Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Psychics are getting popular

  1. May 23, 2012 #1
    I was surfing through Google news earlier today and found a lot of news feeds that feature psychics in some way. Despite the skepticism, it is undeniable that there is a growing interest in astrology, tarot, psychic readings, and all those other stuff related to divination. Do you think this is good publicity or bad? Post your thoughts!
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 23, 2012 #2

    micromass

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor
    2016 Award

    It's crackpottery. How would this be good publicity??
     
  4. May 23, 2012 #3
    Publicity for who?

    What it shows is that too many people don't understand very basic science and prefer to believe in magic.
     
  5. May 23, 2012 #4

    phinds

    User Avatar
    Gold Member
    2016 Award

    As our educational system deteriorates, as it has been doing for some years now (and is getting worse) people's beliefs become less and less based on reality and more and more on nonsense that they see on TV or the internet.
     
  6. May 23, 2012 #5
    Exactly. I found that to be an ambiguous question.
     
  7. May 23, 2012 #6

    Dotini

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Do you surf psychic topics? Perhaps Google is tailoring its ads to you?

    Anyway, my thoughts are that in times of elevated general public stress and anxiety, say relating to war or economics or social problems, people may intuitively seek reassurance, comfort or guidance from any source which appears to offer it. Even if the source is dubious, the effect even if by placebo effect, may be useful to calm down fretful individuals?

    Respectfully submitted,
    Steve
     
  8. May 23, 2012 #7

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I doubt people are more inclined to these beliefs now than were previous generations. In fact I would guess that just the opposite is true.
     
  9. May 24, 2012 #8

    Ryan_m_b

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I hope that's true but I worry that whilst "traditional" pseudo-science like ghosts, psychics and even religion seems to be declining each generation in the west I'm worried about a rise in every-day crackpottery that people aren't even aware about. The amount of young people I know who have visited an acupuncturist or taken Chinese medicine as treatment is ridiculous. This type of pseudo-science sells from the high-street and is rarely challenged in a public arena. It is disturbing how rubbish like this is creeping into major shops one isle at a time.
     
  10. May 24, 2012 #9
    Is it a fact? If it is just an opinion then Confirmation bias may be in.

    Although science can explain many things, there are limits. This was particularly significant centuries ago. And scientific explanation can be very complex for some phenomenon. So people tend to ignore facts and it leads them to Divination/Superstition.

    I think superstition will never end. There is limit to knowledge but there is no limit to ignorance.
     
  11. May 24, 2012 #10

    Ryan_m_b

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I sort of agree but I think that superstition and questionable beliefs are born out of a lack of critical thinking skills rather than ignorance. We're all ignorant of the vast majority of human knowledge but so long as you have the critical skills to recognise that saying "I don't know" is the right answer for when you don't know rather than "well I believe" and have the skills to evaluate the likelihood that what you are hearing is true (whilst being able to look it up later) ignorance doesn't matter so much.
     
  12. May 24, 2012 #11
    I hope it is true, but I am afraid it is not.
    Popular media publish rubbish stories only to generate business and not to educate people. And people get influenced so easily. It takes significant effort and skill to educate people.
    And in very poor/undeveloped countries, population growth is high too, even now conditions are almost like centuries ago, which promotes superstition.

    If 'critical thinking' is part of nature (inherited), then we can see that people with this skill are in minority, and they tend to reproduce at lower rate.
    If 'critical thinking' is part of nurture, majority of population is struggling to get safe drinking water and food once a day, it is least on their priorities to educate themselves or their next generation for critical thinking.
    So sad.
     
  13. May 24, 2012 #12

    Ryan_m_b

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I know of no evidence that would indicate that critical thinking is inherited. And yes you are right that many people in the world are in abject poverty and so this is a low priority for them but my comment above specifically mentioned "the west"

    Obviously societies have to prioritise but as you work your way up something akin to Maslow's hierachy of needs and find that your immediate physical needs are taken care of for the majority of the population (i.e. you have enough food, water and shelter) then you can start focusing on education and probably development of infrastructure.
     
  14. May 24, 2012 #13
    I know. And I think this discussion is mainly about west where technology and media is dominant. And then there is social networking that spreads the news faster than light.
    Lets hope that majority of people who are in position to acquire critical thinking actually do so.
     
  15. May 24, 2012 #14

    Evo

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I think people like the "mysterious unknown", it's the same reason people love horror movies, there is a sense of excitement and entertainment.

    There are more ghost hunting, paranormal and psychic tv shows on now than I can ever remember. The "New Age" nonsense, the popularity of the vampire shows. People eat this stuff up.
     
  16. May 24, 2012 #15

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    As little as three generations ago, people still blamed evil spirits for bad water. Natural disasters were generally thought to be punishments from God. Things like ghosts and demons where considered by many to be part of everyday life.

    Consider for example, the Salem witch trials. Can you even imagine this happening today in a court of law?
     
  17. May 24, 2012 #16

    Ryan_m_b

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    This falls into the catagory of "the future is already here just no evenly distrubuted"
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-16150381

    Sticking with just the west thought we've come a long way but there's so far still to go (and obviously some countries are further along than others). When such a high number of key politicians are almost fanatical in their religion and bring it to the table when discussing policy there's a worrying amount of similarities between our modern democracies and an old style theocracy.
     
  18. May 24, 2012 #17

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    But even in our modern Democracy, every American coin says, In God We Trust.

    Why would the average person reject beliefs that science can't or won't even address. People should just stop believing these things because, why, some academic said so? These are traditional beliefs, not new ones.
     
  19. May 24, 2012 #18

    Ryan_m_b

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    The phrase "because some academic said so?" is a wonderful statement that can be used to belittle any position. "People should stop believing that demons cause sickness, why, because some academic said so?" or "people should stop believing that homosexuality is unnatural, why, because some academic said so?"

    Science does address these issues, to say it doesn't is baffling. I'm not sure but I hope you're not suggesting that because something is traditional it has some sort of value! Especially when the tradition stretches back to 1956.
     
  20. May 24, 2012 #19
    I met a phone psychic a couple years back. He was a non-believer and completely cynical about his clients. His talent consisted of the ability to sound sympathetic and to phrase advise in mystical sounding terms. Time, though, were tough, and he complained that there was a lot of competition.

    A few months ago I met an "intuitive psychic", also at a coffee shop. She betrayed no disbelief or cynicism, but her conversation was also mostly complaints about how difficult it was to make a living at this. She was always having to deal with competition and official red tape.

    A third "psychic" I met, mostly a tarot reader, was amateur and did it on the side (though she did charge a fee). She seemed sincere (believed the tarot held water). One day I happened to sit at the next table while she was conducting a reading. It was clear that the appeal lay in her paying deep attention to the person's problems, and responding with a tone of authority derived, I suppose, from her being in touch with "higher powers" or some such. The net effect was of a therapy session, with mystical dynamics being substituted for psychological. The person feels they're getting good advise from someone paying close attention and who is in touch with some superior system of ethics or behavior. Like a therapist, a "psychic" is on your side, unlike a friend or relative who might simply tell you to stop whinning or stop making some obvious chronic mistake.

    The fact I've met so many "psychics" in the course of daily events might be coincidence, or it might mean there are lots of them out there, all competing for the business of the believers.

    The increase in ads for psychics doesn't necessarily mean there are more believers than ever, just more people wanting to make a living at it. The number of advertisements always only indicates the number of people trying to sell something, not the number buying. I have the feeling the standard percentage of believers is simply now being serviced by an increased number of "psychics".
     
  21. May 24, 2012 #20
    I think America's future is 1980's Romania, at best.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook




Similar Discussions: Psychics are getting popular
  1. Blind Psychic (Replies: 5)

  2. Government psychics (Replies: 3)

  3. Psychic at Large (Replies: 8)

  4. Causality and Psychics (Replies: 2)

Loading...