I have one question for this Long Island psychic: Did she predict the absolute devastation hurricane Sandy would bring to Long Island? No? Really? But, but, but … she’s psychic!!! Right?
If you didn’t watch the Nov. 8th episode of “Inside Edition,” you missed an expose of “America’s favorite psychic” and star of the popular “Long Island Medium” television “reality” series, Theresa Caputo. A few weeks ago I was asked to take part in a “sting” on Caputo with several IE investigative reporters who had been singling out Caputo for a serious takedown for months. We worked hard to reveal her for what she is – a fast talker of the lowest order. There was no question she was doing old cold reading bits, but her other methods were less obvious to the untrained eye. I was put on the case in New York City for four days. It was a eye-opening experience and great fun watching Caputo going through her histrionics, but I quickly learned that mediums and psychics are getting more and more slippery and hard to catch red-handed than they were only a decade ago.
Like many of the latest crop of bullshit tossers making the rounds, Theresa and her savvy crew have learned from the mistakes of others like Sally Morgan, John Edward and Jimmy VanPraagh. Instead of taking chances with too much guessing, Theresa bumps-up her percentage of hits and avoids bad misses by front-loading her stage shows with a combination of techniques; some time tested like cold reading and planting previous clients they have already read for in specific seats in the audience, (ala Rosemary Altea on the Penn & teller “Bullshit!” episode I worked on) but also making use of the latest social media outlets.
In combination with selling seats through Ticketmaster and the use of credit cards, Facebook, Fousquare, Twitter and all the rest of the latest places people post private information, our own egocentric fascination with ourselves makes it easy for the techie-smart-agent or producer to make seeming miracles happen. Like the old days when the gypsy only needed to tell her sitters what they wanted to hear about themselves, we are now in an era when anyone can tell you more about yourself than you might ever want to know.
At the show we saw, at one point Theresa asked a woman, “…Why am I picking up baby clothes?” To which the woman replied, “Oh, that’s weird. I just put up a bunch of pictures of baby clothes on my Facebook page!”
Not weird at all really. With five or six gathered bits of information like that placed beforehand on a seating chart of the show it’s easy to be cued by her staff of roving microphone and camera people. All seats are numbered and the sections are far enough apart so even Theresa can’t screw up: a red shirt is a fireman, down in front under the lights is the missing child, on the left is the suicide’s mother, etc.
After watching this crew with their equipment move over to a person who was next called upon by Theresa, it became apparent that only one of two things could be happening. The only two logical reasons for the roving crew to move BEFORE Theresa points out the person in the audience they are standing near are:
1. Theresa has already planned with her crew what people she is going to be talking to before the show.
2. The crew is psychic and knows who Theresa is going to be calling on.
I leave it to the reader to decide which option is more likely.
On the heavily edited segments for Caputo’s so-called “reality” program, everyone who happens to apparently casually “bump into” Theresa on the street or in supermarkets or beauty parlors, each is a carefully choreographed set-up. In classic mentalist style, everyone must sign a pre-show waiver or agreement to have their image used on television. It’s only a standard form to those folks. Why would they suspect anything? They should. All the staff needs is a laptop, a name, an address and a willing victim.
The slippery part is this perfect storm of information availability seems to make no sense when you watch Theresa live doing nothing but asking a non-stop machine gun scatter shot of questions, one after the other. It would be so much easier for her to just stick to a list of sure-fire pre-show information. That’s what I would do… So why doesn’t she stick to that strategy?
I’ll tell you why: She’s not a professional mentalist for one, and also because if she did use all the information available all the time, she would be far too accurate and her audience of adoring believers would begin to smell a rat. She has to play that “odds” part down to a believable minimum. It’s the “less is more” angle mediums have been using for centuries.
It was amazing to see her act “surprised” by her hits, as if she had no idea how she did it. Maybe a few times she was genuinely surprised
The Long Island Medium – Can She Really Communicate with the Dead?
She’s one of the most popular reality stars on TV today. For three seasons now, Theresa Caputo, the Long Island Medium, has amazed viewers and brought people to tears by communicating messages from beyond.
“I have a very special gift. I talk to the dead,” Caputo says on her hit series.
So is the Long Island Medium really communicating with those who have passed on, or is she simply using trickery to fool the living? INSIDE EDITION decided to see what happens at her popular live readings across the country. What we saw was starkly different from what viewers see on her TV show.
On TV, she’s almost always dead right, but at her live shows, we watched her strike out time and again.
Caputo asked one audience member, “Is your mom also departed?” “My mom? No, she’s with us,” said the audience member.
“Is your mom departed?” she asked another fan. The woman responded, “My mom? No, she’s still with us.”
Caputo asked another audience member, “Did they pass one right after the other?” to which the audience member responded by shaking their head ‘no.’
She asked one person, “Was this on your mother’s side.” “No, my dad’s,” she replied.
“I know a trick when I see one,” said Mark Edward, after watching the L.I. Medium’s live show. Edward once made a living as a psychic, but he’s now coming forward to reveal the secrets that he says some psychics use to convince people they really do communicate with the dead.
Edward believes one technique Theresa Caputo uses is a classic trick called “cold reading.” It’s done by firing-off open-ended questions that someone in a large audience will surely relate to, like a number.
“How do you connect with the number 2? Is it the month of February? The day?” Caputo asked an audience member.
Inevitably someone raises a hand.
MORE . . .
- Is Caputo Kaputo Yet? (skepticblog.org)
- Social Media – A tool for “psychics” (bluelyon.wordpress.com)
- ‘Long Island Medium’: Theresa Gets Her Own Psychic Reading (5min.com)
- ‘Long Island Medium’ Isn’t Going Anywhere (huffingtonpost.com)
- Psych! (thepsoop.wordpress.com)