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« Carnival of the Godless #7 The RantsMedium: The Dubious Claims of Allison DuBois - Part II »

Medium: The Dubious Claims of Allison DuBois - Part I
2005.03.14 (Mon) 00:00
An Introduction to Allison DuBois:

A friendly skeptic that we know — let's call him Steve — recently took a technical training class through work. During a break in class, some of the students were discussing Law & Order and the recent death of Jerry Orbach. As that conversation waned, one student — we'll call her Carla — offered the comment:

Carla:You know what show is really good? Medium!

No one said anything, including Steve. After all, the class had been talking about Law & Order, and this was just another television show. No big deal. But when Carla continued, Steve found that he needed to respond:

Carla:(credulously) You know, that show is based on a real psychic who actually helps the police solve cases.
Steve:No, that's not true.
Carla:(enthusiastically) Yes, it's true. I read an article about her and she really did all these things.
Steve:No, it's not true. The press sometimes embellishes this kind of story for different reasons, but no psychic has ever actually helped the police.
Carla:(conspiratorially) Well, I have family who are police officers, so I know that it's true.
Steve:Um, I have family in law enforcement as well. But, it's not true.
Carla:(smugly) Psychics help the police all the time. It's happened in the south.
Steve:I'm sorry, but it's never happened. It's not true.

At that point, the instructor interrupted, and the class went back to the lesson. Although Steve had fought the good fight, he was disappointed that his arguments were limited to statements without specific data to back them up. Steve wanted to be prepared the next time this topic came his way, so he asked us for assistance. It can be difficult to have ready facts on hand to refute every bullshit tale making the rounds these days, but the stories surrounding Medium seem to be everywhere lately, and are therefore worthy of some special attention.
Allison DuBois in action!
We've said it before, and we'll say it again — it seems that the media has been increasing its endorsement of medical quackery, paranormal phenomena, and pseudo-science lately. Recently, we discussed the movie White Noise, and the allegedly paranormal experience it is based on, EVP, which amounts to little more than auditory pareidolia and an active imagination. In order to help Steve — and anyone else who's heard the persistent assertions that Medium is "based on a true story" — we at the Two Percent Company have prepared an analysis of the claims made by and about Medium.

First, although Carla didn't mention the name, the person whose "real life events" the show Medium is based upon is self-proclaimed medium Allison DuBois. Like her peer John Edward, Allison claims that she can talk to the dead. In case you're currently in the market for a conversation with the dearly departed, she does conduct private readings, but ever since Medium got off the ground, her schedule has been exceedingly full (her web site tells us that she is booked solid for the next three years).

One way to approach an analysis of Allison would be to examine an actual session in a controlled environment. Since we don't have access to Allison herself, we can use a transcript of a reading to show what we mean. Note that we know very little about the methodology employed in the test that yielded this transcript, so its usefulness only goes so far. For our immediate purposes, it will do.

The following is a short excerpt from a session with Allison which is freely available online. AD is Allison herself, GS is Dr. Gary Schwartz from the University of Arizona (more on him later), COMMENT represents Dr. Schwartz's commentary, and MK is the "entity" that Allison is supposed to be in contact with.

GS: Um... can he give any more details about how he has attempted to communicate since he's passed?

AD: He is referencing a phone ringing. Like he calls his wife, as if the phone rings and she picks up and nobody's there. But he's referencing calling her as being important.

COMMENT: MK was especially involved with physical mediumship. This kind of "phone ringing" phenomenon is an example of purported spontaneous physical communication. Veronica confirmed that multiple phone calls of this sort had happened since MK passed.

This is one single exchange chosen completely at random. Perhaps it is typical of all of Allison's prognostications, or perhaps it is the one exchange that is completely explainable without paranormal influences. In fact, if you get as many of those damned hang up calls as we do on a regular basis, you probably already know the explanation we're talking about. One of our associates actually gets such a call every weeknight between 6PM and 8PM — he picks up, and the line goes dead. Maybe MK is also calling our associate! You can check the rest of the transcript to get the flavor of Allison's readings, but if you've ever seen or heard John Edward or any of the other "mediums" in action, you already know what it's like.

If we knew that the methods employed in this test were sound, we could examine the rest of the transcript to see how many other "psychic revelations" also have simple explanations. We could explain how cold reading works, and how some people use both cold and warm reading to pretend that they have psychic powers, and we could then compare Allison's session to a typical cold reading, and look at the similarities.

But since we don't have access to more complete and specific data or direct access to Allison herself, we're going to take our analysis in a different direction. We have chosen to analyze Allison's own statements — her specific claims that she contends set her apart from the rest of the psychics on the market today.

One thing we noticed is that Allison herself is skeptical of psychics, or at least of psychics who aren't her. From a March 4, 2004 issue of Metareligion:

"I think there are some people that are Charlatans, and with any profession there's going to be some bad apples, so I mean that just goes with the territory, so the ones that are accurate and are legitimate just have to prove themselves," said Dubois.

And from the January 3, 2005 edition of Science Fiction Weekly:

Patricia, in doing this character, how much of a belief system do you have to have in the character that you're playing?

Arquette: ... I do believe certain people have this capacity to do this. But I also 100 percent believe there're a lot of charlatans out there.

Dubois: I agree.

And from her own web site:

...I don't like seeing people go to half-baked "psychics" or frauds.

With all of the "charlatans" out there pretending to have psychic powers and duping the public just to make a buck, we decided to take a look at Allison's claims to fame — the credentials she possesses that make her more worthy of belief and respect than the host of "frauds" that Allison warns us about.

First, Allison points to her belief in the scientific method, and the extensive scientific tests she has undergone at the University of Arizona under the supervision of Dr. Gary Schwartz.

Second, Allison claims that she works with law enforcement agencies around the country on active homicide and missing person investigations. In particular, she points to her involvement with the Texas Rangers, which launched her career and also became the basis for the first episode of Medium, and of her involvement with the Glendale Arizona Police Department.

Third, Allison claims that her powers have never been wrong in any case she has worked. We want to repeat that — according to Allison, she's never been wrong when using her psychic abilities as part of a case she was involved in.

Well, if these three claims stand up to scrutiny — meaning that they are demonstrably truthful and accurate — we would happily become Allison's biggest fans. But let's not break out the marching band until we take a closer look.

— • —

Over the course of the Two Percent Company's Allison Dubois Week, we will be looking at each of these claims in turn, as well as Allison's response to skeptics. Throughout the week, we will be presenting statements and opinions of various third parties, including Allison herself, in order to give our readers enough information to make informed decisions about Allison's claims. In the end, we won't tell you what to believe — that will be up to you.

Keep an eye out for the following installments over the course of the week:

The Two Percent Company's Allison DuBois Week:
% Monday: An Introduction to Allison DuBois (this Rant)
% Tuesday: Dr. Gary Schwartz's Research
% Wednesday: Allison's Track Record Assisting Law Enforcement
% Thursday: The Success Rate of Allison's Powers
% Friday: Allison's Answers to Skeptics

— • —

Disclaimer: Throughout our posts, we are presenting statements and opinions of various third parties. The Two Percent Company makes no claims as to the accuracy of the statements of any third parties. In addition, any statements attributed to the Two Percent Company are strictly our opinion, and are not meant to be statements of absolute fact.



Allison DuBois: Debunked! (2%Co)

— • —
[  Filed under: % Allison DuBois Week  % Bullshit  % Greatest Hits  % Two Percent Toons  ]

TrackBack URL for this entry: http://www.twopercentco.com/rants/tpc-trkbk.cgi/83

Comments (34)

% Trackback » 2005.03.16 (Wed) 18:13
"Alison DuBois Week At Two Percent Company" from Unscrewing The Inscrutable

Back in January I wrote about the television show "Medium" and it's real-life inspiration, super-duper crime-fighting "research medium" Alison DuBois (UTI, Jan 8, 2005 - "I Like My Medium Well Done").Starting last Monday, UTI friends The Two Percent C... [More]


% Trackback » 2005.03.17 (Thu) 19:03
"A Skeptic's Complaint considered." from Pratie Place

At Two Percent Company -- site of this week's Skeptics' Circle -- it's Allison DuBois Week. Allison DuBois is the real-live woman on whom the show "Medium" has been based, a psychic who supposedly helps the police with puzzling crimes. Simplisticall... [More]


% Trackback » 2005.03.18 (Fri) 10:29
"Alison DuBois Week At Two Percent Company" from Unscrewing The Inscrutable

Back in January I wrote about the television show "Medium" and it's real-life inspiration, super-duper crime-fighting "research medium" Alison DuBois (UTI, Jan 8, 2005 - "I Like My Medium Well Done").Starting last Monday, UTI friends The Two Percent C... [More]


Cat, 2005.04.08 (Fri) 04:30 [Link] »

I feel for you guys being so sceptical. I imagine that for you when we die there is no after life. I couldn't imagine how painful that would be to not believe in the life of souls. How do you believe in such a depressing and unhopeful existence. Please feel free to email me about this although I don't think you will. All I feel for you is the deepest sympathy. To believe in something greater than yourself leads to humility rather than arrogance.



The Two Percent Company, 2005.04.08 (Fri) 20:24 [Link] »

Actually, Cat, from our perspective, we would say very similar things about you. Note that we're not trying to be facetious or sarcastic; we're just trying to explain to you what our point of view really means, instead of the "depression" and "hopelessness" you imagine.

We feel for you believing that you do have an eternal soul. We imagine that for you, when we die, there is some mystical afterlife; and you wait your entire life to experience it. However, there is no such place, and that goes for you as much as it does for us.

In point of fact, this truth does not at all depress us or leave us without hope — we are actually quite happy people. Sure, it can be disheartening sometimes when people close to us die, since we don't believe they exist in any way afterwards; but to us, that's no reason to delude ourselves with fictional tales. In fact, it makes us savor life all the more, knowing how limited and precious it is. There's nothing depressing or hopeless about it; we live to contribute to the advancement of our species as a whole, and even more importantly to provide comfort, security, love and as many laughs as possible to those from whom we would ask only the same in return. This fulfills us far more than living our lives with the expectation of something more after we die.

Thanks for your sympathy, but with all due respect, we really don't need it. In fact, if you're one of the people who believe that this life is just preparation for an everlasting life to come, then we have the deepest sympathy for you — to us, it would be terrible to waste the only life we have waiting for something that isn't coming.

And to put your mind at ease — we do believe in things greater than ourselves; they're all around us, all the time, and can be seen with our own eyes. When we think about how enormous and old the universe is, how many stars and planets there are, and the awesome distances between them, it humbles us greatly. When we see the genuine, real beauty of this tiny planet we inhabit, and consider the amazing processes through which it came to be, it humbles us greatly. When we think about the fantastic complexity and diversity of living organisms, it humbles us greatly. When we ponder cutting edge scientific ideas (like relativity, string theory, or M theory), it humbles us greatly.

We don't need our "something greater" to be a god or other mystical phenomena. The majesty of the real world is great enough. It is the picture of humility, indeed, to recognize that mankind is — in the big picture — an insignificant plague on a tiny rock orbiting a nondescript star at the edge of a random galaxy in an unimaginably tremendous universe. Being able to recognize this fact, and still being able to recognize the unique wonderfulness of individual human beings, is the perfect example of compassion and humanity.

We find meaning in what we do while we live, not in what happens after we are dead. We derive our happiness from our actions and our interactions, and we hope to make others happy in the same way. To us, that's what life is about: not the imagined reward of an afterlife, but the reward of living itself.

As a note, though, we would say that there are many for whom religious or "spiritual" belief absolutely leads to arrogance. We won't lump you into this group, but we certainly have come across more than a few people like that. From our perspective, it is the height of arrogance to believe that a supremely powerful, unknowable entity has specially selected your species in general, and you in particular (on the basis of your willingness to believe in it), as the greatest thing since sliced bread.

And of course we'll be happy to e-mail you this reply, and to reply to you further if you like. Why would you think that we wouldn't? Other than the slight implication that we could use more humility (which we won't get hung up on), your comment was perfectly polite. We aren't in the habit of biting off the heads of people whose views differ from ours, so long as they are fair and polite about it.

Thanks for your comment — you'll receive our e-mail shortly.



paul santelmann, 2005.04.11 (Mon) 01:54 [Link] »

Excellent work Lads!!!!!!!



Cat, 2005.04.12 (Tue) 02:16 [Link] »

OK I'm impressed, I wasn't expecting a response. I am Buddhist and believe in reincarnation until we reach enlightenment, thats where I'm coming from. I believe we choose to live a physical life in order for our eternal souls to learn lessons that we cannot learn in spirit. But hey I'm open to all kinds of possibilities and don't get me wrong I relish this physical life and am not just waiting to die for any kind of serene heavenly afterlife. But really I am just guessing as to what happens when we die, but you don't seem to be guessing, your post indicates that you know what happens when we go...how do you KNOW that your belief is utterly the only one to have? How can you be so assured that your belief is correct? Has one of your posse died and come back with the ultimate truth? You see thats the real arrogance I see in your belief, you leave no other possibilities open for discussion what you believe is right and everyone else is on the wrong track. That smacks to me of right to lifers who refuse to allow individuals freedom to make their own choices as they are so utterly convinced that their convictions are the only ones to be held. Yes, you have indeed come out and slammed my post to you and let me put this to you, you guys DON'T know and as a friend of mine put it so well, we won't know until we die and then it's too late. So where do you guys stand on ghosts? What animates our bodies from the moment of birth? Are all psychics phonies in your eyes? I have had experiences in my life that suggest that we do exist in spirit, and that is what I base my response on. Obviously you have had experiences in your life that lead to your beliefs and thats cool. If it was in any way possible to prove my beliefs to you I would but alas no way is known. So we stand on opposite sides of an argument with no possible way of proving either sides correctness. I know what I'd rather be and thats a believer rather than a sceptic. I'd rather have my faith than your certainty, however happy it makes you.



Myrddin, 2005.04.12 (Tue) 03:49 [Link] »

Way back in caveman days we looked up in fear at the sound of thunder and had to fight for our food. We also knew people who claimed to have seen ghosts or have psychic powers. We've come so far since those days - we've harnessed electricity, and have made so many labour saving inventions. But how come ghosts and psychics are still regarded as amusing tales ? You'd have thought that by now we'd have everyday tools that used ghosts and psychics. Perhaps a cheap telephone system powered by ghosts, or psychic technicians using telekenesis to assemble complex computers?

One of the main characteristics of mankind is that it has a huge drive to investigate and innovate. Mankind leaves no stone unturned in its drive to get further, faster, easier ...
Why would there be such a blindspot, if the paranormal really worked?

M



% Trackback » 2005.04.13 (Wed) 03:07
"An Ongoing Conversation About Beliefs" from The Two Percent Company's Rants

We recently received a comment on one of our Allison DuBois posts asking about our beliefs and our skeptical approach to life. The commenter, Cat, had the following to say: I feel for you guys being so sceptical. I imagine that... [More]


The Two Percent Company, 2005.04.13 (Wed) 11:09 [Link] »

Note: Since the discussion with Cat was getting lengthy, and since it was growing in scope beyond the Allison DuBois Rant it started on, we have moved it to its own post, An Ongoing Conversation About Beliefs. Also, it is a great topic in our opinion, and deserves its own post. Follow the link to keep reading, or to offer your input.

Myrddin: Spot on! We love your last paragraph, but now you've got us longing for a ghost-powered phone system. Perhaps if we pass the tip along to John Edward, he can make it work...



Brandon Mosher, 2005.04.13 (Wed) 15:19 [Link] »

Hello I met Allison Dubois at a Parents of Murdered Children seminar on Tues April 12 2005 along with my mother and one of my sisters.and she was so very patient in answering alot of questions for people. My brother Billy was murdered on August 28, 2004 and he will be so deeply missed and i believe everything of what she was telling people there.



The Two Percent Company, 2005.04.13 (Wed) 15:51 [Link] »

Brandon,

We are very sorry for your loss. What happened to your brother is a terrible and tragic thing that no family should ever have to go through, and we can't even imagine the emotional distress that something like that would cause. You have our deepest sympathies.

This is exactly why we get so angry at "psychics" and "mediums" — because they seem to have no qualms whatsoever about leveraging the pain and anguish of people like you just to make a buck. And believe us, whether you paid her directly for your "reading" or whether it was done for no charge to you, the "medium" always gets something out of, be it money, press, or both. To us, what these people do is about as low as a human being can get, and the fact that they can seem patient and kind while they do it does nothing to change that.

When someone dies, all that we have left are our memories of that person from when they were alive. How dare these assholes fuck with those memories.

Our sincere advice to you, Brandon, is to remember your brother as you truly knew him, and not the storytelling of some self-proclaimed "medium." Don't let the bullshit she tried to fill your head with taint the true memories that you have of your brother.



John, 2005.04.19 (Tue) 14:13 [Link] »

I'm late to the party here and this is off-topic, but you reference string theory and M theory (which is actually part of string theory) above as among cutting edge scientific ideas that are part of the wonder of this universe. String theory is certainly cutting edge -- some might say it is busy sawing itself down the bleeding edge. Just in case you weren't aware, some physicists believe that string theory might be (not is, but might be)

not even wrong



The Two Percent Company, 2005.04.19 (Tue) 17:24 [Link] »

John,

Thanks very much for the link to that American Scientist article. It is always good to have different (but still valid) views on any scientific matter, because that helps scientists to frame their hypotheses more clearly and produce stronger theories. More importantly, Peter Woit brings up excellent points with regard to string theory's failures, particularly those pertaining to its predictive capabilities.

To be clear, we never argued for or against the validity of string theory, or its extended daughter, M theory. We only remarked that the ideas themselves — encompassing such awe-inspiring views — both fascinate us and make us aware of that elusive "something larger" to which Cat referred.

One thing in Woit's article that greatly disturbed us was the fact that some scientists appear to be pushing string theory education in high schools. Just as we don't believe the "theory" of Intelligent Design should be presented to high school (or younger) students until it has a definitive theory and strong evidence to support it (we'll be waiting a long time for that), we also do not advocate string theory — which is not yet supported by as much evidence as, say, the theories of gravity or evolution — being taught to students who are learning the "basics" of science. Such advanced notions, particularly without enough supporting evidence, should be saved for college and post-graduate courses, where students may actually be entering the realm of theoretical physics as a career.

Thanks again for commenting, John, and for the link to Peter Woit's article.



Jessica, 2005.05.09 (Mon) 20:19 [Link] »

I noticed that y ou speak to people who believe in an after life like they are completely wrong (and even crazy). Sorry, but you CANNOT pass your opinions off as fact like you are trying to do. I refer to this comment you made "We imagine that for you, when we die, there is some mystical afterlife; and you wait your entire life to experience it. However, there is no such place..."
I am not going to argue that an after life is true or not because I am open minded enough not to believe on idea. However, what you say is simply your opinion, NOT fact (because it has not been proven). Honestly, no one (and YES NOT EVEN YOU PEOPLE) knows what the real truth is. Death is the biggest mystery and you look like fools by acting like you have it all figured out. Again you statements are opinions, and that is all.



The Two Percent Company, 2005.05.09 (Mon) 23:00 [Link] »

Jessica,

Um, yeah. You are correct that what we said about there being no afterlife is not fact but rather just our opinion. In fact, we said as much in an earlier comment. Among the comments above, from which you quoted us, there is a note that we continued the discussion in question in a new post entitled "An Ongoing Conversation About Beliefs." In that post, we said the following to Cat (the original commenter) about the quote from us that you mention:

That also leads us to the next important note — we never claimed to "know," in the definitive way to which you seem to refer, whether there is or is not an afterlife, a soul, or a god. We're not sure why you think that we did make such a claim. All we can guess is that the phrasing we used near the beginning of our reply misled you. Our statement was:
We feel for you believing that you do have an eternal soul. We imagine that for you, when we die, there is some mystical afterlife; and you wait your entire life to experience it. However, there is no such place, and that goes for you as much as it does for us.

However, this was just us re-using the phrasing that you used in your initial comment. It was not an attempt to say that we "know" that there is no afterlife. That said, while we don't claim to "know," we do claim to have a pretty good case for our position.

So, yes, we agree with what you said, and we agreed weeks ago when we posted the comments above. It was never our intent to make a statement of fact that there is no afterlife. We simply don’t believe that there is an afterlife based upon the lack of evidence, which is very different from saying definitively that there is no such thing.

There is more to our commentary which you can find in the post referenced if you’d like to understand more about our point of view. What you seem to be angry at us about isn't really our view, though.



Krista Schwimmer, 2005.05.12 (Thu) 02:05 [Link] »

I was happy to find this conversation about Allison Dubois as I was curious about what was real about her. I was wondering, does anyone know what she charges for a reading? I am doing a bit of research on professional mediums & this is part of it.

What I wanted to add to this conversation is that I have been studying the occult for over 25 years. I have always been skeptical of Mediums, but I have found that relatives of people that die often have the most direct & unusual contact with their deceased ones. Some of them have no one to talk to about this due to their religious upbringing. Children sometimes have visitations from dead relatives right before they die.

This idea, that having a physical, human relationship with someone before they die is essential to genuine contact is discussed in one of Rudolf Steiner's books. My own experience, though not vast, does support this idea. He also believes that we can continue to develop relationships with dead folks we love & that this benefits both the living & the dead. I put this theory out now to contradict your ideas that energy put towards the dead is not purposeful. One thing Steiner says is that if someone dies young & you have a relationship with this person, the dead individual can give you the energy/the gifts that he/she did not use. Again, I realize these are but theories.

I agree, too, that one should fully engage in life here. Oddly, however, I have noted that life & death are so woven together that to dance with one, one naturally dances with the other. I have had 2 very traumatic deaths in my life & both have them thrust me more forward into living, perhaps knowing that my turn can be at any moment.

Krista



The Two Percent Company, 2005.05.12 (Thu) 16:56 [Link] »

Krista,

We're glad you stopped by. In answer to your very first question, we recall discovering that Allison charges upwards of $300 for a reading. Not exactly the $700 or so that Sylvia Browne charges, but still a steep bill to pay for listening to someone pull shit out of their ass for an hour. Allison's website is silent on this point, since she's currently not accepting any requests for readings.

It's an interesting hypothesis you present, that "detached" mediums can't have any connection to our deceased relatives, but those with close relationships to the deceased can. However, we would point out that even this more specific idea seems, to us, like another supernatural explanation thrown in where a natural explanation would do just fine.

You say:

[Steiner] also believes that we can continue to develop relationships with dead folks we love & that this benefits both the living & the dead. I put this theory out now to contradict your ideas that energy put towards the dead is not purposeful. One thing Steiner says is that if someone dies young & you have a relationship with this person, the dead individual can give you the energy/the gifts that he/she did not use. Again, I realize these are but theories.
[our emphasis]

We do want to be clear about this: it isn't our position that "energy put towards the dead in not purposeful." On the contrary, we believe it can be quite rewarding, as we'll discuss below. However, it is our contention that the dead simply aren't "there" to hear us or see us; the benefit is to the living, and there is no supernatural explanation needed in order to explain these benefits. Of course, this is our belief, and you are certainly welcome to your beliefs to the contrary, but we wanted to clarify our own position.

From our perspective, we all make connections with the people in our lives; and those connections do continue after one person's death, but only in the memories of those still living. Since losing his grandfather about 20 years ago, one member of the Two Percent Company has sincerely taken to heart the various pearls of wisdom and sensible advice that his grandfather imparted to him. Two decades later, his grandfather still influences how he thinks and acts — but there's nothing supernatural about this. Warm feelings for his grandfather, combined with cherished memories and an extra 20 years of wisdom, enable our member to see the value in his grandfather's words and deeds; this, in turn, leads to a desire to emulate those positive traits. In a sense, his grandfather lives on. But not in any "supernatural" sense.

It makes complete sense in the light of scientific knowledge. Forming deep and lasting connections to relatives and close friends is an evolutionary advantage, a method of keeping the tribe healthy, whole, and prosperous. Heck, humans form deep and lasting connections with non-humans (we love our pets!) and even inanimate objects — almost everybody had a favorite stuffed animal, or blanket, or even a tree or stream when they were young. One of our members still keeps his childhood teddy bear in his bedroom, which brings a smile to his face whenever he sees it. People even form intimate bonds with locations, keeping a special spot in their hearts for places where they've resided. Forming emotional connections is a deep-seated psychological need — and advantage — that helps us throughout our lives, especially during hard or traumatic times. And, quite logically, those hard or traumatic times seem to strengthen these emotional connections — think of it as exercising your emotional muscles: no pain, no gain.

The point we're trying to make here is that, all things considered, we can see a lot of value — from both scientific and personal viewpoints — to strong emotional connections; we have no doubt that, as strong as they can be, they continue long after the loss of the object of those emotions. We just don't see a need to assign anything "mystical" to this phenomenon — it's just how sentient minds work, which is fascinating in itself!

As to your last paragraph, we're glad you agree that living life to the fullest should be most important to every person. We also think you're spot on with regard to the interwoven nature of life and death — as with any antonymous concepts, it's rather difficult to conceive of one without knowledge of the other.

However, we're just a little confused by the final note you offer, a sentiment we've heard from many who believe in an afterlife — that after experiencing personal loss firsthand, you grab hold of life even more wholeheartedly, knowing that any day might be your last. The confusing part to us is: if a person has no doubt that there is more beyond this life, then wouldn't that person be less concerned about hanging on to their current life?

To us, that's a strange inconsistency that we often see in religious and new age beliefs. It has even led some to say that, since we don't believe in an afterlife, we should just give up and kill ourselves now (don't worry, we know that's not what you're saying). As we think you'd agree, that line of reasoning is completely illogical! Knowing that this life is all we have makes us hold on to it as tight as we can, since we don't believe we'll get any second chance. From our point of view, if we knew that a wondrous, magical place existed for us after death, it would hasten our desire to move on to that next world, or at least lessen our desire to remain in this world "at all costs." Like we said, it's an odd inconsistency. This isn't an "accusation," but rather genuine curiosity on our part.

Thanks very much for your input, Krista.



shane patrick, 2005.06.08 (Wed) 03:17 [Link] »

Hey just to let you know your friendly skeptic Steve is dead wrong about psychics helping the police. I don't profess to know what Allison DuBoi's credentals are, however a survey at
Professionals Against Confidence Crime http://pac-c.org/police%20&%20psychics.htm that was given to police at a fraud seminar clearly shows that the police DO use psychics. This is not to say that the info obtained was invaluable or that they would have been unable to resolve the case themselves. Overall the article was not in favor of the use of psychics but the fact that even one detectve or command level officer said that they have used a psychic shows that it HAS happened.



The Two Percent Company, 2005.06.08 (Wed) 11:33 [Link] »

shane patrick,

Well, first of all, this is why we decided to test Allison's specific claims rather than testing the statement that "no psychic has ever helped the police." One is a closed system with claims to have helped two specific law enforcement agencies, and the other is a bottomless pit of endless research. By testing just Allison's claims, we were able to show that they don't hold up — without having to visit every police station in the country.

That said, we addressed something similar to this in Part III of this series, and in a response to a commenter in Part V. In Part III we said:

Before we get into this, it is important to note that these claims actually mean very little. Even taken as true, the fact that a psychic is used by law enforcement agencies is not by any stretch "proof" of their powers. In the same way psychics might seem to be real to civilians, they can also dupe law officers. So, if Allison's claims along these lines are true, and she has been contacted and utilized by law enforcement agencies, it only points to the credulity of the decision makers within those agencies, and not to any genuine "medium" abilities on Allison's part.

To us, that's really the bottom line. There is no universal rule that says that police officers are any less likely to be taken in by bullshit artists than any other person, and we can be pretty sure that at least some are duped.

In our comment on Part V, we said (in part):

One factor involves what defines "helping" the police. A routine tactic for psychics is to contact the police proactively and offer a "tip" on a case. In the Chandra Levy case, there were hundreds of such psychic tips received. Could the psychics who phoned in now claim, rather generally, to have "assisted the police in an active investigation"? Probably so, even if the tip had no value whatsoever. And if, on their 50th attempt, a given psychic's nebulous tip that the body would be "found near water" turned out to be true, could the psychic claim to have been correct in their prediction? Sadly, yes. In cases like these, the psychic isn't really making a fraudulent statement, they are just massaging the truth to suit their needs. Is this the case with Allison's claims? We don't know, but it's possible.

So, has a psychic ever "helped" the police? Technically, we're sure that some can claim that, but what does that really mean? Not much.



Blonde, 2005.06.09 (Thu) 01:43 [Link] »

I would like to let everyone know here that you have a right to be skeptical about psychics. Up until 3 years ago I was to. I thought they were all out to get money for something that doesnt exist. There are alot of people out there who claim to be psychics and claim that they talk to spirits. There are alot of people who take alot of money for simply doing nothing. Vague and well, strange readings happen all the time. There is also alot of junk out there to watch out for. Since Spiritualism has become popular all the wackos are crawling out of the woodwork claiming things that, quite frankly are weird. People claim to know things who dont. They accept money and steal praise for something that they claim to know, which they do not. I refer to the Polly Class incident, in which a popular psychic claimed to solve the case that she did not.
This kind of behavior makes me sick and I have no tolorance for people who con others into believing that they do something they dont. Especially when they charge for that.
3 years ago I began linking with spirits. I have recieved no money from what I do. I have recieved nothing for helping others understand that there is life after death and that heaven isnt some place that is so far away we cannot reach it until we die. I am not looking for clients because as you notice, I dont use my real name. I only use my gift when it is necessary, not for money or fame. I use my gifts to help and heal people and that is it. I wont respond to queries for reads because I dont do email reads.
I like the show medium because it shows all aspects of being the way I am. Watch the show and see how her husband reacts to who she is and her children. Do you see how they hide it from his coworkers and their friends? This is my life. Do any of you believe that I enjoy people thinking I am a fraud or a nutcase? Do any of you believe that I enjoy having to hide who and what I am from people because they wouldnt understand who I am and what I do?
Would any one of you like to experience what it is like to link with a child who has been murdered? Know how she died and where she is buried? One time I did. She lived in another country so I didnt have anything to do with it. Would you think, Yay I got it right! Big deal, I couldnt stop it could I? Can any one of you imagine the emotional gravity of having to know how someone was murdered? Especially a child? Be there? Know that you cant do a thing to stop it because it has already happened.
On the flip side of this, I have helped people by giving them the chance to say good bye, or helping them understand that their loved one was proud of them, or helped them understand that their loved one didnt leave them.
When someone dies the relationship doesnt end, it simply changes.
You each have the ability to understand that your loved ones are always close by you. You smell something that is a rememberance, or you see something out of the corner of your eye. You know that they are close by.
I will give you insight into a medium. If they cannot describe your loved one to a tee, or give you solid validations, like oddball things, or things that arent vague they are not a medium. If they cannot give you solid proof that they are in contact with your loved one then walk away.
Believe it or not I am still a skeptic! If someone doesnt provide me with exact things about my passed loved one I will walk away.
Give yes or no answers. never ever give them any information until the reading is over. This way you will be sure.
I will get off my soap box now.



francine, 2005.06.09 (Thu) 10:54 [Link] »

would love to hear more from blonde



joanna, 2005.06.09 (Thu) 15:37 [Link] »

Can someone explain why if someone truly has a gift that can heal the bereaved or assist law enforcement to solve and physically take offenders of obscene evil they commit on others especially children off the streets why it is such a bad thing. I have personally experienced through dreams, visions, and sometimes particular smells that there is more to it than we know. For those who need more information about the gifts read There is a river..the story of Edgar Cayce.



The Two Percent Company, 2005.06.09 (Thu) 16:50 [Link] »

From joanna, we see the following:

Can someone explain why if someone truly has a gift that can heal the bereaved or assist law enforcement to solve and physically take offenders of obscene evil they commit on others especially children off the streets why it is such a bad thing.

Well, joanna, if someone "truly" had such a gift, it wouldn't be a bad thing. In fact, it would be a wonderful thing. We would personally be thrilled to know such a person, and we would spend a lot of time singing their praises.

However, we are not aware of a single person anywhere in the world who "truly" has psychic or medium powers. Not one. As far as we're concerned, that analysis includes Allison DuBois. On the other hand, we are aware of lots of frauds and liars who take advantage of the aggrieved in order to make a buck. That is a bad thing, and we don't think we need to explain why that is bad.

Of course, there are others out there who are true believers who simply think that magic is real and who aren't trying to make a penny off of their brand of belief. We don't think that they are bad people; we just think they're silly.

And before you lean on Cayce to "prove" the paranormal, you should do a little research. Cayce has been pretty thoroughly debunked over the years. For example, he predicted that in 1958 we would discover a death ray that was used on Atlantis (we don't see that anywhere in the history books), that 1933 would be a good year in the US (Great Depression anyone?), and that China would be a Christian Nation by 1968 (we think that China would disagree), among many other demonstrably false claims. We suggest reading from a source that isn't biased toward Cayce before you make his story recommended reading. The Skeptic's Dictionary outlines some of his failures, as well as some of the myths about the man. We advise that people check that out before bothering to read There is a River.



The Two Percent Company, 2005.06.09 (Thu) 23:02 [Link] »

Blonde,

It goes without saying that you are free to believe what you want to believe (even though we did say it). Our guess from your writing is that you wouldn't expect us (or even want us) to believe in your abilities based solely on what you've written. As you said:

I will give you insight into a medium. If they cannot describe your loved one to a tee, or give you solid validations, like oddball things, or things that arent vague they are not a medium. If they cannot give you solid proof that they are in contact with your loved one then walk away. Believe it or not I am still a skeptic! If someone doesnt provide me with exact things about my passed loved one I will walk away.

Since you didn't provide any kind of validation (by design), we will remain skeptical (as you yourself would). For us, it would take a little more than the information above to convince us, but we understand your point. We agree that if a medium's abilities were able to pass muster in a sound scientific test, we would certainly not dismiss them. There are a few things we'd like to point out, though.

First and foremost, we absolutely understand that not all practitioners of the paranormal or alternative medicine are lying. Some actually do believe what they say. From what you've said, you certainly seem to truly believe in your abilities. But, just because this type of person isn't trying to make a buck or earn fame doesn't mean that their abilities are any more real than those of the liars.

Take your average evangelical Christian (not the preachers, but the people sitting in the seats who send in their life savings and walk up to the stage to be healed). These people absolutely believe that the bible is the literal truth. Are they making money off of this belief? No. In fact, many are losing money by giving it to the snake oil charlatans prancing about on the stage and sweatily calling out the name of "Jee-Zuss." But this lack of remuneration doesn't make their beliefs any more valid.

We're not trying to "shake your beliefs" or change your mind, Blonde, and we doubt that we even could. We're just trying to say that a simple lack of financial gain derived from supposed paranormal abilities doesn't mean that the abilities are real. We think that it does show something substantive about the nature of the person, though. Someone who lies about their abilities to make a buck off of people who are suffering is, in our book, a common criminal and a poor human being. Someone who really believes that they are helping others and that their beliefs are reality, and seeks no reward for their contributions, is a much better person in our book. Again, though, and importantly: it doesn't make the belief true.

You also mention the following:

When someone dies the relationship doesnt end, it simply changes. You each have the ability to understand that your loved ones are always close by you. You smell something that is a rememberance, or you see something out of the corner of your eye. You know that they are close by.

Krista brought up a similar topic above. Our reply was, in part:

We do want to be clear about this: it isn't our position that "energy put towards the dead is not purposeful." On the contrary, we believe it can be quite rewarding, as we'll discuss below. However, it is our contention that the dead simply aren't "there" to hear us or see us; the benefit is to the living, and there is no supernatural explanation needed in order to explain these benefits. Of course, this is our belief, and you are certainly welcome to your beliefs to the contrary, but we wanted to clarify our own position.

From our perspective, we all make connections with the people in our lives; and those connections do continue after one person's death, but only in the memories of those still living. Since losing his grandfather about 20 years ago, one member of the Two Percent Company has sincerely taken to heart the various pearls of wisdom and sensible advice that his grandfather imparted to him. Two decades later, his grandfather still influences how he thinks and acts — but there's nothing supernatural about this. Warm feelings for his grandfather, combined with cherished memories and an extra 20 years of wisdom, enable our member to see the value in his grandfather's words and deeds; this, in turn, leads to a desire to emulate those positive traits. In a sense, his grandfather lives on. But not in any "supernatural" sense.

To us, that is how people that we love live on, and it doesn't require anything supernatural.



Blonde, 2005.06.10 (Fri) 04:49 [Link] »

I dont expect you to believe in anything I have said, as y ou do not know me. I wouldnt either :) As I have said I am a skeptic and dont expect anyone to believe in what I say based on what I say. You do not know me, therefore I dont expect you to just automaticly trust me. In fact I love the fact that you make me think about what I say and how I back it up. Good site. You are alot like my teachers, sorry to say it, lol. They are mediums to, lol.
I will respond to your rant tomorrow after I have had time to think on it and if francine has any questions I will be glad to answer them.
As I said before, I am not here to gain clients and wont post my email or my name. Its just nice to be able to debate with people who have intelligence.
I did like what you said about religion tho, to me they are mans idea of what it is and based on mans ideals and beliefs. I also believe it is a way to gain control over man through fear. In the last few years after 9/11 I have really come to believe that. I am a believer in God and strangely enough in Jesus, but its my own thing.
Will look forward to debating with you :)
Thank you
Blonde



Blonde, 2005.06.10 (Fri) 05:20 [Link] »

You know I just went back and read all of your stuff, lol.. Isnt it funny how different we all are in our beliefs?
I was brought up as a catholic and then gram decided that we were going to become born again christains, then I am a spiritualist and well evil to the other guys, lol Its dang hard being so evil.
Funny here. I had baptists come to my door and told me that I wasnt going to heaven because I didnt go to their church, then I had Jehovah witnesses come to my door and well sorry to say I scared them off, lol. I am horrid!
I wont try to change who and what you are because you have a reason for being who and what you are and that is our right as a human with sorry to say god given free will.
I guess people forget that we have a right to be who and what we are.
I am not going to try to change your belief because that is your right, as long as y ou dont lump me in the same pile of poop that silvia browne is in ok? if someone has a question about my evil ways I hope you will allow me to share my beliefs with them without making a comment about my evil ways.
Whos fault is it that I fell into your site? he he. Sorry to say I will probably drive you as nuts as I do my teachers.
Now that I understand your beliefs I will not step on your toes any more than I can with mine. It is not mine to demand that you believe my way, it is mine to understand your way.
O gees! I am horrid! I am supposed to demand that you believe my way, lol. O dang you will probably go to hell now with me, gees what trouble am i?
Luv u
Blonde



JOAN DUHRKOFF, 2005.06.10 (Fri) 23:52 [Link] »

HELP NATALAE HOLLOWAY'S PARENTS FIND HER.



% Trackback » 2005.06.11 (Sat) 16:05
"The Two Percent Company Blog" from The Mystic Raven

We ran across The Two Percent Company Blog when doing a bit of research. It covers a range of topics from a critical/skeptical point of view. One of their particular "rants" that caught our attention concerned famous medium Allison DuBois (the inspir... [More]


Blonde, 2005.06.12 (Sun) 00:57 [Link] »

I had to fix a pool so havent been able to respond as quickly as I would have liked to.
I thought about something that was written asking me to find someone who is missing. I believe it is in reference to the girl in Aruba.
I dont do missing or any crime related readings because what I do isnt a perfect thing. There is a serious responsibility that someone is supposed to assume when they choose to do something like this.
There are many things that I see and get that are symbols or symbolic of something. Nobody comes right out and says well here they are, or this is happening. Alot of what I see is all based on interpretation. Sometimes someone just puts it out there, but not all the time.
If I did a reading and said here this person is and this is who did it and I had interpreted something wrong this would be something I cannot live with. This is the same reason I decided not to become a paralegal. Putting someone away who isnt guilty, or getting someone off who was is kind of the same thing to me.
I have only been doing this for 3 years so I am not very seasoned, like other psychics who have been doing it alot longer. Maybe if I had been doing it for 20 years or so, I would be way more comfortable in my interpretation of what I am getting.
My sole purpose in what I do is to help people be able to move forward, by linking them with someone who has passed, because they are in emotional pain. I dont give anyone read after read because it is addictive and that is wrong.
When I do a psychic reading I will only help guide people and try to help them work through things that they need help with at that time. I dont predict the future because I believe in free will. Free will means that you choose what path you are on. I dont really believe in destiny or fate because what happens to you is based on your choices, not God, the universal force, etc intent on causing you pain.
I dont do reads to tell people what job they are going to get or wearing red is lucky that day etc.
I dont like it when I see a psychic giving read after reading to someone because it stops that person from making their own decisions and learning what they need to here.
I guess I am a stick in the mud.
I do respect Allison DuBois for this show because it really does show the reality of being someone like me. If you stop watching her and watch what goes on around her you will see that it is difficult to be someone like me.
There are so many of us out there who just hang out on the computer because what we do isnt acceptable in mainstream society.
Blonde



The Two Percent Company, 2005.06.13 (Mon) 23:00 [Link] »

Blonde,

We feel that we need to step in at this point. You seem like a nice person, and we welcome your commentary on our site, but we want to ensure that the comments don't go off topic too far.

We fully support your right to your beliefs, as well as your right to talk openly about them, but this site is for the fact-based exploration of events. So, unless there is some evidence for the paranormal claims being made, this is not an appropriate place for them. Just so you know, we would be saying the same thing to someone who was commenting about gardening here — it has nothing to do with the nature of your beliefs or interests, and everything to do with the stated credo of this site.

We'd also mention that Allison's show is not about reality. We have shown that her claimed "reality" is denied by those she claims to have helped, and that in general it does not stand up to scrutiny. Liking the show is perfectly okay, but calling it real is not.

We don't want to chase you off, but we do want to reign in the discussion before it takes a turn that will cause us to be more critical. We would guess that the Mystic Raven might be a good place to have more open-ended discussions on these topics.



% Trackback » 2005.06.14 (Tue) 13:48
"Calling All Psychics: Help Natalee Holloway" from The Two Percent Company's Rants

Calling all psychics, mediums, clairvoyants, spiritualists, and anyone else who wants a shot at the title: tell the world what happened to the missing girl in Aruba! Perhaps we should explain. Despite the fact that our Rants on Allison DuBois are... [More]


Anne, 2005.08.12 (Fri) 16:42 [Link] »

There are very good psychics, one Dorothy Allison in Nutley NJ who for may years worked hand in hand with the police and located missing children. On the court TV station there is a show on pscyhics who have helped solve murders The show is on weekly.Natalee's mom needs to know there are psychics who can help her. She cannot give up and needs all the help she can get.It can't hurt. Nothing else is working. Is there a website for Natalee? So how else is your site helping out with this matter?



The Two Percent Company, 2005.08.13 (Sat) 17:16 [Link] »

What is our site doing about Natalee, Anne? We are exposing the fucking harm of so-called psychics who try to "help" the police by spouting out utter bullshit. And for the record, Natalee's mom did consult a psychic. No, it wasn't the famous Dorothy Allison of Nutley, NJ, but the end result was the same — it was pretty fucking useless.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but just because you learned about the great and powerful Dorothy on CourtTV doesn't mean she's worth a damn. Do you also believe profoundly in every ad slogan you come across on TV? Well, you must be aware that there is no number higher than four.

You say that consulting a psychic can't hurt? Bullshit. We've discussed this countless times before.

We'll close by suggesting something we've had to reiterate far too many times in our responses to comments left on our site: please take the time to read a given thread before commenting on it. Follow some links. Educate yourself. Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.



The Two Percent Company, 2005.08.14 (Sun) 18:44 [Link] »

Today, we received an e-mailed reply to our response to Anne's comment on this Rant (above):

I am sure your mother would be very proud of your vulgar vocabulary.Please don't bother responding to this as we have enough stupidity on line, my email was a suggestion to help the family not to have a low life like you who was born in a toilet make obscene remarks!!!

Let's take this pompous bitch apart line by line, shall we?

First off, guess what, Anne — people swear. It's out there, it happens, deal with it. Our mothers don't give a shit if we swear, and would say that verbatim, since they swear too, just like anybody who isn't a balled up slug-like glob of repressed bullshit.

Now, stupidity on-line...do you mean stupidity like writing "a suggestion to help the family" of Natalee Holloway on a blog thread which has nothing to do with her (you could, at the very least, have left your comment on the post we specifically wrote about the Holloway case), that her family will probably never read, and that has already been tried with absolutely no results? In the future, please specify the kind of stupidity to which you're referring.

Which part of our reply do you believe to be the stupid part, Anne? Was it our stated goal of debunking people with bullshit psychic powers? Was it our accurate statement that Natalee's mom already consulted a psychic, and that action was totally unproductive? Was it our research that turned up information debunking Dorothy Allison's claims to psychic fame? Was it our suggestion that things you see on television aren't always true? Was it our seething outrage at people who insist that fraudulent psychics "can't hurt"? Was it our advice to thoroughly examine a blog thread, including any prominent links, before mouthing off as if you know what you're talking about? Come on, Anne, we'd love to know which of these was stupid.

Our guess is, you deem our response "stupid" because there were naughty words in it. That's amazingly insightful of you, Anne. Now do fuck off.



Sherry Early, 2005.08.17 (Wed) 21:50 [Link] »

All I can say is live your life to your potential, doing the best you can and try and love people you feel have deceived you. I am having a horrific time trying to forgive right now and the book "Don't Kiss Them Goodbye" is excellent.

Just trying to get by "In A Nutshell"....

Shurry Murlene Early (Turning 50 this Sunday... Sigh)

Going up the Ashley River by the plantations for the big Five O by boat.



The Two Percent Company, 2005.08.18 (Thu) 23:09 [Link] »

That's what always amazes us about this whole "psychic believers" phenomenon. Not only are people lining up to pay good money for the privilege of being deceived by so-called psychics, but they also profess their love and admiration for the liars, con artists and sideshow acts who are relieving them of their money. It's staggering.



glenda, 2005.08.21 (Sun) 16:41 [Link] »

another expert critic of an expert ...how boring



glenda, 2005.08.21 (Sun) 16:42 [Link] »

another expert critic of an expert ...how boring. get a life, hot dog.



The Two Percent Company, 2005.08.21 (Sun) 21:52 [Link] »

glenda,

Ooh! Cut to the quick! The razor-sharp "get a life" barb! We're ever so wounded!

But hey, at least you recognize our expertise! Though, come to think of it, that probably isn't high praise coming from someone who also refers to Allison DuBois as an "expert."

Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for displaying that keen awareness and wit that allowed you to post the same comment twice (minus the scathing "get a life, hot dog" bit, of course). Now, if you don't have anything more worthwhile to contribute, we invite you to happily fuck off.

And on that note, we believe the commentary on the Allison DuBois posts have bottomed out. Accordingly, we are closing all five posts to further comments. If you feel that you absolutely must make a comment like glenda's on one of these posts, may we suggest that instead of posting it here, you simply shout it over the edge of a cliff of some kind so you can hear your own annoying echo validating your moronic statement. In fact, go ahead and throw yourself over the edge when you're done and do the world a favor. 'Kay?



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