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An intuitive or intuitionist is a person who claims to have psychic abilities. Intuitives are sometimes called sensitives. Some intuitives earn a very good living telling people things they want to hear or helping them make decisions. Intuitives don't have to know anything about the subjects they give advice on. They must, however, appear confident and knowledgeable to the one paying the bill. Being an intuitive is not as risky as it might seem. If you are charging a client $10,000 a month to be on call 24/7, as Laura Day claims she does, you don't have to worry about giving bad advice. Anyone paying that kind of money to an alleged psychic wants to remain anonymous, especially if he or she realizes she's been taken to the cleaners. Thus, only those who are satisfied customers are likely to speak up and they will testify to your wonderful abilities. Those who have been burned will keep their mouths shut out of embarrassment for wasting their money.
Day came to the forefront of the "corporate intuitive" movement with her 1997 book Practical Intuition. (You can pick up a used copy for a penny from Amazon.) Not surprisingly, several celebrities have endorsed Day: Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston, and Demi Moore. Day believes she has a number of good anecdotes and exercises that will help you put your sixth sense to work. She says she's pulled in $10 million over the past fifteen years helping people learn how to find their keys or helping businesses maximize their potential by keying in on such things as conflicts between the research and marketing divisions of a company.
In 2006, Gabriel Lawson, executive director of software engineering for Seagate Technology, hired Day to run a workshop, even though she has no technical training or experience. Lawson claims she was "amazing." I would be amazed if Lawson knows anything about subjective validation or cold reading. Those who invest in companies like Seagate might wonder what is going on with corporate leadership, but apparently there are many corporations hiring psychics to put on seminars for their management and staff. Those who are required to sit through these demonstrations by so-called "intuitives" might not want to tell their bosses what they really think of being advised by people who admit up front that they don't have any credentials except the endorsements they've picked up along the way.
According to Newsweek, attorneys are using psychics to help them pick juries. George W. Bush has stated several times that he is ruled by his gut feelings. (Remember his words on meeting Vladimir Putin: "I looked the man in the eye....I was able to get a sense of his soul.")* Some of the most popular television programs today have psychics as their central figures. The latest show, on A&E, features kids who think they're psychic or at least will say they're psychic to get on TV. It seems as if America has become a nation of anti-rational worshippers of the gut feeling. This has happened before in history during very troubled times. Who can deny that this world we wake up to each day seems to be disintegrating? We have wars without end, terrorist bombings, a ruined economy, continued corporate corruption,* and a seemingly unprotected environment. Add a few huge natural disasters to the mix and things start to look pretty bleak. What better anecdote than a cheery, chirpy woman who will tell you she has the secret to make things better?
All you have to do is listen to a few stories about how it has worked for one woman who has gone from rags to riches helping people get in touch with their sixth sense.
Do I sound jealous?
My commentaries on various alleged psychics and psychic powers:
books and articles
Frazier, Kendrick and James Randi, "Predictions After The Fact: Lessons Of The Tamara Rand Hoax," in Science Confronts The Paranormal, ed., Kendrick Frazier (Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 1986), first published in the Skeptical Inquirer 6, no.1 (Fall 1981): 4-7.
Randi, James. Flim-Flam! (Buffalo, New York: Prometheus Books,1982), especially chapter 13, "Put Up or Shut Up," where he gives accounts of tests done on several psychics who have tried to collect the $10,000 Randi used to offer to anyone demonstrating a psychic power. So far, no one has collected, even though the offer is now over $1,000,000!
Psychic Scams by May Chow
Psychic Experiences: Psychic Illusions by Susan Blackmore, 1992, in Skeptical Inquirer 16 367-376.
"A Guide to Cold Reading" by Ray Hyman
Psychic Sophistry by Tony Youens
Secrets of a Telephone Psychic by Jane Louise Boursaw
The Research With B.D. and the Legacy of Magical Ignorance by George P. Hansen
Deception by Subjects in Psi Research by George P. Hansen
Slate's Human Guinea Pig: Telepsychic by Alex Chadwick
Psychic Friends Get The Call From Corporate America (The Marketing Fray blog)