Bad Psychic Gordon Smith

Alright, admittedly “bad psychic” is redundant, but this morning I got a comment on my old blog from a post I did about seeing a psychic where I used to work:

Ashley, people do not pretend its a gift. It is a gift. Because you do not have the gift is why you respond in this way. Its not a technique anyone can learn from a book. Its called altered consciousness. Do your research before writing about Gordon Smith in such a negative fashion. He is a top of the range medium. The real deal. Not the best of articles, very poor in fact. Go and see Gordon Smith live, you will not be disappointed. Then you will see his accuracy. Street names, names etc. – Mystic Kaz

Because the comment was clearly so traumatized by the idea of bad publicity for Gordon Smith, I thought I would share the story again, for a wider audience at FreethoughtBlogs.

I had the unique opportunity to see a psychic called Gordon Smith.  I hadn’t heard of him until today, but I took the liberty of google searching him before seeing him and learned a bit about him.  He’s not just a psychic, he’s also a medium, which means that in addition to seeing the future or reading your mind he can talk to dead people.  He is quick to reassure that this isn’t scary, because spirits are nice.

He once amazingly predicted that the body of someone last seen trying to cross a dangerous river would be found somewhere downstream, but his normal schtick is telling people that their recently deceased relatives love them and are happy on the other side.  Whether you find that to be taking advantage of people who are desperate and grieving or as comforting them is up to you.

But when I see things like he read about a dead kid in the newspaper and then used that information to do a hot reading on the parents and put it on TV to get publicity and money, I confess I get a little queasy.

It turned out to be a group reading for a crowd that was probably half hostile, half believers.  He started with a directive to be open and communicative with him if he talked to us, not to be afraid, and that it was all to do with love.  We were directed to try to make mental contact with a person who had passed.

He started by talking with an older woman I know who is well known for her love of all things woo — she likes to do astrological charts and thinks aliens built the pyramids — and who dresses that way as well.  I believe I saw her talking to him beforehand, but if not it would have been easy for him to get info on her or just guess it based on her looks.  She was an ideal target because she obviously wanted to believe.  Also, as much of the crowd was young, she was more likely to know people who’d died.

I won’t bore you with the cold reading details, suffice to say they were pretty standard.  ”An Older Man?  Your Father?  He loves you.  He had a nice smile.”  He went into histrionics and said that her father had had trouble breathing when he died.  How vague and necessarily true.  He said there were connections in Boston or NY, which really implies the whole northeast, which is how much of the population of the US?  She didn’t seem to know specifically what it was referring to nonetheless.

He said the name “Michael” was coming through, but this didn’t mean anything to her.  He insisted it would.  He started talking about wallets, photographs, and “the house”, all of which was incredibly vague.  He ended with “He’ll be with you in September.”  The entire thing was vague and banal, but she seemed happy with it.

Then he pointed to a group of three men standing together, and said he was sensing a man who’d had a heart attack and died and it was connected to “You, sir”, but he pointed so vaguely that it could have been any of the three.  Alas, it was not a hit with any of them.  He kept pressing and said someone had lost an older man, father perhaps.  A skeptical man in a mustache said, “Yes, about a year ago, but he didn’t die of a heart attack.”  Oh, snap.

Then Gordon proceeded to pretend that he’d heard about the one year thing from the ghostie, not from the guy, and the guy wasn’t buying any of it.  Gordon said that he had unfinished business, there was so much they never did.  There was a single rose, a symbol of love.  And the guy said, “I understand what you’re saying, but you’re way off the mark.”  Snickers.

GS: There are many unfinished things…
M: Like what?
GS: He’s telling me something about phone calls…
M: …
GS: He’s proud of you, he’s happy with your life.  Something about photos on a computer…
M: That doesn’t mean anything to me.
GS: There’s a dog with him?  He loved being with family.

I imagine had we been a less polite crowd, had we paid to see this, or had alcohol been involved, there would have been jeering and heckling at this point. Flop sweat is not a pretty thing, and as much as I wanted him to crash and burn, it was difficult to watch.

He obviously couldn’t end on that, so he pointed to a different trio of guys and said he was sensing an older woman. A guy I know pretty well took the bait.

GS: The last 18 months a lot as happened. Are we near some sort of anniversary?
M: … Yeah.
GS: She says you need to tidy your mess. Her hair is lovely, she got her hair done.
M: OK.
GS: Feeling something in my throat, she loved to sing?
M: Yeah
GS: She’s saying three’s company, two’s a crowd.
(What kind of embarrassingly trite bullshit is that, btw)
M: OK.
GS: She’s saying there are wires everywhere. You need to clean up the wires so there’s not a fire — that’s not a prediction, just a worry. There are too many phones.
M: OK, yeah.
GS: She’s saying the name “Anne” or “Annie”?
M: Yeah
GS: There’s a ring… she’s saying wear the ring so they’ll remember her
M: I don’t know of any ring.
GS: There’s a ring, look for it.
M: K.
GS: She had trouble with her legs, or her feet, difficulty walking in her old age
(Who doesn’t?)
M: She had a walker.
GS: She’s saying don’t worry about the money.
(Because like no one has money problems)
GS: She’s saying there’s a connection to Ireland?
M: … sure
GS: She’s saying get a passport to Europe, someone’s been talking about Europe
M: Italy
GS: That’s in Europe!
(killmenow)
GS: There’s something to do with the fourth of July, or near the fourth of July, not American Independence day, but something different
M: Yes.
GS: Complaining about a sore back?
(Everyone ever)
GS: There’s a spaniel, a little dog
M: … no
GS: You love animals
M: Yes
GS: There’s a watch?
M: Not that I know of.
GS: Maybe your grandfather’s. The name Tom, does that mean anything to you?
(Can’t they ever just use an interesting and uncommon name for shits and giggles?)
GS: Look for the watch. She’s saying that you’ve had two lives, that you’re very different now. The year 1981 does that mean anything?
M: No…
GS: She’s saying look to the early 80s. You’re a different person now than you were then.
(No shit, it’s been 30 fucking years)
GS: She says something about Rose? Not the flower, she’s with Rose?
M: Don’t know that…
GS: She says the best is yet to come.

At this point, he said no more spirits were coming to him but he’d take questions about what he did. There were a few questions and he told a lot of stories, including a particularly good one where he contacted someone named Jared and the lady said that was her husband, and he wasn’t dead, she’d just left him, and he said sometimes he made mistakes, but when she got home he was dead on the couch.

Then he said dead people were like angels, or light beings, and they were kind. Sometimes they’d apologize for abuse. All humans are spirits. Everyone has a sixth sense (I assume he means everyone has some sort of extra sense, because people have more than just five) but not everyone is a medium.  And then we were dismissed.

He was a perfectly pleasant man with a Scottish accent and a sense of humor, but I just don’t understand how people can do this and pretend it’s a gift not a technique anyone can learn from a book.

I get e-mail! (TL;DR edition)

I have an account on OKCupid, mostly because I use it to take tests and answer questions, though I have in the past used it to date. I often get messages that are perfectly ignorable, but occasionally I get ones that are interested in my skeptical positions. A gentleman who is my age sent me a message, and here is the conversation we’ve had so far. Any editing is just to make it more readable.

I just wanted to say, I am totally interested in you and I kinda wanted to expand my mind by entering into a debate over religion and politics with you if that’s cool.

I start first by saying that I’m totally mature and open to even the deepest levels of debate on these taboo subjects…even deeper than most would feel comfortable.

Next, I was raise in a single parent home where my mother (who her own mother died of cancer) believed in GOD but hated his ass. When I was 13, I found GOD, and my Dad, and read the entire bible. My Dad who was a devout christian abuse me from 13 to 15.

I have seen a lot of shit and I’ve grown enough to realize that while there are things that occur that made me believe that GOD does exist, I too like mother hates even the mere thought of it. That some being over saw my life and CHOSE for or allowed that shit to happen…and to happen to all of the others in the world that suffer daily without justice or sufficient help.

I believe that religion is a method of control used to keep us in check. If life had no purpose than why would we buy IPODs right!?! They want us to buy and consume. It’s a fucking trick. It has ALWAYS been a political tool.

Now then, with that being said. I DO believe in and have witnessed to events occurring that appears to be beyond coincidence…like fate or something…I can’t explain it….Anywho your thoughts?

I was also raised in a single parent home by a devout mother, she lost both of her parents to cancer at a young age.

I was about 13 when I became really interested in religion because it all struck me as untrue. I read a lot about world religions, I wanted to see if anything struck me as true because the bible never had. Eventually, I decided I was agnostic, until 9/11 at which point I sort of dropped the whole interest in organized religion.

I’ve never seen anything that I think the only explanation could be god. Usually when exploring something either scientifically or statistically, rare events are actually very common. I obviously cannot speak to your specific experiences, as they are personal, but I can tell you that the experience of religion is a psychological one that people who are not religious can experience — it’s a set of chemical reactions, like the ones associated with near death experiences.

I think spirituality, particularly a questing one, is generally a positive thing, so long as it’s not overly credulous. People who believe anything they hear are prone to being swindled or hurt. Organized religion, on the other hand, is a manmade institution posing as a Godly one — and for that reason generally capable of the kinds of evil most men don’t even dream of.

Outstanding…I misspoke earlier…Instead of saying some experiences prove there is a God…I should have said some experience make me believe in the extraordinary or supernatural.

I totally believe that we are only conscious matter floating in space…but I also believe that things can occur that aren’t readily or easy explain…though I’m sure can be with the right mind. I’m speaking more about probability here because EVERYTHING ELSE CAN BE EXPLAINED THOUGH SCIENTIFIC AND LOGICAL METHODS. But can someone explain how or why back in 2007 when I was needing money for my family so I buy a lotto ticket, the 19 year kid behind me buys the same ticket scratches the jackpot…I can’t explain that…but I was pissed at who ever orchestrated that little joke on me….just saying..

Anywho thanks for humoring me this was fun…..Oh and I totally wish I typed what you typed earlier….cause I totally agreed… :)

Well, almost all the people who buy lotto tickets are in need of money. Socioeconomically speaking, the most economically disadvantaged tend to be the biggest buyers of lottery tickets — this is part of the reason that a lot of people have moral problems with state lottos as they are essentially a tax on the poor. So, everyone who ever buys a ticket is going to be horrified that someone else got the jackpot when they didn’t. People are incredibly self-centered, and so they remember the odd things that happened in which they were the star — which is why this stands out in your memory. In reality, if you ever play the lotto, the odds are pretty good that you won’t win, however someone has to actually win it. So while your odds aren’t that good, your odds of encountering a winner, especially if you play often and spend time with others who do as well, are pretty high.

God, I love you!!! I mean I freaking LOVE YOU!!! You’re sooo honest but equally informed, like Bill Maher or the old non bitch-assed Dennis Miller. That analysis of my 2007 lotto situation felt like…..liiiiike…..like a HARD kick in the nuts with a steel toe boot and I didn’t even braise myself. I just turned around and then WHACK!!! Right in the balls, yet in some masochistic way it welcomed….I can’t explain it really…I feel like revealing some other personal things about myself so you could dissect them again….then ram your results down my throat!

That was a joke…I’m not a creep…

Anyway – My retort: You’re totally right. I AM self-centered. Everyone should be. My interpretation of the world is based on MY own experiences as is EVERYONES. (World- including any cultural, societal, and spiritual beliefs/moral.) While this IS true (as I say, at least for me) I find that I’m also unusually empathic to the plight of other Sapiens though I can’t ever completely hone cultures that are totally different from the one I was raised (Western Civilization).

With that being said, I can not help my dark and selfish nature. I DO desire more than what I have, though I have more than most human beings because of our “luck” in being born here in privilege.

Referring back to your aforementioned statement regarding the emotion poor, arrogant, idiots endure from losing at an inherently masked and corrupted faux-tax dubbed “the lottery” – why can’t I assume that since I was “lucky” enough to be born out of oppression (African and South Asian countries) that I’d also be “lucky” enough to win the lotto AND not FEEL so self-centered!…. :)

One more thing, I have to go to work tonight around 5:30pm til 6am the next mourning so If I miss your reply today than I can’t reply again until this time tomorrow mourning…Thanks again for the attention.

If you think about all the encounters we have every single day, it would actually be really strange if there weren’t any coincidences.

My mom, for example, thinks she has the ability to make me call her because sometimes when she thinks of me, I do call her. But I call her all the time, and she probably thinks about me often. She just remembers when the two overlap and forgets all the times she thinks of me and I don’t call, or all the times I do call and she wasn’t thinking of me. Selective memory and confirmation bias.

Hmmm…..Totally feeling the coincidence theorem, but I feel that there’s more. Jesus-babble aside, How do you feel about telepathy, or ki energy/ aura manipulation, or other forms of extrasensory perception? My feelings towards these subjects are totally rooted in science.

I think all of that is, not to put too fine a point on it, complete bullshit.

Seriously!?! Really though!?! Crap, I have SOOO much more to say but I HAVE to leave for work in 30 mins. BUT BEFORE I GO – String Theory??? Quantum Mechanics??? Alternate Dimensions???

I think that particle physics is very interesting, but I think there’s a big difference in string theory and the nonsense put forth by “what the bleep do we know”.

Huh?? I don’t follow…What is “What the bleep do we know”??? Is that the name of something…like a noun. A title of a book or TV show??? What is the “nonsense” that you speak of. Can I google it for more info?

Anyway, I need to speak more about your mother’s supposed clairvoyance and how I feel its purposed presence is relevant to several theorem posed by some credible names in Quantum physics…..But first I need to eat my Corn Pops and watch Fringe….So I’ll typie type a little later. :)

Ok, sigh…..I know I’m JUST typing you back…but I encountered a traumatic experience last night and I’m soooo frustrated by it that I can hardly stand myself.

Here’s what happened: Last night, I disconnected my netbook then sat down stairs to watch Smallville and Supernatural while simultaneously typing my feelings on your “My Mom’s a telepath” example.

I typed soooo much stuff, and during second half commercials I went to my kitchen to blend some juice and frozen fruit. While I was doing that, Smallville was airing a showdown between Clark and an old Lex. So I sat down to watch this. Another commercial comes so I run in the kitchen to stop my blender, pour my beverage then sit back down to chill. When I looked back at my netbook, it was turned off. I figured it went to STANDBY. But when I tried to log on I realized that the friggin battery died!!! I gathered the wall plug then turn on my N-book, and realized then that NOTHING was saved!!! NOTHING!!!! I was livid!

Anyway, I don’t feel like remembering EVERY-FREAKING-THING I typed so I’ll summarize: Your mom COULD HAVE thought a thought that was “mentally emailed” and then received by you at the time of her first thinking of that thought, but that single thought wasn’t enough to overpower EVERY OTHER thought that you were thinking at that exact moment. So that thought “To Call Your Mom” was deferred to a later time/date or not EVEN important enough for you to store in your long term memory. So you forget the thought…until you “remembered” later only by then you think it’s your original thought then you call but LONG after SHE originally thought the thought in the first instance. It’s actually hard to measure unless you were doing some sort of trial experiments or something.

Thoughts “POP” into our heads ALL of the time but our primitive levels of cognition are always prioritized over all other less meaningful/important thoughts. For instance, hunger or pain or fatigue – all forms of discomfort – WILL cause you to forget or postpone even the most important of your daily tasks.

Imagine this experiment: Clear your mind of as many distractions as you can. Ensure that you’re completely comfortable. Then see if you can feel the thoughts of someone else in close proximity. The feeling should resemble the feeling of when a thought just “pop” in your mind.

There’s sooo much more I want to say about this subject but I want to send this (before my battery dies again) and have you respond to see if this even interests you…because I may need to change the subject I guess…..

Are you familiar with Occam’s Razor? It’s the premise with the least contingencies, the least clarifications, the simplest premise is usually correct.

What is more likely? That I usually call my mom several times a day regardless or that the entire world’s understanding of physics is incorrect and there’s some magical way for one brain to communicate with another, regardless of proximity, strength of connection or thought? A way of communication that has been repeatedly proven false in laboratory tests.

Basically what I’m saying is everything you just said is nonsense with no evidence and a complicated explanation for something that has an incredibly simple, natural explanation. No supernatural forces necessary.

http://listverse.com/2008/04/10/top-10-psychic-debunkings/

Magical!?! SUPERNATURAL!?! Ouch… Look, Ms. Tech – Einstein said matter and energy are equal. You and I are matter. We also emit low electromagnetic waves. Is it SO far fetched to believe that our bodies can interpret incoming “waves” as information!?! You’re starting to sound like a FLAT-EARTHER! lol

Okay……Okay, sorry about the name calling….I like to keep an open mind to EVERY possibility….plus I’m a little sleepy and in turn cranky. I’ll message again when I’m rested…again, I’m sorry :)

You are mixing your concepts. There’s no reason to think that people emit thoughts via electromagnetic waves. So, assuming that you could even detect electromagnetic waves, which humans can’t because they don’t have the necessary sensory organs, unlike sharks for example. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ampullae_of_Lorenzini ) Electric fields are generated by muscles, which your brain is most certainly not.

Furthermore, even in a conducive body (ie water), even with organs specifically directed to that purpose, sharks cannot sense small electric fields from great distances.

Finally, we’re not talking about something that no one’s ever thought of or investigated. It’s not like string theory, where it’s difficult to run experiments. Hundreds of experiments on psychic powers have repeatedly shown that any form of telepathy is complete and utter bunk.

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xrbtt_110-esp_tech

Gordon Smith

I had the unique opportunity to see a psychic called Gordon Smith.  I hadn’t heard of him until today, but I took the liberty of google searching him before seeing him and learned a bit about him.  He’s not just a psychic, he’s also a medium, which means that in addition to seeing the future or reading your mind he can talk to dead people.  He is quick to reassure that this isn’t scary, because spirits are nice.

He once amazingly predicted that the body of someone last seen trying to cross a dangerous river would be found somewhere downstream, but his normal schtick is telling people that their recently deceased relatives love them and are happy on the other side.  Whether you find that to be taking advantage of people who are desperate and grieving or as comforting them is up to you.

But when I see things like he read about a dead kid in the newspaper and then used that information to do a hot reading on the parents and put it on TV to get publicity and money, I confess I get a little queasy.

It turned out to be a group reading for a crowd that was probably half hostile, half believers.  He started with a directive to be open and communicative with him if he talked to us, not to be afraid, and that it was all to do with love.  We were directed to try to make mental contact with a person who had passed.

He started by talking with an older woman I know who is well known for her love of all things woo — she likes to do astrological charts and thinks aliens built the pyramids — and who dresses that way as well.  I believe I saw her talking to him beforehand, but if not it would have been easy for him to get info on her or just guess it based on her looks.  She was an ideal target because she obviously wanted to believe.  Also, as much of the crowd was young, she was more likely to know people who’d died.

I won’t bore you with the cold reading details, suffice to say they were pretty standard.  “An Older Man?  Your Father?  He loves you.  He had a nice smile.”  He went into histrionics and said that her father had had trouble breathing when he died.  How vague and necessarily true.  He said there were connections in Boston or NY, which really implies the whole northeast, which is how much of the population of the US?  She didn’t seem to know specifically what it was referring to nonetheless.

He said the name “Michael” was coming through, but this didn’t mean anything to her.  He insisted it would.  He started talking about wallets, photographs, and “the house”, all of which was incredibly vague.  He ended with “He’ll be with you in September.”  The entire thing was vague and banal, but she seemed happy with it.

Then he pointed to a group of three men standing together, and said he was sensing a man who’d had a heart attack and died and it was connected to “You, sir”, but he pointed so vaguely that it could have been any of the three.  Alas, it was not a hit with any of them.  He kept pressing and said someone had lost an older man, father perhaps.  A skeptical man in a mustache said, “Yes, about a year ago, but he didn’t die of a heart attack.”  Oh, snap.

Then Gordon proceeded to pretend that he’d heard about the one year thing from the ghostie, not from the guy, and the guy wasn’t buying any of it.  Gordon said that he had unfinished business, there was so much they never did.  There was a single rose, a symbol of love.  And the guy said, “I understand what you’re saying, but you’re way off the mark.”  Snickers.

GS: There are many unfinished things…
M: Like what?
GS: He’s telling me something about phone calls…
M: …
GS: He’s proud of you, he’s happy with your life.  Something about photos on a computer…
M: That doesn’t mean anything to me.
GS: There’s a dog with him?  He loved being with family.

I imagine had we been a less polite crowd, had we paid to see this, or had alcohol been involved, there would have been jeering and heckling at this point. Flop sweat is not a pretty thing, and as much as I wanted him to crash and burn, it was difficult to watch.

He obviously couldn’t end on that, so he pointed to a different trio of guys and said he was sensing an older woman. A guy I know pretty well took the bait.

GS: The last 18 months a lot as happened. Are we near some sort of anniversary?
M: … Yeah.
GS: She says you need to tidy your mess. Her hair is lovely, she got her hair done.
M: OK.
GS: Feeling something in my throat, she loved to sing?
M: Yeah
GS: She’s saying three’s company, two’s a crowd.
(What kind of embarrassingly trite bullshit is that, btw)
M: OK.
GS: She’s saying there are wires everywhere. You need to clean up the wires so there’s not a fire — that’s not a prediction, just a worry. There are too many phones.
M: OK, yeah.
GS: She’s saying the name “Anne” or “Annie”?
M: Yeah
GS: There’s a ring… she’s saying wear the ring so they’ll remember her
M: I don’t know of any ring.
GS: There’s a ring, look for it.
M: K.
GS: She had trouble with her legs, or her feet, difficulty walking in her old age
(Who doesn’t?)
M: She had a walker.
GS: She’s saying don’t worry about the money.
(Because like no one has money problems)
GS: She’s saying there’s a connection to Ireland?
M: … sure
GS: She’s saying get a passport to Europe, someone’s been talking about Europe
M: Italy
GS: That’s in Europe!
(killmenow)
GS: There’s something to do with the fourth of July, or near the fourth of July, not American Independence day, but something different
M: Yes.
GS: Complaining about a sore back?
(Everyone ever)
GS: There’s a spaniel, a little dog
M: … no
GS: You love animals
M: Yes
GS: There’s a watch?
M: Not that I know of.
GS: Maybe your grandfather’s. The name Tom, does that mean anything to you?
(Can’t they ever just use an interesting and uncommon name for shits and giggles?)
GS: Look for the watch. She’s saying that you’ve had two lives, that you’re very different now. The year 1981 does that mean anything?
M: No…
GS: She’s saying look to the early 80s. You’re a different person now than you were then.
(No shit, it’s been 30 fucking years)
GS: She says something about Rose? Not the flower, she’s with Rose?
M: Don’t know that…
GS: She says the best is yet to come.

At this point, he said no more spirits were coming to him but he’d take questions about what he did. There were a few questions and he told a lot of stories, including a particularly good one where he contacted someone named Jared and the lady said that was her husband, and he wasn’t dead, she’d just left him, and he said sometimes he made mistakes, but when she got home he was dead on the couch.

Then he said dead people were like angels, or light beings, and they were kind. Sometimes they’d apologize for abuse. All humans are spirits. Everyone has a sixth sense (I assume he means everyone has some sort of extra sense, because people have more than just five) but not everyone is a medium.  And then we were dismissed.

He was a perfectly pleasant man with a Scottish accent and a sense of humor, but I just don’t understand how people can do this and pretend it’s a gift not a technique anyone can learn from a book.

TAM: For the Ladies?

Jen McCreight and PZ Myers have both posted on this — how welcome are women to skeptic events?

I want to say, before I get into some of the less flattering stuff, that I had an excellent time at TAM8 and I met a lot of really interesting, cool people, both men and women.  And many of the women there were strong, outspoken and hilarious, so even if the women are under-represented, they’re well-represented.  I say under-represented because there was a 20 guy long line to the men’s bathroom and no wait to the women’s bathroom.  If that doesn’t speak to gender ratio, what does?

Of course, there were the constant murmurs of how every guy wants to “bag a skepchick” and the winners of the skepchick party costume contest were the girls willing to make out with each other, but I generally accept that with just some eye-rolling.  There were comments I heard about the looks of the female speakers, but then people were making fun of James Randi and Michael Shermer’s height, so maybe that plays out.

I hang out with geeks, I like geeks, I like geek humor, and a lot of that is offensive if you’re easily offended.  And there can certainly be an air of sketchiness around some of those guys with less familiarity with social interaction, and I will say that TAM was a lot less creepy than Comic Con or Dragon*Con when it came to my average interaction with a strange dude.  People there seemed to be genuinely interested in what I had to say, and the environment seemed to be as deliberately nonsexual as possible most of the time.  Though I was occasionally asked if I was in high school, but ageism is a whole nother thing.

I was, however, really bothered by how the female psychic, Anita Ikonen, was treated and talked about.

I understand that the “other” in a skeptic convention is not going to be gender, race, or sexuality but opinion and point of view.  Someone who thinks that they have magical powers is automatically going to be the center of a fair amount of eye-rolling, derision and name-calling.  It’s natural for groups to behave that way, unfortunately, and I’m not here to say that I support the things Anita believes or even her behavior, I don’t know her that well.  But I will say that most of the insults and jeers thrown her way were all based around the fact that she was a young and attractive woman.

Someone called her, on her facebook page, a “psychic slut”.  Many people at TAM accused her of using her sexuality to her advantage, of sleeping around, of sexually getting off on attention.

I will break this down in a second, but let me make one thing very clear: No one, male or female, should ever call a woman a slut.  The intent of that word is to make a woman feel ashamed of her sexuality, to humiliate her, to make her feel degraded.  Not only does it shame the woman in question, it also makes every other woman scared of admitting to being a sexual creature.

It is the fear of being thought a slut that keeps women from accepting their own sexuality and it keeps victims of rape and molestation from feeling safe revealing that they’ve been hurt.  There is, in my opinion, no more hurtful word you can use towards a woman, it is as vile and low as the N-word.  And society uses it to keep women in their place, especially uppity women with opinions and beliefs you disagree with.

So, if you want to say this psychic woman revels in attention, fine, but you don’t get to start calling her names because you don’t like attractive women who are at home with their own sexuality.  You do that and you start driving away the skeptical women in the group.  I don’t want to be part of a group that slut-shames any woman who doesn’t agree with them, though I don’t think the majority of the skeptical group is guilty of that behavior.

I talked to Anita yesterday, I let her know I was writing this and she told me some other things that had happened to her.  She got turned away from taking pictures with a skeptic celebrity with a brusque, “I’m married,” as though she was trying to sleep with them rather than get a photo, and she was asked to send topless photos to a skeptic when they learned she was a psychic.  I know I just went off the other day on how skeptics don’t need to show a consistent face, but this behavior is completely unacceptable in any human.

The girl may be nuts, she may have HPD, she may be incredibly attention hungry for whatever reason, but that doesn’t make her a slut.  I know some people may have personal reasons to dislike her or the discord she apparently causes, but that doesn’t make her a slut.  And if you hate her, fine, and if you hate that the JREF brings her more publicity, fine, but you don’t get to go around complaining that she’s too flirtatious or that she gets all this attention just for being young and cute.  If people react to that in a way you don’t like, it’s their own fault.

This reminds me of the TDS kerfluffle.  Everyone is pissed at TDS for not hiring enough women or having enough visible women.  So, when does everyone get really vocal about it?  When TDS hires an attractive, sexualized woman.  Guess what?  Women have sex!  Women can have sex and be funny!  Olivia Munn is being punished and slut-shamed for pursuing a career in comedy because she’s not the right kind of woman.  You think that when you complain about it the only person you’re hurting is The Daily Show?  How would you feel if someone hiring you turned into an internet shit storm about how you posed in Playboy and just aren’t that funny on G4?

The feminist movement can really hurt women who aren’t the “right kind of woman”.  Women who are naturally thin (real women have curves), like to have sex (sex is men taking advantage of women), or really like clothes or barbies or the color pink.  It’s hard enough to be a woman, it’s hard enough to be different, can’t we let women be human?  Can’t we let them be sexual beings without trying to make them feel horrible about themselves?  Can’t we focus on the intellectual shit instead of petty bitchery?