Saturday, May 13, 2006

Psychic Entertainment

Psychics? Really truly gifted superhuman individuals with a hotline to the land of the dead and All Things Hidden? Or theatre acts?

EoR considers them rather boring and repetitive entertainers (if you're entertained by that sort of thing) but many people are dazzled by their patter and their stage act and some are even fooled into believing that they are really channelling information from supraphysical sources (these people presumably also think stage magicians really do perform magical acts - sawing women in half and levitating people - and that all stunts in movies happen really exactly as they appear: the truth that these things are illusions, enhanced by sound and light and wishful thinking and, yes, deception is much more mundane).

What does the Department of Consumer and Employment Protection have to say about psychics?
Preying on people’s fears, loneliness and desire to be loved and rich is a host of unscrupulous clairvoyants, mediums, astral advisers and just outright charlatans who are costing vulnerable people thousands. "Whilst we accept that there is a place in today’s society for those who choose to be involved with psychic type activities for personal entertainment or recreation, there is an alarming number of shysters with questionable abilities who are only focussed on ripping people off", Consumer Protection Commissioner Patrick Walker said.

Let EoR just repeat that: personal entertainment or recreation.

What do the promoters think? Well, Anthony Grzelka's nationwide tour is listed under Theatre and Performances.

Legislation no longer addresses witchcraft or fortune telling as crimes in Australia, though Section 178BB of the Crimes Act may be of some relevance:
obtaining money by false or misleading statements which are known to be false or misleading.

Someone who is regularly attending a psychic and is also addicted to illegal drugs and who attends a Medical Practitioner must be notified to the Department of Health:
The Drugs of Addiction Notification Regulations define a person as being addicted to drugs where: [...] he/she is under a psychic or physical dependence to take a drug of addiction or any substitute.

Though EoR thinks he might have read that wrong.

Of course, as a performer, you have to maintain the illusion, the patter, and the belief that what you do is real. It's part of the "theatre" and "performance".
Reiki, colour therapy, crystal healing, and meditation are now common remedies prescribed to cope with the stresses of life. [...] "I connect to loved ones passed to deliver messages to the living. The messages are always powered by love and bring a great sense of healing and relief to those receiving them," said Anthony.

Sometimes though, they just can't help telling the truth:
Anthony's funny

Following on from his encounter with The Grzelka Groupie, EoR can see three possible explanations for Mr Grzelka's uncanny powers (at least, his believers consider them uncanny, EoR considers them a less than average cold reading act):

  • Mr Grzelka really does communicate with the dead. Sorry, "those who have passed". Given his repetitive fishing, wrong guesses, question asking rather than statement making, and extremely low hit rate, this would seem to be a very low probability. If he does perform such communication, the evidence and accuracy is so low that such an assertion cannot be supported.

  • Mr Grzelka really does hear voices speaking to him. This is not an unknown phenomenon, particularly in cases of schizophrenia. While this, also, is not a high probability, it is possible that such a disorder led him to believe he is a clairvoyant and to his subsequent public performances. In this case, therapeutic treatment is recommended and warranted.

  • Mr Grzelka really does not hear any voices, and is fully conscious and aware that what he does is a stage act with the end goal of receiving remuneration. In the absence of any medical evidence to support or deny the second possibility, occam's razor leads EoR inevitably to accept this option as true.

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