Olivia Newton-John recently asked a priest to perform an exorcism on her home in Jupiter, Fla., in hopes of selling it. Following the suicide of a contractor in the home last month, the actress and singer is concerned about the social and spiritual stigma now associated with the residence, and the ceremony was an attempt to assure potential buyers that the place is not cursed or haunted.
My recent Discovery News article on home exorcisms and other realty-related magic rituals… You can read it HERE.
If you haven’t seen the new issue of Skeptical Inquirer magazine, you’re missing out!
I have a feature article on plagiarism I found in a book about vampires from a famous publisher, and a column about whether accurate psychic information could have stopped the Boston bombings. You can find it on newsstands now, or subscribe at www.csicop.org.
This is a story I originally covered for Discovery News from the start: The owners of a Texas ranch raided by police based on a psychic’s bogus information about a massacre have sued the psychic, winning a $6.8 million judgment. You can read the story HERE.
My article on why desperate families turn to psychics was recently on NBC News; you can read it HERE.
There are several claimed types of psychic powers, including precognition (knowing future events before they happen); pyrokinesis (creating fire with the mind, popularized in Stephen King’s novel and film “Firestarter”); and telepathy (describing things at a remote location). Among the most dramatic of these is telekinesis (also called psychokinesis, or PK), the ability to move objects through mind power. Though many Americans believe in psychic ability (about 15 percent of us, according to a 2005 Baylor Religion Survey), scientific evidence for its existence remains elusive.
I recently wrote about this for LiveScience.com; you can read the story HERE.
Here’s an interesting piece about failed psychic predictions from our friends at Relatively Interesting. Not only is it an excellent overview, but I’m also quoted (see below); you can read the story HERE.
Benjamin Radford, a regular contributor to many science based blogs, has this to say about psychics and their so-called predictions:
People should also ask themselves some simple questions when they hear psychics’ claims. If psychics can really find missing people, why aren’t they in Iraq, rescuing kidnapped hostages? Why haven’t psychics caught serial killers before they kill again? Why do different psychics give contradictory information? Why do we need Amber Alerts to find kidnapped children? And where are Osama bin Laden, Natalee Holloway, Lisa Stebic, Madeleine McCann, and the thousands of other people whom searchers are desperate to find? On these questions, psychics are as silent as the missing persons they fail to find.
You may remember I originally wrote about this:
The owners of a Texas ranch raided by police in 2011 based on false information from a psychic are now suing, along with police and several news organizations.The case began June 6, when a psychic using the name ‘Angel’ called police and described a horrific scene of mass murder: dozens of dismembered bodies near a ranch house about an hour outside of Houston, Texas.
Now the psychic has been found and is being sued; read the story HERE.
Harsha Maddula, a Northwestern University pre-medical student from Long Island, N.Y., went missing Sept. 22, last seen leaving an off-campus party in Illinois. Police and volunteer searchers were unable to find him, but Maddula’s family said reassuring words from psychics had raised their spirits….You can read the story HERE.
Albuquerque author and investigator Benjamin Radford (me) will be presenting a free talk on The Mysterious Crystal Skulls. Crystal skulls are among the strangest and most mysterious artifacts in the world. They have been seen in the world’s finest museums, inspired Indiana Jones, and, according to legend, have even been used to see the future—or kill with terrible supernatural power. What do we make of these objects, whose origins are shrouded in the mists of mystery? Come hear the bizarre true story of this strange modern mystery!
The talk begins at 7 PM. The event is sponsored by New Mexicans for Science and Reason and is FREE and open to the public.
New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science 1801 Mountain Road NW, 87104. For more information click HERE.
Last week a federal judge in Alexandria, Louisiana, overturned a law banning fortunetelling on the basis that it is free speech protected by the First Amendment. U.S. District Judge Dee Drell struck down an ordinance outlawing fortunetelling, astrology, palm reading, tarot, and other forms of divination on the grounds that the practices are fraudulent and inherently deceptive. This curious case raises issues about the boundary between freedom of speech and fraudulent (or at least unproven) claims; you can read more HERE.
I will be in New York City giving a talk on Monday May 21, at 7 PM on psychic detectives:
Psychic detectives seem to be everywhere: on TV, in the news, on cable shows. TV hosts such as Larry King and Montel Williams regularly promote psychic detectives, and many of them claim to find missing persons and solve cases for police and the FBI. It all sounds impressive, but how good is the scientific evidence for their claims? Drawing on a decade of personal investigations and case studies, I will reveal a side to psychic detectives that you won’t see on Medium or Larry King Live.
I will join a discussion with Massimo Pigliucci on the validity of psychic investigations and then take questions from the audience. The event will be followed by a reception with wine and light fare.
For more information is available HERE.
This weekend I will be in New Jersey speaking to members of the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement at their annual conference, talking about pet psychics and trying to protect people grieving over the loss of a pet from being scammed and exploited.
I’ll be giving a talk in Manhattan in a few weeks on one of my favorite topics: psychics!
Psychic detectives seem to be everywhere: on TV, in the news, on cable shows. TV hosts such as Larry King and Montel Williams regularly promote psychic detectives, and many of them claim to find missing persons and solve cases for police and the FBI. It all sounds impressive, but how good is the scientific evidence for their claims? Drawing on a decade of personal investigations and case studies, Benjamin Radford (me) will reveal a side to psychic detectives that you won’t see on Medium or Larry King Live.
Radford will join a discussion with Massimo Pigliucci on the validity of psychic investigations and then take questions from the audience. The event will be followed by a reception with wine and light fare. You can find more details HERE.
I will be speaking at the Minnesota State University-Mankato, on the evening of April 12. More details to come!
The Psychic and the Serial Killer:
Examining the Best Case for Psychic Detectives
When a serial killer struck in 1982 New Jersey, a psychic detective consulted with local police on the case. The psychic information turned out to be all true; two police officers support the psychic’s claims. This case was featured on a Biography Channel TV show and presented as the “best case proof” of psychic powers. Join investigator Benjamin Radford (me!) as he unravels this fascinating mystery!
An Australian man is on trial for allegedly killing his parents for their inheritance; he did so after a psychic told him that he was owed “an abundance of riches.” Read the rest HERE.
There’s been something wacky with the weather this winter, and many forecasters never saw it coming. Among them was The Old Farmer’s Almanac, the quirky, centuries-old mix of historical data, prognostications and folk wisdom. Millions of people consult the almanac, which uses a secret formula to come up with its annual, yearlong weather forecasts, even though meteorologists say it has a dubious track record.
What does it have to do with prophecy and skepticism? Read it and find out HERE!
A study published last year in a scientific journal claimed to have found strong evidence for the existence of psychic powers such as ESP. The paper, written by Cornell professor Daryl J. Bem, was published in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and quickly made headlines around the world for its implication: that psychic powers had been scientifically proven.
I wrote a piece about this last week for Discovery News; you can read it HERE.
Last year I wrote several news articles about psychics’ failure to help find missing woman Holly Bobo. Now, in the same vein, there’s a new refreshingly skeptical news report about the Holly Bobo case. You can read it (and see the video) HERE.
Good job, Jennifer Kraus of Newschannel 5!
The Maine Morning Sentinel published a piece questioning the claims made by psychic detectives, and included some comments from me.
Kudos to Doug Harlow, the reporter, for including some skepticism! You can read the story HERE.
As we head inexorably toward 2012, I wrote a piece for Discovery News looking back at some of the strangest mysteries of this past year, and some of the mysteries that remain with us as we enter the new year.
What’s behind, and what’s ahead? You can read the story HERE.
I investigated the best case for psychic detectives, offered by Skeptiko podcast host Alex Tsakiris, in 2008. It was claimed to be one of the strongest cases in history, due in part to the fact that (according to a TV show Alex watched) two police detectives support Nancy Weber’s claim of having assisted in the 1983 investigation of serial killer James Koedatich.
The case is far too complex to summarize here, but appears as chapter 6 in my book Scientific Paranormal Investigation: How to Solve Unexplained Mysteries. With help from Blake Smith, I have prepared excerpts of interviews with both police detectives, so you can hear the eyewitnesses in their own words. These clips highlight a few examples of how the two detectives, Moore and Hughes, recollections vary from the story that Nancy Weber tells. The clips and transcriptions are available HERE.
ABC News recently carried a piece I wrote about the failure of psychic detectives, and the James Randi Educational Foundation’s $1 Million Challenge. I’m especially proud of the article because it goes in some depth about psychic claims, and credits Randi for his expose of faith healing scoundrel Peter Popoff.
Even Carla Baron herself, one of the psychics mentioned in the piece, commented on it! She wrote,
This “challenge” has provided an unending source of amusement for me personally. Keep it up, and never let us REAL psychics out of your sight! We could possibly get away with something utterly unfathomable. ;)~ Carla Baron
You can read the story HERE.
The James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) has announced that it is publicly offering $1 million to celebrity “psychic mediums” including James Van Praagh, Allison DuBois, Convicted Felon Sylvia Browne, Carla Baron, John Edward, and others if they can prove their abilities in controlled experiments. Put up or shut up!
Read the full story on Discovery News HERE.