Friday, May 21, 2010

Cash is king!

Scandinavian mediagroup Egmont state that they "bring stories to life." Well, last year their Swedish subsidiary also decided to bring fortune to a couple of charlatans, Swedish psychics Erika Andersson and Benny Rosenqvist, when it launched the magazine "Nära" ("Close"). This effort to cash in on the current interest in New Age and spiritualism is presented as dealing with spirituality, "providing well-being for both body and spirit" and features the standard mixture of psychics, "experiences", NDE's and additional, contemporary woo-woo.

Andersson and Rosenqvist are the magazine's in-house psychics. They have been on the cover of the three issues published so far and much of the content is focused on them. Egmont also arranges seances and online chats with the two and is therefore an active partner in the psychic scams they perpetrate. Providing swindlers with a marketing platform in form of a magazine distributed nationwide is of course an all-time low for the publishing industry in itself, but engaging in the actual fraud is repulsive.

For the psychics, the magazine is without doubt an opportunity denied most of their peers. Although broadcasting companies Channel 5 and TV4 have boosted the careers of several psychics, commitment has been restricted to the TV series. That a major publishing company condescends to active participation in the actual swindle must be a marvellous stroke of luck for the psychics Andersson and Rosenqvist. A recent incident on the magazine's online forum also suggests that the publisher is keen on covering up any blemishes appearing on the light-hearted surface.

Just before noon April 5th, a posting questioning the quality of the messages conveyed by Andersson and Rosenqvist appeared on the forum. The poster, "Lina76", had attended - or arranged - a séance with Andersson and reported that the messages were very vague and general. Several in the audience of 20 people had expressed similar complaints. In addition, Andersson had charged nearly a thousand dollars for a two hour session and gave no receipt, i.e. the transaction was made behind the taxman's back.

"Lina76" had also been on a private sitting with Rosenqvist who told her that she would have another child in the future. It was going to be a boy, but could also be a girl, according to the medium. Profound messages indeed.

Several posters came to the psychic's rescue, testifying how wonderful experiences they had provided. But the discussion soon turned to the question of the receipt. Poster "Slingshot" suggested "Lina76" and the other dissatisfied sitters should file a joint complaint to the police. "Liviaxx" then asked if anyone seriously thought that the magazine Nära would encourage its partners to become black marketeers. Skeptic "Trilobite" responded that the transaction was private, without the magazine's knowledge.

Then enters the magazine's editor in chief, Madeleine Walles. She states that Erika Andersson is employed by the magazine and is running her psychic business on the side. As an employee of Nära, Erika Andersson is required to run her side business in accordance with the law, i.e. provide written receipts. Andersson had informed Walles that such a receipt was in fact brought to the séance in question. In conclusion, Walles states that if Andersson wasn't serious and reliable, the magazine wouldn't employ her. So, there it is. Every testimony of Andersson's wrongdoings is flawed, because she is an employee of the magazine Nära. And since Nära doesn't employ dubious persons, Andersson can't be one. Circular reasoning in absurdum.

Although "evigaeva" expresses her gratitude to the editors for assuming their responsibility (!), "Lina76" won't give in. She now claims that Andersson also failed to provide a receipt at another séance in the town of Limhamn. In addition, she quotes several complaints she received after the séances. At this point, the forum administration kills the discussion and erases it from the forum.

Thanks to skeptic "Trilobite", who fortunately copied the entire thread before it was deleted and posted it here on the skeptic's forum, we have an illustrative testimony of how a reputable publishing company engages in the sordid business of mediumship and, steeped in the obvious tax evasion of its protegés, doesn't hesitate to use a line of argument straight from the crackpot textbook on rhetoric.

I guess no one informed Walles about the motto historically linked to psychic business: cash is king!

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