Around the 40 minute mark, in this JREF video of Jamy Ian Swiss in conversation with The Amaz!ng Randi, they mention Uri Geller’s attempts to remould his image, from ‘psychic’ to ‘entertainer’ and it got me thinking...
Psychics, mediums, etc, frequently portray their ‘art’ as a form of entertainment... harmless, frivolous entertainment. [refer to bottom of page]
But, in reality, they’re cruel charlatans, exploiting the gullibility of their audience; whether that gullibility is caused by emotional trauma, or inculcated superstition. It is not entertainment.
There’s nothing peculiar about this analysis of their anti-social entrepreneurialism, but i just so happened to consider the equivalent claim in the case of mortal superstition – Religion – as is my habit (I am an ex-Christian, after all).
One of the ways proponents of Religion describe their cult rituals, is as a form of succour – it makes people feel better, they say. Take away their Faith, and you take away their support – their emotional crutch, as they meander through life.
This argument is so superficially convincing that even anti-theists concede it as an argument in Religion’s favour.
But here’s the connection to the claims of psychic superstitionists: what is entertainment for, if it’s not to make you feel better?
As an example, i listen to I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue, and watch Red Dwarf, because it makes me feel better. It’s entertainment.
You’ve probably done something similar, when you’re feeling low, or ill, or both – looking for something to raise your mood. It doesn’t really achieve anything, but it makes you feel better.
In stepping down from the altar of superstition, and slowly conceding that sensicality was never really in contention, the Religious are simply one step further away than the ‘psychics’ (who have also proffered their activities as a form of support) from declaring their activities to be a form of entertainment.
They do this gentle backing down to avoid having to confront the reality that they have devoted their lives to fraud – deception for the purposes of personal gain.
They realise that they’ll always look as guilty as a puppy sitting next to a pile of poo, but if they can convince people that that poo is a force for good in the world, they won’t have to deal with the guilt.
The process of slowly backing down has the effect of drawing our (and their) attention away from the harm done, so that it isn’t seen in stark relief.
Given that they’re only one step away; i’m now wondering when the first Religionists will acknowledge the tithe-extortion, genocide, bigotry, wife-beating, and systematic raping of children (that is always done by others); put on their tap shoes and sequined jackets, and join the ‘psychics’ in a cry of "That's Entertainment!" ...as if it would make anything better.
ISIHAC and Dwarf do not cause those things, but if they did, i would not pretend “It’s entertainment” were a valid excuse.
[reference from top of page]
Hear a psychic portraying her behaviour as entertainment.
You'll hear the ‘psychic’ (the fraudster) say she wants to 'bridge the gap' between Science and bullshit, and to reach out to sensible people and draw them in.
And then you'll hear her say that she does what she does to people, to "help them through times of bereavement", and "At the end of the day, i'm happy with who i am and what i do - and mainly the joy i bring to people - and the service that i give to people".
Their emphasis, here, is on joy - delight - happiness - entertainment - not whether she can actually do it or not, and hence whether she's providing a valuable service, or just defrauding gullible people.