Do you believe in:
I don't because extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and there's no good evidence to back up this junk. These are, literally, "extra-ordinary" claims, and the burden of proof is on the people making them. Great books on this are:
- Extrasensory Perception (ESP)?
- Fortune telling (palm reading, seance, channeling, etc.)?
- Alternative medicine
Voodoo Science: The Road from Foolishness to Fraud - Robert Park and The New Age; Notes of a Fringe Watcher - Martin Gardner
Be a SkepticIt's not up to you to prove they're wrong, so be skeptical. Tell them they must convince you. This is what scientists have to do when proving a new theory. Why shouldn't these quacks be held to the same standard? Notice these people don't submit themselves to scientists for testing -- there's no money to be made doing that. I wasted a lot of time reading this sort of stuff, as well as other nonsense like, the "Bermuda Triangle," Biorhythms, and Chariots of the Gods (a book about people from other planets who built the pyramids). Check out the Skeptic's Dictionary for more information. And check out Snopes.com to see if the unusual e-mail stories sent to you by your friends are true, or just urban legends.
Can you say pseudoscience? Only anecdotal evidence exists. In other words, it can't be replicated in a lab under controlled conditions. And no scientific explanations are possible for it. It's like religion, it can't be proved, and it takes faith (belief without proof) to believe in it. Double-blind experiments are required by the FDA to test drugs, why should these claims not be subject to the same standards.
So why is this stuff out there if it isn't true? It's the same reason why people enjoy reading fiction; it's why children like fairy tales -- it makes a delightful story. But the bottom line is if they can convince you, money will be transferred from your purse to their bank account, so they're going to do their best to make a believer out of you. And wouldn't it be wonderful if their claims were true? Don't you want to believe them?
Paranormal PhenomenonJames Randi has been offering a $1 million prize for proof of any paranormal event, but he has yet to collect. Many of the people who sign up believe they can fool him and take his money, some others honestly believe they have some supernatural power, and are unhappy when Randi's tests show that they were fooling themselves.
Ghosts - I've never seen one, and when someone's claims are checked out, the ghosts don't seem to appear. Belief in ghosts seems both necessary and sufficient to make them appear. If you don't believe in them, you never see them.
Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) - Extraterrestrial spacecraft? Sure, it's possible. Unfortunately, there's never been any proof. All claims turn out to be made up, and the people making them seem easily fooled.
Extra Sensory Perception (ESP) - If ESP existed, the survival value of it would be so useful, evolution would have passed it on from animals to humans, and the humans with the most ESP would be the richest men today. However, no rich men claim this ability.
Telekinesis - The ability to move objects using only your mind. Again, the survival value of this would be overwhelming. If it existed, then evolution would guarantee it would be passed along to the next generation, but again, when subjected to scientific tests, fail to duplicate their claims. Some fooled themselves, others, like Uri Geller, just can't fool the scientists, but find it easy to fool the general public, like any magician they use skill that isn't easily detected unless you know the tricks they use.
HoroscopesThe horoscopes in the newspaper use your astrological sign to forecast your future and give advice. Although everyone know their zodiac sign, over the last several thousand years, there's never been any proof that the day and time you were born makes any difference. The best proof of this is that the astrologers don't even agree on what the same day, month and year mean for someone's personality or future.
Fortune TellersFortune telling is a scam. It's a way to make money for people that didn't go to school and can't get a real job. But their people skills are very good, and they tell a great stories. 30 minutes with them isn't as expensive as a lawyer or therapist but its more enjoyable than watching TV and less expensive than gambling. Fortune tellers use several methods they claim can tell your future:
- Crystal Balls
- Palm Reading
- Tarot Cards
Fiction writers love to write about the future, and sometimes they can do a pretty good job. Here's a forecast of the future for the years 2012 to 2024, published in the Washington Post Jan. 4, 2009, titled "The Next Next Things" by William E. Halal, author of Technology's Promise Since the future hasn't happened yet, there's no way for anyone to know what it will be. Notice that no one predicted the Columbia break-up or 9-11. (If they had, they would have become famous). If fortune telling worked, they'd be the most highly paid and sought after employees in the world, and wouldn't be wasting time in tiny booths and small shops, charging $10 or $20 a pop. Astrologers would be full-time employees giving job interviews to screen out candidates, and by police departments to construct horoscopes for weeding out the people who were going to be shot.
These People Fool You by using Cold reading. The fortune teller starts off by making general statements and watches to see how you react and what you say, which then allows her to build on her previous statement.
You can test astrologers, fortune tellers, or other mediums claiming special powers by asking for something simple and easy to test.
Before they begin, ask them to...
- tell you what your credit card number is,
- read you the serial number on a bill that's still in your purse,
- tell you your dog's name (if you have a cat, and ask for your cat's name if you have a dog),,
- "If you're so good at predicting the future, why aren't you in Las Vegas playing Roulette?"
- "Why aren't you making millions on Wall Street?"
- tell you when you were born.
Astrology - It certainly can't predict your future. Sometimes one twin dies and the other doesn't. And it can't predict your personality. One twin is gay, the other isn't. One is single, the other married. Just test them by giving them a false birthday. Guess what? You'll find out what they tell you sounds true. You'll still be impressed how accurate their forecast is. Their forecasts are so general, they work for anyone.
Tarot cards - If you don't like the destiny shown by the cards, ask her to deal out a new set of of cards. A new future is seen. Do you like this one better? Great! Pay her and be happy. If not, ask her to keep dealing until you get the future you want.
Mediums - To test them, tell them your best friend just died. They'll be happy to contact your friend and give you a message from them.
Alternative MedicineWhen traditional science fails to cure a person's disease, they will look for something else that offers hope. Especially if they have a fatal illness, or a chronic condition, like arthritis. Unfortunately, anyone can claim to be a doctor of alternative medicine, no license is needed, as it is to be a doctor or a pharmacist. Therefore the field is full of quacks, who take your money, but leave you just as sick as you were before. What are some of the technique used.
Acupuncture's does give pain relief but it won't cure any diseases, and the pain relief lasts only a few hours. Chiropracting helps as well, but any good massage will do that. However, there's no proof at all for faith healing or new age crystals.
- Faith healing
- New Age Crystals
Methods Scientists Use to Test Medical Treatments and New DrugsDouble-Blind studies
Patient doesn't know if he's getting real drug or placebo. Doctor doesn't know if he's getting real drug or placebo.
Additional ReadingFor more information go to: www.wikipedia.com and select "Paranormal", "parascience", "James Randi", "Uri Geller"
HomeLast updated: May 7, 2008