BC’s provincial slogan - “Super, Natural” - should now be changed to to “Superstitious”

August 9, 2010

While the slogan for Canada's beautiful British Columbia is "Super, Natural", I doubt they had in mind by that the desire to welcome just any sort of pseudoscience and superstition-promoting quack.  Yet that is the impression that the last few months might give you.  In that time BC has played host to quantum mystic and healer Deepak Chopra, just last week "psychic" Sylvia Browne, and coming up "medium" James Van Praagh who has had this to say about skeptics on Larry King Live on March 6, 2001:

"...we [psychics] are here to heal people and to help people grow...skeptics...they're just here to destroy people. They're not here to encourage people, to enlighten people. They're here to destroy people."

In case you forgot I covered the Deepak Chopra visit to Vancouver and our protest some time ago with my post Wishful Thinking Will Not Grant Good Health .  The incident was also reported by CFI Vancouver's Ian Cromwell and blogger PZ Myers . Briefly, as reported by CFI vancouver's Ethan Clow who led the protest at Chopra's presentation: 

"Deepak himself came over and talked with us. One of his followers made a few disparaging remarks about skeptics. We saw lots of famous people like the former mayor of Vancouver attend." 

Apparently, Chopra actually conversed with Ethan, but only to point out that among his entourage was a friend whose credentials legitimized his own remarks. That friend was Professor in consciousness studies Stuart Hameroff.  Hameroff is known for having worked with Roger Penrose on exploring the possible role of quantum mechanical processes occuring in microtubules in the brain in generating consciousness.  He also appeared in the film "What the Bleep do we know".  His scientific respectability seems hard to pin down.  His presentation at Beyond Belief was heavily criticized by many, including Lawrence Krauss.  You can watch and decide for yourself what to make of him.

In any case, that event is long done and we're now busy planning a James Van Praagh UnWelcome event to take place during his appearance in Vancouver on September 25 (for more on Praagh go here ).

But between these two appearances, Sylvia Browne snuck into the province and gave a presentation at Kelowna, in the interior of BC, on August 6.  As luck would have it, we only just a few weeks ago launched a new branch in that very city, and one of our first projects was to counter her appearance there.  The following is a report from Loren Price who heads up CFI Okanagan  

      For those of you who have never been to Kelowna it’s a tourist city and Sylvia’s venue was right in the center of the tourist area. We didn’t take that into account when we made our plans and by the time we found parking people were already flooding into the theater.  Flyers were quickly given to the members present and everyone started giving them to people entering the venue.  People didn’t object to being handed the flyers.  Due to our proximity with the door they thought we were giving out programs.  Maybe that was a little bit deceitful on our part but compared to the deceptions going on inside it was pretty insignificant.

   When the flood of spectators was mostly finished the manager for the theater came out and told us to get away from the entrance.  We obliged and moved to the sidewalk.  He returned a few minutes later to tell us that our flyer had upset a few people inside. Apparently some of them had recently lost loved ones and were hoping to communicate with them.  He said that he respected our rights to protest but we should have made our true intentions known rather than looking like people handing out programs.

   Through all of this we had some unlikely allies.  A couple of Jehovah’s Witnesses were there to tell the people psychics were satanic.  They gave us a few copies of the watchtower and we gave them a copy of “Skeptical Inquirer” with an article about Ms Browne along with some of our flyers [ Editor's Note: I tried to hand critical thinking literature to a group of Jehovah's Witnesses that stopped by CFI in Toronto a few months ago and they refused to touch it.  Maybe it was me. - J.T. ].  It’s a sad state of affairs when the most open minded people were JW’s.   Anyway they were very nice people and I hope that our paths might cross again someday.

It does however seem appropriate that JW's would be the natural enemies of psychics and mediums, considering their cult's belief that blood transfusion is a sin, even if it costs the lives of their children.  Sylvia Browne, James Van Praagh and the like have a complete disregard for the dead.  JW's have little respect for the living.

This post also on the CFI Canada Blogs