The Skeptical Teacher

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

Posts Tagged ‘Uri Geller’

Lessons from TAM7: Magic, Deception, and Promoting Skepticism

Posted by mattusmaximus on July 15, 2009

Well, I got back from The Amazing Meeting 7 in Las Vegas a couple of days ago, and now that I’m back to some semblance of normalcy I can get back into a routine.  Which includes keeping up to date with this blog.  I wanted to take a few minutes to summarize some of what I learned at TAM7 in the two workshops I attended…

1. The first was with magicians Jamy Ian Swiss and D.J. Grothe – their workshop was on the relationship between magic, skepticism, and science.  The basic premise of Jamy and D.J.’s workshop was that because scientists are used to dealing with nature (which doesn’t lie) then they are just as easily fooled by charlatans & pseudoscientists as the rest of us.  On the other hand, magicians are professional deceivers, so they have an intimate knowledge of how people can be deceived and (perhaps more importantly) how people can deceive themselves.

HPIM3726

In the process of their talk, Jamy and D.J. went through a history of magic & deception, touching upon the Reginald Scot, French magician Robert Houdin, founders of the Spiritualist movement (such as the Fox Sisters & Davenport Brothers),  Houdini, Joseph Dunninger, Milbourne Christopher, and Uri Geller.

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Posted in skeptical community | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Psychic Scumbags Are Like Buzzards

Posted by mattusmaximus on July 11, 2009

Wow, some people have no shame.  Take, for example, all of the psychic woo-meisters who are taking advantage of Michael Jackson’s death to promote their flim-flammery…

Psychics see magic in Michael Jackson’s life

When Glynis McCants looks at Michael Jackson’s life, she sees the number five.Numerologist Glynis McCants says that with his numbers, Jackson was a draw to fans.

Numerologist Glynis McCants says that with his numbers, Jackson was a draw to fans.

Jackson’s talent was discovered when he was 5 years old, he came to fame as a member of the Jackson 5 and he planned a series of 50 concert dates in London, England, as part of a comeback tour before he died on June 25 at the age of 50.

For McCants, a noted numerologist and author, those facts are very telling: “Five is the number for drama, and it was in his life his whole life.”

It just gets worse from there, with practically every huckster from Uri Geller to the local crazy old bat reading chicken entrails on the corner attempting to ride this bandwagon of stupidity.  A more appropriate title for the article would be “Psychics see dollar signs in exploiting Michael Jackson’s death”. These opportunistic scumbags don’t ever seem to miss the chance to make a quick buck – whether it is this or by claiming, like uber-douchebag John Edward, to be talking to the dead, they’re like buzzards picking over the meat of a carcass. Gah…

What’s worse, this is a big story on a major, mainstream news outlet – freakin’ CNN of all places!  My respect for CNN has just dropped by about five orders of magnitude.  If you’re as disgusted as I am about CNN giving serious attention to this lunacy, contact them and let your thoughts be known.

Posted in media woo, psychics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Update: Smackdown on Birthers

Posted by mattusmaximus on March 7, 2009

There are some folks out there who push the conspiracy theory that President Obama isn’t really a United States citizen – these morons are called “birthers”, and I have an extensive post about this called “Citizen Obama.”

obama inauguration

In this post I just wanted to give a quick update about the latest smackdown against the lunatic birther crowd. It seems that, despite Obama’s swearing in and acknowledgment by both Congress and the Supreme Court, these folks keep on pushing their woo by filing frivolous lawsuits attempting to get Obama to “prove” his citizenship.

One of the latest is outlined at this link to Politico.com, a non-partisan website which tracks all things political. Ben Smith’s story there states…

As the many lawsuits challenging Obama’s eligibility make their way through the courts, judges appear to be getting a little fed up, and D.C. District Judge James Robertson penned a particularly harsh memo yesterday dismissing a case called Hollister v. Soetero.

“This case, if it were allowed to proceed, would deserve mention in one of those books that seek to prove that the law is foolish or that America has too many lawyers with not enough to do. Even in its relatively short life the case, has excited the blogosphere and the conspiracy theorists. The right thing to do is to bring it to an early end,” he wrote.

In the entertaining five-page memo, Robertson also describes the lawyers pushing the case as “agents provocateurs” and their local counsel as “a foot soldier in their crusade,” and requires that he prove why he should not pay Obama’s legal fees for filing a complaint “for an improper purpose such as to harass.”

What that last paragraph means, basically, is that if these folks continue to file baseless lawsuits like this, then they should be required to pay all legal fees – including Obama’s. Perhaps that will give them pause before they push their nonsense in the courts.

It is also worth noting that many pseudoscientists misuse our court system in the same manner as birthers, except the pseudoscientists attempt to use the threat of litigation as a way of shutting up skeptics. For instance, “psychic” Uri Geller has filed legal action many times against skeptic & magician James Randi for exposing him publicly as a fraud – if Geller knew going into court that he’d have to pay both his own and Randi’s legal fees if he lost, then perhaps he would have thought twice about it.

One can hope that such a sensible approach would take hold in our courts. One can hope…

Posted in conspiracy theories, politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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