No News is Typical
"No True Scotsman": When someone is described as not being a "real" member of a social grouping by someone in that grouping because of a perceived weakness. In the example from Anthony Flew's book "Thinking About Thinking":
- Argument: "No Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge."
- Reply: "But my uncle Angus likes sugar with his porridge."
- Rebuttal: "Ah yes, but no true Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge."
So how does someone explain this mistaken declaration away? Well, according to Sylvia herself,
"I cannot possibly be 100% correct in each and every one of my predictions".
As for Rosemary, she gets a dig in at Browne's expense by declaring her No True Psychic:
"Most of us in fact have some psychic ability, we have some instinct, some understanding of a connection beyond this world. But so many people now are so irresponsible with this gift. [...] Basically what I'm saying is people do make mistakes."
Good enough cover? She's either just occasionally wrong (quoth Sylvia) or she's inept (Rosemary says). That's got the bases covered, right? Not in this case, I think.
There are reasons why I don't think a shug of the shoulders and "oops!" is acceptable or excusable: First off, Browne continually claims she is given knowledge that non-psychics do not have. She says this ability comes from God or from spirit guides (almost invariably related to the questioner) so unless God is frequently wrong, or people get weird senses of humour when they die...
She also doles out medical advice, describing prescriptions and amounts; so I hope she thinks she's right those times! Plus, she regualrly petitions God to assign angels to her customers, and God does. These are not the acts of someone who lacks confidence in their abilities.
But then, as Ms. Altea notes:
"[...]we all know also that there are in every profession, there are people who state that they are much more qualified than in fact they are. We get a quack doctor. That doesn't mean that the whole medical profession should be condemned for one quack doctor."
Of course, she doesn't bother to mention that there are a plethora of ways to verify whether a doctor is legitimate or not. Plus, if they get it wrong, they can be punished for it. As anyone who's tried to sue a psychic has found out, the onus is entirely on them to prove the psychic misled them. Frankly, the odds aren't good, because you have to convince people you are both 1) stupid enough to go to a psychic for advice; and 2) smart enough to realise you've been duped.
Secondly, this happens over and over again: when a psychic is "right", it's in the most trivial of ways, such as hair colour of the kidnapper, or a body being dumped "beside a road"; and when they're wrong, well, engineering terminology puts it best. So no, I don't think "Oh, your kid's alive? Oops" is a reasonable response.
Occasionally I hear the argument of "What's the harm?" If someone wants to piss their money away to make themselves feel less guilty, what's wrong with that? Well, let me put it this way: if you have no problem with psychics duping people out of their cash (not even going to bother with the whole "health advice" idiocy), then you clearly have no concerns about this man, either. After all, the people Salim Damji defrauded didn't do any research into his claims, and it made them feel better to think they were getting something for their cash. His (and others like him) mistake was that he could be found out - if he stuck to the metaphysical, there'd have been no problems with lawsuits at all.