They are ridiculously called “sensitives”: people who claim to have the ability to communicate with the dead, for a fee, of course. If your phone bills are high, imagine the overhead of running a business that connects with those beyond the grave. That must surely be long distance and then some.
A book by James Van Praagh has occupied a place on the New York Times nonfiction best seller list for months and has brought new legitimacy to a most illegitimate fraud. “Talking to Heaven: A Medium’s Message of Life After Death” explains that his and other mediums’ success these days can be attributed to the failure of mainstream religion. He reports that Cher has employed him to communicate with a recently deceased Sonny Bono. He says that he receives these “communications” by sensing an “energy level” of a spirit and passing along the message that comes to his mind.
A sociology professor at Eastern Michigan University is equally antipathetic toward religion but also critical of Van Praagh and his ilk. Marcello Truzzi says that “When people talk to the Virgin Mary, they’re talking to a dead person. It’s just a question of how you define this, as magic or religion …. Most of what he gives people is twaddle, and in a way that’s good. What people want is comfort, guilt assuagement. And they get that: ‘Your parents love you; they forgive you; they look forward to seeing you; it’s not your fault they’re dead.'” Continue reading » Solid Food: The Sensitives