By, Larry Potash
You may recall we interviewed James Van Praagh on the show last week. His appearance always generates a lot of feedback. The "behind the scenes story" is that he asked the make-up artist "Is that &*%$# Potash going to interview me?"
"Why do you call him that?" the make-up artist inquired.
"Because he's not a believer!" said Van Praagh.
(How spiritual of him.)
There's an old saying: "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."
No "psychic has ever passed scientific scrutiny."
Van P claims his "ability" is beyond scientific scrutiny.
I suppose that's fine if there are no consequences to his predictions...but would you get on a plane built on "intuition?" Would you let someone who didn't go to heart-surgery school to perform heart surgery on you based on the info he was channeling from the greatest heart surgeons in heaven?
The Center for Inquiry West in California offers $50,000 to anyone who can prove paranormal ability. Chicago native Jim Underdown, of the CFI would welcome Van Praagh to take a short drive to Hollywood and win the money.
"If he says he doesn't need it or do that for money," said Underdown, "ask him how much he charges for a reading."
People like to pass of "intuition" as supernatural. It's not.
"Intuition can be explained scientifically in terms of thoughts, experiences and memories that may give subconcious clues to a person about another person or situation," Underdown said. "If Van Praagh is hearing info from an alleged other realm, that info should be accurate all the time."
Below is what the CFI hands out to audience members when psychics come to town:
James Van Praagh's "powers" may not be what they seem. Here are some simple hints you can use to evaluate his performance.
1. Demand Specifics
a. Mary is not Margaret, Marie, or Maria
2. Count the Missed Guesses
a. The correct guesses pale when compared to the wrong answers
3. Beware of Generalities
a. Most people in a given culture experience fairly similar lives
4. Be Conscious of Giving Information When Being Read
a. If a psychic asks questions, you are giving the answers, not him or her
5. Watch for a Shift in Direction
a. Do they jump to another subject when they hit a dead end?
6. Ask for Last Names
a. Everyone knows a John, a Mike, a Sue, a Mary or a Pat
7. Don't React!
a. Psychics use your visual clues to assess if they're on the right track
8. Who, Specifically, is the Guess Aimed at?
a. A guess directed at couples or groups is more likely to be correct
9. Remember Why People Go to Psychics
a. Psychics are like police stations, psychiatry offices and hospitals - most people go there with a problem. Love, money, job, health, grief are the most common reasons, and psychics know this.
Here's THE CFI fake test which reveals some tricks...