Jaime Licauco passing off psychic quackery as a news feature on the Inquirer.net

Is it just me or has the Inquirer.net become a channel for infomercials? I noted on the “Lifestyle” section of the Inquirer.net how columnist Jaime Licauco published an article asserting that “Remote viewing is ‘scientifically validated’“. First of all, what’s with the enclosing of the phrase scientifically validated in quotes? Could it be that Mr Licauco is himself not convinced of the trueness of the assertion in the title of his piece.

Second, and perhaps this explains “scientifically validated” in quotes, Licauco cites the work of two “scientists” who “first studied and confirmed unique psychic ability”…

What exactly is remote viewing? It is “a scientifically trained and validated ability to see, sense or describe something at a distance,” according to physicists Russell Targ and Harold Puthoff, the two scientists who first studied and confirmed this unique psychic ability in the early ’70s up to early ’90s at the Stanford Research Institute (now called SRI International) in Menlo Park, California. The research was secretly funded by the US government.

I swear, if articles could speak, you’d most likely discern the mumbly way the above passage was delivered.

From there Licauco goes on to cite a litany of anecdotal “evidence” originating from among other things his own personal experience, a “recent seminar” (not sure if he was a participant or the conductor of said seminar — it wasn’t clear in Licauco’s piece), and a “psychologist friend in Canada”.

Licauco delivers one last assurance that he is no quack by deferring back to secret CIA efforts to weaponise psychic “ability”…

The success of the remote viewing scientific experiments at SRI which lasted for 20 years had convinced the Central Intelligence Agency that this mental ability could have practical value in “intelligence gathering”, a polite term for espionage.

When this project was no longer a secret, some stories came out saying that the CIA now incorporates remote viewing as part of an agent’s training.

Excuse me, Mr Licauco but you should have at least done a bit of homework before making these claims. In “The Vision Thing” published in 1995 on TIME Magazine, author Douglas Waller wrote how the CIA had abandoned psychic research in 1977 after a study commissioned by the agency revealed that there was “no documented evidence it had any value to the intelligence community” referring to the reports produced by psychics in the program.

Typically, their reports included “a large amount of irrelevant, often erroneous information,” the study said. And when the reports did seem on target, they were “vague and general in nature.”

Most telling is a widely recognised aspect of the human condition that assures the continued proliferation of LUCRATIVE feel-good quackery (italics added for emphasis):

The CIA study also found evidence that the handlers sometimes embellished what the psychics saw. “Folks want to believe that the paranormal is for real,” says Martin Gardner, one of the founders of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal.

The TIME report ends with this final observation:

Thanks to his kind of faith in the extrasensory, psychics can probably count on making a living even now that the Pentagon contract will soon disappear.

Indeed, they are making a fabulous living on the back of a misguided trust that the Philippine public sustains towards their so-called guardians of “truth” and “freedom”. We find the vested interest of Mr Licauco at the very end of his article — as if to punctuate his insult on the already meager intelligence of the average Inquirer.net reader:

Note: My next Basic ESP & Intuition Development seminar will be held on Oct. 23 and 24, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Venue will be at Rm. 308 Prince Plaza I Condominum., 106 Legazpi St., Legaspi Village, Greenbelt, Makati. (Right in front of Greenbelt 5). Call 8107245; or leave a message at telefax 815-9890; or e-mail jaimetlicauco@yahoo.com to reserve your seats now.

Interesting, to say the least. I also recall back in August a similar article promoting the cosmetic surgical procedure “lipotomy” written by columnist Kinny Sales on the Inquirer.net also on its “Lifestyle” section, and also under the guise of the otherwise noble exercise of featuring “useful” information to the hapless Filipino media consumer.

Considering these are articles published as features on a news journal — the venerable Inquirer.net, no less — a supposed icon of a “revolution” that stood for “freedom” and “accountability”, I’m glad the publishers own up to such a dubious piece of journalism. After all…

Copyright 2010 Philippine Daily Inquirer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Thank God for that, Mr Inquirer.net Editor.


About benign0

benign0 is the Web master of GetRealPhilippines.com
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47 Responses to Jaime Licauco passing off psychic quackery as a news feature on the Inquirer.net

  1. Birdigator says:

    Just to fill his article quota for the day I think.

  2. killem says:

    its in the lifestyle section!!!wtf is your problem, if you dont belief in  what “Jaime Licauco” says, you should atleast respect his opinion! 

    • BenK says:

      Opinion, my ass. He’s advertising his own scam. I was about to ask WTF is YOUR problem, but I just answered my own question — you obviously believe if it’s printed in the newspaper, it must be true. If you respect Jaime Licauco’s ‘opinion’, go attend (and pay for) his seminar, and then you can spend your time practicing to use the force instead of wasting it making stupid comments.

    • benign0 says:

      If it is Licauco’s “opinion”, as you say, then why is this piece not on the “Opinion” section of the Inquirer.net? And, yes, I respect his opinion — which is why I took the time to criticise it. 😀

      • killem says:

        If it is Licauco’s “opinion”, as you say, then why is this piece not on the “Opinion” section of the Inquirer.net? – wow a very nice logic…. no wonder this kind of logic produces this crap of article…

      • Twin-Skies says:

        Hello benign0 🙂

        Just browsing the rest of the Anti-Pinoy blog after I ran into ilda’s post regarding RH XD

        If I may make a suggestion, the James Randi Educational Foundation is a wonderful resource for debunking junk science like remote viewing or cold readings, among other magician’s gimmicks.

        Randi himself was a pretty good illusionist in his day, so he’s pretty well-versed in explaining these topics.


      • Maikimai says:

        Also a James Randi fan here.

        It”s quite awesome how he debunked scam artists in his days.

      • benign0 says:

        @ Twin-Skies I only now checked out the link you provided. Interesting to say the least! 🙂

    • ChinoF says:

      Even a “respected” opinion is not immune to criticism or challenge… and should not be shielded from such.

  3. The Judge says:

    Who cares!!

  4. Ray Rodriguez says:

    Bill Maher said he does not believe in guys like Licauco because he never sees headlines that say: “Psychic wins lottery”

  5. ChinoF says:

    I once went under that Basic ESP and Intuition seminar by Licauco since I handled a text service for his content. He advocates seeing psychic phenomena as a scientific rather than mystical topic. I guess he makes his living on his seminars, hence the ads. In that seminar, some guys’ powers seem to work, some spoons actually seem to bend or break, but it seemed more of a fun activity than actually trying to trump Madame Auring.

    • ChinoF says:

      This was back in 2004 or 2005, so he’s been holding this thing for some time. It’s a business, you could say that… but check my opinion about “opinions” above.

    • peste says:

      What other phenomena had been demonstrated there? Spoon bending can be done by using spoons which the neck has a certain alloy that becomes pliable when heated by the body.

      • ChinoF says:

        Here are the exercises I remember. This is based on a “take your partner” arrangement:
        telekinesis – mentally move a toothpick floating in a bowl of water
        telepathy – draw what your partner is thinking of
        guessing the reincarnation (Licauco is a reincarnation advocate) – Look at your partner for a length of time until they suddenly “change” into their previous incarnation
        clairvoyance – describe your partner’s house

        Some of them hit, put poor talentless chaps like me never got anything. 😛
        Hits can take the form of, for example, describing some parts of the partner’s house fairly accurately, but it’s probably because unspecific description were used. “There’s a flight of stairs, fairly long/fairly short, color white, etc.”

        Aha, I knew there was a trick to that spoon-bending thing. I wonder if Uri Geller uses that. I recall seeing a website where he has merchandise, so he became a brand name too!

      • peste says:

        Telekinesis – a toothpick floating on water can be easily moved by soft wind. This can be easily faked, or a slight movement caused by imperceptible wind is attributed to mind power.

        Telepathy – read the body to read one’s thoughts. I’m not good at this, but if it was me, I’d just draw something related to sex. It’s a good guess, I think.

        Reincarnation – too subjective. I could give you a story of your awesome past life and you’ll accept it because it’s awesome.

        Clairvoyance – similar to telepathy, read the body for signs if your guess is correct or not. It’s easier to guess here because we have a basic template of a house. The physical appearance of your subject can help determine their standing in life in thus narrow down the kind of house he/she lives in.

      • BongV says:

        Reincarnation – we are carbon lifeforms – coming from cargon – going back to carbon which when recycled is more or less reincarnated carbon 🙂

      • Twin-Skies says:

        I think this just about covers most mainstream woo:

      • Hyden Toro says:

        According to those religions who believe in Reincarnation. It is a true fact from the Spirit World. From the Islamic Koran, it states: ” You belong to God. So, you will go back to God.” It also adds: “Whatever Good comes from God. Whatever Evil comes from you”.Reincarnation is a way whereby the Spirit of man is perfected. There are many levels in the Spirit World. You Reincarnate (born again) as Human Being, after your mortal body is “dead”. You do it to perfect your Spirit, and learn lessons. Or to pay some “Sins” in your previous life. If you are a Rapist. You will reincarnate as a woman also, and you will be subjected to be Raped in your next life. Or you will be born with disabilities. After your death; your Spirit Self will Judge you, in what you have done with your life here on Earth. This is called: The Book of Life. Your Spirit Self is unemotional. If more lessons or perfection is needed. You come back. You don’t reincarnate as: dog, cat, rat, pig, etc…I would love to see our Politicians reincarnate as Pigs or Rats;if that is the case. Soul Perfection is Nirvana to the Buddhist. Heaven to the Christian. Paradise to the Muslim. Becoming a Sun God to the ancient Egyptian religion.

      • Hyden Toro says:

        Karma means work. Your works you’ve done here on Earth. If you are a thief, in your present life. In your next life; you’ll be reincarnated as victim. Thieves will victimize you. Or you will be born with no arms. Your Spirit Self demands Restitution for the Evils, you’ve done while living on Earth. I don’t mean that Filipinos born without arms; may have been Politicians, who stole, and were reincarnated. I’m just discussing about the concept of Reincarnation. If too much Evil had been done by you, like Adolf Hitler of Germany. Your soul will become inert for many eons of centuries. It does not advance. Your Spirit Self will just wait. Then, you will be awakened. To see if you recognize the Evils, you’ve done. If you will not recognize them. You will go to turn-off state for many more centuries. No advancement for perfection of Soul. I hope, I made myself clear to all about the concept of Reincarnation.

  6. concerned_citizen says:

    I stopped reading that piece of crap of a paper months ago.

    • ChinoF says:

      And that’s the point of this article others miss. It’s not really about Licauco only. The real chump here is the paper.

      Take note of the Kinny Sales piece. She was writing about something that would best be promoted in a press-release… and her column does sound like one. Make no mistake, I worked in the magazine business, and press releases do make their way into major articles… usually with the help of an accompanying envelope.

      Does anybody appreciate the idea of consumer protection? Protect yourself from the moronic media, folks. 😉

  7. peste says:

    Back in the 1990s, the Philippine Star lifestyle section ran every month or so the thrilling paranormal adventures of Tony Perez and the Spirit Questors, a group of individuals who have opened their third eye and act as diplomats for humans to the supernatural beings. At least it was a good read and Perez never insisted on the truth of his articles. The Star also published the Marian Prophecies on the Three Days of Darkness in its front page for several days.

    These things reached a peak in the years before 2000. I wonder what the newspapers are saying about 2012.

  8. Hyden Toro says:

    You can make a living by being a Psychic….Do you agree?

    • Sharafa says:

      Even more so as an “exorcist” or a “paranormal investigator”. And this is their lucrative season with Halloween and All Saints Day on the way. I expect the mainstream media to become flooded with all sorts or nonsense related to hauntings, seances, aswangs, manananggal, tiyanak, arbolaryo etc. For a supposed pre-dominantly Catholic country, we sure have a lot of pagan beliefs.

      And while this is not directly related, it’s amusing nevertheless:

  9. Hyden Toro says:

    While I don’t discount the Psychic ability of people. There are fakes, who scam gullible people, out of their hard earned money. Psychic Ability in men is INHERENT. It is part of you. Women call it Intuition or “kutob”. Animals have it. It resides in the brain of every being. Psychic Ability is the use of EMOTIONAL SELF, to see what your Five Senses, cannot determine. It is the Sixth Sense. We have five known senses. However, we have the Sixth Sense also. I have no idea, why we lost it. So, it became useless, because of not being used. The new Science of Paranomal is called: NONETICS. Paranormals are being used for espionage both by the U.S. and Russia. If you know how to use your sixth sense. You will be in the right place, at the right time always. You can also read other people’s minds. You can also read people’s motives, as clear as the noonday sun. Want to know more about this new Science? Remember what Jesus Christ said? ” If you have faith, as small as the mustard seed. You will say to those mountains “Move”. And they will” Move”.” Jesus Christ Added also: ” The things that I do, you will do also.” A lot of power resides in our human mind. It is yet to be rediscovered.

    • peste says:

      I had an experience of “kutob” myself. On the way to a mountain resort, we were faced with a choice to park our vehicles and walk the remaining 500 meters of unpaved road that goes up and down at steep angles. The others didn’t want the inconvenience and chose to ride there. I had a rather strong bad feeling about this because I know that there’s something wrong with our owner-type jeep, although I’m not sure which part. The problem was I could not clearly voice out this feeling of danger that I had. I was only working on months-old memory of the mountain road and an incomplete damage assessment of our vehicle. To the others, I might had come off uncharacteristically stubborn and emotional, and pass me off as having a teenage moment. Eventually I was appeased when they said that I could ride the motorcycle instead.

      It came to pass that, at the steepest descent, the brakes of the jeep failed, although luckily they managed to slam to a stop by the roadside before falling off a cliff. To think that shortly before, we on the motorcycle were trying to go ahead the jeep–had we done so, we would be the ones that might get crushed by the falling jeep.

      What happened here is that emotions got the better of me before I could rationally process the risks involved. This I think is what “kutob” is about. My mind had made an assessment subconsciously, but could not get it up to the conscious part. In hindsight, what I should have done is to find out what exactly is wrong with the jeep. Had we known it was the brakes, it would be clearer what the danger is.

      • Hyden Toro says:

        We respect all faith. But, if our present Religions hinder us from advancing. To cling to old ways; this is another story. We are looking back in History during the Dark Ages in the Middle Ages. It was only when, learned men break thru religions that the Renaissance or Age of Enlightenment came. I do not subscribe to; Name Calling of people as: agnostics, atheists, free thinkers, devil worshipers, etc…because of what they believe, or the way they think, or how they understand their Creator, life and the universe, as a whole. We know we are more advanced in knowledge than any of those Religious Bigots.

      • Maikimai says:

        I read somewhere about the brain being able to subconsciously answer questions.

        It is always up to the person how he will interpret it.

      • Hyden Toro says:

        There are three stages of consciousness: (1) conscious mind – what your five senses can determine. (2) subconscious mind- your talents, natural abilities, and psychic ability. (3) supraconscious mind – your direct link to our Divine Source or God. If you know how to use these instruments in your brain. Creativeness is in you. When you are in deep sleep dream; you are in the Spirit World.

  10. JUANDELACRUZ says:


    • Hyden Toro says:

      Hoy, Hangal. Wala mong pakialaman ang paniniwala namin. Kung gusto mong halikan and puwit ang mga pari, obispo o pastor mo. Wala kaming pakialam. Hindi namin pinapakialaman ang paniniwala mo. Kaya, huwag mong pakialaman ang paniniwala namin…

    • archie says:

      rantado, si jaime ang atheista, kung naniniwala siya sa diyos di siya gagawa ng mga kalokohan, kasinungalingan at illusions na siya lang ang nakakakita… he is one of many intruments resulting to the moronic state of the filipino people. antanda antanda na mahilig pa ring managinip.

      • Twin-Skies says:

        [kung naniniwala siya sa diyos di siya gagawa ng mga kalokohan, kasinungalingan at illusions na siya lang ang nakakakita]

        So he wouldn’t be fleecing the people if only he decided to use another brand of superstitious nonsense.

        Pardon me, but I believe my irony meter has broken down.

  11. peste says:

    I’ve been explaining stuff here, but there’s one demonstration of psychic ability that I know which seems legit, although, overall, it can still be deemed as a failure.

    There was this email I received at around October of 2004 telling about a certain village seer in the Philippines who had a reputation of not missing a prediction. This time, the email continues, he had made a troubling prediction of a very strong earthquake that would flatten Marikina and cause a lot of deaths. What made me took this a little bit seriously was that he gave a workable timeline for this event: it was to happen before the year 2004 came to an end.

    So, what happened at around that time? There was an magnitude 9 earthquake near Banda Aceh, which caused a tsunami that flattened that town and caused hundreds of thousands of deaths across the Indian Ocean.

    Not bad for a prediction. He only missed the location. I could imagine him seeing a vision of the future, but with the limited knowledge that he had, he thought that a Southeast Asian town was Marikina.

    • Dante R says:

      Maybe that Licauco or the village seer can foretell if Pilipinas will get some money from “Ang Panday” Caparas. So Noynoy-admin filed a pogi-points charge — income tax evasion of P500-plus million. Ang tunay na tanong —- will Pilipinas win the case?

      MANILA, Philippines—“Ang Panday” creator and “massacre films” director Carlo J. Caparas has been slapped with a multimillion-peso tax evasion case stemming from a P1.3-billion contract between the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) and his production outfit. Commissioner Kim Jacinto-Henares of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) said Caparas was facing 64 counts of criminal charges for violating the Tax Code when he failed to remit taxes from 2006 to 2009.

    • Miguel says:

      A perfect example of confirmation bias. “I’ve seen one case of working psychic ability. He was wrong, unfortunately, but he was clearly right.”

  12. jemon says:

    Is there anyone here besides Mr. benign who wastes their time and reads Licauco? Sorry benign, although you have a point, your article actually is pointless. jejeje..

  13. tiki says:

    Relax. That’s why it’s in the “Lifestyle” section.

  14. Miguel says:

    Oh praise the fucking lord, someone finally said it. The existence of Licauco’s column has been making me angry for years. What a goddamn nutbag.

    If renowned nutcase Florentin-o Flor-o is to be believed (I’ve hyphenated his name because he Googles himself and replies to these things frequently), the two of them are good friends, which, given Floro’s history, is pretty strong evidence that Licauco is equally crazy.

    And you know what? Even if all these supernatural claims were real, he would still be crazy. Even if spirits and psychic powers were real, how likely would it be that he’s somehow had personal experiences with every single unexplained phenomena ever? He even claims in an older column to have had contact with UFOs, mind you!

  15. manzi says:

    like my lolo used to say: if psychics and aswangs were real we’d all be neighbors. why so lolo? well.. if one barangay had at least one psychic and a team of aswang working for the government there would be no criminals. WW2 would have been a lot easier for us because the tiktiks and manananggals would be our intelligence operatives being directed by our psychics to the locations. Magellan’s fleet would’ve been sunk at mactan bay by an army of siyokoys because the local psychic would’ve seen big ass wooden bangkas in his dream..

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