Do you believe?
I replied: Do you mean "in God" ? No. I am a secular humanist and a scientific rationalist.
I figured that would end our correspondence but it didn't. Instead , she wrote back with an invitation to frolic, saying that she didn't believe in God per se , but she had a "strong spiritual side"...was I OK with that?
I can grok. Sorta.
I think that most of us have moments where the Cosmos seem to open wide and say: "See? This is special and it's for you."
I have had a few of these, some good, some not; they have usually been triggered by life-or-death situations, but I digress...
The feeling that one gets during such an epiphanic episode can easily be described as spiritual; the insights gained can change the core of one's consciousness (or soul, or spirit, whichever term you prefer), which in turn leads to a profound change in the way one thinks, which, in turn leads to significant changes in behavior. This process is sometimes referred to as 'enlightenment'.
It's my opinion that this rush of 'spiritual' awareness is simply the by-product of chemicals released in the brain during moments of intense neural imprinting, that the mind is literally creating new pathways for the intra-cranial transmission of thoughts and that it is the chemicals released during these bouts of cerebral re-construction that are responsible for the transcendental feelings that one experiences at the time.
I could be wrong- any good scientist will readily admit that science can be mistaken- in any case it would be a difficult experiment to conduct.
To me, the cause is secondary to the effect. The feeling is real, powerful and not to be disregarded, no matter what the origin. Digressing again...
So, anyway, my penpal writes back and tells me about this woman, a self-professed "psychic medium", that her teacher at Massage School had introduced her to. This "medium" somehow knew a great deal of private information about my penpal... things about her dead father, her kids, that she was graduating from Rubdown College...wait, said the medium in mid-sentence...I can hear a voice...your father is here, he says he is proud of you...my penpal was very impressed and spooked.
I am not so gullible. I'd wager that the "medium" and the masseuse are in cahoots and that my e-pal was being set up for a fleecing.
This left me with two choices:
- I could play along and go for the easy lay.
- I could be honest and forget about the sex.
I chose the honest approach. I asked her if the "medium" knew anything about her that her teacher didn't know. I suggested the possibility that the "medium" had gleaned the information from the teacher who had introduced them to each other, i.e., the teacher knows you are graduating, therefore so does the "psychic"; with this pre-knowledge, it's no stretch to say "your father tells you he is proud."
I also ventured that I don't know how to identify a 'real' psychic, but I do know how to spot a fake one- if the 'professional' psychic/palmist/card-reader/witch-doctor/whatever has a storefront and/or a roadside sign, then they are a fraud; that the 'professionals' are merely very clever con artists.
I left out the part about them preying on needy people in desperate straits.
Look carefully at the picture below. That is a simple three-ring binder with color inserts that look as if they were produced using Word and a Laserjet. That's because they were. It's an ebook. Inside the binder you will find a user-friendly guide to developing your clairvoyant and magickal skills.
It can be purchased used (?) on eBay or downloaded from the source. Use Visa if you dare.
Call me cynical, but I don't think the Secrets to the Universe are available as a commercial download.
I'd wager that they aren't for sale at all.
If the people selling these books truly possessed clairvoyant powers they wouldn't have to ask for your credit-card number. They could scry it.
If I possessed the ability to predict the future, talk to the dead, see distant places and/or read minds, I wouldn't lease a shabby storefront on the bad side of town, hang a sign out front and create a 'consultation parlor' decorated with colorful props such as these:
I'd go to Vegas. Or play the NYSE. Or find Blackbeard's Lost Treasure. I'd certainly keep my abilities to myself- in the past, the CIA has conducted experiments with remote viewing (clairvoyance) , using human test subjects...SRI, a research institute hired to help with this work, states on their website:
In the 1970s and 1980s SRI was contracted by a U.S. government agency to research some aspects of remote viewing. As this work was performed for clients, SRI no longer has the records relating to the research. All such records were returned to the clients.
SRI International is not currently involved in parapsychological research and has had no involvement in such research since 1990 when the last of staff working on the project retired or joined other organizations.
Your tax dollars at work.
Perhaps I read too many X-Men comics as a kid, but I can't help but think that the Government would do it's best to hunt down and exploit militarily useful mutants. I'd stay mum on the ESP for my own safety.
One needn't be a psychic to 'read minds'.
I spent the Nineties shilling VHS tapes at Sci-Fi conventions . My boss, Mario, could talk to an a geek about comics or cartoons for five minutes and intuitively deduce the nerd's entire life history...how many siblings they had, where they grew up, how old they were...he could establish all of that with amazing speed and accuracy.
Mario didn't have psychic powers, he had an encyclopedic knowledge of TV shows and newsstand distribution of magazines circa 1950's-1990's; he knew what shows aired in what market and when they aired (before cable, this was easy) ; he also knew that certain comics and magazines were distributed in certain regions and not in others... Mario's mind would take the geek's favorite TV shows and comics, cross-reference and combine them with other clues (accent, slang, clothes etc) and peg the person's background with startling detail... "you are from Detroit, right? Only child...late 1960's ... Dad is Canadian, eh?"
Bingo! Another sale!
Mario is currently selling cars in Atlanta. He's the best salesman that the dealership has.