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Fortune-Tellers & Causation

Seán Moran won’t be palmed off by talk of backwards causation.

Giving money to fortune-tellers seems a foolish thing to do. But many clairvoyants earn a good living, so there must be enough customers with faith in their future-seeing powers to keep them in business. Of course, some of those who pay to have their fortunes told approach the experience in an ironic or amused manner, but others take the predictions seriously. And occasionally the prophecies will turn out to be correct, just by the laws of probability. As long as the palm-reader has a plausible manner and makes accurate forecasts from time to time, he can continue to ply his trade profitably.

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