PhACT in the Media

-- by Tom Napier

All right, here's a trick question. In which US city other than Philadelphia has PhACT received the most publicity? Would you believe Casper, Wyoming?

Last December a reporter on the Casper Star-Tribune was writing a report on a local unsolved murder. She added a sidebar about the attempts two professional psychics had made to help the police solve the murder. Believe it or not, there on the front page of the section, along with the rest of the story, was a color picture of PhACT's very own Bill Wisdom. This was surrounded by a long summary of his and Ken Barnes' research report on the police use of psychics which had appeared in the December 1996 issue of Phactum.

The reporter had found the Phactum article on the Internet and had contacted Bill by telephone. Well Casper has a population under 60,000, and its psychics probably outnumber its skeptics, but at least another blow has been struck for the rational side.

The moral is, when you write for Phactum you are not just preaching to the converted. Thanks to the Internet, where we post the text of major articles, you also become a resource for the world's press. Without Bill the psychics would have received all the publicity.

PhACT has also appeared in a local publication. A third of a page of the The File section in the March issue of Philadelphia Magazine profiles the "Skeptics on the Schuylkill," complete with a color photo of a stern Eric Krieg examining an amulet.

The article reports PhACT's penchant for critical thinking and scientific proof and lists some of the areas we have investigated. It expresses wonder that so few claimants are willing to submit to test. Eric is even quoted as dismissing psychic hotlines as "a tax on the ignorant," not a sentiment often expressed in a broad-circulation magazine.

Eric is concerned that, in emphasizing PhACT's neutrality towards religion, he gave us a pro-religion image. Considering that the rest of the article is both fair and comprehensive, I'd say that the publicity given our real causes far outweighs this journalistic slip. In any case, any article which uses one of my one-liners as a punchline can't really be faulted.

Lastly, but certainly not least, I've just seen a preprint of Bob Glickman and Ed Gracely's outspoken paper which will appear in the Spring 1998 issue of The Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine. This paper, Therapeutic Touch: Investigation of a Practitioner, reviews the flimsy evidence for therapeutic touch. It describes the human energy field experiment which PhACT carried out in 1996, first reported in the June 1997 issue of Phactum. Exposing the failure of TT in a peer-reviewed medical journal should have a salutary effect on the nursing journals which, thus far, have been too eager to promote every new fad.

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