October 02, 2007

SpiritFest Held at Camp Chesterfield

Camp Chesterfield is the location of a Spiritualist Church near Anderson. For those not up on their history Spiritualism is a religious movement that enjoyed some popularity in the late 19th and early 20th century. The most notable tenant of Spiritualism is that it is possible to talk to the dead.

Recently Camp Chesterfield held their 4th annual Spiritfest (The Shelbyville News 2007-09-13). We are told of this event:

Dozens of psychic readers will be available for readings, and a variety of body workers will be on hand offering therapeutic massage, Reiki and other healing techniques. There will even be a healer offering "drummings" which uses a Native American healing technique as a way to balance the body's natural energy centers and to help clear negativity from the person's energy field.
In addition, Camp Chesterfield mediums will be giving messages from loved ones on the other side [...]

So they have the trifecta of (1) almost certainly false information about the future, (2) "healing" techniques shown in scientific studies to be completely useless, and (3) telling lies about deceased friends and family.

I really shouldn't be so certain about their events because I wasn't able to go and check it out myself, but how many times do these tricks need to be debunked before their fraudulent nature can be taken for granted?

Posted by nolandda at 12:48 PM

September 25, 2006

Kreskin Offers Questionable Police Training

In this South Bend Tribune Article (published 2006-09-22) we learn that renowned mentalist The Amazing Kreskin offered a questionable training session to police officers in the Greenfield area.

This training program was closed to the public. However, we know that it was part of Kreskin's Intuitive Cops Observational Preparedness Seminars, ICOPS. According to the website this program "defines the difference between intuitives, sensitives, psychics, ESP, and hypnosis". We know that psychics waste police resources and occasionally accuse innocent people so hopefully this program teaches police officers to avoid these frauds.

I think it is only fair to give Kreskin the benefit of the doubt and assume that he is not a proponent of psychic powers. This however only clouds the picture. What is this mysterious "intuition" that he is teaching? It could be techniques from his mentalism performances, but those tricks, which involve forced choices and the like, would seem to be useless to police officers in the pursuit of justice.

I am unsure what occurred at this training session. Perhaps it was as simple as Kreskin living out some Mandrake the Magician fantasy. But many skeptics, myself included would prefer if The Amazing Kreskin would come off the fence and decide once and for all if he wants to be an honest magician or a "psychic".

Posted by nolandda at 01:30 PM

February 19, 2006

Skeptics View The Indigo Evolution

The Indigo Evolution is a new film about a largely harmless new age phenomenon. On 2006-01-27 a group of Indiana Skeptics viewed the film at Unity Church of Indianapolis.

Most people believe that their children are special. However some believe that their children have special psychic powers. They call them Indigo Children. This documentary style film portrayed these indigo children as new age hero's destined to save the world from evil. The films message that children are special and that the world can be improved are well meaning and laudable. However the mystic window dressing is silly and leads to some dangerous advice.

The film claims that indigo children can be recognized by several attributes including empathy, energy, memory of past lives, and intolerance for those things which are not genuine. You can rest assured that the Indiana Skeptics share their intolerance of disingenuous people and movements. The film mentions some famous historical indigo children including Saint Bernadette and Joan of Arc, but it takes the position that these children are being born in greater and greater numbers. The claim that psychics have been detecting an indigo aura around children recently is offered without any evidence, much less proof of psychic powers. As with most psychic claims the old ten percent myth crops up. The discredited research of Dr Ilchi Lee is also invoked.

The psychic nonsense is humorous at times but later the film makes some potentially dangerous claims. Most notable are the claims that children with Attention Deficit Disorder should not be medicated. At one point love is suggested as an alternative to drugs. At a later point Osteopathic Medicine is the recommended treatment. While it is possible that Ritalin is over prescribed certainly children who do suffer from ADD should be treated with medicine.

Heartbreakingly the film also plays with the emotions of parents with autistic children. The supposed connection between mercury in thimerosal which is used as a preservative in vaccines and autism is mentioned at one point. While this myth has spread rapidly amongst the community of parents with autistic children it has not been shown to be true by medical science. Meanwhile another commentator in the film mentions that children may become autistic due to their telepathic powers. According to the film the constant barrage of thoughts causes them to turn inward. I cannot imagine how distressing this lie could be to the parent of an autistic child. The film makes no notice of the fact that it claims two separate causes of autism, and the telepathic angle brings the shadow of the old facilitated communication scam to my mind and that ruined a number of lives.

At other times the documentary appears to be a commercial for The CosmiKids Education System. In general it was disjointed and VERY credulous. The people interviewed for the film are not experts in their fields, they are mostly fringe scientists, savant children, scared parents of disabled children, new age authors, and artists. I would never recommend that someone not investigate a film for themselves, but this one should definitely be taken with a grain of salt.

Posted by nolandda at 08:54 PM

January 09, 2006

Camp Chesterfield Holds Monthly Psychic Fair

The Muncie Star-Press (2006-01-08) has a rather credulous article concerning the psychic fair that is held on the first Saturday of each month at Camp Chesterfield. For those who are unaware Camp Chesterfield is the location of a Spiritualist Church.

Posted by nolandda at 06:05 PM