(Some) Tarot People

Having recently freely-‘fessed up my Tarot-ic ignorance (and thus mainly homing my criticism toward the presentation of pseudoscientific ‘healing’ techniques), and having had my proboscis-ly-limited worldview assailed by a commenter who apparently doesn’t do self-deprecating irony, and who holds to the notion that all beliefs should be afforded respect (a ridiculous assertion), I’ve been stimulated into finding out some more.

So, I exercised my prodigious research skills through my TV remote control and this time took a longer look at the Freeview Big Deal channel; specifically, a program that (I think) runs through the evening/night: Psychic Today.

I’d given this fleeting attention previously, rolling my eyes at the various panel-displayed telephone numbers, charges per minute, credit/debit card info, etc; as the anchoring host, in between urging you to phone in for a (cold) reading now, engages (one of the available) resident psy-ed-khics in banalities during downtime between the latter’s telephone consultations, which tend to commence with an affected closed-eyed serenity; are brief (presumably because the lack of visual cues is limiting); and sometimes end with flapping hand gestures resembling the wafting away of a malodorous fart.

What frequently crops up during these consultations with some wet fish wanting a “love reading” or what-not, is – as ever – the mention of ‘energy’. And ‘vibrations.’ And ‘positive.’ These people are so gifted; they can pick up on an individual’s ‘energy’… via radio telephony! This is, I think, worth dissecting a little. Aside from my continued scepticism as to what this ‘energy’ actually is and how one person can be so specially attuned to be able to ‘detect’ it of another, I comprehend even less how it can be transmitted from client to clairvoyant via the telephone. The telephone contains a transducer: a device that converts one form of energy (medium-dependent acoustic energy) into electrical/electronic energy. (Piezoelectric crystals are transducers; but quite how this tallies with the New Age-ers belief in their touted healing properties, I also cannot reconcile.) This enables the generation of (medium-independent) electro-magnetic energy for transmission; with the reverse sequence upon reception. But how does an individual’s personal ‘energy’ get into the telephone? Or, is it independent of the voice transmission; just ‘out there’, with the voice contact facilitating its detection – the medium being the, err, medium? But wait. You can also leave voicemail messages, from which the medium can still later pick up on your ‘energy’. Which does suggest that it is transmitted – and is storable with – your voice message. Are these questions too trite for a sceptic to ask?

Now, maybe these examples are not representative of ‘genuine’ psychics and Tarot card readers. Perhaps these TV versions do disservice to the image of an otherwise noble professional endeavour. So, I also employed another ever risky research strategy – the Google search. I typed in ‘Tarot blogs’. Top hit was this collection of the Top 25 Tarot Blogs. And, perhaps because I’m of the close-minded, negative energy type, I very quickly spotted something distasteful, and went after it. The first of the listed blogs features Tarot readings on news events – including the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. So, I went to ‘visit’ the ‘Maiden of Mystery’ (these exotic, obfuscating names; I thought they are supposed to help you make things clear?), and found my way to this disturbing effort.

Well, what to say? I find this at best distasteful; at worst, disgraceful. The ‘Maiden’, after seeing Gerry and Kate McCann on Oprah, decided to consult her ‘utterly gorgeous’ deck on the sensitive topic of whether Madeleine is still alive. And the drawn cards led the ‘Maiden’ to declare an emphatic ‘Yes.’ Then emanates a list of imprecision (why, if you can ‘see’ so much, can you not be a bit more exact?), seemingly semi-lifted from the plot of Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights.

I don’t know whether the McCanns have ever read the ‘Maiden’’s post. I hope not (and I hope they never read this). The ‘Maiden’, aside from adding that Madeleine is unhurt, also gives us this nugget on her supposed abductor:

’They had twins also, maybe that was a nice gesture, he did leave the twins.’

A ‘nice gesture’? She cuts a child abductor some slack? Is that supposed to help?

The ‘Maiden’ goes on to state her belief that Madeleine will be returned within one year. Oh, I forgot to say: this dreck was posted on the 6th of May, 2009.

This week, eight people have been charged in connection with the phone-hacking scandal, in which the key factor that provoked widespread public abhorrence and condemnation was the presumed deleting of phone messages from the phone of Milly Dowler, thus giving her suffering family the false hope that she might still be alive. (Although it has recently been reported that there is no evidence to prove it was actually the hackers who did the deleting) is this vomitous spiel (from someone who has form in this kind of thing) any less irresponsible a scenario?

Again, probably a bad example. Perhaps unfair to home in on these. After all, there are bad eggs in any basket. I’m a scientist, but I deplore the machinations of some careerists among my professional brethren; especially the falsification of ethically sensitive research, with the ensuing media sensationalism and detrimental effect on public trust. Yet, when this does occur, it is science – other scientists – that identifies and exposes and corrects. Because such practice is anathema to science.

But where are the psychics/Tarot readers/mediums/astrologers decrying the above examples of dubious practice? Why are the clairvoyant clots on Psychic Today allowed to do this? Where are the objecting comments to the ‘Maiden’’s sick pronouncements? No negativity permitted.

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