Psychics like Sylvia Brown are immoral frauds

In the wake of the dramatic events surrounding the discovery of three women including Amanda Berry, being held captive for a decade by a monster, it’s important not to forget another sociopath played a role in this drama. That sociopath is the psychic who told Amanda Berry’s mother that her daughter was dead:

Her mother, Louwana Miller, never gave up hope that the girl known as Mandy was still alive, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The case attracted national attention when Miller went on Montel Williams’s nationally syndicated television show in 2004 and consulted a psychic.
“She’s not alive, honey,” the psychic said. “Your daughter’s not the kind who wouldn’t call.”
After Berry’s mother died in 2006, there were occasional clues in the search for Berry, and police have conducted a number of searches over the years. All proved fruitless — until Monday night, when Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight were rescued from the house in Cleveland.

As Ben Goldacre reminds us, that psychic was Sylvia Brown, speaking out of her ass, surely “just for entertainment purposes” when she told Louwana Miller her daughter was dead. As the Wiki shows, her predictions aren’t reliable, and not surprisingly, she has a history of criminal behavior, including indictments and convictions for fraud and grand theft.
Psychics are by definition frauds. They don’t have magic powers. No human has the ability to read minds or see into the future. If you then take money under such known false pretenses that is the definition of fraud. If they truly do think they have magic powers, they should submit themselves to James Randi’s 1 million dollar paranormal challenge to determine if they can perform in a blinded, controlled test (which none of these frauds has ever come close to passing). Not surprisingly, Sylvia Brown has refused, many times, to take this challenge. This is because psychics know they’re frauds. Worse, Brown has even been previously convicted of fraud but sadly not for giving psychic readings. As a criminal, I guess she smartened up since 1992, the question is, why don’t we treat all psychics as criminals all the time? The burden of proof should be on them to prove they have this exceptional ability under controlled circumstances. Until then, we should simply arrest people that take money from others on the basis of such lies.


43 responses to “Psychics like Sylvia Brown are immoral frauds”

  1. Chris

    Right on point. People like Sylvia make me feel physically ill.

  2. Eric Lund

    In the criminal case, it appears that Ms. Brown induced people to invest in the mine by claiming to have psychic good feelings about it. However, the conviction came about because she and her then-husband diverted the investor money to a “research institute” that appears to have actually been Ms. Brown. That’s relatively easy to prove (and the Browns didn’t contest the charge), so I don’t necessarily blame the prosecutor for taking that line, particularly if there was a plea bargain involved.
    As for why psychic readings are not prosecuted more often: The prosecutor has to prove his case to a jury, beyond a reasonable doubt. In a perfect world, that would be easy to do, as you say in the post. In the real world, the defense lawyer in such a case will raise the entertainment defense (it’s his job to look for ways for his client to beat the rap, and the real world seems to allow that defense). Unfortunately, the prosecutor can’t count on having twelve people on the jury who will see through that defense–If the prosecutor were reasonably certain of this, a psychic wouldn’t have enough clients to stay in business. (It also happens too frequently that the prosecutor is a believer himself.) A good prosecutor might get a conviction in this particular case, if the statute of limitations hasn’t elapsed, because Ms. Brown claimed incorrectly that Amanda was dead, and that claim would have little or no entertainment value for Amanda’s mother. But this is an exceptional case. Most of the time, the prosecutor will conclude that the risk of acquittal is too high and focus instead on cases where he is more likely to win a conviction.

  3. David Makynen

    what about the tv host, the network, the advertisers, the audience? why give them a free ride. Also, what kind of jerk believes any of this anyway?

  4. I agree. Montel Williams should call this girl and apologize for hosting this fraud.

  5. D. J. Grothe

    Preach on brother. Glad to see you cover this. I’d be interested in the similarities between denialism of, say, global warming, and the belief in psychics like Browne despite the evidence.
    The family issued a statement to the effect that they still believe in Browne and don’t fault her.

  6. Ahahahahh!11!
    DJ you broke my brain.

  7. Kevin Sanders

    Never have been a believer in phychics. 99.9 percent of them are frauds. ESP is real to some extent, but most do not know how to tap into it.
    At any rate, this kidnapper should be placed in stocks and beaten daily for 90 days, then be banished from the United States for life. If he returns, he is to be shot on sight without question. If we do not start making criminals fear the consequences of their sins then these things will only increase in intensity and quantity. An unafraid criminal makes the most dangerous kind.
    At the very least he should be tied to a tree and let those girls do what they wish to him for 10 days. If he survives he can go free. if not, oh well. One more criminals the taxpayers would not have to house and feed.

  8. mandas

    Anyone gullible enough to consult a psychic deserves everything they get – or lose.

  9. Interesting that the prediction was so precise. Often they are so nebulous that no clear statement of what was meant can be made.
    “ESP is real to some extent…”
    And here we have verification of how common it us for people to believe unadulterated bullshit. Reality means nothing to such morons.

  10. @ Mandas
    I strongly disagree. Being gullible is not a justification for someone being defrauded. Fraud is wrong, and it’s worse if it’s perpetrated on those incapable of protecting themselves.
    There is no limit to what that one will believe. Don’t engage the troll.

  11. mandas

    That’s ok Mark, you are allowed to disagree with me. I can’t force you to be right.
    But if you are going to ‘ban’ psychics or lock them up when the lie to people – which they are doing every time they speak – are you going to do the same for every priest, rabbi, minister etc? Fortune tellers and tarot card readers? Crystal healers or raiki masseurs? What about politicians who make incorrect claims, or make campaign promises that they have no intention of keeping? People who write diet books based on nonsensical pseudo science? Motivational speakers and their books of idiocy about how you can become rich like them?
    Whilst I understand what you are saying about fraud, it is an unfortunate characteristic of the world that it is full of gullible people, and there isn’t a lot we can do to change that. For example, there are still billions of people who believe in some sort of god.
    And as long as their are gullible people, there will be someone around who will profit from them (to paraphrase Phineas T Barnum). This is true even in non-human species. I would like to suggest that there are certain things we can do to protect those who are incapable of protecting themselves – but we cannot do everything, nor should we. This isn’t a nanny state, despite what some may claim.

  12. Kevin Sanders

    @ dean
    ESP is real to some extent. Having dreams that come true is a form of ESP. Ever dreamed of a place that you have never seen before in your life only later stumble upon that place. Maybe it’s not ESP, I do not know. You believe in evoltion, yet you do not believe in the human soul created by God. Mark is right. it is amazing what some will believe. And for the record. I am not a troll. I am not ugly nor do I guard bridges or attack people and steal their souls nor do I stand idle by roadways at night. I am not a troll.

  13. Kevin, I happen to agree that ESP has been empirically validated (though only as a limited and unreliable effect), but _this forum is N-O-T_ the place for that debate, so please let’s not digress the topic.
    The central point here is that Sylvia Brown’s callous remark, backed presumably by her own boundless egotism, contributed to Louwana Miller’s premature death, and that there needs to be some kind of accountability for that. And I agree: she should be sued out of existence, and the claim of “entertainment” should be nullified on the basis that making comments about a missing child to that child’s parents is no more “entertainment” than a bank robbery note is poetry. “Please give me the money, honey! Don’t you think I’m being funny!” does not get the bank robber a poetry pass from the judge.
    Frankly I am no longer a “First Amendment fundamentalist” who believes that “speech” itself (noun) has an inherent right, as contrasted to the right of _people_ to speak (verb). The idea that “speech” is a legal entity unto itself, with legal rights separate from the rights of natural persons, is co-evil with the idea that corporate “legal entities” have rights equivalent to those of natural persons.
    If you reason it out, you’ll end up on the same page with me about that.
    “Professional psychics” who defraud their “clients” are engaging in what is presently legally protected speech. As are extremist churches that browbeat gay teenagers to suicide. As are hate-mongers such as Glen Beck who goad the less-stable members of their audiences to commit murders (Beck has three dead cops and three wounded cops to his “credit,” details on request). As are extremist preachers who call for the assassination of public officials (recent Supreme Court ruling, made me want to vomit). This has got to stop.
    First: there needs to be a truthfulness standard. There is presently a truth standard for protection from libel suits, and the flip side of that, is that lying that harms another person’s reputation is civilly actionable. That kind of truth standard should be applied wherever money changes hands or power is wielded over the lives of others. Yes that will put a lot of churches out of biz. Tough cookies. Yes it will put a lot of “entertainment” psychics out of biz. Good riddance to bad rubbish. Enough was enough long ago and it still is.
    Second, there has got to be accountability for consequential damages. When psychics or preachers, or anyone else, uses speech in a manner that leads directly to adverse consequences that are comparable to those of more overtly violent acts, the speech should be culpable. By analogy, verbal/emotional child abuse, that can drive a kid to suicide without laying a hand on him/her. We already understand that principle since we apply it to verbal/emotional child abuse, so let’s be logically consistent and apply it more widely.
    As for that monster Castro who kidnapped and tortured those girls, he is one of the rare cases where I think the death penalty might be justified, since the crimes were exceptionally atrocious, and there is no question as to his guilt. The only question is whether the DP or life without parole would be the more effective deterrent to others who might have similar inclinations.
    Lastly this: In my city there is a “psychic” shop in an otherwise-respectable looking storefront, with bright neon signage saying “Love! Success! Happiness!” I’ve long thought it would be “interesting” if someone were to open up a competing shop across the street, called “The Bearish Psychic” with neon signage reading “Divorce! Bankruptcy! Misery!”, and then see who gets the most business. Heh.

  14. Cathy robertson

    Silvie brown is a fake,OMG

  15. lewis

    I agree Sylvia brown should be punished, its nice to see the libbys finally agree with us about the need to do somethign about these weirdos who think they can tell teh future. I guess your not so stupid after all, must see how dangerous its to let people use dark magic to make it look like their prophesying, but those of us who follow the LORD”S WORD know to avoid the powers of SATAN in this world. Maybe now the libbys wont say there dumb things about the bible, cause it actually does predict the future after all, and not thees dumb and horrible minons of the devil.

  16. mandas

    I think my irony meter just exploded over lewis’s post #15.
    Yeah lewis, we should definitely do something about those people who say they can predict the future. The police will be around at your church tomorrow.

  17. ESP has never been shown as a real effect in any high quality, reproducible study. All effects seen in small and methodologically questionable studies have been small and essentially no stronger than noise. The more robust studies show no statistically significant results. Looking at the data, all amnalysis shows that there is almost certainly NO ESP effect. Until these frauds can PROVE beyond a reasonable doubt that what they claim to do is real, they should be publicly regarded as the scum of civilization.

  18. Now Lewis, what exactly has the bible predicted? I know that many a “man of god” has proclaimed that their particular reading of the bible foretold the future, mostly fever dream like end of days/return of Jesus, and so far, every single one has been proven wrong, some have been proven wrong several times over as they continue to make productions even after they are proven wrong. However, if you would care to make a prediction with a specific date and unambiguous specifics we can test that. Perhaps you will buck the trend of failed biblical predictions.

  19. B.R.McKay

    @G. #13
    Let’s start with politicians. Our whole system for hiring leaders seems to require lying to get the job.
    Surely, brain science could be applied to truth detecting head gear; Required by law and worn by all who enter public service.
    @Thad #17, @dean #9,
    What about Scientists who make the prediction that ESP or, for that matter, God does not exist?
    You may claim no reasonable proof to the contrary, but can you prove that?
    Of course there are con artists, and self deluded people motivated by money, power or sex. Human beings don’t always rise to above the reptilian.
    What about people who deceptively lump all the yogis, zen masters, saints, artists, empaths, shamans, visionaries, inventors, geniuses, savants, or countless ordinary but intuitive people into the above category of cheats or “morons”? Falsely alluding to the authority of reason while citing nothing more than their personal biases.

  20. “What about Scientists who make the prediction that ESP or, for that matter, God does not exist?”
    Tests to detect ESP consistently show no results – nothing there.
    And there is no proof for the existence of a god, either. If you claim your god of choice regularly intervenes in the world, those effects should be detectable – but nothing out of what everyday experience is seen. If you claim your god is beyond the realm of science, you are setting things up for an impossible task of verification – not really science or reality at all.
    “What about people who deceptively lump all the yogis, zen masters, saints, artists, empaths, shamans, visionaries, inventors, geniuses, savants, or countless ordinary but intuitive people into the above category of cheats or “morons”?”
    Not sure what you mean here. Yogis and zen masters have no special powers, supernatural or otherwise. It isn’t at all clear why some hold in reverence (just as it isn’t clear why the ministers or priests of any religion should be held in high esteem based simply on their holding the title).
    Shamans are essentially quacks – they are just given a pass, for reasons not entirely clear to me.
    How do you mean the rest in your list get lumped in?
    “Falsely alluding to the authority of reason while citing nothing more than their personal biases.”
    Huh – if you don’t look at reason, data, and scientific investigation, you got nothing – you are essentially back down to the nonsense level of ESP backers and psychics.

  21. Politicalguineapig

    I wish people would stop referring to Ariel Castro as a monster. He just did what most men only *think* about, and in some countries, his behavior would be completely normal. Heck if he lived in Utah, he wouldn’t even be prosecuted.

  22. B.R.McKay

    @dean #20
    Sorry, but you’ve only made my point more clear.
    You have replaced God with Reason. The results will be limited to what reason has reasoned out in a particular time and place.
    A reasonable definition of God must place it both beyond time and space as well as in complete relation to time and space.
    How can your experiments, tests and theories prove or disprove this? Since the experiments, tests and theories are within God.
    As for ESP (what ever that might mean). Please consider that such phenomena won’t be the result of reasoning. Reason is by nature linear. The Universe (God) is not of that nature.
    Please allow me to suggest that your cart is way ahead of the horse.

  23. B.R.McKay

    @Politicalguineapig #21
    No, he’s a monster. Most men do not think like this. And, if they did, it would still be monstrous.
    Assuming that you are a man; do you think like this?
    If you are a woman, I might accept your statement for it’s dramatic overstating of a grim reality; way too much in evidence around the planet.

  24. “A reasonable definition of God must place it both beyond time and space as well as in complete relation to time and space.”
    In other words, internally contradictory. Again, if there is no evidence for something, other than freshman level pseudo-babble like yours, it isn’t worth considering.
    “Please allow me to suggest that your cart is way ahead of the horse.”
    Please allow me to note that you are an idiot.
    “I wish people would stop referring to Ariel Castro as a monster. He just did what most men only *think* about, and in some countries, his behavior would be completely normal. Heck if he lived in Utah, he wouldn’t even be prosecuted.”
    Most men think about kidnapping and repeatedly raping women? I doubt that, but acknowledge that some might. The difference, as disturbing as I find the possibility of people thinking about this, is between keeping the actions in one’s head and putting them into play. The thoughts are one thing, the actions are monstrous and, in my mind, make the man who carries them out a monster in society.
    And the comment about Utah – I assume (actually, hope) that you made that as some type of peculiar joke.

  25. bns gold

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  26. @#19,22 B.R. McKay
    You contradict yourself. You insinuate that there is prof of god, then state how god cannot be proven because god is beyond space and time. Now as for prof of the lack of credible evidence, this makes no logical sence. How do I prove a lack of evidence. The person making the claim(ESP is a real phenomenon) must provide the evidence for the claim. There are a LOT of studies that show small effects that could be ESP, however, they are very small effects, below the threshold where they can be distinguished from noise. Also there is an inverse relationship between the methodological strength of the studies and the effect size. In other words they cannot conclusively prove that there is any effect. Now if you know of any studies that do not suffer from this problem pleas post a link, many people would be very interested in such a study.
    At any rate, you must admit that studies showing an extremely small and nebulous effect are much different than testing a specific psychic and their specific psychic claims. To date NO ONE has passed such a well designed test, including any highly regarded yogis or witch doctors. Now when one does pass a properly controlled test and can repeat the feat, we can begin to take such ‘powers’ seriously. Until this happens, we can safely assume that the people who make these claims fall into two categories, 1. They are self deluded and actually believe the posses these powers even though they don’t. 2. They are frauds who will not think twice to take advantage of people at their most vulnerable for profit. Which of these so you think Ms Brown belongs in?

  27. Politicalguineapig

    BR: Not male, but I get that a lot. I use a neutral ‘nym since I dislike being read as ‘female’ while I travel around the internet.
    Dean: I invite you to go on Reddit and still keep an optimistic view. Many men, especially younger men, don’t think rape is really a crime.
    As for Utah, ever heard of the FLDS or Warren Jeffs? They only get prosecuted when the local authorities are prodded to investigate by the Feds. Same with Texas.
    Actually, I’m sure outside pressure is the only reason the state of Ohio is prosecuting Castro. The rapist boys in Steubenville will never spend so much as a day in jail, and I’m sure the authorities would have swept this case under the rug too, if they’d had their druthers.

  28. #27 politi
    I believe you have a jaded view of male sex, while rape is one of the most horrible crimes and is perpetrated almost entirely by men, (but not entirely) you cannot say that all or most men are pro rape because of some slime ball trolling on REDIT. Personally I know hundreds of men, and cannot say that I have heard more than a handful ever even make rape jokes. Anyways I don’t think violent kidnapping is taken lightly anywhere outside fundamentalist religious communities. If the Ohio case was involving perhaps coercion involving drugs or psychological abuse and rape I sadly would have to agree with your bleak outlook on the justice system. Because of religious sexual bigotry in the roots of our culture less ‘overt’ instances of rape are looked over or stigmatized(the victim) regularly. Here’s to hoping this guy gets the favor returned in prison.

  29. Craig Thomas

    “Rape” is just a social construct. You never hear about two sheep raping each other. To call a social construct “one of the most horrible crimes” is pretty over-the-top.
    “Here’s to hoping this guy gets the favor returned in prison.”
    Pretty much destroys any point you were hoping to make.
    Our society deems rape a crime on a par with a serious physical assault. To wish such a crime on somebody else is surely the act of a psychopath?

  30. @Craig Tomas #29 -To have no emotional reaction to those crimes is the sign of a sociopath, though i admit that it was a bit immature and intended mostly for catharsis. Now you believe rape is on par with physical assalt? That is simply clueless. Can you imagine someone physically assaulting you, say punching you in the face two or three times. Sounds fairly uncomfortable, perhaps even life threatening. Now imagine someone physically holding you down, physically assaulting you and then inserting a penis or other object into your body. Now, are these two events comprible? Now since you didn’t specify what part of my statements were false or why they were, I assume you believe that all men are rapeists and that rape is mearly physical assault that should not concern society more than a barroom fight. Am I right or have you done a poor job of communicating you position?

  31. For those who are continuing the theism/atheism/paranormal digression:
    Recent research demonstrates that vociferous anti-theists are apparently engaged in an emotional defense against deep-seated contrary feelings. Lindeman, M., Heywood, B., Riekki, T., & Makkonen, T. (in press). Atheists become emotionally aroused when daring God to do terrible things. International Journal for the Psychology of Religion.
    Methinks thou does protest too much. Make peace with your own feelings, please.

    Politicalguineapig is for the most part right on target.
    Not only Utah but most of the Middle East. For example keyword search “arranged marriages Saudi Arabia.” You’ll find plenty of stomach-churning stories of 12- and 13-year old girls “married” off to men old enough to be their grandfathers, weeping and miserable as they go forth into that particular dark night. Think about those girls when you fill up your gas tank.
    These horrors are commonplace, though I’ll differ slightly with Politicalguineapig and say that I don’t think that all men, or even a large plurality, secretly want to rape children. What I do think is the case, is that pedophiles (like sociopaths and narcissists) are remarkably adept at manipulating others to get what they want: even to the point of warping entire institutions (e.g. the Catholic Church, and we’ll see what the new Pope does about this) and entire societies (e.g. Saudi Arabia).
    Hypothesis: There appears to be a close correlation between right-wing religious ideologies and legitimation or protection of pedophilia.
    Once an ecosystem is established, it attracts more species, including parasites who feed off the system without killing it outright. Sylvia Brown was one such, feeding off that mother’s misery until it wore down her health and she died from it.
    The clever trick of parasites, as distinct from predators, is that parasites don’t kill outright, and retain plausible deniability sufficient to stay alive and in the ecosystem. This needs to be addressed in the law.

  32. B.R.McKay

    @dean #24
    The point I’m making, is that a reasonable definition of God would put it outside of the scope of reason to interpret.
    If it helps you come to terms with this. I would argue that religion has similar limitations.
    A transpersonal encounter with the full magnitude of the paradox, feebly alluded to in #22, would be the only measure of it.
    The study “scientifically” of phenomena lumped into ESP, presents similar paradigm challenges.
    As for the original subject under discussion; the legal liability of people claiming to be “psychics”, especially when their predictions do not come true.
    There would have to be some sort of licensing process and regulatory body.
    Or, the practice could be outlawed altogether.
    Would we try to define the scope and nature of the activities we want to regulate?
    Or, just have a Witch hunt and be done with it?
    Marks criteria in the original post:
    “Psychics are by definition frauds. They don’t have magic powers. No human has the ability to read minds or see into the future. If you then take money under such known false pretenses that is the definition of fraud. ”
    Isn’t really up to snuff legally, and as I was trying to point out, not even particularly addressable by science.

  33. One type of illigal fraud would be: Knowingly providing goods or services that do not meet the claims or explicit expectations communicated, with evidence that demonstrates ill intentions by the perpriotor. In other words selling bull shit, old Hagitha Brown Eye definitely falls under this catigory, the issue is convincing the powers that be that she is full of BS.

  34. Politicalguineapig

    Thad: CT ably proves my point. Men just see rape as no big deal, whereas for women it’s a life-changing- and often life-ruining event. I do agree with you for the most part, although I’d add that I hope Mr. Castro’s death is messy and public.
    G: I said nothing about pedophilia, please don’t get the issues mixed up. That said, religion often gives men a pass to do as they want, while condemning the victim. I suspect the rise of religious fundamentalism and the rise in rapes are coorelated.

  35. Craig Thomas

    “Men just see rape as no big deal”
    Totally wrong.
    Indefensibly wrong.
    Men are perfectly happy to see rape as being equivalent to a serious assault. Otherwise it wouldn’t be treated as such.
    It’s the feminists who frequently demand that the baseline of our justice systems be ignored or bent in order to secure convictions against accused rapists. They are the ones who attempt to have rape treated as a special case and that is the reason they get push-back on the issue.
    In the following links are two similar cases,
    , a man was successfully convicted of rape after the woman who engaged in consensual sex with him discovered that he had lied to her about a matter that she had made a pre-condition for their having sex.
    You can’t blame the man for making a mockery of the whole concept of rape, when women engage in such spurious complaints.

  36. Politicalguineapig

    CT: I see you’re one of the Reddit dwellers. See, bud, for every two of those cases, twelve rapes at least, go unreported, because the women figure that the cops will think they’re lying too. Secondly, physical assaults get prosecuted. Most rapes don’t. No one blames the victim of a beating.No one assumes a man is lying about a physical assault or that he ‘asked’ for it by wearing the wrong clothes, drank, or was in the wrong area. A physical assault will be prosecuted vigorously even in the military. Can’t say the same about sexual assualt.
    Finally, you can’t get pregnant from a physical assualt, causing the worrying possibility of being enslaved to the perp from anywhere to nine months to eighteen years, depending on circumstances.

  37. CT, I think your conclusions suffer from confermation bias. You believe or feel that rapes are generally wrongfull accusations, then cherry pick instances that back up this belief. It may be partly due to the medias own selection bias in reporting these cases. Unfortunately a rape or sexual assault is hardly news worthy, however, an aligation of wrongfull accusations may play better to viewers. You are exposed to disproportionate numbers of these stories and it first colors your perception of rape and then reinforces it. A look at the unbiased data will show that your fears of false accusation are unfounded at worst and a grose overreaction at best.

  38. Craig Thomas

    I don’t believe any such thing, Thad, and I’m not even sure where you would get that idea.
    As far as politicalguineapig is concerned, it seems likely that a physical assault in the absence of witnesses is just as unlikely to be reported or prosecuted as a rape committed in similar circumstances, or indeed any other crime where no evidence is available to support the accuser’s complaint.
    Rape, however, is often a special case – there is an expectation in some quarters that the usual rules of justice be ignored in favour of feminist ideology. The two examples I gave demonstrate where this has led: women who engaged in consensual sex have been able to successfully have their partner prosecuted for rape.
    Julian Assange, similarly, is currently a notorious a victim of this reversal of reason.

  39. CT, what the hell is your point, you have said that rape is a social construct, implying that rape is somehow natural (a meaningless distinction) then that it is simply physical assault, then said that rape victims often are just perpetrating false accusations. You then deny that you believe that they are, only to continue to express how this is a major issue. So to recap your position: rape is a social construct that is the same a physical assalt however rape victims recive special treatment compared to other crime victims because they falsely accuse men of rape and this in some cases leads to prosecution.
    I usually don’t use Wikipedia as a source but in this case I think your lack of knowldge on this subject is so complete the multiple references and easy to understand format will allow you to catch up as quickly as possible.

  40. Craig Thomas

    Thad, *sex* is natural.
    *Rape* is a category of sex defined in human behaviour.
    There is an ideology that seeks to widen this definition beyond the bounds of reason. That ideology is overt misandrist feminism from the likes of Andrea Dworkin, or Catherine McKinnon, who had this to say:

    In a patriarchal society, all heterosexual intercourse is rape because women, as a group, are not strong enough to give meaningful consent.

    This attitude *has* taken root in our legal systems to some extent, as demonstrated by the 3 examples so far given.

  41. Whoa there, Craig!
    Rape is more than a “category of sex,” it’s foremost a category of violence. And violence is also perfectly natural: how do you think lions and tigers (and bears, oh my!) get their food? At Safeway?
    The problem with rape is that it often occurs between people who know each other or have had prior communication. So do other types of assaults, for example bar-room brawls. All of these types of cases are legally complicated due to issues about what was said before the assault (punch in the nose or rape as the case may be) occurred. The defense in any such case will seek to raise a reasonable doubt, for example “he dared me to throw the first punch,” or, “she invited me to her apartment,” after which it’s one person’s word against another.
    Contrast to stranger-assaults, where the attacker jumped the victim, for example to stab them or to rape them, without any preceding communication. In those cases the act stands alone, with no possibility that the perpetrator can use the victim’s preceding words as a basis for a defense.
    That has nothing to do with feminism and everything to do with the necessity of a “beyond reasonable doubt” standard in criminal law, and the extent to which some people will go in order to evade responsibility (and prison sentences) for the crimes they commit.
    As for your story about the Israeli man who lied that he was Jewish in order to have sex with a Jewish woman: He should also have been prosecuted for fraud, for making a false representation in order to obtain a benefit from another person. Fraud is fraud, regardless of the type of representation or the type of benefit obtained.
    And that gets us back to the title topic here: Sylvia Brown is guilty of fraud because she makes false representations in order to gain access to the media and to the attention of her victims. Media time also translates to money, directly and indirectly.

  42. Craig Thomas

    Yes, I agree – and even more so, the prostitute who got dudded should not have had any valid claim to have been raped – her complaint should have been one of fraud.
    As for rape being a category of violence, That is incorrect. Sex without consent is absolutely not synonymous with violence. Violence is a separate category of crime, however much some extremist feminists have tried to confuse the two.
    Let me remind you of Catherine McKinnon:

    In a patriarchal society, all heterosexual intercourse is rape because women, as a group, are not strong enough to give meaningful consent.

    *That* is *well* dodgy.

  43. Craig Thomas

    Snopes says that quote is wrong:
    It was Dworkin who said sex is violence. What a freak she is.

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