THE PALMIST ANDTHE SCEPTIC
Notes from a talk given to the Association of Independent Retirees, Brisbane, January 2008
Although I have practised palmistry for many years and taught it for the last 4 years I was trained as a geologist. I was a senior research scientist at CSIRO in the 1970s and I was an Associate Professor of Applied Geology at QUT before my retirement. With that background you would expect me to be something of a sceptic and I am, but I am not a septic sceptic.
I became sceptical as a child after being fascinated with what I read about Socrates. When the time came for confirmation in the Church I was told to have faith and believe totally in something that did not seem fully logical. I looked at other religions and they seemed to ask for the same sort of thing so I thought they cannot all be right if they ask me to take them on faith and reject the others.
This led me to the Theosophical Society, and in their book shop at the age of fifteen I came across Cheiro’s Guide to the Hand. It proved to have some useful material in it that was easily tested hence I became interested in the subject for the rest of my life. I was admitted to the Palmistry Guild of Queensland by examination in 1995.
I believe a scientist should have an open mind and question everything. Odd things like palmistry should not be rejected out of hand until they have been tested and found faulty. Science does not progress with closed minds. People once believed the Earth revolved around the Sun and persecuted non-believers or anyone who wanted to question the dogma. Science made little progress in the Middle ages.
When I was in Saudi Arabia my Bedouin workers believed the Earth was flat. On a hill at the edge of the Red Sea I tried to show them the curvature of the Earth but they would not see it. When I explained that they could not see Egypt because of the Earth’s curvature they laughed at me and said it was because it was simply too far away.
Sometimes people will not believe in something if they cannot see how it works. This seems a bit inconsistent when they use computers and do not understand what goes on inside them. The best thing to do is to test ideas and if they work accept them provisionally. Nothing is ever absolutely proven in science it is just gains acceptability the more it passes tests. To reject something because you do not know how it works is naiven the other hand it is naïve to accept something without first testing it.
CAUTIONS ABOUT PALMISTRY
1. I do not believe much of what I read in palmistry books. Some books are just plainly wrong. Some books are so bad they can even be harmful. Anyone can write a book and most of what is written is copied from others. For example, one mistake that has been copied for over 100 years is from “The Laws of Scientific Hand Reading”, by Dr. W. Benham. He referred to a high set thumb as monkey-like, indicating a lower intelligence. However, monkeys actually have low set thumbs. Many palmistry books lack evidence of scholarship such as references, indexes and acknowledgements. One that is reasonably reliable is ”Hand Psychology” by Andrew Fitzherbert. He has checked his facts before putting them in print.
One worrying book is “Crime & Mental Disease in the Hand” by Paul Tesla. This is endorsed by the Florida Police Department who claim the system does work. The Head of Crime Scene, David Brooks, wrote that this work makes it possible to read and predict criminal and pathological tendencies. The applications of this book are tremendous and its implications are far- reaching.” Unless the police are thoroughly trained in palmistry and its limitations this could be very dangerous. Furthermore I believe there are some serious mistakes in this book. Police everywhere routinely now take hand prints, but the Queensland police I have spoken to claim they are sceptical about using palmistry.
2. Anyone can call themselves a palmist. There is no government regulatory body controlling the standard of palmistry. About 20 years ago fortune telling, which included palmistry, was illegal in Queensland, yet in the 18th Century in Germany some universities had full courses in the subject.
3. The Palmistry Guild of Queensland has a code of Ethics which requires that each client is treated with respect and confidence and that no predictions will be given of negative events in the future. In particular no prediction of the date of death will be given. Such a prediction can contribute to the person’s death. Furthermore, such predictions are highly questionable. They are usually based on the length of the Life Line. I know several old people with short Life Lines. I also have seen 2 hands without any Life Lines at all. Sometimes a break in a Life Line can indicate a break in vitality. Steve Irwin had a huge Life Line and should have lived to a ripe old age, and probably would have if the sting ray did not attack him. His strong Life Line showed his great vitality.
Palmists can be systematic and follow signs, of which there are at least 70 in the hand, or they can be psychic or both. I use the systematic approach and tell students that with psychic insights to ask the client if they mean anything and not to be dogmatic about it. A lot of care is needed with psychic insights because they can be wrong or may need special interpretation.
CREDIBILITY OF PALMISTRY
1. Firstly, I came to believe in palmistry because my clients told me that what I read in their hands was true. They often said “It is amazing that you can tell that.” Occasionally I got it wrong but mostly it was right much to my surprise.
2. Secondly, when I saw signs that I had not read about I was able to guess what they meant using general principles and on enquiry found I was right. For example, I was reading a man’s hand and the marriage line looked peculiar and had a couple of extra bits to it. I correctly guessed there were a couple of extra things going on in the marriage situation. He could see my interest in the unusual sign but wanted to get past it so he said; I may as well tell you since you can see it anyway. He was getting divorced and was currently cheating on his new girlfriend.
On another occasion at a Medieval Fair a well groomed lady came to me. She was swarthy in complexion with dark hair and dark eyes, very well groomed and with some discrete but expensive jewellery. I guessed she possibly a Peruvian princess or maybe came from the Armenian aristocracy. I do not know which. She had good posture and did not smile. As I began reading her hand I noticed two distinct Head Lines. This is extremely rare, and I remarked on it and jokingly said you must have two heads. She did not see the joke and her dark eyes pierced through me to my soul and she demanded to know why I said that. I realized what a silly comment I made so I tried to explain that the Head Line deals with thinking and there normally is only one. Head Lines can have breaks or forks in them but there is essentially only one. Two Headlines suggests two ways of thinking or two separate lines of thought, or two intellects. She then confided that she is a channel (a sort of medium), which means that she allows another spirit or entity to enter her and take over her mind for receiving and relaying information while she is in an altered state of consciousness. She was very secretive about the other entity and had not expected me to find out as much as I had.
At another medieval fair a nice young lady presented with a very unusual Head Line in her right hand. This broke into three big swirling branches. So I asked her if she had three different sorts of mental activity. It turns out that she has three different groups of friends who she treated separately and who she had different activities with. She also has three wardrobes of clothes for her three groups of friends. This sounds like multiple personality disorder but it is not. I have found that multiple personality disorder shows up in a different way and is only manifest in the left hand.
On another occasion I found that a person had a Family Ring at the base of the thumb, which is perfectly normal but this person also had another half formed ring just below it. I guessed this meant they had one and a half families which turned out to be true.
Karen Anderson was reading palms at South Bank. A big fellow sat down and thrust his hand at her and said read that. Karen was so surprised at how spectacular a sign for animal affinity was on his hand that she exclaimed it was so strong that he could be a lion tamer. The man nearly fell off his chair with surprise and Karen was surprised also. She never met a lion tamer before. My experience is less dramatic. When I saw a very distinctive animal affinity sign on a man’s hand I said if a dog came into this room now would he come straight across to you and acknowledge you. He said “Of Course”. When I asked why “of course” he said he had been a dog trainer with the police for 5 years.
3. Thirdly, I had another test. I eventually realised that people would agree with most of what I said because it was positive. Who would disagree with an analysis that said they were good communicators, imaginative, graceful, witty and just. So did that mean I was a victim of the “Barnum Effect”? This is that individuals will give high accuracy ratings to descriptions of their personality that supposedly are tailored specifically for them, but are, in fact, vague and general enough to apply to a wide range of people. To overcome this effect I tried to compare people using palmistry indices. For example, a person who has a longer index finger than another person will have more self esteem. A person with a long little finger will be a more eloquent communicator than one with a short one. A person with a longer palm will have more emotional volatility than one with a square palm. People with long fingers will process thoughts longer than people with short fingers. People with long Heart Lines will have more emotional involvement with others than with a short Heart lines. People with a curved Head Line will be more creative in their thinking than one with a straight line who will be more into logic. The Jupiter Tri-radius will be displaced inward for the low risk taker and outward for the high risk taker. All this works as well as other indices.
4. Fourthly, some negative aspects that have been delicately investigated have been vindicated by clients that one could expect would have denied them .e.g. a special type of thumb always is associated with people whose tempers are hard to control, and they do not deny the problems they have in controlling their tempers. On the other hand when you tell people with long index fingers they are egotistical they will spend a lot of time telling you how they are not egotistical at all. In doing this the words I, me, my, mine are used profusely.
While palmistry can be systematic it is more of an art than a science. When people talk about scientific palmistry they usually do not know much about science. Nevertheless there is quite a bit of scientific work that has been done in palmistry and there is room for a lot more scientific work. Liz Hallows compared hand analysis with Myers Briggs personality profiling for a Masters degree at QUT and found hand analysis is superior in several aspects.
Andrew Symaniz did his honours degree at University of Adelaide and found that people with fewer lines on their palms had higher levels of anxiety than those with many lines on their palms. Palmists had expected to find that more lines were associated with nervous worrying people
When you look at a lot of people’s hands it becomes obvious that you can tell things. A big robust man is likely to have a robust hand. A frail little old lady is likely to have a frail hand. An introvert is likely to keep his hands to himself whereas an extrovert is more likely to spread his hands out. If a person with coarse rough skin and a muscular well padded and hard square hand tells he is an orchestra conductor you might be justifiably curious. If a man with a long delicate palm with lots of lines tells you he is a brick layer you might also wonder.
CAN WE TELL THE FUTURE
To some extent we can tell the likely future. This may show up directly on the Life Line and the Fate Line. Other signs may show the general disposition of the person so that it is easy to see where they are heading. Sometimes signs will show something in the person’s system that has not yet become manifest. Or they might tell someone about something they have to do. If a young person does not have a Line of Destiny then ask them where they think they will be in the next 10 years. What are their long term plans?
Predestination is not an issue for palmists. The lines show potential which will become manifest if conditions do not change. Free will allows us to change conditions by changing life styles so that different outcomes are possible. For example all my fingerprints are loops. Loops are very common but only about 5% of people have loops on all their fingerprints. Having all loops points to senile dementia in older age. My father and great grandfather died of this and when I saw the doctor about it it looked as though I would be heading the same way as I had high cholesterol and had had some silent strokes. Now I keep my mind active and watch my cholesterol so I am heading it off at least to some extent.
Some signs are reliable and others are unreliable e.g. narrow finger nails indicate back trouble about 95% of the time whereas dependents lines are only about 60% right. Sometimes we get the terminology wrong. “Dependent’s lines” used to be known as “Children’s lines”, but they can refer to pets or adopted children. A cluster of signs indicating the same thing gives confidence to the reading. Lines can change with time, especially the minor lines. Although skin ridges do not change substantially their significance can be latered by other aspects of the hand eg. they can be cut by lines.
What you can tell: teacher’s square, self esteem, health, animal affinity, type of risk taker. What I generally cannot tell: age, race, sex, intelligence, sexual preference, cancer. There are exceptions, for example children’s hands are usually small but they may have as many lines as an adult hand. Sex is sometimes evident in the ratio of the lenghts of the index finger to the ring finger. Cancer may or may not be evident in the hand. A good Headline may suggest intelligence but only if the rest of the hand supports this.
At a “Body, Health and Harmony” fair there were a lot of ex-hippies and alternative lifestyle people. One couple that came for a reading was interesting. The fellow had long hair and earrings. The lady had very short leather pants, a sexy –looking bosom and long earrings but no hair or eyebrows. They were interested when I said the Life Line looked fine but when I looked at her nails I was really surprised. They looked like they had Union Jacks in them, with various coloured stripes. So I said it looks like your body chemistry is all mixed up. She was undergoing chemotherapy for cancer – that explained the loss of hair and the weird nails.
Have you heard someone say “I know it like the back of my hand”? How well do you know your hand?
1 Have the lines on your palm changed with age?
2 Is your index finger longer or shorter than your ring finger?
3 Is your thumb longer than your little finger?
4 Do you have moons on all your nails?
5 Are the lines on your palms the same on both hands?
6 Are your fingers longer or shorter than your palm?
7 Is your palm square or rectangular?
USE OF PALMISRTY
Palmistry tells you about the health and personalities of people and can to a limited extent it can predict future events in their life. This is useful because the owner of the hand usually knows some of what you see but also learns something new.
I should add that when we read a person’s palm we are talking about the most interesting person in the world to that person. Even if it is wrong just saying nice things for a half hour can be a pleasant and therapeutic experience.
It can therefore be useful in a counselling situation, especially for people with problems and it can be enlightening for everyone, if not reassuring. But care is needed.
It can be for fun at parties or it can be for serious help.
At my son’s parties I meet all the nice girls and sometimes the questions they ask are almost as revealing as their hands.
When I was driving back home form Sydney a few years ago I called into a pub at Wallabadah for the night. At 11pm there were a few people quietly sitting around the bar looking tired and bored. After reading their palms I found there were a couple of relationships that had been forgotten about, Paul Keating’s piggery was near by and a pile of other personal stuff. By the time I finished they were all chatting away rediscovering old and new relationships, and it was a delight to see.
On another occasion in an aeroplane I read a fellow passenger’s palm and found she had some abdomen trouble which I delicately referred to. For the rest of the flight I heard all about this lady’s abdominal operations in full gory detail. It put me right off eating for a few hours.