I have always been fascinated by weird claims and beliefs, especially those of the psychic, and over the years I've become something of a professional student of such paranormal belief systems, even as a skeptic.
One way we think of the work of skepticism is as a happy marriage between critical thinking/science education and consumer protection. Consequently, I've often felt exasperated by the online auction site eBay and how it has made it so easy for paranormal hucksters to take financial advantage of the credulous by selling their various wares through the company's consumer-to-consumer business.
Some psychic practitioners on eBay offer supernatural medical consultations and healing services, while others offer love potions and spells.
Still other entrepreneurial paranormalists offer spiritual cleansing services for your home or psychic career counseling and supernatural financial planning advice.
But it appears that all of this will soon be a thing of the past.
Those who have been profiting from selling such paranormal promises of prosperity and problem-solving will no longer be allowed to, as of September 2012. According to eBay, the decision was made because sellers who deal in paranormal services often create problems for buyers that "can be difficult to resolve."
From eBay's announcement on the policy change:
The following items are also being added to the prohibited items list: advice; spells; curses; hexing; conjuring; magic; prayers; blessing services; magic potions; healing sessions.
Unfortunately, within the larger "Metaphysical" category of things for sale on eBay (a category that currently has 100,324 active listings for sale!) items like Crystal healing skulls and finger rings enchanted by genies for the purpose of supernaturally causing weight loss for the wearer, ghost hunting "Trifield meters," $450 dowsing rods, and similar products of questionable value will still be allowed.
When it comes to buying the paranormal -- both figuratively, and literally on eBay -- the consumer is still cautioned: Buyer Beware!
The Morning Email helps you start your workday with everything you need to know: breaking news, entertainment and a dash of fun. Learn more