Friday, 18 April 2008

They should have seen this coming

The rather useless "Fraudulent Mediums Act" of 1951 is set to be replaced with new legislation being discussed in Parliament soon. The old act pretty much failed, probably because it tried to distinguish a fraudulent medium from a genuine one. It must have been tough, separating out the people who knew it was crap from the true-believers, in fact very few prosecutions were even brought and the vast majority failed.

The new laws will bring all forms of paid-for psychic and mystical services under the Consumer Protection Act. In other words, mediums will have to provide some form of proof that they are contacting dead people and can be held liable for harm resulting from their nonsense. Oddly, the psychics are a little miffed about this. Even more oddly, they waited until after the legislation was announced to submit their petition to 10 Downing Street. I'd have thought the most convinding time would have been, you know, before. They're meant to be psychic after all.

I can see why their pissed off though. If I'd made a career out of defrauding people with my carefully honed cold-reading skills, I'd be pissed off that my cushy little job was going to be "regulated."


Laurie said...

I just finished reading an interesting article in the most recent Skeptic magazine about how Houdini used to do a show exposing mediums back in the 1920s. He could even do all of the tricks with the lights on, unlike most mediums, and STILL trick people. The difference was that he then explained to them how he did it.

Stephen Bain said...

I read that one too.
I really do have a lot of respect for performers who do amazing things and then explain the 'magic'.
Over here, Derren Brown does quite a good job of promoting skepticism whilst putting on a good show. And, of course, you've got James Randi and co. in the US.

Laurie said...

I really want to go to the Skeptic meeting in Las Vegas June 19-22. Penn and Teller, Adam Savage from Mythbusters, Michael Shermer AND James Randi. I have relatives coming from England on the 23rd, though, so timing would be a little tight.

My husband and I did see Penn and Teller live when we went to Las Vegas a few years ago. They explained some tricks, but not all.