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Once a belief or expectation is found, especially one that resolves uncomfortable uncertainty, it biases the observer to notice new information that confirms the belief, and to discount evidence to the contrary. This self-perpetuating mechanism consolidates the original error and builds up an overconfidence in which the arguments of opponents are seen as too fragmentary to undo the adopted belief. David Marks & Richard Kammann, Psychology of the Psychic
The person who really put Atlantis back on the map was the extraordinary self-proclaimed psychic Edgar Casey. He claimed to have visions of a continent ... left as a group of islands. Secrets of Atlantis
Probably the most intriguing readings Cayce gave were on the subject of the lost land of Atlantis. Decoding the Past s1e20: The Other Nostradamus, History 2005
The search for a valid and reliable test of clairvoyance has resulted in thousands of experiments. One controlled procedure has invited ‘senders’ to telepathically transmit one of four visual images to ‘receivers’ deprived of sensation in a nearby chamber (Bem & Honorton, 1994). The result? A reported 32 per cent accurate response rate, surpassing the chance rate of 25 per cent. But follow-up studies have (depending on who was summarizing the results) failed to replicate the phenomenon or produced mixed results (Bem & others, 2001; Milton & Wiseman, 2002; Storm, 2000, 2003).
One skeptic, magician James Randi, has a longstanding offer – now US $1 million – ‘to anyone who proves a genuine psychic power under proper observing conditions.’ (Randi, 1999). French, Australian, and Indian groups have parallel offers of up to 200,000 euros to anyone with demonstrable paranormal abilities (CFI, 2003). Large as these sums are, the scientific seal of approval would be worth far more to anyone whose claims could be authenticated. To refute those who say there is no ESP, one need only produce a single person who can demonstrate a single, reproducible ESP phenomenon. So far, no such person has emerged. Randi’s offer has been publicized for three decades and dozens of people have been tested, sometimes under the scrutiny of an independent panel of judges. Still, nothing. ‘People's desire to believe in the paranormal is stronger than all the evidence that it does not exist.’ (Susan Blackmore, Blackmore’s First Law 2004). David Myers, Psychology, 2006
We went along to look at some psychic surgeons that were operating in the middle of London. Now what these people were claiming was that no matter what the illness was they could make various incisions into the body, release the bad spirits and the person would get well. Richard Wiseman, University of Hertfordshire
Anyone can talk to the dead. Getting an answer – that’s the hard part. Penn & Teller, Bullshit! s1e1, Showtime 2003
The only truly amazing thing about it is how many people believe. ibid.
How low do you have to be to exploit someone’s true grief, to sell some bullshit book? ibid.
In order to fool people these performance artists use a number of proven techniques. ibid.
Psychics take advantage of a psychological trick that P T Barnum made famous in the 1800s – people want to be fooled. ibid.
If you were talking to the dead, why would you get it even slightly wrong? ibid.
Why do people continue to believe in these psychic scumbags? ibid.
The headline Jay Leno was always waiting for: Psychic Wins Lottery. Penn & Teller, Bullshit! s1e10: Extra Sensory Perception s1e10
It’s not pompous to say you’re psychic; it’s bullshit to say you’re psychic. Penn & Teller, Bullshit! s5e10: Anger Management
I’m absolutely and utterly positive there is no such thing as anyone with psychic abilities. You have to understand that this sort of thing has been around for hundreds and hundreds of years. And we still haven’t found anyone who can demonstrate their so-called psychic powers under common-sense scientifically controlled conditions. Ian Rowland, psychic illusionist
There are people who do claim to have paranormal abilities. Derren Brown Investigates: The Man Who Contacts the Dead, Channel 4 2010
Liverpool: psychic medium Joe Power – a man who claims he can communicate with the dead. ibid.
‘I fully believe what I do as a medium.’ ibid. Joe Power
People want to believe he's in contact with their dead loved ones; it brings them a huge amount of comfort. ibid.
Barnum’s statements: comments that could apply to many people. ibid.
Cold reading is I suppose the way a complete stranger can seemingly tell you everything about yourself ... In essence the cold reader or psychic is supplying a lot of words, and you as the sitter, the other sitter, is applying meaning to those words. Darren Brown, illusionist, interview Richard Dawkins
The psychic will if it’s with a group of people throw out a name. ibid.
They put the word not into the question ... By phrasing it in the negative it allows a yes or not as a hit. ibid.
It’s a huge racket ... You’ll find it disappointingly transparent. ibid.
Few claims come as large as those of the Bronnikov method – a psychic programme that has its eyes set on world domination. Derren Brown Investigates: The Men with X Ray Eyes
Amongst their most intriguing claims is that they can teach the blind to see. ibid.
If you’re talking to a dead person via a medium wouldn’t you ask them things like, Well what’s it like being dead? Do you eat? Do you sleep? Do you have parties? What’s God like? ... It’s always so incredibly banal and unimaginative. Richard Dawkins, interviewing Darren Brown, illusionist
Half the British population now say they believe in paranormal phenomena. Over eight million of us have owned up to consulting psychic mediums. Richard Dawkins, Enemies of Reason: Slaves to Superstition, Channel 4 2007
Psychics may believe they communicate with the dead. But I’ve seen no evidence for it. My concern is that for some people this superstition is more than harmless fun. ibid.
Time and again so-called psychics claim special status outside science and evidence. I have personal proof it’s true to me! But as with religion if it hangs on private feelings that can’t be proved or disproved by science then in what way can it be valid or meaningful to the rest of us? ibid.
The parlous psychics of the nineteenth century claimed the PK powers that could levitate tables or make objects take off and fly round the room. Film of PK Russian experiments reached the West in the 1960s ... Wherever claims are made PK creates controversy. Arthur C Clarke, World of Strange Powers, ITV 1985
Imagine if you could explode an enemy’s atom bombs just by concentrating on the trigger mechanism. Arthur C Clarke
In 1979 the Fresno police scoured hundreds of square miles in their search for an abducted child. They failed to find her. And the desperate parents of eight-year-old Victoria de Santiago asked a psychic detective for help. On the psychic’s instructions the Fresno police were directed deep into the backwoods to a lonely chicken farm. Arthur C Clarke’s Mysterious Universe: The Psychic Detectives, ITV 1994
A compelling vision drove Etta Louise Smith to a remote canyon high in the hills above Los Angeles. She’d heard on the news that police were searching for a missing nurse ... Etta Smith told the police of her gruesome discovery. Amazed by her story they promptly arrested her. Etta was charged with murder and jailed for five days. She was only freed when three youths were overheard discussing the crime and arrested. ibid.
December 17th 1980: That day changed my life ... As soon as the announcer [on the radio] said they were making a house to house search I had some kind of a visual image ... I can see where she was. I know it’s a canyon area. I see a dirt path going up to the right and I see a hill, and at the end of the dirt path I see white through shrubbery, and I thought that’s odd ... I could see tyre marks and for some reason I felt compelled to touch them ... This object had white nurse’s shoes ... They [LAPD detectives] assured they would bring me back ... We went through it again and again and again. Finally about ten o’clock I start to realise something isn’t right here. I said if you’re having a problem believing me then let me volunteer for a lie-detector, polygraph ... Oh no, there’s a mistake ... What! But my mind is spinning. How can you fail a polygraph when you’re telling the truth? Etta Louise Smith
It was as if I heard a voice or someone tell me she’s not in the house. And as soon as I registered that thought, she’s not in the house, it was as if I saw a picture – it was as clear as a photograph in front of me. I could see where she was. Etta Louise Smith