The skepdick was enjoying the magicians vs. psychics panel discussion at TAM 2013 when he heard Jamy Ian Swiss call Mark Edward a skeptic with a lowercase ‘s’. Jamy seemed barely able to contain his disdain and certainly didn’t feel Mark deserved to be called a Skeptic with a capital ‘S’. I’m sure most of the crowd could easily sense along with me that the tension on stage was nothing new between the two men.
Mark had just admitted that when he gives psychic readings he walks away without explaining to his audience that what he did was just a trick. He leaves it up to them to decide whether or not what he did was real. He calls this psychic entertainment, and his website states: “Mark neither declares himself as a genuine psychic nor gives any disclaimers, preferring to let his work stand on its own merit and allow each individual to arrive at their own personal conclusions”.
I think this is the heart of what Jamy was alluding to, and what I am struggling with as well:
Can a psychic still be a skeptic?
I asked this of Mark in a comment on skepticblog.org a few days after TAM:
“Mark, you mentioned on stage this weekend that when you give a psychic demonstration you leave it up to your audience to decide if paranormal abilities are real or not. You implied that you don’t explain to them how you are just doing tricks and all other psychics are just doing tricks as well. This seems to me the difference between a psychic and a mentalist. Both deceive, but the audience knows the mentalist is just doing magic tricks. Can you please clarify this for me? I find it difficult to understand how a skeptic (the lower case thing is silly), who should feel a responsibility to make it as clear as possible that there is no evidence for the paranormal, would deliberately cloud the issue for an audience who would benefit greatly from a more direct approach. That sort of person isn’t really a skeptic at all, just a hypocrite. You didn’t have much time on stage to defend yourself, but I heard what I heard. Do you present people with clear evidence or do you pretend to be psychic and leave them wondering what is real? “
He responded with, “Read the past five years worth of my blogs here, Read “Psychic Blues” and Google my name and you will have your answer. “
So I did. I read his book, looked back at years of posts, and googled the heck out of him. Here is what I learned:
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