Tag Archives: psychics

ESP – Misconceptions And Frauds

Unfortunately, this subject is very polarising, some people opting for a completely materialistic view and others leaving themselves prey to claims which hold no water (so-called service providers robbing them blind).

The extremes are a matter of either refusing to consider it at all cost, despite being told perplexing stories by sane people with no interest in lying, or wanting to believe just anything, even against one’s better judgement.

Of course, there is the middle path of those who know ESP occurs indeed, yet are equally aware of the mass deception by shysters who trade in illusions.

Which is why I think the following observations are in order.

  1. It’s a series of limited personal experiences, not an ability, or better yet, a profession.

Most people, sceptics included, have had an eerily accurate premonition, the odd dream predicting a future event down to details, or telepathic connection with someone else. What these phenomena tend to have in common is a purpose at that point in time, in the person’s life. Often that purpose is to warn of an incoming danger or prepare them for an unavoidable shock (the unexpected death of a loved one for instance).

The other commonality is that they do not happen constantly (which would be distressing, I imagine).

They are small glimpses into what should be the unknown – the potential future, the life of someone who is estranged etc. They come in grain size, not by the bucket; they are like droplets in an ocean of uncertainty and unpredictability.

Hence, when you hear a flouncy describe her nightly conversations with her spirit guide named Zorg, who tells her everything from the weather to who will get divorced in the neighbourhood, the suspicion that it’s verbal diarrhoea seems correct.

2. It occurs spontaneously, not on demand.

Perhaps a reiteration of the point made above – ESP is not an ability, as this term describes something you can control and use at your discretion.

The limited information you receive arrives unexpectedly when necessary, not as a result of you looking for it (that’s why fortune telling is such BS), let alone demanding it.

There is no unlimited database of the past, present and future people with ESP can tap into at will, to reveal hidden facts about themselves and others. If that were true, nothing would remain a mystery to them. Those who claim to have an access card to such a place, and charge money for a quick peek, are charlatans.

I’m sure many people with good intuition make an honest effort to gauge others’ problems in this manner, yet have no proof of their assertions being anything but a guess.

And I’m sure many who failed at demonstrating their presumed gift in a controlled environment had some genuine phenomenon over the years, yet could not artificially reproduce a natural occurrence. Because it happened to them, as opposed to them making it happen.

3. It is often verified in hindsight.

When someone claims the infallible capacity to predict the future because they’ve done so once or twice, they are mistaken. The only way to verify a prediction is after the fact, which is why people should not become hysterical when someone puts forth apocalyptic views.

The estimated number of daily thoughts crossing someone’s mind ranges between 50 000 and 70 000. Many of them will be irrelevant. Of the many premonitions someone might have, only some stand the test of time, whilst the rest are forgotten. Some will be steeped in subjectivity; their own hopes and fears. Dreams, likewise, can be useful in terms of psychological analysis, yet rarely do they actually reveal crucial information to be used in real time.

Don’t get me wrong, when it does happen it’s something to marvel at – yet that doesn’t mean every dream should be given the same importance a priori.

There are no prophets whose every word should be regarded as likely accurate by default.

4. To my knowledge, there has never been a way to establish where the information comes from.

In other words, we should all beware of those who claim to be in communication with divine beings or aliens, or anything of the sort. Or those who claim their occasional accurate predictions are proof of the existence of some deity.

5. The direct line to Heaven is a scam.

I’ve yet to see a psychic asked to contact a client’s dead relative, to shrug and say “sorry, dear, he wasn’t available”, or alternatively, “sorry, he’s in Hell and they only allow visitors on Saturday morning”. Isn’t it amazing how the departed are always calm and happy, wanting to reminisce about some fishing trip twenty years prior?

A couple were claiming the room was full of the client’s dead relatives, and that they wanted to make contact. It’s funny how it’s only the living who initiate these conversations through a paid medium and the dead, although present in such close proximity, are hapless in terms of communication. If it’s an open line, why don’t the dead ever ask for messages to be passed, of their own initiative? Can’t they afford the fee? No one thinks to ask “honestly; if they’re here all the time anyway, what do I need you for?”

Ghosts – Misconceptions And Frauds

Throughout time, regardless of location or culture, ghost sightings have been a common occurrence. Phenomena presumed to involve the spirits of deceased people (haunting, poltergeist activity etc) remain of interest, not only to those experiencing them but to the curious in general.

Accounts of these phenomena are extremely interesting, usually connected to places and involving no reason to suspect those giving them of fabrication. They are isolated stories told by people who are not into making careers out of it. If anything, they risk being ridiculed for describing what they’ve witnessed.

Others, however, are set on using this mysterious side of human nature for personal gain, an easy con for centuries. They prey on the thirst for thrills, as well as the grieving, the latter being inexcusable.

Ghost hunting is the practice of observing a location believed to be haunted, in attempts to spot or/and make contact with the spirits thought to be lingering there. Paraphernalia is often used (cameras, motion detectors, devices based on measuring temperature etc). The “instrument” most sought after, however, is a medium, also known as a psychic or channel, claiming to facilitate this communication.

Whilst those reporting a haunting can normally be trusted and those seeking to observe it directly can at least be given the benefit of the doubt, most mediums are full of it.

Moreover, paranormal investigations produced for television, in order to cater to viewers, can be remorselessly suspected of BS. Whilst capturing phenomena on camera does happen, it happens spontaneously, and rarely, if ever, in a scheduled manner; that is just too convenient. The proof found is usually limited to noises and sensations experienced in the area. The chances of it all being staged are very high, even when based on a true story.

Identifying the deceased person

For the sake of keeping it brief by not constantly repeating the words “ghost”, “deceased”, “dead person” etc, let’s just refer to a spirit observed by the living as Bob.

Whereas in some cases people are confident of knowing who Bob is, through some of the things he does (like moving or smashing certain possessions), in most cases, his presence is nebulous and he is connected with the place he manifests himself in, rather than those currently occupying it. He might appear partially, as a shadow, as a vapour, or be downright invisible. He might vociferate but never show any physical traits. Whilst he may inadvertently give clues about his reason to be there, identifying him is very difficult, and likely a result of meticulous research; even then things can’t be certain.

To think that someone can walk right in, off the street, and give an accurate portrayal is not plausible. Mediums are known to make up elaborate stories on the spot.

Making contact

This is presented as the medium calling Bob and expecting a sign; perhaps asking a question or two.

First of all, this is a person, not a house pet. You can’t just whistle and expect him to turn up.There are no guarantees he’s even there in real time, that he hears the medium or that he’s in any way inclined to respond.

Assumptions are made beforehand, due to popular culture:

  • He knows he is dead;
  • He spends all his time at that particular location;
  • He knows he shouldn’t be there and is aware he owes an explanation for his presence;
  • He is aware of the current year and of the people living there;
  • He wants to go elsewhere but can’t for some reason.

There are no guarantees any of these apply.

“Go to the light, Bob, go to the light!”

First of all, Heaven was a religious invention; there isn’t any way to know what lies beyond the material world and where people go after dying, if they go anywhere at all (they might just be here but difficult to perceive by the living). What the medium really means is “piss off”. Whilst many have seen ghosts, no one has ever seen Heaven. James Randi pointed out how funny it is that mediums never try to reach someone who is in hell, or, I assume, likely to go there if “passing on”.

Secondly, let’s assume there was such a place where spirits are supposed to go. Now, if Bob has refused to move on for, say, 300 years, he must’ve had his reasons all along. It’s unlikely that the medium saying “you must go home now”, with self-attributed authority, will suddenly change that.

If he is not aware he is dead (a hypothesis detailed below), saying that is pointless. And if he is aware of his circumstances and options, should there be any, he doesn’t need pointers from the medium; he is there because he wants to be.

The public menace

When Bob interferes with the lives of the living, it is often assumed he is doing it on purpose; some people think ghosts are set on chasing the present occupants away. However, that needn’t be the case. Bob might be experiencing the living in the same manner they are experiencing him (fleeting, blurred interactions which are difficult to make sense of).

Some apparitions have indicated there just might be an overlap between the past and present. For instance, somewhere in the UK, the ghost of a monk was seen walking down a street. The observer only saw the monk’s upper half, and after researching the history of the area, realised the road used to be at a lower level, which would explain why the monk’s legs could not be seen (he was walking on the old road, the old and current scenery overlapping). That was one of the most interesting stories I’ve come across and indicates occasional glitches, as opposed to spirits deciding to haunt a place (which is not to say the latter doesn’t occur).

The same can be said for noises, voices etc inside a house; perhaps the living are simply getting a glimpse of past events, without any interaction per se. Of course, when it comes to poltergeist activity, there seems to be a clear intention, when objects are thrown around for instance. There are cases when people are physically attacked.

Yet lacking any indication of violent intentions, it’s unnecessarily distressing to make assumptions, simply based on Hollywood tropes.

Mediums freaking out on camera

There are sensationalist programs showing mediums scared half to death in dark basements, squirming and squealing about being touched on the shoulder.

“I talk to the dead on demand; I even let them possess my body to speak through it, but if I think one is near me I scream and run away.” Makes sense, right?

There is one thing I know for sure about ESP – if you’re someone who experiences it regularly, you’re not afraid of it, regardless of how it manifests. You take it as a normal part of life.

Granted that if you reject the idea, you might be negatively impacted by such phenomena. But if you embrace it fully and call yourself a medium, it makes no sense to run for the hills, especially when you seek out such encounters.

It’s all done for show.