Monday, June 26, 2006

Mind&Body & Woo & World's Worst Psychic

The West Australian's Mind&Body supplement for 20th June 2006 continues to scale the heights of journalistic excellence (though it's obviously still stuck in the foothills somewhere).

This week we have a full page paean to homeopathy and its many miracles and wonders.

"The remedy is diluted beyond where there is a material substance left. You are working with the essence rather than the crude substance," Ms Sommerhalder said. "The advantage of the technique is that there aren't any side effects, because there is no actual substance that can build up in the body."

EoR thinks this is the most succinct and honest description of homeopathy he's yet seen. There is nothing in the product you are paying money for. Only a non-material "essence" which is undefined and undefinable. Why only that particular "essence"? Why not the polluting "essences" of the air, the container, the homeopath's germ (and "essence") laden breath, the homeopath's flaking skin and hair cells, the countless numbers of guts the material has passed through before? Who knows? Who cares, as long as the money keeps rolling in.

Mesotherapy (dissolve away all that fat without doing anything with "lipodissolve") gets a run as well, in the context of a "turf war" between plastic surgeons (mesotherapy is a con with no supporting evidence - EoR is paraphrasing slightly) and cosmetic surgeons ("I am not going to say that because it is not proven it will not work, but like many things, people have to take a chance that it will.").

And then there's EoR's favourite Real Authentic Psychic™, Anthony "I'm getting an M" Grzelka, "The Ghost Whisperer?". Questions of copyright aside (isn't "The Ghost Whisperer" some sort of televisual documentary?), at least the editor saw fit to put in that question mark. That, unfortunately, seems to be the only evidence of doubt expressed.

The subheading states

If used-car salesmen, journalists and lawyers rate highly on the list of the most distrusted professions, where do spiritual mediums rank?

This question, also, fails to be answered. Probably because psychics rate right down the bottom with all the other pond dwelling scum. Like journalists. One of which wrote this guff.

Mr Grzelka, ex-insurance salesman (another trusted profession, EoR suspects), turned his back on the humdrum life when he

interrupted two women talking at a barbecue and gave them information about their sons, who had died together in an overseas accident. "There was a stunned silence from them, they didn't know what to say or do," he said.

What's better for a psychic than testimonials? Self testimonials, that's what! EoR wonders if the stunning information he gave them was "Your sons want you to be happy" or another of the usual platitudes that seems to be all they can convey from the grave.

Mr Grzelka, however, realises that there are some conniving, manipulative individuals out there who only pretend to be psychic to rake in the money, and that these people are cruel, cynical individuals without any trace of conscience (EoR is slightly paraphrasing again).

While he admits there are only a handful of authentic mediums in the world, he insists he is one of them.

Just like all the others do. Including the fake ones.

There then follow a further two self-reported amazing cases of when he got amazing things amazingly right. Amazing.

His group readings are described which, strangely, Mr Grzelka prefers to call "shows". That wouldn't be to avoid being sued under consumer legislation for misrepresenting what he does (a performance) as something else (channelling the dead) would it?

Mr Grzelka "meditates" for 15 minutes, performs a 15 minute "introduction", and then the spirits start rolling in.

He is usually given three pieces of information - often a name (or letter), a date and the cause of death. Armed with this information, Mr Grzelka said he was guided to a part of the room where the living friend or relative was sitting.

So, in a large crowd, Mr Grzelka makes a guess about "M" who died on "8" (or was "associated" with that date, or it might be "3") and who had some sort of "pains in the chest". Bingo! There's someone there who thinks it's their beloved Margery! It's still a party trick.

There is a vague note of criticism in the final paragraphs:

Several websites are dedicated to debunking his - and other mediums' - techniques [surely not EoR's site - that's dedicated to debunking woo generally], claiming Mr Grzelka probes for more information about the dead person than he offers the living relative hoping for some news. But Mr Grzelka rejects the criticisms [what a surprise!]. "Keep in mind that I do this 15 times in one night - you'd have to be a really good guesser to keep getting it right," he said.

And have a really receptive audience that wants to believe. Oh, he's got that already. And also assuming that he does "keep getting it right", which he doesn't. Repeatedly. So he's not even a good guesser.


  1. Mr G meditates for 15 minutes, performs a 15 minute introduction and services 15 people a night. Is there something auspicious about this number 15?

  2. Sorcerers need to meditate for 15 minutes before they can cast spells for the day. Player's Handbook.

  3. We have different schmucks in the States, but it's the same brilliant detective work. I'm just waiting for their 15 minutes of fame to be up. "I'm getting a 'W', and someone who is an artist, or maybe just knows artists . . ,"

    Funny stuff, bronze dog. I like geek humor.



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