August 28, 2015

Late-breaking news in the NYT: Psychics are phony.



That's the hot news on the front page. The article is here.

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

And yet, year after year, we continue to hear, "He can't win. He's unelectable."

It's be awesome if Drudge did one of his picture things with that picture and then pollsters side by side.

The Cracker Emcee said...

Well, there's not much else going on...

lgv said...

I'm shocked, I tell you, shocked!!!

Next thing you know we will find out Oral Roberts and Benny Hinn never cured anyone.

Peter said...

It's obviously discriminatory for Obamacare refuses to pay for sigh-kicks.

Or perhaps it does, who could possibly know?

Big Mike said...

In other front page news, water may possibly be wet!

Bay Area Guy said...

Really hard-hittin', investigative journalism, there. Thanks so much, NYTimes. How could we live without you?

traditionalguy said...

It is sort of comforting to know that counterfeiters admit that they do not deal in genuine money, ergo:there is no such thing as real money.

Michael K said...

It's OK. Hard hitting journalist Michael; Hiltzik has an article (actually a PP video helpfully provided to him ) on how the notorious videos were edited ! Horrors !

Of course, no comments are allowed.

David Begley said...

Now they tell us!

It will be real NEWS when the NYT tells its acolytes that global warming is a complete SCAM.
Predictions of future events based upon flawed models, dubious evidence and fudged data.

PoNyman said...

I haven't read the article, but quotes from people in front of a parole board trying to get out of prison seems pretty lame for an article. I think drugs should be legal, but if I were in front of a parole board for selling drugs you can bet I'd tell them that selling drugs is wrong.

gspencer said...

"Psychics are phony"

But, but, Miss Cleo told me that the stars were telling her that she knew the future.

And I believed. I really believed.

Ambrose said...

"and the cops finally busted Madam Marie for telling fortunes better than they do..."

Quaestor said...

Must either be a slow news day, or something wicked is brewing in Clintonworld.

mezzrow said...

Who knew?

sinz52 said...

It's that kind of hard-hitting investigative reporting that has made the NYT famous.

Chuck said...

They had to. The Times has to put something in the front page, and the only other stories were "Democrats Engage in Intramural Warfare as Clinton Campaign Implodes" and "Inquiry into Roanoke Shooter Reveals Homicidal Mind of Gay Black Man."

rhhardin said...

Prophecy is one of the two theories of language, the other being mind-reading.

n.n said...

So, is "planned" parenthood and Planned Parenthood, but they are both still legal and widely believed.

I wonder what the fortunetellers think about the Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming prophecy.

Beorn said...

I already foresaw this.

Michael McClain said...

Wowzers!! The Lib-Cong got all the smart one.

F said...

Hey, critics -- its August! Not much going on!

Static Ping said...

I think traditionalguy nailed it.

Perhaps the most meaningless story in quite some time. Wow, people will do fraudulent things for money, said people will tell the parole board what they want to hear, and the New York Times finds this noteworthy.

The nation's paper of record, ladies and gentlemen!

clint said...

"traditionalguy said...
It is sort of comforting to know that counterfeiters admit that they do not deal in genuine money, ergo:there is no such thing as real money.

8/28/15, 5:15 PM"

Dang. Now I don't get to be snarky, since traditionalguy nailed it first.

Yes, psychics are fake. No, this isn't evidence of that fact.

Fernandinande said...

Bay Area Guy said...
Really hard-hittin', investigative journalism, there. Thanks so much, NYTimes. How could we live without you?


I predicted they would write that article. Now I'm off to Vegas.

CarlF said...

I knew it was a scam before she said it. I must be psychic.

Rhythm and Balls said...

Don't be a whacko. The "news" is that it was admitted to and that it involved a legal proceeding. As usual, it's the legal system that's late to the game and making this a newsworthy issue.

Don't you have some puppies and flowers to fish-eye lens photograph or something?

Guildofcannonballs said...

What if some psychics perform a service, helping disturbed people without God continue that path with less pain, a portion of the time that is significant? What if you don't know, just this once, what's the best way for other people to spend their money?

Sure sure people claiming special status as fortunetellers can't tell you the future any more than a hedge-fund manager can get you a better return than the DOW, but they might be able to tell you what you want to hear so much you pay them for it repeatedly. And think you are smart and responsible for doing so repeatedly.

Why should the goverment, at any level, be involved in these transactions and not in every possible transaction between American subjects/citizens whereby one side might lose, not just the moment the signature hits the paper but in the future?

Because all of you are smart and know psychics are frauds (for taking advantage of people way dumber than you) and your solution is to make the government do something.

The power you have to give the government to do something is the problem, not people spending their money on things that make them happy like shoes or speakers or tulips.

Amexpat said...

Reads like something from from The Onion.

n.n said...

Guildofcannonballs:

I would approach psychics as a phenomenon that exists outside the scientific domain. This does not establish that it is fake, but rather the limited insight that it cannot be observed in this logical domain. I think if people understand the difference between the logical domains, especially the nature of frame based philosophy (e.g. science), then they will be better able to manage risk and assess the value of their experience.

That said, America's national charter, The Declaration of Independence, declares the following:

with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the consent of the governed

This establishes a negotiable threshold beyond the common. Presumably, this is the legitimate space for political dissent. At one extreme, there are people who want total oversight and regulation of individuals. At another extreme, there are people who want limited oversight and regulation of the common.

Perhaps it's best when people learn their own thresholds through the consequence and benefit of experience.

Perhaps it's sufficient to not promote or normalize orientations and behaviors that are known or presumed to be dysfunctional.

What would be a suitable threshold? What is the responsibility of society? What is the responsibility of the individual? Should social benefits include performance obligations?

It's easy to understand where and why the complexity arises. We cannot even agree when human life (i.e. process) begins. We cannot even agree that human life has intrinsic or exceptional value.

PB said...

Front page? Hillary violated the Espionage Act and the NYT runs this on the front page? Sheesh! Do any legitimate journalists work there anymore?

Skeptical Voter said...

NYT---too soon old, too late smart.

gadfly said...

Even bigger "adventures" into the world of the obvious also appeared in the back pages of the Daily Fish Wrap. This was in the August 27 paper:

"Many Psychology Findings Not as Strong as Claimed, Study Says"

The past several years have been bruising ones for the credibility of the social sciences. A star social psychologist was caught fabricating data, leading to more than 50 retracted papers. A top journal published a study supporting the existence of ESP that was widely criticized. The journal Science pulled a political science paper on the effect of gay canvassers on voters’ behavior because of concerns about faked data.

Now, a painstaking years-long effort to reproduce 100 studies published in three leading psychology journals has found that more than half of the findings did not hold up when retested. The analysis was done by research psychologists, many of whom volunteered their time to double-check what they considered important work. Their conclusions, reported Thursday in the journal Science, have confirmed the worst fears of scientists who have long worried that the field needed a strong correction.

jr565 said...

Just because there are psychics who identify as phony, doesn't mean that all psychics are phony. They can only speak to their own psychic ability, or lack thereof.
That being said, theres little evidence of actual psychic ability.

jr565 said...

gadfly wrote:
"Many Psychology Findings Not as Strong as Claimed, Study Says"

Many social sciences are in fact bullshit?

Fernandinande said...

jr565 said...
gadfly wrote: "Many Psychology Findings Not as Strong as Claimed, Study Says"

Many social sciences are in fact bullshit?


So is medical research:
Why Most Published [medical] Research Findings Are False

clint said...

Guildofcannonballs said...

"What if some psychics perform a service, helping disturbed people without God continue that path with less pain, a portion of the time that is significant? What if you don't know, just this once, what's the best way for other people to spend their money?"

Yes, lots of "psychics" serve an important role for some communities -- similar to the role a priest might play in another, or a psychotherapist, or an elderly matriarch who's easy to talk to, or a wacky guru who meditates in the park and never washes his clothes. Whatever. Different strokes.

But fraud is real. And whether it's that faith healer with the radio earpiece or Bernie Madoff or the guys at Enron, there's a line beyond which fraud should be a legal issue.

The specific women in the article crossed that line. If they'd been psychologists, they would have lost their licenses and gone to jail. If they'd been financial advisers, they would have gone to jail. If they'd been televangelists, they might have gone to jail. (Religion is a tricky issue, but plenty of televangelists have gone to jail.) They aren't in jail for being fake psychics, they're in jail for theft-by-fraud.

Drawing a sharp line in cases fraud can be hard. It's a squishy line with lots of gray area to it. Like Madoff, each of the women described in the article seems to me to have gone far over the line.



"Because all of you are smart and know psychics are frauds (for taking advantage of people way dumber than you) and your solution is to make the government do something."

Lots of smart people are taken in by lots of different cons. Smart and dumb has nothing to do with it. (See: Michael Bellesiles or Luk van Parijs. Or Enron and Madoff.)

No, the government should not "do something" about people claiming to be psychic. The answer to that is more talk. The government should "do something" when con artists rob people on a large enough scale. The fact that this con is cloaked in pseudo-science and Enron's was cloaked in math and financial jargon doesn't seem relevant to me.



"The power you have to give the government to do something is the problem, not people spending their money on things that make them happy like shoes or speakers or tulips."

I'm very libertarian -- and I think that theft-by-fraud falls under the legitimate roles of government. The usual jargon from the most extreme libertarians you'll ever find is that the government has a role in enforcing contracts and preventing fraud and violence in commercial transactions. (The extreme bit is in claiming that this list is complete, and government has no other roles at all in the market -- like printing a currency or deciding that a freely-entered-into contract is against public policy.)

These women were frauds and predators -- that's why they went to jail.

And don't kid yourself that you're too smart to fall prey to a con artist -- everyone's vulnerable to something.

Gahrie said...

I knew they were going to say that....

Gahrie said...

Wake me up when they write the same article about Climate Change Alarmists.