Hayley is a Ghost

psychics, me & the BBC

Posted on: July 21, 2011

*update* I will no longer be on BBC1 on Sunday due to recent tragic events that have taken priority over psychics scamming people out of their money on a daily basis.

Today I’ve been mainly thinking about psychics and mediums, and it’s all because of a phone call I got this morning from somebody at the BBC who asked me to appear on BBC1’s ‘Sunday Morning Live’ talking about psychics, mediums and whether they should be allowed to charge money.

I’ve recently blogged about the complexity that surrounds people who make claims about abilities they have that are not proven or demonstrated in controlled conditions, and even though I’m a skeptic and some people think I’m a naysayer, my humanist approach to life always seems to kick in when I’m dealing with people who think they’re psychic or able to speak to the dead, and I have learned to see past the label and to see the bigger picture that lays beyond it.

I can’t quite believe that I have been asked to be on a television program. I often find it difficult to accept that people are interested in my thoughts and opinions. Be sure to tune in to tune into BBC1 on Sunday morning (or watch online here) at around 10am to see the discussion. It should be an interesting one and I’m genuinely interested to see what points will be raised in favour of psychics and mediums being allowed to charge.

In the mean time, why not post your thoughts below? Do you think mediums and psychics should charge their customers? Why/Why not?


10 Responses to "psychics, me & the BBC"

Looking forward to seeing you on TV! Very cool. Re: charging for psychic readings, there are those who see it as a kind of ‘tax’ on people who go in for that sort of thing, despite there being no evidence that it works. I am occasionally tempted by that line of argument, but the way that many psychics/mediums use their skills in a manner that’s manipulative of the emotions of their clients (telling a bereaved person that their dead relative is saying or feeling x, y, or z, for example) is unpleasant.

I think it’s society’s job to protect people against that sort of thing (through persuasion and education) — I’m not sure how government would go about regulating the practice: people can and do run their business out of their front rooms, right?

I have mixed feelings about this. I think they have every right to market themselves and sell their services with the proviso that they shouldn’t be allowed to make claims they cannot support with evidence. The ubiquitous “For Entertainment Purposes Only” disclaimer is in my opinion the only reasonable rubric under which they should be able to charge. There’s an argument to be made for the therapeutic nature of psychics or mediums at a small scale. When they start charging large sums of money and making specific claims about contacting a dead relative or predicting their future then I think it’s a scam and should be prosecuted as such.

I just checked out Sylvia Browne’s website and she’s having a limited time “special” on phone readings – only $700. This is insane, immoral, unethical, wrong, wrong, absolutely brimming over with wrongability.

My original answer to the question “should psychics or mediums charge their customers?” would be, sure if that’s what they “do” for a living and they actually believe they are helping people, I don’t see why they shouldn’t charge what any other pracitioner of woo gets away with charging their customers…on the order of $50-$75 per hour or so. A fool and his money, right? However, from what I understand psychics start out with this flat fee and then start adding all sorts of chakra-realigning, aura-cleansing, universe-righting bullshit on top of it and then manage to bilk their clients out of even more money. So that’s a problem.

The real problem though is when people like John Edwards and Sylvia Browne are given credibility by the media and feel justified in charging HUGE amounts of money for phone readings, while also selling books & videos, doing speaking engagements, charging $50/year to be part of the “inner circle” (I wish I were kidding), and selling cruises. These people are making millions off of a scam. It’s amazing to me that you can be a con artist and just tack the word “psychic” onto it and it’s perfectly legal.

Looking forward to seeing you on TV!
This is tricky. I really don’t think it’s right to ban anyone from selling their ‘skills’. At the same time, it’s imperative that some sort of protection is in place for customers. I’m all for licensing or taxing psychics (or both!), or any other creative means to keep an eye on them and make sure they’re not devastating a person or family.
I agree with jon that it ultimately needs to be solved through education and society pressures. So maybe there is some kind of way to both keep an eye on psychics and educate the public?

The free speech advocate in me says that such people should be allowed to sell their “services” even if there is no sound basis for what they claim to be doing. I would advocate for restrictions on advertising perhaps requiring some sort of “for entertainment only” statement to warn potential patrons that what they are about to pay for has no none entertainment value.

People are going to continue to believe weird things and, as skeptics, the best we can hope to do is to publish enough information so people uncertain of such things can do their own research and find articles demonstrating what is bogus and how the “tricks” work.

Happy Hacking,

I think no. Services received should always be as services are described.

One so-called ‘psychic’ in Glastonbury was apparently giving a reading to a tourist who came into her shop. She was telling her all about how her dead mother was looking down on her, watching over her and advising her through her inner voice. At the end of the reading (which wasn’t cheap apparently!!) the psychic said ‘was that accurate for you’, the lady turned to another older woman who was in the shop and said “Mum, can you give me some advice here for a moment”!!!

If we look at psychics with the attitude of they provide a service, which people pay money for; in some cases considerable amounts. Then its only right that people should expect value for their money.

If we pay tradesmen money to perform a service we expect work to the quality of the fee and their are schemes that test and certificate those tradesmen so we have a standard to which they must adhere. Those that fail, through willful fraud or simple ignorance, get exposed and we accept that as right because it aids in the protection of the consumer.

If we pay a counselor or psychiatrist money to help us with mental or emotional issues, then we also expect results and we expect to them to be qualified and certified. Failure through fraud or ignorance results in punishment.

Yet these same standards don’t apply to psychics. If some suggests they should be test to see if what they claim actually works, or we suggest that they could be fraudulent, instead of accepting the investigation they claim they are being harassed by skeptics.

This sort of double standard is daft and should not be accepted.

Anyone to makes the sort of claim psychics do and takes money for the service should be able to prove the claim, or be charged with fraud. Anecdotal evidence is not proof, if its not measurable and repeatable its not acceptable.

If a rogue tradesman can go to prison for defrauding the vulnerable, then so should psychics.

I’m Getting an H and an S … does that mean anything to anyone here?

Does Highly Skeptical have any relevance to anyone here?

Now there’s a D and a C coming through …… could the words Deceitful and Conmen have any meaning to the people here?

Licence all such ‘practitioners’. If they can’t come up with relevant evidence during genuine blind readings then no licence….. simple, no more psychics!

However, now I take a good look in my crystal ball …………

Psychics and mediums have every right to charge their customers for the services they provide. But they should declare what those services are in advance, so that customers can assess in advance if the services are what the customers want. If a customer is looking for “entertainment purposes only” — and that’s what the psychic or medium offers — then the customer should get what they pay for. If, however, the customer is expecting contact with the dead, then they should only go to a psychic or medium who claims, in writing, to provide such a service. If a psychic or medium does actually claim to provide such a service, they should provide a specific standard of evidence to support that claim.

Such evidence, I understand, can be a bit thin on the ground.

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Hayley is a ghost

Hayley Stevens is an advocate for science-based research into seemingly paranormal experiences and occurrences. With a background in the pseudo-scientific research into ghosts, Hayley offers a unique insight into the strange world of ghost hunting through her experience.

She describes herself as 'a ghost hunter who doesn't hunt for ghosts' and this is her personal blog where she writes about ghosts, people, and other interesting things. Read more here.

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