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Psychic sophistry

Anonymous asked how to respond to someone who is very much into psychics like the U.S. Doreen Virtue. Should we humour them?

Probably depends on the individual. By far the best person to talk to is Tony Youens, who has a website here.

I actually asked Tony to write a piece for THINK on psychics, which you can read here. Hope it helps.

I also recommend you get your friend to read this.

When we launched THINK at Borders Bookstore in London, I advertized the event as involving philosophical discussion of psychic stuff and presented Tony as a genuine psychic. He did some nice stuff - spoon bending, telepathy, etc. and some audience members were taken in. At the end, we revealed the truth, and some people got very upset. In fact one insisted Tony really was psychic - he just didn't realize it.


Anonymous said…
Hi Stephen,

Many thanks for the links, I'll check them out. Unfortunately Doreen Virtue goes way beyond the psychic stuff. She literally believes in angels, fairies, elementals, atlantis, alien abduction, crystal power (which ultimately led to the destruction of atlantis by the way) and many other such things. I am left in a kind of twilight zone where nothing is too absurd to be believed. How do you debate what is rational at all with someone who is willing to take such ideas seriously?
Strange though it may seem in light of this, the individual in question can be quite logical, reasonable and questioning but just not in this area. Spirituality I suppose might be the blanket term.

I must admit that I find myself a little shaken by the level of fantasy to which people are capable of subscribing. There really doesn't seem to be anything too ridiculous. Doreen et al often make reference to what they call the 'spiritual renaissance'. There does seem to be an alarming increase in this kind of thinking. I have seen 'angel shops' and other such stores selling new-age paraphernalia popping up. It seems so surreal at this point, I'm sure you could open a shop that literally sells 'snake oil' and do a roaring trade. All you need is an apparent expert to use words like 'harmonics', 'energy', 'clensing' and 'healing' in describing it.

While the evidence is far from conclusive, this sort of thing, the upsurge in fundamentalist religion, political tendancies towards 'old fashioned values' which inevitably contain some religious leanings, is there a general tendancy away from rationality brewing?
anticant said…
She sounds like a Muslim. There are billions of them.

Rational argument isn't on any of these folks' agendas. It's far too dull and boring.
pacificblue said…
Hi Mr Stephen,

i am a student from Singapore and i have just read your book entitled "the philosophy gym".

I found it to be a brilliant piece of writing especially in your ability to present many different sophisticated philosophical arguments in a clear and succinct manner . Your argument regarding homosexuality was particularly interesting and i must admit , it even corrected my initial prejudices regarding the issue many thanks!
Stephen Law said…
Many thanks, Daniel.

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