Time for Dogmatists to Put their Cards on the Table.

Adelaide Now has an interesting, and in my opinion misjudged, editorial piece on Tarot cards at the moment:

A SURPRISINGLY honest tarot reader at “Psychic Tarot Insights” has tried to locate Jill Meagher.
Here’s the surprisingly honest (if understated) bit: “Tarot is not considered 100 per cent accurate by law and I cannot claim to solve issues, only show what I have in the cards.”

They go on to say: “Something must have happened quickly; that there was a male person, stronger than her; there might be a car, something, something, rural area, something, something, eight weeks, something, something, sex and weapons and southeast and someone tall and strong. And a horse. Maybe a church. A dog.”

Other possible links are: “Deserts, woods, obscure valleys, caves, dens, holes, mountains, churchyards, ruined buildings, coalmines, muddy places, wells, houses, offices.

“Perhaps some of this information will help, can’t be sure until information comes in to verify it,” they conclude.

[Adelaid Now my emphasis]

The journalist in question may well be surprised when encountering honesty, it’s a rare trait inside the world of newspapers and the mainstream media. However most people who have experienced the modern world of Tarot won’t be likely to bat an eyelid at a reader who makes it clear that they are only reading and interpreting a bunch of cards.

What makes the piece particularly vicious is the unverified implication that the Tarot reader in question has directly approached the police and/or family of the missing person. It’s a boil that is frequently lanced on the curious website from which the reading comes:

As a rule of thumb I do not send my insights when written to anyone. They are published here and left for others to decide their usefulness. I do not insist that my Tarot is 100 per cent accurate.

PSYCHIC TAROT – a genuinely odd site.

Despite the morally ambiguous nature of such a site there’s a number of postings which hammer home the message that the blogger in question doesn’t make contact with the police or families. Instead members of the public go there to request readings.

Adelaid Now’s opinion piece continues:

It won’t help. It’s just random information that could only befuddle a believer, impart false hope, or infuriate someone trying their best to see through the storm of information and misinformation surrounding Ms Meagher’s disappearance.

The Australian reports that a vagueness of psychics (is that the collective noun? Other suggestions include a “fraud”, or a “divination”) have claimed to “have insight” into the missing woman’s case.

When people go missing or are murdered, the psychic detectives move in. They approach the police or families to offer their “help”. Sometimes for money.

[Adelaid Now My emphasis}

From the looks of it the entrie article is hung upon nothing more than a throwaway sentence taken from The Australian:

There have also been a number of messages from psychics claiming to have insight into the case.

As a user of Tarot cards myself I am frequently frustrated by evangelical dogmatic rationalists who have an urge to debunk first and ask questions later. Most of the people I know who use Tarot do so merely as an intellectual exercise. I have no need to discover why Tarot appears to work for me. It’s likely to have something to do with my subconscious and possibly explained by some of the theories Jung developed in relation to occultism. Notice I am not saying it does work, I’m saying it appears to work. My frustration comes when a dogmatic rationalist is wrongly seen as ‘skeptic’.

True skepticism requires an open mind and does not deal in absolutes. Bold unverified statements such as “all of them are wrong” and “if something matches, it’s a fluke” go beyond the available data. The scientific method does not claim to prove anything beyond doubt, it merely suggests the most likely version of reality we have available at present.

Further reading related to the pitfalls of dogmatic rationalism and it’s vice-like grip on populist opinion is contained within the excellent book by biologist Rupert Sheldrake; The Science Delusion. There’s a good article in The Guardian about him here.

Meanwhile, in London, an interesting project by design company Superflux has recently been posted online. They comissioned and used new versions of the Tarot in a recent workshop designed to help designers and scientists explore the social, economic and political implications of synthetic biology. It’s a good example of how modern corporations and businesses are using the notion of Tarot and chaos magick as a provocative thought exercise.

, , , , , ,

  • http://twitter.com/alizardx A.Lizard

    “If it helps to turn one’s hat around during a poker game, then it helps. It is irrelevant that the hat has no magic powers.” Robert A. Heinlein, from “Stranger in a Strange Land”. Google Books – http://bit.ly/ShFvxw (part of a discussion that will annoy card-carrying Skeptics and those who take “rationalism” past rational limits)

    • Only_Reason

       Actually it doesn’t help, because it leads to an increasingly paranoid worldview (and that’s coming from someone who has worked with people with severe paranoia and OCD in clinical settings).

      • Golchab

        we all need a little paranoia. (my 2 cents)

  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

    This is a fun one http://www.sciencetarot.com/

    Looks to be a more typical format of a tarot deck too.

  • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

    I consulted the I Ching about this and it gave me: Treading (stepping carefully), Lu (LÎ)

    The General Meaning:
    Lî suggests the idea of one treading on the tail of a tiger, which does not bite him.
    There will be progress and success.
    Overall judgement:The situation is difficult with wild and intractable people. The strong will not harm the person who treads with decorum and propriety amid disorder and peril. The hazardous episode will end without damage

    The first line is moving:
    1. The first NINE, undivided, shows its subject treading his accustomed path.
    If he goes forward, there will be no error.

    • Calypso_1

      Did you use yarrow sticks?

    • Calypso_1

      Did you use yarrow sticks?

      • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

        I always use coins now, but years ago I used the sticks.
        This time I used Thai 10 Baht coins.
        Sometimes I use American coins, but I think the answers get polluted.

      • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

        I always use coins now, but years ago I used the sticks.
        This time I used Thai 10 Baht coins.
        Sometimes I use American coins, but I think the answers get polluted.

  • David Howe

    I got a kick out of the classic Cold Reading:
    ““Something must have happened quickly; that there was a male person,
    stronger than her; there might be a car, something, something, rural
    area, something, something, eight weeks, something, something, sex and
    weapons and southeast and someone tall and strong. And a horse. Maybe a
    church. A dog.”
    Other possible links are: “Deserts, woods, obscure valleys, caves,
    dens, holes, mountains, churchyards, ruined buildings, coalmines, muddy
    places, wells, houses, offices.”

    nearly all women are murdered by a man
    nearly all males are stronger than nearly all females and males are generally taller, so she’s hedging her bets here.
    there indeed might be a car
    might be sex
    might be weapons (ya think?)
    church
    dog,
    desert
    house,
    office

    good god.  did she miss anything?

    PS Tarot card reveal no such information.

    • http://www.facebook.com/rthoneunomia.celine Threedinium

      The thing that leaped out at me about that was how similar the end results of the readings mentioned in the article are to a method of reading that someone showed me once. The lady who taught me was watching me intellectually apprehend the cards and had me instead distinguish between thoughts and feeling, and then disregarding thoughts focus only on feeling. This way of reading the cards was very difficult for me at first for the tendency was to slip back into the rational, but the sort of things I began to say about the cards sounded an awful lot like the sort of statements made in the article. I was pretty much saying whatever floated up in connection with what I was looking at on the card.

      I interpreted this method as an attempt to connect with subconscious material that may or may not contain information about signals detected that I wouldn’t ordinarily have access to. When you mentioned cold reading I looked it up and the statements made in the article do have characteristics of generalities used in cold reading, so it’s possible I was simply being shown how to do that but I think there’s a vast difference in execution. Anyway the point is I reckon it’s difficult to write off things like this as a simple scam taking into account the various methods of reading.

    • http://www.facebook.com/rthoneunomia.celine Threedinium

      The thing that leaped out at me about that was how similar the end results of the readings mentioned in the article are to a method of reading that someone showed me once. The lady who taught me was watching me intellectually apprehend the cards and had me instead distinguish between thoughts and feeling, and then disregarding thoughts focus only on feeling. This way of reading the cards was very difficult for me at first for the tendency was to slip back into the rational, but the sort of things I began to say about the cards sounded an awful lot like the sort of statements made in the article. I was pretty much saying whatever floated up in connection with what I was looking at on the card.

      I interpreted this method as an attempt to connect with subconscious material that may or may not contain information about signals detected that I wouldn’t ordinarily have access to. When you mentioned cold reading I looked it up and the statements made in the article do have characteristics of generalities used in cold reading, so it’s possible I was simply being shown how to do that but I think there’s a vast difference in execution. Anyway the point is I reckon it’s difficult to write off things like this as a simple scam taking into account the various methods of reading.

  • feint_ruled

    Hmm. Tarot may appear to work because of some complex Jungian occult theory, or it may appear to work because of simple confirmation bias. How have you managed to discount the latter?

  • feint_ruled

    Hmm. Tarot may appear to work because of some complex Jungian occult theory, or it may appear to work because of simple confirmation bias. How have you managed to discount the latter?

21
More in Law Enforcement, mediums, Parapsychology, Psychics, Rupert Sheldrake, Skepticism
Are UFO’s from Mars and Ghosts from Venus?

Why is it that men seem more into UFOs and conspiracy theories whereas women tend to favour ghosts and psychics? A recent wideranging article on the BBC website describes a...

Close