Friday, December 30, 2005

On a Theory of Psychic Powers

I saw an interview this morning with a "psychic" who has been used by police to solve crimes, and it reminded me of a theory I've held for a long time concerning them.

After speaking about the case this psychic "solved," the interviewer asked her for her impressions on two high-profile unsolved cases from the last year: Natalie Halloway's disapperance in Aruba, and the case of a man who disappeared from a cruise ship. The psychic said she hadn't really thought about it much, but did have psychic feelings about both cases nonetheless. Halloway, she said, was dead, or she would have contacted her parents by now. There was more than one man and a yacht involved, and she was on the yacht. Of the man who disappeared from the cruise ship, the psychic claimed to "see" that he went overboard.

As you can see from these examples, it doesn't take a psychic to realize that this one (and all of them) are simply making educated guesses based on what little is known. She doesn't say anything about Halloway that the police and others had not already speculated, and it's not hard to guess that a boat might be involved in a place like Aruba. As for the man's disappearance on the cruise ship, going overboard is pretty much the only possible answer. I or anyone could have guessed these things.

But, having said this, I don't think that most psychics are purposely being deceitful, and here's why: Inside their own heads, they are mistaking what normal people call "flashes of insight" with a psychic experience. They just don't realize that everyone's brain makes subconcious conclusions which flash into the mind's eye. Normal people think nothing of it (like, "hey, I just figured something out), but so-called psychics think it's something unique and special (like, "hey, I just had a psychic vision"). But it's the same thing. The only difference between a psychic and a non-psychic is that the non-psychic realizes that his own insight is the product of subconscious thought and observation, while a psychic thinks the same thing is a supernatural process.

In short, psychics are too stupid even to understand their own mind, and yet we're using these people to help solve crimes. Give me a fucking break.

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