The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Psychic Failure in Investment Scams

Posted by mattusmaximus on March 26, 2009

I wanted to pass along an excellent article from Joe Nickell, skeptical investigator for the Center For Inquiry, concerning a recently revealed Ponzi scheme and the role that psychics played in it. In an earlier post, called Psychic Parasites, I outlined how many psychics are playing off people’s fears in these tough economic times, and Nickell’s article shows very nicely why this is dangerous.

You can read the entire article here, but allow me to summarize some of the key points…

Now we know: Buffalo-area investment manipulator Guy Gane Jr., who has been accused by the Securities and Exchange Commission of operating a 5.8-million-dollar Ponzi scheme, regularly sought advice from “psychics.” …

… One of Gane’s self-professed psychics was Ellen Bourn, who is a past-president of the Lily Dale Assembly, the world’s largest center for spiritualism (the belief that one can communicate with the dead). Her Web site bills her as an “incomparable metaphysician, psychic, master astrologer, healer and teacher.” In actuality, her real name is Ellen Bornstein, and she—like Sylvia Browne and many other “psychics”—has traits associated with a fantasy-prone personality. …

… Gane’s other psychic [James F. Lagona] has an even longer list of claimed powers—or fantasies: He is a self-described Christian mystic, dowser, spiritualist medium, healer, tarot reader, etc., including exorcist. He also describes himself as a Bishop of the Western Rite Orthodox Catholic Church and “renowned metaphysician,” as well as a bankruptcy attorney—although the home he practiced from has suffered foreclosure and is presently boarded up.

psychic-accuracy

I really like the manner in which Joe finishes his article. I can’t say it any better, so here it is…

I would just ask the two alleged psychics: Couldn’t you get an inkling of what was going on? Catch a glimpse of those millions of dollars disappearing from people’s retirement funds? Feel the vibrations from the impending scandal and misfortune that you yourself were caught up in? Were your psychic colleagues at Lily Dale and elsewhere unable to warn you? Now do you understand the consequences of living in a fantasy world?

Sadly, I don’t think either of these supposedly “gifted” individuals (nor their gullible believers) will even take the time to consider that their “powers” are non-existent and reside purely within their own personal fantasy lands. More’s the pity.

6 Responses to “Psychic Failure in Investment Scams”

  1. Conspirama said

    Psychic Failure in Investment Scams « The Skeptical Teacher…

    I wanted to pass along an excellent article from Joe Nickell, skeptical investigator for the Center For Inquiry, concerning a recently revealed Ponzi scheme and the role that psychics played in it. In an earlier post, called Psychic ……

  2. badrescher said

    Nice catch. These people are scum of the worst kind.
    Another negative: you’ll not be able to convince them that a financial adviser or stock broker is better because they aren’t. I remember some show (a la 60 minutes) did an experiment about a hundred (20, probably!) years ago. They had a monkey pick stocks and compared the performance to that of several stock brokers who participated. No difference…

  3. matt said

    This blog’s great!! Thanks🙂.

  4. Ryan said

    James Lagona is my professor for an on-line course I am taking while at the University at Buffalo. This news is shocking, disturbing, and very entertaining.

    • Sayge said

      I know Jim Lagona personally and he is a great man. No need to be shocked or disturbed you don’t know the whole story.Don’t judge a man because of what this idiot reports. Your in good hands with Bishop Lagona and he is an excellent teacher.

      Remember this reporters job is to slant information for it to be brash and entertaining…it fails at this for sure.

  5. […] by mattusmaximus on April 19, 2009 **Note: For more background on this topic, see previous posts Psychic Failure in Investment Scams and Psychic […]

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