January 13, 2007

Psychic Wankers Fail; Boys Returned

Psychics are frauds, and I feel bad for the people who are in such desperate situations that they finally turn to psychics for some hope.

On Monday, 13-year-old Ben Ownby stepped off his school bus and ran down the road to his house. He did not arrive home. Days later, some observant police officers noticed a van that was connected to the missing boy case while they were serving an unrelated warrant. This led police to the kidnapper, and to Ben, who was reunited with his parents.

However, they also found another boy, 15-year-old Shawn Hornbeck. Shawn had disappeared in 2002 when he was 11 and did not return home after a bike ride near his home in Richwoods, MO. Both boys appeared to be in good health.

Shawn’s parents, the Akers, have undoubtedly been through hell for the last 4 1/2 years.

Craig Akers, Shawn’s stepfather, quit his job as a software designer to devote his time to a foundation bearing his son’s name. They depleted their savings, borrowed against their retirement and talked to psychics. The financial strain forced both of them back to work.

It’s horrible what these people went through. I am so glad to hear that the boys will be back safe in the hands of their own family after their ordeals. But along the way, the Akers took a side trip, indicated in the above paragraph. They were determined to get their boy back, whatever the measures. And, at some point, there were psychics available to provide them fantastical garbage.

I don’t know the details of this case. For instance, I don’t know for sure how much these people ever paid a psychic; one reference to the story mentions that they’d spent over $40,000 on psychic investigators. There are a number of motives that psychics can have for wanting to talk to people like the Akers:

  1. Desperate people are willing to pay for a reading, or many readings. So there is a direct monetary incentive in some cases.
  2. It is a way for a psychic to make a contact with desperate (and therefore vulnerable) people. Vulnerable people can be manipulated in a number of ways, including other ways of handing over money not directly related to readings on their case. For instance, the psychic may do free readings, and then later when a loved one is presumed dead, the psychic can offer some sort of consoling ritual that involves money.
  3. It can be a way for the psychic to gain media exposure, if they are correct by chance. Media exposure means more people coming to them to be exploited.
  4. The psychic may actually be convinced he or she has powers, and may simply be seeking a way to feed their own ego. Some people are not mere frauds, but are deluded.

You already know that any psychics the Akers spoke to were wrong enough that they did not assist in finding Shawn. Psychics could not provide information that lead to the recovery of this boy. So, they used the Akers and the Akers got nothing in return.

A quick Google search turns up a little more detail.

Psychic Sylvia Brown gave the Akers a reading on the Montel Williams show. Apparently she was too busy to schedule them a $700 reading, so they encountered each other on TV at a later date. Can you imagine that? You’re so busy shovelling bullshit that you can’t schedule time to take $700 from yet another distraught family. Remarkable.

From that reading:

Browne told Pam and Craig Akers their son “is no longer with us” but she had the impression his body was in a wooded area about 20 miles southwest of Richwoods. She said it would be near two large, jagged boulders that seem out of place in that area. (source: stopsylviabrowne.com)

Most of these kidnap cases result in the death of the child, so that was a very smart guess on Sylvia’s part. But it was an incorrect guess. And she had promised supernatural information, not a crappy guess. But a guess is all she could possibly have offered, no matter what promise she was willing to make.

This episode also busts the idiotic excuse that some psychic proponents offer that psychics somehow help the grieving to get on with their lives. Bullshit (to borrow Penn and Teller’s TV show title). These people were told to basically give up the search for their living son, and they were told he was lying dead in the woods.

If you’re interested, she had other details completely off as well.

Browne told the Akers that it was her vision that Shawn was taken by a “dark-skinned man, he wasn’t black — more like hispanic.” She said he had long, black hair that he wore in dreadlocks and was “really tall.”

So much leeway there that this guy could have had a tan and this could be claimed as a hit. Or he could have been black, but fit the description and she would still consider it a hit. In any case, these details were also dead wrong. He’s super-white with really short hair.


The Akers also did television segments with James Van Praagh, a psychic who has a television show called “Beyond.” He led the search in an entirely different direction, suggesting a person who worked in a railroad car plant was involved and the body might be concealed in a railway car. That information led to numerous searches, including the De Soto railroad yard and several others.

So searchers wasted time following up a psychic’s leads. The son was indeed alive, but with Devlin, not in a railroad car.

Psychics are sick bottom feeders on the scum of society’s anguish. These vampires flock to people once devastating circumstances have torn away their emotional self defence mechanisms. Then they begin to feed, sucking away money and attention and replacing truth with a lazily-concocted lies.

I can’t tell you how angry these people make me. And I have been lucky enough never to have fallen victim to them, or have a close family member fall victim to them.

Posted by James at January 13, 2007 1:40 PM
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Browne told the Akers that it was her vision that Shawn was taken by a “dark-skinned man, he wasn’t black — more like hispanic.” She said he had long, black hair that he wore in dreadlocks and was “really tall.”

Reminds me of the Charles Stuart case.

I can not imagine being in their shoes: to be told my son is dead and in a wooded area.

Good lord--why prey on people when they are at their most vulnerable? Yes, it was they who hired her, but I can't help feeling psychics tempt people who feel they have nowhere else to turn.

Thank goodness she was wrong and they've got their son back.

Posted by: Patti M. at January 15, 2007 10:05 AM

Yes, there are some as you mention,but do believe psychic abilities exist. It was why I started blogging , to share my thoughts and experiences, and see how many others were in the same boat.

Posted by: Talker at January 19, 2007 12:34 PM

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