Freaky Friday: Did they see this coming?

By Ash Pryce

Somerville is a small city in Massachusetts, and it’s just passed something into law which looks… interesting to say the least.  As of April 12th this year anyone wishing to promote themselves and practise as a fortune teller must obtain a license to do so.  If they fail to obtain the correct license then they are liable for fines of up $300.

Now at first this might seem like a rational victory, after all here in the UK psychics are supposed to (Though don’t always seem to) state that what they do is for “Entertainment Purposes Only”.  Though it is easy to get around by making a light hearted joke of the requirement, I doubt many will be put off by it if they’re already believers in the abilities of psychics.  But, it’s something at least.

We might say that this new law is a start, it is something itself and a positive step.  Sadly, this isn’t about addressing the validity of psychic ability, however, but simply providing licenses, from the State, allowing them to practice as a fortune teller.  The worrying implication is that instead of taking on frauds it might look as if the State is adding legitimacy to the bogus claims of supernatural abilities.  One member of the committee that pushed this through, Rebekah Gewitz, stated this was “for the purposes of making sure that we were not dealing with people who have been convicted of fraud with respect to fortune telling,”.  Noble, certainly.  But again, this adds the risk that those with a license are somehow the genuine article.

And just what does the license cover, well, this

“Fortunetelling shall mean the telling of fortunes, forecasting of futures, or reading the past, by means of any occult, psychic power, faculty, force, clairvoyance, cartomancy, psychometry, phrenology, spirits, tea leaves, tarot cards, scrying, coins, sticks, dice, sand, coffee grounds, crystal gazing or other such reading, or through mediumship, seership, prophecy, augury, astrology, palmistry, necromancy, mindreading, telepathy talisman, charm, potion, magnetism, magnetized article or substance, or by any such similar thing or act.”

 On the surface this may seem like a good move, making sure that “psychics” haven’t been charged previously with fraud, but it also seems to be legitimising fortune telling and that is maybe the wrong direction to be going in.  “For entertainment Purposes”, when it appears, may be spoken in a mocking tone, but at least it’s a start.

The original article from SomervillePatch can be found here: http://somerville.patch.com/articles/somerville-fortune-tellers-now-need-a-license-and-background-check

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0 Responses to Freaky Friday: Did they see this coming?

  1. Lee Christie says:

    I’ve always said psychics should be required to carry a licence, but only if the JREF is the organization internationally responsible for testing them. Okay, granted they wouldn’t issue any licences ever, because psychics aren’t real…

  2. Hayley says:

    Lee, is that a claim you can prove? If not, I wouldn’t be so quick to make such assumptions.

    No psychic has been shown to have paranormal ability under controlled conditions, but that doesn’t mean they ‘aren’t real’.

  3. Lee Christie says:

    Being jokingly flippant isn’t a positive claim to knowledge Hayley, and even if I weren’t joking, I say things (e.g. gods) aren’t real as shorthand. If you never say something isn’t real just because we haven’t disproved it 100% we pointlessly rob the English langauge of those words.

    You’ll find in my articles I’ve been more careful with language to describe exactly what I mean, but psychics aren’t real, neither is god or Santa.

  4. Alex Wassall says:

    Hayley; the onus is not on Lee or any skeptic to prove a negative. It is up to those individuals with the extraordinary claim to produce extraordinary evidence. If you think something is real its up to you to prove it.

    Paranormal abilities of every type have been tested again and again for over 40 years with no statistically significant positive results.

    Unless you know of 40 years worth of high quality studies that contradict the consensus; I’m afraid psychics aren’t real is as accurate a statement as Gravity makes things fall.

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