Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Give Rex food. Give Sonya money.

Whenever I drive, I listen to satellite radio.  I revolve through four or five stations, mostly alternative rock, but an occasional announcement by the DJ clues me in to how much more is actually on satellite radio than I am aware of.

Which is how I came to find out that on Tuesday evenings from 6-8 PM Eastern Time, on Sirius channel 102, you can hear a call-in show with a pet psychic.

Sonya Fitzpatrick claims to be able to communicate telepathically with animals.  She states that she discovered this ability as a child, when she lost a great deal of her hearing because of an illness, but found that she could still communicate with animals.  She temporarily lost her ability due to the trauma of finding out she'd eaten a goose she'd raised for Sunday dinner, but regained it later, and for a time had a show on Animal Planet called The Pet Psychic.

Some people swear by her.  In one case, a veterinarian brought his four-year-old mutt, Ernie, to Sonya to determine why he barks continuously.  (Ernie, not the veterinarian.)  Sonya communed psychically with Ernie for a moment, then clapped her hands to her face.

"He can't open his mouth," she whispered, her voice strained with emotion. "They put something over his nose and mouth ... taped his nose up."

She then told Ernie's owner not to worry about the barking, that he was now barking "because he can" and that they were "yips of joy."

In another case, she told a dog's owner that her dog wanted to meet "a black dog," and was "worried because her owner's back hurts."

I don't know about you, but the whole thing makes me wonder a little.  First, there's the obvious problem that Sonya Fitzpatrick can say whatever she wants; it's not like with a regular psychic, where there's any fear of contradiction.  The dog isn't going to say, "Um, no, actually that's not what I was thinking."  So it's not that this is a verifiable fake; it's not even potentially verifiable at all.

Second, I've been around dogs all my life, and I'm pretty sure that what is going on in their minds most of the time is:  Not Much.  We own two dogs at the moment, and mainly what they seem to think about is the concept of "Food."  During dinner preparation, both dogs sit watching me make dinner, their eyes focused on me like two pairs of laser beams, trying to induce me, presumably through some sort of canine telekinesis, to drop the food on the floor.  If Sonya did some kind of Vulcan mind-meld with my dogs, I think she wouldn't come up with much more than "I'M HUNGRY FEED ME NOW."

And I don't even want to think about what it'd be like to try to get into psychic contact with a cat.  I strongly suspect that our cats' minds are mostly filled with evil plots involving shredding the furniture and tormenting the other pets.  I also think, given the smug way they look at me sometimes, that they frequently have sardonic thoughts about my general appearance.

"You call that a hairstyle?" they seem to say.  "You look like a wilted dandelion.  And you're not thinking of wearing that shirt, are you?  Dear god, yes, it appears that you are.  Well, at least iron it, will you?  No?  I can't bear to watch."  And then they turn away and close their eyes, every whisker radiating disapproval.

So even if Sonya could communicate with my cats, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want to know what they're thinking.  But the whole thing does demand the question of what level of brain is required in the pet for Sonya to be able to get in touch.  Could she contact a hamster?  A snake?  A pet frog?  A goldfish?  One specific ant in an ant farm?  I don't know about you, but I'd certainly enjoy watching her try. 

Not that I'll ever have the chance; it's not like she makes house calls.  But she does do personal readings, on the telephone, if you're willing to wait for months (she gets hundreds of requests a day).

They cost $300.  For a thirty-minute reading.

Yes, folks.  There are thousands of people out there who are willing to spend $300 of their hard-earned cash to have a woman who claims to be a pet psychic tell them over the phone that Rex would like some extra gravy on his kibble tonight.  Which proves a variety of things, including (1) there are a great many gullible people in the world, (2) many people are more willing to spend their money on stuff like psychic readings than are willing to support a tax increase to fund frivolous things like public education, and (3) Sonya Fitzpatrick is a very smart, and very rich, businesswoman.

1 comment:

  1. 300/12 = 25.

    For twenty-five dollars per month, there are a whole host of worthy charities that need support. Everything from feeding hungry people and helping the homeless to disease research and even, since they seem to be disposed toward our four-legged siblings, the ASPCA. But no, lets give that lump of dough to this gadje forty miler who claims that she can communicate with dogs and cats. You know, Carlin said if you could find a way for the capitalist pigs to make a buck off homelessness, we'd see the streets clear up. I take that one step further. If people were to send the money they spend on outright charlatans to those who use it to help all of society, or use it to help society personally, then we would see a lot of what ails our country and world, clean up. (Notice I'm not cutting so deep as to remove frivolous spending just spending based on gullibility). Not only that, the sick, the poor, the downtrodden, they would take their place as those that should be cared for, not despised and ignored. We are all servants of each other, or we are chattel under a few greedy masters. There is little in between.