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June 12, 2008


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It will be interesting to see whether the same thing happens as happened last year, when Edward and Van Praagh pulled out after word got around that Psychic Bingo was set to make complete fools of them.

I tried to organise a game of Psychic Bingo a few weeks ago when a local social club had a so-called psychic as the evening's entertainment. Needless to say, the idea was totally banned. I did, however make a lengthy list of the standard statements that psychics use, and I publicised the list to everyone who I knew would be coming along.

As expected, the psychic rattled off the usual Barnum statements and vague generalities that people think are specific to them. But predicting this and explaining to a number of people how these frauds work did not make any difference to any of the believers. The only concession I got was from one person who said, "OK, HE was rubbish, but the psychic I saw personally was exactly right about everything she said."

As you might also expect, people who attended the event have a completely distorted memory of exactly was said to them and others. So, I am busy transcribing the relevant sections from the audio recording I made at the time. It might be a futile exercise, but I am keen to see what reactions I get from people when I show them that their memories are not only fallible, but also - in some cases - completely confabulated to accommodate their beliefs.

As they say, a skeptic's work is never done.

Bingo's fun and all, but I'd really like to play a game of Hangman with a psychic.

"I'm getting a J."
"Nope, that's another foot."
"I'm sensing water, it's near water."

Swiftsure: that sounds like the way to go about it; you probably won't get many (if any) converts, but hopefully by showing how unreliable their memories are, and exposing the usual tricks, you'll at least get them thinking about it. Keep fighting the good fight.

Sorry to do this here, but I couldn't find an e-mail address. Could you do me a favor and update the link to Atheist Revolution in your blogroll? The new URL is http://www.atheistrev.com


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