The search for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 is a vastly complex endeavour. But it’s an empirical endeavour — it requires valid and reliable measurement and scanning methods, and an ability to objectively verify and triangulate all incoming data in order to draw logical conclusions about where to look next. For example, the latest wave of efforts appear to be benefiting hugely from satellite imagery, and we can only hope this helps investigators to quickly solve this tragic mystery.
Of course, the fact that it is a tragedy is no barrier to the crass minds of contemporary pseudoscientists. So we end up with this abomination, on CNN of all places:
Yes. It’s a psychic.
According to Lisa Williams, flight MH370 did not ditch in the ocean, but in fact landed somewhere after having been hijacked (meaning it flew thousands of miles in the opposite direction from where investigators are currently looking). She says many of the passengers are still alive, and that the entire conspiracy to take the plane offline involved one of the co-pilots.
And how does she know all this? Well, she saw it in her mind. Psychicry, and all that.
So to heck with your satellites and radar and data-crunching and evidence. To heck with all of that stuff. That’s pretty much how Lisa rolls. She doesn’t think actual evidence would be of any use.
In fact, according to her, actual evidence would be misleading. She feels it would get in the way of a proper investigation. Evidence.
Here’s her exchange with the CNN interviewer, Lynn Berry:
Berry: There are people at home right now that are going to shake their head at that, that are going to be disappointed that you would take that leap when you don’t have hard concrete evidence. What would you say to those people?
Psychic: Well, naturally, I don’t actually have hard concrete evidence and I think any psychic who has hard concrete evidence can’t do their job correctly.
Sorry, they can’t do their ‘job’ properly?
Psychic: Because they get misinformed, they get interpreted and they’ll just work on what they know. So I tend to work off what I don’t know.
Berry: Okay, so, wha-, wha-, wha- [literally, struggles to figure out what to say next]
So there you have it. Evidence gets in the way of good psychicry. You need to work off of what you don’t know. Knowing stuff sucks.
The interviewer then switches to an experienced airline pilot — he gets second dibs on this issue, behind the psychic — who nearly chokes trying to gather the correct words to articulate by way of response. He claims not to want to “disparage” the psychic’s “profession” and quickly rambles into a kind of buffer zone of non-comment.
This opens the door for another CNN contributor, Samantha Schacher, to ask the challenging questions:
Schacher: Do you have any idea where the passengers are being held?
Rocked by this haranguing interview style, the psychic hedges her bets:
Psychic: Well, this is actually an interesting question…
You mean, you were expecting other questions?
Psychic: …because I do believe it actually crashed and I see a lot of trees. I didn’t specifically look in to this, erm, for a reason. Because I’m actually reading for some of the family’s friends…
Is it just me, or is that as clear as mud?
Psychic: …and so therefore I’ve only looked at it today and I saw them landing in a lot of overhang of trees.
Well, it’s good to know that the families are being looked after. Pro bono work, I’m sure.
If you’re up to it, check out the entire video below.
“Can Psychics Help Find Plane?” the CNN caption asks. In my view, to even put forward that question is a tad grotesque.
Anyway, despite espousing an approach to empiricism that invokes the Dark Ages, psychic Lisa still feels modern tech is good for something. Reaching her audience, for example. And, I’m guessing, monetizing this engagement. All the buzzwords. She has a snazzy website, and her Twitter feed is here. Feel free to engage with her; she seems happy to tweet back:
And she only has 27,000 followers, the poor things.
Presumably they need actual Twitter to stay in touch with her, not being psychic enough themselves.
No doubt when the actual debris of MH370 is found deep in the Indian Ocean, things will happen fast: Lisa will be enveloped with guilt for having held up false hope for those hundreds of grieving relatives, lovers, and friends of the passengers who have perished, and she will be so ashamed that she immediately announces her retirement from this anachronistic and carnivaleqsue bunkumry. Maybe she’ll convert to scientism and campaign for other psychics to quit too. And CNN will do some penance for having given a mass audience to this anti-scientific hogwash.
That’s just a guess, though. How would I know what the future holds? I’m not, you know, psychic or anything.
Brian Hughes is an academic psychologist and university professor in Galway, Ireland, specialising in stress, health, and the application of psychology to social issues. He writes widely on the psychology of empiricism and of empirically disputable claims, especially as they pertain to science, health, medicine, and politics.