For more information on the Sydney Atheists Visit our website here.
Saturday, August 9, 2008
Visit To A Psychic Fair
Today we went along to a “Psychic Fair”. We did not hold high expectations as it was in a very small nearby suburb, however upon arrival we were surprised to see a fairly good turn out. Out the front were signs promoting “psychometry”, “clairvoyance” and “tarot readings”. It was $15 for a reading of your choice, held in a hall at small tables. There were lots of women holding crystal balls, pendulums, tarot cards and other woo. There were large queues for a reading, with a ticket issued upon payment. There were a variety of stalls selling books on "past life therapy", "tarot", "life after death", "homeopathy" and even UFO's! One woman told Alan that he was "smiling too much!", and she didn't even know we were skeptics... (or did she...!). We purchased a variety of books (for a dollar each) which will certainly provide a number of hours of enlightened reading. There was a stall selling "psychic wax pictures" - "As seen on the Kerri Ann Show!"... (Alan too was seen on the Kerri Ann show).
On our way out, I took some photos of the signs out the front, and a man came over to us and exclaimed that he had never had anyone take photos of his signs. He then showed us his palms and said "see this line here? that means I should work with animals." He told us a number of anecdotal stories about palm reading, and I could no longer hold back. I began to question some of the claims he was making, for example he claimed that a television in his house jumped two or three feet off the ground, but the vase stayed on top and didn't break. "TWO OR THREE FEET?" I asked, demonstrating with my hand how high that is. "Well," he said, "it jumped off the ground" and then he moved off that topic onto another. I told him about the Australian Skeptics $100 000 prize for anyone who can demonstrate what it is they can do under experimental conditions. He said that they are not interested in the money, so I asked why they were here charging $15 for a reading on a Saturday, to which he replied it was fund raising for their church. We pointed how great for them it would be for their church if they took the test and won the money, but he kept jumping from topic to topic. I tried to give him an Australian Skeptics card with details on it, but he refused to take it, and even refused to give it to anyone else. He also said that he feels very sorry for James Randi, as he just doesn't believe in anything... I happily told him that we has met Randi just a few months ago at The Amazing Meeting 6, and explained that he is extremely happy, has led a very fulfilled (and honest!) life. He ended the discussion by saying to us that we will one day believe. "Show us one shred of evidence, and we'll be happy to believe" we replied.
It is often hard to tell apart the people who are truly deluded and those who are out right frauds. Many of the people attending for readings are desperate people who are looking for answers and help in their lives. Unfortunately, they turn to this type of money making credulous woo woo, instead of seeking out practical and constructive methods that will actually help them. We ran into a lady we know who is a single mum and has a severely autistic son, which she is really struggling with. It is terribly sad to think that she, and countless others, are taken advantage of by this type of rubbish.