Psychic Medium

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Feb 27, 2009, 11:29:42 PM2/27/09
to Critical Teaching
This morning on my way to school, one of the local radio stations was
featuring a psychic who was giving free readings on air. I couldn't
stop myself from listening to what nonsense she was going to spew. And
then it happened, she brought up education.

The reading went something like this: <noise of child crying in the
Psychic: "You have children, 3 of them?"
Caller: "Yes, that's right!"
Psychic: "Have you recently been having trouble with the middle child
academically or socially?"
Caller: "Yes, we've had some problems in school."
Psychic: "Right, that's what I'm sensing. The teachers have been
telling you that your child has a learning problem academically. The
reason your child is struggling so much is because they do not have a
creative outlet, since they're cutting down on programs such as art
and music in schools."
Caller: "Yes, that's exactly right."
Psychic: "What you need to do is you need to let your child get that
creative energy out. Let them draw in the morning before school and
again after school [more nonsense]. This will let your child
concentrate more in school." Then something along the lines of
teachers exaggerating the problem. "Then by May, June, September,
you'll see a real difference."

I doubt very much the teachers are exaggerating, considering the
hassle they have to go to to get a child to qualify for special
education. No one wants to do that just for fun! But ordinary people
do not know this and believe what this woman says. But obviously, I'm
preaching to the choir. I am extremely aggravated and shocked that
this woman is getting such attention. I sent an email to the radio
talk show host telling her about my concerns and the JREF million
dollar prize.

Had to rant. We'll see what happens.

Feb 27, 2009, 11:52:00 PM2/27/09
Horrific. I've had two other cases where psychics or 'paranormal' uses have interfered with education:

‘The Mother, The Child, The School Board and the Psychic’  -
and this one:
'High School Possession And The Skeptical Teacher’s Quandary' -

This is an excellent example to bring up as a concern for teaching communities, thanks Victoria!



Feb 28, 2009, 2:58:06 AM2/28/09
to Critical Teaching
Of course the psychic is a phoney 'cause she obviously doesn't see
that the kid is just bored.

They should just bump him/her up to another grade.


I have to laugh it off. I could rant for days on this one. The anti-
med crap is nearly as bad as the anti-vax crap and "the Davis
Institute" has been advertising a lot lately, so I'm kinda cranky
about it.

K - OMG. I started reading that first link with the expectation that
the parent listened to a psychic. That was just... I don't have words
for it.

- Barb


Feb 28, 2009, 9:47:10 AM2/28/09
to Critical Teaching
Yes. :/ It's one of the things that I think isn't discussed often as
an 'issue with skepticism'. :/ "Oh, let's all just buy lots of Oujia
boards!" "Let's bend spoons in front of Uri Gellar's daughter and see
how she feels about her peers saying she's the daughter of a fake!"

I've had a 'showdown' with a fellow staff member, who wanted no
discussion of skeptically-related topics beyond her classes on
religious education. Because she had a student at another school whose
mother was a Wiccan and he decided to do some of his mother's rituals
in the playground. Which was then countered by the school psych as to
why it wasn't a matter for the school psych first and foremost - who
in my particular case, I had kept fully informed about what I was
doing all along (as well as the Deputy Principal, the Science Dept,
the Maths Dept, my own Head of Dept, fellow teachers, parents at the
teacher's night before I started the topic, blah blah blah...)....

... well, they, (the staff member who wanted nothing to do with
skepticism) said that it had nothing to do with the school, or
psychologists, it was only for the spiritual leaders of the school to
deal with.

About then I asked if she had such a problem with such topics - then
why did she, two years previously, use Nostradamus as an example of
Jesus and his miracles? Including going through as many prophecies as
she could? Without a single hint of doubt about what he was doing?

About then she kind of got seriously grumpy and the school psych
stepped in - and we merely removed certain topics off the suggested
list. It was fine by me - we had already done so previously with
consultation with the Science teachers about cultural sensitivity /
outlining ethical guidelines to prevent things like members of the
boarding house designing experiments like 'a ghost in the dorms and
then tracking the hysteria over who believed it!'. Kids, after all,
can be silly at times.

They included:
faith healing

As in the other post - I think that considering that 31% said in an
Ipsos Mori poll of UK (2007) said they believed in ghosts... it must
be something that occasionally crops up in institutions and I'm
interested in how it's dealt with...



Mar 1, 2009, 3:20:54 PM3/1/09
to Critical Teaching
I'm a little confused and curious. Classes on religious education?
Wiccan rituals? The school's spiritual leaders?

I thought Australia had no state religion & I thought you worked for
public education. What kind of "spiritual leaders" could a public
school have?

The closest thing you'll find to "religious education" in a public
school in the U.S. is a class on world religions offered in high
school, which would exclude discussions of "correctness" in religious
teachings. At an elementary or middle school, Wiccan rituals would get
a teacher fired.

I'd love to chat about this.


Mar 1, 2009, 5:07:57 PM3/1/09
On Mon, Mar 2, 2009 at 5:20 AM, badrescher <> wrote:

I'm a little confused and curious. Classes on religious education?
Wiccan rituals? The school's spiritual leaders?

I thought Australia had no state religion & I thought you worked for
public education. What kind of "spiritual leaders" could a public
school have?

Australia has no state religion - I've worked in about five different religious schools in the past, one of which was this one. Now I'm currently a research assistant for a university, in the faculty of Education (left teaching in 2006).

The teacher themselves wasn't doing Wiccan (or supporting it) - but they were quite cheerfully using Nostradamus to make an analogy to Jesus during the annual Years 7-9 informal church service they run. Whilst declaring I shouldn't have the opportunity to play Randi's 'Secrets of the Psychics' as 'we don't want children to think too much'.

I was sitting next to my friend in the audience, a committed Christian, and we were both swearing under our breath about what she was doing to faith/reason... :P

Matt Lowry

Mar 1, 2009, 6:46:18 PM3/1/09
to Critical Teaching
This reminds me of the time I exposed a so-called psychic who was
coming to my high school as part of a two-day program we called
Dimensions, which would be composed of a variety of speakers on many
topics. The guy's name was Chris Carter, and while he was a pretty
fair mentalist (I had most of his tricks figured out before the end of
the show, but he did them well) he went overboard when explaining one
trick as using "thought waves". I called him out right in front of
the entire audience on it, too, because the trick was obvious to me
and something I do regularly as a demonstration in my physics classes
(no "thought waves" required).

Not only did I challenge him in front of the kids, but I also followed
up with a strongly worded letter to the committee in charge of
Dimensions about how it was inappropriate for Carter to claim psychic
powers. I also got about 2/3 of my science department to sign the
letter - and I did all this a *non*-tenured teacher.

Entertainment is one thing, but claiming actual psychic powers is a
real no-no. That interaction was what put me on the map as the
resident skeptic at my school. And though I kind of stuck my neck out
by going after Carter, who had been coming to the school for years and
was wildly popular, it ended up going pretty well in the end.

Sounds like a story I can expound upon at more length at Dragon*Con :)

Long story short, if you want to go after someone at your school like
this, seek allies first. That's what I did and it definitely made the
entire process more go more smoothly for me.

Cheers - Matt


Mar 3, 2009, 11:37:01 AM3/3/09
to Critical Teaching
...and speaking of excellent (or damned tragic?) example of the cross-
over between education, psychics, children and their parents and what
can happen - another case study to discuss the ethics of:

An eight-year old child psychic broadcast on Australia's national
current affairs show "Today Tonight". She's denied an education due to
her 'magical sensitivities' by her very smug mother. They're running
workshops, selling books, doing readings... and the Australian skeptic
who talks out against it. Spot the lovely plug for 'The Skeptic's

Mar 3, 2009, 4:56:00 PM3/3/09
to Critical Teaching
Hey, got a message from Robert Todd Carroll himself about it all!
" I've been getting e-mails from a woman who has visited one of these kids, Dalton Kropp (validated by Columbia University clinical psychologist Lisa Miller) and wants me to meet with him. Unfortunately, I'm in California and he's in Illinois." - apparently not an isolated incidence world-wide then. :(


Mar 3, 2009, 5:25:29 PM3/3/09
to Critical Teaching
Tell him I'll go with him - we could swing by the Ferris's and visit
Dave (the dog who can perform calculus)...
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