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Whack-A-Medium

by Mark Edward, Feb 06 2010

How sad that yet another medium has been given press approval. I could write a post on a different medium or phony psychic every week and never run out of material. This week’s entry into the never-ending cycle of mediums I predicted would be coming (see my post “ESP Boot Camp” of 23 Feb. 2009) is Rebecca Rosen. I will hopefully not catch all the flack I caught two weeks ago when the Internet press release I quoted from was taken down, making the points I tried to make un-verifiable. This time, you can read all about Mrs. Rosen here:

http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_14307819.

For $500.00 an hour, you can reach a dead loved one – but it’s not guaranteed. Rebecca Rosen makes no guarantees. Why not? If you can talk to one dead person, what’s stopping you from reaching another? I never understood that excuse. Believers in spirit communication can now get on her three year waiting list. As soon as her HarperCollins book, “Spirited”  hits the stands, her 20 city book tour starts and “Niteline” finishes with her, she will likely be booked far into the next decade. Better hurry.

Of course the G word gets it’s mention at the very end of the article and the reporter Karen Auge also quotes from the Book of Genesis, letting us know that Joseph could interpret dreams and predict the future.  This timely skill (according to Auge) not only got him out of Pharaoh’s dungeon but also made him rich. It’s good to know that mediums back then did so well isn’t it?

Nothing much seems to have changed since Genesis. Rebecca Rosen is no different than Joseph and like all the rest of the purveyors of this sort of nonsense, she seems to have all the right answers to every question. At least when the reporter is a believer anyway.  Mediums know how to lie very effectively. Please note that I have used the generic word “mediums'”  and not the actual name of Rebecca Rosen when I used the two words “to lie.” Believers, book agents or would-be lawyers in sheep’s clothing can save their threats for some other website this time.

Telling the truth and lying are two very different ways of conveying information. If people who say they are talking to DEAD PEOPLE are not consciously lying, then they must be self-deluded. There are no two ways about this. You can talk to me about a third option, but talk is cheap.

Once again: Unless Mrs. Rosen can come up with consistent results that are verifiable by a credible third party, she has to be one or the other: dishonest or mentally unhinged. Pick one. There is no gray area or middle ground to be discussed. You can only play that card for so long. People who call themselves a medium can’t have it both ways. They can either talk to DEAD PEOPLE or they can’t.

Let me be a little clearer on this. If mediums are telling the world that they can do this, they may indeed have it both ways –  for awhile. But living in a world of deceit or mental illness can only get so many books published until looking in the mirror must eventually become unbearable. But then again this is by my standards and who am I to say?  Money makes the world go round. I can only state that I’m neither a liar or a whack job.

It’s sad that news organizations and major book publishers apparently don’t look into the same mirror that I do each morning and deplorable that the prosperous buisness of pretending to speak to DEAD PEOPLE gets so easily picked up and endorsed by publishers like HarperCollins. Doing so leaves no doubt in my mind that they know how to make a buck off people in pain too. They must ultimately share in the cuplpability for spreading superstition, ficticious babble and false hope into the lives of millions of gullible people.  Hey HarperCollins, would you be the slightest bit interested in the inside track about the spook racket and what really goes on it it, written by a person who has been there and back? I dare you to read my book, “Psychic Blues.” It’s not fiction, it’s fact.

It’s so simple really: I have said it once and I will say it again; If any medium anywhere  could truly do what they say they can do, it would be the most important breakthrough in modern science in history. So let’s have it.

Mrs. Rosen is mentioned by Auge as being the “medium of the moment.” How true.  It’s getting to be that mediums are like Metro trains. There will be another one coming along any moment thanks to writers like Karen Auge.

Is this really news?

The Duh Factor Again: People would be better served by seeking out a qualified bereavement counselor rather than a phony medium. Period.

And Again: Claiming to be able to speak to the dead is easy. Anyone can do it with a little training in magic, psychology and misdirection techniques. There’s only one way to make real news with people like Mrs. Rosen:

PROVE IT.

Karen Auge writes that in college Mrs. Rosen majored in advertising.

Right.

Rebecca Rosen is still majoring in advertising thanks to the Denver Post.

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36 Responses to “Whack-A-Medium”

  1. MadScientist says:

    Ah, another medium grows too large.

    It never fails to astound me how people continue to fall for such nonsense.

  2. Jim says:

    “If you can talk to one dead person, what’s stopping you from reaching another?”

    Just to play devil’s advocate for a moment, and, to be clear, I am emphatically not a believer of any sort, couldn’t you make the same claim about modern medicine? Alt medicine pushers say stuff like that all the time: “Well, if that [drug/treatment] really does work, then how come it didn’t cure my [illness/condition]?” Rational people might point out that not all forms of medicine have a 100% success rate due to a variety of factors, many of which are well understood, but that doesn’t mean that any given treatment shouldn’t be trusted to work when used properly. Therefore, if hypothetically psychic phenomena were real (a proposition I don’t find remotely likely), wouldn’t it be possible that there would be something about its nature that makes it so that psychic mediums can only communicate with the dead some of the time? I guess what I’m really asking is if we as skeptics are just confirming our biases (assuming we have any) by remembering the hits (when psychics miss) and ignoring the misses (when psychics get hits). Someone reassure me, or at least tell me I’m overthinking this.

    • godlizard says:

      Jim, I appreciate your fair-mindedness, but the hit-or-miss of a psychic is not something that can reasonably be compared to a medical therapy that does not have a 100% success rate. All modern medical procedures and treatments have undergone rigorous testing and the basis of their success / failure rate, if not completely understood, is at least accounted for in the decision to pursue that course of treatment.

      If an antibiotic fails to stop a raging infection, we understand the factors that contributed to that failure – genetic mutations of the bacteria, systemic weakness making the patient more vulnerable, etc. If a course of chemotherapy fails to stop the aggressive spread of a cancer, we understand that our knowledge of the disease is still fragmentary, and we do know that each individual case is unique, with its own very complex set of variables affecting the outcome.

      By comparison, the “cold-reading” technique used by psychics to make a series of guesses and inferences based on feedback from those guesses is well-documented and understood, and there has never been a documented case in which a psychic has relayed independently verifiable information.

      And while it cannot be considered definitive evidence of the complete absence of paranormal abilities, the unclaimed million dollars of the James Randi Challenge (http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/1m-challenge.html) is a rather compelling argument in and of itself.

      I mean, sure, $500/hour is a nice wage, but Ms. Rosen could earn the equivalent of 2,000 hours of hard psychic labor with just one scientifically verifiable message from the beyond — and presumably go on to earn unimaginable amounts of money as the world’s first proven medium. In order to believe she’s real, you have to accept that she has no interest in that distinction, or the wealth that would follow.

  3. Mr. Stu dislikes Woo! says:

    For the love of!… What the HELL is wrong with Denver! Shit, who am I kidding, the entire state is rife with this nonsense: Chris Moon, Frank Sumption, Mark Macey, Stan Romanek, Bob Larson (started in Denver), Jeff Peckman and now this person. This state is WELL on it’s way at becoming the new Sedona AZ.

    • Sgerbic says:

      Might be quickly hitting the status of Roswell for the UFO freaks.

    • Bryan says:

      Of course it is in Denver.

      We are not on the way to becoming the new Sedona, we have already gone past that.

      You forgot Bill Chappel, Paulette Huff “famous psychic”, Rick Nelson, etc… I am getting mad just typing this.

    • WScott says:

      My personal theory is the quacks can’t afford to live in Boulder anymore, so they’re moving to Denver.

  4. Sgerbic says:

    Just cross-posted Mark’s blog on the comments section of the Denver Post article. I must say that I am proud that the majority of the comments on the Post article are all anti-woo ones. I think the newspaper might just rethink their next article in support of psychics.

    We can make a change for the good.

  5. gdave says:

    @Jim (#3):

    I also think “If you can talk to one dead person, what’s stopping you from reaching another?”isn’t a valid objection to the claims of mediums. Why would a genuine medium necessarily always be able to contact a particular spirit? If mediumship is a real phenomenon, we clearly don’t fully understand the rules, so there’s no a priori reason to assume the ability to sometimes contact the dead necessarily implies the ability to always contact the dead.

    But here’s the difference with modern/scientific/evidence-based medicine: we rely on the scientific method, particularly double-blind, placebo-controlled, peer-reviewed studies, to make sure the “hits” really are hits, not the result simple chance or some confounding factor.

    With mediums, there simply are no verified hits that cannot be more easily explained by more mundane means (cold reading, for example). It’s not that skeptics only remember the misses, it’s that psychics have never actually achieved any verifiable hits under properly controlled conditions. If a medium could produce contact with the dead under properly controlled conditions even, say, 10% of the time, “it would be the most important breakthrough in modern science in history.” But, no one’s ever managed it even once.

  6. gdave says:

    Whoops. My comment above should have been addressed to Jim (#2).

  7. Dwight says:

    What would happen if some one came out in the press and just called these people lairs? And used that word?
    If they were to sue for libel, wouldn’t they have to prove their point?
    Im not leagle expert but it would be interesting to see what would happen.

    • Watch Penn & Teller to see what other words they use legally to describe these snake oil peddlers. Quite amusing.

      Unfortunately, you probably couldn’t get away with labeling them liars because you’d have to prove they were lying. The onus of proof, at that point, is on you. It would be virtually impossible to prove this woman isn’t psychic. Their safety net of excuses are endless.

      I really do wish people wouldn’t buy into this shit. It’s increasingly frustrating that these idiots get airtime and media coverage to project their bullshit.

  8. My….oh….my. You know, I really wish we could all go back to the stone age. No media. No interwebs. No means of these insipid monkeys broadcasting their woo on a global stage. The worst you’d get is having to share a cave with some idiot psychic caveman which is easily resolved by feeding them to the dinosaurs.

    I predict this bullshit will never end.

  9. Michael Kingsford Gray says:

    I can talk to dead people, and have.
    I’ll apply for the JREF’s $1m the moment that I get a response.

    • Jason says:

      Well, of course anyone can talk to dead people… the crazy/lying part comes in when you claim that they are listening and talking back. *laughs

  10. Sara says:

    Seriously…Corporations are hiring psychics?????

    I am so not in the right industry. I mean if you can just sit around and make things up and people will PAY MONEY, what the heck am I doing unemployed. I am clearly allowing my scruples to stop me from being a contributing member of society. Hard work and a few lies and….

    Why fight it? I mean there are ALWAYS going to be people who will believe. Its always been and it will always be. So why not play along.

    Again, the damn scruples are stopping me. I bet I could lick this honesty thing if I try hard enough. Does anyone have a suggestion on who I should choose as my new mentor in deceiving the stupid and desperate?

  11. AUJT says:

    Here’s the link to the video that the above still photo is from. It’s Fox news channel 2 out of Detroit.—> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIcENAHh2tM&feature=related

    • Sgerbic says:

      But here is the second video in that series from Fox news and they show her cold & hot reading. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oIATJsZWug&feature=related

      What more proof do you need to prove she is a fake. She has everyone’s name and addresses BEFORE the show. She “says” she does not google names, do you believe that? She “says” that she does not remember people she has read for in the past, do you believe that also?

      Society sure is in trouble if we are this gullible.

      • AUJT says:

        I wouldn’t believe a word out of the woman’s lying, deranged, sick pie hole.

        “Society sure is in trouble if we are this gullible.”

        Many are I’m afraid.

    • kabol says:

      i just watched an episode (“the Future Job”) of a TNT TV-show called “Leverage” that featured the working over of a media psychic. ( the show is a formulaic episodic bit of entertainment which features a hodge-podge collection of thieves and con-artists who scam society’s bad for the benefit of society’s good).

      i loved how the episode touched fearlessly on exactly how media psychics ((AND their production companies)) could and would scam their audiences (hidden cameras, hidden microphones, internet searches, cold reading and hot reading techniques).

      and i LOVED the idea of the scammers getting scammed. it was quite satisfying to watch.

  12. shirimasen says:

    I am not a believer of any sorts, but that’s why I was a bit disappointed in this blog. I know you guys have to make the same arguments over and over again, but when you skip over the more enlightening explanations of what these people are doing to trick people and go straight for the attack on their character, it is likely ineffective at convincing people who do believe in this stuff. My point is this, if you already believe in it and you have a confirmation bias (like every other human being), it will be very easy to discount this blog as merely being an ad hominem attack. It is much harder to dismiss a thorough explanation of how a medium’s claims are false or, at the very least, lacking evidence and how there is evidence for the skeptic’s claim of hot and cold reading. I know it is troublesome, but I think it is to the advantage of everyone if we keep the arguments clear, easy to understand, and convincing to those that may not readily consider the skeptic’s theory (and away from ad hominem). Otherwise you are just patting yourself on the back, feeding the mediums more fuel for their claims against skeptics, and alienating those you are trying to help. I do appreciate the work you are trying to do though, just please work a little more on your argument technique.

    • kabol says:

      It is much harder to dismiss a thorough explanation of how a medium’s claims are false or, at the very least, lacking evidence and how there is evidence for the skeptic’s claim of hot and cold reading. I know it is troublesome, but I think it is to the advantage of everyone if we keep the arguments clear, easy to understand, and convincing to those that may not readily consider the skeptic’s theory (and away from ad hominem).

      these explanations (of psychics’ tricks) have been provided at length on many, many sites and in many skeptics’ books. (ie, mark’s)

      i saw the purpose of this blog entry as more an introduction of yet another media-grubbing charlatan. there is so much proof that these media psychics ARE charlatans, and absolutely NO proof that they are really psychic — what’s a (skeptically-minded, critical thinking) person to do??

      why, make fun of them of course!

      i see these rather sarcastic (and very entertaining) blog entries as less of an attack on these opportunistic actors’ characters and more of an attack on this specific skanky, slimy section of the paranormal money-making machine.

    • stargazer9915 says:

      Calling this woman a lying, thieving bitch (my words) is not a personal attack on her character but an honest to goodness FACT. She financially rapes people (again my words) and abuses them emotionally. To say she should crawl off and die in a hole in the ground would not be saying enough for what this ‘thing’ deserves.

      For the most part, this blog preaches to the choir. People do not come here to have their beliefs changed. We all know the score when it comes to mediums and like to read (for better or worse) about the new grauds out there.

  13. Bill says:

    “…deplorable that the prosperous buisness of pretending to speak to DEAD PEOPLE gets so easily picked up and endorsed by publishers like HarperCollins”

    I used to work in the retail book business. For the record, I don’t think that mainstream publishers like HarperCollins are directly endorsing or supporting a belief in psychic abilities. They simply recognize that a large market for these books exists, so they’re endorsing profitablility by serving that market. Granted, it’d be nice for them to show some scruples and refuse to publish tripe like this…

    Now – some of the niche publishers that have cropped up specifically to publish in the supernatural genre? I have no idea if they’re motivated by cash, ideology or both.

    • tmac57 says:

      I took a look at their web site, and didn’t find anything that sounded like a statement of principles concerning the content of their publications. It basically said something approximating: “Harper Collins sells very popular books”.That seems to be part of the problem with most information outlets these days, they don’t really care if what they print or say is true, they only care if it sells.

  14. Hazel McLister-Brewer says:

    Hi,

    I realise that you really don’t like mediums, etc and their take on life is very different to yours, but I had to feel sorry for you when I read the article above because you seemed so closed in your mind.

    It struck me that you peddle disbelief in the way that they peddle belief. You appear to me to be the two sides of the one coin, both adamant that your point of view is the right one. You were just made for each other……….

    • Please present something that qualifies this idiot’s, I mean, psychic’s abilities as proof of her abilities. Then we’ll talk about open and closed minds.

      Being skeptical requires qualifiable evidence in order to take a stance for or against something.

      So…proof…got some?

      • Sgerbic says:

        Gee I can’t remember the last time a skeptic told a desperate parent that their child was alive but living as a white slave in Japan (Sylvia Browne). I’m sure that psychics don’t mean to prey on people’s emotions (NOT) and empty their wallets at the same time, it’s just like Disneyland right?

      • Look, Sylvia shouldn’t be held responsible for what information her spirit guides deliver. She’s just a conduit from one unproven realm of existence to another. Much like a crack pipe. Actually, exactly like a crack pipe.

        Sure she’s wrong on the odd occasion and that “odd occasion” is…well…all the bloody time….but she’s got feelings. Deep, deep, deep down, in her cold, dead, black heart the woman has feelings.

        How dare anyone attack Sylvia. How dare anyone use the example that she literally drove a knife through the hearts of loved ones as she casually proclaimed, in her best choker smoke voice, their missing child was being used a sex slave in some far off distant country. How dare you sir…or madam…what ever the case may be!

        How dare anyone allege these people possess as much psychic ability as my pet goldfish’s fart bubbles. They’re just trying to help! Help those in need of answers who have exhausted all possible avenues and are now in desperate need of answers. People who will, out of sheer frustration, pay money and assign trust to those who possess the ability to read tea leaves, burn sage and read the minds of puppy dogs and kitty cats.

        Why don’t you skeptics open your minds to the possibilities of the supernatural. Allow yourselves to witness the beauty of psychic abilities from those who profiteer on the vulnerabilities of others the same way vultures stalk and eventually feast on dead animals.

        You skeptics should be ashamed!

        Oh…and I thought I’d mention Tesla. No reason. Just thought I’d throw the T word.

      • Sgerbic says:

        do you really have a goldfish? And do fish fart?

        Sorry, just wanted to mention fart in my post…no reason…

        BTW Well said Jose

    • stargazer9915 says:

      “…so closed in your mind.”

      Do you not realise that the author of this blog was “psychic medium” for many years before it got to be too much? If anyone knows the inside details of psychics, it’s Mark Edward. To say he is closed minded just shows the rest of the readers that you are ignorant of the facts and posting for the sole purpose of having something to type.

      Do your homework before you start slinging words like “close minded” around.

  15. stargazer9915 says:

    That last post was for Hazel#14 and yes, I feel evil today.

    (Nice post, Jose)

  16. Some Guy says:

    God, is it ever a relief to read folks with a reasonable attitude about this con artist. It’s too bad that not lying to people doesn’t make you $500 an hour, and it’s too bad that the Denver Post seemed so willing to buy Rebecca Rosen’s act wholesale.

  17. Christie says:

    Yeah, because counselors are so very helpful. Please. And what is that you do that is so helpful to people? I feel very sorry for people like you, who are so narrow minded and ignorant to believe there is no “gray area”. There is indeed gray area. If someone was claiming to have all of the answers and be perfect at what they are getting and what they do…then I would be skeptical. Psychic abilities are a skill of sensitivity, and the use of a “sense”. Do you always hear every word spoken by other people perfectly? I doubt it. It’s the same thing. We are also not supposed to know every secret from the other side. Why would we be here? And as far as science proving or not proving the existence of psychic ability….I believe they have. People are just too afraid, or stupid to understand it. Also, how many times have human beings called something “witchcraft” that was later proven to be true by science. Wake up, and stop trying to smear the name of a woman who has brought relief and growth to many, many people. Have you done that? I doubt it.

  18. Rachel says:

    I was very skeptical of Rebecca Rosen, but I went to one of her events tonight in Chicago and she knew things about my deceased brother that only our family knows. Yes, she could have seen the list of people who signed up for the event and googled obituaries ahead of time. However, she provided details about my brother’s childhood and personal family stories that she could have NEVER found on the internet.

    It was an unbelievable experience, and she provided comfort for a lot of people tonight. Until you open your heart and mind to the possibility of a sixth sense (and there are more and more psychological research studies being done on the topic), you will always find a reason to have doubt. There is so much we don’t know and understand.

    Don’t let it bother you that her gift is lucrative. Who cares that she’s making a lot of money. Don’t be jealous. She is good at what she does, and I believe there is some truth to it. But who knows, maybe I’m the sucker. I just miss my brother a lot!