Skeptic vs Psychic

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Usually I am not one to feed the Trolls, but it seems, dear reader, that I have managed to ruffle a few feathers in the psychic community.  Let me start my story at the beginning.   Last July I wrote a piece for Skeptoid entitled “Did Psychics Help to Find Caylee Anthony’s Body?”  Long story short, my focus was on a psychic named Ginette Matacia Lucas.  I concluded that psychic powers (all psychic powers and not just hers) are non-existent and that “she took advantage of a very distressed family to make a buck and further her psychic business.”  She has since informed me that she took no funds from the Casey family.  I’m glad to hear that and I’ll take her at her word.  I withdraw the portion of my statement that has to do with making a buck.   I’m sure that being on CNN during the Anthony trial wasn’t bad for business, however. 

 

It turns out that I am not the only one to raise questions about her psychic abilities and dealings with grieving families.  You can read more about that yourself here.  I am also not the only skeptic to address her involvement with Anthony case.  You can read that piece from Tampa Bay Skeptics Online here.

Out of the blue, a few days ago,  Ms. Lucas threatened me with legal action in the comments section of my Skeptoid article. What follows is a portion of her comments on my piece.

Good news – I have interviewed a Lawyer and guess what I have legal action against those who have “intent” to slander me – even if it is an opinion – watch what you say and do …

I am a resident of Virginia, I have found over 20 missing persons – what have you done for your community? I am a mommy, housewife, volunteer and professional dowser and psychic ….

I never took advantage of anyone and your intent is to slaughter my good name – wake up and smell the coffe – I am onto my next big missing person case, (as a volunteer) and when I find him or her – I will be sure to read more of your garbage and lack of correct analysis thru the media or your limited reading.

A fellow Skeptoid blog reader came to my defense suggesting that we should “play a game of name that logical fallacy” with Ginette’s post.  This is her reply to that idea.

Wow – comments comments comments – what are you all doing for your neighborhood? Do you donate to your church or do you take advantage of your employer – goss – omg – you got paid at work … well well well – I didn’t and I didn’t expect a pay check on the Anthony Case – if you are a blogger – you have a limited life – and you are wasting people’s time. I am the only “so called fallacy” that was correct and written about in the Smithsonian Mag. to pinpoint two missing objects from my home in VA to the location in NY – let’s see if you can do that…

Additionally, the skeptic assoc. with money has done nothing but complain, complain, complain – that’s funny your top dog who runs the skeptic group came to my home town in DC, and actually trained people to dowse – why DC, why not Florida – I guess he doesn’t want to look as tho he’s a believer in the Dowsing …

he got paid for lecture and the training class in dowsing – omg – I guess he took advantage of these good, tragedy upset skeptic people/ his students – how dare he

- and a blog about ginette – back off – let’s talk about your kids, family, home address, and tell people – like some idiot did on the internet – let’s charge ginette’s house with “shit” or “poop” and chant at her house – first it’s illegal and second I have younger children – you are not a judge and jury.

When people need help they call me or my father (who happens to be a good guy) – I guess you aren’t working and no one calls you. Oh, I forgot you just write your petty notes of hot air and attack attack attack.

Here’s my legal note to you … cease and decist about talking about me, my work, and stop making up lies and misinformation. And you talk warnings – the world is make up of let’s of people skeptics, volunteers, service oriented people, jerks, and lawyers … and there are plenty in every field.

It just so happens that someone whom I greatly admire, one Mr. James Randi, read the article that Ms. Lucas mentioned above (Urban New Agers have taken over the art of dowsing, Smithsonian Magazine, January, 1996) and apparently he liked it so much he decided to write about it last March on his website.  As you might infer from title, the article was mostly about dowsing.  Randi, responding to a line which read “The relationship between dowsing and established science has always been distant, mutually suspicious.” wrote “Nonsense. There is no relationship. Science is logic, rationality, careful investigation, and experimentation – and that works: dowsing is wishful thinking, superstition and mythology that doesn’t work.”  Classic.  Psychic abilities, as well as dowsing, so far have not been proven by science to exist and as such must be classified as make believe and wishful thinking.

That said, I personally don’t feel that most psychics are frauds.  “Fraud”, as defined by the fine folks at dictionary.com, is “deceit, trickery, sharp practice, or breach of confidence, perpetrated for profit or to gain some unfair or dishonest advantage”.  Giving people the benefit of the doubt, I feel that most psychics likely believe in their “powers”.   They no doubt have “visions” and unexplained feelings about what is going to happen in the future.

Yours truly once was driving home from work in light traffic when someone passed me on a motorcycle.  No big deal, happens several times a day.  However, one time I got a feeling out of nowhere that this unfortunate guy was going to crash.  He wasn’t speeding and I had no earthly reason to feel something bad was going to happen to him.  A few seconds after I had this odd thought, I watched the rider lay the bike down and begin skidding along the road.  He just went down out of nowhere for no apparent reason.  Very, very strange coincidence.  That’s all it was though, a coincidence.  I don’t claim to have psychic abilities.  If I did have psychic abilities, I’d be spending most of my free time at the casinos.  You know what?  No casino have ever banned psychics from their gaming rooms.  There is no need.

What is my point in bringing up this old issue?  My point is that we, as skeptics and rational minded people, cannot be made to back off of our beliefs for any reason, least of which being threats of legal action.  We should work with the likes of Ms. Lucas and give them a fair chance to scientifically prove their abilities. That is why I’d like to take the opportunity to invite her to attempt the James Randi One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge.  I’m feeling bold enough now to predict that there is no way she will accept the challenge.  I’m certain numerous excuses are forthcoming.  That’s too bad, but it is also OK.  Failure to try is probably preferable to failing the challenge.

P.S.:  Skeptical bloggers (or anyone else) please feel free to publish this piece if you’d like.  I’m trying to get the word out as far and wide as possible on this topic and that’s why I’m initially posting this at Skeptoid.com and on my site, The Inconvenient Truth.    Maybe if enough of us come together she’ll accept the challenge.

 

 

Sources:

Two psychics credited with foreseeing location of Caylee Anthony’s remains, Tampa Bay Skeptics Report Online.

Psychic’s Credibility Questioned Amid Claims she Talked with PI, WFTV.com

The Dowsing Delusion is still with Us, James Randi Educational Foundation

Breakout Productions and Management, Ginnette Matacia Lucas “Paranormal Advisor”

Urban New Agers have taken over the art of dowsing, Smithsonian Magazine, January, 1996

How did the psychic Ginette Lucas know where Calyee’s remains were?, The SOP:  News, Interviews and More

The Skeptic’s Dictionary, psychic

About Guy McCardle

Guy McCardle is an American science writer and skeptic. He is a certified Infection Prevention Specialist and served proudly as a Captain in the Army Medical Corps during Operation Iraqi Freedom. A devoted father and husband, he offers his unique viewpoints regarding science and the public interest.
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8 Responses to Skeptic vs Psychic

  1. Henk v says:

    Pfft Guy, Psychics are what are called occupational hypochondriacs. They have made up their condition as a trade.

    Lump them in with creationists and homeopaths.

    My prsonal experience with psychics, mediums and “interpreters” is one thing… they are very slow on the uptake when faced with any facts but are insanely quick in making a claim.

  2. AJ Ball says:

    That’s weird. The other day I was driving up the motorway in the fading light and had a strange feeling that maybe something bad would happen, that I had better be extra careful in case there was a crash. And lo and behold somebody towing a caravan up ahead went fishtailing and jack-knifed into the bank (he looked to escaped unscathed).
    Maybe I have untapped powers…
    Or maybe after so many miles the law of averages took its course. (Naw!)

  3. Guy McCardle says:

    Law of averages? Nah….. Untapped powers sounds lots more fun and profitable. :)

  4. Barb Pott says:

    Well, I consider myself rational minded, too. I have a BS in botany from the University of Michigan and 2 graduate degrees. I love science and the logical processes used to discover what is really happening in natural events. I despise pseudoscience. But I also know that the unexplained is only that- something we don’t yet have an explanation for. I will celebrate the day that credible researchers in major universities discover how a psychic reads what they do because I myself can read objects and tell quite a bit about the owner or user of the object and be spot on. If I look at a picture of a smiling, healthy looking individual I can tell you how they died. I don’t know how it happens. Some authors write that it’s energy flow and some write it’s their spirit guides or whatever. I don’t experience it as either of those- I just see images, usually symbolic, or sounds that comes to me and they have specific meaning. I’ll be glad when serious scientists put aside their superstitious fear of such abilities or their fear of academic political fallout from really investigating how this happens. Those who try to demonstrate that it’s not real are using pseudoscience to “prove” their point.

  5. Guy McCardle says:

    Hi Barb,

    Interesting comment. I really can’t poo-poo your claims because I have experienced phenomena that I cannot explain. I’d be interested in hearing more about your experiences.

    –Guy

  6. Henk v says:

    I have experienced phenomena that I cant explain…not since I was 12.

    Most people who claim stuff are relaying this in some obscure method of communication..

    “I BS like mad”
    “I BS like crazy!
    Thats nice, how much off the back?
    No more than 4 inches
    HEY…Thats 8 inches!
    Told you I BS..that will be 90 bucks
    You are good!!!

  7. Susan says:

    Seriously? Because you don’t believe does not make you right. Kind of like the world in the 1400′s…everyone thought the world was flat. But it was not. So Ginette is correct you should not be slandering her and that is exactly what you have done. And harassing her online. You should be ashamed of yourself.
    I went to see her 20 years ago and everything she told me happened. No one knows where or how these ‘gifts’ work or when or how they occur. But if you read history, it is full of people who had insights and visions to the future, they are not all crazies, insane or out to lunch.
    We used Ginette as a consultant for some work on Mysteries of the Unknown, a heavily researched and documented series published by Time Life Books. She may not always be right, but neither is anyone else I know including you. No one bats 100 and no one sinks a basket every time either.

  8. mary says:

    I also have had readings with Ginette Matacia, the first one was 27 years ago and so much of what she predicted actually happened. I have kept in touch with her over the years. Many years ago, I was speaking to her over the phone, just having a regular conversation and she interrupted me and told me to see a Dr immediately for a specific illness. I did see the Dr and was diagnosed with the condition that she had predicted. I had to have a surgical procedure and if I hadn’t, my condition could have became very serious. Not everything that she predicted actually happened, but many many things did and they were specific events and not just a generalization.

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