Friday, April 18, 2008

UK Outlaws Fraudulent Mediums

Just the fraudulent ones, though, not the real ones.

"...under the EU Unfair Commercial Practices Directive ... it will be the medium's responsibility to prove they did not mislead or coerce vulnerable consumers."

That should be exciting. How the hell would you prove this? The whole trick of cold reading is to convince the mark that you're getting the information from his dead relatives when what you're really doing is stealthily getting it from him.

How would a medium prove that he's not just a rip-off artist? It would take a very carefully, scientifically controlled environment to prove that he's not just cheating: throwing out dozens of random guesses until the mark indicates a hit.

What's unfair here, however, is exactly what the Spiritual Workers Association is complaining about: "The problem is that it's turning spiritualism the religion into a consumer product, which it is not."

I have to agree. If we can force a medium to prove that his nonsense is factually accurate, shouldn't we also force the Catholic Church to prove that the wine actually turns in to blood? Shouldn't we force other Christian Churches to prove that the afterlife they sell actually exists? Shouldn't we consider it fraudulent for all of the Abrahamic religions if they can't find the gate, somewhere in the Middle East, where the two angels with flaming swords prevent our reentry in to Eden?

Yes, the fraudulent people who prey on the relatives of the recently deceased are despicable and ought to be outlawed. But it's only fair to apply the same standard of proof to all of the other hucksters out there.

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larryniven said...

That's actually a rather good point towards the end about applying equal standards to other religions. Transubstantiation for one thing would be fun to watch people explain, but perhaps more fun would be the inefficacy of prayer. But, of course, that's not what religions are for, ostensibly, and thus religions needn't be regulated in this way. It also takes a significant amount of choice away from the people who seek these false mediums. I understand taking that choice away from people who seek, say, false surgeons, but this doesn't seem to reach that same level.

spy said...

Did you ever see the pet psychic? She should be out of business too now!