May 24, 2005

Dolittles do little

Pet psychics: Are they just like those late-night television ads of the late 90s urging you to call the Psychic Hotline for $1.99 per minute? Or can they really talk to your animals?

A North Carolina woman is claiming she can talk to animals telepathically, and she doesn't even need to be there. Yes, she can even do it over the telephone. Starting to sound a bit more like the Psychic Hotline, eh?

For the kind of money she's pulling down, I would probably claim I could talk to animals too. Like the people who call up psychic hotlines, the people who want to talk to pet psychics are pretty desperate. And desperation is the platform on which psychics want you to stand. You'll believe anything. And you'll pay anything to hear it.

An awesome article (which I recommend reading in its entirety) from Skeptical Inquirer magazine notes five techniques of pet psychics:
1. Noting the obvious
2. Making safe statements
3. Asking questions (aka fishing for info)
4. Offering vague statements that most people can apply specifically to themselves
5. Returning "messages" to animals (aka pausing for a moment)

According to the article, pet psychics use the same technique fortune tellers use for humans, called "cold-reading." In English: "psychics, the manipulative bastards, don't know jack-squat... except what you tell them, idiot."

Animal Planet has a show called The Pet Psychic. When visiting the show's website, you can find "simple steps to making a psychic connection with your pet" from The Pet Psychic herself, Sonya Fitzpatrick. Tip no. 5 of hers states: "Ask if there is anything your pet would like you to do for him. Imagine your animal is sending an answer back to you and accept whatever you receive in your imagination." Am I simply imagining the word "imagination," or is that really there? Is it just me, or is she actually admitting that psychic ability is really up to one's imagination?

I would like to state for the record that Dr. Dolittle is one of my favorite movies. But it also goes without saying that I don't believe one word of it.

Posted by ause0007 at May 24, 2005 4:34 PM