Now, I've seen a lot of bullcrap, but this…
There's an idiotic psychic exploitation series currently running on NBC in the States called Phenomenon. It's a show where magicians and frauds vie for a cool quarter mill in greenbacks.
The two personalities of this 'intriguing, mystifying meeting of minds' are Criss Angel, a sort of Marylin Manson meets David Blaine character, and the long discredited perennial hoaxer Uri Geller. (Why isn't Randi a judge, dammit!)
Now, Angel seems to be a well presented and marketed magic act, like good-man-yerself Keith Barry, but Geller sticks in my craw a little. Many, many books and articles have been published proving (as if we really needed proof) that Geller is a fraud–and yet his reputation is, to all intents, untarnished.
Jon Ronson's recent piece for The Guardian on the despicable Sylvia Browne elucidates this phenomenon in detail, as he accompanies many hopefuls on a psychic cruise ship (actually, it's a real ship) where they will pay a fortune for a ten second interchange with Browne.
This reprehensible liar, through sheer force of character, has maintained her cult status as the United States premier 'lost child' psychic, even though she has been proven wrong, and cruelly so, on countless occasions. Her instant, dramatic, and precise pronouncements regarding the missing or dead, are impressive, if utterly without merit.
These psychic leeches are the so-called 'second wave' of predators who swarm in whenever a child goes missing, promising unknowable knowledge and closure to the distressed/grieving parents.
For example, Slyvia's infamous Shawn Hornbeck declaration ("He is dead, buried beneath two jagged boulders") was called into question, somewhat, when Shawn was found alive, living with his abductor four years later. I am quite certain that her thousands of other assertions about missing children ("She's been sold into slavery in Japan") are equally bogus.
But how can people still think this patent charlatanry is anything more than a hurtful fiction? The answer is shows like Phenomenon.
Witness the most recent episode where a callous humbug like Jim Callahan is given free reign to pretend to contact the dead, and the act is presented with the breathless matter-of-factness of a Discovery channel documentary.
Do you agree with Uri's assessment of Callahan's display–the 'flair of honesty that brings credibility' to his hysterical dog and pony show?
But well done to Criss Angel for pointing out the obvious. During the live show, he produces his own envelope and challenges Callahan (and Uri!!) to say what it contains, with hilarious results, resulting in a schoolyard scuffle.
(The YouTube clip is Callahan's own, hence the silly name-calling tacked on at the end)
I am disgusted, horrified and personally offended by this show's engineered dishonesty. Because of years of offal like this, I would guess 70% of the audience were taken in by Callahan's outrageous buffoonery.
We are teaching people to accept the paranormal as normal. We are laying the crazy paving for psychic leeches to walk up to the doors of vulnerable victims and offer them solace and comfort, while stealing their money–why, that's the job of organised religion, by Jeebus!
Still, Callahan has a long way to go before he rivals the Biggest Douche in the Universe.