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Renier, Noreen

Renier, Noreen

Contemporary professional psychic with ten years' experience as a teacher, investigator, and lecturer. Originally from Massachusetts, Noreen lived in Florida for eighteen years, working in advertising and public relations. In 1976, she was introduced to meditation and discovered a psychic ability. She submitted her gift to scientific testing and research, working with the Psychical Research Foundation in Durham, North Carolina, and the Department of Personality Studies at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Her experiments in archaeology and anthropology with Dr. David Jones at the University of Central Florida were reported in his book Visions of Time (1979).

Noreen became a consultant to law enforcement agencies, and she claims to have worked on more than a hundred cases. She briefly had a weekly call-in radio program "In Touch with Noreen" (1980-82). In 1984, she began work on a book about her experiences, returning to Orlando in 1985 to continue teaching, consultation, and lecturing.

During 1985, John D. Merrell of Beaverton, Oregon, published an article in the Newsletter of the Northwest Skeptics (a group of which Merrell was co-founder) questioning Noreen's background credentials and what he claimed were "fraudulent claims" of psychic ability. Northwest Skeptics is a group dedicated to combating pseudoscience and uncovering false claims of paranormal phenomena, with loose ties to the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal. The Newsletter was mailed to newspapers, broadcast media, and police departments.

Noreen filed a defamation suit against Merrell, claiming that the Newsletter had damaged her reputation as a practicing psychic. The case was heard in September 1986, when Noreen testified that she lost at least one lecturing job with Oregon State Police trainees because of Merrell's article. The suit claimed that Merrell's statements "held the plaintiff up to public ridicule, humiliation, embarrassment, and loss of reputation causing her to suffer loss of self-esteem, mental anguish, humiliation, and loss of reputation regarding her occupation." The jury's verdict was that Merrell knew that at least some of his story was false or written with a reckless disregard for the truth. Noreen was awarded $25,000 damages.

The case was something of a landmark in the present battle between skeptics and psychics. Militant skeptics claim that belief in paranormal phenomena is unscientific and socially irresponsible and must be exposed as pseudoscience or fraud. Some skeptics have performed a useful service in joining with psychical researchers in exposing a variety of fraudulent claims; others have been irresponsible in attempting to use guilt by association to brand all psychics and all claims of the paranormal as frauds.

Sources:

Jones, David. Visions of Time. Wheaton, Ill.: Theosophical Publishing House (Quest), 1979.

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