Monday, April 26, 2010
For those who are unaware of what Remote Viewing is ...
"Remote viewing (RV) is the ability to gather information about a distant or unseen target using paranormal means or extra-sensory perception or sensing with mind. Typically a remote viewer is expected to give information about an object that is hidden from physical view and separated at some distance. The term was introduced by parapsychologists Russell Targ and Harold Puthoff in 1974."
The most obvious question is, have there ever been any serious research studies into Remote Viewing, and have any Double-Blind Controlled Experiments been conducted that have yielded significant results, highly suggesting that there is something to it? The answer is yes.
US Government Research Into Remote Viewing :
"In 1972, Puthoff tested remote viewer Ingo Swann at SRI, and the experiment led to a visit from two employees of the CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology. The result was a $50,000 CIA-sponsored project. (Schnabel 1997, Puthoff 1996, Kress 1977/1999, Smith 2005)
As research continued, the SRI team published papers in Nature , in Proceedings of the IEEE (Puthoff & Targ, 1976), and in the proceedings of a symposium on consciousness for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (Puthoff, et al., 1981).
The initial CIA-funded project was later renewed and expanded. A number of CIA officials including John McMahon, then the head of the Office of Technical Service and later the Agency's deputy director, became strong supporters of the program.
By the mid 1970s, facing the post-Watergate revelations of its "skeletons," and after internal criticism of the program, the CIA dropped sponsorship of the SRI research effort. Sponsorship was picked up by the Air Force, led by analyst Dale E. Graff of the Foreign Technology Division.
In 1979, the Army's Intelligence and Security Command, which had been providing some taskings to the SRI investigators, was ordered to develop its own program by the Army's chief intelligence officer, Gen. Ed Thompson. CIA operations officers, working from McMahon's office and other offices, also continued to provide taskings to SRI's subjects. (Schnabel 1997, Smith 2005, Atwater 2001)
The program had three parts (Mumford, et al., 1995). First was the evaluation of psi research performed by the U.S.S.R. and China, which appears to have been better-funded and better-supported than the government research in the U.S. (Schnabel 1997)
In the second part of the program, SRI managed its own stable of "natural" psychics both for research purposes and to make them available for tasking by a variety of US intelligence agencies.
The most famous results from these years were:
* The description of a big crane at a Soviet nuclear research facility by Pat Price's (Kress 1977/1999, Targ 1996).
* A description of a new class of Soviet strategic submarine by a team of three viewers including Joseph McMoneagle (Smith 2005, McMoneagle 2002).
* Rosemary Smith's location of a downed Soviet bomber in Africa (which former President Carter later referred to in speeches).
“She went into a trance. And while she was in the trance, she gave us some latitude and longitude figures. We focused our satellite cameras on that point, and the lost plane was there.” - Former President Jimmy Carter
By the early 1980s numerous offices throughout the intelligence community were providing taskings to SRI's psychics. (Schnabel 1997, Smith 2005) The third branch of the program was a research project intended to find out if ESP – now called "remote viewing" – could be made accurate and reliable.
The intelligence community offices that tasked the group seemed to believe that the phenomenon was real. But in the view of these taskers, a remote viewer could be "on" one day and "off" the next, a fact that made it hard for the technique to be officially accepted. Through SRI, individuals were studied for years in a search for physical (e.g., brain-wave) correlates that might reveal when they were "on- or off-target".
At SRI, Ingo Swann and Hal Puthoff also developed a remote-viewing training program meant to enable any individual with a suitable background to produce useful data. As part of this project, a number of military officers and civilians were trained and formed a military remote viewing unit, based at Fort Meade, Maryland. (Schnabel 1997, Smith 2005, McMoneagle 2002)
Additional Information on the Early RV Experiments (Including Descriptions of Very Impressive Hits):
Some of the best results were with New York artist Ingo Swann. Puthoff and his colleague Russell Targ began testing Swann with objects hidden in boxes, and pictures in envelopes--experiments he regarded as a trivialization of his skills. Swann told Puthoff he could close his eyes and see anywhere on the planet. Give him any co-ordinates for latitude and longitude, the artist said, and he would describe what was there.
Swann apparently had some success with this, and the researchers thought they had a case of eidetic imagery--perfect visual recall from memory, from material presumably culled from maps. They chose more refined co-ordinates, down to buildings, and Swann still kept getting "hits" far beyond chance. This was the first indication of the military possibilities of so-called "remote viewing."
One remote viewer, Joe McMoneagle, was said to be particularly skilled. His job was remote viewing a large, mysterious building in the northern Soviet Union. "Most analysts though the Soviets were trying to build a miniature aircraft carrier," says McMoneagle. "We remote viewed the building, and determined that in fact they were building the largest submarine in the world. We were able to describe in detail the tubes and how they were mounted on the sides of the sub. It turned out to be the new Typhoon class submarine, the largest submarine in the world. It had exactly the number of tubes we said, and everything was essentially correct."
Under the DIA's wing, several successes were cited, including the finding of Brig.-Gen. James Dozier, kidnapped by the Italian Red Brigade. According to the physicist in charge of the DIA Stargate project, one remote viewer gave the name of the town where Dozier was being hid--Padua--and another gave the name of the building. Details down to the bed where Dozier was chained were apparently accurate."
The US Government spent over 20 years and millions of dollars on their own Remote Viewing Program, it was declassified by the CIA in 1995. It was called Project Stargate. The program's best Remote Viewers, Joe McMoneagle, Keith Harary, and Ingo Swann, produced numerous amazing dazzle-shot hits on a number of BLIND targets and locations (all done in controlled single-blind and double-blind experiments).
Here's some indepth information on this program ...
"The Stargate Project was the umbrella code name of one of several sub-projects established by the U.S. Federal Government to investigate the reality, and potential military and domestic applications, of psychic phenomena, particularly "remote viewing": the purported ability to psychically "see" events, sites, or information from a great distance. These projects were active from the 1970s through 1995, and followed up early psychic research done at The Stanford Research Institute (SRI), The American Society for Psychical Research, and other psychical research labs.
The Stargate Project created a set of protocols designed to make researching clairvoyance and out-of-body experiences more scientific, and minimize as much as possible session noise and inaccuracy. The term "remote viewing" emerged as shorthand to describe this more structured approach to clairvoyance. Stargate only received a mission after all other intelligence attempts, methods, or approaches had already been exhausted.
At its peak, Stargate had as many as 14 labs researching remote viewing. It was also reported that there were over 22 active military and domestic remote viewers providing data. When the project closed in 1995 this number had dwindled down to three.
According to Joseph McMoneagle, "The Army never had a truly open attitude toward psychic functioning". Hence, the use of the term "giggle factor" and the saying, "I wouldn't want to be found dead next to a psychic." As with all intelligence information, intelligence gathered by remote viewing must be verified by other sources. Remote-viewing information could not stand alone.
According to The Ultimate Time Machine by Joseph McMoneagle and Reading the Enemy's Mind: Inside Star Gate America's Psychic Espionage Program by Paul H. Smith, examples of confirmed future targets being sensed by Stargate remote viewers include:
* The predicted launch date for a newly constructed submarine months before it actually rolled from its construction crib and into the harbor by Joseph McMoneagle. McMoneagle guessed the submarine would be launched about four months later, sometime in the month of January 1980. Satellite photos confirmed this in mid-January 1980 According to Paul H. Smith, McMoneagle predicted several months in the future.
* The predicted release of a hostage in the Middle East and a correct description of the medical problem precipitating his release. The information was provided three weeks before the hostage takers made their decisions.
This conclusion seems to be associated with the following text: "When one of the hostages was released early because of medical conditions and shown the information we [remote-viewers] had accumulated, he was enraged. In his mind, the only way we could possibly had such accurate information, would be to have someone inside the embassy with the hostages..."
The information given by Keith Harary, at SRI, the Stargate Project, was: "He seems to be suffering from nausea. One side of his body seems damaged or hurt. He will be on an airplane in the next few days." The target turned out to be the hostage Richard Queen, held by Iranian militants and now desperately ill with symptoms including muscle weakness, lack of coordination, difficulty in vision, spasticity, vertigo, facial numbness, tremor, and emotional lability, multiple sclerosis, that affected his nerves on one side. In part due to his input, Harary says he was later informed by contacts at SRI, President Carter dispatched a plane to bring Queen home. There is no reference to a three week prediction. There is no mention of the Iran hostage crisis (November 4, 1979 - January 20, 1981) or this incident in the 1984 book, The Mind Race: Understanding and Using Psychic Abilities, by Russell Targ and Keith Harary, which centers around remote viewing experiments and SRI.
* Upon reading of the May 17, 1987, attack on the frigate the U.S.S. Stark in The Washington Post, Paul H. Smith became convinced that his remote viewing, three days earlier, of an attack on an American warship, including the location, the method, and the motive, was precognition. The American Warship "viewing" session was around 30 pages long, including writing and sketching of ships, parts of ships, map-like diagrams, etc.
In regards to Domestic Applications of what would become Remote Viewing, various field testings in remote viewing was done in the mid-1970s.
* In a particular well known serial crime incident, a single lone suspect in question was later captured by law enforcement and put into prison. About twenty years later the original lone suspect changed his confession, and verified almost exactly to what was remote viewed by those domestic remote viewer(s). On the eve of reopening this case, the FBI stepped in, and asked that the case be put on hold. This case has been upgraded to Classified, with no indication at this time that it will be reopened . This noted case has been published and later suggested by name in the movie Suspect Zero."
Project Stargate was eventually discontinued for various reasons ...
"In 1995, the CIA hired the American Institutes for Research, a perennial intelligence-industry contractor, to perform a retrospective evaluation of the results generated by the remote-viewing program, the Stargate Project. Most of the program's results were not seen by the evaluators, with the report focusing on the most recent experiments, and only from government-sponsored research.
One of the reviewers was Ray Hyman, a long-time critic of psi research, and another was Jessica Utts who, as a supporter of psi, was chosen to put forward the pro-psi argument.
Utts maintained that there had been a statistically significant positive effect, with some subjects scoring 5%-15% above chance.
Hyman argued that Utts' conclusion that ESP had been proven to exist, "is premature, to say the least." Hyman said the findings had yet to be replicated independently, and that more investigation would be necessary to "legitimately claim the existence of paranormal functioning.
Based upon both of their studies, which recommended a higher level of critical research and tighter controls, the CIA terminated the 20 million dollar project in 1995.
The official reason given for this was an unfavorable review by two scientists. However according to Joseph McMoneagle's book Mind Trek (1997) these scientists were not shown 99% of the documented results of remote viewing, which were and are still classified, were forbidden to speak with any of the remote viewers or project managers and were not given any means to evaluate the operational effectiveness of the information they were shown (1997: 218-229)."
However, that was not the only factor. Daz Smith, a noted Remote Viewer, also provided me with the following information concerning the dissolution of the program:
"Most of the program participants were rotating out of the program and even retiring form the Army so were freer to talk and setup their own rv projects, also one of the scientist involved for over ten years (Targ) had also filed a FOIA request for all information regarding himself. It was therefore inevitable that the program was about to go very public - so the only option they had was to crate a hurried fake/biased examination of the last ten project in the last few years work and not the entire 30+ years of scientific projects and claim it didn't work. yet the program managed to get funding year on year from congress, intel and the military based on the results each year - if it didn't work why did it go on for over 30 years?"
Here are several video segments where Remote Viewer Joe McMoneagle was Put To The Test on his Remote Viewing Abilities in Controlled Double-Blind Experiments:
An Anomalous Cognition Example with Mr. Joseph W. McMoneagle, July 1994
In this first video above, a random person is selected to take hundreds of different photographs around the city (Houston, a city Joe McMoneagle had never been to), these are later dwindled down to four carefully selected target areas (which are very different from one another), which are then placed in four sealed envelopes, mixed up and shuffled randomly, and then randomly numbered. One of these is then randomly selected (via dice roll) by yet another person as the target area. Another randomly selected person is then sent to the target area to be a beacon for Joe McMoneagle.
Joe McMoneagle is placed in a room, given a photograph of the target person in an unrelated setting, and is told to focus on her and her surroundings. He's HIGHLY ACCURATE.
Within minutes, his drawing has totally eliminated the other three possible targets, and is roughly 80% accurate (with dazzle-shot accuracy) on the exact target area.
National Geographic Remote Viewing Example with Joe McMoneagle (February, 2005)
The above video is another Double-Blind Experiment on Joe McMoneagle, this time done by National Geographic. In this experiment, out of hundreds of possible photographs, a random target location is chosen, a random individual is selected to go to the location, Joe McMoneagle is sealed off in a room, is shown a picture of the target person in an unrelated setting, and is told to focus on her and her surroundings.
This time, not only is Joe McMoneagle highly accurate, but the test goes one step further, where the present researcher, Dr. Edwin May, after JoeMcMoneagle leaves the room, is given the additional task to MATCH JoeMcMoneagle's drawing to the correct location, out of over a dozen possible photographs. (Dr. Edwin May too is BLIND to the target location.) Amazingly, he does match Joe McMoneagle's drawing to the correct target location.
ABC Nightline Report on the CIA Declassifying Project Stargate
All three videos link give detailed overviews of the program and some of it's biggest dazzle shot hits.
Here are some of the best hits by Joe McMoneagle, keep in mind that these were ALL drawn during DOUBLE-BLIND CONTROLLED EXPERIMENTS where he was given NOTHING on the target location :
Remote Viewing Example 1
Remote Viewing Example 2
Remote Viewing Example 3
Remote Viewing Example 4 Target
Remote Viewing Example 4 Drawing
Remote Viewing Example 5 Target
Remote Viewing Example 5 Drawing
Remote Viewing Example 6 Target
Remote Viewing Example 6 Drawing
Remote Viewing Example 7 Target
Remote Viewing Example 7 Drawing
Now, on to reviewing Derren Brown's two highly unimpressive video segments on Remote Viewing ...
There are two video segments of UK Skeptic, Mentalist, and Magician Derren Brown that I've come across that deal with the topic of Remote Viewing that I was highly unimpressed with.
The first video segment I've come across deals with, expectedly, a group of gullible New Agers who "Train Psychics" in an Institute for "Developing Psychic Abilities", in a Town that is *filled* with New Age Thinking, Propaganda, Services, etc, on every corner of Town.
Derren over-exaggerates how "well known" and "respected" they are. (I'd never heard of them, and their website is filled with typical New Age imagery and topics, just seems to be yet another dime a dozen New Age group to me.)
Here is a link to the video:
Derren Brown - Remote Viewing Clip
(I must point out here, isn't it funny how Debunkers in these videos tend to resort to using the "Best of us, worst of them" logical fallacy often? Where they tend to show the silliest proponents, New Agers in a New Age Town claiming to be "Psychic Trainers", while the Debunkers make themselves look good in comparison to the "gullible crazies", it's shooting fish in a barrel, plain and simple.
Why not interview far more *credible*, no-nonsense, Scientific oriented Remote Viewing Researchers with a great track record, such as Dr. Edwin C. May, Ph.D, who presided over the US Government's official Remote Viewing Program? Or world famous Remote Viewers who partook in that same US Government Remote Viewing Program with MANY Double-Blind Verifiable Dazzle Shot Hits, such as Joe McMoneagle? Hmmm?)
In this video segment, Derren arrives at this Institute claiming to be a Psychic wanting to take a Remote Viewing Test. He sits down with a pen and paper, while a woman goes into the next room within earshot of him to draw a series of random pictures, and he is suppose to successfully Remote View the picture she is drawing. (This is a very weak form of controlled Remote Viewing.)
He is in total verbal communication with the woman who is drawing the picture in the next room the entire time that he is suppose to be Remote Viewing, and while he talks to her, he lets slip all sorts of suggestive details that will influence what she is drawing (so he can easily guess her drawing).
For example, he says to her, "keep it simple, let your thoughts SAIL AWAY, and don't go OVERBOARD on detail", and surprise surprise, she draws a boat on the water, which he likewise draws a very simple representation of (very general looking, so that it could apply to any type of "boat in water" scenario she could draw via his subtle suggestions), among several other drawings she did that he likewise used subtle manipulation via inserting suggestive words to influence her outcome. (Only the boat example's subtle suggestions are shown, the rest were not used in the video, but are implied.)
These were all very simple drawings of very simple things, a banana, a religious symbol and bush, a boat on the water.
The "Psychic Trainer New Agers" are surprised and shocked, and praise him, and worry that he might take their job he is so good, one suggests that he wants to use the video to train other Remote Viewers. Alas, they'd been had.
I have praise on this segment only because he shows how *uncontrolled* remote viewing can be easily manipulated, especially if you are in direct verbal communication with the person drawing the target, where you can subtlely leak suggestive phrases to them that can influence the outcome of their drawing, and because he pwned some gullible new agers. But, all in all, it's shooting fish in a barrel.
The second video segment of Derren Brown's dealing with Remote Viewing was better done than the first one, but was still very very flawed.
Here's a link to the video:
Derren Brown and Dr. Carr - Remote Viewing
Right off the bat, he inaccurately claims that the US Government Remote Viewing Project was "wasted scientific research".
Apparently he seems to be very unfamiliar with the overall data and the most significant hits of the RV Program, not surprisingly.
In the video, he gets a Psychologist and Remote Viewer Trainer Dr. Carr (whom I've never heard of before, and who gets only a very few hits on Google, most leading to his own Remote Viewing Workshop Website, which resembles many such RV Workshops you'll find online from many different people who are into RV Training) and Derren asks him to do a controlled Remote Viewing Test with him, which he agrees to.
Derren then *highly inaccurately* claims that Dr. Carr is the "World's Foremost Authority On Remote Viewing", which is not even close by a long shot. I'd consider Dr. Edwin May, Joe McMoneagle, Keith Harary, or Ingo Swann a hell of a more significant authority on Remote Viewing. Dr. Carr was never involved with Project Stargate which set the bar.
Derren Brown has a target woman go out into the local city, and has Dr. Carr in his studio, and asks him to zero in on her location with his Mind and Remote View her, and then draw her current location and describe her surroundings and what she is seeing.
Dr. Carr spends an HOUR AND A HALF drawing HUNDREDS of different drawings, many of which are *very general* images which can be compared to an ink blot test.
He then selects five different images that could *possibly* match the location, AFTER the woman comes back into the studio and tells them both of her surroundings. He picks one in particular that could be vaguely and generally seen as resembling a Fountain that was near her target location.
Derren Brown also points out that Dr. Carr wrote out over a hundred different words which he believed corresponded to the target area, which, when you look at them all, could cover just about everything and any location.
I found this to be a very shotty experiment, with a less than impressive "Remote Viewer".
I praise the segment only for Pwning a less than impressive "Remote Viewer" who obviously doesn't hold a candle to Joe McMoneagle, Keith Harary, or Ingo Swann.
Now, compare this guy's methods to Joe McMoneagle, who would only limit himself to 20 minutes top on drawing a target. His drawings were done on several pages, were not vague, were very detailed and specific, very much fit the target area, contained words and phrases associated with the target, and were about 80% accurate overall.
Derren Brown makes the suggestion near the end of the program that someone should take a Remote Viewer's finished drawing of a target and match it to the exact target location using just the drawing.
Guess what? Dr. Edwin May did just that with Joe McMoneagle's drawing in the National Geographic Remote Viewing Experiment.
Closely examine JoeMcMoneagle's Remote Viewing drawings with their exact targets. Realize that he is BLIND to the target entirely, as is the researcher Dr. Edwin May. Compare these dazzle-shot examples with the pityful examples supplied by Derren Brown in these two video segments.
That's all that really needs to be said.
Sources for Quotations: Wikipedia Articles on Remote Viewing.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
I'll start off by saying that I found certain aspects of this Documentary by Richard Dawkins praise worthy.
I myself am highly skeptical of Psychics, as only a few (yet a significant few) of those that I have researched (out of many) do I consider as having highly intriguing, anomalous, currently unexplainable aspects to what they do when the overall data is examined, in a number of specific cases, where Cold Reading and Hot Reading simply do not apply when all the known facts and circumstances are examined and considered, and these individuals have some very impressive cases worthy of serious further study.
Most typical Psychics you'll come across however, are generally easily and readily explainable via Cold Reading and Hot Reading, although as I mentioned, there are notable exceptions which beg further research and examination.
Regardless, for the most part, Cold Reading and Hot Reading are the tricks of the trade for phony psychics, which, in my humble opinion, are the majority of them.
In that sense, Richard Dawkins and Derren Brown do a great job of explaining the tricks of the trade of phony psychics via exposing the Cold Reading techniques in the Documentary. For this, I have praise.
However, I also have issues with the very same segment. For example, a New Age Psychic Fair and a Spiritualist Church where pretty much everyone claims Psychic Ability and are fitted into that Belief System I do not consider to be a very good place to seek out one with authentic psychic abilities. You're bound to get a hell of a lot of Self Deluded people there who claim to be Psychic and are a huge disappointment, and maybe one or two people there who are actually impressive. (From what I've personally been told by persons who have visited both types of places many times.)
I suggest that there is a far more credible way of finding reputable mediums to interview and test for a Documentary, and it begins with asking the question ...
Are there serious research studies out there that attempt to test Mediumship under controlled conditions that attempt to rule out Cold Reading and Hot Reading? The answer is yes.
Dr. Gary Schwartz of the University of Arizona has been doing Double-Blind (and now stepped up to Triple-Blind) Experiments with Mediums (with the purpose of ruling out Cold Reading and Hot Reading techniques) over the past ten years.
His early testing protocols starting out Single-Blind, and with various design flaws, but each year he has taken the Skeptics' advice and their critiques of his early experiments to heart and has tightened the controls, year after year, and now he has advanced Triple-Blind protocols in place with some very impressive results with certain Mediums, even under controlled conditions where Cold Reading and Hot Reading are not possible. (Thus ruling out the tricks of the trade of phony Psychics.)
In these controlled experiments, a random sitter (out of a very large undisclosed pool) is randomly selected, and a random proxy sitter (of no relation to the sitter, and has never met them before) is randomly selected from the same pool to take the physical place of the person actually being read. The medium is placed in one room, and is not allowed to talk to or see the proxy sitter, who sits in another room. So, the actual sitter being read is not present, but a proxy sitter of no relation is sitting in for them, and even they cannot speak to the Medium. All of this is done blind to the medium, the sitters, the proxy sitters, and the researchers. Then a second reading is done, this time for the proxy sitter themselves. After both readings are over, both readings are then given to the true sitter who was not physically present during the reading, who examines, judges, and determines which of the two readings was meant for them, and the overall accuracy of the psychic information and of the alleged deceased relatives who came through during the reading. Matching their own reading from the two readings is highly significant.
The most impressive Mediums who have partaken of the study have scored in a consistent 70% - 98% accuracy range, even under these controlled conditions where Cold Reading and Hot Reading cannot apply.
Any ordinary Cold Reader would be crippled under these controlled conditions, and as the experiments are Triple-Blind, this rules out Hot Reading as well.
A little background information on Dr. Gary Schwartz:
GARY E. SCHWARTZ, Ph.D., Director of the VERITAS Research Program, is a professor of Psychology, Medicine, Neurology, Psychiatry, and Surgery at the University of Arizona and director of its Laboratory for Advances in Consciousness and Health and its Center for Frontier Medicine in Biofield Science. After receiving his doctorate from Harvard University, he served as a professor of psychology and psychiatry at Yale University, director of the Yale Psychophysiology Center, and co-director of the Yale Behavioral Medicine Clinic. Dr. Schwartz has published more than four hundred scientific papers, and edited eleven academic books.
For the sake of credibility and objectivity, I would have suggested that Richard Dawkins interview and test those most impressive Mediums who have been rigorously tested and gotten accuracy in the 70%-98% percentage range in Dr. Gary Schwartz's *most recent* Triple-Blind experiments (where the controls have been the tightest) to do a controlled reading on him and on a controlled group selected by Dawkins himself, rather than scouting random Psychic Fairs and Spiritualist Churches for people simply claiming to be Psychic. That would have been a hell of a lot more credible and objective examination of the phenomenon.
Here's some further information on Dr. Gary Schwartz's Medium Experiments ...
http://www.explorejournal.com/article/PIIS155083070600454X/fulltext (Anomalous Information Reception by Research Mediums Demonstrated Using a Novel Triple-Blind Protocol)
http://amnap.blogspot.com/2007/05/triple-blind-mediumship-experiment.html (Triple-blind mediumship experiment published)
http://veritas.arizona.edu/ (The VERITAS Research Program Website)
Here is an article where Dr. Gary Schwartz has responded indepth to criticism of his experiments ...
http://www.enformy.com/Gary-reHymanReview.htm (How Not To Review Mediumship Research)
Geraldo of Fox News once did a segment on his show where he attacked Dr. Gary Schwartz and his Research with many false accusations and biased reporting, Gary's response is here ...
http://www.drgaryschwartz.com/response.htm (Examining an erroneous and malicious character assassination)
I would have further suggested a skilled Cold Reader like Derren Brown to undergo Dr. Gary Schwartz's Triple-Blind Medium Experiments to see if he can still get a high pecentage of hits, even under those crippled conditions. That would have made for a far more impressive documentary.
As an aside, I have issues with Derren Brown's own TV Programs on these topics. For example, I was highly unimpressed with his two Remote Viewing critique segments, which I'm planning on tackling in a further separate article. He did succeed however, in an impressive Cold Reading bit on his own TV Program, excerpts of which were shown in Richard Dawkins' Documentary. However, there have been allegations that Derren uses plants in his audience to make his tricks appear more impressive, which makes his Cold Reading segment, as well as other audience driven segments, a bit suspect, IMHO.
Here's some indepth critiques of Derren Brown ...
http://michaelprescott.typepad.com/michael_prescotts_blog/2006/11/i_feel_a_cold_r.html (I Feel A Cold Reading Coming On)
http://michaelprescott.typepad.com/michael_prescotts_blog/2006/11/derren_brown_pa.html (Derren Brown Part Deux)
http://www.simonsingh.net/Derren_Brown_Article.html (Spectacular Psychology or Silly Psychobabble?)
The Psychics interviewed in the Richard Dawkins documentary did not at all come across as impressive. The program shown miss after miss with each Psychic, which lead me to wonder how much the program had been edited, or if every Psychic he met truly was that bad and unimpressive.
Doing a little Googling, I did find evidence that the segment had been edited. In the Craig Hamilton-Parker segment, where Craig was giving psychic readings to people in his Spiritualist Church, Dawkins only shows examples of misses, and examples of persons being read whom had already had readings by Craig previously. The easily explainable types.
One woman who attended Craig's Spiritualist Church that very same day that Richard Dawkins attended had received an impressive reading by Craig, and she had never been there before, had never met Craig before, he did not know her, she did not know him. She wrote to Craig after Dawkins' program first aired, to express outrage over how Craig's impressive reading with her was totally edited out of the documentary's final cut ...
"You came to me first, and this was the first time I had seen you. When we have has readings we only ever answer yes and no during the reading and this time was no different.
"You started off with saying that you had a female, and that she was having trouble speaking, she had a lispy voice, and you could barely hear her, and you felt it was my mother, my mother had her throat cut twice in operations and did have a lispy voice, and she did have trouble projecting her voice.
"You then became confused because you said she was doing a stirring movement and you said you did not understand as she was saying over and over 'the treacle's mine', 'the treacle's mine,' this was an outstanding amazing statement as the area which I lived all through childhood was fondly known as the treacle mines.
"You gave many other factually correct details, but the most amazing of all was that you said my mother came out of her door and saw two Morris Minors, she said they were black, I said no - (They had black roofs and the man restored them but they were gray), you then mentioned the neighbours name, which was correct, later my husband reminded me that although the Morris's were originally gray he had the doors and wings replaced with and they were indeed black.
"The whole reading was accurate and could not be interpreted to be made to fit or desperately misunderstood as Richard dawkins implies to those who seek spiritualists, and we were interviewed by him after where we told him your reading was 100% accurate and even about the Morris minors changing colour.
"How can Mr Dawkins whome should be, as a man of science open to things that may not be able to be understood because we cannot physically prove these things blatantly deny that he found any proof or evidence that evening?There have been many examples in the past and present of things that may not have a concrete basis to provide evidence of proof such as 'string theories, and black holes' - did eminent theologians and scientists just ignore these things because of the inability to give concrete proof? Or were they just better men than he?
"To summarise what i found the saddest of all was that on the programme he said that he found no evidence of proof of mediumship or séance as he referred to it, and yet in my interview with him he clearly was given acknowledgement of evidence that was true, yet he chose not to show any of this on the programme, and was selective, perhaps because it did not fit with the whole ethos of his programme. Surely such a professional should have had the integrity and honesty when making such a programme to show all sides and not just make the evidence fir for the glory of a television programme!
"I want to thank you once again for your outstanding reading and the evidence that you provided."
Suzie D. - CamberleyIt would appear that the most impressive readings of Craig that day were totally edited out of the program, and only those with clear misses, and those where he read the same person he had read before previously, were shown. The easier to explain examples.
However, unfortunately, this wasn't the only thing edited from Richard Dawkins' Documentary, the most problematic being his entire interview with Rupert Sheldrake. First off, a little background on who Rupert Sheldrake is ...
Rupert Sheldrake is a Biologist with an unblemished academic record and a research fellowship at the Royal Society who has been doing serious Double-Blind Experiments with Telepathy for years, especially with Dogs who Know when their owners are coming home (even when they arrived at random times, in different cars, different clothing, and even skipping a day) where the Dogs would go and wait by the door or window expectantly, in their normal waiting place and waiting position, starting 10 to 15 minutes before they arrived home, until they finally arrived.
Other researchers have successfully replicated Sheldrake's experiments, independently of him, even noted Skeptic Richard Wiseman, who reluctantly admitted in an interview with my friend Alex Tsakiris that his experiment results matched Sheldrake's. The results are significantly above the chance ratio in these experiments, something intriguing is definately going on with these animals.
Several years ago, Skeptic James Randi, when asked about Rupert Sheldrake's experiments, falsely claimed that when you examine the tapes, the dogs react to any and everybody who walks by, and to every car that drive by, which is totally false. Randi later admitted he hadn't even seen the tapes. Skeptic Michael Shermer has repeated these false allegations in an interview with my friend Alex Tsakiris. There has been much false information and unfairness directed towards Rupert Sheldrake.
Other experiments Rupert Sheldrake has done has been with Telephone Telepathy, where individuals who claimed to know who is calling them on the telephone before they answer it or look at the caller ID, even old friends, relatives, and associates that they haven't spoken to in years, are put to the test.
They are tested from a very large pool of relatives, friends, associates, etc, from their present and past, each phone call selected at random, blindly, and the individual has to relate who he or she thinks is calling them before they answer the phone, all in a controlled experiment. He's done this type of experiment for years. Again, with those individuals, much like with the animals, very significant above chance results.
The Imperial College London Dissertation asserted that the Scientific Community has been unfair to Rupert Sheldrake ...
"Although skeptical of Sheldrake’s theories, Phillips focused on how Sheldrake was being judged, “I wanted to be impartial as to whether he was right or wrong and instead go on and look at whether he’d been treated fairly.”
What he discovered surprised him. Stevens found that despite an unblemished academic record and a research fellowship at the Royal Society, Sheldrake faced public scorn from colleagues for publishing his theory of morphic fields which suggests a living, developing universe with its own inherent memory. “There was a review in the journal, Nature in which the editor, John Maddox said that the book, A New Science of Life, should be burned”, Stevens said. “You’d think that that sort of attitude towards what was just a theory would be out of date and would be seen as you know, unscientific. But in fact, it damaged Sheldrake’s career, not John Maddox’s career.”
But the biggest surprise came when Stevens looked at Sheldrake’s collaboration with skeptics like Dr. Richard Wiseman. According to Stevens Wiseman failed to follow normal procedures scientists use when collaborating and reporting their results.
“Wiseman actually did repeats of Sheldrake’s results. He never denied this, but he only admitted it, I think, ten years later. I mean, in normal experiments, if you repeat someone’s results, you say it. And there didn’t seem to be any reason for him not to say, ‘I’ve repeated his results. These experiments work. Sheldrake wasn’t wrong.’ And you know what? Sheldrake was a Research Fellow at the Royal Society. I would hope that when he has some experiments and tests things he’d get it right because he’s from one of the best institutions of science in Britain and in the world. So I really don’t know why Wiseman took so long just to say, ‘Yes, the patterns in Sheldrake’s works were repeated in my own.’”, said Stevens."Here is Rupert Sheldrake's indepth account of what went down with Richard Dawkins when he was interviewed for his Documentary ...
"Soon before Enemies of Reason was filmed, the production company, IWC Media, told me that Richard Dawkins wanted to visit me to discuss my research on unexplained abilities of people and animals. I was reluctant to take part, but the company’s representative assured me that “this documentary, at Channel 4’s insistence, will be an entirely more balanced affair than The Root of All Evil was.” She added, “We are very keen for it to be a discussion between two scientists, about scientific modes of enquiry”. So I agreed and we fixed a date. I was still not sure what to expect. Was Richard Dawkins going to be dogmatic, with a mental firewall that blocked out any evidence that went against his beliefs? Or would he be open-minded, and fun to talk to?
The Director asked us to stand facing each other; we were filmed with a hand-held camera. Richard began by saying that he thought we probably agreed about many things, “But what worries me about you is that you are prepared to believe almost anything. Science should be based on the minimum number of beliefs.”
I agreed that we had a lot in common, “But what worries me about you is that you come across as dogmatic, giving people a bad impression of science.”
He then said that in a romantic spirit he himself would like to believe in telepathy, but there just wasn’t any evidence for it. He dismissed all research on the subject out of hand. He compared the lack of acceptance of telepathy by scientists such as himself with the way in which the echo-location system had been discovered in bats, followed by its rapid acceptance within the scientific community in the 1940s. In fact, as I later discovered, Lazzaro Spallanzani had shown in 1793 that bats rely on hearing to find their way around, but sceptical opponents dismissed his experiments as flawed, and helped set back research for well over a century. However, Richard recognized that telepathy posed a more radical challenge than echo-location. He said that if it really occurred, it would “turn the laws of physics upside down,” and added, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”
“This depends on what you regard as extraordinary”, I replied. “Most people say they have experienced telepathy, especially in connection with telephone calls. In that sense, telepathy is ordinary. The claim that most people are deluded about their own experience is extraordinary. Where is the extraordinary evidence for that?”
He produced no evidence at all, apart from generic arguments about the fallibility of human judgment. He assumed that people want to believe in “the paranormal” because of wishful thinking.
We then agreed that controlled experiments were necessary. I said that this was why I had actually been doing such experiments, including tests to find out if people really could tell who was calling them on the telephone when the caller was selected at random. The results were far above the chance level.
The previous week I had sent Richard copies of some of my papers, published in peer-reviewed journals, so that he could look at the data.
Richard seemed uneasy and said, “I’m don’t want to discuss evidence”. “Why not?” I asked. “There isn’t time. It’s too complicated. And that’s not what this programme is about.” The camera stopped.
The Director, Russell Barnes, confirmed that he too was not interested in evidence. The film he was making was another Dawkins polemic.
I said to Russell, “If you’re treating telepathy as an irrational belief, surely evidence about whether it exists or not is essential for the discussion. If telepathy occurs, it’s not irrational to believe in it. I thought that’s what we were going to talk about. I made it clear from the outset that I wasn’t interested in taking part in another low grade debunking exercise.”
Richard said, “It’s not a low grade debunking exercise; it’s a high grade debunking exercise.”
In that case, I replied, there had been a serious misunderstanding, because I had been led to believe that this was to be a balanced scientific discussion about evidence. Russell Barnes asked to see the emails I had received from his assistant. He read them with obvious dismay, and said the assurances she had given me were wrong. The team packed up and left.
Richard Dawkins has long proclaimed his conviction that “The paranormal is bunk. Those who try to sell it to us are fakes and charlatans”. Enemies of Reason was intended to popularize this belief. But does his crusade really promote “the public understanding of science,” of which he is the professor at Oxford? Should science be a vehicle of prejudice, a kind of fundamentalist belief-system? Or should it be a method of enquiry into the unknown?"
This is highly problematic for Richard Dawkins, IMHO. My biggest beef with the program is this, which didn't even make the final cut.
Now, on to the next section of review, his segment on Astrology ...
I personally have very little interest in Astrology, I'm highly skeptical of it. However, I'd like to point out that the type of Astrology that Richard Dawkins dealt with in "The Enemies of Reason" is tabloid Star Sign / Horoscope Astrology, and he only interviewed a Star Sign / Horoscope newspaper Astrologer. Why is this significant?
Because the Star Sign / Horoscope Astrology you find in the newspapers and tabloids is *not* an authentic version of Ancient Astrology. Vedic Astrology for example, is a hell of a lot more complicated than merely assigning a Star Sign to someone, that's just one small part. There are many, many, MANY factors to designing a chart for someone in Vedic Astrology. It's a very through process, and the outcome is a VERY individualized reading that doesn't easily match another person. Why is this significant?
Because the skeptical test presented in the program (which was also repeated by James Randi, Carl Sagan, and Derren Brown on other TV programs) of making a single personality trait filled Astrology chart that would fit just about everybody, where people of totally different star signs are all given the exact same chart, and all claim that it matches them, utterly falls apart when used with personalized Vedic Astrology Charts.
The perfect example would be the TV program that Skeptic Michael Shermer did with a Vedic Astrologer. Skeptic Michael Shermer had heard the claim that Ancient Vedic Astrology is far more complex, indepth, and specific to the individual than modern tabloid Horoscope Astrology, and that normal skeptical explanations and experiments leveled against it would fail. So, he decided to put it to the test.
He did a controlled experiment with the Vedic Astrologer, Jeffrey Armstrong, where he gave him only the absolute minimum of required information to make a Vedic Astrology Chart for his group of participants. He was not allowed to see or speak with any of them.
Some of the participants were given their own charts, while other participants were given mixed up charts (readings that were not their own), to see how specific and accurate he was.
All of those who were given their own charts, the readings were very specific, highly accurate (over 80%), and would not apply to the other members in the room. All those who were given mixed up charts, charts that were not their own, the readings did not match at all, they were very inaccurate (5%-10%), and bombed. Then, Michael Shermer revealed what he had done, and gave the authentic charts back to those who had been given the wrong ones, the accuracy rating skyrocketed to over 90% accurate.
Watch Skeptic Michael Shermer get utterly PWNED by a Vedic Astrologer on his own show ...
Again, I personally have very little interest in Astrology, I'm highly skeptical of it, etc, but if Richard Dawkins had taken Jeffrey Armstrong to task with his Vedic Charts, mixing up everyone's readings, he obviously would have failed, as Shermer had.
Regardless, again, I have praise for the Astrology portion of the documentary, because it shows what bullshit the Star Sign / Horoscope Astrology from the tabloids really is. As for Vedic Astrology however, I'm still just as skeptical, but it was weird seeing Shermer get his ass handed to him by a Vedic Astrology, when he tried to pull off the same type of "every astrology reading matches every individual" experiment.
Skeptical Organization CSICOP, which Richard Dawkins is a member of, got into a big coverup controvery years ago about one of their early astrology debunking experiments. Here's an indepth explanation of this event below ...
"Michel and Francoise Gauquelin found that European sports champions were born in Mars sectors 1 and 4 at a rate of 22% instead of the 17% expected by chance. A large control group of 16,756 non-athletes was located. When Zelen analyzed the data, the control group baseline came in almost perfectly, at 16.4%, and the 303 champions incidentally came in with a Mars effect of 21.8%, both as Michel Gauquelin had predicted."
Here's the controversy with Skeptic Organization CSICOP, they set out to debunk this, but their findings actually MATCHED the data, and so they filed it away and didn't report it, because it didn't match their intended debunking ...
"One of their first projects was to debunk Astrology. During their research, especially into the statistical findings of Michel Gauquelin, one of their founders Dennis Rawlins discovered that the team was committing the "file drawer effect". When the evidence and results they found didn't fit their hypothesis (which was that Astrology was all bunk) they simply "filed it away". They only wanted evidence that disproved Astrology. They had an agenda, in other words. This disgusted Rawlins, who wanted the team to be about open minded nonbiased inquiry. So, he quit and published a paper called Starbaby."
http://cura.free.fr/xv/14starbb.html (sTARBABY by Dennis Rawlins)
The next portion of Richard Dawkins' program, regarding dowsing, I will not critique, as I'm not very familiar at all with the topic of dowsing, and when I tried to do a search on responses to Skeptic Chris French's dowsing experiment in the Documentary by actual Dowsers, and even critiques of that specific segment of Enemies of Reason by actual Dowsers, I found nothing. So, I take it Dawkins and French did a satisfactory job on that experiment. Bravo.
The last thing I wish to comment on is Richard Dawkins bringing up B.F. Skinner's "Superstitious Pigeons" experiments. Skinner of course suggested that the pigeons behaved as if they were influencing the automatic mechanism with their "rituals" and that this experiment shed light on human behavior.
Doing a little research on the topic of these experiments, I found, surprisingly enough, that they have been largely discredited by modern behavioral psychologists:
"Modern behavioral psychologists have disputed Skinner's "superstition" explanation for the behaviors he recorded. Subsequent research (e.g. Staddon and Simmelhag, 1971), while finding similar behavior, failed to find support for Skinner's "adventitious reinforcement" explanation for it. Staddon & Simmelhag proposed that Skinner's pigeons weren't acting superstitiously. By looking at the timing of different behaviors within the interval, Staddon and Simmelhag were able to distinguish two classes of behavior: the terminal response, which occurred in anticipation of food, and interim responses, that occurred earlier in the interfood interval and were rarely contiguous with food. Terminal responses seem to reflect classical (rather than operant) conditioning, rather than adventitious reinforcement, guided by a process like that observed in 1968 by Brown and Jenkins in their "autoshaping" procedures. The causation of interim activities (such as the schedule-induced polydipsia seen in a similar situation with rats) also cannot be traced to adventitious reinforcement and its details are still obscure (Staddon, 1977). Despite challenges to Skinner's interpretation of the root of his pigeons' superstitious behaviour, his conception of the reinforcement schedule has been used to explain superstitious behaviour in humans."
I would have suggested that Richard Dawkins work harder on fairly presenting all sides of each issue, not falling into simple confirmation bias, so that the viewers can be well informed and make up their own mind.
But as we can see, "Enemies of Reason" is clearly not an objective unbiased documentary, but a one-sided "high grade debunking exercise". It was an enjoyable viewing, but mostly what I took from it was entertainment. A rich man's version of "Penn & Teller's Bullshit", with roughly the same level of "objectivity".
The debunking done in the documentary was half-assed at best, and didn't deal with the harder to explain / more credible research and data on these topics, with the exception of the Dowsing Experiment, which I thought was fairly well done.
I'm sad to say that it reminded me of Ben Stein's "Expelled", which caters specifically to a Creationist Audience, and "What The Bleep Do We Know?" which caters specifically to a New Age Audience. Feeding confirmation bias and presenting things one-sidedly does not equal a fair documentary.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Etta Smith Case:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YHqTE8oGFRM - Etta Smith case, Part 1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUgyEVM9BVk - Etta Smith case, Part 2.
"In 1980, Etta Smith, a shipping clerk in Los Angeles, heard an announcement on the radio about a house-to-house search for Melanie Uribe, a missing woman from her neighborhood, as documented in A&E's film and Larsen's Psychic Sleuths. Smith had an impression that the woman was not inside a building but outside in a certain area, and though she'd never before had such an overwhelming sense of something, it seemed so vivid that she reported it to the police. "It was like someone was talking to me," she said. She felt that the nurse had been hit in the head and dumped in a canyon, which she showed to a detective on a map. She said there was a dirt path going to her. When he seemed not to take her seriously, she decided to go have a look on her own.
As Etta drove through the target area in Lopez Canyon, she had a feeling of "urgency." Spotting some tire tracks in the dirt, she felt them and sensed the trauma that had taken place there. "It was like a thermometer going up." She got back into her car and drove, but her daughter told her to stop because she'd seen something. What she had spotted were a pair of white nurse's shoes.
Smith knew who was there. She drove away and spotted a policeman. She waved him to a stop and told him about the body. He told her to go home. She did, but then two detectives came to bring her in for questioning. She agreed to take a lie detector test, and the police later said that she'd been judged "deceptive," so she was treated as a suspect, strip-searched, and put into a cell for three days. They planted an undercover cop in the cell with her to try to find out why she had come forward and whether her information had come from neighborhood gossip, as suspected. The cop reported that her motive was money.
Then three men confessed and Etta was released. She filed a wrongful arrest suit, asking $750,000 in damages. The jury awarded her $24,000.
She says she never had another such vision, or if she did, she was smart to not report it."
"For Etta Louise Smith, the nightmare began shortly before Christmas 1980, when she claims to have had a vision of something white, covered by brush. A Lockheed aerospace worker in Burbank, Calif., Smith does not consider herself a psychic. Yet after she heard radio reports about Nurse Melanie Uribe, 31, who had vanished on her way to work, Smith was convinced she knew where the body could be found. She took her information to the police, who put her off.
Smith then organized a search with two of her young children and a 20-year- old niece. In remote Lopez Canyon, 18 miles north of Los Angeles, her daughter spotted a white heap that turned out to be Uribe -- robbed, raped and beaten to death. Smith told police of her discovery and was arrested for the murder.
While she was held in jail for four days, the killers -- three men with prior arrest records -- turned up. Smith, 39, filed a suit for false arrest. Last week Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Joel Rudof ruled that despite Smith's detailed account of the murder of a woman she never knew or saw, police did not have probable cause to lock her up."
She and the Detective were interviewed on Larry King Live in 2004:
"SMITH: Right. On Wednesday, while I was at work, I was listening to the news off and on during the day. And around 3:00, I heard the police say that they were doing a house to house search for her after locating her vehicle. And as soon as that thought registered, instantly my mind said, she's not in a house. As soon as that thought passed, it was as if I saw a movie. I could visually see where she was. I didn't know the name of the street, but I knew how to get there. And I couldn't shake this. I couldn't it to leave me.
GRACE: When I you say you saw, what did you see?
SMITH: I saw a canyon road. I saw where the road curved. I saw a dirt path going to a white object, and a hill behind it very, very clearly.
GRACE: An so officer, Detective Ryan, what did you do when this woman, you've never seen her before, comes up with this vision?
RYAN: I invited Etta to step into the squad room, where we have large wall maps of the area of our division and asked her to indicate as best she could the area she felt this canyon was in and the roads that led to it. And as she did so, I took several photographs depicting both her and her pointing to the location in case it did turn out that she was possibly involved.
GRACE: So you were cynical, weren't you?
RYAN: Yes, I was.
GRACE: When you come back, we are going to hear the rest of the story. At this juncture, a 31-year-old nurse, Melanie Uribe, never missed work, as reliable as a Timex wrist watch, goes missing. All that is found is her burned out car, and suddenly, a psychic comes on the scene. Stay with us.
So Detective Ryan, we left off where she was pointing on a map where she thought, after seeing a vision of a canyon, this missing nurse was. What did you do then?
RYAN: The area she was indicating is a very remote sector of the San Fernando Valley, Lopez Canyon. I then instructed her to be back at the station the following morning at 7:00 a.m., and we would have a helicopter from air support divisino there to take there up into this area and search with her help and assistance.
GRACE: The following morning, did she show up?
RYAN: No, she didn't.
GRACE: What happened, Etta? Why were you a no show?
SMITH: Well, as I was leaving the police station, Mr. Ryan had told me they had not checked that area yet, and I told him I had a feeling I would. Something inside of me said they might not check in time. I didn't know if the victim was dead or alive. I just felt so strongly she was there, that if somebody needed to get to her, they needed to get to her right away, and I couldn't let it rest because it wouldn't leave me alone. I kept seeing it over and over and over again. So I proceeded to go to the canyon.
GRACE: So you get in your car, and drive to this remote area, all on your own.
SMITH: Right, with some family members.
GRACE: You know, Etta, this is such an incredible story to me. You get in your car. You drive out to this remote canyon, and tell us what happened.
SMITH: Well, in driving up the canyon, I had instructed everybody with me to please be on the alert for anything white showing through shrubbery. We cruised the canyon very slowly, got to the top, didn't see anything but I could feel trauma.
And at the top when all of us got back in the vehicle, I said we may not have seen anything, but I feel her. I very much feel her. She's in this canyon, and I said we're going back down the canyon. If we don't find anything, we're leaving here, because I feel it.
GRACE: So you go back down the canyon and?
SMITH: Got halfway down, I noticed tire marks in an embankment on the left side of the road. I also noticed tire marks in dirt on the right side of the road. Instinctively, something told me to stop. I got out of my van. I looked to see if someone possibly could have turned around in the middle of this narrow canyon road, and I put my fingers into the impressions in the dirt, and as soon as they touched the dirt, it was almost electrifying, I could just feel all kinds of trauma.
In leaving that side, I went to the other side of the road laid my fingers in the impressions and the same thing happened. And I knew, I knew this was the vehicle. I knew that these tire impressions were involved with this victim.
GRACE: So what, in the end, Etta, did you find?
SMITH: We ended up finding the victim exactly as I had said, off on the right-hand side of the road with a dirt path leading to her, white showing through shrubbery with a hill behind her.
GRACE: Detective Ryan, this woman, Etta Smith, a psychic, found a dead body before the police could, and in return, they arrest her, detective. How was the case finally solved?
RYAN: Well, it was very complicated. That touches on the perimeter of the story. Basically, because she had found it, and nobody else was able to or come up with any clues, naturally, all involved in the investigation had felt that she had to know the perpetrators and, or, band of participant in order to go to that location so specifically.
I believe that it was not luck. I believe that she had a feeling for the location. There hadn't been anything in the newspapers indicating the clues that we had or the suspects we might be looking for. And basically the case was going absolutely nowhere at that point. So her finding the body just really tended to point fingers...
GRACE: At that point, it did make her a legitimate suspect, but in the end, as it turns out, three guys had been overheard bragging that they had kidnapped and tortured and killed a nurse. And they were turned in, and confessed, and were found guilty and the end of the story, I guess, Etta is something you didn't predict. You sued the police department and won for false arrest.
SMITH: Right. It took six years to do, but I felt forced to do it. I had to clear my name. I did not want any cloud of suspicion hanging over me, plus I had a high level clearance with the Department of Defense, and I needed my day in court."
What do the Skeptics have to say regarding this case?
The only skeptical information I've come across regarding this case is the conspiratorial accusation that Etta Smith must have had an unknown informant who must have overheard the three suspects boasting about the murder and the location of the body in town, and told Etta about it.
However, there are several problems with this:
One, while all sources mention that the three suspects did indeed boast of the murder in town to some people they knew (Etta never knew and never met the suspects, even according to them), which led to their downfall, none of the sources state or even suggest that they revealed the location of the body to anyone, only that they boasted about the murder itself. You'd think that those who turned them in for boasting about the murder would have also mentioned to the police that they revealed the location of the body to them, even if just to help clear Etta, who was jailed at the time on suspicion.
Two, there is ZERO actual evidence that there was such an informant at all who secretly supplied information to Etta, it's all purely conspiratorial speculation on the skeptics' part. You'd think the theoretical informant would have come forward after all this time to say, "I overheard the information from the suspects! I supplied it to Etta Smith!" Especially since she and the lead Detective have been on TV Programs like Larry King and Sightings to talk about what happened. Perfect opportunity for the theoretical informant to step forward and take the limelight. But no such luck.
Detective Lee Ryan, the lead Detective on the case, who witnessed it all go down, believes she's for real, for what it's worth.
The Jackie Poole Case:
(Thanks to Michael Prescott for pointing this case out to me)
"Murderer Anthony Ruark was fingered from beyond the grave by the avenging spirit of his victim Jackie Poole. Jackie's ghost gave stunned police the name of her killer in a macabre late-night interview conducted through a clairvoyant. Hardened sceptical detectives were so convinced by medium Christine Holohan that they arrested Ruark only to release him for lack of proof. But on Friday, 18 years on, evil Ruark, 40, was jailed for life at the Old Bailey after the world of forensic science finally caught up with her deadly accurate psychic evidence. The clincher was fragments of skin found under barmaid Jackie's nails matching Ruark's DNA profile. "
"P.C. Tony Batters and Detective Constable Andy Smith interviewed Christine Holohan who was claiming to have been contacted by the spirit of the murdered woman, Jacqueline Poole. After going into a trance both officers were surprised at the detailed information Holohan provided. She not only described the murder scene but seemed to know a great deal of personal information about the victim. For example she mentioned her divorce, that she was suffering from depression and that she had just been given a prescription by her doctor. She also knew her maiden name (Hunt). But that’s not all. She gave a detailed description of the killer and with ‘automatic writing’ wrote down the name “Pokie” which we now know to be the killer’s nickname. In relation to the missing jewellery she wrote down “garden”. Batters states that out of around 130 points made by Holohan more than 120 have now been shown to be correct. The two officers found this quite remarkable but what apparently clinched it for them was an impromptu psychometric reading from Holohan to D.C. Andy Smith in which she told him quite personal information that she could not possibly have known prior to the meeting."
“…but the fact is that, without the help of the medium's statements, the police would not have retrieved the pullover or interviewed and taken statements from everyone with whom Ruark came into contact with that evening. Nor, according to Tony Batters, would they have checked and verified all Ruark's movements during previous fortnight.”
He then elaborates further;
“The pullover became vital as it was his only garment retained for forensics, and it showed numerous exchanges of blood and saliva from Jacqui Poole to him. This proved an act of violence, as opposed to the intimacy which he claimed in his defence at Court.”
Psychic John Catchings Case:
He told the detective that the man's body is located very close by (within a mile of the victim's home) near a run down house (and described all the junk stuff in the yard) behind the house in a river stream, trapped under debris, and that one of his shoes is sticking out of the debris with his ankle exposed, and that's how he will find him. He told the detective he must go to the site with two additional police officers, and he will find the body. The detective instead went alone, and found nothing. Then he went again, with two other police officers, and found the body exactly as he described it, behind the same old house as he described it.
Video testimony of the detective ...
Other Case (Needs Identification):
There was another case mentioned on the old TV Series "Sightings" (I can't find an online video of it unfortunately) where a Psychic told a Detective that the missing little girl's body was on an old local farm, right next to a big tree, and that there were chickens clucking all around her body. The detective in the interview said he followed her clues, found an old local farm, saw a big tree, and found the little girl just a few feet from the big tree, with chickens clucking all around her body. The detective followed the Psychic's clues right to the little girl's body. It had the detective interviewed and everything regarding what happened. He was quite clear about what happened, and that it was the Psychic's clues that led him to her body.
Teresita Basa Case:
"On February 21, 1977 Chicago police officers found the body of Philippine born Teresita Basa lying on the floor of her apartment, stabbed to death and partially burned. She was a popular respiratory therapist at Edgewater Hospital. The initial suspect was her boyfriend, but after interviewing him, police realized he wasn’t her killer. Solving the case was dead-ended until Basa’s spirit named her killer.
Basa’s Ghost Contacts Mrs. Chua:
Four months after the crime, Chua, who also worked at the hospital, went into an altered state of consciousness, ASC, and spoke in Tagalong, a dialect of her native Philippine language. The voice said she was Basa and that co-worker Allan Showery murdered her because he stole her jewelry.
When Chua came out of her ASC, she remembered nothing. Her husband, Dr. Jose Chua, was baffled and frightened by the incident. During the next communication, Basa said that Showery had her jewelry and gave her pearl cocktail ring to his common-law wife. After the third incident, Jose contacted the police.
Police Investigation of Basa’s Murder:
The detectives handling the case, Joseph Stachula and Lee Epplen, were skeptical but wanted to follow up on all leads. The autopsy revealed Basa was a virgin. They asked Chua if Basa had been raped to test her. The answer was "no."
The Chuas told the men about Showery and the stolen jewelry. They searched Showery’s apartment and found Basa’s jewelry. When Showery was arrested and told about the evidence, he signed confessions admitting to murdering Basa and stealing her jewelry. The case was officially closed in August 1977."
Friday, July 10, 2009
Updated: August 18, 2009
A fascinating person I've researched regarding the topic of Psychic Detectives has been that of Dorothy Allison. I want to recap Psychic Detective Dorothy Allison's best cases and explain why I personally feel there is great research worthy significance in the anomalous veridical details that she provided in these particular cases, and also tackle some common Debunker Explanations of these same cases which frequently OMIT very important veridical information that Dorothy provided in these cases.
I'll present the cases of hers I find most crucial, and then deal with criticisms of hers I've read from debunker sources.
I'll start with the most significant (to me) case of Dorothy Allison. Where the father of a murdered teenage girl followed Dorothy's clues to a marsh area location over 30 miles away from their home, found all of the specific clues that Dorothy gave her at this location (including a big rock with the letters MAR written on it in big red letters), and then brought Dorothy Allison there. She told him, "this is the place, your daughter is here, you have to get the police". The police wouldn't listen to them (still treating her case as a runaway). Several months later, a group of teenagers found her body in a water hole in the exact same area they were searching, in visible sight of ALL of the clues Dorothy had mentioned.
Detailed Information on this Case:
On May 15, 1976, a 14 year old teenage girl named Susan Jacobson disappeared shortly after leaving her home. Her parents went to the police, who simply wrote her off as a runaway, and told them that they had neither the time nor manpower to search for an obvious runaway. The parents heard of Psychic Dorothy Allison by reputation, and arranged her to meet them at their home, after the police refused to take their daughter's disappearance seriously. Here are the highlights of this particular case...
* In the case of this murdered girl: The numbers she got, 2562 being the daughter's birthday, 405 being the time the daughter was born. She named her boyfriend (got the right name) and stated that she had been strangled by her boyfriend (he was later convicted of it). She got a vision of the place her body was to be found (a marsh area), the word MAR written in Big Red Letters on a Rock (her exact words) found within 100 yards of the body (in plain visual sight from where her body was dumped), Smell of Oil (she was found in an oil drum), and 222 connected with the Smell of Oil (being Numbers on the Oil Drum that she was found in), she was in water but didn't drown (she was in a water hole in the oil drum), and a number of other visual clues all found within 100 yards of the body in plain visual sight (two sets of church steeples, dual smoke stacks, a broken down car, in a marsh area, etc).
As for the debunkers on this particular case ...
They are mostly silent. The Debunker Skeptic Articles will often only mention that Dorothy and her Clues did not directly locate the body (true), will leave out ALL Veridical Hits on this Case, (except sometimes they will mention one very weak one, where Dorothy supposeably mentioned a "bridal path of horses" [which I can't find mentioned in any source on her on this case], which connects to the cemetary where she was later buried, and TOTALLY OMIT the more interesting veridical hits.)
In OMITTING the veridical information Dorothy got on the case, they've left out the most interesting aspects of the case, the most intruiging being, that her own father followed Dorothy's clues to the *exact location* where his daughter's body was later found, over 30 miles away, as well as the information I previously mentioned.
Now the second case of hers I'll present is her very first one, which is almost as good as the one I listed above ...
On December 3rd 1967, a little boy was playing with his brother along the riverbank, and disappeared. Dorothy Allison had a vision of the boy drowning and being caught in a pipe, a full two hours before the incident happened. She later contacted the police, who were very skeptical, but upon describing the little boy and the clothing he was wearing the morning of his disappearance exactly, information that had not been released to the public (no photo of the little boy had been released to the public either), they decided to take her insights seriously in an open-minded way. Here are the highlights of this particular case...
* In this case the entire description of the drowned child was accurate in each and every detail and layer of clothing (not made available to the public), including the religious metal pin on the third undershirt and that his under shoes would be found on the wrong feet (this even the parents didn't know). She also saw that when he would be found his hands would be caked with mud, which they were, and that when he fell in the water, was distracted by a paint can, which his brother who was there confirmed, but his parents didn't know. All sorts of numerous visual location information being within visual sight of the body, (that he would be found behind a school, with a lumber mill nearby, gold painting on a door near by, a parking lot and an ITT factory nearby, etc, all were within plain visual sight of the body when and where it was found), and the biggest that he would specifically be found on February 7th, and a high significance that was put on the number 120 would be solved on that date as well (police detectives interviewed stated that they had written these clues down three months before it happened, the exact date and time), and he was indeed found on February 7th, at 1:20 in the afternoon.
As for the debunkers on this particular case ...
In the missing child who drowned case from 1967, what the Debunkers usually state is that she did not locate the body herself (true), that her clues did not *directly* lead to the discovery of the body (again, true), point out that a man looking to bury his cat discovered the body (true), and then point out that Dorothy "wasted their time" digging up a drainage pipe "she said contained the boy" that didn't contain the boy (half-true, distorted information), and then count the entire case a total miss. (While OMITTING all of the dazzle shot hits she DID get right on the case.)
Examining the veridical hits I posted earlier, it's clear that by OMITTING this information out of the equation entirely, they've left out very significant, very interesting information she got on this case.
Also, the information they present regarding the drainage pipe search for the boy was a bit inaccurate. What actually occured, was Dorothy Allison had a vision of the boy's body inside of a drainage pipe that had unique cracks all inside of it, and had a vision of him being sucked out of the drainage pipe. She asked the police to search the drainage pipes in the park, because it might not be too late, that he could still be inside of it.
All of the pipes in the park did not looked cracked (at least from the outside) like the one she saw in the vision. But, she had a gut feeling that "that one!" (she pointed at one) was the one. They opened up the pipe, and it WAS the pipe in her vision, it had the same unique cracks all inside of it. (And, it was the *ONLY* drainage pipe in the entire park that was cracked inside, even the maintanace guy was unaware of it.) But the boy's body was no longer there. That's the full story of the pipe incident that debunkers don't mention.
On December 20, 1974 a businessman got aboard a train to travel, but no one saw him get off of it at it's stop. He simply disappeared. Rumors circulated that he had embezzled and vanished, or run off with a mistress, they simply couldn't find the guy. So the police, knowing the reputation of Dorothy Allison, contacted her asking for her help. The police wrote down everything she said, a full three months before his body was discovered. Here are the highlights of this perticular case ...
* In this case of a man who went missing on a train, she saw that he had actually fallen from the train into the water (she said he thought he was at his stop, walked out, and fell into the water below), even though police suspected he had embezzled or ran off with a mistress. The Bow and Arrow significance she got which was how his body was discovered (a son and father were shooting arrows with a bow over the river, when a stray arrow from their shooting above the riverbank missed it's target and landed right next to his corpse below on the riverbank, they called the authorities.) That there was a row of tires up on a sleded hill next to the area where the body was found where children played (which was fully accurate), and the 222 clue given by Dorothy as significant in this case was February 22, the exact date the body was found.
* Other Clues She Gave On This Case: She said 166 was as significant in this case as 222 and was unrelated to 222 (the date he was found). There was an old tugboat permanently stationed below the very section of bridge (near Lyndhurst Station) he fell off from on the train, on it's side, was painted in very large numbers, 166. She also said she saw "two guys" were significant to the case. These would be the two people who discovered the body.
As for the debunkers and this case, I haven't seen a single mention of this case, it's totally omitted.
Famous Cases ...
* That the Son of Sam killer would be caught because of a Parking Ticket, such an obscure foreseen detail, not to mention the Accurate Portrait of the Killer that she drew.
* That Patty Hearst would bond with her kidnappers and rob a bank with them, not to mention her pinpointing locations where she was previously held. (When they checked these locations, she was no longer there, they had moved, but it was later revealed after she was found that they had actually been there previously.)
* She was also questioned about a missing body in the John Wayne Gacy case, which she said would be found floating in the river at a certain *specific* bridge, and even gave the exact time and day. (Like in the child's case.)
As for the Skeptics on these three cases, only the Patty Hearst and Gacy cases get mentioned criticized by debunkers ...
One skeptic article has the father of Patty Hearst talking about how she did not locate his daughter, and the Debunkers making a big deal out of his statements, and suggesting that the Patty Hearst case was a complete miss. They, however ignored Dorothy's prediction that she would bond with her kidnappers and rob a bank with them, and that she pinpointed locations that they had been, but were no longer there by the time they searched there.
One Skeptic Article I read states that on the Gacy Murders, she merely led the police on a "wild goose chase" with absolutely nothing of substance. This was inaccurate...
She predicted the exact time and day that one of the bodies of the young men murdered by Gacy would be found (one that was not in the house, that was still missing), and she stated that his body would specifically be found floating down a river NEXT TO A SPECIFIC BRIDGE when it was discovered. ALL of these details were correct, the exact time and date the body was found (like in the little boy's case) and he was discovered floating down a river NEXT TO A SPECIFIC BRIDGE. (She even named which bridge it was.)
These are several MISC cases of hers I find interesting ...
* In March of 1991, accurately picking up that a girl in the area would be dismembered, encased in cement, dumped in a specific lake, with one body part sticking out of the cement, shortly before it happened. And another girl in the general area would be found nude, strangled, covered with brush, and placed near running water. (And was, in June 1991.) Both before they happened, one several months before it happened. (Interesting thing about that case, was that she was initially there trying to pick up a *different* murder victim in that area. She got nothing on that original victim, but instead picked up information on a *separate* killing that *had not happened yet*.)
* That she would die shortly before her 75th birthday of heart disease (made In 1990), and did just one month short of her 75th birthday (died In 1999).
* In the murders of two girls, she saw the word "Silvermead", and a row of mobile homes, and the name Goldstein. When the two girls' bodies were found, they were found less than half a mile from Silvermead Trailer Park, which is owned by a man named Mr. Goldstein.
* "Chief DeLitta of the Nutley police said she had been helpful on many occasions, citing a 1993 bludgeoning murder. Among Ms. Allison's correct predictions were double letters in the names of the suspect and a street that figured in the case, the occupation of the suspect's father, and the facts that the suspect lived in a garden apartment next to a yellow house and that one of his car's headlights was out.
She also said the murder weapon would be found in a river. The weapon was never found, but the man convicted of the crime later admitted throwing it in the river, the chief said." - New York Times Article on Dorothy Allison
* She saw the name Richard or Robert, with a middle name of Lee or Leroy, with something to do with shoes or shoemaking, an accomplice, and a dead nurse. These clues haunted her, and she repeated these to police over and over, as a case to look into. An unsolved case involving a dead nurse soon turned up, and eventually turned out to have been done by a Richard Lee Dodson, who was a shoemaker by trade, who had an accomplice.
An elderly Alzheimer's patient disappeared from a nursing home. Dorothy Allison was called into the case.
* Dorothy said he was near a wooded area, where there are caves, near a mountain. She also said the Number 5 is significant.
* He was found in a wooded area, near a copper mine, near a mountain, 2.5 miles from the nursing home. And the only house on the road he was found dead on, was house number 5. (The house number on the house was 5.)
Dorothy Allison met the director of the Unsolved Mysteries episode that she was interviewed in, and upon seeing the woman with him who would later become his wife, she pointed to her and said to her...
* 3/27! 3/27! (March 27th is her birthday.)
* The woman asked Dorothy if there is anything she should look out for. Dorothy told her that her husband is going to have a heart attack. (That same day, hours later, her ex-husband had a heart attack. This hit was slightly misdirected, as he was once her husband, but wasn't at the time. It was the ex-husband, not the current one, that had the heart attack.)
Those are the cases (in order I listed) that I find the most intriguing from greatest to least.
Now, of course, to be totally fair and honest, there ARE a number of cases where Dorothy Allison investigated and DID NOT get ANYTHING of value on a particular case, (or information that was far too vague to count as hits), and even cases where she got INACCURATE INFORMATION and OUTRIGHT MISSES when she tuned into certain cases.
This is not disputed. These exist, you can find mention of them online and in books. For Example...
* A case of a boy who ran away from home and joined a religious cult, whom she said was dead, but who was actually later found alive is one example of a clear miss. Nevertheless, the Police Detective on the case said that Dorothy was shockingly correct about most of the information given on this case. (She herself claimed she misinterpreted what she was seeing in regards to the boy's death, and that the "death" imagery she got was symbolic of his "spiritual death" as he had forsaken his former self entirely and joined a religious cult.)
*A case where she said a teenage boy would be found dead in a flooded basement, but whom was actually later found dead outdoors, on the other side of town, is another example of a clear miss.
* In the Atlanta Child Murders Case, she famously gave out 42 names of possibly suspects, none of which matched either of the actual suspects.
* She got information wrong on the Jon Benet Ramsey case. She drew a portrait of the killer which turned out to be a fairly accurate portrait of the guy who was arrested (then later released) just a few years ago (a few years after Dorothy died) in suspicion of the case, but he was later cleared of any wrongdoing. So, he didn't do it, but Dorothy seemed to have picked up on the guy. Misdirected hit perhaps? (I've also seen arguments by Skeptics that although the portrait resembles Karr, there are features noticeably off that indicate it can't be matched to Karr at all.)
Even the book "Dorothy Allison: A Psychic Story" gives a number of her known misses as well as her known hits. It gives cases where she got valuable information, and cases where she did not. These are not hidden. Even Dorothy Allison herself mentioned this in her Unsolved Mysteries interview. About this book I mentioned (long out of print and a good source on her) ...
"Material for this book was gathered from several sources. Dorothy's own retelling of the stories has been supported by newspaper and magazine articles and signed affidavits from many of the parties involved. In most cases, the families of the victims have cooperated fully, regardless of the fact that the interviews stirred unpleasent memories. Many of the law-enforcement officers involved have also given generously of their time in recounting their experiences with the psychic detective." - Scott Jacobson in Foreward to 'Dorothy Allison: A Psychic Story'
There are a number of intriguing cases in this book that I don't have listed, and some of the cases I do have listed have additional information that I need to eventually update with in this book.
That she got certain cases wrong, off, or inaccurate is known and not hidden, the bigger questioned that should be asked is, "Does she have very good cases that stand up to scrutiny where the veridical data she presented is both unexplainable, specific, veridical, highly significant, and could have led them to the body if they interpreted it correctly in time?" And that answer is yes.
I recently found an online video of the interview that Dorothy Allison AND the Police Detectives she worked gave on an episode of Unsolved Mysteries, where it profiled several of her best cases. Here is the Unsolved Mysteries Episode on Dorothy Allison, it's in six parts, and isn't very good video quality (since it's so old), but I highly recommend watching them all, in order, as they present several of her best cases. I'm glad I stumbled across this ...