Hey Psychics, Did You See This Coming?
Regulating Psychics? It’s About Time!
British psychics are in for a rude awakening. A new set of laws may force them to prove their talents in court, or “give disclaimers describing their services as entertainment or as scientific experiments with unpredictable results.”
The law currently in force in this area is the Fraudulent Mediums Act of 1951, which does in fact make it illegal to fraudulently claim to possess psychic or clairvoyant powers. But the key word is “fraudulently” – meaning that any enterprising prosecutor would have to prove that not only that the defendant has no psychic powers, but that they were aware of this and deliberately set out to deceive. This is a high bar to surmount, which is why the Act has hardly ever been used to prosecute psychic claimants…
But now, as part of an effort to harmonize consumer-protection laws across the European Union, the Act may be repealed. The new regulations proposed to replace it ban “treating consumers unfairly”, and psychics worry that this language could be used against them, to force them to prove their claims are genuine. Gee, you think?
As one might expect, England’s psychics are not happy. A good number of them marched on the Downing Street home of the British prime minister on Friday, April 18th, to protest the new laws.
It would have been a more compelling protest if, say, they’d marched a week before any information on the new laws was made public, thereby proving their powers. Wonder why they didn’t…
Can’t these indignant psychics see how bad these protests are making them look? These new laws will be put in place to protect consumers from being charged large sums of money by fraudulent fortune-tellers. In order to differentiate themselves from the charlatans, all they have to do is prove their claims are true. Any person who claims to provide a service to the public should first be willing to prove that they can actually provide that service. I don’t hear doctors complaining that they shouldn’t be forced to put up their diplomas. Why do psychics feel they should receive special treatment?
Here’s why: Carole McEntee-Taylor, a “healer” who co-founded the Spiritual Workers Association, told Reuters, “By repealing the Act…we will have to prove we are genuine. No other religion has to do that.”
So that’s their game, is it?
Pretending to be a religion, now? Certainly, religions make a lot of claims that they can’t seem to prove, but it’s also worth noting that most religious organizations don’t actually charge for their services. Of course they ask for donations, but as long as they are not requiring a fee for a particular service, they cannot be placed in the same camp as McEntee-Taylor and company. At Skeptical Monkey, we wouldn’t be terribly upset if churches were placed under certain regulations, of course—but for the time being we’ll take what we can get.
All this leaves us with two questions:
- If these psychics claim to be genuine, why should it be so difficult to prove their powers in a court of law?
- What do we have to do to get some regulations placed on psychics here in the United States?
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