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Paul, Drew and Sally

by Mark Edward, Mar 08 2012

Would you buy a used car from this person?

It is intriguing to note that even though the Brits have severely limiting libel laws that constrict their ability to go after psychics, Simon Singh and mentalist Paul Zenon have been fighting the good fight with Sally Morgan in a number of ways that we here in America could learn a great deal from.

Problem is: finding a news reporter, personality or highly visible person to get up off their comfy chairs in the media and do it. To me , this is a disgraceful situation. Take a look here: and read for yourself the sort of actions we should be doing. We have more media, more access to technology, more personalities, more lawyers and probably more psychics than any other country in the world. So why aren’t we able to sway America our way and get some traction here? And by our way I mean the honest and rational way that turns to science, not the Kardashians? I don’t have the answer, but perhaps it has to do with the fact that there are so many of everything in America it’s impossible to whack one down before another one pops up. Still, that’s not a good enough excuse. We have seen JREF issue their challenges in a new barrage of news items and CFI has recently followed suit with their own challenges to the likes of John Edward, Browne and Van Praagh.

Simon Singh

However, it’s one thing to challenge someone in an occasional newspaper editorial or on television, it’s another to actually go out and do something like Drew McAdam did for The Edinburgh Evening News. In the last year, we have seen a personality no less grandiose than Anderson Cooper (and his mother) tout the veracity of John Edward! Unthinkable but true. So-called mediums like Edward continue on and on without any serious challenge to their methods or signs of slowing down. Now we can see it all played out in HDTV bigger, better and clearer than ever before – but we are for the most part blind to the content. If I know how they do their cheap stunts and miracles, why doesn’t  Mr. Cooper? Isn’t The View interested in the real view? What’s wrong with this Big Picture? I’ve beaten this dead horse long enough here at skepticblog and paid some dues in the process, and while it is true the liars and cheats that operate in these markets will never be without an excuse, (read Sally’s rant here: ( ) I seriously cannot understand why the skeptical movement, with all its lawyers and creative critical thinkers, don’t do more to create media attention in these obviously crooked times.



11 Responses to “Paul, Drew and Sally”

  1. Janet Camp says:

    I have wondered the same thing about doctors who do nothing more than write blogs about quacks, especially quacks with MD after their names. They keep on with the mantra of, “there is no good evidende that …..”, as if that will dissuade the average person who’s just been to the acupuncturist who has assured her that she will soon be feeling much better now that she’s getting the “wisdom” of the East and a bunch of filthy hers from god knows where and containing goddess knows what parts of endangered animals.

    Now, I really do not mean to disparage the fine work of favorite bloggers, but it seems time to start doing more to stop the quacks and the infiltration of woo into real medicine than writing a blog that is mostly read by the choir. How about some activism?

    • Susan Gerbic says:

      I totally agree Janet. Mark Edward went face-to-face with Sylvia Browne and took down Rosemary Althea on Bullshit. The IIG is trying to go after pseudoscience. And I and a hand-full of others are editing all these bad reports about these grief vampires into their Wikipedia pages. (check out any psychic’s WP page) Others like Ben Radford and Travis Roy’s group have done some picketing of psychics. So there is work being done, but probably not on the level and the amount that is needed to really take these people down for good.

      Love Love Love what is going on in England/Ireland.

  2. Chris Elder says:

    Picketing is an almost guaranteed way to get a cause dismissed by the general public. I think through the eyes of most Americans, picketers are viewed simply as butt-hurt crybabies who lost their cookie and blame the baker for it.

    The unofficial title of skeptic has profound meaning to those who already embrace it, but to most everyone else it is just synonymous with non-believer. Thanks to fictional media, movies and television, faith of any kind is celebrated as a trait of strength and virtue. I’m not talking about just religious faith, but the ability to dismiss all doubt and believe in something (anything) with absolute resolve in the face of adversity. This is a very sexy concept to people because anyone can do it, and they identify with the protagonist and, like him/her, want to become the hero through sheer will alone.

    Because of this mentality, the more rational argument you make against a pseudoscience or psychic ability, the more people will tend to defy it because they are predisposed to think that believing is the right thing, and logic is just another hurdle in their own fairy tale.

    So how do you combat this? Who knows, humans are complex. Maybe you just need to find creative ways of turning the tables so that irrational belief is the hurdle and critical thinking is the salvation. One thing I know for sure, nothing makes people more open to change than emotional distress. Take a bunch of believers, crush their hopes and dreams, and maybe they will be more receptive.

    I think skepticism needs double agents, people who play the role of psychic or snake-oil salesman and then set themselves up for failure. People like John Edward can reassure their fans that the detractors are just faithless husks that nitpick away because they lack spiritual experiences. But if John Edward dropped the ball on his own, he’d do more damage to himself than a whole army of skeptics ever could.

    • Janet Camp says:

      I agree that the root of all this is faith/belief. And since the right to believe any old thing is so enshrined in our national psyche, it has inevitably led to a state of affairs where we are just supposed to tolerate anything and everything or else be labeled a grumpy old skeptic.

      Still, the scientific community could and should do more and be more vocal. They are beginning to do so and it will be a long process and it remains to be seen whether or not they can “catch up”.

      As an aside, I think picketing can be extremely effective when the numbers get big enough. I live in Wisconsin and we are seeing some serious results from tens of thousands of people who marched on our State Capitol for months on end. We’ll be gathering there again tomorrow to mark one year since the legislation that started all this was passed in the dead of night. We are well on the way to a historical recall election. If it succeeds, I will be willing to consider “picketing” for other causes.

  3. Willy says:

    “I live in Wisconsin and we are seeing some serious results from tens of thousands of people who marched on our State Capitol for months on end…..”

    It pains me to see what is at heart a liberal cause associated with debunking in any way. While it may be true that marches can go some way toward bringing attention to a point of view, it is also true that just because there is a march, it does not mean the point of view is necessarily valid. Lots of stupid and noxious causes have been the subject of marches.

    In fact it pains me to see so many liberals, some rather extreme, associated with the skeptic movement. It tends to put a political spin on something that should not be political. We need to stick to the facts and keep opinion as far from any association with the skeptic movement as possible.

    Fail to do that and we come off as “just another damn liberal” to those who we are trying to convince.

    • Phea says:

      Hate to pop your bubble Willy, but perhaps the reason there are “so many liberals, some rather extreme, associated with the skeptic movement”, is conservatives tend to be religious and liberals not so much.

  4. Kenn says:

    Exposing psychics, bigfootologists, UFO hunters, et al is akin to scrawling you name in the sand. Within hours the tide will rise and your efforts will have been for naught.

    • Susan Gerbic says:

      So in your opinion we should give up trying?

    • tmac57 says:

      I,like most skeptics,had an interest in UFO’s and ‘psychics’ when I was in my teens,and in my 20’s I was fooled by the ‘quantum’ woo that was just beginning to emerge.But, around the same time,I became interested in skeptical investigators of those same subjects.
      It wasn’t long before I realized who had the better facts.
      Now, what if there had been no one around to counter that sort of nonsense?If all of the information that I encountered was completely credulous,or neutral,who knows what the state of things would be now.It’s easy for some to say,”Oh,I would have realized the truth sooner or later,even if no one told me different”,but I have a strong suspicion that many more people out there would be victims of all sorts of nonsense,if there weren’t vocal and hard nosed skeptics out there speaking up and pointing out the deception,lies,lack of logic,and demanding evidence,rather than accepting wishful thinking.
      Information is power.

      • Mark Edward says:

        Eventually, no matter how vast the beach, more people than one might think will pass by that scrawl in the sand and read it.

  5. Kenn says:

    Who would be that mortal beast
    that wallows in the wide abyss
    of shadows dark and hidden lore;
    who from the light of truth egress?

    ‘Tis you and I and all mankind
    who fumble through the darkened straight
    our minds made from our kinsmen past.
    To walk by faith: That is our fate.