Friday, January 29, 2010

From Entertainers to Predators: When Psychics Cross the Line

My blog for the month of January has become, seemingly, an attack on Robbie Thomas and I've received a few emails about it so I thought I should explain the situation.

I would be less concerned with "psychics" if they were simply in the entertainment business - and admittedly so. It would require that they inform clients that what they do is for entertainment only and not based on any supernatural abilities because they do not exist. Let's forget the fact that most psychics (all psychics that I've dealt with) would never admit to simply "entertaining".

As most psychics claim supernatural abilities, I have a problem with them - they are either lying to themselves or, even worse (and I suspect this is often the case), defrauding clients. That's bad, really bad, but often they are taking money from people who understand what they're up against and do it, themselves, for entertainment even though the psychic would claim it is more than that. These people are also not subsequently subjected to the psychic publicly claiming that one of their predictions had come true. The clients aren't typically made the focus of unwanted media attention.

Where it gets really upsetting is when people - as Robbie Thomas is doing - claim to be psychics and take advantage of people who have lost loved ones - either have gone missing or have been murdered. These victim's families are being re-victimized by predators like Robbie Thomas.


There is not one proven case in which a psychic, using special powers or abilities not given to the typical person, has located a missing person, whether dead or alive. It may be possible that some persons have an ability that defies science and logic, but there is no known scientific evidence of this. These persons re-victimize families by taking away hope where it should stand, and giving hope where there is none. No person has the right to do this to another. - Kelly Jolkowski, Mother of Jason, a 19 year old who disappeared June 13, 2001 (http://www.projectjason.org/psychics.shtml)

I have been in contact with and been contacted by a number of people since posting my original blog item on Robbie Thomas (Psychic Solves Abduction/Murder Case). Some of these people contacted me because they have been involved with Robbie or with other psychics when their family had lost a loved one. Many of these people were disgusted by the actions of psychics and feel that these psychics (Robbie included) had committed some of the most indecent acts against other humans in their attempt for self-promotion.

I will confess that I can't imagine what these families went through (and are going through) in losing a family member in the ways that they have. Having a young child abducted or a family member being murdered has to be extremely trying and having the person still missing or the crime not solved has to drag the agony on. It is at times like these that we all hope for the best from humans and, I would venture to say, most humans would react and act in respectable, caring and empathetic ways.

It was through my conversations with these families and looking into the claims made by psychics (not just Robbie) that I've come to truly understand the real damage and pain - simply by putting a face and a family to the tragedy has shown me how much Robbie Thomas (and others) have truly upped the ante. The damage these psychics do is real and unfathomable.

I'm not just in this to "debunk" psychics (it is bunk) or suggest that religion is silly (it is). I'm in this today because, like any human being with any sense of responsibility to others, I'm appalled and outraged. This isn't a game, it's not funny and it's definitely not entertainment. It exacts substantial amounts of pain and draws attention from the real case at hand. Scumbags like Robbie need to stop or be stopped.

Psychic detectives are the vanguard of a second wave of predators that also includes tabloid journalists, cheesy defense lawyers and photo-op politicians. They use tabloid newspapers and talk shows to boast about their accomplishments and predict success. They materialize whenever children are kidnapped and circle the cases like vultures on a fresh carcass. - Marc Klaas, father of Polly Klaas, 12 years old when abducted and murdered in 1993. (http://www.klaaskids.org/pg-mc-hazards.htm)
Robbie Thomas is well aware that his actions and statements are harming other people - he has been informed by the police, victims' families and by media outlets that his claims of involvement in cases and his reference to family tragedies is not welcome. Despite this, he has continued to inflict pain on others with the real goal being personal gain. He isn't doing his tour to help, he is doing his tour to sell tickets, to make money, and is (wrongly and falsely) promoting himself as an altruistic being who has helped families move on by solving their crimes.

Robbie claims to have been involved in solving crimes and finding missing persons for 18 years (note that the Solved Cases Counter for Robbie Thomas still stands at 0 after these 18 years) but I can assure you that, for the most part, his involvement has been far from helpful and at times extremely negative. He actively promotes the idea that he was involved in a local murder case and has often* included articles from newspapers to suggest that it is "true" that he was involved. Yet, today, this particular case remains unsolved.

If he had psychic powers, he'd have solved this crime and, today, we'd be giving him credit. He hasn't solved the crime but he still continues to include it (and the subsequent media attention he got from claiming it in the first place) as a case that he was involved in. I can only imagine the pain and horror the family must endure each and every time they find out that Robbie Thomas is, again, mentioning their horrific and un-ending tragedy for his own self-promotion.

It is when "psychics" cross the line from entertainers to predators that it no longer becomes about "debunking" - each and everyone one of us, as human beings, are responsible for the pain that our own actions cause. It's not alright to sit back and let the abuse continue to happen and, with that, I've spent a considerable amount of time on Robbie Thomas and his shameful act of preying on innocent victims. As you can see, we have a long way to go but, together, we can put a stop to it.

(A special thanks to SherwoodSkeptic for your contributions. And, thank you, to the families, friends, police, organizations and groups who've come forward - you've inspired a community and brought true meaning to what it is that we do. What comes in the next few months is, if not for you, because of you.)

*I would put up copies of his promotional materials and his news articles but he's done enough damage with his propaganda and lies - the families I have spoken with want nothing more than for him (and other psychics) to disappear from their lives.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Robbie Thomas: Cezar Cano's Case - Not Just for Entertainment

Let me first make it clear that Robbie Thomas is not a psychic. And, as for psychics providing false information and then using people for personal gain (like Robbie does), Penn (from their first episode of Bullshit! about psychics) says it well:

We have nothing but empathy for the people who are experiencing the loss and grief of the death of a loved one. That guy who lost his mom rips my heart out. I'm a momma's boy whose mom died a couple of years ago, and I'll never get over it, and my dad died at around the same time, and I was very close to both of them. I loved them so much there isn't a moment that goes by that I don't miss them. Houdini didn't really go nuts busting these mediums until he lost his mom. Once you've felt that pure grief, seeing it exploited can take away your sense of humor. Once a loved one has died, all we have is our memories of them. There is nothing more precious to me than my memories of my mom and dad. We don't give a rat's ass about the money these bastards are taking from the grief stricken; what we do care about deeply is the desecration of memories. These "performance artists" are in a very real sense mother-f*****s. That poor guy's grieving memories of his mother are now all f****d up by somebody else's images. All he will ever have left of his mom are memories, and this pig has pissed on those for a buck and a little un-earned fame. I'm sure these lame f***s tell themselves that they're easing the grief, but skits for money can not replace loving memories. How low do you have to be to exploit someone's true grief to sell some bullshit book?

On the following page, http://www.robbiethomas.net/ceasar_cano.php, it states:
"Robbie Thomas is bitter also that psychics are still looked at as entertainment or freaks with crystal balls and says he desperately wants to see that mindset change in our culture."

With that, I think Robbie Thomas is willfully misleading the public and possibly committing crimes - as his fine print says clearly that what he does is for entertainment only. He's either a liar or he's a cheat. (Okay, likely both.)

The page also details Robbie Thomas' "success" in the Cezar/Cecil/Cesar Cano case. And, boy, was it ever a success. I don't know how they didn't catch the murderer instantly - this stuff will amaze you. This is, possibly, the case that Robbie claims as his greatest "success".

Cecil/Cezar Cano Case
Here is the drawing that Robbie Thomas claims are his "psychic Impressions as he received them in the Cano case. Remember, what is shown to Robbie was most likely through the prespective of a 4 year old."From this drawing that he claims was submitted to police, any intelligent person could have captured the murderer within minutes. Let me walk you through it:

At the top of the page, Robbie has written "Cecil" - because that was the name of the killer. Or was it because that was the name used for the child in early news reports? Okay, maybe that's not a good start.
The drawing, from what Frances Etienne claims, is the murderer. Here's the mugshot that Robbie has on his site:
I would suggest that the drawing looks more like, well, any non-descript person with two ears, two eyes, a nose, a mouth and a moustache - which matches the murderer to a "T" - with the exception of the only thing that might differentiate the average person - no moustache. The only thing that Robbie could have got wrong with his sketch and he did get it wrong. Mind you, the "full" head of hair that he sketched doesn't resemble that of Cecil New (the murderer).
Next, it says "driven away" and "white car" and "black inside" because Cecil/Cezar was taken, by his abductor, away in a white car. Though that information was very broad and non-specific it could have been a little bit helpful if it were true - which it wasn't. Wait, it gets better. You'd be able to identify the murderer easily enough with this information.
Next is written "sees men in safty (sic) orange yellow stripe vests" - which explains why, where Cecil/Cezar was found was at a construction site (what? he wasn't?). With that information you'd only have to check every construction site in the area - which, in Kentucky, it was construction season at the time. Either way, that'd narrow down your search locations - except that there was no construction happening nearby (if you'll accept "a couple streets away" as "near") then everyone is always "near" construction.
'#1478' - This is a perfect hit - Except nobody was able to retrofit it to find out what it matched exactly. This doesn't take away from Robbie's abilities, it shows that you and I are failures for not matching it up after the fact. 1 for Robbie.
4 Circles "Stadium lights" "Dark like (off) not far away". Perfect! Spot on! Except it was a couple streets away, they aren't stadium lights that he's talking about but lights in a parking lot. Still, hardly specific enough to locate someone.
Other vague information that Robbie doesn't explain after the fact - let's give it a try, maybe we can help him out: "shows me locked small room" (wrong, unlocked garbage can) "Dark->Muscleshirt" (useless to solve crime, was not in muscleshirt anyway) "Grey or White -> Trackpants" (wrong, jeans) "Smokes alot" (car does? killer? victim? chimney nearby? trucks in the neighbourhood? this is fun!) "always picks nose plays with nose" (me too!) "Cherry" (slushie? tree? cake? pie? pencil crayon? Girl's name? virgin? The matches are endless!) "Juan" (yep, a specific unique name) "John" (again) "Juan" (do "spirits" stutter?) "Pictures of other small boys" (On the wall? In the killer's car? In killer's wallet? Want to take a guess?)
This information could have been retrofitted to match almost any child abduction - the only thing he got right was the child's name (and surely that wasn't because it was provided to him(it was)). After the arrest, when the murderer's name matches the common name for the murdered child, all of a sudden, it's the murderer's name that Robbie wrote down.
Warning: Prepare yourself for the gigglesThe explanation (from Robbie's side) for why the media called him Cecil is, to say the least, absolutely hilarious:
This, in my opinion could be a strong case for spontaneous psychic phenomena borne from the subconcious mind of the article's author. Did the author unconciously write the suspect's name through their own psychic ability? Or, did the author subconciously pick up on Robbie's meditations? Or did both Robbie and the author receive the name from the so-called collective unconscious? It's a strong argument either way one looks at it to support psychic phenomena as real for there is no way for either Robbie or the author of the article to have known the name of the suspect through any normal channels such as media..
It's not simply possible that the media was using Cecil as his common name or a common translation or that they made a mistake and, by coincidence alone, the name matched the murderer. Either way, it didn't help solve the crime. If Robbie was simply playing a game, this would be fun - but he's not. He's lying all the while defrauding and using/abusing the people who he claims to be helping.
Robbie's Claimed AccuracyNow, what does Robbie claim are the matches for this crime? Here they are:
FIRST NAME OF SUSPECTED MURDERER (CECIL)
The first (and many subsequent) news report called the child "Cecil" also. No need for psychic abilities there.
SECOND NAME OF SUSPECTED MURDERER (EUGENE) [UJAN]
Wrong. UJAN is not on the paper (at all) and UJAN is not EUGENE anyway.
STADIUM NAME (PAPA JOHN'S STADIUM) (JOHN / JAUN)
So? Strictly retrofitting. Papa John's Stadium was a couple streets away (Over 1,200 feet away, as the crow flies) and it had nothing to do with the crime.
STADIUM LIGHTS (ALL AROUND NEARBY)
Everything is 'nearby'. Failure. The closest parking lot light (as you can see on Robbie's "maps" that he uses to show how (in)accurate he is) from the Stadium is over 1,300 feet away.
CONSTRUCTION CREW / SITE (NEAR HOME)
So? That is information that anyone could have obtained and it had nothing to do with the case. Robbie does not point out where the construction was (even after the fact).
PREVIOUS BOYS ATTACKED BY SUSPECT
Really? You genius. Many suspects are repeat offenders and, statistically, you were guessing on the "most likely". That's not psychic, that's playing the odds.
It's important to remember, however, that EVERY SINGLE BIT OF INFORMATION THAT ROBBIE CLAIMS "MATCHED", was in HINDSIGHT. None of the information was specific enough to lead to a killer or an area to search.
Why Isn't The "Evidence" From Psychics More Specific?Psychics should be able to complete a form, answering specific questions:
What is the name of the person/people involved: _____
At what address or nearest crossroad are you being held: _____
Is the victim still alive at this time: Y/N Date: _____ Time: _____
They can't, they never have and they never will. Nobody - especially Robbie - is psychic.

As an update, here is a screen capture of the page that WAS on RobbieThomas.net.  I can still be found on the Archive.org: http://web.archive.org/web/20080420134751/http://robbiethomas.net/ceasar_cano.php

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

If psychics could actually find missing people...

Dave Jones rightfully asks why a group like National Center for Missing and Exploited Children wouldn't have psychics on payroll.

This is a recent letter to the editor of our local paper in response to Robbie Thomas' "Psychic Justice Tour"'s coverage in the same paper.

QUESTIONS BACKGROUND FOR PROFILER TITLE
Sir:Re: "Psychic profiler launches national tour" (The Observer, Jan. 20, 2010) Robbie Thomas will embark on his "Psychic Justice Tour" soon. It will be interesting to observe the increase in solved cases city by city as the tour progresses. Mr. Thomas calls himself a "psychic criminal pro-filer." Criminal profiling is a method used by trained, experienced people to help identify offenders using information gathered regarding a crime. It is utilized in many investigations by people with no professed psychic powers. I doubt whether Thomas has the background to give himself this title. Mr. Thomas states that the people he offers to help are curious. No, I would think stressed, frantic and often vulnerable are better descriptions. Assistance, however unconventional, is often welcomed when a family member is missing or a murder unsolved. I do find it commendable that he donate part of the proceeds-to-a fine organization, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The ironic part is why doesn't this organization (or police forces) have psychics on their payroll? I think we know why not. In closing, I might also remind Mr. Thomas that our local community still has a number of unsolved crimes.-- Dave Jones Sarnia


It truly is nice to see people willing to pick apart the disgusting and abhorrent acts of "psychics" preying on people during, possibly, the darkest moments of their lives. Robbie Thomas is not a psychic and he should be ashamed of himself.

(Oh, and one of my favourite Canadians, Christopher diCarlo, is featured in an article by the Guelph Mercury about debunking psychics. Enjoy!)

Robbie Thomas & Rebecca (Stafford) Nichols - Setting the record straight

Tori Stafford's aunt, Rebecca (Stafford) Nichols, as I mentioned in a previous post, has written a letter in support of Robbie Thomas - a claimed psychic investigator/criminal profiler. The letter does not claim that Robbie helped solve the crime (he didn't and he's the liar, not her) but it also points to the truth in the case about Robbie's involvement (failed) in the case.

Tori Stafford was reported missing on April 8th of 2009. On April 17th, the London Free Press had an article about the Stafford family turning to "psychics". The article refers to Rebecca Stafford and her having met with a psychic (not the one listed in the article) on Wednesday, April 15th, 2009. At that Wednesday meeting the article says 'The main thing is just that affirmation that she is alive and well," the aunt said of the psychic's comments.'

Tori Stafford's abductors have since been arrested and her body has been located (not with the help of psychics). Investigators put her murder within a day or two of her abduction - even giving the worst(best?) case scenario, Tori was, unfortunately, murdered days before Robbie Thomas claimed that she was still alive.

Whether Rebecca Stafford wants to remember it differently or wants to support him for something other than his 'psychic ability' is for her to decide - she can't, however, change the facts. Robbie Thomas is NOT psychic - the evidence is there in black and white.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

How many more people must I kill before you'll believe in me as your loving creator? - God

The absolute devastation that occurred recently in Haiti is a horrible reminder of the power of nature and its unpredictability - or, for some foolish people, it is a reminder of an all-powerful and all-loving god.

The newspaper headlines proclaimed "the hand of god at work" when a man was rescued from the rubble in Haiti 11 days after the initial earthquake. The rescued man, himself, claimed "It was God who was tucking me away in his arms. It gave me strength...". Surely the next part of his sentence was "but that bastard smothered and crushed a couple hundred thousand people so he isn't worth worshipping."

It never ceases to boggle the mind that people can rationalize their faith when something "extraordinary" like this happens. "God so loved this world that he/she killed a couple hundred thousand people so she/he could show you how much he/she loved this one guy" seems like a difficult position for any thinking person to accept.

Only 5 years prior, "god" killed almost a quarter million people with the earthquake off the coast of Indonesia and, after the devastation, the news sources were happy to report about the "miracles" - a single child found alive in a community that suffered thousands of deaths. The real miracle is that anyone believes the crazy idea of a loving god.

I'm sorry, believers; you must take the blame along with the credit. Your god either can do something in this world and chooses not to (not a god worth worshipping), he/she can't do anything in this world though he/she'd like to (not a god) or she/he simply fails to exist (true).

Update: Dan Dennett has a quick article in the Washington Post regarding the problem of evil. Read it here.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Why 'all natural' isn't good for you

I'm often criticized for giggling when people say "it's all natural" because I do it, admittedly, when the statement is otherwise a valid one to make. (ie. "Eat product X - it tastes great and it's all natural.")

The word "natural" comes up often when people refer to items in alternative medicine, personal care, food supplements and even when people speak about certain types of food, etc. "Natural", however, needs to be understood.

Suggesting "it's all natural" is a silly position to take (which is why I must giggle at it). Let's look at other things that are natural: mercury, arsenic, poisonous mushrooms, botulism bacteria, and countless other things found in nature. Other things that are natural include hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes and floods. I'm not sure I'd argue that since it is natural it is "good" or "safe".

"Here, drink some mercury, it's all natural!" would be an absurd thing to say which, in turn, makes the "it's all natural" a horrible argument.

It's the dose that makes the poison, however. Paracelsus once said, "All things are poison and nothing is without poison, only the dose permits something not to be poisonous." In keeping with that, simply because something is "all natural" does not make it safe to consume/use without regard. Similarly, something that is poisonous at higher dosages may be beneficial (healthful, even) at smaller doses.

The next time someone says "it's all natural", remind them that feces and urine are natural too. In other words, "natural" is no argument for or against any alternative medicine or food supplement.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Robbie Thomas Lies AGAIN

(Special thanks to Sherwoodskeptic for the heads up)

Robbie Thomas was recently featured in Sarnia This Week (a local (weekly?) paper) where he suggests that his skeptics have been silenced and the blogs shut down.

Robbie Thomas, this blog is proof (again) that you're a lying piece of crap. You are not a psychic and I don't give a flying teapot whether or not the Tori Stafford family supports you. It doesn't make you psychic, it makes you a slimeball.

Now, let's revisit the Tori Stafford case - she was murdered shortly after being kidnapped. She was dead for MANY days before you were claiming that she was still alive. That makes you a failure - nobody cares if you've since continued to lie to the family and befriend them, you're lying and you should be ashamed of yourself.

The letter you are pimping from Tori's aunt does not say that you helped solve the case - your information, with mental gymnastics, may have turned out to be right at points but it was blatantly wrong where it mattered. You suggested she was still alive and, when we knew that she was no longer alive, you were not able to locate her body. Your only skill is your ability to lie with a straight face.

Robbie Thomas, you are not a psychic and, contrary to your article (which is full of other lies) my blog isn't shut down and I'm not silenced. I'm more vocal today than I was months ago and, as you'll see, I'm just getting warmed up.

Why, Robbie, have you deleted your twitter account and taken numerous pages (of claims, especially) down from your website? What's bad, Robbie, is that I know you've taken them down (or changed them) because I have copies of them as they were and as they've changed over time. You, my friend, are the lowest of the low and you deserve every bit of negative attention that you are drawing to yourself.

For those following the counter, the number of murder/missing persons cases solved by Robbie Thomas still stands at an impressive 0 (zero).

If you have information regarding Robbie Thomas, his claims, his successes and/or his failures, I'd love to hear from you: skeptic@sarnia.com.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tim Minchin: Storm Movie

A regular to this blog sent me an email about his new "favourite" comedian/singer/songwriter/rock and roll megastar, Tim Minchin.

Tim definitely puts on a performance that is all his own and he's, well, a skeptic and atheist as some of his material obviously shows.

A recent "beat poem" by Tim Minchin is called "Storm" and a small group of people have worked to create a "movie" based on the beat poem. It is to be released prior to October 2010 but here is the trailer:



If you're not familiar with who Tim Minchin is, don't be too surprised. For the most part his performances have been in the UK and Australia. He appeared at the Montreal Just for Laughs Comedy festival (and won an award!) a few years ago and did a few performances throughout the US but hasn't done a substantial North American tour.

I've only briefly looked up some of Tim's work but, from what I can see, he is an intelligent person with a unique way of getting important points across. "Storm" is a wonderful "story" that many skeptics could relate to. My wife often gives me "the look" that Tim refers to (you'll have to listen to the whole song as found on YouTube, etc., to understand) but it is so difficult to contain yourself when such blatantly absurd claims are made.

For more information on Tim Minchin, visit http://www.timminchin.com/ and to learn more about Storm Movie, visit http://www.stormmovie.net/

Enjoy!
(Here's "Storm" by Tim Minchin - posted by Tim Minchin)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Friday, January 15, 2010

Robbie Thomas Admits To Not Being Psychic

Good news and bad news. The bad news is that Sarnia (technically Point Edward) will be subjected to inane woo-woo again in 2010 in the form of "Canadian American Paranormal Convention 2010". The good news, Robbie Thomas admits that he's not psychic!

Mind you, if I was going to choose a method to come clean, it wouldn't be by pretending to still have "psychic" powers, hoping to sell tickets based on that and then covertly admitting that I don't have such "psychic" powers.

See for yourself:
At: http://www.canamparacon.com/rentabooth.html it clearly states (sorry for the blurry image):
In the unforeseen event that Paracon 2010 gets cancelled your tickets will be refunded.

There you have it, folks, Robbie Thomas is not psychic! (Why can't he predict if it will be cancelled and, I wonder if he's predicting another failure like last year?)

Robbie Thomas: Admit it when you're lying

My good friend Robbie Thomas is not a psychic (nobody is) but he is willing to exploit people for personal gain. With that out of the way, I must say "thank you" to a visitor of this blog "sherwoodskeptic" for his great idea.

I'm considering, on sherwoodskeptic's suggestion, developing a "widget" that counts the "successes" of Robbie Thomas on his new "Psychic Justice North America Tour" which extends all the way from Sarnia to Toronto. Just as he redefines "help" (when referring to "helping" in criminal cases), maybe he is redefining the term "North American".

On second thought, I don't need to develop a widget, I will MANUALLY update the counter (If Robbie is as good as he claims (he isn't), this is going to be a huge burden on me and my family to increase the counter of successes every time Robbie Thomas solves a murder. It won't, I'm sure, interrupt any of my vacation plans.).

As a side note, I wonder why Robbie Thomas doesn't ever do a citizen's arrest on murderers and child abductors. Heck, we'll do a scale - we'll give him double credit when he brings the criminals, himself, to the police station for arrest - but I digress.

Just for posterity, the "fine print" on Robbie Thomas' site states: (go there for yourself, everyone needs to see what a scumbag looks like - http://www.robbiethomas.net/)

The information provided by Robbie Thomas on crime cases is meant to replace proper police investigations, but rather only to assist such investigation by offering potentially new insights on said cases. Families are encouraged to take Robbie’s information to their case investigator. (Emphasis is mine.) Update: Robbie Thomas or one of his followers must be visiting my blog - they've since corrected the "fine print". That's good news 'cause they'll be around, then, to make sure my "cases solved" widget is kept up-to-date (ie. make sure it still says 0(zero)).

I'm sure that the dimwit who put together Robbie's site simply mistyped. They probably also mistyped when they said that he was "accurate" with predictions or that he "helped solve" cold cases. What the fine print does say, however, is that the police don't (at least not often) call Robbie Thomas for his "help" - he relies on you (the suffering family) to give the false leads to the police yourself. What better thing to do then to put the burden of sending police on a wild goose chase on the family with a lost loved one?

Robbie Thomas, you are a liar, a fraud and a cheat unless you can prove that 1.) psychic abilities exist and 2.) that you possess them. Go collect your million bucks or admit you're a liar.

(Note: The Robbie Thomas Solved Cases counter is live - just to the left near the top of this page!)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Follow-up to Robbie Thomas is a slimeball

Oddly, Robbie Thomas' twitter profile has vanished. I was looking forward to letting him know that he is being watched - but, heck, what does he need that notice for? He's psychic, remember?

Robbie claims that there is an article coming up in the Sarnia Observer about his involvement in some "high profile" cases - and I'm anxious to see it. I'm hoping that The Observer stays consistent and posts inane bullsh!t with no skeptical/counter point of view. It'd be a real shame if The Observer contacted me to give my "two cents" (Canadian) on the low-life (yep!) Robbie Thomas.

Benjamin Radford (author of Media MythMakers) and a professional paranormal investigator (no evidence yet!) has recently written a few good articles on how high profile missing persons and murder cases prove that psychics aren't.

Here are a couple:
Psychic Detectives Allow Murderer to Escape Death Penalty
Jaycee Dugard Abduction Case Highlights Failure of Psychics

Robbie Thomas - How about skipping the theatre tour and going for the million dollars? James Randi will give you a personal invite to take his $1,000,000.00 (USD, at that!)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Being Praised for Failures? Robbie Thomas is a slimeball

In case you aren't aware, Robbie Thomas is a low-life "psychic" (lower than most psychics, yes - apparently that is possible).

Robbie found a sympathetic ear with an aunt of Victoria Stafford (she was abducted and subsequently murdered - a story that captivated much of Ontario, Canada) (I spoke about Robbie and this case in a previous posting: Psychic Solves Abduction/Murder Case). Victoria's aunt, Rebecca, was kind enough to provide a letter to Robbie showing support for his "being". Astonishingly, Robbie is using this letter to promote his "abilities" for an upcoming bullsh!t tour about his "Psychic Investigations" even though, reading it clearly, Rebecca neglects to suggest that Robbie had anything to do with solving the case. Here's the letter:

Letter from Rebecca (Stafford) Nichols,aunt of Victoria (Tori) Stafford
My family became acquainted with Robbie Thomas as we desperately searched for my niece, Victoria (Tori) Stafford. Robbie contacted my mother online, offering his services. Never having been in this type of situation before, we were willing to take any offers of assistance to help us locate Tori.
Many things that Robbie told us have proven to be accurate, though it is his being (rather than his gift) for which I will be eternally grateful. Although our situation ended with us realizing our greatest fears, I find peace in knowing that we did everything we could have done to bring Victoria back to our family. Robbie was an integral part of these efforts. Thanks to his gentle encouragement, we found ourselves providing police with information that we had not previously imagined to be of importance.
We were given comfort, strength and support through Robbie’s involvement in our time of greatest need. As a result, I will always be thankful that we were blessed with his benevolence. I wholeheartedly believe in his abilities, and I encourage others to accept his willingness to help.With much love, respect and appreciation, I say thank you Robbie.

Rebecca (Stafford) Nichols

The discerning reader will notice a few important things - yeah, "many things that Robbie told us have proven to be accurate" clearly means that other things Robbie told them were not accurate. (Let's take, for instance, Robbie's claim that Tori was still alive - many many days after, we now KNOW, she was murdered. That's not an important part for a sympathetic believer in psychic abilities.)

You might also have realized that the letter comes from an "aunt" and not directly from the mother or father of the child - I suspect if they shared the same feelings, slimeball Robbie would have requested such a letter from them. As it stands, he found someone who fell for his bullsh!t and he's going to milk it for all it is worth. Poor Rebecca.

It is obvious that Robbie provided (as do all "psychic" scumbags) useless and false information to the family which, in turn, passed it along to the police - only diverting attention from the FACTS in the case. Robbie wasted the money of taxpayers in this province and is proud of his obvious failure in this case.

Robbie was "there" for them when they were in their lowest moments and, thankfully, he did it for no personal gain (like, say, a letter of support or some public recognition - oh, wait, I guess the letter and his public claims don't suggest that - scratch "benevolence" from the letter).

Robbie, you are a slimeball.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Standing up for "new atheism"

Russell Blackford was one of many interesting people that my wife and I met at the AAI convention in Burbank, California last fall. Oddly, I happened to meet him while sitting with Jerry Coyne (Why Evolution is True). At one point Jerry began speaking to another attendee when Russell and I had a brief conversation about our, mutual, dislike for the idea of the accommodationist position.

Russell has so eloquently expanded on his support for "new atheism" and his rejection of accommodationism in a recent article in "The Philosophers' Magazine":

In recent years, we have witnessed a flood of books, aimed at the popular market, issuing robust challenges to theistic religious belief. A rather puzzling expression, “the New Atheism”, has been applied to this body of work, particularly the contributions of Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens. They, in turn, are sometimes referred to, apparently with affection, as “The Four Horsemen”.

The most prominent books in this New Atheist flood are, perhaps, Dawkins’ The God Delusion and Hitchens’ God is Not Great. But then there are The End of Faith and Letter to a Christian Nation, both by Harris; The Atheist Manifesto, by Michel Onfray; Breaking the Spell by Dennett; Against All Gods, by AC Grayling; Infidel, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali; and God: The Failed Hypothesis, by Victor J. Stenger. The list continues, and the titles show that the authors mean business.

Why, however, do we need this “New Atheism”, and what’s so new about it? There’s a sense in which nothing is very new here, and a great deal of journalistic hype is involved. But there’s something to the idea, all the same. Here’s the deal.

Religious teachings promise us much. They offer a deeper understanding of reality, more meaningful lives and morally superior conduct, and such extraordinary (if illusory) benefits as rightness with a Supreme Being, liberation from earthly attachments, or a blissful form of personal immortality. It all sounds good, and if some of these teachings are rationally warranted it would be well to discover which. At the same time, however, religious teachings can be onerous in their demands; if they can’t deliver on what they promise, it would be well to know that. I take it, then, that there is an overwhelming case for rational examination of religious teachings. Even if reason can take us only so far, we ought to explore just how far.


Continue reading at TPM: The Philosophers' Magazine

Russell Blackford is co-editor, with Udo Sch√ľklenk, of the recently-published 50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists (Wiley-Blackwell). I was given this book as a gift and am almost finished reading it - it is a wonderful book and I highly recommend it.