Jenny Shone, Pet Psychic gets my dander up

Yesterday afternoon I almost phoned a talk radio station to hurl insults at someone. As I got into my car to head home after a long day, I heard an interview of a woman named Jenny Shone who claims to be a pet psychic. That is, she alleges that she can communicate telepathically with animals.

Normally, the Jenny Crwys-Williams show (weekdays from 1pm to 4pm on 702 – a Johannesburg radio station) is dominated by Jenny’s rational, intelligent, personality but yesterday she was not hosting the show, and the task fell to Leigh Bennie. Leigh injected her own dose of credulous brainlessness by lapping up every word that spilled from the pet psychic’s mouth.

Jenny Shone was taking calls from the general public and dispensing animal handling advice based on the stories she was being told. I’m only going to give a few examples here, I’m sure you’ll get the idea.

The first caller who I heard mentioned that he had owned a cat (that is now deceased) and, when it was alive, the animal wouldn’t really come to him unless it was feeling ill. Apparently when Felix (not his real name) was feeling sick he would prefer the caller’s lap over that of the man’s wife.

Shone spewed the usual mumbo-jumbo about being a connected person and how the cat was picking up on the caller’s energy and blah, blah, bolloks. But then she dropped a bombshell and said that perhaps the cat was coming to him because he had some kind of underlying health problem and he should see if the cat favoured him the next time he was ill.

But he’d already told her that the cat was dead! Great psychic ability there Jenny. Can you tell me why my pet rock has been feeling a bit unhappy lately?

The second call I’d like to tell you about was from a woman whose dogs had been poisoned, a terrible thing. One had died and the other had survived but was grumpy and had a bit of a bad temper since the incident.

Jenny said that the dog was obviously pining after it’s dead companion and recommended that the caller get a REIKI healer to look at the animal, to cleanse the toxins from it’s body. And she gave the caller a mantra to say for a minimum of ten days while stroking the dog’s back soothingly.

Finally, a caller told Jenny that her pet cat had gone missing and asked what the chances were that Jenny could use her psychic abilities to help find the lost pet. Shone and Leigh Bennie had mentioned, on numerous occasions during the interview, that finding lost pets was a speciality of Shones, and she didn’t disappoint (me). She said that they could always make telepathic contact with an animal but couldn’t always find it. She assured the caller that they would come to her home and do a reading and give her landmarks of where to look for the missing feline.

You may tell me that I am being uncharitable here, that my tone suggests I have pre-judged Jenny Shone without first experiencing her abilities for myself and that I should not be so closed-minded. I would tell you to put your brain back in your head.

The majority of Jenny Shone’s advice was reasonably sound and would not fall far outside of the kinds of things I would tell someone who, for example, had been adopted by a stray cat (“He’s hanging around because you are feeding him.”), but Shone dresses this sound advice up in the trappings of mysticism and then heaps on mountains of new age mumbo jumbo.

First of all, if Jenny could communicate telepathically with animals we could test her claimed abilities and she could win a million dollars and, possibly, the Nobel Prize. You see, any blinded and successfully repeatable demonstration of psychic ability would be an amazing breakthrough that would revolutionise science and blow more than a few minds right out of their heads. The James Randi Educational Foundation has $1 million to give to someone who can prove these kinds of abilities under mutually agreed, scientifically sound testing. It hasn’t happened yet, although many people have tried. But that doesn’t mean that it will never happen and the challenge stands.

My second issue with Shone is the fact that she is dispensing medical advice to people and animals based on her alleged psychic abilities. This is unethical and dangerous. Jenny is neither a doctor nor a vet and she should keep her mouth shut in this regard. Jenny’s website points out that the “healing therapies” they use most often are reiki, crystal healing and pendulum work.

News flash Jenny, these aren’t healing therapies, they are made-up bullshit popularised by people who don’t know the difference between a placebo and a panado and would happily try treating cancer with homeopathy.

Ok, I’m generalising here and I shouldn’t.

Reiki is a form of psychic energy healing used by people who think that illness is caused by a disruption in the bodies essential life force. It works (as well as any placebo) by convincing you that it has a medicinal effect when it does not. There are not enough reliable studies for a healing effect to be claimed for reiki.

Crystal healing rode in on a greased pig and should ride out the same way. It is based on bullshit, superstition and wishful thinking. There is no scientific evidence that crystals have any healing properties, they are rocks for crying out loud.

Pendulum work… File this under ‘greased pig’ for the same reason as the crystals. No evidence. No mechanism. No basis in reality.

Finally, being able to give people landmarks after visiting their houses hardly counts as making a psychic connection. A lost pet is unlikely to wander dozens of miles from home, so local landmarks are surely a good, high-probability hit (as we like to call these things in the skeptical trade). And when you get it wrong… oh well, you did build in that little caveat about not always finding strays.

Jenny Shone is making a living off of people’s gullibility by feeding them lies about her ability to treat or find their animals telepathically. She is misleading people. Probably because nobody will pay for reasonable advice dispensed by some random person unless they wrap streamers of bullshit around it and slap its ass.

Want to prove me wrong Jenny? Let the Gauteng Skeptics test your claimed psychic abilities.

If you feel like subjecting yourself to cruel and unusual punishment, you can download a podcast of this interview from 702s online archive.

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33 responses to “Jenny Shone, Pet Psychic gets my dander up

  1. Regarding James Randi, I know camera men who have worked as part of the crew, please do not be so naive as to believe that there is a possibility to win the million dollars. The whole place is rigged and set up …… you will be a long time waiting and feel destroyed if you ever gave it a go, there is no way it would ever happen and there are things in place to make sure this is so!!!

  2. Very entertaining thread. I’m loving the passive aggressiveness coming from the pet psychic/reiki end of the debate. Gosh, it’s almost like an aura.

      • I have known Jenny since 2005 when she worked with my dogs. She is totally authentic and does wonderful work. She has communicated with my dogs and told me things they told her…things that only I and the dog knew. So, it’s ok if you are sceptic about it, but I think the comments are not really fair…everyone is free to believe what their hearts tell them…mine tells me that Jenny is a caring and authentic person…and it has been proved to me!!!!!

        • Another unproven and untestable anecdote.
          This is how psychics manage to keep on conning thousands of people every year, by convincing normal, nice people that they have magical powers they don’t have.

          She’s fleeced you. You believed her. I’m sorry about that.

          • The world is not as small as you see it..look what is around you. That’s ok though, if you live happily in that cacoon…it is not enough for me however…there is sooo much more out there, God is big!!!

  3. HI everyone,
    Thank you so much for all your comments. You have brought up issues that are very pertinent concerns to many. I would like to take this opportunity, on this open forum, to give you my point of view and in doing so hopefully I will manage to set the record straight in terms of some of the statements made.
    I feel very strongly that everyone is entitled to their own thoughts and beliefs and I never try to force people to understand my way of doing things. This I did mention on the show. For this same reason I also always tell people that they need to understand that I am not a vet and cannot prescribe medications. I always tell them that I will help where I can but feel that if it is a health issue they need to go to their vet.
    As far as the tracking of lost animals goes, we offer this service, but we never go to the home from where the animal has wandered off. The tracking is always done through a photograph of the animal. The trackers will connect with the animal and give feedback and land marks to the human. The human will then confirm the landmarks which enable us to get more information from the animal often helping the human get him home safely.
    I would also like to set the record straight regarding the payment for these services. Much time and effort goes into both the training our communicators and trackers, as well as the time they put into each and every consultation. As a rule, we never charge up front or demand payment upfront and always do the consultation or tracking in advance of any payment. We do not follow up on any non-payments, as we believe it is the human’s right of choice, but I have very seldom come across anyone who did not feel satisfied with the work I did with their animals and thus did not pay. Money is not what motivates us. Helping the animal and also helping the human develop a deeper understanding of their animal is what this work is all about. In fact quite often I don’t even charge for a consultation if the person is very traumatised by the loss of an animal. A lot of my work also consists of working on education in the town ship areas which is totally voluntary and it improves the quality of the life of the dogs in these areas.
    I also work very closely with some vet’s and get a lot of referrals from them.
    In terms of the healings you mentioned, reiki is becoming a more and more accepted form of stress-relief and emotional relief by many people in mainstream society, and works very well with animals. Just as acupuncture has found its place in society, which is also based on an ancient form of healing used many years before allopathic medicine came into being, so too are other forms of healing becoming more commonly accepted. Instead of dismissing it out of hand, I would ask only that you judge the efficacy for yourself. So too with crystal-healing and pendulum work. Again, the work that is done is mainly to relieve emotional stress and anxiety in animals, never to treat diseases like cancer, and we always advise our clients to see a vet for any physical problems or diseases that manifest.
    All I would ask is that you keep an open mind regarding the work we do. We have many satisfied and happy clients who have seen and experienced the improvement in their animals, not to mention those animals we have helped home.
    All the best to all of you.
    Regards
    jenny

    • Thank you Jenny! I too am a Reiki Master and Intuitive. You answered these issues with intelligence and tact, and I admire you. I do know that connecting with negativity of any kind can and does hinder our healing and intuitive channels. And so, this should be kept in mind for all who are doubting the help that either a Reiki Healer (And yes, Reiki is very much a part of our culture now, along with acupuncture, etc.), or inutuitive can offer. Maintaining a positive flow of energies is essential for all involved if there is to be a positive outcome. Best, Cindi

      • You guys realise that by calling yourselves “Reiki Masters” you’re basically calling yourselves ‘wizards’ or ‘Jedis’ right? Reiki isn’t a thing – it’s just waving your hands at someone and telling yourself (and them) that it’s doing something.

        I enjoyed Star Wars as much as the next guy, but at some point we have to turn the movie off and come back to the real world where there’s no such thing as The Force.

        • It is a term that is used by one who reaches level III of Usui Reiki. That is all. No we are not like Star Wars. Thank you for bringing this up. It is just a term used once you have reached level III as set by the founder. Best, Cindi

          • I know what the term is used for, that’s not really my point.

            Let me give you an example. I’m a Fleet Captain of STARFLEET. I have completed many courses and earned many qualifications, and even a few awards. I’ve got 15 years’ experience in commanding a Starship.

            Does any of that qualify me to pilot a space shuttle? Of course not, because it’s make-believe.

            It’s fun dressing up in a Starfleet uniform, and there’s plenty of value in the whole pursuit for me personally, but I never lose sight of the reality: there is no actual starship. I’m not really a captain of anything. The rank pips on my collar were put there by other members of my club, for fun, not because I have any sort of military resources under my control.

            What Reiki practitioners do is the same, in that their abilities are as real as my starship. There’s nothing wrong with make-believe. But it’s wrong to claim that your make-believe superpowers are real, unless you can produce actual, repeatable evidence to show that they are.

            I could, in principle, easily prove that I’m a real captain of a real starship – all I’d have to do it produce the actual starship. Likewise you could easily prove that your superpowers are real, by doing a controlled trial. I can’t produce a starship that doesn’t exist, and you can’t prove superpowers for the same reason.

            “These people aren’t applying a skill, they’re either lying or mentally ill.” – Tim Minchin

            • I will leave you guys now. Again, I appreciate your input. But, no I can at least vouch for myself. I am not mentally ill. In fact, for over 20 yrs I have worked as a psychiatric nurse. Do not use that term loosely, I have seen some very sad cases, not to be made light of. Best, Cindi

            • And of course. I for one am not lying.. This I can assure you.. Have a Good Day, Cindi

                • Angela- You don’t know me. You do not know my education and accomplishments. I find your remarks to be simply a way to make yourself seem larger and more important than you really are. I need not go on. Look at yourself, and within. I have not insulted anyone, nor said anything derrogatory towards anyone. I am allowing you all to be what you are. I am a well-educated and successful individual. I do not have insult others to make myself look or seem better than I am. Which sadly, seems to be the case with you. Take Care, Cindi

                  • Sorry Cindi, I didn’t mean to insult you. But it would appear that you believe in magic, and have convinced yourself that it works. That is honest self deception. I didn’t call you a conscious fraud, I think you honestly believe that you can heal people by tapping into the life force of the universe and channelling it into them through yourself.
                    However, the fact that this life force does not exist, cannot be measured and cannot be tested kind of points to the fact that you have convinced yourself that you can affect something that you can’t.

    • Hi Jenny,
      Thank you for taking the time to reply to my criticism, I’m sure it was not easy to do, because I was (and still am) very harsh.
      Reiki and acupuncture are effective forms of stress relief, in as much as any relaxing placebo can be. As both claim to work on a non-existent form of ‘energy’ (an awful misappropriation of a term with a very specific meaning) and have been shown in controlled trials to have limited pain relieving qualities, just like any relaxing massage. Invoking the magical Qi, or whatever you choose to name the non-existent field you claim to influence, further muddies the waters and misrepresents what is actually going on.

      Furthermore, the argument from antiquity (that something is good because people have been doing it for thousands of years) is a logical fallacy – a bad argument to use because it has no merit.

      As far as crystal and pendulum ‘healing’ is concerned, that remains a load of hocus-pocus bullshit.

      • Thank you for adding this. It helps me sees things in a different perspective. I do use all the forms you mention here myself. Best, Cindi

      • From Neurologica Blog by Dr Steven Novella:

        “This is a common claim of the pro-CAM crowd and is nothing but a giant logical fallacy – the argument from antiquity. This is a special case of the more general logical fallacy, the argument from authority. Such arguments follow the basic form of claiming that something is true, or that a particular claim has value, because the person or group promoting it has some virtue or positive attribute. In this case the implied claim is that the thing itself, acupuncture, works because it is blessed with the virtue of being ancient. This fallacy is further coupled with the implication that scientific medicine, surgery, and pharmacology suffer from the vice of modernity or youth.

        These coupled arguments are not valid because it does not necessarily follow that what is old is better than what is new. It is common to revere the notion of a golden prior age, but such reverence usually turns out to be unfounded. Typically, those using this fallacious argument will try to rescue it by further arguing that it is valid because antiquity implies that the method has stood the test of time. This argument, however, is not valid because it contains a major unstated premise that is not true – namely that time will test such modalities as a matter of course. History has shown this to be a false assumption.”

        http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/the-argument-from-antiquity/

    • Also, please clarify for me how it is possible that you can offer “communication” sessions with dead animals, but can’t tell when you are talking to someone who’s pet is already dead, even when they’ve JUST told you that the animal is pushing up daisies?

      From your website:
      “A communication session with an animal that has already crossed over can be very different to a normal communication session. As the animal has crossed-over, their concept of time is completely different, and they are immediately more detached from the lower physical vibration that made up their previous lifetime.”

      You’re as big a fraud as John Edward, only not good enough to lie to people about their dead relatives.

      • Angela- Thank you for your input. But I myself know her not to be a fraud by any means. Neither is Penelope Smith, Carol Guerney, Jacquelin Smith nor many other well-known animal communicators. Best, Cindi

        • Well, by the very things Jenny claims to be able to do, she is a fraud. Whether she realises it or not, she is claiming to be able to do things that she cannot prove. Psychic conversations with dead animals? Come on!

          • I suppose you are unaware of many of the world renowned animal communicators. Most of whom hold workshops.. again, Penelope Smith, Carol Guerney, Asia Voight, Lynn McKenzie, go to http://www.animaltalk.net. You take care of yourself now. I find those that become overly doubtful of things get slanted in their views and that is not healthy. It becomes an obsession. Cindi

  4. ugh… yes, pet psychics. I recently spent a year living in a common house with musician/artsy types, all very nice people who I love dearly, but hopelessly mired in mysticism and woo.

    One night a housemate had gone missing, and we were all concerned. We’d exhausted our list of possibilities having called her family, other friends, work, hospitals, etc., and decided to fill out a missing person’s report, which involved a bit of work, assembling the information. Halfway through, someone has a brilliant idea: “Hey! Let’s call Herpy McDerpes the pet psychic! They’ll telepathically communicate with the missing person’s dog, who will telepath with his owner, and report back to us!” At which point they STOPPED assembling the missing persons report and began making arrangements for a psychic consultation. (She was fine; got arrested for graffiti, lulz)

    Not directly related but some time later, one of our housemates was killed by a drunk driver; it was incredibly jarring for all of us. So it is perhaps not surprising that a few of the friends their developed the idea that he died because our house was cursed. Among other pieces of evidence for the elaborate ‘theory’ was that one of the cats was, at one particular point in time, staring off into space rather than playing ‘like cats are supposed to’. wtf. An exercise in confirmation bias from hell.

    In neither case would I say that a person was using mysticism to turn others’ misfortune into profit. However, I think they are two good examples of how spirituality can disempower people, by disconnecting them from reality and diminishing their capacity for critical thought: when an actual, real problem arises, the only tools they have to face it are tea leaves and pyramids. In the latter case, I have some sympathy; I don’t think that mild delusions are a completely inappropriate response to grief. But going about aggressively promoting the idea that our loss was caused by a curse (presumably a cast by a malevolent person), in a group of people who already consider gullibility to be a virtue, seems downright dangerous. It wouldn’t have led to a full-on Salem style witch hunt, certainly, but the risk of someone getting hurt is clear.

    (I also became convinced that the ‘chemtrails’ conspiracy is astroturf, meant to drive a wedge between the climate change movement and spiritualists with environmental leanings, but that’s a different story… )

  5. Pingback: Episode #45: Pet Psychic, Random Twitter Success and Kangaroo Vaginas | Consilience: An African Science Podcast·

  6. I agree with the sentiment but this crap has been going on for so long in so many forms I find it hard to expend the energy on it unless they are taking advantage of the grieving… then I get very angry.

    When my younger brother died at 29 from a drug overdose it really knocked the life out of my mom. My sister and I rallied around her but this had long been a dread fear for my mother and it looked like she wouldn’t recover.

    At one point she had a psychic come to her house to “commune” with my brother’s spirit. I can be passive when other people want to be stupid but when you try to hurt my mom HOUSTON… WE HAVE A PROBLEM.

    My sister called me to let me know what was happening and I went to my mom’s house and threw the asshole out. So when I hear the excuse “What does it hurt if it provides comfort” I get a little pissed off. Providing comfort via lies and preying on the vulnerable is just crap. It is snake oil sideshow tent nonsense and I would personally love to see it made illegal (along with homeopathy, astrology, seances).

    • I agree with you regarding the psychic frauds taking advantage of the grief of a lost friend or family member.

      But I don’t have the same reservations about speaking out about it. Jenny Shone is taking advantage of people’s grief. When I thought my cat was lost I was extremely upset and cried my eyes out. Jenny takes advantage of that. It’s not as obvious, or as disgusting as preying on the grief of lost family, but it is in the same category.

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