Parapsychology Journalism: The People, The Theory, The Science, The Skeptics
Gawd, do I hate bullies; even watching film depictions of bullying makes my blood boil. Having the media fan the flames of bullying with ill advised skeptically biased articles demeaning psychics. This week it was the San Francisco Chronicle and writer Steve Rubenstein. On the one hand, we have an experienced psychic Sheldon Norberg who specializes in house clearing with over 200 satisfied clients spanning 20 years, and on the other hand, we have a reporter who had his mind made up even before he wrote his article about house clearing:
If so, it couldn’t hurt to call in an expert. And there is no greater expert in persuading stubborn and obstinate ghosts to leave a haunted house than Sheldon Norberg, 48, a slender man with a shaved head who has been driving demons, devils and negative energy from Bay Area houses for the past two decades, at $1,200 per dwelling.
In the interview, Norberg made no mention of demons and devils; the writer made up that part. How do I know? Norberg wrote a rebuttal in the comment section. In his rebuttal he goes on to state:
The article also has a distinct focus on my fee, with four mentions and a boastful sounding “I’m not cheap.” This comes despite explaining to him that my fee has increased from $250 to its current state over a period of 20 years, and at the insistence of my clients, and told me I need to price myself realistically to the value of my service. I know money is an issue, but considering that the house is now sold, if my work had any effect, was it worth $1,200? The article points out that staging cost $10,000, yet there is a subtle insistence that I’m running a scam. Believe me, I appreciate and demand real muckraking authorship, but that would require research into new models of physics and interviews with more than one of my clients (which would support my work).
As for interviewing, I understand the importance of not leading a client to answers. I know how odd my work is, and how variable people’s perceptions of it are, so I try not to demand that my clients share my perceptions of things. The lead into the next to last paragraph however, “Perhaps her optimism in Norberg was misplaced, she acknowledged”, betrays the fact that the question was not open ended, as an objective reporter might have asked, but hinting at chicanery. (…) The print article has seriously damaged my reputation, and the editors have chosen not to make any corrections, as in an article rife with opinion and omission, there are no “factual errors”, but you as a reader owe it to yourself to review it in light of these comments and make your own decision.
(With regards to his fee, it is a normal charge for a self employed professional with a specialized skill in my region. As a comparison, for me, his fee is equivalent to 14 hours of work and for my wife, a computer specialist,it’s 9.6 hours of work.)