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.
REM Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed.
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.
Jones, David. Visions of Time. Wheaton, Ill. Theosophical
Publishing House (Quest), 1979.

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