There's been an increasing focus on animal translators the last years, at least in my country.

  • Some believe it works wonderfully, others trust nothing of it.

  • Some translators claim to speak on behalf of dead pets, some on behalf of absent pets, while others translate while interacting with present pets.

Of course people are more skeptical to the "psychic" translations for dead or absent pets. Has there been any real scientific research on the validity of translations for dead or absent pets?

  • To be clear, you're not talking about pet translating collars or phone apps that supposedly translate what animals are saying into human words, but psychics who claim to talk to ghosts? – Spidercat Feb 16 '15 at 16:24
  • In a way, yes. In Norway we call them 'dyretolk', or 'animal interpretor', but what they do is more like 'psychic reading' than interpreting animals actual behavior or sounds. – Berit Larsen Feb 17 '15 at 15:03

Basically the position of the scientific community on psychics is that they practice a sort of pseudoscience, and because we know how their tricks are performed there's not really any point in researching their validity.

There are however, some foundations that are set up, to test people who claim to to be psychics, among other things, in the event that a true psychic were to appear.

James Randi and the Committee for Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal:

There is currently a prize being offered by James Randi, a famous magician, to any person who claims to possess psychic abilities, provided that they can demonstrate their abilities under scientific observation.

The prize started in in 1964 with a 1 thousand dollar offering, but has currently grown to a 1 million dollar offering.

So far, out of the hundreds of people wanting to prove that they are indeed psychics, no one has been able to pass even the preliminary tests.

I would highly suggest watching James Randi's lectures and his appearances on some of the older tv shows, such as The Johnny Carson Show and That's My Line, where he would regularly explain how psychics perform their tricks, and would even put famed psychics at the time to the test.

I think it's safe to say that unless a person is able to pass James Randi's tests, then they possess no psychic abilities.

How psychics work:

I don't really know of much for scientific research on the validity of psychic abilities aside from James Randi's work. I've found that knowing how psychics work removes any need to research their validity.

Psychics that claim to talk with the deceased work on microtransactions between themselves and an audience. Basically they look for things that the other person might take for granted. Not only things like facial expressions, but body posture, eye movements, and finger fidgeting. There's actually a show in the US called The Mentalist where the main character is a person who studies microexpressions, and does an okay explanation of the idea behind it.

Basically, you start with a seemingly casual, vague, statement, and look for a reaction to certain words or terms. You can use these reactions to guide your statements into something that's meaningful to the person.

Reading body language is only one portion of the psychic's ability. The other portion is the real trick. Information about the target is gathered before the reading. Talented psychics will gather the information themselves, through a seemingly casual conversation you had with them before their reading. If you go to for a reading one-on-one, you'll notice there will be a few minutes of conversation before you start, either while they're setting something up, or they're offering you tea or something to get comfortable.

For everyone else, the psychic will have a partner to gather information and relay it to them. The partners usually pose as another member in the group, striking conversations with people around them to relay to the psychic.

As seen in a television show, Exploring Psychic Powers... Live, where James Randi tested psychics. Removing the psychic's ability to see the target, or know which of several targets they are talking to, is enough to render the psychic's powers useless.

Some psychics will make the claim the need to see an aura around a person, which is why they can't use their powers when the person is in another room. So to account for this 'ability', the person is instead placed behind a screen that ends just above their head, allowing for their aura to be visible. Humorously, psychics will claim to see a person's aura behind a screen that doesn't even have a person behind it.

Translation Collars:

Recently translation collars have shown up, touting the ability to translate your pet's words to human language. For the most part, they should work well enough. The main problem with them will be that many animals rely more on non-verbal communication (e.g. tail movement, fur standing up, ear position).

How the collars work, is they listen for a sound from your pet, and they'll match the the sound pattern with a pre-programmed phrase. For example, growling is easily matched with phrases to express anger, while whimpering can be easily matched with phrases that express pain or sadness.

I wouldn't expect miracles from them, and they certainly aren't an exact science. Don't be surprised if you're playing tug-of-war and your dog's collar starts saying "I'm so mad right now".

More information:

http://www.wikiwand.com/en/Mediumship http://www.wikiwand.com/en/James_Randi http://www.wikiwand.com/en/British_Psychological_Society http://www.wikiwand.com/en/Committee_for_Skeptical_Inquiry

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