Back in the late 40’s, renowned author L. Sprague de Camp went a mini-tour in which he read people’s minds, told their future and pretty much freaked the heck out of folks. Then he, like a post war version of Penn & Teller, would show the audience exactly how he did it. Robert Heinlein talks about it in his book Expanded Universe. Basically, de Camp wanted the world to know that there were plenty of real mysteries yet to be solved and they needn’t bother themselves with mountebanks and frauds. Later the devout rationalist and premiere illusionist, James Randi, tore a new bung-hole into every facet of “6th sense” advocates. He even went so far as to offer one million of his own dollars to anyone who could prove him wrong. Over 40 years later that money’s still sitting in a bank.
And he got that account back when banks offered 7% interest and a free toaster. It may be the best investment he ever made.
But, sadly, there are still people who read their horoscopes for guidance oblivious of the fact that if you pattern your day a certain way, no matter the motivation, that’s usually how your day will go. Others have their tea leaves read or throw bones or whatever other silliness they can feebly grasp in an attempt to understand the world around them.
In a world which has had science and nature give us true wonders to ponder, there are still people who think that Charmed is a documentary.
Hopefully, those people will go and see a real documentary instead. AOL News’ Monica Garske writes about a new movie from filmmaker Blake Freeman that tackles psychic phenomena head on.
Many of us have given a few bucks to some alleged psychic to tell us stuff we already know, but what if you spent your entire life savings looking into the future, attempting to contact ghosts and protecting yourself from aliens?
That’s the premise behind filmmaker Blake Freeman’s newest documentary, “Gawd Bless America,” in which he travels across America with a 69-year-old “believer” named LeRoy Tessina who’s gone bankrupt after years of buying into fraudulent fortune-tellers and alien-protection devices.
In hopes of setting Tessina straight, the duo set out on a weird cross-country adventure to debunk self-proclaimed psychics, healers, alien-abduction experts and ghost hunters.
To get to the truth, Freeman and Tessina go around playing pranks on these alleged “experts” — sort of like Sacha Baron Cohen did in “Borat,” minus the bad Kazakh accent and neon-green thong bathing suit.
Freeman told AOL News that the minute he met Tessina, he knew his story had to be told.
“My friends and I ordered pizza one night and LeRoy delivered it to us. The tab came out to $88.88, and LeRoy started talking to me about numerology and what the total on the tab meant. Then he started talking about UFOs and psychics and I thought, ‘Holy s–t, this guy really believes in this stuff.’
“I started to think about how many people there were just like him out there; how many people had paid money to psychics and alien ‘experts’ just to be taken advantage of. We decided to show LeRoy the truth by taking him on a little trip and documenting it,” Freeman said.
And just like that, Freeman and his new buddy were off to debunk “believers” and prove that pet psychics, alien abductees, voodoo experts and the like are, frankly, full of crap.
They even spoke to a guy, Freeman said, who claimed to be an “alien-human hybrid,” who believed he had been conceived after his mother was artificially inseminated by an extraterrestrial.
“I asked another ‘expert’ about anal probing, and he stuttered for 17 seconds during his response. He couldn’t tell me why aliens were interested in looking up our butts. Once they’ve seen one ass, don’t you think they’d stop? Why would they keep doing it?” Freeman said with a laugh.
Freeman also debunked the myth of crop circles by showing Tessina that humans, not aliens, could easily make the mysterious symbols often found in corn fields.
“I hired a guy for $100 off Craigslist and he helped us make a geometrically perfect crop circle in a field in less than four hours,” explained Freeman.
The crop circle’s shape, you ask? A huge middle-finger flipping off researchers and supposed crop circle “scientists.”
While dealing with alien believers was certainly strange, Freeman said their weirdest encounter, hands down, was meeting a self-proclaimed “scatomancer” — a guy who claimed he could read people’s futures by staring at their feces.
“He was a poop-reader. He had LeRoy go to the bathroom and bring his poop out in a bowl. I was laughing through the whole thing — I couldn’t stop,” Freeman said.
The poop-reader — who later admitted he learned his crappy craft on the Internet — poked, prodded and even sniffed Tessina’s poop only to tell him a bunch of BS about his future.
Needless to say, Freeman confirmed that the “scatomancer” was full of it.
Another time, Freeman said Tessina had his aura “cleansed” by a man who rubbed flowers all over Tessina’s body and then spit on him. Again, not much came of that weird encounter except a steep bill for the spitting services.
The cross-country journey also led Freeman and Tessina to several ghost hunters, but Freeman said they never experienced any paranormal activity themselves.
Instead, they invited an alleged paranormal expert to examine a frat house that wasn’t really haunted and tried to channel the ghost of Marilyn Monroe at the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood, to no avail.
Throughout the bizarre trip, Freeman said he was surprised to learn just how many Americans actually believe in this type of stuff without having any concrete evidence.
“It’s crazy and kind of shocking, if you think about it. LeRoy definitely wasn’t alone in his beliefs, but at least he eventually got his head on straight.”
While Freeman feels he proved his point and filmed some pretty funny footage in the process, he also made a lifelong friend.
The filmmaker, who’s in his mid-30s, said that after a few months of traveling together he and Tessina didn’t even feel the age gap and turned out to be really good pals.
They ate together, pranked unsuspecting loons together and even did keg stands together.
Now, there’s something you’d have to see to believe.
“Gawd Bless America” hits theaters March 4, and the DVD will follow soon thereafter.
I’ve already written about how unlikely it is that the Earth is at the crossroads of the universe. Mostly because we’re on the outskirts of our own galaxy. Think of it this way, if the majority of life forms live in the galactic equivalent of New York, we’re in Nome. While they may get curious about it someday, there just isn’t a lot of incentive to head out there on a daily basis. Whale blubber tacos just aren’t that interesting.
As to the rest of the so-called “psychic phenomena,” I believe that the scatologist is the best analogy going.