Okay, I’m going to play Andy Rooney.
You know what really bothers me? Psychics. My peregrinations on the Web led me to a UK site where pet psychics claim to help you tune into the “morphogenic field” of your dog or cat:
And while they say they “don’t promise miracles,” in fact they do, for they will put you in touch with the late Fluffy:
If you are looking for proof of life after death you may want to first ask our operator for advice about which psychic medium to choose. A medium usually connects with the spirit of a family member and they in turn may give you some proofs that the animal you’ve lost has survived death.
This ticked me off, because I’m an animal lover and can well imagine that some non-atheist, grieving over their dead pet, may decide that Mittens is still alive over the Rainbow Bridge. And people like the psychics at this site make money from fleecing those gullible individuals.
This stuff isn’t limited to the UK. With a bit of Googling, you can find many similar scams in the U.S. Here’s American “pet psychic” Laura Stinchfield, who claims to put owners in touch with their dead animals:
Can you talk to deceased animals?
Yes. I find this to be of great value to people who are suffering over the death of their animal. Talking to your animal is a wonderful way to aid in closure. Once our animals have passed they meet their old friends in heaven, their suffering is gone and replaced with bliss, they are given a job, and they are able to watch over us and protect us. They can give us amazing insight. It is only us that suffer when they leave us in body.
Occasionally, an animal may be stuck and need help in transitioning into heaven. If that is so, I can help with that transition. When I say “stuck” I meaning the animals may not have crossed over. This can happen if an animal dies suddenly (hit by a car or killed by a coyote) and they don’t know that their [sic] are not in their body anymore. It can also happen if their people are grieving and holding on to them so tightly that the animal feels frightened to cross over and wants to stay. They do not understand that they need to cross over and then come back to watch over their people.
I like to give the animals three days after death to transition before I do a session with them.
Holy crap! More fleecing. More sad people, lighter in the wallet.
But there are many more psychics who deal with problems about love, money, and dead human friends and lovers. You can find many of these at the American Psychic Directory. Now some of these folks may just claim to offer “spiritual guidance,” which is, I guess, ok, and some of these who do “readings” are really giving advice based on their take of the client’s psychology. But some of these psychics also claim that they can put you in touch with dead relatives. Here’s Erin Pavlina:
If a deceased friend or relative is going to come through during a reading they are almost always hovering around me 5-10 minutes before a reading, and I just know we are going to have contact with a deceased relative or friend. In those cases, I am usually instructed to start with their message because it is usually important and/or urgent.
If you want to connect with someone specific on the other side, I will attempt to make contact. I have found that sometimes they will come through and sometimes they won’t. If they don’t come through, don’t panic. It doesn’t mean they are not there, it just means I cannot connect with them. It’s like ringing someone’s phone and they don’t answer. They are there, just screening their calls.
Now I know what you’re saying: let these stupid people get fleeced—it’s just natural selection! A fool and his money are soon parted. But what about all those people who are promised spiritual cures or bogus medical cures for real diseases, pay a lot of money, and die? (You may have seen the 60 Minutes piece two weeks ago on bogus stem-cell therapy for cancer.) What this has in common with psychics who promise contact with the dead, glimpses into the future, and the like, is that all of these practices are based on lies—lies totally unsupported by evidence. The promises of bogus “cures,” however, are illegal: the stem-cell quacks will be arrested.
And all of these, including psychics, violate the advertising rules of the Federal Trade Commission, to wit:
Under the Federal Trade Commission Act:
- Advertising must be truthful and non-deceptive;
- Advertisers must have evidence to back up their claims; and
- Advertisements cannot be unfair.
Additional laws apply to ads for specialized products like consumer leases, credit, 900 telephone numbers, and products sold through mail order or telephone sales. And every state has consumer protection laws that govern ads running in that state.
What makes an advertisement deceptive?
According to the FTC’s Deception Policy Statement, an ad is deceptive if it contains a statement – or omits information – that:
- Is likely to mislead consumers acting reasonably under the circumstances; and
- Is “material” – that is, important to a consumer’s decision to buy or use the product.
Promises of psychics contravene these rules. They are deceptive, there is no evidence for them, and they mislead consumers. Why are they still in business?
And for that matter, why does the government still let homeopaths practice when it regularly cracks down on other bogus medical therapies? The claims of homeopaths are also deceptive, unsupported by evidence, and misleading to consumers. They would appear to violate the FTC’s regulations.
If advertisers make claims, they should be able to back them up. If not, they should be driven out of business—especially those who profit from human suffering.
(I won’t say anything about churches, but only because, with the exception of tithing, they don’t demand payment.)