If I had a product that I was offering, for free, every day on a social media, and you came along and said "That's an interesting product, do you mind if I take some of that free product and do some tests on it?" and my response was to say "No I don't think this product is for you!" and then kicked you from the group, what would your view be of that product?
You probably wouldn't trust it, right? You'd probably feel justified warning people to be wary accepting the product. You'd probably feel that testing was desperately needed. Right?
Readers of this blog who have come here from my Facebook page The Rational Paranormal or one of the many links I post on Facebook, are probably well aware of my plans to run a test of psychics who offer readings of "selfies" on various pages. If you've not come across this practice before (and you probably won't have unless you visit paranormal/psychic pages) here's how they tend to go:
This initial post is then normally followed by a series of individuals, claiming psychic abilities, giving readings about the sitter's personal circumstances, the personality or their deceased loved ones. I'm sure that you can see there is an immediate glaring issue here. Photos are linked to Facebook account, meaning that much of the information that is given COULD, potentially, be gleaned by a little to the sitter's Facebook profile, or searching the sitter's name on other social media. Also the provision of a photograph gives ample opportunity to do some cold-reading.
Now I decided to design a test which would minimise the opportunity for psychics to glean information from the sitter's Facebook. Would receive the sitter's "selfie", check it is non-searchable, assign it a random number from 1-100 using a random number generator, and then pass the corresponding "selfies" to the 10 numbers the psychic being tested selects.
The full protocol will be posted to this page in a few days hopefully, but what I am sure is abundantly clear is that I will need at least 100 viable "selfies"/sitters, and some psychics to test. On the sitters front this has been ticked over quite nicely. I've posted about this on a few Facebook pages and I've received a steady amount of volunteers since then. The psychics, unfortunately, have been less keen to participate.
Now, I am aware that I don't have much to offer as a reward here. Unlike Skeptic supreme, James Randi, I don't have a $1,000,000 reward on offer. What I am offering however is a small source of validation. The opportunity to at least demonstrate that there may be an iota of truth to the claim they are making. Surely that's worth something? And as they are offering these readings for free anyway, there's no loss. They would only be doing what they are doing anyway, just with no searchable information.
This message was posted to two of the largest groups on Facebook offering readings on photographs and selfies:
"Hi Guys, thanks for the add. Hope I'm OK plugging this here. I am looking at organising a test for psychics who offer readings via photographs on Facebook.
I Should be ready to post my testing protocol for social media psychics, who claim to be ale to give readings from photographs, to my blog (http://skepticsboot.blogspot.In both cases the poster was immediately blocked from said group. And we are talking within minutes here. Its almost as if the admins didn't want their users, who between them offer hundreds of readings per day, to see the test. Or was it because these admins themselves claim these abilities and don't want to have to explain to their members why they declined to take place.
co.uk/) within the next few days. I'll be looking for upwards of a hundred unique "selfies" never posted to social media before to be read. And of course I'll be needing psychics to take part in the test. Know any that claim this ability? Or anyone who is willing to submit a selfie and receive a reading (or ten)? Send them here!https://www.facebook.com/ rationalparanormal"
Here's the message I received when I posted the above request to the Facebook page Spirit Source:
Now take a look a some of the readings offered on the page, I would say they fit exactly the criteria of my test! Is it relevant where "on their journey" a psychic is? If they are claiming an ability, and using it to do readings everyday then what difference does doing it within the parameters of the test make?
Photo to be read. Reading given
Who is that giving the last reading? Its Kerry Carter who told me the group wasn't the target audience for my test, at 11:19 pm on 13th June despite that fact that she had herself been performing the exact act required by the test a few hours previous!
So who was Kerry protecting her novice users or herself?
The worst thing about all this is that some of the stories related on these pages are absolutely heart breaking, grieving parents, siblings, children....there are some people genuinely suffering here and looking for help. The individuals on these sites that are more than prepared to use their vaunted "powers" to intervene in delicate and intimate situations, but aren't prepared to show that they actual exist in the first place are exactly the type that we should be steering people away from. Because I suspect that they are the ones who know or suspect that they are playing make-believe games with people's lives.
If you are interested in submitting a "selfie" for reading, or you consider yourself to genuinely psychic and aren't afraid to put that to the test contact me here: https://www.facebook.com/rationalparanormal
I hope to have the full testing protocol posted here very soon.