You Don't Believe in Psychic Abilities At All?

I have quite a few videos posted on my YouTube channel ( http://www.youtube.com/Aaron518 )which deal with psychics and their claimed "powers". Most of them deal with the terrible Sylvia Browne and her many failures (like telling 2 girls their missing mother was alive in a loony bin in Florida,when really she was murdered by the husband of one of the girls,who was sitting RIGHT IN FRONT OF HER!) or my full on critique of her yearly predictions. I also have posted a guide to cold reading techniques,which deal with most of the well known techniques,but also a lot of the lesser known ones.
From time to time I will get an email from someone who basically asks "You don't believe in psychic abilities at all?" and usually includes some anecdote about how they went to a psychic that was correct or they have had at least a few spells of "real" ESP personally. I figure instead of addressing all of them individually,I'll instead direct them to this post where I'll try to answer the most common FAQs I get.

1.Don't you believe in God?

No,I don't believe in The God or any other Gods,but I don't see what that has to do with if psychic powers exist or not. When a psychic makes an appeal to God they are trying to shut the discussion down with a non-sequitur wrapped up in an ad-hominem. There is no reason to believe that psychic ability would be some God given gift,especially since most psychics will claim that its an ability EVERYONE has. Whenever a psychic invokes God,the effect is to make religious people think that if they question their ability then they somehow don't believe in God,which I think is disgusting and insulting to people who are truly religious. Even IF the ability was a true God given ability,then what does that have to do with being able to show they have it?

2.Psychics never claim to be 100% correct,they can make mistakes too!

I would never insist on 100% accuracy for any type of human ability,that would be ridiculous. I think its a major straw man argument to accuse people of demanding 100% accuracy,otherwise we will never accept it. Proper basic statistical methodology requires only better than chance,which is no where close to 100%. Of course, if 80% of what one says are things like "there will be earthquakes in California",its not very convincing,especially when the other 20% are not vague and dead wrong.

3. I went to a psychic and she was 100% correct about stuff they couldn't know!

Anecdotes can be informative,but are ultimately meaningless without other evidence. With all the various ways people can trick you,and the various psychological reasons we trick ourselves that are out there,anecdotes can't ever truly be relied upon. This applies to anything,not just when it comes to claimed psychics.No one doubts your sincere belief that what you experienced was real.

4.You don't accept psychic ability because you don't want it to be real!

If the range of psychic powers people claim were real,it would have important implications for man kind that matter very much and could benefit us all greatly. We could avoid disaster,stop wars,identify harmful medical conditions instantly and possibly provide evidence that there is some sort of after life along with many other useful benefits. Why would anyone NOT want to know such things are real? Why is it that people who claim to be psychic don't want to end the debate and show us that what they do is real so we can all possibly learn and reap the benefits? Why is it they only want to go on talk shows,sell books and go on tours where they charge $500 a ticket to get in? If i claimed I could bench press 1000 lbs I would have to actually do it for anyone to believe me. No one would accept me going "oh,its a God given ability that I can bench press 1000 lbs,don't you believe in God?" or "I don't have to prove it to anyone,I know I can do it and that's all that matters and you don't believe because you're a cynic" or "I couldn't lift it because there were skeptics and non believers in my ability to bench press 1000 lbs in the room.". If you wouldn't accept that type of reasoning for something as unimportant as weight lifting,then why do people accept it when it comes to something as important as if psychic power is real or not?

If any claimed psychic would submit themselves to the proper testing and verification of their abilities by all the accepted means (experiment,peer review and replication) then I and the entire scientific community would accept it and embrace it. Until such time,its all just excuses and double speak.

There's your problem!

#3 is what causes all the trouble. To the believer, if any attempt ever worked, the process works, regardless of how many times it failed, or even if its failure rate is higher than pure chance would predict!