December 15, 2001
by Mark Tarses
The city of Berkeley will soon be regulating "palm readers, fortune tellers, and psychic consultants" under legislation passed by the Berkeley City Council at it's regular weekly meeting on Tuesday, December 11.
The purpose of the new law is to: "ensure that unscrupulous persons don't deceive or swindle the public, especially the elderly, frail, or lonely," and that only persons with "legitimate" psychic powers will be allowed offer their services for pay in Berkeley.
Mayor Shirley Dean, who sponsored the new law, said: "We should at least be doing a background check to make sure that the people opening these businesses don't have criminal records. My understanding is that now all they have to do is simply open their doors."
Mayor Dean sponsored the proposal because the city's long-established psychic businesses convinced the mayor that "psychic consultants" who had recently entered the Berkeley market were "giving the business a bad name".
According to the new law, the city of Berkeley will regulate for-profit psychics "to maintain the integrity of the profession" and will develop regulations to license only "legitimate psychic businesses."
Skeptics oppose licensing psychics.
Daniel Sabsay, president of the East Bay Skeptics Society was skeptical.
Sabsay argued that the government shouldn't be in the business of certifying and licensing psychics and fortune tellers and that the new law could backfire on it's sponsors. Sabsay said: "The problem is that issuing these businesses licenses based on criminal background checks can easily be used by these businesses to confuse the public into thinking that their psychic abilities and moral ethics have been validated by the city of Berkeley."
Sabsay and the East Bay Skeptics Society would like to see psychics regulated the same way as drug manufacturers. "Let's figure out what these people claim they can do and then test their abilities. Needless to say, no psychic that could pass such a test."
A spokeswoman for the Berkeley Gray Panthers was also skeptical. "There is no reason for an elderly person to think that her life savings will be safe in the hands of a psychic financial advisor who has been certified and licensed by the city of Berkeley, but I am afraid that is what some old people will think."
For additional information on this subject, see The Berkeley Daily Planet Dec. 15, 2001 issue.
What do Berkeley's "legitimate" psychics have to say?
Berkeley's largest psychic business is the Berkeley Psychic Institute. According to the "Berkeley Psychic Institute's Predictions for 2002", the coming year is going to be good for liberal Democrats and bad for conservative Republicans.
The Berkeley Psychic Institute predicts that "Dick Cheney will suffer a heart attack in April, and there will be an assassination attempt on President Bush in May or June. Hillary Clinton will uncover information on the September 11 attack and then announce her bid to run for President in the next election. Al Gore will make a comeback in May, while the present administration in Washington goes through a serious power struggle." Also in 2002...David Duchovny will try dating Britney Spears, but Spear's parents will forbid them to see each other." (The Psychic Reader. January, 2002.)
For more psychic prognostications, visit The Berkeley Psychic Institute
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