Skeptic Answers Your Questions on Psychics

Q: Thanks. You perform a valuable service. I am a Christian but also disturbed by this superstitious chicanery. I constantly encourage people not to swallow things whole when they are suggestion-based scams. I assume that you're not "against" anything in particular, just trying to debunk such scams. — Dan

A: Correct. Skepticism is not a position you take about claims, but an approach, a scientific, naturalistic approach to trying to understand what is really going on. Ideally one never goes into an investigation with one's mind already made up.

For More Information

For more information, go to http://www.skeptic.com to read (or download and distribute if you like — they are free) the several articles I have written on the subject of psychics and mediums, including specific articles on John Edward and James Van Praagh, as well as general articles on how anyone, including a skeptic, can easily learn to do psychic readings.

Note especially my article "Psychic for a Day," in which I recount doing an astrological reading, palm reading, tarot card reading, and psychic reading — all in one day — for a television show that will air next spring hosted by Bill Nye (The Science Guy) on PBS. I provide specific instructions on how to talk to the dead, among other things. I have also written about related subjects that many viewers brought up, including God, religion, and morality, in several books: Why People Believe Weird Things, How We Believe, and The Science of Good and Evil. In my monthly column for Scientific American ("Skeptic") I have written about these subjects in a number of short essays, all available for free at http://www.sciam.com. You can also get a free subscription to e-Skeptic magazine, the electronic version of the print magazine, by sending an e-mail to: join-skeptics@lyris.net.

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