Physical Mediumship – Necessary Or Not?

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  • #1698

    Re: the whole Psychic Questing thing, it has always struck me that some type of physical mediumistic ability is very important. In particular, the climax of each Quest ideally comes when some important artefact is actually found. There seem to be basically three ways of doing this. Firstly, you can have somebody in the group who is so powerfully mediumistic that he or she can apport physical objects which then just drop from thin air irrespective of wherever the medium happens to be – no research or detective work is involved.

    Secondly, you can use your research and deductive abilities to find the right spot, go there, and dig up the Maguffin. However, there are so many accounts of items being found that obviously haven’t been buried for very long, even though the ground is undisturbed, that this must sometimes involve some kind of underground apportation process; so you still need a powerful physical medium, but they have to be in the right place for it to work.

    Thirdly, if you happen to be “as psychic as a brick” (I’m quoting Andy C’s description of himself, but I think it applies to most of us), you can rely to a great extent on historical research, perhaps using channelled material as a jumping-off point. In this way, for example, Andy discovered the approximate location of the Green Stone (does anybody know who bought it yet?), with a bit of help from Graham in pinpointing the exact spot.

    The only problem is that of course it turned out that Andy had misinterpreted a piece of bog-standard heraldry in such a way that it looked unusual enough to be a clue, whereas in fact it wasn’t! Either Andy is much more psychic than he gives himself credit for, in which case whether or not you get your research right is presumably irrelevant, since it’s just something like crystal ball to get your inspiration flowing. Or alternatively, if Andy really isn’t psychic at all, if he makes a mistake it still doesn’t matter, because Graham would have found that Green Stone wherever Andy told him to dig, thanks to a materialisation process as mentioned above.

    If this is indeed true, bearing in mind the extreme rarity of powerful and reliable mediums who can materialise solid objects, if you don’t happen to personally know anybody who can do it (I certainly don’t!), is Psychic Questing totally impossible, and are you therefore wasting your time trying to get started? Or is it feasible for persons who are either not psychic at all, or only to a modest degree, to use less dramatic methods to find objects which are simply buried in the usual archaeological fashion, and might theoretically be dug up by anybody who happens to get lucky with a metal detector?

    I think this is an important practical point which doesn’t really get unambiguously answered in the literature. Exactly how psychic do you need to be? Has anybody not all that psychic gotten really significant results just by being good at finding stuff in a Tony Robinson sort of way?

    #2058

    I can’t comment on apports, but would suggest that if one is being ‘led’ to a particular place, maybe at a particular time, the ‘guiding hand’ will use whatever material is available to do this. We may feel like we are following a logical process in our research, but unconscious influences and synchronicities are at work (the trickster), bypassing the logical mind and perhaps leading to factual errors – but achieving the desired outcome nontheless. The process doesn’t really matter – there are many divination techniques out there.

    I wouldn’t consider myself psychic, but I’ve had some really freaky synchronicity trips! No artefacts, mind you. Any psychic volunteers out there? There’s this little place I know…

    #2059

    Hello all,

    Interesting question. I’ve never witnessed an apport materialising or dug a suspected apport out of the dirt, but AC’s books and interviews contain enough eyewitness accounts that I’m prepared to accept that they occur.

    Dan’s question does appear to presuppose that apports only occur in the presence of physical mediums. However, unless anyone can claim to understand exactly how apports are produced then I think that this assumption can certainly be questioned. The presence of a strong psychic may well catalyse the appearance of an apport, but perhaps there are other factors that can act as the catalyst; maybe the act of going on a quest in itself can generate the necessary conditions.

    Quote:
    The only problem is that of course it turned out that Andy had misinterpreted a piece of bog-standard heraldry in such a way that it looked unusual enough to be a clue, whereas in fact it wasn’t!

    I can’t remember the details of the story or how important this was. However, I would suggest that this could be a synchronicity. Whether you accept such things depends on your world-view, but by definition a synchronicty is a meaningful connection between things that have no regular causal link. So, there is no causal link between the heraldic what-not and the location of the green stone, i.e. the heraldry wasn’t a deliberate signifier. However, the universe might have arranged itself such that the heraldic thingumy is meaningful in the context of the green stone quest. Like I said, whether you accept this as a possibility depends on your world-view. Like Perceval, I go through times when I’m surrounded by apparent synchronicities.

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    I think this is an important practical point which doesn’t really get unambiguously answered in the literature

    Is anything in this area unambiguous? The ambiguity is simultaneously one of the most frustrating things, and one of the things that makes it all interesting.

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    is Psychic Questing totally impossible, and are you therefore wasting your time trying to get started

    Well, if you don’t try and get started you certainly wont get anywhere! Perhaps it will turn out to be a waste of time in terms of finding artifacts, but there is the chance of good times on the way, meeting interesting people, certainly broadening your horizons and learning a lot about the world and yourself – and in my opinion that is a worthwhile (even more important) quest in itself, even if not very exciting for others to read about. It beats vegging in front of the Idiot’s Lantern anyway!

    Happy questing everyone

    Michael

    #2060
    Quote:
    Quote:
    is Psychic Questing totally impossible, and are you therefore wasting your time trying to get started

    Well, if you don’t try and get started you certainly wont get anywhere! Perhaps it will turn out to be a waste of time in terms of finding artifacts, but there is the chance of good times on the way, meeting interesting people, certainly broadening your horizons and learning a lot about the world and yourself – and in my opinion that is a worthwhile (even more important) quest in itself, even if not very exciting for others to read about. It beats vegging in front of the Idiot’s Lantern anyway!

    I agree with Michael here

    I have been questing for many years and have never witnessed a true apport materialising in front of me. But for Caroline wise it happens regularly, its happened for Richard Ward, John Horrigan and Alex in his Bega quest… so its not just Andy, Graham and Meonia that its unique to.

    I think if you set off, hoping for apports, you have too much expectation in your mind and that stops it happening. I havent seen an apport materialise but I have dug things up… and its great fun and really special when it happens, but really, its just trinkets and things; – I’m more interested in knowledge… and echoing Michael, meeting interesting people and going to unusual places; – I’d rather encounter a site guardian than get a crystal…. Glastonbury’s full of crystal shops! :wink:

    Go questing for the sake of learning, knowing the wider world (the metaphysical world), rather than artifact collecting… if you want to find things take up metal detecting

    Questing is easy.

    1; pick a subject that fascinates you and investigate it.
    2; Be open to letting spirit unfold the story to you (so learn to listen and dont have pre-judgements… let the story unfold)
    3; Wait for signs (sychronicities) If none come, pick a different topic to investigate; when you get signs… follow the white rabbit!
    4; Believe that there is more than this 3 dimensional reality
    5; If you get caught by the ‘Cosmic Joker’ dont get stressed or exasperated; laugh at the joke and move on… it was a good ride after all… as Michael said, better than watching other peoples lives on tv.

    6 ; Go out, have adventures, come back and tell us all about it, so to inspire others to do likewise.

    #2061

    OK Guys,

    You’ve given me the opportunity to get on one of my hobbyhorses here – so watch out! I’ve thought about this a lot and am currently developing a theory of Quantum Ambiguity and can reveal the presence of a hitherto unknown subatomic particle called a Charlaton. :wink:

    Here we go:

    Most of you probably know about the double-slit experiment and all the theories that have resulted from this. If we focus on Quantum Superposition Theory, it claims that so long as we do not know what the state of a particular element of the particle is, it is actually in all possible states simultaneously. If the quantity is then measured the state will be randomly collapsed into one of the values in the superposition.

    It was the apparent absurdness of this that led Schrodinger to outline his thought experiment wherein a cat in a box can either be poisoned or not (because the poison is linked to an atomic particle that has a 50% chance of decaying or not decaying. If it decays the cat is poisoned, if not it isn’t). He was hoping to ridicule the idea with his application of the principle but sadly for him this is now used as the textbook illustration of just how the principle does work – as proven by hard math.

    So it is the measurement itself that causes the state of the object to be limited to a single possibility (the so-called collapse of the wave function). My point in all of this, however, is that the scientists, having proved that the wave function collapses, went off and happily used this formula to build their description of the sub-atomic world. But what causes the wave function to collapse? How do we go from two (or more) potential states to just one? And which one becomes reality? To date science has almost ignored this question completely. The scientists don’t care so long as the maths work (which they absolutely do). I say “almost”. In fact Eugene Wigner, a Hungarian-born physicist, quantum theory expert and Nobel Laureate devoted time to it and believed that what causes the wave function to collapse is consciousness.

    Now, if consciousness is the key to collapsing the wave function you start asking yourself: can we “artificially” increase the number of superpositioned states by increasing the ambiguity surrounding the object? Can we collapse the wave function by an act of will? Can we, in fact, collapse the state into a value of our choosing (not just a random state)? Daniel Pinchbeck puts this very well: “If our consciousness and therefore our intention is embedded in the structure of reality – as quantum physics, for instance, tells us – then how we focus our thoughts could catalyze certain possibilities and support more or less desirable outcomes.”

    The trick here is that if I create ambiguity on a macro level by opening up many different possibilities and by decreasing the current probabilities (in practical terms, I could dim the lights, play spooky music, or otherwise the stifle the body’s usual perception modes) I can maybe increase the possibility of “psychic” occurrences. Switch the light back on and the wave function collapses (and if the ghost doesn’t disappear then your reality has just been permanently changed).

    I quite like this notion and, taken a little bit further, I can envisage a world where you have skilled “reality technicians” who could surf the wave of uncertainty and, like skilled lumberjacks, cause reality to fall in a particular way (ensuring their version of reality) or simply keep the wave uncollapsed to again suit their purpose.

    However such reality-jacks would probably have to be charlatans. To create the largest amount of ambiguity there must be the possibility that they are simply bluffing, that, in a questing analogy, they simply went into the field an hour earlier and buried the object that the questers will subsequently “find”. Is it real/is it not real? The more ambiguity we can create, the more possibility that genuinely strange things will pop into reality.

    #2062

    Hey Yuri, congrats on achieving Magus status! You beat Simon to it.

    Quote:
    which one becomes reality?

    Whose reality?

    Surely its our point of view that determines the reality we perceive (out of all the potential realities) – believing is seeing and we each live in our own reality, where, for example God either exists, or does not. Explaining everything away with science is one way of ‘collapsing the wave function’. Open-mindedness and ambiguity are two sides of the same coin – they make the world a more interesting place.

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    such reality-jacks would probably have to be charlatans

    Is a healer who successfully heals with placebos a charlatan? Or is she simply opening up the possibility of healing in the mind of the patient?

    #2063
    Quote:
    Hey Yuri, congrats on achieving Magus status! You beat Simon to it.

    Lol… I’m blushing now!

    I kind of see the universe as a ‘mirror-mind’. In a way, it doesnt matter whether you are researching a ‘historically true event’ or a ficticious story… If you give your thoughts over to it, then the ‘mirror mind’ of the universe reflects back at you… with synchronistic events. So yes, Charlatan quests can still create ‘results’.

    So, what’s to be done with it? reality and the bending of reality.

    Its down to you really; whether to give your mind and precious time to fiction or historical actuality… We’re all boldly going forward, and there’s no rules. Sometimes fiction can conceal truths, some times actuality is hidden behind stories.

    Just last night I played the guitar at the George & Pilgrim in Glastonbury. After the session a wiccan-type lady whom I’d never seen in town before and who didnt know me from Adam, felt moved to come up to me and give me a lucky coin that she’d held for years… it was Swedish. I was tickled by her eccentricity but living in Glastonbury, colourful characters is the norm, and so you just take it in your stride… I didnt realise until I got home That one side of the coin had three ornate Crowns carved beautifully upon it….. I have been ‘questing’ the ‘Three Crowns’ now since 1989; – 16 years and still the synchronicities keep coming! What are they? who knows but I’ll keep following the White Rabbit wherever he goes.

    #2064

    So Simon,

    Ain’t this just basic psychology, not cutting edge physics? The physicists are straying into psychological territory, but the psychologists have been waiting to join the science club for years!

    Instead of Schroedinger’s Cat, consider this:
    cube_in_or_out.jpg
    It has two potential states, but collapses into one or the other, depending on your chosen viewpoint – from above or below. But – and here’s the point – both collapsed (3D) states, are an illusion – the ‘reality’ is it’s a 2D image. Actually, the image reminds me somewhat of the ‘three hares’ topic: [url:1z4v3042]http://www.psychicquesting.com/ftopict-29.html[/url]. They seem to be like a restless wave function that never quite collapses.

    OK, so now extend this idea to the world as we know it and we have the concept of maya.

    Bringing the discussion back to apports for our spotty friend (where’d he go?), our everyday understanding of time and space is an illusion. Change our perception and things can pop out from ‘the other side’.

    That suggests that ‘the other side’ with its apparitions and all, is also illusory. I am reminded (returning to my ‘guiding hand’ analogy) of the Brian Conley Show – “It’s a PUPPET!“.

    #2065
    Quote:
    but the psychologists have been waiting to join the science club for years!

    Tell me about it. I did a degree in Psychology and they had such a chip on their shoulder about “being scientific” all the time. They didn’t seem to realise that the very idea of “science” to which they were trying to adhere was already out of date. Drove me mad.

    Anyway, the point that I was making is more fundamental in that I’m talking about changing reality – not just one’s perception of it. The old Psychology joke used to go that “neurotic built castles in the air and psychotics lived in them.” So you may be convinced that your pet stone is talking to you (perception) but nobody else can hear it (reality) and that usually means that you’ll end up in a room with comfortable walls.

    Now I know I’m being oversimplistic here and that the philosophical argument is that reality is nothing but consensual perception but if we stick for a moment to the narrow view of a hard and fixed set of physical realities that can be measured scientifically then what I’m suggesting is that with the necessary levels of ambiguity and manipulation, changes can be made even in this restrictive, empiric view. Sort of turning science against itself for once rather than combating it with mysticism (which I’m also in favour of by the way!)

    #2066

    Awww… Somebody missed me! (“Spotty”? Perhaps I need a new cryptosmileyglyph…) Yes, there are things in this world that sometimes take me away from the vicinity of a computer for days at a time, and this has been one of them.

    Anyway – some extraordinarily interesting posts here – thanks, guys. Obviously not every single Quest results in somebody finding seven swords or five rings or whatever, and doubtless there are dozens that aren’t quite dramatic enough for book-length treatment that are of this kind, but as some of the replies make clear, actually finding something is a splendid way of proving to everyone, yourself included, that you’re definitely on the right track.

    Also, it’s pretty clear from Andy C’s own books that when he happens to have the services of an extraordinarily powerful medium like Graham or Bernard, he goes out on Quests and generally finds things. But when he doesn’t have such a colleague, he pretty much confines himself to theoretical and historical writing with minimal psychic content. This does seem to imply that a) a proper Psychic Quest is all about finding stuff, b) this isn’t possible without certain exceptional talents being available, and c) therefore if you don’t know such a person, it isn’t worth bothering. (Obviously you have no hope of achieving anything if you don’t even start – “every journey begins with the first step” and all that – but clearly there’s no point in even filling in the entry form for a car rally if you haven’t got a car!)

    About that “clue” – I didn’t bother with the details because I thought everybody would have noticed by now, since I spotted it almost immediately and it’s bugged me ever since. For those who don’t know: basically, Andy’s attention was drawn by psychic means involving other people to Mary Queen of Scots. Checking out certain things she had produced on the offchance that one of them might be a clue, he spotted a tapestry of a swan Mary had personally embroidered, in which the swan’s neck was in a bloody strange position. As it happened, a local bend in the river of approximately that shape was indeed called the Swan’s Neck. Having told Graham to look in that general area, sure enough, the fabled (and surprisingly valuable) Green Stone turned up.

    The problem is, it’s NOT a swan! It looks a bit like one, but actually it’s a pelican. The interesting thing about pelicans is that they feed their young on their own blood (actually they don’t do anything of the kind, but Pliny the Elder thought they did). This makes the pelican symbolic of noble self-sacrifice, patient endurance of suffering, etc., and thus very popular in heraldry – it’s obvious why Mary would have been drawn to knit such a thing in her prison cell, and since any educated person of the kind would have been very well up on heraldry, this meaning wasn’t hidden at all. The pelican in the tapestry is clearly shown biting its own breast to feed the hungry chicks visible in the illustration – heraldic pelicans were nearly always shown in exactly this position, including the neck.

    If Mary had intended this as a clue, she would obviously have embroidered a heraldic swan, which would not have had that little crest the pelican has, would not normally have been shown with a nest full of chicks, and would certainly not normally have had its neck in that position. But she didn’t, so the “clue” doesn’t work on any normal level.

    But anyway, I’m slightly puzzled by several curious comments to the effect that it’s sort of OK to hoax things a bit to start with, because it gets the ball rolling, persuades people that they really CAN experience wildly improbable events like solid objects falling out of thin air, and therefore the items which turn up later on will be genuine! Do I understand this correctly?

    I’m reminded of the interesting theories of Doc Shiels, who has stated on various occasions that if you fake evidence of mythical monsters, including ones you’ve just thought of, people will take them seriously and they’ll become real by and by! Apart from seriously undermining the credibility of all those Nessie photos he keeps taking, I’ve never seen much point to this kind of activity. Are people here suggesting that a partially faked Quest is OK because it will become real halfway through?

    As for the “Charlaton”, I’m afraid that quantum physics was never my strong point; though I always understood that the whole point of that thing with the cat was that you didn’t actually end up with a cat that remained in some magical blurry condition until you opened the box, and it certainly didn’t work with things bigger than electrons and whatnot. Am I missing something here?

    Incidentally, well done Yuri & Simon for becoming Magi! I always thought it was a lot harder than that – something to do with years of dedication, mysterious rituals in bizarrely-furnished rooms, and being MacGregor Mathers’ best friend (rather tricky now that he’s dead). How many posts do you need to be an Ipsissimus?

    #2067

    Interesting observations there Mad Dan, regarding the Pelican/Swan insights… I hadnt realised it was a Pelican (or had forgotten), but its not a surprise.

    Most of the Meonia Heritage came out of the ‘Joanna sessions’, which in themselves were garbled nonsense rather than history.

    Andy admits in the ‘notes’ of the Seventh Sword that Joanna kept saying ‘Mary Tudor’… this is really important because Mary Tudor was ‘Bloody Mary’ famous for burning 300 Protestants; – ‘Mary Queen of Scots’ was ‘Mary STEWART’ not Tudor.

    So, it’s the wrong ‘Mary’ and the wrong bird (pelican/swan) lol!

    I absolutely hate charlatanism and frauds, and do not condone any behaviour of the sort, however it maybe justified by ‘Cosmic Joker’ type theories… my point was, although Andy may of misread the Pelican, the universe ‘mirrored-his-mind’ and always will do so, for everyone, and thus synchronicities occur…. its down to you as an individual to keep your ‘themes’ sane and honest, or fake…. cos the universe will ‘mirror’ either.

    #2068
    Quote:
    So, it’s the wrong ‘Mary’ and the wrong bird

    So was it the wrong quest? Maybe there’s another one there to be followed!

    Quote:
    Perhaps I need a new cryptosmileyglyph…

    Nah. Eccles with the freckles – your stuck with it now.

    Can’t get a handle on this quantum physics stuff either – that’s why I took the psychological angle (and also just to play devil’s advocate).

    Simon, speaking of synchronicity – quester, degree in psychology, working for the www, living in Surrey, 2 infants – what else do we have in common? Star sign? 8O Er… I’m not trying to chat you up!! Noo.

    #2069

    Perceval – Leo. Likes: chocolate and early Christian history. Dsilikes: spiders and heights :wink: Also I actually have three of the little critters now (4, 3 & 1). I’d be interested to hear about your “secret” site in Surrey though as there’s precious little that I can find of interest within about an hour’s drive. It’s just too populated.

    Mad Dan – you’ve spotted the flaw in my theory! Yes quantum theory only works at the quantum scale and doesn’t translate to the macro (yet). But it seems odd that if chance and probablility plays such as strong part with the building blocks of matter, it doesn’t somehow affect the structures built with those building blocks.

    However, I do genuinely think that there is an interesting point about the creation of ambiguity. I’m not suggesting that every quest begins with a hoax but that there might be certain ways to start “undermining” reality, to make it more malleable – and that these ways must include the possibility that the whole thing is faked. So the master of ceremonies must be someone who is capable of setting the whole thing up (even if s/he doesn’t). It almost as if that if you are in a clean white laboratory with spotlights shining on the group and CCTV cameras everywhere you’ve given reality nowhere to go. It must follow the path that “science” would expect.

    But if you are in a ruined church in semidarkness where maybe you’ve just done some ritual to tune the minds in another state of consciousness and the leader is someone who ay or may not be a charlatan (or is both!), then suddenly you’ve given reality some far more interesting (if still statistically unlikely) avenues to take. Again I’m not talking about perception as it’s clearly easy to get people to believe that something weird is happening. I’m talking about the fundamental particles actually being affected. E.g. suddenly there is more of this green stone here than anywhere else so – plop – it drops out of thin air at your feet.

    Not sure if that makes sense – but then it is a theory of ambiguity :lol:

    #2070
    Quote:
    Not sure if that makes sense – but then it is a theory of ambiguity

    Lol

    If you could explain it in perfect clarity its couldnt possibly be ‘a theory of ambiguity’

    The ancient chinese mystic wrote,

    ‘The Tao that can be explained is’nt the true Tao’

    8)

    #2071

    Hmmm… I’m still not entirely sold on this “ambiguity” business… Thing is, let’s suppose for the sake of argument that I’ve been going around saying that I’m powerfully psychic, I have a personal link with a spirit calling itself Merlin, and this spirit has told me to find the 8 holy amethysts from the breastplate of King Arthur (this example is entirely fictitious, by the way). Perhaps I’m being totally honest about this; or perhaps I’m telling deliberate lies about all of it to make myself sound interesting. Or perhaps it’s somewhere in between – maybe the original vision, though genuine, was a little garbled, and I tidied it up just a teensy bit for the sake of clarity – people do that all the time and may not even realise they’re doing it. Or maybe I filled in a few gaps and left out an embarrassing bit about Bagpuss – but hey, it’s still half-true at least… And so on.

    And assuming that I’m totally, or at least very nearly, honest – am I right? Maybe I’m 100% correct in every detail; maybe my lines got crossed and I’m only half-right; maybe I got the message OK but “Merlin” isn’t as reliable as I thought; maybe it’s a symbolic message which I interpreted too literally, so it’s sort of true but not in the way I think; maybe I honestly think it’s a psychic vision but it’s just an ordinary daydream and means nothing; maybe I’m not psychic at all, but I honestly think I am because I’m a bit over-imaginative; maybe I’m mentally ill; or, just maybe, I’m a cynical skeptic telling lies to wind up some gullible New Agers, but actually deep down I’m genuinely psychic but I can’t bring myself to admit it, so that stupid message I made up for a joke is in fact true – unlikely, but possible!

    The point being that there are a huge number of possibilities, most of them neither 100% true or 100% false – almost all possible results lie in some sort of a grey area, and the best I can realistically hope for is to mostly be very pale grey (unless I’m simply lying to impress a girl or something). This, I suppose, is sort of like that mythical half-dead pussycat in the radioactive box – the “truth” is smeared all over the place and very fuzzy at the edges, and if there are mistakes and contradictions and ambiguities from time to time, nobody will be too bothered.

    But now let’s suppose that I’m also claiming that I’ve found the first holy amethyst – Merlin showed me in a vision where to dig, and I dug there, and sure enough, there it was! What I’ve just done is opened the box and collapsed the wave function – the cat is now either completely alive or completely dead. Or in my case, barring a few very remote possibilities (it’s all a fantastically huge coincidence, I have Multiple Personality Disorder and don’t know it, etc.), either I’m telling the absolute truth, and I found the gem in some paranormal way, or I’m telling the absolute untruth – I bought it in a rock shop for a few quid and I made up all that nonsense about Merlin.

    If you’ve got a real-life Psychic Questing situation where something like this happens, obviously the unbelievers will say that it’s all a hoax; but if even those involved are left in a state of uncertainty where they admit that some of their number MIGHT be fooling them at least some of the time… Isn’t that a bit like Doc Shiels saying: “Yes, I have repeatedly hoaxed photos of various monsters, but the magical currents I engendered by doing that have now borne fruit, and THIS photo is genuine; though of course, if it wasn’t, I’d say it was…”?

    If it’s sort of acceptable to consider that the whole thing might be a bit of a wind-up, and anybody, including the group’s leader and all the people claiming to be psychic, might or might not be cheating at any time, isn’t that going to lead to a situation where absolutely everybody is going to cheat just to join in with the fun? And if the basic honesty of everybody involved doesn’t really matter if they’re only cheating for valid magical reasons, isn’t the whole exercise liable to end up as a sort of live-action Dungeons and Dragons thing which nobody takes seriously on any level?

    I mean, comparing it to the placebo effect is all very well, but that’s something that doctors do either if they really can’t do anything except pretend they can help in order to keep the patient’s spirits up, or they reckon the disease is all in the patient’s mind and they don’t want to waste expensive drugs on a non-existent illness. If I were to pretend to find a “placebo” holy amethyst of King Arthur, what purpose would it serve? To persuade other people that the Quest isn’t all in my head, even though it sounds increasingly as though it might be? To give my acolytes the pleasing illusion of being able to find powerful occult items and influence events for the good, even though I know they’re just an ordinary handful of rocks?

    Suppose my deception works splendidly well, and people take me seriously. Then other people start finding more holy amethysts just like mine, and in very much the same way. Great! My placebo worked, and my followers, believing that it CAN be done, have found the faith to actually do it! But hang on – I know I was lying all along; how do I know they aren’t just giving me the wink and playing along with what they see as a fun game of make-believe? I know that if I personally was involved in one of your classic Psychic Quests where physical objects actually turn up, and I had serious doubts as to the honesty of the people involved, I’d either pack it in immediately, or if it was a nice day and I wasn’t doing anything else, perhaps stick around for a while just to see the comedy. (“Honestly, it was an apport! But the Cosmic Joker apported it right into my pocket and then made it appear to fall out!”)

    Obviously it’s possible (unless you assume from the outset that all things magical are by definition impossible) for Andy C to get a valid clue by paranormal means from a source that turns out to be irrelevant – it’s perfectly clear to me that if he’d been trying to deliberately cheat, he wouldn’t have laid out in his own book all the evidence needed to spot the error, including a large uncropped photo of the “swan”. But in a situation where it would be impossible to get the results described in any way other than by either cheating or by being genuinely psychic, isn’t it extremely ill-advised to suggest that nobody really knows whether certain “psychics” are cheating or not, but it doesn’t really matter because nobody really cares? I’m overstating the case, but that’s what some people appear to be saying, at least to some extent.

    Oh, by the way, if I’m going to be stuck with a smiley thingummy that’s all “spots” and “freckles”, can we at least agree that it’s got more to do with leopards than herpes?

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