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View Full Version : Psychics in Philadelphia put out of business


Dagobahn Eagle
04-27-2007, 09:56 PM
As a person who has absolutely no faith in the practice of fortune-telling, I personally rejoiced when a Christian fundamentalist message board I was visiting (don't ask) brought me this (http://www.philly.com/inquirer/home_top_stories/20070427_Who_knew__Law_shuts_city_psychics.html) piece of news.

The fundies present were of course as happy as I am, although of course for more irrational, theological grounds (it had to do with the elimination of false prophets or whatever).

So here's the story: Philadelphia's authorities have discovered a State Law that bans fortune-telling. It has so far shut down at least 16 'psychics', to the latter's understandable bitterness.

Personally, the authorities have my support. Psychics are nothing but frauds, taking money from the gullible without a shred of evidence that they have any kind of powers at all. In severe cases (think Sylvia Browne who told two parents their missing son was dead, when in reality he was alive and well and discovered only weeks afterwards), their 'prophecies' have devastating effects. It's time we moved on from such wastes of money and intelligence.

Jae Onasi
04-27-2007, 10:25 PM
Oh yeah, I gotta ask, what the heck are you doing on a fundamentalist message board?

I don't like the fraud aspect of 'psychics' either. I'm wondering if such a thing would hold up to the free speech part of the constitution, however, if someone decides to push it. I wonder if the ACLU's going to pick that one up.

Prime
04-28-2007, 10:20 AM
What is the difference between a phychic and an evangalist asking for donations in this case?

SilentScope001
04-28-2007, 11:54 AM
So here's the story: Philadelphia's authorities have discovered a State Law that bans fortune-telling. It has so far shut down at least 16 'psychics', to the latter's understandable bitterness.

Discovered? You're telling me the cops don't even know the laws that are on their books?

What is the difference between a phychic and an evangalist asking for donations in this case?

Big difference.

The Physhic, for the most part, knows they are scamming. The Evangalist truly believes that what he is believing is correct (in other words, he's probraly insane and should be allowed to collect his donations).

Of course, how can you tell who is scamming and who isn't? Er. Because everyone will claim that they truly believe in something...and I can see many, many religious and non-religious groups get sent to the slammer because they raise money. Scientology is a prime example of the grey issue here.
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I am actually opposed to this law on the same grounds that Prime state. 1st Amendment calls for "Freedom of Religion", and by banning one religious movement because you think of it as composed of scammers when in fact they could sincercly believe in it...well, that's just wrong.

If you want to believe in something that the majorty of the population hates, so be it. Buyer beware.

Quist
04-28-2007, 12:59 PM
Discovered? You're telling me the cops don't even know the laws that are on their books?
There are lots of laws on the books that no one knows about. Some state constitutions have parts that were written up hundreds of years ago, and as such, are usually woefully outdated and forgotten. I doubt even state legislators, to say nothing for cops, would know every single law in the book anyway. :)

I am actually opposed to this law on the same grounds that Prime state. 1st Amendment calls for "Freedom of Religion", and by banning one religious movement because you think of it as composed of scammers when in fact they could sincercly believe in it...well, that's just wrong.
If I'm understanding you correctly, then you're opposed to banning psychics because you believe they fall under the scope of 1st Amendment protection of freedom of religion. I don't quite see it that way, as I don't believe psychics are practicioners of any religion. As far as I know, they still pay taxes. And those on TV almost always have the "This is for entertainment purposes only" disclaimer. I agree, they are scam artists, but they're not the same as those practicing a religion.

SilentScope001
04-28-2007, 01:57 PM
If I'm understanding you correctly, then you're opposed to banning psychics because you believe they fall under the scope of 1st Amendment protection of freedom of religion. I don't quite see it that way, as I don't believe psychics are practicioners of any religion. As far as I know, they still pay taxes. And those on TV almost always have the "This is for entertainment purposes only" disclaimer. I agree, they are scam artists, but they're not the same as those practicing a religion.

Huh. So, they do not claim to follow a religion. Unlucky them, they could avoid taxes by claiming to follow a religion. But I guess you can say "freedom of speech" in that regard. I do agree that most Psyhics are con artists (their scam usually is to lure people into trusting them, and then saying, "Something bad will happen, but if you want the bad thing to go away...well, you know money is the root of all evil right? So, if you give me all your money, all the evil will go away. Don't worry. I'll keep your money in safe keeping, and I'll return it back to you later on...").

But there are a couple of Phsyics who may actually believe what they are doing is true, and that they are fooling themselves (at least, in my eyes). To protect these Phsyics, I think some sort of protection is needed.

EDIT: Actually, I change my mind about most physics doing this. I know that at least some phsyics do this, but if they represent the majority or just some "bad apples", I don't know. It is better to protect all physics rather than just to ban them because of fear of them being con artists.

Quist
04-28-2007, 02:35 PM
But I guess you can say "freedom of speech" in that regard.
I think that freedom of speech is the only thing the psychics have to stand on, since I don't think any court would grant them a case under a claim of freedom of religion.

I do agree that most Psyhics are con artists (their scam usually is to lure people into trusting them, and then saying, "Something bad will happen, but if you want the bad thing to go away...well, you know money is the root of all evil right? So, if you give me all your money, all the evil will go away. Don't worry. I'll keep your money in safe keeping, and I'll return it back to you later on...").
If anyone is silly enough to believe such a ridiculous line of reasoning, then maybe they deserve to have their money duped out of them. :)

But there are a couple of Phsyics who may actually believe what they are doing is true, and that they are fooling themselves (at least, in my eyes). To protect these Phsyics, I think some sort of protection is needed.
Tell me if I'm interpreting you correctly. To protect the scant few (if any, in my opinion) that may actually believe in what they are doing, you propose to have some sort of legislative action in place that exempts them from the law? If so, how can you tell if they truly believe in what they are doing? And if you mean to enact blanket protection for all psychics, just to save those deluded few among them, how is that in any way fair? Since when is it the state's responsibility to protect people from their own beliefs?

SilentScope001
04-28-2007, 02:58 PM
Tell me if I'm interpreting you correctly. To protect the scant few (if any, in my opinion) that may actually believe in what they are doing, you propose to have some sort of legislative action in place that exempts them from the law? If so, how can you tell if they truly believe in what they are doing? And if you mean to enact blanket protection for all psychics, just to save those deluded few among them, how is that in any way fair? Since when is it the state's responsibility to protect people from their own beliefs?

I meant blantat protection for the psychics, con artist or not...not blantat protection for the innocent. No arresting of a psychic just becuase you are afraid that they might scam people.

It will be hard to tell if a psychic is lying, and I think therefore the State shouldn't do anything therefore (it would be a waste of money). The state doing nothing is, to me, a form of "protection".

Totenkopf
04-28-2007, 06:03 PM
I believe the operating expression here should be caveat emptor, lest a fool really wishes to be parted with her/his $$.

Jae Onasi
04-28-2007, 06:37 PM
What is the difference between a phychic and an evangalist asking for donations in this case?

Evangelists don't say 'X will happen in the future' and make definitive predictions about the future such that you could plan your life around said predictions.


Moderator note:
Please avoid making blanket negative statements such as 'religious people are irrational' or 'non-religious people have faulty reasoning'.

We can disagree with each other without being strident or disrespectful.

Allronix
04-29-2007, 05:48 AM
Oh, the red alerts went up for this one!

To paraphrase Dana Scully, I've seen and heard things I can't explain, and I won't say they don't exist because someone in "authority" calls them BS. I've gone to a few readings...some of the folks are full of bull, and some can be scarily on-target. Use your gut, and do your reading to calculate which is which.

Seriously. while the charlatans p--- me off, I'm also a Pagan. Something like this could REALLY hurt the Pagan community in any town or city. Y'see, the shops where they operate also tend to be a clearing house for information on alternative faiths. Not just Pagan, but also Buddhist, Taoist, and other mystic traditions. Cripple the information lines, and you cripple the community. Y'see, those faiths don't pass out Chick tracts or scream on street corners. In fact, for most Pagan traditions, those tactics are verboten. So, the best place to find out where the Pagan gatherings are is often some hole in the wall that sells crystals, books, and may have a reader on premesis.

So, they ban the psychics...they also going to start banning health food stores and supplement shops? Or places that sell shiny stones and tarot decks?

Jae Onasi
04-29-2007, 09:29 AM
The problem, Allronix, is that there seem to be many more charlatans than honorable psychics, and separating the real from the crap is really hard if you're an average Josephina walking in off the street. I think the Supreme Court at the state or Fed level will eventually weigh in on this since it's likely a freedom of speech issue.

JasraLantill
04-29-2007, 11:09 AM
If I understand this correctly, the Pennsylvania law prohibits fortune-telling for profit, not fortune-telling itself. All the tarot readers/tea leaf readers/palm readers/etc. that I've ever been to have never had a 'flat rate' service charge, but instead have asked that I give a donation/tip to them at the end of the session, if I felt so inclined. Their reasoning for this, they told me, is that the exchange of money can negatively affect the reading.

If this is the case, then fortune-telling can still continue in Pennsylvania, but any 'psychics' who charge for their readings up front will just have to find some other way of doing business. And if they truly are indeed 'scam-artists', they will. :)

Dagobahn Eagle
05-06-2007, 03:29 PM
The problem, Allronix, is that there seem to be many more charlatans than honorable psychics, and separating the real from the crap is really hard if you're an average Josephina walking in off the street.In addition, while many 'psychics' may sincerely believe in their own powers, none have succeeded in proving them to professional investigators in a rigorous, controlled setting. Not only would it be a great morale boost and marketing ploy for the 'psychics' to prove their abilities, they'd also strike it rich if doing so. James Randi et al are ready to offer millions of dollars to the first person who can prove that he or she has paranormal abilities. Randi's challenge (http://www.randi.org/research/index.html) alone offers one million dollars.

And if the 'psychics' can't prove that their 'products' (readings) have truth to them, then how much better are they than your average con-man? If someone tried to sell an anti-virus program for $50 and could not in any way prove that it had any of its advertised positive effects, would he not be a swindler? Or, better yet, if no single person could prove objectively that any of the thousands of anti-virus programs on the market had any kind of effect, would you not call the anti-virus industry one big swindle?