Monday, January 15, 2007

How It Feels

Saturday's West Australian newspaper includes a "How it feels" column. Previous stories have included "How it feels to be shot" and "How it feels to be attacked by a shark". Yesterday's column was "How it feels to be an animal psychic" by Amanda de Warren.

Ms de Warren described her incredible success channelling all manner of beasties, and how she's always right! She's so adept at this that the animal doesn't even have to be alive, or even present. Woo thoughts can be channelled equally well from a photograph. She's also not restricted to the standard cats and dogs.

This boy had a pet spider and the house had caught on fire and the family couldn't get it out, so it perished in the fire. THe spider came through and had a chat.

She also apparently helped a zoo with an elephant that refused to eat. She was, of course, supremely successful but, sadly, she's not allowed to say which zoo. Zoos never want any sort of publicity. It just makes more people go there and waste everybody's time paying for entrance and looking at the animals.

I'd like to speak with whales about why they beach themselves - I think it could be such a bonus for science to use my skills.

Well, why doesn't she talk to the whales? She's already said they don't need to be present in her loungeroom for the chats to come through. Though EoR fails to see what use cold-reading skills would be to a scientific investigation of whale beachings.

She's also much better than going to a veterinarian. She can easily tell what ails them without putting them through "expensive and painful tests". And she can save on surgery costs.

A few months ago, a lady rang up because she was having trouble with her dog and I was able to see that its bladder had been nicked in a recent surgery and had been leaking ever since. A really strange thing happened then; I felt my soul going into the dog's body and I pinched the bladder where it had been nicked and later I heard from the owner that the bladder had not leaked since.

Post hoc ergo propter hoc! Undeniable proof of psychic surgery! Never pay a vet again!

More: she solves crimes (why hasn't she been on Psychic Investigators?). She's spoken to a dog who witnessed a murder and knows whodunnit. Worse, the "police seem ready to charge the wrong person" (the police are always so inefficient when they don't rely on psychics and only use investigative techniques and forensics).

I've told this information to the people involved but I don't know if it has been passed on to the police.

Another psychic who knows all about the murder, but steadfastly declines to tell the police. Or us.

She also has rather a grandiose view of her work's importance:

It's quite important because I don't think there is anyone else who can do what I do.

EoR's readers either realise that Ms de Warren is lying or very illinformed. For example, there's a whole page of animal psychics on the internet. Or, in Australia, have a look at Ms de Warren's name in a whole slew of psychics, all claiming to be Australia's best psychic. Heck, there's even a "self-proclaimed horse psychologist and animal psychic" in the children's television show The Saddle Club (yet another hattip by ABC television to woo promotion - this time to the kiddies).

The column concludes with a touching episode in the life of an animal psychic:

I don't eat animals since discovering this ability. I used to, but one day the lamb I was eating came through to me and ever since then I haven't been able to eat meat.

Regardless of Ms de Warren's perception of her own amazing powers, EoR finds it sad when even a commercial television show can easily prove she's not so good at guessing as she claims:

With absolutely no background information, and armed only with photos of deceased pets Lulu and Mickey, Amanda starts the reading with Emma on the telephone. "You have one animal that's still here? Yes. You have a dog that's still here, is that right? Yes. Does he love water? No, he hates water. He hates water? There's connection with water, beach something. He says he loves your mum, he adores her." Amanda charges $70 for a 30 minute pet reading like this. So after her psychic session, what was Emma's impression? "I would say that she had about 40% of things correct and around about roughly 60% not so correct."

Oh: such obvious coldreading. Ask questions. Guess. Latch on to anything that seems like a hit. Expand the guesses if they're going horribly wrong. Oh, and most importantly: mention water. Look: it's a dog. Dogs like water!

Ms de Warren has since significantly increased her charges.

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