Monday, April 24, 2006

The day Achau Nguyen faced his debunkers

` Just because I so enjoy making fun of so-obviously-unpsychic people as Sylvia Browne, please don't assume that I always glare and laugh at them. In fact, not all such people realize that they aren't actually psychic!
` For example, self-proclaimed psychic Achau Nguyen went down to the Steve Allen Theater to test his mental 'transmitting' abilities in a preliminary evaluation trial for the James Randi Foundation Million Dollar Challenge! While Achau worked at sending twenty words he had chosen at random, his friend, E. did his best to receive them in a downstairs room.
` Other details of the way the test was carried out can be found in this article.

` The highly-caffeinated Achau was quite excited as he sent the words out to his friend, sure that he was doing a fairly good job. Understandably, he was crushed when he saw the score:

To tabulate the results, we brought out a white scoreboard which displayed columns for “Word Sent,” “Word Received,” and “Running Score”. The sequence “sent,” “received,” “score” was read for all 20 words. No “Sent” words were even close to the “Received” words. (e.g. The first word he sent was “ovary”, though E. received “shopping mall.”) The running score became a column of zeros. [Pictured here.]

Achau seemed initially surprised, then a bit angry, then disappointed, and a bit humiliated. We tried to soften the blow by explaining that people make these mistakes and that he should use the test he just took to check himself in the future.

` Ouch! ...Though, despite this, Achau was unshaken in his belief.

He e-mailed us the next day with the following:

Hello Jim and the rest of the IIGWest staff,

I just wanted to thank you guys for everything again, I also wanted to apologize for the way I was after the test. I must admit I was really upset, not of any of you guys though, but at my recipient, (E.) I know he didnt even try to put an effort to help me out, everything he wrote was straight out of his ass, Im sorry to say. I guess you can say that's sorta my exscuse for failing, but whatevers, I did wanted to mention it when Jim invited us into his office after the test and was asking us if we had any ideas or reasons of the failure, but I didnt wanna make a scene.

I know since it was a failure in the testing, that pretty much says, that I do not possess these powers I claim to have, but within all honesty Jim, Derek, Sherri, Brian, Bernie, and Owen if you guys all can actually look me straight in my face and tell me im just halluscinating about everything, and misbelieved about these powers I possess, I totally respect that, but if you can somehow acknowledge and say that I do possess these powers, (that needs alotta tweaking) even though the test was a failure, that would mean the world to me, I guess what im trying to say is I need your guys stamp of approval, so that maybe I could go to soemone (sic) or they could come to me that'd be willing to help me out, and we could like learn and understand to control these powers together, you knows?

I mean winning the million and shutting down Randi would be great, but what I really need rite now is people who know actually know about these things, and can help me out. I know it was my fault for bringing the wrong recipient, and not actually trying these tests more and what so nots, but i beg you guys PLEASE and try to help me out somehow, like I've mentioned when I first came to Randi, I was asking him to help me out, and all he told me was, something like im not here to back up the paranormal, im here to debunk it, or something in that matter, so I beg you guys PLEASE dont do the same to me. I really do believe I possess alot of potential in this field, and even though I failed the test, I hope atleast finally I got somebody, or a group who are very respected and looked up upon in this field, like you guys to acknowledge that the powers are real, I'll be more than happy. But if you honestly can say, im delusional and just straight tripping and need to go get some help, I totally respect that, and will take up your guys advice on that.

In closing, thanks again for everyhting, especially sherri, she was like a maid for me, (LOL), and thanks EVERYBODY for all of the help and time you guys tooked out today on helping me out with the testing, especially when all I could produce for you guys was nothing at all, a 0 out of 20 score, and my deepest apologies again for my behavior after the testing, usually I do get like, where I cant breathe and start stuttering and what so nots, its the side affects, but mostly it was because that I was mad at (E.), it was like he just stabbed straight in my back, and apologies again if I took out that anger on you guys. I just hope though, some how you guys can help me out, you guys are pretty much my only hope. Thanks again.

Achau Nguyen

` I can certainly sympathize with Achau. I remember when I used to believe I had psychic powers; it was certainly crushing and frustrating to be faced with contrary evidence! It is not surprising, therefore, that I can understand how easy it is to be deceived by events that are most simply explained as physical.
At a post-test discussion, we concluded that Achau had made no effort to deceive us, and was sincere in his belief that he possessed the power of telepathy. We all felt a little bad for him, as his expectations of success were clearly not met.

We all made a concerted effort to be kind to him throughout the testing process, but felt no regret that the test had been conducted. We think the reaffirmation of the laws of physics and the methods of science is more important than the comfort of one individual.
` As do I.


Galtron said...

I've never heard of this Achau guy, though I nevertheless feel sorry for him and am highly mentally enriched with this transmission of knowledge of his debunking.

...And out of curiosity, what kind of psychic abilities did you believe you had? And when was this?

Galtron said...

I just remembered something: I used to have a friend who believed that he could 'heal' people with his mind.
It was clear that nothing supernatural was going on, but he didn't want to accept that.

S E E Quine said...

` Strangely, I used to think that I could concentrate energy in my hands because they felt as if they were filling with liquid electricity-type stuff if I concentrated hard enough.
` (I'm not the only one I know who could do this, by the way.)
` Then, I heard about this healing-type thing called Reiki, so I thought that was what I was doing and I bought books on it all kinds of stuff.
` Then, it turned out that I was completely wrong: While I could make myself feel better, I eventually learned that I wasn't healing myself so much as I was blocking out the pain and generating endorphins.
` It was a real bummer, let me tell you.

` I also used to think that I could predict things that would happen. Some of it, certainly, was merely a conincidence. I think, however, that on the ones that I got right every time, I was picking up on some kind of cue or another without having any idea I was doing so.

Galtron said...

Interesting. This all makes me wonder how many 'psychics' think they are the real deal!

Aaron said...

Looks like those psychics need to develop an error-correcting protocol.

I wonder if electromagnetic interference causes psychic transmissions to be corrupted. Maybe there were some sun spots that day.

Galtron said...

Perhaps those aluminum foil helmets can be of some use. That, or they should test their powers in a Farraday cage!

S E E Quine said...

` Yes, of course! The government must be what's interfering with these people!