Some Good Suggestions - Badly Expressed PDF Print E-mail
Written by James Randi   

From a site to which I cannot send you, comes this set of questions, comments, and suggestions, from an angry individual who has been found in SWIFT before… I cannot send you to the site, because he uses obscenities and downright juvenile language to express his strong feelings, so I have – admittedly – censored what follows so that the important content is more easily accepted. I’m annoyed by having to search for grammatical errors, tasteless language, and spelling mistakes, but I do so when I feel it’s called for. No, I’m no “bluenose,” and I don’t recognize “obscenity” as anything but poor taste, but since we have no control over who reads this openly-accessible site, I’ve chosen to spare readers as much annoyance and offense as I can.

Here is the item, minimally trimmed and rinsed…

The State of New York Endorses Woo-Woo Peddling!

What do "psychics," paranormal "investigators," tarot card readers, crystal peddlers, and aura "detectors" have in common? They're all selling their bullshit wares on the Empire State Plaza concourse right now, Wednesday, October 29, 2008!

Yes, that's right, true believers! You can come on down to one of most powerful state governments in the United States and, on its own property, browse through self-published pulp, buy a "healing" crystal, or have your fortune "read"! All are guaranteed to part you from your money!

Does New York State honestly believe that the disclaimer "For Entertainment Purposes Only" is adequate to protect the citizens of the state? These are scams, nothing more and nothing less!

Having had some interaction with the Consumer Protection Board of New York State and the Office of General Services [OGS] in my fight to get the woo-woo magnet hucksters kicked off the concourse, I am familiar with their thinking on this stuff. Their stand is that they are, essentially, running the concourse as a sort-of-a mall and, as such, they don't feel that they should restrict vendors from providing services the general public may be interested in – whether it's bullshit or legitimate really isn't for them to decide. After all, the vendors are bidding and paying to be there. The fundamental purpose of ANY government is to protect its citizens. Stand up and call this stuff what it really is – a rip off!

The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government. – Thomas Jefferson

So, how does the OGS run this shindig? The "vendors" pay to set up their booths and sell their "goods." All fine and dandy – as long as you’re selling real things (oh, let’s say fruits and vegetables at the farmers market or gifts for your mom and dad). The consumer buys something and money leaves their wallet and a portion of it goes to the State in the form of the fees which the vendor pays OGS. What if the vendor is a "psychic"? Some sucker pays that charlatan their hard-earned money and a portion of that money goes to the State. Legitimate, isn't it? Wait a minute! The State is making money from people being ripped off by fraud and misdirection (look up cold reading)! There is something fundamentally wrong with this!

Come on, fellow critical thinkers! Let your voice be heard! Please take the opportunity to write New York's Office of General Services, Consumer Protection Board, Office of Attorney General, and Governor. Heck, while your sending out that email, why don't you add the Albany Times Union, Troy Record, Schenectady Daily Gazette, Metroland, WAMC, and News Channel 9 to your list?

I recommend doing an email "carpet bomb" but you will still have to go to the Governor, OAG, and Daily Gazette websites. If anyone has the direct email address for those entities, please pass them along.

Now, if you really want to find out where this originated, the detective work is not much of a challenge, but I hope that I won’t be scolded for toning down the text while preserving its importance…