Thursday, October 11, 2007

Sad Story

I was somewhat disappointed to see the headline "Now I Know the Dead Stay With Us" in the Washington Post. It's a first-person account by a woman who lost her son and was distraught to the point of suicide, but who was comforted by a medium who claimed to transmit messages to her from her deceased son.

On the one hand, of course, it can't be all bad that someone found something that brought peace to someone in such distress. But on the other hand, the fraud is so palpable that it's hard to avoid being offended. Be sure to listen to the audio clip of the medium's session. It contains such gems as "he wants to . . . thank you very much for your act of kindness . . . he says to thank you . . . I've heard you talk, he's saying . . . he's joking with you, he wants to know if you're going to get a tattoo with his face on it, and he winks his eye at you . . . coming here today is not something he's against, because he's open, he's open minded . . . he seems very liberal, yet very conservative at the same time . . . he doesn't want to be remembered for the way he passed, for some reason, he wants to be remembered for life . . . he wants to be remembered if he made somebody laugh, or smile . . . he wants people to find the humor, even in him."

Is there a word in this that could not be delivered as a purported message from anybody's spirit? And this from someone the author called a "reputable medium." The story doesn't say whether the author paid money for these stunning words from her late son, but I'm guessing that even the most "reputable" mediums don't transmit spirit messages for nothing.

These frauds are eternal. Over 100 years ago, in Life on the Mississippi, Mark Twain reported a session of similar pablum from a medium who reported that the deceased friend was living happily in the spirit world, but who couldn't get the spirit to correctly report what year he died, or whether by a natural death or by violence. As Twain concluded, "if this man is not the paltriest fraud that lives, I owe him an apology."

There will always be gullible people who fall for these fraudulent messages, but I might have hoped that they wouldn't include editors at the Washington Post. Why was this published?

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