Legitimate psychics?

I read with some amusement this article on the TIME website, which reports on increased regulation of psychics in the United States, including Warren Michigan, where psychics must now submit to a background check and fingerprinting. The article quotes a member of the Warren city council, who says:

“We want to be sure there is some recourse in case we do get somebody who is not legitimate.”

Oh, so you mean there are actually some legitimate psychics out there? I hadn’t heard about that!

But the article gets better. Apparently a judge in Maryland who allowed a man to operate a fortune telling shop in Washington D.C., included the following comment in his ruling:

“We are not, however, persuaded that all fortune telling is fraudulent.”

But if it’s not fraudulent, then where’s the evidence that fortune tellers’ predictions are right more often than would occur by random chance? As far as I know there is no such evidence. This fact should have also been included in the judge’s ruling, but I’m sure it wasn’t.

The article goes on to quote someone who seems almost apologetic in explaining that clamping down on psychics is necessary to identify those who prey on the vulnerable. A strange explanation given that all fortune tellers and psychics are guilty of this. And if the number of late-night haunted house shows on T.V. is any indicator of people’s increasing credulity for this type of quackery, then the number of potential victims waiting to be exploited by unscrupulous con artists must be at an all-time high right now, so tougher regulations (or an outright ban) is fully justified. No apologies necessary.

In case anyone is interested, according to Gallup (see here), over 3/4 of Americans have at least one paranormal belief, with over 25% of Americans believing in clairvoyance.

Bottom line for me is that the service provided by fortune tellers and psychics should be clearly labeled as for entertainment purposes only, and any attempt to portray it as anything else should be considered a criminal offence.

– Dave


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