing suspected witches in the past. We reported that eight elderly women and three men suspected of witchcraft, had been dragged out of their houses by an enraged mob and burned to death, and there has now been a reaction to this atrocity. Police report that they have arrested 86 villagers in connection with the murders.

During the police investigations, an exercise notebook had been found in the local primary school containing minutes of an alleged secret meeting of witches, listing not only the names of the participants, but also the names of those whom they planned to bewitch next. A police spokesman said that those arrested may face charges for murder, and in some cases for violent robbery, since some were found in possession of property and livestock of some of their victims. Those charged with murder could face the death sentence, and the court case is expected to start soon.




IMPROVING THE LAW

From reader Avital Pilpel, re the recent suggestion that psychics should use disclaimers:

I agree the "for entertainment purposes only" disclaimer should be put on church collection boxes as well as on psychics' web sites, but why stop there?

"For entertainment purposes only" surely should also be prominently displayed on psychoanalysts' visiting cards; on talk shows featuring the myriads of "experts" on politics, sociology, economics, etc.; on the "opinion and comments" section in most newspapers; on most self-help books. As G. K. Chesterton noted, how can you take seriously all those books about success, when most of them are written by people who cannot even succeed in writing books? The list goes on and on...




MORE WALDORF

From reader Kitty Mervine – who is attending TAM6 as I write this:

We have a fancy Waldorf school in Keene NH. Every year they have a "craft fair" to help raise money. You would NOT believe the woo-woo that gets in. Crystals abound! I don't know much about the classrooms, but I do know there are NO plastic toys. It's all "natural" wood. Very big on the fairy play also.

One family that I know that sent their children to the Waldorf school (though 8th grade!) had a "Nature Corner" in their house. This was a little miniature scene you had to build and change with the seasons. It would include things like pine cones and little elfs made out of natural materials. This was not off in the childrens room, but in a place of honor in the living room where all could admire. I liked to call it their "Shrine" because that's all I could think of whenever I saw it. See renaissancemama.blogspot.com/2008/04/whitsum-nature-corner.html. If you scroll down at this site you will see a photograph of this womans "nature corner". They usually look about that good. Just what I want in my living room!

In apology, I must say that the reader Nienhuys – who supplied the item last week on the Steiner system, was misquoted in that text. I’m too busy with TAM6 right now, but I’ll get to the matter next week…




IN CLOSING….

As I mentioned above, I’m presently in Las Vegas and very busy with TAM6. This SWIFT is a bit short, but we’ll make up for that anon… Having a great time. Wish you were here, if you’re not….!


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