Author Topic: SGU 5x5 #72  (Read 4363 times)

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Offline Steven Novella

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SGU 5x5 #72
« on: July 17, 2009, 08:23:30 AM »
Randi Million Dollar Psychic Challenge and Connie Sonne
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Offline Evil Eye

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Re: SGU 5x5 #72
« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2009, 08:57:35 AM »
Not on iTunes yet.  keep getting an exclamation point.
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Offline Anders

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Re: SGU 5x5 #72
« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2009, 09:06:20 AM »
I agree that the test seemed fair, but she raises a valid point. It would be fairly trivial for Banachek to fiddle with the cards. I trust that he doesn't, and that the JREF doesn't, but that's based on my assessment of the moral of the people involved - not on any hard facts. How would we know if Banachek was fiddling?

(N.B. - I wasn't in Vegas, so maybe the conditions were fiddleproof even for a trickster like Banachek.)
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Offline Trinoc

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Re: SGU 5x5 #72
« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2009, 10:05:09 AM »
Nice piece of unbiased reporting ... "which number she would ideomotor, I mean which number she would dowse for" ... Come on guys, we all know dowsing is bunk, but this is supposed to be an unbiased test to prove it is bunk. Going into it with a ready-made explanation from "our side" is just as bad as the alleged psychics having pre-conceived ideas from their own sides.

Also, as I've said in another thread, I don't honestly think Banacek cheated, but we all know that an experienced magician could have cheated and it's unlikely anyone would have noticed anything wrong.

It's not good enough that these tests to convince skeptics. We are already convinced. They have to be so bullet-proof that no possible valid criticism can be made against them. If a skeptic like me can pick holes in the test, then sure as hell the believers can do the same a dozen times over.

To anyone simply watching the video without preconceptions, this was a stage magician's trick like hundreds we have all seen before. The only difference is that the intention of the trick was to fail. I'm sure Connie genuinely failed, but I am sure because my own experience tells me these powers don't exist, not because of this test.

I also don't think that suggesting psychic claimants are mentally ill is either helpful to the process or clinically defensible. Suggesting that someone has a mental illness is a serious matter and should never be used as a simple put-down.

PS. Can somebody please post the YouTube links? I need to watch it again to check out the various accusations and counter-accusations being made.

(That is, the video of the whole test, not just the two-minute-odd video already up there with the caption "she was NOT cheated in any way". I want to decide that for myself from viewing all of the evidence.)
« Last Edit: July 17, 2009, 10:08:51 AM by Trinoc »
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Offline Evil Eye

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Re: SGU 5x5 #72
« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2009, 10:12:38 AM »
Hmmm. Still not on iTunes.

I'll have to get it from the site.
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Offline Evan

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Re: SGU 5x5 #72
« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2009, 10:46:54 AM »
She must have known ahead of time that Banachek would conduct the test. 

I am sure if there was any protest on her part, someone else, to both Connie and JREF's satisfaction, would have been chosen. 

Steve, Bob and I have all participated in conducting preliminary tests for the JREF, and our experience is such that if there is any protest by the claimant ahead of time, we accomodate the claimant in any way we can without compromizing the integrity of the test.

The only time we said "no" to a claimant's request is when they asked us to direct them to a package store so they could buy beer. (No joke)


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Offline Trinoc

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Re: SGU 5x5 #72
« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2009, 12:28:38 PM »
She probably genuinely thought she could beat the test. It's only when confronted with the choice between accepting she has no powers or crying foul that objections spring to mind.

I'm not too concerned about Connie herself. I think the entertainment value of testing what we could call "deluded amateurs" has rather worn off, and I feel rather sorry for people who were probably doing no harm at all with their mistaken beliefs. They just made the foolish mistake of thinking they could do it under scrutiny. If the MDC is to continue in any form I hope it will concentrate on the Sylvia Brownes and Uri Gellers of this world who make a living out of convincing other people of this stuff.

Can we do a quick straw poll ... is there anyone here who was either agnostic or believer regarding dowsing and who has now been convinced it is bunk by seeing the test? Given that such a person probably would not be reading this forum ... is there anyone here who thinks that if they had been agnostic or believer regarding dowsing then they would have been convinced it was bunk by seeing the test?

I'm afraid all I saw was a stage act. If the shoe had been on the other foot, and in place of Banachek there had been, say, Uri Geller doing a similar test, except that the test subject succeeded, then I'm sure people like Banachek and Randi would be queueing up to show how it could be done without any psychic powers. If it would be so easy to fake a success, think how much easier it would be to fake a failure.

I'm not suggesting for a moment that Banachek really did fake it, but the point is that he could have done so, and that is enough for believers to dismiss the test as inconclusive.
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Re: SGU 5x5 #72
« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2009, 01:32:56 PM »
Believers would dismiss the test as inconclusive REGARDLESS of who handled the cards.

You heard her initial reaction 'it was just not the right day for my powers to work'

She avoided the standard 'oh, it's because the room is full of skeptics their negative energy made my power fail'

Then when someone ELSE pointed out that Banachek called out a card BEFORE it was totally revealed, she immediately seized on it as THE reason she failed.

Lets assume that Banachek wasn't used and they replaced him with someone else.  How do we know that whoever he was replaced with wasn't trained in magic also and was therefore able to pull some skulduggery?  There will ALWAYS be an excuse for a true believer.
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Offline Trinoc

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Re: SGU 5x5 #72
« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2009, 01:49:31 PM »
There will ALWAYS be an excuse for a true believer.

Exactly ... which makes the routine humiliation of amateur psychics rather pointless voyeurism. It changes nobody's mind. On the other hand, routine humiliation of professional media psychics who prey on vulnerable believers might well serve a useful purpose. To show up some of these to be complete charlatans might not only get them out of circulation, but prompt agnostics and less committed believers to question whether all psychic stuff might be an illusion, even if not always a deliberate fraud.
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Re: SGU 5x5 #72
« Reply #9 on: July 17, 2009, 02:11:57 PM »
Once again I'm going to disagree with this.

The 'professional' psychics know they're fake and wouldn't be caught dead in a blinded controlled test.  They're too sharp to be given such a test.  How would you propose getting them to take such a test?  They won't do it, because they know they will fail.

These types of tests are meant for the people in the middle, not the true believers.  Nothing you can do would convince them otherwise.  However, those folks in the middle might be persuaded to look further into the phenomenon and become informed.

Going after 'the big names' isn't as easy as you seem to be making it out to be.
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Offline Trinoc

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Re: SGU 5x5 #72
« Reply #10 on: July 17, 2009, 02:26:27 PM »
Once again I'm going to disagree with this.

The 'professional' psychics know they're fake and wouldn't be caught dead in a blinded controlled test.  They're too sharp to be given such a test.  How would you propose getting them to take such a test?  They won't do it, because they know they will fail.

These types of tests are meant for the people in the middle, not the true believers.  Nothing you can do would convince them otherwise.  However, those folks in the middle might be persuaded to look further into the phenomenon and become informed.

Going after 'the big names' isn't as easy as you seem to be making it out to be.

OK, I'm inclined to agree. But then just what is the MDC for? It's certainly not a way to get rid of a million dollars, it's not going to convince any psychics they are wrong and it's not going to convince any believers they are wrong about psychics. It's served its purpose as a publicity vehicle for JREF but I think that now it fails either to educate the public or to get serious psychic scams off the streets. It's really now just a sideshow for skeptics like us to watch tests or videos of tests and chuckle at the credulity of the subjects.
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Re: SGU 5x5 #72
« Reply #11 on: July 17, 2009, 02:34:08 PM »
Not really, the MDC is an excellent rhetorical tool that, again, will make the folks who are in the middle (the uninformed middle) pause.

It's an excellent tool for basically saying 'hey, if this stuff really exists then there is a test out there.  If they can prove the ability under controlled circumstances, then guess what?  Here's a million dollars'

The claimant then either takes the test, or comes up with lame excuses, which, the average joe on the street can see as lame.

You're correct that this particular test probably didn't prove anything to either side, but it certainly was instructional for the people who got to see it, basically showing everyone how such a test was set up and how to conduct it.


I'd venture to say that other than people watching the woman try to make Jeff Wagg pee himself on YouTube, this test was the most widely seen test and hence it was useful.
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Offline Dolomedes

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Re: SGU 5x5 #72
« Reply #12 on: July 17, 2009, 02:53:40 PM »
Warning: I have a brain, and I know how to use it.

50 Books for 2009 and 2010

Offline Evan

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Re: SGU 5x5 #72
« Reply #13 on: July 17, 2009, 03:06:39 PM »
Sorry about the feed - I've notified the powers that be.

So many of us have become used to the MDC being at our fingertips that we forget how awesome we felt when we first realized its existence.  It's utility is still very worthwhile, and it continues to be a tangible example of actual skepticism in action.

Long Live The MDC!

"The masses are asses." - Perry DeAngelis

Offline Trinoc

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Re: SGU 5x5 #72
« Reply #14 on: July 17, 2009, 06:06:46 PM »
Long Live The MDC!

There were rumours that it was about to be withdrawn, and other rumours that it was about to be restricted to alleged psychics with an established media presence. Were these incorrect? What are the current plans for the MDC's future?
I'm a skeptic. Not a "skepdude". Not a "man skeptic". Just a skeptic.

 

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