First they came for the psychics but I did nothing because I was not a psychic and I didn’t see it coming.
It looks like the ‘real’ psychics didn’t see it coming either, although it was pretty obvious by the names of the agencies involved. The Russian online magazine teleprogramma.pro reports that the RAS (Russian Academy of Science) Commission on Combating Pseudoscience and Falsification of Scientific Research and the Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation are working with the Harry Houdini Prize organization to offer a one million ruble ($17,000) prize to the first psychic who can pass their rigid scientific test. This is in direct response to Russian TV psychic shows like Bitva Extrasensov (Battle of Extrasensory or Battle of the Psychics) and others that are ratings juggernauts.
In a two-pronged attack on psychics, the group uses scientists, magicians ands skeptics to expose the tricks used by psychics and mentalists to convince or deceive the public (and take large sums of money from some of them). In addition to showing how much of the deception depends on assistants and how many of the show insiders admit to some elements of fiction, the group helps expose lawbreakers like “Battle of Psychics” participant Yuri Olenin, who was sentenced to three years in prison after his Center for Parapsychology and Correction of Fate organization tricked over 20 people out of 16 million rubles ($272,000).
The scientists and the Harry Houdini Prize people – magicians and experts in medical, technical, exact and natural sciences — have also set up rigid double blind tests for the alleged psychics. The tests are as simple as identifying photographs hidden in envelopes. To date, the prize has not been awarded.
Before you smugly point out that they can’t come after you because you’re not a psychic, the Commission to Combat Pseudoscience and Falsification of Scientific Research is chartered by the RAS to go after participants in “astrology, ufology, the doctrine of torsion fields, pseudo-historical theories, alternative medicine and religion in science and education.” They also pursue real evidence from those who produce “pseudoscientific materials devoted to attempts at technical “introduction” of new unknown fields and energy sources, the existence of which has not been proven by science (for example, torsion fields, cold nuclear fusion, “anti-gravity”, “wave genome” or bioenergyinformatics).”
Do you see anything you provide, believe in, participate in or at least follow on that list? Are you glad you don’t live in Russia? Would you support this type of program in your country? Is there anyone in particular you’d like to see as a participant? Is there anything you would add to the list? Political campaign ads?