From the Guardian: UK Conservative MP David Tredinnick says astrology could help National Health Service physicians out by assisting in diagnosis but says he knows that there would be enormous pushback from using it. He accuses those who refuse to see the value in astrology of being "racially prejudiced." I'm not sure exactly how being skeptical of astrological claims makes one "racially prejudiced." Is there a correlation between acceptance of astrological claims and membership in certain ethnic groups that I have somehow overlooked? I would be really interested in that data.
ABE books, the online used and rare books vendor, is featuring a page on locked room mysteries. Among those listed are Clayton Rawson's Death From a Top Hat, which features Rawson's conjuror sleuth The Great Merlini, and Hake Talbot's The Rim of the Pit (1944). Hake Talbot is better known as Henning Nelms, stage magician and attorney. Nelms also wrote another mystery, The Hangman's Handyman (1942), and two short stories, The High House and The Other Side. All his works feature the sleuth Rogan Kincaid.
Clayton Rawson, a stage magician who like Henning Nelms who wrote several books on magic, wrote four Merlini novels: Death From a Top Hat (1938) The Footprints on the Ceiling (1939), The Headless Lady (1940) and No Coffin For the Corpse (1942). Robert Young (who later starred in the TV series Father Knows Best) starred in an adaptation of Death From a Top Hat as The Great Morgan in the film Miracles For Sale in 1939. In 1942 Lloyd Nolan, the noted actor, was featured in an adaptation of No Coffin For the Corpse called The Man Who Wouldn't Die.
The magician, either as sleuth or as perpetrator, is a natural for the locked room mystery, of course. More locked room mysteries are as near as the bookshelf or film and tv library. Try Otto Penzler's collection, Whodunit? Houdini? Thirteen Tales of Magic, Murder, Mystery (Harper & Row, 1976) and the television series Jonathan Creek. And check out this wonderful Genii forum thread on magic and magician-themed mysteries.
The flap over the new zodiac continues. In a Sunday (Feb. 13) New York Times article, Vincent Mallozzi notes that at least one couple waited to confirm it should be together until one of them transformed (magicially) from being a Capricorn (not fated) to a Sagittarius (fated) according to the new chart. According to one of the couple, "For 15 years...every tarot reader had produced the Knight of Wands, meaning that the person I was supposed to hook up with was a Sagittarius.'” Because of that, apparently he had held off committing to this person, even though he was attracted. "“`It didn’t make too much sense," said his partner. But now, with confirmation from the new chart, "Our relationship feels a lot more fated." Hmmm.
"Astronomers have known about this since about 130 B.C., Kunkle told The Associated Press Friday in his office at the Minneapolis Community and Technical College, his phone ringing constantly, as it had since the article came out. (One person had even demanded: "Give me my sign back.") This is not new news. Almost every astronomy class talks about it. New news or old, most people had never heard it before. And one of the more fascinating elements of the story was talk of a new sign altogether. By the reckoning of Kunkle and other astronomers, astrologers are not only a month off in their zodiac signs, but they are neglecting a 13th constellation, Ophiuchus (Ooh-FEE-yew-kus) the Serpent Bearer, for those born from Nov. 30 to Dec. 17."
Mr. Mallozzi quotes a lawyer-astrologerfrom New Jersey who says the change shouldn't worry those attached to their signs, since Western Astrologers don't use the constellations. So no one should be concerned. "Kathy Biehl, a lawyer and astrologer in Jefferson Township, N.J., said Earth’s wobbly orbit was a problem for astrologers as far back as 1,800 years ago. Some of them at the time devised a new zodiac based on the seasons and the relationship between the sun and Earth. "`The Western zodiac does not use the constellations,' she insisted. “And as a result, no one’s astrological sign has changed.'"
Still, some people are miffed about the change in their birth signs. Maybe they could sue for IIED. I can foresee the old Zodiac class action brought against, oh dear, whom? Those astronomers who didn't notify us (since 130 B.C., no less)? Just kidding. It's Monday.
According to one of the Sexy Beast's interviewees, "shoppers who wait until after Dec. 9 will get stuck with faulty products or presents that no one wanted in the first place. By mid-December, holiday travelers will be hit with bad weather, mechanical errors and possibly, terrorist threats. Wars may break out, marriages will dissolve, people will lose their jobs and, as astrologer Gahl Sasson put it, “the whole planet is going to have Tourette’s syndrome.”" Yikes.
Apparently, among the best advice astrologers consulted have is to finish shopping early. Think practical. Buy gift certificates, not electronics, which I suppose could break down (although they do that even when Mercury isn't in retrograde. And what about the years when all this stuff happens and Mercury isn't in retrograde? I don't understand). Don't overdo. Be flexible.
All good advice. But on the other hand, don't psychologists give out similar advice every holiday? See Relationship advice for the holidays here, travel advice for the holidays here, and depression busters here. Oddly, Mercury in retrograde is not mentioned in any of them.
Carry on. I wish you and yours a wonderful non-denominational gift-giving occasion.
Remember that constitutional flap over psychics and licensing in Las Vegas? I finally got around to looking up the relevant sections in the current municipal code, and apparently the city has amended the sections. Here's what I found. Section 6.12.831, which was the section that psychic Debbie Marks objected to originally, seems to have vanished. Now, in order to practice the psychic arts, one must be licensed, and to get a license, one must comply with the rules (below) and pay a semiannual fee of one hundred dollars.
The City Council hereby finds that the businesses set forth in this Chapter seriously affect the well-being of the City and its residents, and that it is necessary to regulate such activities carefully in order to ensure that persons of honesty and integrity are operating such businesses and that they are operated in a responsible manner to the public. Such businesses must therefore comply with Chapter 6.06. (Ord. 2246 § 1 (part), 1981: prior code § 5-10-1)
Article II Astrologer’s License
No person shall practice, teach, or profess to practice the business of astrology and demand or receive a fee for the exercise of said business, directly or indirectly or incidental to the conduct of any other business, either as a gift, donation or otherwise, or give an exhibition thereof at any place where an admission fee is charged, without first obtaining and thereafter maintaining a valid unexpired license pursuant to this Code. (Ord. 2246 § 1 (part), 1981: prior code § 5-10-2(A))
6.12.040 Age of applicant.
The applicant for an astrologer’s license must be twenty-one years of age or older. (Ord. 2246 § 1 (part), 1981: prior code § 5-10-2(C))
6.12.050 Publications exempted.
The publication or placement of astrology information in a book, newspaper, magazine or other periodical is exempt from this Article. (Ord. 2246 § 1 (part), 1981: prior code § 5-10-2(D))
Each person required to be licensed by this Article shall pay in advance a semiannual license fee of one hundred dollars. (Ord. 3843 § 72, 1994: Ord. 2246 § 1 (part), 1981: prior code § 5-10-2(E))
Article III Hypnotist’s License.
No person shall carry on, practice, or profess to practice the business of hypnotism and demand or receive a fee for such practice, directly or indirectly, or incidental to the conduct of any other business, either as a gift, donation or otherwise, or give an exhibition thereof at any place where an admission fee is charged, without first obtaining and thereafter maintaining a valid unexpired license pursuant to this Code. (Ord. 2246 § 1 (part), 1981: prior code § 5-10-3(A))
6.12.090 Physicians and psychologists.
Licensed physicians and psychologists certified under NRS 641 are exempt from this Article. (Ord. 2246 § 1 (part), 1981: prior code § 5-10-3(C))
Each person required to be licensed by this Article must pay in advance a semiannual license fee of one hundred dollars. (Ord. 3843 § 73, 1994: Ord. 2246 § 1 (part), 1981: prior code § 5-10-3(D))
Article IV Psychic Art and Science Licenses
No person shall carry on, practice or profess to practice the business of psychic art, psychic science, palmistry, phrenology, life reading, fortune telling, cartomancy, clairvoyance, clairaudience, crystal gazing, mediumship, prophecy, augury, divination, magic or necromancy, and demand or receive a fee for the exercise or exhibition of his art therein, directly or indirectly, or incidental to the conduct of any other business, either as a gift, donation or otherwise, or give an exhibition thereof at any place where an admission fee is charged, without first obtaining and thereafter maintaining a valid unexpired license pursuant to this Code. (Ord. 2246 § 1 (part), 1981: prior code § 5-10-4(A))
6.12.130 Assistants and devices.
No employee or other person shall assist the licensee in any audience or reading, nor shall any mechanical device of any description whatsoever be used by the licensee in the conduct of any interview, audience, or reading. (Ord. 2246 § 1 (part), 1981: prior code § 5-10-4(C))
Each person required to be licensed by this Article shall pay in advance a semiannual fee of one hundred dollars. (Ord. 3843 § 74, 1994: Ord. 2246 § 1 (part), 1981: prior code § 5-10-4(D))
CNN has this story on the "booming business" that the struggling economy has brought for psychics. Instead of asking about their love lives, people are asking about careers and money.This isn't the first story I've seen that details an increase in the number of folks beating a path to the door of psychics, astrologers and others promising to foretell the future. After all, economists, stock market forecasters, and other professionals, they say, haven't done such a great job. [BTW, the psychologist interviewed in the piece is, I believe, Stanley Krippner.]
What I thought was interesting was what one of the interviewees said about what the psychic told her. "Randy says I'm going to reinvent myself and have a new career." She had lost her job and was seeking advice. Well, reinventing herself and getting into a new career might be something a psychic might see in her future. But couldn't a career counselor, for example, also foresee the same outcome for her, by giving her some specific advice on how to redo her resume, repackage herself, etc.? But she looked happy with her reading, and she'll probably take affirmative steps to do just that--seek out new opportunities.
Check out my previous post on psychics and the faltering economy. The CNN story also mentions something called the American Association of Psychics. I did not know there was such a thing. You learn something new every day.
Ofcom, the UK regulatory authority responsible for broadcast media, has sanctioned a channel available on SKY TV for some ads promoting astrology, weight loss, and a face cream. Venus TV found itself in trouble, first with the Advertising Standards Authority beginning last year, which regulates some advertising and takes care of some broadcast tv ads for Ofcom (since 2004), and now with Ofcom, for ads for Golden Bull Kastoori Capsules, Jorge Hane Weight Loss, Pandith Astrology, Pundit Maharaj astrology, and Roopamrit face cream.
The ASA investigated the health-related claims made by Healtheeze, the makers of Golden Bull Kastoori Capsules. "The ASA noted the ad stated "We make no Medical Claim". However, we also noted the ad referred to medical conditions, in particular, depression, impotency and childlessness and claimed that Golden Bull might help viewers with such conditions. We were concerned that the ad claimed the product could help with impotency, an adverse medical condition, and considered it could discourage viewers from seeking help from suitably qualified medical professionals. We were also concerned that by stating "For the health of your family - Golden Bull Kastoori Capsules", the ad implied the supplement could enhance normal, good physical condition. We concluded that the ad was in breach of the Code." Read the entire ruling here.
It investigated the claims made by the Jorge Hane Weight Loss ad and complaints by viewers. "Venus TV withdrew the infomercial and said their compliance officer had thoroughly checked it before broadcast. Venus TV maintained that the Jorge Hane Weight Loss Programme was a diet and exercise programme coupled with an all-natural dietary supplement that was "supposed to work". They submitted evidence from some clinical trials....The ASA welcomed Venus TVs assurance that the infomercial had been withdrawn. We considered that the evidence was inadequate to substantiate the claims, including the claim in the products name Fat Fast" and that it was the only weight loss product with proof that it worked. We considered that referring to clinical studies implied that the product had been properly evaluated in a placebo-controlled trial. Because we had seen no evidence of such a trial, we considered that the claims were misleading. We noted Venus TV had not obtained suitably qualified medical advice on the safety and efficacy of the product as required by rule 8.4.2."
ASA also investigated complaints about the ads for Pandith astrology and Pundit Maharaj astrology. In regard to Pandith astrology, it said: "An ad on Venus TV said and stated "meet world famous astrologer and palm reader from generations. Pandith is an expert in astrology. He can tell you about marriage, employment, family, spousal conflict, social business, financial problems, citizenship, health, wealth and exam studies. Combines the power of palmistry, clairvoyance, astrology and face-reading to give you a more complete reading. Please contact Sri Guru Poojya Vijay Sharmaji ...". On-screen text stated ... Pandith is an Expert in Astrology with 99% Accurate Results in Palmistry and also Prediction of Horoscope ... Born Gifted with Spiritual Powers let him help you to Solve your Problems with his Expert knowledge Yantrik & Mantric" over background graphics of the solar system and tarot cards....Venus TV withdrew the ad as soon as the challenges were brought to their attention. They explained that the person normally in charge of compliance had been unable to carry out the routine advertising checks. Venus TV acknowledged that someone else should have been carrying out the compliance checks in the meantime. Venus TV explained that the ad had aired in error before they received the clearance documents from the client. Venus TV added that the ad would not be shown until they had received them....The ASA welcomed Venus TVs assurance that the ad had been withdrawn. The CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code prohibits advertising for products or services within the recognized character of the occult. Note 4 of section 10.3 The occult, psychic practices and exorcism explains that that includes personal astrology readings and palmistry. We considered that the ad promoted a palm readers services. We concluded that the ad was for an unacceptable category....The Code also prohibits (with certain exceptions) commercial services offering advice on personal or consumer problems. We considered that the services referred to in the claim He can tell you about marriage, employment, family, spousal conflict, social business, financial problems, citizenship, health, wealth & exam studies" fell within that prohibition. We concluded that the ad was for an unacceptable category....We noted Venus TV had submitted no evidence to substantiate the claim. We considered that the claim was misleading." Read the entire ruling on Pandith astrology here.
With regard to the Pundit Maharaj astrology ad, the ASA found that, "Hindi and English versions of an ad for Pundit Maharaj aired on Venus TV. The voice-over said "Pundit Maharaj established since 1952 in England. Numerous successful clients all over the world. For more information please call 07974 XXXXX or log on to www.punditjimaharaj.com." The ad featured a graphic of a palm and, in the top right of the screen, a circling wheel of zodiac signs....Venus TV withdrew the ad as soon as the challenge was brought to their attention. They explained that the person normally in charge of compliance had been unable to carry out the routine advertising checks. Venus TV acknowledged that someone else should have been carrying out the compliance checks in the meantime. Venus TV explained that the advertiser had assured them that the ad had been approved and was being shown on other channels. Venus TV added that they had requested a clearance certificate for the ad and that they would not show the ad again until they had it....The ASA welcomed Venus TVs assurance that the ad had been withdrawn. We reminded Venus TV that the responsibility for advertising content lay with the broadcaster and it was not acceptable to rely on other broadcasters clearances. We noted the website that was featured in the ad stated Everyday you read in the papers about the different SPIRITUAL HEALERS and ASTROLOGERS and of their AUTHENTICITY and POWERS ... PUNDIT JEE is the only SPIRITUAL HEALER who can prove by DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE that his FAMILY i.e., FATHER and he have been ESTABLISHED in ENGLAND since 1952. NO other PSYCHIC can prove their EXISTENCE and AUTHENTICITY with DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE. This PROVES that PUNDIT JEE is the only SUCCESSFUL SPIRITUAL HEALER who has helped PEOPLE from all walks of life and can prove this by LETTERS from SATISFIED CLIENTELE who have had their PROBLEMS solved with a 100% GUARANTEE." "If you have a problem that has not been solved by any GURU or SPIRITUAL HEALER PUNDIT JEE invites you to contact him as a LAST RESORT and I PROMISE that all your PROBLEMS will be finished FOREVER and you will be one of the MILLIONS of DEVOTEES of PUNDIT MAHARAJ who are leading SUCCESSFUL and CONFIDENT lives and come EVERY YEAR from all over the WORLD to pay their RESPECTS and touch PUNDIT JEE'S feet. Because ads for the occult and psychic practices were prohibited by rule 10.3, we considered that the ad indirectly promoted an unacceptable product. The ad breached CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code rule 3.2. (Indirect promotion)." Read the entire ruling here.
Finally, with regard to the face cream, ASA found, "A 15-minute, direct response TV ad in Hindi for Roopamrit, a face cream, aired on Venus TV. Bhagyashree, an actress, stated that the product contained herbs and roots "that shall prove to be like nectar in making your complexion fair and glowing. Jaiphal and Sarso detoxifies your skin and gets rid of your acne and pimples. Almonds and walnuts helps in clearing the dead cells off your skin and rejuvenating it, hence reducing wrinkles. Mulethi and Aloe Vera reduces dark circles under your eyes. Kesar and Chandan enhances your skin and make it fair and glowing. If you want to get rid of acne and pimples, dark circles under your eyes, reduce the wrinkles to look young and your age, if you want to get rid of your dark complexion and be fairer then start using Roopamrit." The infomercial provided several testimonials. The ASA went on, "Venus TV withdrew the infomercial as soon as it was brought to their attention. They explained that the person normally in charge of compliance had been unable to carry out the routine advertising checks. Venus TV acknowledged that someone else should have been carrying out the compliance checks in the meantime. Venus TV explained that Roopamrit was being advertised on other channels and that they had been assured that some documents would be submitted by the advertiser to substantiate the claims. Venus TV added that they had requested a clearance certificate for Roopamrit. They explained that they usually requested a clearance certificate or documentary evidence to substantiate claims....The ASA welcomed Venus TVs assurance that the infomercial had been withdrawn. We reminded Venus TV that the responsibility for advertising content lay with the broadcaster and it was not acceptable to rely on other broadcasters clearances. We understood from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) that acne was an adverse medical condition and that they would regard a claim to treat it as a medicinal claim. We understood that Roopamrit did not have a marketing authorisation. We noted that the only evidence Venus TV submitted was the same study the ASA had evaluated in July. Then we had considered that the evidence was insufficient to support the claims. We considered that the claims were misleading. The infomercial breached CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code rules 5.1 (Misleading advertising), 5.2.1 (Evidence), 5.2.2 (Implications), 5.4.4 (Testimonials) and 8.2.3 (Products without a marketing authorisation)....We considered that the appearance of the doctors had given the impression of professional support and recommendation for the product. We were concerned that this was the second time Venus TV had breached this rule for the same reason. The infomercial breached CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code rule 8.1.2 (a) (Impressions of professional advice and support)....We were concerned that Venus TV had so seriously failed in its compliance procedures. This was despite a reminder from the monitoring team in April to keep up to date with ASA adjudications. We were concerned that Venus TV seemed to rely on whether the ad had aired on other channels for its acceptability." Read the entire ruling here.
Even though the ASA handed down these adjudications in 2007, it requested Ofcom, its sister agency, to consider the "serious and repeated nature of the breaches" that Venus TV had committed by airing ads that ASA concluded were misleading. Consider that the ASA had consulted with Venus TV before it handed down sanctions over the ads, and had warned the channel that relying on others to vet the ads was unacceptable, since responsibility for the content lies with the broadcaster. The type of products advertised include "miracle cures" (the lightening of skin color, for example) and occult practices (rule 10.3). Read Ofcom's ruling on the Venus TV ads here.
The New York Times reports on the turn toward psychics in a time in which professional advice givers seem to have so little to tell us.
In an era when even Henry M. Paulson Jr., the Treasury secretary, changes his mind weekly about how to rescue the United States economy, Mr. Taccetta’s decision to seek the advice of a psychic may not seem all that irrational. With Washington flinging pieces of the $700 billion bailout package around, dithering about whom to rescue — homeowners? automakers? cousin Fred? — a good set of tarot cards might come in handy.
“Your mortgage agents, your realtors, your bankers, you can’t go to these people anymore,” said Tori Hartman, a psychic in Los Angeles. “They’re just reading a script — at least that’s how my clients feel. People are sensing that the traditional avenues have not worked, that all of a sudden this so-called security that they’ve built up isn’t there anymore. They come to a psychic for a different perspective.”