TAM: For the Ladies?

Jen McCreight and PZ Myers have both posted on this — how welcome are women to skeptic events?

I want to say, before I get into some of the less flattering stuff, that I had an excellent time at TAM8 and I met a lot of really interesting, cool people, both men and women.  And many of the women there were strong, outspoken and hilarious, so even if the women are under-represented, they’re well-represented.  I say under-represented because there was a 20 guy long line to the men’s bathroom and no wait to the women’s bathroom.  If that doesn’t speak to gender ratio, what does?

Of course, there were the constant murmurs of how every guy wants to “bag a skepchick” and the winners of the skepchick party costume contest were the girls willing to make out with each other, but I generally accept that with just some eye-rolling.  There were comments I heard about the looks of the female speakers, but then people were making fun of James Randi and Michael Shermer’s height, so maybe that plays out.

I hang out with geeks, I like geeks, I like geek humor, and a lot of that is offensive if you’re easily offended.  And there can certainly be an air of sketchiness around some of those guys with less familiarity with social interaction, and I will say that TAM was a lot less creepy than Comic Con or Dragon*Con when it came to my average interaction with a strange dude.  People there seemed to be genuinely interested in what I had to say, and the environment seemed to be as deliberately nonsexual as possible most of the time.  Though I was occasionally asked if I was in high school, but ageism is a whole nother thing.

I was, however, really bothered by how the female psychic, Anita Ikonen, was treated and talked about.

I understand that the “other” in a skeptic convention is not going to be gender, race, or sexuality but opinion and point of view.  Someone who thinks that they have magical powers is automatically going to be the center of a fair amount of eye-rolling, derision and name-calling.  It’s natural for groups to behave that way, unfortunately, and I’m not here to say that I support the things Anita believes or even her behavior, I don’t know her that well.  But I will say that most of the insults and jeers thrown her way were all based around the fact that she was a young and attractive woman.

Someone called her, on her facebook page, a “psychic slut”.  Many people at TAM accused her of using her sexuality to her advantage, of sleeping around, of sexually getting off on attention.

I will break this down in a second, but let me make one thing very clear: No one, male or female, should ever call a woman a slut.  The intent of that word is to make a woman feel ashamed of her sexuality, to humiliate her, to make her feel degraded.  Not only does it shame the woman in question, it also makes every other woman scared of admitting to being a sexual creature.

It is the fear of being thought a slut that keeps women from accepting their own sexuality and it keeps victims of rape and molestation from feeling safe revealing that they’ve been hurt.  There is, in my opinion, no more hurtful word you can use towards a woman, it is as vile and low as the N-word.  And society uses it to keep women in their place, especially uppity women with opinions and beliefs you disagree with.

So, if you want to say this psychic woman revels in attention, fine, but you don’t get to start calling her names because you don’t like attractive women who are at home with their own sexuality.  You do that and you start driving away the skeptical women in the group.  I don’t want to be part of a group that slut-shames any woman who doesn’t agree with them, though I don’t think the majority of the skeptical group is guilty of that behavior.

I talked to Anita yesterday, I let her know I was writing this and she told me some other things that had happened to her.  She got turned away from taking pictures with a skeptic celebrity with a brusque, “I’m married,” as though she was trying to sleep with them rather than get a photo, and she was asked to send topless photos to a skeptic when they learned she was a psychic.  I know I just went off the other day on how skeptics don’t need to show a consistent face, but this behavior is completely unacceptable in any human.

The girl may be nuts, she may have HPD, she may be incredibly attention hungry for whatever reason, but that doesn’t make her a slut.  I know some people may have personal reasons to dislike her or the discord she apparently causes, but that doesn’t make her a slut.  And if you hate her, fine, and if you hate that the JREF brings her more publicity, fine, but you don’t get to go around complaining that she’s too flirtatious or that she gets all this attention just for being young and cute.  If people react to that in a way you don’t like, it’s their own fault.

This reminds me of the TDS kerfluffle.  Everyone is pissed at TDS for not hiring enough women or having enough visible women.  So, when does everyone get really vocal about it?  When TDS hires an attractive, sexualized woman.  Guess what?  Women have sex!  Women can have sex and be funny!  Olivia Munn is being punished and slut-shamed for pursuing a career in comedy because she’s not the right kind of woman.  You think that when you complain about it the only person you’re hurting is The Daily Show?  How would you feel if someone hiring you turned into an internet shit storm about how you posed in Playboy and just aren’t that funny on G4?

The feminist movement can really hurt women who aren’t the “right kind of woman”.  Women who are naturally thin (real women have curves), like to have sex (sex is men taking advantage of women), or really like clothes or barbies or the color pink.  It’s hard enough to be a woman, it’s hard enough to be different, can’t we let women be human?  Can’t we let them be sexual beings without trying to make them feel horrible about themselves?  Can’t we focus on the intellectual shit instead of petty bitchery?

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About ashleyfmiller

I write, give occasional speeches, and am currently getting my PhD in Mass Communications from South Carolina. Before going back to school, I worked in Los Angeles in reality tv, web series, and film.

Posted on July 16, 2010, in feminism, Posts Worth Going Back and Reading and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 28 Comments.

  1. Well said. The situation with Anita is complicated, but all involved would be best served by considering how what they say about her might be viewed by outsiders.

    I do think that an effort should be made to avoid gender inequality, but the quality of a talk should trump the gender of the person giving it.

  2. I am a paranormal claimant. When I look at people I experience feeling and seeing health information. Rather than call myself a psychic, or open shop and take money for psychic readings or insist that all of my information is correct, I choose to be a skeptic and to investigate my claim in the skeptical method.

    I have skeptical tests, I study my claim under a series of testing conditions, and I discuss my claim together with the skeptical community. As the claimant myself, I can not solve my claim on my own, and I also depend on credible others to help me arrange tests and to serve as a valuable second opinion in the progress.

    The skeptical community makes itself available for the inquiry of claims. The majority of the skeptical community responds to me in a manner that is highly respectful, courteous, and professional. But there are a few who call themselves skeptics, rather, they are simply opinionated and rude people.

    At first I was called delusional and mentally ill when I presented my claim. I then explained that after seeing a psychiatrist for two years for the depression which ensued after a college professor bullied me since he did not want my type of women in science, my only mental health diagnose ever was depression.

    I was then called a liar and a fraud, until I started presenting evidence and data from a series of tests that show that indeed, there is something to my claim. Even if my claim is not perfect, the accuracy and type of information it reveals is to an extent that makes it interesting, and still even after the TAM8 demonstration, worthy of further testing.

    I am then called attention seeking and narcissistic. When I explained that I was so nervous before my IIG test, that both James Underdown and Mark Edward had to comfort me before I was able to go on stage, and before the TAM demonstration I was so nervous I was shaking and trembling, and had it not been for D.J. Grothe and Banachek hugging and comforting me, I would have been a mess, so most people back of the accusations that all this I would do for attention.

    So what remains? I am a woman, and sadly some think I am a young attractive woman. So since I have opinions, and a very confrontational, controversial paranormal claim that just hasn’t been destroyed yet, why not call me a woo whore and a psychic slut.

    Other than being a paranormal claimant, I am also a physics student headed to a career in physics. I make straight A’s in college, and am quite successful in my studies. I fall for men who are older, intelligent, focused, and smart. Skeptics and scientists fall into that category quite nicely, and so it happened I started dating a Skeptic.

    Mentalist, former fraud psychic, and today a skeptical activist Mark Edward did not like me dating a Skeptic, and wrote a hideous sexist blog about me http://skepticblog.org/2010/04/03/sex-in-the-seance-room/ where he accuses me of being the next in line of woo whores who try to seduce skeptical investigators to win them over.

    Mark of course denied the blog having anything to do with me, making me look foolish before the skeptical community for having said anything, but later he admitted that yes, it was written with me in mind.

    Later I tried a psychic reading on Mark at a Hollywood restaurant. Mark later was convinced that I had been flirting with him during that time. This reading is all available on video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xomUTN6tUxI. My Skeptic boyfriend, and Mark’s girlfriend, were both there.

    I was not flirting with Mark. Look at the video and make your own judgement. Well, I am a happy kind of person, I giggle and smile a lot, but that is not how I flirt. Also, I was wearing a turtleneck dress and a sleeved cardigan, something which was a careful choice as I was going out to a dinner with friends, as a formal event. When I flirt it is very obvious, and this was not flirting. But in Mark’s mind it was.

    The next in series to being rude to me, was IIG’s Brian Hart, who proudly and openly makes rude and derogatory remarks in this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogM-8AFlv78 taken by Mark’s girlfriend Susan after my TAM demonstration. Brian accuses me of reveling in the attention that I am receiving. Did not Brian know that I was avoiding the crowd and being very quiet and dismissive at first? Does he not know I felt uncomfortable with all those people around me?

    My paranormal claim, is based on a genuine visual and felt experience that I have, and I have experienced interesting accuracy that I can not explain on my own. The skeptical community makes itself available to test such claims of the paranormal. The harassment and insults are unnecessary, and do nothing to further the progress of the claim.

    Dr. Michael Shermer, foremost and renowned skeptic, volunteered for a psychic reading with me. I was not the one to ask him. We scheduled and rescheduled out meeting many times, as both of us had busy schedules at TAM. Eventually we realized it would have to be Saturday evening if it was going to happen at all, and so Shermer came to my hotel room. My boyfriend, and TAM photographer Ingrid were both there with us.

    I had him sit on the edge of the bed so that I could see his back for the reading, and there were no chairs that would have worked. Shermer got sleepy as he had just returned from the Skepchicks party and had had a few beers, and he lied down on the bed. After the one hour reading, he and Ingrid left the room. Little me, being excited to having had a skeptical superhero in my room, posted a comment about this on my Facebook page. This, and Mark Edward’s response to it, can be read on http://www.visionfromfeeling.com/mark.html, where I am in the process of writing about the sexual harassment by Mark Edward.

    Shermer in my room. His head on my pillow. Mark Edward filled in the gaps and convinced himself that me and Shermer would have had sex, again accused me of being along the lines of history’s woo whores, and called me a “psychic slut”. I tried to explain to Mark that he was misunderstanding the whole thing, but rather than apologize or admit to an error, or take back having called me a slut for no justified reason, Mark continues with further insults, and tells me to stop “whining and moaning”.

    I am not a slut, and my sexuality should not be an issue. I do not flirt with the people I interact with. Take for instance when I asked a certain well-known skeptic for a picture of the two of us, he says that he is married. All I was asking for, was a picture.

    I am discriminated against, for being what seems to be for some a “young and attractive woman”. I am highly offended by it. I engage in the skeptical community with my claim, and expect intellectual interaction with the skeptics. And the fact that I am dating one skeptic, that does not make me a slut. I met many skeptical couples at TAM and elsewhere. I consider myself a fellow skeptic, I fall for like-minded people, and you can not expect me to date woo woos.

    The sexual harassment, mostly coming from Mark Edward, is an annoying distraction in my investigation. I make nothing of it, it doesn’t take away from the claim and it will not deter me from further investigations.

    However, I must add, that the overwhelming majority of the skeptical community, whether well-known skeptical superheroes, or low-profile at-home and internet-based skeptics, treat me with the kind of dignity with which we treat others in normal everyday life. It is only some, such as Mark Edward and a few others, that seem to think that the world of woo and skepticism is another world of its own, where laws and social rules are different.

    Skepticism values critical thinking, and often allows strong, personal opinions. It is sad that some use it as a platform to express their personal rude, inappropriate, and socially inacceptable views.

  3. Please get both sides of the story. Anita Ikonen, who started out in Europe as “Alenara the Breatharian” and who calls herself “Vision from Feeling” in the USA, is a well-known fraud who attempts to exploit sick people to boost her ego.

    It’s hard to understand how someone with an “F” on her transcript can claim a straight “A” average, and that false claim shows how Anita’s mind works. She doesn’t let facts interfere with her well-rehearsed narratives. If a fact contradicts her story, she clings to the story.

    Anita’s well-documented racist statements are almost as offensive as her unfounded allegations of sexual harassment. Her self-serving attempt to cast herself as the latest heroine in the story of “attractive woman abused by the old boys club” has no basis in reality. She’s not attractive, and there’s been no abuse.

    Anita’s baseless allegations hurt women who really are being harassed. There’s nothing feminist about hurting women. But don’t take my word for any of this. Google “Vision from Feeling” or “anita ikonen” to get the facts about this dangerous, exploitative fraud.

    • Again, Chris, please get both sides of the story.

      I do have a past in the Breatharian movement, something which I have now denounced. When ever someone still contacts me about the Breatharian woo, I explain to them that I am today a Skeptic. Should we not encourage woo woos to turn around and become skeptics?

      As for that one F. I have all A’s except for that one F which I got when I chose to stop attending a class in which an old rude professor selectively bullied students who he did not think should become scientists or doctors. I do not act arrogant like most A students do, and so he mistook me for just a little silly blonde girl. I was hit with papers, yelled at, and told to get out of the classroom along with the others who he didn’t approve of for his personal reasons and discimination.

      I just ended a two-year long difficult depression due to this harassment, and so I would very much appreciate it if you did not taunt me for that single F, which was due to the harassment by a professor. I have retaken that class with a different professor and always make a high A on exams, so please, just drop it.

      I do not exploit people. That is why you do not see me offering psychic readings, or charging people money for my readings. I only read Skeptics, in fact I read a few TAMmers and even Dr. Michael Shermer volunteered. And even at that, I never asked them to sign up, each of them volunteered on their own. And all of those readings went very well in terms of accuracy.

      And none of this I do to gain attention. I am actually a rather shy person. Before my IIG test I had to have both James Underdown and Mark Edward prepare me before I was able to get on stage. And had it not been for D.J. Grothe and Banachek comforting and cuddling me before the TAM demonstration, I would have been a nervous wreck. I was trembling and shaking, literally, so nervous to be seen by all those people.

      And my favorite moment at TAM8 was when I arrived late on the Thursday night and went to the Drinking Skeptically at the bar, no one approached me or even looked at me. And I was so glad to blend in.

      I am by no means a racist. I merely pointed out that my perceptions of black people and white people are slightly different, but this is also a well-known fact by medical science, that has identified several genetic distinctions among different genetic populations, in terms of anatomy, pathology, and responsiveness to certain drugs. To state that there may be internal differences is not a racist remark, just as it is not racist to notice that different racial groups have different external characteristics.

      Racism, rather, would be to speak offensively about a population, to call them inferior. I do no such thing. Some of the smartest and most lovely people I ever knew in the States were black. I am not a racist.

      As for sexual harassment, it is occurring. To be called a “psychic slut” just for having had Shermer in my room, when provably nothing happened between us other than a psychic reading attempt, that there is sexual harassment.

      To ask for a picture taken with me and a certain skeptic, and to be told that “I am married”, is also a form of sexual harassment.

      To be taunted for having worn a little black dress for my TAM demonstration, whereas JREF’s Alison Smith also wore a little black dress but gets away without comments of being a slut. Not to mention the Skepchicks party, where women were dressed up as whores, which I did not attend. And for most of TAM, I wore a conservative enough long yellow dress, and loved my TAM t-shirt just because it was so concealing.

      I exploit no one, rather I accept the kind offer by the skeptical community to assist me in investigating my claim of medical perception. I do not offer psychic readings, rather I try my best to educate woos who contact me, about the necessity of the skeptical method.

      I am not a racist. I am not a slut. I am not a practicing psychic. I am doing everything in perfect alignment with what skepticism would ask for a paranormal claimant to do.

      Previously, when I was a bit more heavy, I was called fat and ugly. And now that I have lost some weight, instead I am being called a whore, a slut, and sexually manipulative. And this from some of the front-figures of Skepticism. Way to go to prove to the woo woo community that skeptics truly are evil. Good thing I know people are only after to attack my claims, and really not me as a person, even if some skeptics do not know the distinction.

  4. I think that she is very very very manipulative and also there is a responsibility for all of us to remember, human nature is what it is. To dress in a very short tight dress for a matter she wishes to be taken seriously about (the challenge) one has to think “how seriously would a man dressed in a thong and shirtless be taken?”.

    The double standard I see here is that WOMEN are allowed to be “sexual” and dress sexy (as indeed they are and I have attended TAM events in a short leather skirt and fishnet stockings) but then to expect MEN to suppress their sexuality and sexual feelings is really socking it to them again. Give the guys a break. If you want to be taken seriously, please, you have the right to dress however you want…but dont’ take away the historic and indeed evolutionary reactions to what you wear. If someone wore a bathrobe and fuzzy slippers, that’s covered up .. but also not going to get you taken seriously with your “claim”. We dress with decision. Your decision is your own. How people react is theirs.
    Plus attend any other skeptic event and count the women and count the men. If anyone should be complaining about not being represented it’s the hispanic and black and native communities. It’s not perfect for women YET, but we have made great strides. My main issue now is the other minorities.

    No woman should be called a “slut”. Also that C word. Black people not the N word.

    For some reason the woman in question has garnered a reputation from her actions (and writings) of being someone that will use her sexuality to gain attention. That some men may react in a negative way (such as “no I do not want a photograph with you”) is probably far more kind than those that in turn use this woman’s confused attempts at finding attention and a place where she is accepted and can find human interaction to their own advantage. I’d rather someone call her a “slut” than treat her like one. You don’t hear from the guys that are manipultaing her and to me, they are the real bad guys here. Taking advantage of someone like her is honestly, not very kind.

    • Thank you Kathleen Scott. If you watch carefully, I was wearing a rather concealing long yellow dress my first day at TAM, and the other days of the convention I wore the TAM t-shirt which covers things up nicely.

      For my TAM demonstration event, I chose to dress a bit more formally with a backless short black dress, but note that REF’s Alison Smith was also wearing a little black dress for the event. I also noticed several women attending TAM wearing revealing clothing, there were plenty of deep cleavages and short skirts that I would never dare to put on. And I never showed any cleavage, in fact I added a white top underneath my dress just for the purpose of not showing too much.

      I behave the same way with all people. Women, men, children, gay men. If I were trying to seduce the men, my behavior around them would be vastly different than my behavior around women or gay men, but isn’t.

      Something that happened at the Del Mar bar one of the nights at the convention. I was chatting with TAMmers and one of them – perhaps a bit influenced by his beverages – started telling me that I had stolen his heart and that he was madly in love with me. The other gentlemen sitting at our table were agreeing with my reaction that his behavior was awkward and uncomfortable. I had not flirted with him, and I had been chatting the very same way with the entire group of newly acquainted men. One of them fell madly in love with me, while the others remained respectful and nicely unaffected.

      So it seems that some men fall for me quite easily. But that is their reaction, not mine, and I should not be held accountable for it. I certainly do not intend for it to happen or try to provoke it, and it makes me uncomfortable, not flattered.

      And I was at TAM with my skeptical boyfriend, and I had no intentions of flirting with any other men. We stayed together most of TAM, and had a great time together.

      On one occasion I asked a male skeptic if I could take our picture together. His reply was, “I’m married.”

      Perhaps I am alluring and attractive to some men. I don’t know, and I don’t think it should be a topic of conversation especially related to my claim. Mark Edward was thoroughly convinced that I had been flirting with him during our reading together, captured on video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xomUTN6tUxI. It should be clear from this video that I was not flirting. My boyfriend and Mark’s girlfriend were also there, and no flirting was going on, yet Mark was convinced that it had happened.

      The curse of being a young, perhaps attractive woman. Last year when I was chubby I was called fat and ugly, and even after attending an IIG test and IIG meetings full of skeptics, no one accused me of being seductive or sexually manipulative. Just fat. And now that I’ve lost some of my extra pounds but am the same person as always, I am being called these derogatory names such as “psychic slut”, as Mark Edward recently called me when he imagined that me and Shermer had had sex when all we did was do a psychic reading in my hotel room and two other people were there. http://www.visionfromfeeling.com/mark.html

      When I flirt with a man, it is very obvious by the way. I will wear cleavage, I will lean toward him, touch his arm, little things like that which make it quite obvious.

      During my college years, I had to cut my long blonde hair super short twice because of all the looks I was getting from men. And when I cut my hair, men start to look me in the eye rather than only seeing my long blonde hair. I am not comfortable with when men fall for me, I think it is uncomfortable and reduces me as a person.

      I think we need more gay men in skepticism. They know how to treat a woman like a fellow human being and individual.

      • Kathleen Scott

        There are many people named Kitty on this planet. I am not the one responding on this page.

  5. The OED defines racism as “The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race.”

    Anita is indeed racist. Here are some of her shockingly disgusting comments about the differences she “perceives” between blacks and whites. Since race is not a biological reality, these comments alone are enough to invalidate her claim of psychic powers. And of course, reality also invalidates them: CDC data show that blacks have worse health than white people.

    “Well, according to my [Anita's] perceptions I perceive that in general and among what I have been exposed to, black people would have better health than white people. I don’t make conclusions based on that, this is simply what I perceive. Alright, here it is:

    I perceive that the bodies of black people would react very differently to having an open flesh-wound than would white people. That they have a much stronger system that produces the sticky yellow liquid that washes, seals, dries, and protects a wound.

    I perceive that black people have much fewer different types of chemicals in the body than do white people. Enzymes, perhaps. The variety of chemicals in white people’s blood and tissues is much more diverse. According to my perception.

    I hate to say it but I perceive that black people in general would have a shorter lifespan.

    I hate to say it but I perceive a much larger variety of health problems and also of genetic problems and structural abnormalities in white people than I do in black people. Thus black people being healthier with this regard.

    I perceive that black people would be more prone to ankle arthritis or ankle problems, whereas white people would be more prone to wrist arthritis or wrist problems…I being from Northern Europe do not have much experience with perceiving black people’s tissue and that I would prefer all Caucasian on my paranormal test.”

    http://forums.randi.org/showpost.php?p=4539711&postcount=92

    link to CDC data: http://www.stopvisionfromfeeling.com/Discussion/tabid/294/afv/topic/aff/2/aft/72/afpg/1/Default.aspx

    • You insinuate that I would be a racist which is of the belief that certain genetic populations would be inferior to others. When you call me a racist, this is what people will associate to the word, and it gives a vastly incorrect and highly offensive picture that is not in alignment with what I said about racial characteristics.

      It is not discriminatory or offensive to acknowledge the anatomical and physiological differences of different genetic populations, and its mention does not support the horrendous violence that has been done by certain populations and onto others throughout history and still today, based on any real or perceived differences and the imagined difference in importance of each.

      There are medicines, and medical dosages, that are adapted especially for certain genetic groups, and even within a race there are distinct genetic populations with real physiological differences that benefit from acknowledgement and understanding. This, by no means, is offensive.

      Black people are better protected against several types of cancers that more frequently afflict caucasians. Caucasians are better able to digest lactose than are black people. And so forth.

      Besides, when I commented on that my perceptions of the tissues of black people and caucasians differ, I said that my perceptions of black people are always more beautiful and healthy. When you call me a racist, it attempts to construe me as someone who considers non-caucasian populations as inferior – when in fact my comment would actually point to caucasians being inferior in that sense.

      Your usage of the word “racism”, also implies social and cultural oppression, something which I am not a proponent of, and which has got nothing to do with human physiology, but rather psychology and anthropology (and just plain nonsense).

      Genetic variations do occur, and the acknowledgement of which is by no means racial discrimination or offensive. Human diversity is one of the most beautiful features of mankind, and even medical science acknowledges it, and its mention is by no means associative to the racial discrimination of hurtful oppression which you here attempt to stigmatise me by.

  6. Anita, what you would appreciate is of no interest to me. I don’t care if you just ended a depression 2 years, 2 minutes, or 2 decades in length. You traded comfort for attention when you chose to become a public figure, and you do not get to control the focus or the duration of that attention.

    You are a danger to the ill, the vulnerable, and the gullible. You do not have any special powers or abilities. You have failed every single test, study, and demonstration of your perceptions, and rather than accept the truth of your failure, you spin lies, excuses and stories.

    Your attempt to re-create yourself as some sort of feminist heroine is disgusting. You’re a victimizer, not a victim. No one has discriminated against you or harassed you for any reason.

    There are credible reports that at least one professor has reported your attempts at seduction to your University’s faculty senate– incidentally, the same senate that utterly rejected your ridiculous claims that a professor hit you.

    None of the students who were in class at the time you claim the assault occurred supports your version of events; yet many students support the professor who reported your inappropriately seductive behavior. Why do you think this is?

    Ashley, Anita does not exemplify the problems of attractive women who are at home with their sexuality. Feminists overlook the fact that it is absolutely possible for both men and women to use their sexuality to manipulate people, and that’s just what Anita does, in my opinion. She deserves to be called out, condemned, and –yes– shamed for her disgusting behavior.

    But, once again, there’s no need to take my word for it. Google is your friend; the truth about Anita Ikonen is out there on the net. Please look it up and decide for yourself.

    • You can not grant me all this attention, and then criticize me for getting attention. And I am not after attention by investigating this paranormal claim. And even public figures are legally protected against mistreatment; discussing a topic, the claim, that originates from me, does not rightfully dehumanize me.

      I am no danger, as I do not practice my claim, rather I test my claim and show the results of those tests and am working to properly investigate and falsify a paranormal claim. Meanwhile, there are countless of psychic practitioners who do pose a real threat to the public. Instead, I am taking the most responsible route with a claim, something which has perhaps not been done by a claimant before.

      I admit when I fail to meet the criteria for passing a test, yet when the results remain significantly accurate enough to warrant further testing, I do continue to investigate. Not expecting to uncover a truly always accurate paranormal ability, but to find out more about what it is I experience.

      I have never tried to seduce a professor. I would like to see the evidence of that assertion, something more than silly lies made up of me. Besides other students did see the professor hit students, but few are brave enough to speak up against the school when it does wrong. The school did a cover up to protect its own interests and refused to look at evidence.

      If dirty old men are sexually attracted to me and confuse smiles and friendliness to sexual manipulation, then that is their problem not mine.

      You are spreading lies and slander about me. People who dislike the paranormal claim will try to slander me in their attempts at getting at the claim.

  7. Anita Ikonen

    A:You can not grant me all this attention, and then criticize me for getting attention.

    C:Sure I can! I just did.

    A;I am not after attention by investigating this paranormal claim.

    C:Yes, you are.

    A:And even public figures are legally protected against mistreatment; discussing a topic, the claim, that originates from me, does not rightfully dehumanize me.

    C:Dehumanizes you? You’ve claimed for years that you were born on Arcturus. Are Arcturans human? Because I remember the trouble you had registering for a web forum that asks users if they’re human. Can you explain that to the readers of this blog? Or are you renouncing your claim of extraterrestrial origin? (Anita has claimed this; google it.)

    A:I am no danger, as I do not practice my claim, rather I test my claim and show the results of those tests and am working to properly investigate and falsify a paranormal claim.

    C:Your work is done. Your claim is falsified. And what about those migraine treatments you give people? That’s not just practicing your claim, that’s practicing medicine without a license.

    A:Meanwhile, there are countless of psychic practitioners who do pose a real threat to the public.

    C:They’re not the issue here, you are.

    A:Instead, I am taking the most responsible route with a claim, something which has perhaps not been done by a claimant before.

    A:So many people have taken this route! Just check the records of James Randi’s MDC. There’s nothing special about you.

    A:I have never tried to seduce a professor. I would like to see the evidence of that assertion, something more than silly lies made up of me. Besides other students did see the professor hit students, but few are brave enough to speak up against the school when it does wrong

    C:Oh, so the professor who reported your attempt to seduce him is lying? And you’re the only brave student at UNC-whatever?

    A:The school did a cover up to protect its own interests and refused to look at evidence.

    C:Speaking of libel, those are pretty strong charges. Where’s your proof?

    A:If dirty old men are sexually attracted to me and confuse smiles and friendliness to sexual manipulation, then that is their problem not mine.

    C:I think some of those men will object to being called “dirty” or “old”, but I’ll let others address that.

    A:You are spreading lies and slander about me.

    C:No I’m not. I invite everyone to google what I’ve said. The proof is out there.

    A:People who dislike the paranormal claim will try to slander me in their attempts at getting at the claim.

    C:I don’t dislike you. I dislike your dangerously irresponsible behavior.

    • @Chris: “Anita, what you would appreciate is of no interest to me. I don’t care if you just ended a depression 2 years, 2 minutes, or 2 decades in length. You traded comfort for attention when you chose to become a public figure, and you do not get to control the focus or the duration of that attention.”

      Irrespective of Anita’s honesty or lack thereof, as a fellow human being I find your behaviour towards her here quite distasteful. You have just declared that you care nothing for the experiences or feelings of an individual simply because she happens to have become a public figure. Can you not understand why this is unacceptable? The fact that someone has chosen to seek public attention (regardless of whether you believe they deserve it) does not mean that, when an aspect of that attention is inappropriate or uncomfortable, they should not be able to say so and have others pay attention to their requests to desist. Granted, this is unlikely to happen in many contexts given the sense of entitlement people seem to think they have over public figures. I am also not attempting to advocate that we should stop discussing, say, the sanity of Tom Cruise just because he is (hypothetically) uncomfortable being confronted with questions about it in an interview. But this doesn’t make it right to be dismissive of his request not to discuss it and it doesn’t mean that, in a situation where it is possible for you to respect his wishes (and assuming those wishes are reasonable), you ought not morally to do so.

      If you have issues with Anita’s statements, claims or integrity, by all means state them and address them clearly (preferably with lots of evidence and citations for the rest of us!). But ad hominem attacks and exhortations to “google for proof!” don’t really help the situation and are, quite frankly, boring.

      @Anita: I can’t claim to know anything about you and certainly don’t have anywhere near enough evidence to decide whether you are being honest or not. I do sympathise with you in relation to the sexism you appear to have experienced and do not believe you deserve to be treated that way or called a slut even if you *were* being seductive and/or ‘sleeping around’ as has been claimed.

      However, I am personally very wary of ‘alternative medicine’ and I can’t say that the connection between your ‘gift’ and the area of human anxiety that is physical health makes me more inclined to accept your statements. I would be more comfortable were you searching for a natural explanation (something akin to House’s semi-miraculous diagnosis of presented symptoms, perhaps?) rather than assuming a supernatural one, as appears to be the case. However, that is not what is at issue here and as I really don’t know most of the details (and I’m not interested in getting involved further) I won’t go into it.

      @kitty: Your claim that there is a double standard seems to me to be disingenuous. In the first place, a woman in a formal setting (as I understand this was?) is likely to be dressed in her best. In today’s culture, this does tend to mean sexually provocative in the sense of showing cleavage, tight-fitting, et cetera. There *is* a double standard in that, as you say, men are not expected to do these things and would not be taken seriously if they did. However, to suggest that therefore it is right for women to be dismissed because they are dressed ‘sexy’ and that expecting otherwise is repressive of male sexuality? Yeah, I’m not buying. No one is suggesting that men ought not to be attracted to or aroused by women they find attractive. As you say, this is natural and not something to be condemned. However, to assume that men are incapable of seeing beyond their physical responses and that women should be held accountable for their inability to do so strikes me as sexist towards both men and women. When I dress “sexy” it’s because it makes me feel attractive and confident, and because, at the end of the day, I have the right to dress how I choose. If a man (or woman, even) finds me attractive, great! But if he can’t see past this and treat me like a human being *just because I’m dressed sexy* then that is his responsibility and not mine. This seems to have very little to do with repressing male sexuality and everything to do with reducing women to sexual objects, then trying to act like it’s our fault some men can’t see past their own libido. However, I will admit I didn’t fully understand some parts of your comment, so if I misinterpreted feel free to correct me :)

      • I am not after attention by investigating this paranormal claim. This is evidenced by how nervous I was before both the IIG test and the TAM demonstration. Mark Edward and James Underdown had to talk to me backstage for a while before I was able to face everybody and have the IIG test. And before the TAM demonstration I was literally shaking and trembling and fortunately I received some reassurance from D.J. Grothe and Banachek.

        Someone who loves attention would love the opportunity to be on stage in front of so many people, and their body language and manner of speech would be very evident of that. Feel free to ask a psychologist or other expert in human behavior to analyze my IIG test and TAM demonstration tapes and make the professional assessment as to whether my behavior is consistent with someone undertaking those events for the purpose of getting attention or enjoying that attention.

        But the best evidence of all of the fact that the objective of my investigation is not to get attention to myself, is how much I love the idea of having the next test take place out of the public’s eye. Someone who would be after attention would be devastated at such a prospect and want to change it to make it more public.

        I do not investigate my claim to find out if I am a 100% always accurate psychic, but to determine the extent of what the claim can do and under what conditions. Most of scientific research is not about simple yes/no, pass/fail answers, but about outlining the behavior of certain phenomena within a range and under a certain set of conditions. I have already established with my two tests as well as personal experiences that I do possess some skill in reading people and to a statistical accuracy which exceeds what one might expect. My results consistently fall within the upper range of statistical probability. Yet I expect to uncover a normal, not paranormal, explanation.

        I do not give migraine treatments. I treated one person who was an acquaintance, and laws permit people to practice massage on friends and acquaintances. When he claimed dramatic and coinciding improvement in his previously severe condition, I was curious to test my method on more people to see whether it could be of use. I then contacted the state massage therapy board and inquired about my possibilities of conducting a study on people, and I embraced their advice that it be best that I first obtain an accredited massage therapy licence, at which I am qualified to evaluate my method.

        Your behavior makes you come across as a most unintelligent and vindictive person, and I am sure that no one who reads here will take your comments seriously. When you state, that as a seemingly unique example of a psychic claimant who chooses to not practice their claim nor state that their powers be true, undertaking a most responsible and harmless investigation of the claim in the skeptical method of inquiry, I would be more of a problem than the countless of other woos who practice their unfounded claims, which they never wish to submit to any kind of test or public scrutiny, unethically charging people money for their services and causing a wide variety of harm to its recipients, if this indeed is your belief then it renders all of your comments questionable and even invalid, and you are not a conductive part of a skeptical discussion.

        I will not discuss matters of the school with you. My public presence concerns my paranormal investigation, and any issues that have taken place in my personal life are not relevant here and also do not affect the claim. You are also not genuinely interested in these issues nor in finding out the truth, as much as you wish to undermine my character by finding things against me. I have not flirted with a professor, and I did in fact have an abusive professor in one of my courses.

        You reveal that you do not have a background in the sciences. Google does not necessarily provide credible content, and websites listing personal opinions is not evidence. If Jim Carr’s website were written in the same quality as Robert Lancaster’s StopSylvia.com and his other work, in a most impersonal and factual manner, neutral of any subjective personal emotional reactions, there would first of all be much less content to his site, but his content would also come across in a much more respectable way. Also, his objective should not be to slander or to debunk, but to courteously and respectfully find out the truth, at which most of his assertions would no longer appear.

        None of my behavior with this claim is irresponsible. I do not claim to be a psychic and I am open to the falsification of my claim through tests. I do not practice psychic services, I make no money off my claim, and at every opportunity I promote skepticism and the skeptical method, especially to the occasional woos who contact me (and are never heard of again). I am showing what one should do with a paranormal claim, that is to test it openly and to give it an objective look. We also need to learn more about paranormal claims and to bridge the gap between skeptics and woos. I am probably one of the few most responsible claimants.

        You come across as most unintelligent and deliberately mistaken. Your agenda is to hurt the general concept of paranormal claims, and I am made the target simply because I am more available than the harmful woos who hide from you. You should take some science classes and adopt a more humble and objective approach which would give your thoughts the clarity to be aligned with reality and that would make your expressions more effective. It would earn you more respect from the skeptical community. Your critical thinking attempts would be more successful, and you could truly become the resource and contribution to skepticism which you are not at the moment.

      • I was called a slut by mentalist and skeptic Mark Edward whose sexually oriented imagination convinced him that just because Michael Shermer was in my room we must’ve had sex. And when I explained to him his misunderstanding, that Shermer – by his own request – had simply dropped by to experience a psychic reading attempt with me, rather than apologize, Mark told me to “stop whining and moaning”. http://www.visionfromfeeling.com/mark.html

        I have had fewer relationships than most women of my generation that I know. I make careful choices in men, but frankly, my private life should not be a matter for discussion regarding my paranormal claim. These rumors were started by Mark Edward when I was dating a skeptic who was also Mark’s friend, which is when he wrote http://skepticblog.org/2010/04/03/sex-in-the-seance-room/, portraying me as some woo whore. All for dating one skeptic! I am very likely to date more skeptically minded and scientific people. I see an equal in intelligent people, and do not expect me to date a woo. I am a skeptic with a paranormal claim.

        And I am in fact investigating to find a normal, not paranormal explanation.

        JREF’s representative Alison Smith was wearing a similar little black dress as I and got away without any diminishing comments. I also saw plenty of lady TAM8 attendees wearing backless short dresses and tops, not to mention lots of cleavage including on Susan Gerbic-Forsyth, Mark Edward’s girlfriend. I never showed cleavage, and even added a top underneath my dress to make sure I was not showing too much of anything.

        Earlier last year I was a bit overweight and chubby and during that time the comments made about me was about my weight and I was called fat and ugly. Now that I’ve lost some weight, these comments are instead that I would be sexually manipulative, seductive and a slut. Meanwhile my behavior has not changed.

        Derogatory comments such as these are irrelevant in the discussion of my paranormal claim, and diminishes the skeptics who make these comments. They are not valid arguments against my claim and do nothing to discredit my claim. These comments are also not accurate, valid, or even really relevant.

      • ashleyfmiller

        I’m not going to block you, but my spam filters keep blocking your messages because they’re so long and you’re repeating links. Please try to keep your replies short and refrain from reposting the same complaints.

        I’m also not terribly comfortable with you talking about Susan’s cleavage, it seems pretty inappropriate. I don’t do a lot of moderating here, and I have no intention of standing between you and whomever you choose to argue with, but at some point what you’re doing is spamming.

      • I agree that it is inappropriate to mention a specific person’s attire in such a context. Consistent with the topic of this article I was using that and other examples to illustrate the imbalance in how different ladies were treated at TAM8, and how the concept of sexual expression whether intentional or only perceived by others is used as an argument to undermine women.

  8. Philosophia, your comment has hurt my feelings and made me depressed. So, unless you’re going to agree with me and say nice things about me, please desist. It’s not morally right for you to be dismissive of my request.

    Kidding.

    P:Irrespective of Anita’s honesty or lack thereof, as a fellow human being I find your behaviour towards her here quite distasteful. You have just declared that you care nothing for the experiences or feelings of an individual simply because she happens to have become a public figure.

    C:I find your attitude irresponsible, incomprehensible, and childish. I care about the people she’s hurting, and the people she will hurt if she’s not stopped. Why are their feelings less important than hers? There are more important issues than her feelings.

    P:Can you not understand why this is unacceptable?

    C:It is perfectly acceptable, and it needs to happen more frequently. All public figures prefer not to answer questions that make them uncomfortable, and responsible people recognize that there are other things at stake besides one person’s comfort. Like public safety, in Anita’s case.

    P:The fact that someone has chosen to seek public attention (regardless of whether you believe they deserve it) does not mean that, when an aspect of that attention is inappropriate or uncomfortable, they should not be able to say so and have others pay attention to their requests to desist. Granted, this is unlikely to happen in many contexts given the sense of entitlement people seem to think they have over public figures. I am also not attempting to advocate that we should stop discussing, say, the sanity of Tom Cruise just because he is (hypothetically) uncomfortable being confronted with questions about it in an interview. But this doesn’t make it right to be dismissive of his request not to discuss it and it doesn’t mean that, in a situation where it is possible for you to respect his wishes (and assuming those wishes are reasonable), you ought not morally to do so.

    C:When I want you to preach to me about morals, I’ll be sure and let you know. Shoot me an email so I can have your contact info close at hand, ‘k? Because you clearly have the best morals. You want vulnerable people to believe Anita’s claims and damage their health and their finances. So I absolutely want to follow your example, because unquestioning acceptance of a charlatan’s claims, which will make the charlatan comfortable, is moral, ethical, and proper.

    Oh, wait. No it’s not.

    What’s moral, ethical, and proper is revealing a fraud for the fraud she is, so that she doesn’t harm people. And I’d rather upset her than have people hurt.

    Anita is a liar, and a well-known one. I wish she were uncomfortable about that, rather than about her lies being exposed. Exposing her lies
    even when it makes her uncomfortable is not entitlement. It is the most ethical order of priorities.

    And it’s funny you should mention Tom Cruise. A video of him accepting an award was leaked to the internet a few years ago, and that made him very uncomfortable. He tried to have the video removed, and the uproar that resulted is about to bring down the cult of Scientology. Because you know what? The law was on the side of the leakers, as it should be.

    Oh, and if you’re interested in evidence, which to my surprise not everyone is, you can google for the video.

    • Please provide evidence to support your accusations that I am hurting people, or you are asked to stop making these serious and inaccurate accusations or you may face libel charges.

      I do not practice my claim, charge money for psychic services, and I also do not promote woo. Rather, what I am doing is very useful especially to those who are vulnerable to be harmed by woo. I am showing that claims must be tested. I am showing those tests and their results, and adopting a skeptical approach to my claim.

      I will also not hurt anyone in the future. My future will be in conventional physics. Please take the time to read this, especially the relevant joke http://www.visionfromfeeling.com/comments4.html

      I would also ask you to provide specific examples of where I would have lied, or face libel charges.

  9. givesgoodemail

    In an effort to get away from the rather pointless threads above:

    There is a strong movement among those who truly enjoy responsibly-conducted sex (and possibly lots of it) to reclaim the word “slut”. To quote from The Ethical Slut:


    In most of the world, ‘slut’ is a highly offensive term, used to describe a woman whose sexuality is voracious, indiscriminate, and shameful. It’s interesting to note that the analogous word stud’, used to describe a highly sexual man, is often a term of approval and envy. If you ask about a man’s morals, you will probably hear about his honesty, loyalty, integrity, and high principles. When you ask about a woman’s morals, you are more likely to hear about whom she shares sex with, and under what conditions. We have a problem with this.
    So we are proud to reclaim the word ‘slut’ as a term of approval, even endearment. To us, a slut is a person of any gender who celebrates sexuality according to the radical proposition that sex is nice and pleasure is good for you. Sluts may chose to have solo sex or get cozy with the Fifth Fleet. They may be heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual, radical activists, or peaceful suburbanites.”

  10. ramblingperfectionist

    Wow, this is the most blatant “talking past each other thread” that I’ve seen in a long time. Also it’s strange that someone who claims to be a skeptic (and is therefore interested in rationality and the manners of debate) doesn’t see the absurdity in using ad hominem and strawman arguments.

  11. TheSkepticCanuck

    Chris:

    I have a small correction to something you stated about Anita. You said: “Dehumanizes you? You’ve claimed for years that you were born on Arcturus. Are Arcturans human? Because I remember the trouble you had registering for a web forum that asks users if they’re human. Can you explain that to the readers of this blog? Or are you renouncing your claim of extraterrestrial origin? (Anita has claimed this; google it.)”

    She has never claimed to be from Arcturus. This is a common factual error made about her. She actually claims to be an incarnation of a white dwarf star near Arcturus. This is just as ludicrous, but more factually correct. She claims this on the JREF at forums.randi.org, so you can search it there. Or you can use Google. Your choice.

    • Not once have I ever claimed to have been born on Arcturus, let alone for years.

      I also do not claim to be an incarnation of a white dwarf star near Arcturus. You are both wrong.

  12. What you did claim can be read quite nicely here:
    http://forums.randi.org/showpost.php?p=4265685&postcount=406

    (With thanks to the poster of:
    http://forums.randi.org/showpost.php?p=6165212&postcount=959
    for looking it up.)

    “I tried to join The Skeptics Guide to the Universe Forum at http://skepchick.org/skepticsguide/ but believe it or not they ask “Are you human?” and you have to answer “Yes” in order to register, so I couldn’t do that and asked myself where is an extraterrestrial incarnation from a white dwarf star near Arcturus supposed to go and luckily Randi welcomes the opinions of all forms of life. ”

    The “being an incarnation from a spacealien” claim existed in the past, when Anita Ikonen was Alenara, the breatharian.

  13. Thank you, Skeptic Canuck and Daylightstar.

    Here’s what Anita wrote to one of the admins of the The Skeptics Guide to the Universe Forum when she declined membership because she claims she’s an extraterrestrial incarnation from a white dwarf star near Arcturus:

    “I tried to join The Skeptics Guide to the Universe Forum at http://skepchick.org/skepticsguide/ but believe it or not they ask “Are you human?” and you have to answer “Yes” in order to register, so I couldn’t do that and asked myself where is an extraterrestrial incarnation from a white dwarf star near Arcturus supposed to go and luckily Randi welcomes the opinions of all forms of life.

    I will kindly decline joining your skeptics forum since you do not welcome persons who believe that they have connections with other planets. I have come to understand myself as a reincarnation from a white dwarf star near Arcturus, and you force new members to answer “yes” to being human. As ridiculous as that sounds, especially to skeptics, it makes more sense to me than any other description of myself.”

    This quote is on the JREF VfF thread, page 11. Ducky posted it on Dec 12, 2008.

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  1. Pingback: #35 – We Love Heidi « Virtual Drinking Skeptically

  2. Pingback: Skepticism: Tits or GTFO*? « Ashley F. Miller

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