Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Real Housewives of Aurora, Illinois

In the heart of the Chicago suburbs there lies a picturesque nieghborhood known as Stonebridge. Nestled safely away from the more unseemly parts of Aurora, during the weekday this becomes a quiet place. It is a community with heavily entrenched 'traditonal' gender roles, so with their husbands at work and kids at school, the wives of wealthy lawyers and business executives find themselves alone in huge empty houses. Daunted by the all-consuming boredom of perfect comfort, the women in this kind of situation have searched far and wide for a way to break the monotony. Their past attempted solutions are notoriously well known: alcoholism, prescription pill abuse, and the like. The most recent cure for the common housewife? Crazy bullshit.

Oh, and chain-smoking. Did I forget that one?
Enter the Kindred Spirits Intuitive Arts Center. According to their website, they are a "self discovery center" which offers courses in spiritual, healing, and creative arts designed to "assist you in finding your truth, which is already within you." In addition to these classes, they also have a gift shop which boasts a robust selection of organic tea and cooking supplies, as well as magical healing crystals. I know what you're thinking: This all sounds pretty fishy, doesn't it? Nope. It's totally legit. The website even says: "If you have found your way to this site it is by no accident. You were meant to arrive here."

Seriously though, the people who run this facility are either some of the most seriously misguided people on the planet, or they are some of the opportunistic and crafty scam artists in the entire Chicago suburbs. If had to bet on it, I'd lean towards the latter over the former. Just look at a few of the staff they have lined up for their upcoming "Mind Body Spirit Fair."

All pictures and quotes were taken directly from this page of the Kindred Spirits website as of the publication date. You are encouraged to visit for yourself. Quotes have been edited in the interest of brevity.

"But come on, this isn't really skepticism," you might say. "You're just scoffing at people's beliefs." So before I move on any further, I'd like to point out exactly what I find suspicious about these claims. If my body can "heal itself" as Ms. Smoot claims, then why do I need her special crystals? If Ms. Keys can communicate with "anything that's living and has an energy field," how can she pass on messages from my dead relatives? How can Mr. Szponder be so busy with "corporate America" and pursue a doctorate degree in "metaphysical studies" at the same time? And what kind of university would give a B.S. degree in biology to someone like Ms. Villacreses, who claims to have telepathic contact with animals? 

Moreso than just the four examples I've provided here, this whole place stinks to High Hrothgar. I encourage you not only to read the biographies of the other staff members, but also to sniff around the site for yourself. As much as it would be easier to believe these people are just weird and not at all criminal, there are a few dead giveaways. Consider the following screencap I've taken from the "Paranomal Investigations" section of the Kindred Spirits website:

This should set off alarm bells for most of you, but just in case you've never heard of dowsing rods, these are a classic scam dating back to a poorly-irrigated 16th century Germany. The L-shaped rods sit inside the user's fists and (allegedly) point the user towards water. This is their most common use, although they have been marketed as everything from water-finders to bomb detectors; in fact, the latter usage even provoked criticism by none other James Randi. He explains: "[The Dowsing Rod is] a dummy, complete fraud and fake," referring to the way in which subtle movements inside the user's hand can create the illusion of independent movement. According to Randi, "it's a strange psychological thing, a weakness of the human psyche." Most of the services and products offered by Kindred Spirits are at least questionable, but the fact that the dowsing rod is better known as a tool of scam artists than as a method of paranormal contact really ought to reflect poorly on the intentions of the organization as a whole. 

Despite this, the Kindred Spirits Intuitive Arts Center continues to survive and thrive off the disposable income from some of the wealthiest, best educated families around. How is it that so many people are getting drawn into such a variety of new age hocus pocus? As of now, I feel like I'm only scratching the surface in finding an explanation for this bizarre social phenomenon. My next step will be to visit the Kindred Spirits facility in person to see if I can get to the bottom of the whole affair. Keep your eyes peeled for the next installment.


LabJournal said...

I think they are both, scammers and believers. They really believe in their powers and in their credentials (after all they probably payed a lot for their phony certifications to another scammer). In all these courses they take they are bombarded with standard coaching and self-help ideas about money and success so they will and say whatever is needed to get good money from their new career.
WHen people hears what the want to hear and find a way to fill some kind of "void" in their self esteem they will fall and believe anything, no matter how educated they are. I am continually spammed by a friend with a Biochemistry inviting me to her Reiki clinic where she cures "cronic diseases" and she now has a master in Reiki and is an International Coach. And everything started when she failed in her PhD in a real university.

LabJournal said...

Sorry about any writing mistake, english is not my native languaje

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