Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Photographing Auras on CNN

On yesterday's edition of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees the following exchange took place:

COOPER: It certainly is. All right, Gary Tuchman, thanks. I'm actually going to get my aura photographed right now. I want to introduce you to Nancy Stephens, a photographer who says that she specializes in capturing auras, correct?

STEPHENS: Correct.

COOPER: So you sit here. This is your special camera.

STEPHENS: This is an aura camera.

COOPER: An aura camera. All right.

STEPHENS: Put your right hand and left hand on the hand plates. There are pickups that will register your predominant energy centers, which translates as your aura.

COOPER: All right.


COOPER: I'm not sure I have any predominant energy centers. But let's give it a whirl.

STEPHENS: Just look straight ahead. Take a nice deep breath. Exhale.


STEPHENS: Just takes a couple of seconds. It's calibrating your energy right now.

COOPER: It's calibrating my energy?

STEPHENS: Yes. Good. OK. We're done.

COOPER: OK. Walk over here with me, if you will. We'll develop the photograph in a little bit.


COOPER: How long have you been doing this?

STEPHENS: Since 1999.

COOPER: And -- here, if you'll just come over here. What is the aura that you're alleging you can photograph?

STEPHENS: The aura is a combination of your physical energy, your emotional energy, and important to me, at least, is your spiritual energy.

COOPER: And what can you tell or what do you say you can tell by people's aura? Is it color?

STEPHENS: Everyone has a unique -- it's like a snowflake or a thumbprint. Everyone has an unique aura. Red is your physical energy, to the other side of the spectrum which is purple, which is the spiritual side of you.

COOPER: And what is the benefit of knowing what one's aura is?

STEPHENS: It gives you insight as to what your gifts are, your strengths and also your challenges. Just like in everything in life, there's a challenge and there's a positive. There's a yin and a yang.

COOPER: I'm not sure I buy any of this. But we're going to develop the photograph in a little bit.

STEPHENS: OK. And we'll look at your...

COOPER: And we'll check out my aura.

And later:

COOPER: Earlier in the program we told you about indigo children, kids who some feel are mentally and spiritually gifted or said to have indigo-colored energy fields or auras around them. Aura photographer Nancy Stephens has taken my picture to see what kind of aura I have. And she joins me to talk about it.

How did the photo turn out?

STEPHENS: Fabulous.

COOPER: Let's take a look at it. What do you see in this? Uh- oh, what is that?


COOPER: That's yellow, isn't it?

STEPHENS: Yes. The yellow reveals that you are an intellect. You're very intellectual. The white above you, that white arc displays your spirit guides, otherwise known as angelic beings or deceased loved ones.

The purple on the left side reveals that you are a visionary. It's a combination of red and blue, equals purple. Red is grounded strength. It's a chi, vitality, it's leadership and courage. And then the blue which is hidden within the purple reveals that you're very good at communication.

COOPER: So, you basically -- I don't quite understand how your camera works, but I mean it gets these things, are they different for everybody?

STEPHENS: Every photograph is unique, like a snowflake.

COOPER: And what -- do you do this, what, at bar mitzvahs and parties?

STEPHENS: I get called to many unusual events. They range from -- I have done bar mitzvahs. I've done animals. Showers. I just did an Overeaters Anonymous party last weekend.

COOPER: Let's just take a look at the photo again. It is an interesting -- why do you think people want to have your services? What do you think this gives people?

STEPHENS: Because it indicates what their strengths are, their emotional energy, their spiritual energy, and their physical energy. It gives them a lot of insight as to who they are.

COOPER: Hmm, interesting. Well, I'm not sure I buy any of it, but it's -- you know, clearly, a lot of people out there do and I appreciate you coming in and showing us how it works.

STEPHENS: You are quite welcome.

COOPER: Thanks very much.

STEPHENS: A pleasure.

The especially sad thing is I suspect that, actually, Anderson Cooper is quite sure he doesn't but any of it. Probably CNN's producer's made him air this tripe.

It would have been nice to see him ask a few skeptical questions, though. For example, when Ms. Stephens was describing the significance of the various colors in his aura, why didn't Cooper ask her how she knew what the different colors signify? Or why didn't he ask her how an aura camera worked, or what the heck it means to say the camera is calibrating his energy?

And, incidentally, this came at the end of a segment about indigo children. These are said to be children whose auras contain a preponerance of indigo, which is significant for some reason or other. The segment provided an almost completely skeptic-free account of how some people believe that indigo children can see angels and spirits. It featured the following exchange between one such child and a credulous reporter:

TUCHMAN: But from her bedroom on the Jersey Shore, Sandy says she is wired into another universe, sort of supernatural super highway.

(on camera): Your dead grandmother visited you last night?

S. BERSHAD: Uh-huh.

TUCHMAN: In your bedroom?

S. BERSHAD: Uh-huh.

TUCHMAN: And what did she say to you?

S. BERSHAD: Just to say hello, that she loves me. That kind of thing. She usually just visits. Her energy is very, like, nice, like healing.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Sandy, who spends a lot of her time on the beach believes that guiding spirits surround her.

(on camera): So right now, you see angels?

S. BERSHAD: Yes. TUCHMAN: And where are they?

S. BERSHAD: They're over here.

TUCHMAN: Over here?


TUCHMAN: Like near my shoulder?


And then CNN wonders why everyone is watching Fox News.


At 1:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That "analysis" of the photograph irresistibly reminded me of Ray Hyman's piece on cold readings:


At 2:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Incredible! Are we in 2005 or in Middleage?

At 3:08 PM, Blogger RPM said...

I just did an Overeaters Anonymous party last weekend.

This is kinda unrelated, but imagine if the Overeaters Anonymous and the Alcoholics Anonymous threw a party together. There would be no food and no drinks, right? I guess they could do lines of coke and smoke cigarettes, cause the best way to deal with an addiction is by taking up another addiction.

At 9:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a good article from CSICOP:


Or just get your own: http://www.auraphoto.com/Aura/AuraCamera6000.html and get on CNN yourself!

At 12:13 AM, Blogger Jim Anderson said...

Behold, the power to see through matter! I call it the... (drum roll)... X-Ray! X for X-traordinary! Amaze your enemies! Confound your friends!

PayPal and all major credit cards accepted.

At 2:53 AM, Blogger JM O'Donnell said...

Newsboy, a presenter here in New Zealand went to a psychic showday or something and set up a booth. He had a camera and claimed to read peoples 'pubic aura'. None the less, he got carried away and convinced someone that their dead mother was alive based on their pubic aura.

It was quite hillarious.

At 11:07 PM, Blogger Don Sheffler said...

Yah, I can see her doing parties or state faires. However, a good news story would have been to investigate how much destruction this woman will cause for the people at the Overeaters Anonymous meeting, when they find out that all of her hocus pocus is just a bunch of false hope to them, and a good day's pay for her. She's just preying on their intense and near-desperate desire for another path out of their nightmare, giving them colorfull pictures and pseudo-advice. Quacks like her make me sick.

At 12:27 PM, Blogger Monado said...

Tiny URLs don't last long. Here's the cold reading link in full:


At 9:30 AM, Blogger OutEast said...

I got the feeling from the transcript that he was laughing at her big time. I mean 'And what -- do you do this, what, at bar mitzvahs and parties?'... and the way he keeps repeating her questions, and that 'uh-oh' when he sees the picture... how is that anything other than major snark?

At 10:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was inspiring. So I wrote a poem.

Aura Sublime
Oh! Pious technology! Where art thy camera divine,
That can turn my warts and wrinkles into aura sublime!
My god! So lovely! My gracious aural photograph!
So precious! So godly! Like my cute little barf.

:-). Selva.

At 2:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you met "misprism"?

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