Gary Posner's Response to Peter Duffie

 

Here is my point-by-point response to the Peter Duffie / Noreen Renier web attack upon my writings about Renier.


Part 1:

Duffie: "GARY P. POSNER: A Man Obsessed with A Psychic's Destruction"

Response: I am neither obsessed with Renier nor dedicated to her destruction. As founder of Tampa Bay Skeptics and editor of its newsletter, I found myself in the position of chronicling fellow-Floridian Renier's career. When asked by Joe Nickell to contribute a chapter on Renier for the book Psychic Sleuths  (which he edited), I did so, and it is this book chapter (the "article" referred to by Duffie) that has aroused Duffie's ire. One could make a case that I am more  "obsessed" with proving Renier (or any "psychic") to be genuine,  as I am a sponsor of a $1,000 prize for anyone who can demonstrate paranormal ability to us under proper observing conditions. Renier has declined our offer (as I report in the chapter), as she has James Randi's $1,000,000 offer.

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Duffie: "Gary Posner, computer software salesman . . . "

Response: I am an executive of a medical software company, having practiced clinical medicine for 15 years prior.

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Duffie: "Posner . . . makes the most astonishing attack on the integrity of Detective Ray Krolak, when he states: 'To further bolster the credibility of Renier and of his uncritical journalistic effort, Tunnell [presenter] also interviewed Ray Krolak about his upstate New York double homicide case discussed earlier in this chapter.'"

Response: How is that an attack upon Krolak's integrity?


Part 2:

Duffie: "Posner took another approach. This is really paranormal. I quote: 'When I called the FBI Academy, I was informed that Robert Ressler has since retired from duty.' Naturally Posner would contact Ex-FBI Agent Ressler at his home? He is in business and is listed in the directories. But, no. He never did. Instead he questioned Supervisory Special Agent Richard Ault . . . "

Response: When I called the FBI, neither the initial person with whom I spoke, nor Mr. Ault (to whom, as an associate of Ressler's, I was referred), invited me to track Ressler down at his home or another business -- I was informed that Ressler had retired. In lieu of conducting a personal interview with Ressler, I quoted from his sworn court testimony.

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Duffie: "Having taken his statement from the non-witness Ault - a statement that would have been thrown out of any court of law - Posner has the sub-zero brain capacity to state: 'Yet, Ressler continues to publicly endorse (and perhaps even embellish, if the following account is accurate) Renier's abilities.' Notice the opening word - 'Yet.' As if Ressler is completely wrong to state what actually happened . . ."

Response: I had just quoted Ault as having told me, "When I asked him [Ressler] exactly what all did she [Renier] say, he wasn't real clear to me on it. He came up with some things that sounded pretty general. . . . In fact, he has often expressed [to Ault] regrets at having brought Renier here to lecture. She's just caused him a lot of [paperwork] problems over the years [regarding] the kinds of claims that she's made." The "perhaps even embellish" refers to my next sentence, in which I quote from a newspaper article stating that Ressler said Renier had predicted the Reagan shooting "down to the date." (Emphasis in original.)

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Duffie: "Posner goes on to state, 'Considering his age, I suspect that scores of the nation's psychics had predicted that President Reagan would not survive two terms in office (I had doubts myself).' Excuse me Mr. Posner, but did not Ms Renier predict that Reagan would be shot, but not killed? Hardly veering towards a natural death, if death had occurred."

Response: This quote was immediately preceded not by a reference specific to Renier, but by the following observation: "Given that such predictions seem as popular as the one about UFOs finally landing on the White House lawn, wouldn't it be more remarkable if the President were to die, or suffer some other health-related crisis, and no psychic were to come forward to reap his or her just reward for having made such a prediction?" Further, had Reagan, due to his age, suffered a heart attack, Renier would have been able to claim a partial success since, according to Ressler, "[Renier] said she felt that [Reagan] was having a heart attack in the future . . . some sort of chest pains . . . and then she clarified it by saying no, it's a sharper pain and it is a gunshot." And, as I also reported, "According to The Blue Sense,  a book generally favorable to the notion of psychic detectives, Renier had forecast that President Jimmy Carter would be reelected in 1980, and subsequently assassinated on the White House lawn. She had added for good measure that Vice President Mondale would commit suicide." Had Reagan, like Carter, not  been shot, her prediction would have been quickly forgotten. The evidence that her Reagan prediction was the result of "psychic" power is hardly compelling.

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Duffie: "After her prediction came to pass, Secret Service Agents interviewed Ms Renier as a possible suspect and collaborator with the would be assassin Hinkley. This unnerved her and she decided never to reveal any predictions publicly about Presidents or International figure heads again. She has stated this on several occasions. However, Posner - even though he included that information earlier in his article - suddenly asks, 'Since I admit to a lack of ESP, I cannot read Renier's mind to divine why she has chosen to move on.' I suggest he reads his own mind to find out what he previously wrote!"

Response: The above quote of mine was immediately preceded by the following: "If, on the other hand, after having struck out with Carter/Mondale, Renier simply lucked out with Reagan/Sadat, one might perhaps anticipate a retreat from the presidential death watch, so as not to risk further lowering her batting average with another series of misses." Renier did indeed voice a different reason -- which I reported -- for having retired from the presedential-prediction game. When I "included that information earlier," I reported it as having been claimed by Renier -- I did not independently verify its accuracy.

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Duffie: "It is a fact that after Ms Renier's input, and there was input, the Zodiac Killer never . . . surfaced again."

Response: I suppose Duffie is confirming that Zodiac was not apprehended by the police despite Renier's "input."


Part 3:

Duffie (quoting me): "Renier seemed to believe that her claims of 'psychic powers' had been vindicated by the jury, and that her legal battle with Merrell was now behind her."
Duffie continues: "Is the above true, or is it a blatant lie? We only have Posner's word that Ms Renier said any such thing. No-one else seems to have heard her say it. . . . We can now see that Posner lied when he made the above statement regarding events in 1986."

Response: From an article, "Psychic wins lawsuit for libel," in the September 16, 1986, Orlando Sentinel: "The verdict, she [Renier] said, proved 'that I'm real, that psychics do exist, that everything I've said is true.'"

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Duffie: "Apparently, Merrell informed Posner that he first heard of Noreen Renier in mid-1985, at a time 'when she was doing her rounds in his home state of Oregon.' What 'rounds' I wonder was she doing - a milk round perhaps. Or maybe a paper delivery round?"

Response: I assumed that she was visiting the area (she has family there) and doing public appearances.


Part 4:

Duffie: "In the Tampa Bay Skeptics Report, Volume 3, No.1 - Summer 1990, Gary Posner makes the following statement: 'Noreen Renier is of particular interest to TBS for several reasons. . . . [By] virtue of her successful libel suit against John Merrell, some may have incorrectly inferred that her psychic power has been vindicated in the courtroom.' . . . You will notice that, where before, he referred to 'some,' he now directly accuses Ms Renier of making this presumption. Did he have a sudden gain of previously lost memory?"

Response: Within the context of that TBS newsletter article enumerating the reasons why TBS felt an obligation to chronicle the doings of fellow-Floridian Renier, I noted that "some" people may have incorrectly inferred . . .  Indeed, I had gotten the impression several years earlier that Renier had done so as well.


Part 5:

Duffie: ". . . In light of the above Noreen Renier wrote Gary Posner requesting that he correct the errors, pointing out that she was not an associate of mine, nor was she associated with my website. . . . Posner once again amended his text. This time he ignored Ms Renier's second letter and used only the information given in the first."

Response: Upon receiving her first e-mail (dated June 3, not June 2), I made the clarification (as per Duffie's page) that very evening. I then immediately informed Renier of the change, and asked if it met with her approval. Upon receiving her reply the following day, I decided to include the exact quote from her first e-mail, rather than using my own paraphrasing. Four hours after she sent the 2nd note to me, I notified Renier of the new text and added, "Please let me know if this does not meet with your satisfaction." I never heard further from her, but apparently she has complained to Duffie about my not also having included wording from her 2nd e-mail. So I have now done so as of 10/3/98.


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