Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Families Upset Because A Psychic Lied To Them

In Yahoo News, I came across this interesting story entitled Psychic Devastates Missing Student's Family

Con Artist 
"Harsha Maddula, a Northwestern University pre-medical student from Long Island, N.Y., went missing Sept. 22, last seen leaving an off-campus party in Illinois. Police and volunteer searchers were unable to find him, but Maddula's family said reassuring words from psychics had raised their spirits.
Apparently, psychics contacted by the Maddula family's relatives in India said Harsha was okay and would be found: "He's still alive. Don't worry.'"
The next day, however, Maddula's body was found in Wilmette Harbor near his dormitory. "
There will always be "psychics" fueling false hope among grieving families. When people are desperate, they will be willing to believe or do just about anything to have any hope. Today I had to think about what, if any, our obligations are to protect people from charlatans practicing quackery...

I do not think there should be laws protecting us from being stupid. Everyone has the right to be an idiot if they want to. Keep in mind, that I am not an absolute libertarian, as I think that some especially vulnerable people should be protected like children, disabled and elderly. I also think some industries must be regulated by the government, although most should be left to the people. 
In New York, Sonya Spiro was convicted in 2009 of taking $40,000 to remove demons from a woman's house. You read correctly $40,000 dollars. I am just wondering if Spiro earned her diploma in Witchcraft and Wizardry from Hogworts, or another IV league school school where one learns the magical arts. 

It is amazing that people can be that stupid. In one sense, I think any person that dumb deserves to lose their money. Yet, the other side of me say that Spiro should not be allowed to unjustly enrich herself by fraud. I am all for capitalism, making money the smart way, and entrepreneurship - but I am against theft, fraud, and deception. I am all for creative thinking, inventive minds, and resourceful ideas. I am against milking people during their darkest hour. Is this about good business or black hearten immorality. (black-hearten: definition: to inspire one´s hopes by wicked means.)

I would like to know why is it usually women that get duped by psychics? Why are most psychics female? Do these people really believe they are psychic? Come on ladies! Let me put it this way, there is a reason that Horoscopes are next to the Newspaper Funny Pages and not on page seven. It certainly feels good to believe this mumbo-jumbo, but wanting something to be true does not make it true. Feeling it is true does not make it true. 

Each State in Union tackles this problem differently. Some states outlaw fortune telling. Some States require that the fortuneteller be licensed. Some require signs posted ´Entertainment Purposes Only.´ I found the following ruling from Nebraska to be quite intriguing.
CASE LAW - Nebraska
Argello v. City of Lincoln, 143 F3d 1152 (1998). This case if from Nebraska, but is interesting for its reasoning in concluding that fortunetelling is protected under the First Amendment. "If the citizens of Lincoln wish to have their fortunes told, or to believe in palm-reading or phrenology, they are free to do so under our system of government, and to patronize establishments or "professionals" who purport to be versed in such arts. Government is not free to declare certain beliefs — for example, that someone can see into the future — forbidden. Citizens are at liberty to believe that the earth is flat, that magic is real, and that some people are prophets."
Everyone Has The Right To Believe In Magic
When I think about it, believing that someone can see the future, remove demons, or read palms that is not any more stupid than believing that Jesus rose from the dead, or that Muhammad rode a winged horse from Mecca to Jerusalem to heaven and back. 
One of the things about logic that I love is that it is a sword that cuts both ways. The Nebraska Case Law shows us that citizens have the right to be retards if they want to be retards, and I have the right to call them retards for being retards. And you know what... If Sarah Palin has a problem with me using the word retard, then too bad. As the First Amendment allows people to be retards, the First Amendment allows me to call them retards.  
The Moral Dilemma - Who Do We Protect?
The moral dilemma is that grieving families and the naive (including children) are either suckered in or indoctrinated into this big steaming pile of Harry Pottery horse shit. How can we protect the vulnerable? We can only enforce anti-fraud laws. That is about it. I wish we could protect children from being indoctrinated into religion by their parents, but all we can do is lead them to water, and create the best public school system we can. We can make it clear to Montel Williams that we will not watch his show if  he keeps putting people like Silvia Browne on the air. Most importantly, we must fight against the trends of anti-intellectualism that has been undermining our culture for the past forty years. Learning is good. We need to continue encouraging learning. 

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