Friday, December 01, 2006

Psychic Excuses

This interview with a psychic is a bit old (it's from 1998) but it's revealing about how psychics are always 100% correct and yet they can never be tested scientifically.

Psychic Scott Russell-Hill (who is pretty clear about his attitude to skeptics: "Tell them to get stuffed" - and the psychics complain about skeptics being "aggressive"!) has made many predictions. Predictions such as that rightwing politician Pauline Hanson is "in danger". Now, Ms Hanson had, due to the nature of her extreme views, received death threats. And "in danger" is a pretty vague prediction. In danger of what? Losing an election? Being assassinated? Stubbing her toe? In fact, "in danger" doesn't even require anything to happen for it to automatically be true. Though he apparently said some female with a knife would attack her (for which we're still waiting - but it could still happen).

Mr Russell-Hill's thesis is a simple one. If any predictions he made (or which appeared under his name) came true, then he made them and he was psychic. If any predictions he made (or which appeared under his name) did not come true or he failed to psychically see major events, then he did not make them (some subeditor just stuck his name on them for some bizarre reason).

What about predictions which he can't claim weren't really his in the first place, and yet which also don't come true?

(Paul Willis) And those things can be as different as predicting different winners in elections, that sort of thing?

(Scott Russell-Hill) Well that's right, and again it comes back to everyone's perception. Not all the time will you be right, you don't want them always to happen if there's something bad. You don't make predictions that are horrible in the hope that they happen. So hopefully the word gets around and the bad things don't happen, you hope only that the good stuff happens.

So if something doesn't come true (like Paul Keating winning an election which he didn't - a Russell-Hill dead cert though EoR acknowledges that many people saw that - non-psychically - as a "horrible" thing) it's because he's really truly psychic and he willed the horrible thing not to happen. Which, presumably, a true psychic would have seen, and reported correctly. But nonetheless, everything Mr Russell-Hill predicts is true. It's just that not all of it will actually happen.

This is like a query to the astrologer in the latest issue of Nova. A reader wonders why twins, born minutes apart (ie at virtually the same time, in the same location, and under the same astrological influences) can be so different. Our learned astrologer confidently informs us that these two people are expressing different aspects of their astrological doom. In which case, asks EoR, what is the use is astrology?

Scott Russell-Hill is "The World's Most Accurate Psychic", "Australia's leading authority on the paranormal" and "Australia's most renowned psychic". Though, as the Mystery Investigators point out, so is every other common or garden psychic. Though, strangely, Anthony Grzelka seems to be missing from the list.

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