Why Believe in Paranormal Fraud?

I don’t know if you guys are aware of TED talks, but I am a huge fan. I find the website and the talks incredibly thought stimulating, like nothing else.

I recently watched this talk (posted above), by James Randi, a former stage magician and now a paranormal skeptic ( a cool career title, huh?). Since we just had a topic of supernatural activity in contemporary horror, I found it useful in relation to some of the movies we watched and topics we discussed. However, this is a little different, since Randi is not talking about a fiction world of the movies, he is talking about real facts and real people, who actually truly believe in supernatural forces and pay their very real money to come in contact with this make-believe world. And why are there so many people around the world convinced that this works? As Andy suggests, it’s because the paranormal activity is highly publicized to please sponsors.

If you think about it, there is sense in it. We watched all these movies like The Blair Witch, Paranormal Activity and the Sixth Sense. Well, just tell me you are not a least a little nervous to go get some water in your house at night in the dark now? Ok maybe you are not like me, maybe you are more sane. But really, would you travel to the woods at night after watching Blair Witch?? And now imagine that the next day after watching this movie you see a talk show, a documentary and read a magazine article about similar supernatural occurrences.In such a case, it’s all around, from different sources, must be somewhat more credible.

This is how psychics work, psychics just like legendary Sylvia Browne. They are publicized all over the place, they are talked about, and most importantly they play on people’s feelings. Just like Randi says, they take advantage of “innocent, naive and grieving” . Unlike movies made for entertainment, these frauds are not fun, he is right. They not only convince vulnerable people that what psychics are doing is true, but they also take fairly earned money for it, for fiction. So where is the line between fiction and reality? Why is it that people are having such a hard time distinguishing this line? Can it be that such movies as Blair Witch and Paranormal Activity work not only to entertain and scare people, but also to deceive and create more room for the multi million-dollar psychic industry?

Whether you believe in supernatural or not, watch the clip, you would not regret it. (James Randi also talks about homeopathy.)

5 thoughts on “Why Believe in Paranormal Fraud?

  1. What an interesting approach to last week’s movies. I’m glad too that you’ve discovered TED. I have somewhat of a strained relationship with TED events as I think that they can be elitist (registration fees or official TED conferences are somewhere between $3,000 and $5,000 if not more) and unidirectional — people talking AT us, rather than WITH us. But TED is TED and there’s no sense in wishing it was something else. The talks are fascinating and vary tremendously in topic and scope, which is one of the things that makes them valuable.

    It’s interesting that you should connect James Randi to our movies. I’ve been familiar with his work for many years and have admired him tremendously. The question you raise is an interesting one. To paraphrase: what is the relationship between popular movies with paranormal themes and the culture’s credulity re: the paranormal? Though we find comfort in the old line “it’s only a movie,” the movies do tend encourage us to believe in the fantastic and the improbable, even if just a little. We want to believe in the impossible and the movies allow us to get a taste for it. I suppose we could say that they allow us to imagine the possibility for irrational explanations, which are always easier than rational ones.

  2. I didn’t know about such high prices for registration fees, yes it definitely says something about people who do give those talks. In a way, it’s true that presenters talk to us, instead of with us, but some speakers often refer to previous talks, and also it’s interesting to read comments of viewers available under each talk. At least it’s some sort of back and forth communication.
    It’s true that people prefer to believe irrational explanations, rather than rational, but I think it’s not even the question of what people choose to believe, I think it’s what these movie producers and sponsors want people to believe. Not all viewers for example, have enough time to actually take a specific issue of supernatural and sit down and dig to to the bottom of it to discover the truth. Most people just take whatever information is thrown at them, and readily accept it for the lack of any contradictions. I guess it all goes back to the topic of brainwashing the public. These supernatural movies, which are a form of art, in a way create business for fraudulent psychics. Just makes me question the influence behind the making of the art.

  3. On the subject of TED, over the last year or so, several independently organized TED events (TEDx) have popped up in various places. These use the TED 20min talk format but are independent of the TED organization and tend to be more specialized. You still need to apply to attend these, but the reg fees are reasonable. TEDxNYED, an event focused on education that I was lucky enough to attend in March, cost only $40 and featured some amazing speakers, many of whom I have been following for some time. http://tedxnyed.com/

  4. I, too, have found James Randi’s information incredibly interesting over the years although at times I have felt that he is a little quick on the trigger-finger to debunk phenomena to prove his point…and also he is famous for his $1,000,000 challenge which I am sure he does not want to give away to readily;-)

    I can personally attest that Psychic ability is very real. The traditional five senses are sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste. Human beings are also considered to have at least five additional senses that include: pain, balance, joint motion and acceleration, sense of time, sense of temperature, and a degree of sense of direction. Some of these are attributed to the nervous system delivering information to the brain, however others are still somewhat of a mystery to the established medical field.

    Psychic senses can basically be split into two separate categories. The first is the ‘sixth sense’ that all human beings and animals possess, the sense of ‘ambiance’, or ‘feeling’ , or ‘awareness’, our feeling of ‘self’. This is the sense that alerts us to danger, or gives us a feeling of excitement, etc., in certain situations even if there is no other stimuli. Then there is the connection to, and awareness we have of ‘gut feelings’, hunches and ’emotions’ – these cannot be sensed using taste, touch, sound, sight, or smell. Anyone with a heartbeat will know what I am talking about and can not deny it’s existence. We can give psychic ability many labels, but in essence, it is a normal function of ours that we use all the time, but are generally not aware of HOW to consciously use it.

    Everyone (including you) has ‘psychic abilities’ to some extent. People often believe extra-sensory perception (or ESP), to be something unusual, an ability that only a select few have, however that is not the case, some people have simply developed it to a higher degree than others. If we consider moving beyond the five basic ‘physical’ senses, that is five senses that are a function of a relative body part (or parts), the belief that a ‘sense’ must have an assigned body part is extremely narrow-minded and to be honest a little silly. This level of Psychic ability actually accounts for probably 90% of what is passed off as ‘gifts’, where as in truth anyone can develop these senses to quite amazing levels, including you.

    To be honest, it still amazes me that some people still deny the existence of a ‘sixth sense’ when not only does it account for the above examples, but there is a phenomenal amount of Scientific proof (that is easily accessible with a little effort) that not only does a sixth sense exist, but it can be enhanced. Probably the best and most well-known example of masses of controlled Scientific study and evidence would be the Remote Viewing and Psychological Warfare programs run by practically every World Government, with the most extensive and well-known being those conducted by the USA, the former Soviet Union, China, the UK, and Czechoslovakia. These countries have, and continue to, spend hundreds of millions of dollars developing and running these programs. Despite the U.S Government trying to take credibility away from several former operatives who spoke publicly about these covert operations, Freedom of Information acts in several countries have since permitted huge volumes of research and evidence to be released, confirming what many former operatives have said, and then some.

    Then secondly we have what could really be called a ‘seventh sense’. That which everyone can and does experience to a certain degree at times. That which very young children, and few truly ‘gifted’ adults have to an even greater level of sensitivity and typically manifests itself into the ability to see, hear or communicate with Spirits. As well as actively access and influence some kinds of energy. This again is something that, while somewhat harder to ‘prove’ with any protocols based on the five basic senses, is certainly very real and has been evidenced since the beginning of human history. I can guarantee that all people have had a glimpse of this at times in their lives, but most will choose to brush it off or explain it with ‘logic’, with inner fear being the main reason. Human beings tend to be afraid of that which they either can’t control, or can’t understand. It sometimes amazes me some of the paranormal events that people will explain with ‘logic’ that clearly isn’t doing the job. But this is fine, everyone is entitled to their own beliefs, it is our right to free choice.

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