When will the age of reason begin?

As anyone who knows me even moderately well will know, I am an atheist. No, not an atheist. You should not describe yourself in terms of what you don’t believe. I do not believe in Father Christmas so I suppose you could call me an asantaist. I am probably a Secular Humanist or Naturalist and may start calling myself a Bright. Pretentious as it sounds (I am not saying I am bright), it is an attempt to turn the word into a noun to describe someone who worldview is entirely naturalistic. From their manifesto:

  • A bright is a person who has a naturalistic worldview

  • A bright’s worldview is free of supernatural and mystical elements

  • The ethics and actions of a bright are based on a naturalistic worldview

Probably some redundancy there, item one would suffice in my view, but definitely hits the mark for me.

I am writing this now because I am extremly annoyed after seeing a psychic on Screenwipe that claims to read babys minds. In this appaling scene, after stumbling around and being off with a few of his guesses he stumbles on a history of abuse and tastlessly probes it, even swearing in front of the child claiming to be speaking for her. It would be funny if the woman was not so clearly upset.

Badpsychics is a site devoted to debunking all of this shit. James Randi has been at it for years, offering a million dollar prize to anyone who can demonstrate any powers under scientific conditions. Richard Dawkins did a great documentary on Channel 4 called Enemies of Reason about all the ridiculous stuff people believe and how dangerous it can be.

I was glad to see the government have responded to a petition started by Badpsychics to amend the Fraudulent Mediums Act 1951,

“The Fraudulent Mediums Act 1951 has rarely been used in the prosecution of mediums and psychics, who claim to contact the dead relatives of people. Yet there are increasingly more TV shows and live acts where people claiming to be mediums and psychics prey on vulnerable people who have lost loved ones, giving them spurious information and taking their money. We call upon the Government to revise the Fraudulent Mediums Act and make it easier to prosecute these people.”

The Fraudulent Mediums Act 1951 will be repealed from April 2008 by the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2007 (CPRs) which implement the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (UCPD).

The CPRs include rules prohibiting conduct which misleads the average consumer and thereby causes, or is likely to cause him to take a transactional decision he would not have taken otherwise.

Although the average consumer would arguably not be misled by a person who claims he is able to contact the dead, such conduct would still be unfair under the CPRs if it deceives the average member of (i) the group to which it is directed, or (ii) a clearly identifiable group of consumers who are particularly vulnerable to this type of practice.

Unlike the Act, there is no requirement in the CPRs to prove an “intent to deceive”. This means that where practices are aimed at vulnerable consumers or average members of particular groups, it should be easier to take action against fraudulent mediums than under the Act.

The CPRs will be enforced by both civil (injunctive) action and criminal sanctions.

I really hope someone uses the law straight away but would rather there was an All Mediums Are Frauds Act.

More worrying is the counter petition that has 1500 signatures, more than 3 times as many. Thank god the government pays no attention to these things.