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Oct1-03, 11:45 PM
Sci Advisor
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P: 2,265
Originally posted by russ_watters
I think all of this has been covered before by myself and others, but I'll reiterate:

1. He cannot help people, period. He may think he can (doubt it) and they may think he can (certainly) but he provides them with FANTASIES at a time when they need to be dealing with REALITY. That is the precise opposite of what a psychologist does. "Peace of mind" through self-delusion is unhealthy. Heck, you even used the words: "come to terms with their lives." How exactly can you come to terms with your life by buying into fairy tales? That's self-contradictory.
To come to terms with something means to emotionally accept it. It may be for some people that they cannot fully emotionally recover from a death to a loved one unless they experience some sort of closure, and feeling as if the loved one is still alive in some sense may give a person that sort of closure. Not to say that everyone needs this, but for some people it just might be the thing that works. In that case, who are you to try to interfere with that process?

2. He does not believe he has these abilities. No, I can't prove that, but I consider myeslf pretty good at detecting lies. And I have read some reports that he bugs the waiting rooms to make the fishing a little easier when he gets into the show. He's a fraud and should be in jail. In any case, it doesn't much matter if he is a fraud or not, it doesn't change he is doing, just WHY. There are some "psychics" who believe they are psychic and they should get in line to see the psychologist after the people they think they are helping. Psychics are either frauds exploiting impressionable (delusional) people or delusional people sharing their delusions with other delusional people. Don't kid yourself though - he's doing this for one reason: MONEY. Thats the easiest way to detect a fraud.
There's obviously more to the psychology of a so-called psychic than money-making, since people throughout history have at least claimed to have such abilities, and most of them were not getting rich from it. If one sincerely believed that one truly had a psychic ability, it would only make sense to try to help people with this ability and make money from it at the same time-- that's how capitalism works, after all. Note that I am not claiming that this is the case-- rather, it is a possibility that contradicts your assessment, and you can't prove that that possibility is not really the case. Nor, for that matter, can you conclusively state that there is no life after death, and thus you can't state so conclusively that this Edwards fellow is an absolute fraud. Again, I am not asserting the existence of life after death, I just welcome you to prove that there is none. If you can't, then maybe you should be more reasonable about the tone of your argument.

3. No, it doesn't matter what I think. I wish we had the opinion of a real psychologist and a lawyer here to say the same things I just said. As I pointed out before though - Ms. Cleo has been shut down for fraud. It isn't uncommon among "psychics".
So you're saying all psychics are of the same nature as Ms. Cleo, hmm?

4. The "attitudes of the people involved" are for the most part not relevant. Its not unlike people addicted to drugs. They need to learn how their attitudes are harming them. THEN they will start to get better. You are suggesting that since drugs make them feel good they should just take more drugs.
The attitudes of the people involved are completely relevant! They are the people we're arguing about, after all. They're the ones who are trying to put their lives back together.

Tell me precisely what harm it does to believe that a deceased love on lives on in the afterlife. Saying "it deceives them into believing something that is not the case" doesn't cut it. I want concrete descriptions of what harm it brings to their own lives, not abstract hand waving about how it doesn't agree with your picture of reality, or your ideal that the "truth" (or more accurately, what you believe to be the truth) is always the best course.

If you want to use a drug analogy, let me make my own so as to more accurately characterize my argument. Say you have a patient, Bob, who is going through treatment for cancer. Naturally his treatment is very exhausting and painful. Bob would like terribly to alleviate his pain to help him along on his road to recovery. A Mr. Eduardo comes along and gives Bob some marijuana to smoke-- Bob smokes it and it helps him deal with his situation. Then some anti-drug fanatics come along and take away Bob's marijuana. They scold him, saying things like, "What's the matter with you? Don't you realize that drugs are bad for you, Bob?" Furthermore, they remind him that "smoking marijuana can only bring you harm. It only gives you illusory relief; the only way to get over your problems, Bob, is to face them head on! Face your pain, and accept it!" Now, marijauna can be harmful in certain contexts, sure. But that doesn't mean that it's always a bad thing. Bob, for one, was able to cope with his pain much better when he had his marijuana and any bad side-effects he experienced from smoking it really were insignificant compared to all the great things it was doing for him-- until some people who didn't really understand his situation came and took it away from him, that is.