No artificial ingredients
The totalist State — e.g., the European Union — cannot leave any aspect of personal life unregulated. It is particularly concerned, or perhaps afraid would be the mot juste, about any practice that stems from a competing worldview. You can double and triple that concern if the competing worldview challenges scientific reductionism. The State feels its control is endangered as long as anyone believes that our lives have their source and meaning in a realm beyond politics and economics. As in classic Marxism, modern political monoliths like the EU depend on their subjects dwelling in a mental world consisting of nothing but matter and measurable forces.
So it's not surprising that the EU now has a "directive" — ominous term — regulating mediumship. And many of Britain's mediums, who are concerned about it, are protesting. According to The Independent:
Today, representatives of British mediums will march up Downing Street to deliver a petition containing some 10,000 signatories demanding that the Government change its decision to repeal the 1951 Fraudulent Mediums Act in favour of a new EU directive. …The Witchcraft Act has been invoked to prosecute a medium, Helen Duncan, as recently as 1944. To modern worshipers of The State, any belief in transcendent levels of reality is witchcraft.
"What we have here is a fundamental attack on our right to practise our religion. We want to stop the charlatans but the existing Act gives us reassurances which the Government seems unable to do under this new legislation. They tell us we will probably be all right but we fear this will end up with one of us in court in front of a judge," said David McEntee-Taylor, head of the Spiritual Workers Association (SWA), that organised the protest.
The SWA complains that the 1951 law, which replaced the 1735 Witchcraft Act, guarantees "genuine" mediums legal protection, penalising only those who seek to hoodwink the public. However, by treating spiritualism as merely a consumer service, mediums believe they risk being sued if customers are dissatisfied with advice brought from the other side – advice they say they always point out should always be treated with care.
The Indpendent is a left-wing paper, the twin of The Guardian, and blood brother of the EU in contempt for mediumship. To begin with, the tired joke in the headline ("Shouldn't they have seen it coming?") confuses mediumship with fortune telling. Spirits sometimes talk about future events through mediums, but that is rarely their main purpose in communicating with the sitter. Expressions like "the crystal-ball fraternity" and "purist believers" (as opposed to the purist non-believers of the Heaven-on-Earth utopian socialist school) give the game away, as does the quote from Richard Wiseman, who is always available for a put-down of psychical research and psychics.
Wiseman's claim that there is no reputable scientific evidence for psychical experience is as biased as biased can be, and particularly ludicrous coming from someone who regularly delivers papers at the Parapsychological Association and has every opportunity to be familiar with the more than 120 years worth of research in the field, much of it very reputable and scientifically rigorous. Check out the sites listed under "Spirit/Psychical" on the blogroll to the right.
I've said it before, and no doubt will again: yes, there are fake psychics and mediums, and many who are honest but just not very talented. Those mediums who are both honest and talented are the first to deplore those who drag the profession into disrepute.
So if some reliable mediums exist, and presumably perform a service for their clients, why shouldn't they be regulated like hairdressers or airplane mechanics? Because psychic ability or mediumship isn't a trade or skill that works all the time. It can't be objectively graded. Communicating with discarnate entities isn't like flipping open your mobile phone and speed dialing the office. The best mediums are pretty good at it, as much evidence attests, but none are able to get a clear "connection" or to convey messages from spirits accurately all the time.
For the skeptic, of course, that's just one more reason for skepticism. In the world of matter, it's relatively simple to put cause and effect together and make something happen by tapping a kneecap or flipping a switch. In the realm of trans-material phenomena, though, our ordinary laws of matter and energy don't apply. That doesn't mean the phenomena don't exist, just that they can't be demonstrated in a way that satisfies the materialist. But they have been demonstrated countless times in ways that have convinced open minded, rational observers, including scientists not of the material-reductionist faith.
Should a baseball fan be able to sue a player who only gets a hit 35 percent of the times he's at bat?
I think I'm wandering away from my original point. I don't believe the EU's primary interest in issuing its directive is consumer protection. It's first, discouraging belief in truth emanating from a non-material world, and second, adding, ever adding, to its power in this world.