Thursday, May 31, 2018

#2022: Patricia Moore-King

A.k.a. Psychic Sophie

Patricia Moore-King is one of many people making a living out of charging gullible people money in return for Tarot card readings, for psychic and clairvoyant readings, and for answering strangers’ personal questions in person, over the phone, or by email. Her answers and advice – “spiritual counseling” – are apparently based on astrology, “psychic/clairvoyant/medium development,” and energy healing, and will, according to herself, bring “forth the inherent wisdom of the God-self within each of her client’s souls in order to help them achieve spiritual enlightenment.” In addition, she does Reiki, which is Eastern faith healing that supposedly “produces beneficial effects by strengthening and normalizing certain vital energy fields held to exist within the body.” Nothing she does has even the remotest connection to reality, but neither have her customers. She is apparently also willing, for a fee, to come to parties and entertain guest with her psychic tricks.

So, ok, there is nothing special with regard to the bullshit she offers compared to others in her profession . The only reason we encountered her name, is because of her legal complaint challenging county ordinances in Virginia that require psychics and fortune tellers to get licenses and submit to regulation, alleging that the fact that she needed a business license violates the Free Speech clause, the Free Exercise clause and the Equal Protection clause, as well as the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. The courts were not impressed (details here). She also tried to explain why she doesn’t consider herself a “fortune teller”, to no avail. In fact, the most interesting thing about the ruling is not that the courts agree that fortune telling is “inherently deceptive”, which it is, and therefore that the county is free to regulate it as it pleases (in addition to outright banning it), but their ruling that it does not constitute religious practice, which raises some interesting and rather thorny issues (good discussion here).

Diagnosis: It is tempting in these cases to give the candidate the benefit of doubt and dismiss her as a “fraud”, but it’s safer to go for deranged lunatic. The critical thinking abilities of those who pay for her services aren’t much to write home about either. 

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