The statistical evidence series will continue after the weekend.
“I see the letter G.” The woman closed her eyes, cocked her head, and looked inwardly. She became grave, tense. “There’s…wait a second…it’s coming through…yes! I can just make out a body of water nearby.” She settled back, opened her eyes, a wide smile overcoming the frown. She waited for the applause that was sure to come.
The woman? A psychic telling a distraught family where the body of their daughter can be found. Or maybe an activist making guesses of where the next global warming calamity will occur. The two aren’t that far apart. Here’s why.
The New York Post reports that a “clairvoyant” was hired by the family of “Melissa Barthelemy, 24, of Buffalo”, who had gone missing. Police suspected foul play. The unnamed psychic was reported to have said she saw Melissa’s “body buried in a shallow grave overlooking a body of water.” Weirdly, the seer also predicted that there would be the letter “‘G’ in a sign nearby.”
Sadly, but also—let’s admit it—somewhat thrillingly, the police found Melissa where the psychic said she would be. And not just Melissa, a horrific mass grave in which “cops unearthed the skeletons of the victims, missing call girls, each wrapped in burlap bags on Long Island’s Gilgo Beach.” Long Island’s Gilgo Beach! There’s the body of water! There’s the G!
The evidence tells us the psychic was right. Therefore, the psychic is psychic; that is, this person (we don’t know whether it’s a man or a woman; I’ll assume it’s a woman) must have the powers she said she does. If you want to say it in a complicated way, the “body of water” and the “G” confirm the theory that paranormal powers exist.
And this is true: the evidence does indeed confirm the paranormal theory. If you’re a skeptic of psi powers, you might not like this conclusion, but that can’t be helped. When a theory predicts an event will happen, and if that event happens, that theory is confirmed to the degree the predicted events match the reality.
Are we done? As John Wayne would say, Not hardly. For that same body of water and “G” also confirm the theory that the psychic is just guessing, and for obvious reasons. Melissa was a Long Island resident, and Long Island is filled with rivers, creeks, lakes, ponds, cisterns, swimming pools; even a well known ocean is nearby. There is virtually no place that is not “near” a body of water. And the “G”? Well, anything with “Long Island” will qualify (can you locate the “G”?). Then there are gas stations, various “ings”, etc., etc. There was almost no way that the psychic could have been wrong. Her supporters will never suffer disappointment.
Unspecific predictions also plague the global warming forecasts of activists. I don’t mean all predictions of climate change, some of which are quite detailed. I have in mind those colorfully vivid sayings of doom given out by green organizations, typically in appeals for donations. These overly earnest folks say that if we don’t “do something”, bad things will occur. Near a body of water, usually.
Those who have “We have to save the planet!” ever on their lips are ready to interpret any untoward event as evidence that their worst fears are realized. Remember the Indonesian tsunami? That was near a body of water, and more than one activist was ready to blame it on mankind; some especially clever agitators were even able to point to global warming. This year’s cold and snow in the States? Global warming, too. Poverty in the third word? Climate change. A lot of racism is caused by the climate chaos, too. More prostitutes, pimps, and pirates? Reliance of fossil fuels.
People will always be creative enough to tie any environmentally bad thing—never, of course, good things—to the theory that mankind is responsible. Just as with psychics, whatever happens will be confirmation that their beliefs are true. They will not, so to speak, see that bodies of water are everywhere. This is why it is so difficult to convince the True Believer that his angst is misplaced.
For a more in-depth look at a psychic supposedly helping detectives solve a murder, see the Tabitha Horn case.