At Oakland North, a project of the UC Berkeley School of Journalism, reporter Alyssa Fetini asks the pressing question: "Psychics are ubiquitous in Oakland, but are they for real?." Fetini interviews several store-front "psychics," as well as the proprietor of the Berkeley Psychic Institute, which purports to train anyone to exercise psychic powers. After allowing the psychics to offer their own claims, she gives UC Berkeley psychologist Kyle Jennings a chance to respond. "Psychologists," Jennings explains, "would not believe that a person was actually psychic." Fetini then reviews some of the recent reports of psychics defrauding customers (as previously reported at BAS). Director of the Berkeley Psychic Institute Richard Pozzuto gets the last word, denying that his trainees have anything to do with such scams, insisting "we train people to find their own answers." The Institute's website refers to its programs as "psychic kinde
Janet Adams plead "no contest" to charges of fraud. BAS reported the self-described psychic's arrest in December, 2008. Adams originally plead not guilty, but prosecutors threatened to add fraud charges on behalf of two other victims, and Adams agreed to accept a jail term of up to six years and to make restitution to all three victims. The case filed against her involved an elderly woman who gave Adams $80,330 based on promises that it would keep the victim's husband from dying, and would avert harm to other people. According to the Oakland Tribune: A number of victims approached police after Adams' Dec. 18 arrest, but prosecutors could only press charges in cases with "intrinsic fraud," [San Mateo County Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve] Wagstaffe said. "When you get a quid pro quo ??? 'your husband will die if you don't give me money,' what she's saying is, 'I will prevent it from happening,' and that's the falsehood," Wagstaffe said. "She can't prevent the husband from dying in two weeks unless she has some powers we don't know about." If that was the case, "she probably wouldn't have pleaded no contest," Wagstaffe added. Robert Byers, Adams' attorney, took a less skeptic
Senator Claiborne Pell passed away on New Year's day. The 90 year-old former Senator from Rhode Island is fondly remembered by the tens of millions of students who have been able to go to college thanks to the financial aid grants named in his honor. Skeptics have their own reason to mourn the six-term Senator. He earned the nickname "Senator Oddball" from Time magazine for his obsession with ESP. The Washington Post's obituary explains that he earned the moniker because of:
a 1987 incident when, fearing an extrasensory perception gap with the Soviets, he invited carnival-level spoon bender Uri Geller to Washington to demonstrate his skills. Sen. Pell also attended a symposium on UFO abductions.In addition, Pell hired a Senate staffer to investigate ESP.
During the 1990 campaign, the aide played speeches by Bush and other high officials on the topic of Iran backward. In doing so, Sen. Pell informed the secretary of defense, the word "Simone" had been discerned, and he described this as "a code word that would not be in the national interest to be known." "It sounds wacky but there may be some merit to it," Sen. Pell commented. He told an interviewer later that the "Simone" issue "had not been helpful in t
Janet Adams, a self-described psychic, was arrested for bilking an 85-year-old woman out of $80,330. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Adams told the victim "that her husband would die of a heart attack if she didn't immediately pay $13,000 for 'special prayers,' the prosecutor said." On subsequent visits, the purported psychic extracted more and more money from the elderly victim, until her (still-healthy) husband noticed the odd transactions. The Chronicle explains that:
Adams has victimized numerous women in San Mateo County in the past and was sent to state prison in 2004 for two years on a theft conviction, authorities said. At that time, Adams worked as a palm reader at the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival.My crystal ball tells me that the victim, who visited Adams the first time "on a lark," has learned her lesson. Hopefully Adams will learn hers, too. The photograph of Adams is from the San Mateo County Sheriff's Department,