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Sting Operations to Expose Celebrity Psychics (nytimes.com)
63 points by flippyhead 24 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 100 comments



While not a celebrity, I recently met a woman whom spent $XX,000 on psychics to try and understand where life comes from. She was raised Christian, started "branching out" to find the answer and spent over a year of time in doing so. I asked if she ever found the answer.. her response was "no" and that she returned to Christianity. I was flabbergasted with how casual she was about explaining psychics as her choice to better understand the Universe.


There are scores of mormons that tithe hundreds of thousands of dollars over their lifetimes in order to become gods of other planets after they die. In my view they're just as silly as the person who uses psychics. And it's not just mormons -- plenty of catholics, jews, and others do as well.

It's easy to pick on people that use psychics -- but really it's not any more or less silly than a bunch of mainstream spiritual beliefs.


I'm not going to defend Mormon beliefs, but I will play devil's advocate. Many Mormons view tithe as giving back to the community of which they're a part. And that community, they believe, will provide value to them, in turn. And generally, it does... as far as I can tell from the outside.


That's totally fair.

I'll also play devil's advocate and suggest that perhaps some people also get value from their psychics. As far as I can tell from the outside, some psychics essentially serve as life coaches for their clients.

And just as some people find religion comforting with regards to their passed relatives ("I know Grandma is in heaven!") others may find similar comfort talking to Grandma via a psychic -- even if both are total fabrications.


One additional difference is that the psychic is being personally enriched by the money, whereas the Mormon leaders are not being personally enriched. (At the highest levels they get a stipend, of around 120k/year last I checked). Now this is not true of other churches necessarily, but it is true of the Mormons.


What's frustrating about these boneheads is that they never consider that 'branching out' should involve an actual education. I guess that's too hard.


Education is a cult in and of itself — most follow its scriptures in just as similar a fashion as they would a priest. People just don’t think that hard about things outside of their specialization (and often enough, not even then), and end up trapped in all sorts of belief systems, including “education” and “science” (have you ever taken a look at “I fucking love science” fb pages? Its called science, and its followers believe in science, but that group has nothing to do with it. Its just a bunch of rituals that eventualy produce an effect, with any arbitrary reason given)

Its not a fix on its own, just accidentally more (likely to be) correct than psychics, from the perspective of the believer.


Luckily this is almost totally wrong.

Claims that education, or atheism, are cult-like or religion-like are common enough, but they require ignoring what an education actually means and instead assuming it's just deferring to a (different) bunch of books.

An education gives you critical thinking, the ability to rationally consider, deduce, conclude, the willingness to discover, to be wrong, etc.

I guess gp was describing someone who was eager to discover, but certainly lacked an understanding or developed abilities around critical thinking.


It only gives you critical thinking if you... critically think about it. Not by its very nature.

>they require ignoring what an education actually means and instead assuming it's just deferring to a (different) bunch of books.

But thats the key. People do that. All the time. In practice, education doesn’t follow your idealized version of it. Education, by which I mean western education, struggles to even resemble the ideal, and if anyone tells you to go get educated (thinking of the ideal), they will lead you to a very different path, because it’s done as an accident of the education system (that is, a mistake, a rarity).

My point is that people don’t think that hard about what they learn; regardless of the source. All the fantasicism and cargo culting of programming communities are a direct result of this: fully educated people falling prey to the same mistakes you can accuse any religious follower of.

Both (educated) liberals and conservatives accuse each other of these mistakes on a daily basis.

Education isn’t magic; you should be applying the same skepticism to it as anything else, and it becomes fairly obvious that people can and do make the same mistakes they do with the bible as they do with the textbook


> It only gives you critical thinking if you... critically think about it.

That goes without saying.

Your argument seems to be that some people don't 'get' education. That's hard to argue with - I'm sure some people don't.

You said originally: "Education is a cult in and of itself"

And that's what I rail against.

Your observation that 'education isn't magic' is well aligned with my original point.


I meant that its a cult insofar as any form of mass teaching lends itself to cult behavior; it elevated and unquestioned status exasperates the issue, especially when used as a blind solution to any problem at hand (e.g., only an idiot would go to a psychic; go to a teacher instead... approach both similarly, and your outcome is only accidentally more correct); but in reality, its no magic bullet, and lends itself to the same issues (more problematically, the educated tend to believe they are less susceptible by virtue of their education, despite being offered few such protections)

The bible too isn’t bad on its own... a good wholesome christian turns out to follow a pretty good set of morals.

My railing is against the belief the education is inherently better in these things than any other form of teaching (religions, myths, tradition, etc), but its not — critical thinking is outside of it, and most won’t partake in it regardless of which teaching methodology. The only saving grace is that education supposedly embraces it as an operation, where perhaps the christians might have once damned you for it, but in practice, education systems try quite hard to minimize the act (it would slow down standardized teaching, and memorization far simpler, scalable and cheaper to teach)


I think we're talking past each other.

I feel that you're conflating your experiences with, or observations of, bad teaching -- with education in the general / abstract.

And this bit just feels like you're now trolling me:

> The bible too isn’t bad on its own... a good wholesome christian turns out to follow a pretty good set of morals.


I just don't see a significant difference between the modern education... and any other. It happens to be more practical, useful and even more correct, but the majority of its believers mistreat, and misunderstand it, just as they would anything else.

It's definitely better, but not fundamentally superior. (this perhaps is the troll, the blasphemy, the should-be-made illegal belief)

>I feel that you're conflating your experiences with, or observations of, bad teaching -- with education in the general / abstract.

I'm arguing that, in practice, education is not education, and thus telling people to get educated as a solution to some mistake like following psychics blindly, is based on the exact same mistake that the target person made. If you critically think about education as it occurs in practice, it rarely offers critical thinking; it theoretically does, just as the bible theoretically offers you inner peace, but in practice, it does not. And its difficult to argue that the (now like ggggp) gp meant your idealized form of it, because you wouldn't get the solution from the default form of education. But the mistake was made, because of a blind faith in how the system describes itself (your idealized version), rather than an understanding of how it actually functions.

Also what do you have against a good wholesome christian/hindu/muslim/etc? Ignoring the god-ly aspect, religion passes down a culture, and they tend to be pretty damn good ones at that, if they don't run off to some extreme (the good, wholesome description protects us from that scenario). Of course they have their history... but again, so does any other. A religious or geographic one, they all have something to be ashamed of. It's not like the heathens and worshippers of science are without fault as well.

Blind faith in education is as dumb as blind faith in a psychic. ...and it turns out education doesn't stop you from executing blind faith.


Look at it that way and pretty much anything is a cult, at which point I’m not sure the label means anything anymore.


All a cult is in this view is an unwavering, unthinking group following over some belief system; in that sense, any form of education (of which the bible, and schooling, are just one of) can turn into a cult. Its not surprising that students are just as susceptible as some midwestern hick. Its also not that surprising that people take those teachings differently, and some treat that knowledge in cultish fashion, and others don’t.

And its not that surprising that people don’t realize this occurs, and spreads the word blindly, with unwavering faith in its problem-solving ability


I'd agree with the first part of your statement. Though what it means is that anyone's worldview is a flawed model from the start better described as a cult than as the truth.


It's hard. And science gives really unsatisfying answers to many big questions.

What happens after we die? What does it all mean? Does my pain have meaning? Am I special? What is consciousness? Will I ever be able to talk to my dead grandmother again?

That's why there have always been predators around willing to take your money in exchange for easy answers to these (and other) questions...


Science does not give any answer, satisfying or not, to those questions (and one could argue it probably can't).


Really? Cause I think most of this we have some pretty definitive answers.

What happens after we die? You stop being. The conscious experience of it is the same as before you were born, i.e. nothing.

Does my pain have meaning? Not to the universe, yes to the people that care about you?

Am I special? Live is special, it's the most amazing phenomenon we appear to have in the universe. But at the same time, the "universe" doesn't care about you.

What is consciousness? A physical process happening in your brain.

Will I ever be able to talk to my dead grandmother again? No.

You might not like these answers, but that doesn't have any bearing on them being true or not.


I wish I was so sure of all that as yourself.

> What happens after we die? You stop being.

You don't know that of course, and have no way of knowing that. Although I'll agree that from a modern, rationalist point of view that's the default reasonable assumption.

> What is consciousness? A physical process happening in your brain.

And same goes for that one; the brain clearly relates to consciousness, but you can't be sure it produces it. Maybe it receives it somehow; maybe it's even more complex than that. I'd even go as far to say that if we were to create a black box AGI tomorrow, the question would still not be solved: the only thing you'd have proven is that a specific arrangement of matter appears to result in consciousness, nothing more.

Moreover, reality itself happens - in a very concrete way - in your head, not outside of it. Plato's cave and all that (or for a more technically oriented one, the brain-in-a-jar idea). Your point of view is rational in the extreme, but also extremely reductive. I don't think one should be so quick to reject deeper - and, dare I say, spiritual - ways of considering our universe.


> > What happens after we die? You stop being.

> You don't know that of course, and have no way of knowing that.

I'm a little surprised how many threads here "OMG YOU CAN'T KNOW FOR SURE SO HERE'S THIS OTHER STUFF YOU SHOULD CONSIDER LIKE SPIRITUALITY!!!".

When you turn off your computer, does its essence float away to computer heaven? When your car breaks down, does its soul get sent to automotive hell? I accidentally stepped on and broke my HP Calculator a few years ago, it won't turn on anymore, so is it in computation limbo? These questions are (purposefully) absurd, but where do you draw the line in "attributing spiritual crap to machinations?"


>What happens after we die? You stop being. The conscious experience of it is the same as before you were born, i.e. nothing.

You simply began existing once. What's to say that you won't just as easily begin existing again, or that you haven't already existed many times?


Define 'you'. If 'you' is your memories and personality, then those things are physical. You can take a knife to a brain and cut out memories, you can cut out love. These are tied to your physical meat. If the meat is destroyed, or the currents stop running, then your memories and personality are destroyed. If 'you' is something other than your memories and personality, then sure, that might go on.


> Science does not give any answer, satisfying or not, to those questions

Of course it does, as its very basis is that there are no supernatural forces influencing anything that the science observes. Or to formulate even simpler: there are no "miracles": if something happened, it was possible to happen. You can't postulate "and then the deity came and intervened" if you are doing scientific inquiry about some event. If you could everything could be simply explained by deities playing around.

Therefore, the scientific approach to human history is also very simple: it's the people who invented the gods, and not vice versa.

So you can personally believe in deities somehow, but if you try to explain your scientific work with their involvement, your work would immediately not be scientific anymore.

To give again a simple example, Newton didn't try to explain the movement of the planets with angels pushing them around, but with the plain physical laws. And it worked. Newton believed in god(s) somehow, but he hasn't let that interfere with the laws. Then he did some other works which involved gods, but these aren't science.

It's that simple.


Newton fit models to data that reliably predict outcomes. What makes his work scientific is its method and reliability, not the nature of the explanation.


Most of these questions can be replied with a "No" or "Nothing", without contradicting the scientific view of the world.

Agreeing to such answers at the emotional level is an entirely different enterprise, quite hard for many people. Many people would rather feel content than learn a bit of uncomfortable truth, and I'm not going to judge them.


Okay, but I'll happily judge the people who exploit that desire to feel content by lying to people for money.


People want easy. They want to take a pill and look like a bikini model. They want to write an app and make $1B. People want easy.


Just like beginner developers who never sanitize their input, there are also people who never validate their inputs. Just like exploitation of programs, there are people who exploit the behavior of other people, giving them input when what they really want to do is to run their code (buy the product / believe in the psychic).

Just like educating beginning developers in the important of security, we should educate children to sanitize their inputs, validate things they are told, think critically, and realize the code that others are trying to run on them.


The problem is that people only "sanitize their input" about things of which they care to keep a consistent model in their heads.

Things that are not relevant to the task at hand (for many, the news) are accepted without critical thought. That's why advertising is so successful.


What a funny article. I didn't expect the technique of leaving those name cards behind. I would guess most people would throw away a name card before they'd research the printed name, so maybe a little researcher bias showing through in this method?

I've been studying various models of charismatic behavior recently and I've come to wonder whether, given _any_ particular dominant interaction or communication style, if played up it will activate the "investigator/auditor" reflex/role of another style.

As an example, growing up around charismatic people, they are very much capable of doing something like this NYT article in reverse, for example getting the quiet, researcher-bean-counter-style approach of some government office critiqued on the evening news, organizing "irrational but passionate" protests, etc.


I'm looking forward to a sting operation that exposes celebrity economists.


As far as I’m concerned, the much larger and more reprehensible scams are perpetrated by religious/spiritual leaders. The only people this might come as a surprise to are the flock. The most flagrant frauds are committed by evangelical preachers, especially the “prosperity gospel” charlatans. The efforts to expose these crooks on a large scale have been weak and ineffective. The fact that these fat cats actually preach morality (their version, anyway) to their credulous throngs with one bible clutching hand held triumphaly toward heaven, while the other is pickpocketing them, is, of course, morally repugnant. These people need to be taken down. I could go on for hours with credible arguments for why this is justifiable, but I just desperately want to move this ball farther downfield where we can finally score one for the good side. Yes, I’m exercised!


I'm surprised they didn't see it coming.


David Chase provided us evidence through the Sopranos character Paulie Walnuts:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=PqgoXVB20W4

It’s not entirely unlikely that this scene was based on real mob stories. In the fictional depiction, the psychic would have had to have been in cahoots with Christopher Moltisanti for this to have been a deception, since it’s unlikely a psychic would have otherwise guessed about the poison ivy that Paulie got when whacking Mikey Palmice with Christopher.


It is sad that such an operation is needed to debunk these leeches.

Good on these people to have the time to debunk common myths and frauds. This might help prevent some from succumbing to their scams.


This being hacker news I was trying to envision how celebrities have different physics than regular people. I mean are they talking about Hollywood special effects or something? :facepalm:

James Randi spent his life debunking these charlatans. See Youtube for many examples if you really want to go down the rabbit hole.


Read the Wikipedia article on Bob Nygaard. It is a great collection of this detective's most notable psychic-fraud cases (including one where a client lost over $700,000). It will give you an idea of the scope of harm that belief in paranormal has on society.


This is the first time I've seen the NY Times hiding articles if you're browsing in private/incognito mode.

https://imgur.com/a/Tlv6Kn3


Works for me (Chrome on Linux). Either they do A/B testing or they can only detect it on some browsers. Concerning nonetheless, t.b.h..



Think it might be A/B testing. I have got it sometimes, not others.


John Oliver had a section on it in Sundays "Last Week Tonight". Had me triggered because I have a case in my own family who is drawn into the Astrology/Psychics bullshit. It went so far that she lost a lot of money at a time she was most vulnerable and she would meddle in other peoples lives by predicting horrible stuff (which sometimes happened because of projection) ... So I did an Ask HN here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19254698

-> I don't want to hi-jack this thread but did want to point out the John Oliver story and my general bewilderment wit YT not demonetizing these channels - no need to block or censor but just give them no money for their traffic.


The timing of this article is interesting given that John Oliver just did his show about this topic on Sunday. I wonder if that forced them to publish this?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhMGcp9xIhY


Forced them? Or they decided to ride a wave of interest and publish what they already have ready?


In the journalism world, that's kind of the same thing if you've been working on an article for a while and have to publish early. My main question is, was this always the day they planned to release this?


Was about to say this. Opened the article to expect some reference to the John Oliver show, but still haven't found any.


As part of the team which does these stings with Gerbic, I can tell you it was a pure coincidence regarding the timing of the Oliver Psychic segment and the NYT article. The Thomas John sting happened in 2017 and it took THAT long for the NYT to get this article out. The pub date kept slipping for all sorts of reasons, and a few weeks ago it got hot, final fact checking happened, final edits were done, and an actual publication date was set.

So, it's just a bad month for psychics. But Oliver NEEDS to be given an award this year from some Skeptic organization.

BTW, check out the Wiki article for Thomas John... now including all the new stuff, as well as links to articles written by Gerbic with the inside scoop on the sting, as well as the con that is John's "Seatbelt Psychic" show! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_John_Flanagan

Also, I write for Skeptical Inquirer, and have interviewed PI Bob Nygaard about his psychic-busting career. Read it here to get an idea of the magnitude of the problem caused by these TV psychics (it's Pt2, but Pt 1 is linked at the top): https://www.csicop.org/specialarticles/show/introducing_psyc...

Also, one of our undercover "agents" just published his insider tale of our latest sting operation against Matt Frasier: https://www.csicop.org/specialarticles/show/undercover_at_a_...


Probably a coincidence, this article likely wasn't written in a day, and I doubt NYTimes and Last Week Tonight are talking to each other.


No I'm sure this article was many months in the making. What I'm wondering is if it was always planned to come out today, or if they had to rush to an early finish because of Oliver "scooping" them.


Yikes. I've never watched John Oliver before. His presentation is so cringey. It's hard to watch. I miss John Stewart.


Perhaps, but he explores subjects with nuance and detail that is unfortunately lacking in the present day Trevor Noah Daily Show.


Relevant xkcd: https://xkcd.com/808/


Repeat after me: there's no such thing as a psychic. All psychics are simple con men, who prey on vulnerable individuals in order to receive easy cash. That is all.


While I agree that it's all baloney, I'd argue that many of them aren't "con men", since they honestly believe they have psychic powers. They're just wrong, and are confused by confirmation bias.


Sure, but those people don’t usually become famous.


In this instance, when the specific people are looking up people's Facebook accounts to mine information on them, we can say that they know what information they gathered through natural means.


If I had psychic powers I would just get the numbers for the next lotto draw, play it and keep a very tight secret on how I did it.

(Or just any investment that is improbably without insider info, that works as well)


I would win one. Then write a book on how I did it. Win the next one. Then do a major reprint on the book.


The Rich Dad Poor Dad method to becoming rich.


Now.. I have no qualms in calling out fraud where I see it. But care in throwing it all out.

We, earlier this week, read about someone who attended a meditation retreat left in handcuffs because meditation did crazy things to the mind. I mean, he was just eating and sitting and sleeping silently. We have holes in understanding of consciousness, and can't even tell if something is sentient or thinking.

And then, we have people feeling emotions in areas. These emotions can be shared. many people can feel being stared at.

The hole seems to be the intersection of: consciousness, mind, and emotion.

Can we point at emotion? Can we throw it against a wall? Can we describe anger without emotions? How do we measure it? Why can some people feel the anger in an area? Same for mind and consciousness - show me an example. Quantify it.

What's confusing is that your declaration of "They're just wrong, and are confused by confirmation bias." is that the very statement is confirmation bias of sciencism. Either there is proof (positive or negative), or there is not. Do not confuse lack of proof as proof of lack.


The fact that we can't yet show a mechanism for <whatever> does not make it reasonable to assume some sort of supernatural explanation. Your logic opens the door for believing any wacky idea a person has should be taken seriously. They shouldn't. Show a mechanism or proof of the effect. Otherwise it's nonsense.


What part of my logic is in error?

Lack of proof does not mean proof of nonexistence. And if we look at things like the aether, was made a distinct proof that it didn't exist as conjectured (although its rearing its head as a quantum Foam).

But I await for proof, be it positive or negative, of emotion and consciousness. Because all you did was throw insults.

> Show a mechanism or proof of the effect. Otherwise it's nonsense.

One can highlight open questions with no apparent answers. And it absolutely doesn't make those questions "nonsense". But this view is called Scientism, and is not science. "Proof or its fake" is absolutely not science.

"Proof or its unproven" is science.


> Lack of proof does not mean proof of nonexistence.

It is certainly evidence of nonexistence. Do you believe every single claim you've ever heard because you can't conclusively disprove it 100% of the time always? Of course not, you use your reason and assume that more positive claims are false until proven otherwise.


Charles H. Duell was the Commissioner of US patent office in 1899. Mr. Deull's most famous attributed utterance is that "everything that can be invented has been invented."

We laugh at it today, because some patent commissioner couldn't see past his own limited view, and made that claim.

Yet, when I postulate questions about things we have very little science with, I'm dismissed. I ask for science to be used with emotions; yet Im the dumb one. I want scientific method to determine consciousness; yet I'm the non-scientific one.

Again, you're the standard fare when it comes to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientism


The problem with Scientism is that the very utterance of the word sets up a Straw Man.

But I do get where you're coming from, having followed some of the same articles you've been referencing in your posts.

I think Deepak Chopra had some useful things to say. He is normally derided as trafficking in woo, especially in his remarks about James Randi.

But if you read what he has to say, his position makes sense. A lot of otherwise intelligent people fall into materialism as a sort of intellectual default and it's not wrong to challenge this.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/deepak-chopra/skepticism-and-...

And this in turn goes back to what Alan Watts had to say, the idea that materialism should be resisted in spite of its surface plausibility.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mryZ7e2TUhs

(The meat of it is around 10 minutes in)


While you await proof of psychic powers I am eagerly awaiting proof of unicorns and leprechauns.


> Do not confuse lack of proof as proof of lack

If taken to the extreme, this logic can be used to prove literally anything. "Haven't seen any proof of invisible back-massage fairies? Well, don't confuse lack of proof as proof of lack!". When your framework can be used to prove something false, it means that the framework is unreliable.

I don't really know what "sciencism" is, but we know that the scientific method has been demonstrated to work in producing results that are useful to us. I am typing this message on an electronic keyboard, plugged into a computer, plugged into a giant-ass interconnected network hitting satellites and fiber-cables and whatnot, all of which were developed by scientists or engineers following a scientific method.

To use your wording, however, while I can't conclusively say "lack of proof is proof of lack", I can easily say "lack of proof is strong evidence of lack". Occam's razor tells us to discard unnecessary assumptions.


"Repeat after me" ... how sadly ironic. I trust it isn't lost on you ... is it?


Perhaps this talk puts things in perspective:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnA8GUtXpXY


This guy seems not to know about the speed of light.


A fool and his money are soon parted. We can't really fix that, unfortunately.


> We can't really fix that,

I can, and I'll show you how, too, for a mere $100. (cash only)


Technically, this isn’t true since there’s no way to prove or disprove such a phenomenon, currently. It’s beyond the limits of science. Further, it’s certain that some subset of professional psychics and their clients do believe in their powers. this says nothing as to whether there’s shared delusion occurring.

This isn’t to discount the reality that many psychics are knowingly conning their customers.


"Prove" is a funny word. No, I can't "prove" there are no pink elephants in interstellar space. But based on our understanding of the universe, we can dismiss it out right. Claims of psychic powers are basically the same.


It's the celestial teapot.

You can't prove it's existence, but you can't disprove it either. Belief in it's existence is purely based on opinion, not fact.


"I like pizza" is an opinion. "I can read your thoughts" is a factual claim. We can test factual claims.


Sure, and "I can hear the ghosts around me" is not, and it's a waste of time for anyone trying to prove or disprove this opinion.


Which is fine, but often the claim is "The thing in this picture is a ghost." That's easily testable.


There IS a way to prove it--at least to yourself: learn Remote Viewing and you'll have direct experience. In the meantime, read about how the CIA has been using this non-local consciousness technology for decades:

https://www.google.com/search?q=website%3Afoia.cia.gov+remot...

The downside is that once you do it successfully, no one is going to believe you, anyway. :)


I have a way to get people to believe you: prove it.


What stronger proof is there than direct experience?

Edit: I would never want anyone to "believe" me, nor would I recommend anyone "believe" anything. There is only direct experience which brings knowledge, this is the standard for consciousness work.


> What stronger proof is there than direct experience?

Direct experience by a skeptical observer in a controlled environment.

Preferably backed up by a solid, provable null hypothesis and some statistics.


That's like saying there isn't anyway to prove or disprove a phenomenon of robbing a bank in broad daylight. It's beyond the limits of science. There was a quantum mechanical interaction that made it appear as if I was there, but I wasn't actually there.

We don't know anything with absolute certainty, we know many things with overwhelmingly great certainty.


Except you can observe a bank robbery, so that analogy is just a self-serving hypothetical.

I think psychics are a bunch of baloney too, but by definition the supernatural is not natural and not provable/disprovable. Let's not pretend that the act of disproving has some magic reach because then psychics or creationists or whoever will latch onto that overreach as a defense.


And why can't you observe a psychic? And write down what they say/predict? And make tests based on that?

If we can interact with something, even indirectly, we can perform experiments on it.


As I said above, you're right in that we can't prove a negative. But it's not a claim outside of science. They make claims which can be tested. When tested, their claims fail. When you repeat that enough times, you have amassed an incredible amount of negative evidence. When the body of negative evidence becomes overwhelming, it's reasonable to conclude that thing likely does not exist.


If there really was a psychic, it would be much smarter for them to keep quiet about it and become a billionaire stock trader. Thus, even allowing for the possibility of psychics, the ones that are advertising their services to consumers for money are either stupid or fake.


"These people are either lying or mentally ill." --Tim Minchin


Tim Minchin's Storm the Animated Movie

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhGuXCuDb1U


While many are probably con men (and perhaps many scientists, too), there has been pretty interesting research on psychic phenomena. I haven't been able to reproduce their results, though.

https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?arnumber=1454382

https://www.amazon.com/Spiritual-Brain-Neuroscientists-Case-...

https://www.amazon.com/Conscious-Universe-Scientific-Psychic...


(EDIT: When I was going through YC and my startup phase I would have automatically down-voted this post, too. Love you all.)

Skeptics: Of course there are many charlatans out there, but I'd love to understand how you justify dismissal of all non-local consciousness phenomena given that the CIA has been using Remote Viewing for decades and that anyone can learn to do it. Go prove it to yourself that it works and you'll taste the potential of consciousness and non-duality.

CIA's FOIA docs on Remote Viewing:

https://www.google.com/search?q=site%3Acia.gov+"remote+viewi...

Learn Remote Viewing:

https://www.google.com/search?q=learn+remote+viewing


Every other advancement in understanding relatively quickly becomes highly reproducible - someone struggles to figure out how to make a lightbulb work, then woosh, anyone can test that lightbulbs work.

A lot of the psychic stuff - telportation, telekensis, remote viewing etc doesn't follow this. Even worse, in many cases it violates well understood laws of physics etc. Even worse, in contract to someone like bill gates who did some cool software stuff, we don't have example of even one psychic using their powers to fortell the future flaunting and demonstrating their powers and become rich and wealthy.

Out of 5 billion people - not one.


"someone struggles to figure out how to make a lightbulb work, then woosh, anyone can test that lightbulbs work."

That's exactly what you can do with remote viewing: test that it works for yourself.

It seems like you're assuming that it is possible to use such powers for base and counter-life purposes like amassing wealth or that anyone that has reached such a subtle level of consciousness would even care about being wealthy.


What can you do (remote viewing-wise)?


Me, personally, or as a discipline? As a discipline, remote viewing allows the practitioner to gather details about a remote subject (anything in the universe of which you can become aware) which is unavailable to the five senses due to distance, time, or obfuscation. For example, the CIA would use it to gather details about remote bases that they observe on satellite images and such.

Personally, I've been able to identify basic blind targets (from a target pool such as https://intuitivespecialists.com/target-pool/) and started training in earnest, but soon abandoned it as an egoic pursuit in order to focus my attention on raising my consciousness through traditional spiritual practices (meditation, psychadelics, self-inquiry, lucid dreaming, etc).

There is a lot of fun that can happen when you've silenced your mind, sit still, and close your eyes for a few hours. :)


Doing it != success


So if every person were able to successfully do this but science can't explain it, what do you call that?


A frontier of science.


Exactly!

The fact there is a boundary between what is reliably and repeatedly observed in reality, and what science can explain means we need more people doing experiments on themselves to give scientists more data. If everyone tried enough Remote Viewing to have success (not that much work) the materialist paradigm would crumble.




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