Tag Archives: readings

Learn to be a Psychic in 10 Easy Lessons

Psychic readings and fortunetelling are an ancient art — a combination of acting and psychological manipulation. While some psychics are known to cheat and acquire information ahead of time, these ten tips focus on what is known as “cold reading” — reading someone “cold” without any prior knowledge about them.

Click Here For All 10 Lessons (PDF)


Click Here For All 10 Lessons (PDF)

Psychic Found Guilty of Stealing $138,000 From Clients

By via NYTimes.com

Sylvia Mitchell in court.

Sylvia Mitchell in court.

A jury found a Manhattan psychic guilty on Friday of swindling two women out of $138,000 in a case that probed the fine distinction between providing an unusual service and running a confidence scheme.

The fortune teller, Sylvia Mitchell, 39, who plied her trade at the opulent Zena Clairvoyant psychic shop on Seventh Avenue South in Greenwich Village, scowled as the verdict was read, reaching up only once to dab an eye.

After the verdict, Justice Gregory Carro of Manhattan Supreme Court said he considered Ms. Mitchell, who lives with her two teenage children in Connecticut, a flight risk and ordered her held in jail. She faces up to 15 years in prison when she is sentenced on Oct. 29.

Outside the courtroom, Ms. Mitchell’s longtime companion, Steve Eli, had sharp words with her defense lawyer, William Aronwald. “You should have let her testify,” he said as he walked away. “You should have let her testify.”

After deliberating for six hours over two days, the jury convicted Ms. Mitchell on 10 counts of grand larceny and one count of scheme to defraud. The jury found her not guilty on five other grand larceny counts.

During a weeklong trial, prosecutors portrayed Ms. Mitchell as a clever swindler who preyed on distraught people, promising them that she could alleviate their troubles through prayer and meditation to remove what she called “negative energy” and rectify problems that arose from their “past lives.”

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The great psychic con

Georgina GuedesGeorgina Guedes via News24

Last week, I read an article about how a “psychic” in the US duped a whole bunch of clients out of $25m.

Why don't you remember this headline?

Why don’t you remember this headline?

I am not a believer in or a fan of psychics, whether they are of the fraudulent or genuinely-convinced-of-their-own-flummery sort. However, hanging with the tree-hugging, open-minded, spiritually attuned crowd that I do, I often get to hear about my friends’ attempts to lift the veil.

I hear them report, with delight, of the positive things that their medium has told them. Six months later, when only a few of these things have materialised (even a broken clock is right twice a day), I am informed that psychics can’t be right all the time, or that it takes them some time to warm up in a session.

And even when they do get something right, it’s generally of the “I see tension associated with your mother”, or “you will have a bout of ill health”, sort of predictions.

Almost all psychics are cons

So, really, people who visit psychics would do just as well to put a bundle of scraps of paper with possible outcomes inscribed on them into a hat and draw them at random, for all the worth or insight that a psychic truly offers.

psychic_scam_362px_250pxBut then, what really boggles my mind is that these people happily traipse back for another dose of fantasy dressed up as prediction, even when the previous lot proved to be mostly off the mark.

The article about the conwoman psychic in the United States says that she told her clients that she was able to predict the future, modify the past and influence the Internal Revenue Services. Taking R25m of her clients’ money is a pretty big scam, but aren’t all psychics purporting to be able to predict the future? And taking their clients’ money for it?

So while this woman was clearly a con artist, taking money from gullible victims, actually most psychics are exactly the same thing – just dealing in smaller bundles of cash. Why aren’t they held accountable? When does it become a crime?

Regulate the profession

There should be some kind of regulation for this profession. Psychics should have to register, and if their predictions are off the mark more than, say, 25% of the time, their licence to practice is discontinued. I doubt that many of them would make the cut.

However, I believe that many people would still visit discredited psychics, seeking out the kind of false comfort that can be delivered by someone with the “second sight” telling you that everything is going to be OK.


[END] via News24

Uncloaking the Deceptive Tactics Used by Alleged Psychics

by via Debunking Denialism

psychic-transparentAlleged psychics who claim to have supernatural powers to communicate with the “spirit realm” have been around for centuries, from the priestesses of the Oracle in Delphi to Sylvia Browne (who has been debunked several times on this blog, such as here, here, here and here). Alleged psychics may seem very convincing at first, but that is a cognitive illusion created by the fact that these supposed psychics use psychological tools and techniques to attempt to create such beliefs in the brain of their unsuspecting victims.

This article goes into detail and examines the nature of some of these tricks. Although no division is going to be perfect, they can be divided into three categories (with some overlap): basic techniques that almost all psychics use, techniques used to increase the probability of getting a hit and techniques used to salvage a miss. When combined, they constitute a powerful method for deception, especially if the victim is in an emotionally vulnerable state or if he or she already has an inclination to believe.

Basic Techniques

Why don't you remember this headline?

Why don’t you remember this headline?

There are certain techniques that are used by almost all alleged psychics that the deserved to be called basic techniques. This involves cold reading (making guesses and getting information from the victim), warm reading (making barnum statements that apply to almost everyone), hot reading (gotten information from researching the victim) and time-shifting (asking a question and claiming that the information was gotten from the spirit world when the victim tells the alleged psychic the information).

Cold reading: cold reading is perhaps one of the most common and well-known tactic used by alleged psychics. It is a technique designed to get the victim to give the alleged psychic the information, and then the alleged psychic takes credit for it and makes it appear that he or she got that information from the deceased loved one. The alleged psychic typically employ estimates and guesses that have a high prior probability of being true about the person, often informed by body language, manner of speech, outward appearance and so on. If a guess is confirmed, the alleged psychic pushes forward in that direction, hoping that confirmation bias will make the victim forget the hits and remember the misses.

james_van_praagh_150pxWarm reading: there is a related technique refers to as warm reading. Some skeptics consider it a type of cold reading, whereas others conceptualize it as an independent technique. Warm reading occurs when the alleged psychic uses statements that apply to almost anyone (barnum statements) instead of using cold reading to get the victim to give them information. Examples include guessing for a common case of death (such as heart condition or cancer). If this technique is combined with inflating probabilistic resources, the supposed psychic has a very high probability of scoring a hit.

John_Edward_150pxHot reading: hot reading occurs when the alleged psychic has actually gotten information about the victim beforehand, either from a Google search or probing other people close the victim (such as relatives, friends, TV producers and so on). Then, when they present that information to their victims, it seems like a miraculous discovery and evidence that the alleged psychic can really talk to the dead. In reality, they have just gathered that information from living or electronic sources without you knowing it. With the popularity of social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, this is becoming an increasingly powerful technique.

Time-shifting: time-shifting is a technique that begins with the alleged psychic asking a question. If the victim gives an informative response, the alleged psychic replies that the dead loved one just told him or her that. To credulous victims, it may appear that the deceased loved one provided the information before the question was asked. In reality, it was the victim that gave that information to the supposed psychic and the supposed psychic tried to make it look like he or she was actually communicating with the dead.

Techniques to Ensure a Hit

LongIslandMedium_250px_200pxThe techniques in this category attempt to increase the probability of getting hits. This is done by various means, such as making a statement without specifying what dead relative and hoping that it will fit for at least one or making a statement in front of a crowd so that at least someone will relate (inflating probabilistic resources), increasing the number of statements made hoping that some are true (shotgunning), making statements that are contradictory or cover a range of possibilities (covering all the bases), ensure that all responses by the victim can be twisted into a hit by asking questions containing negations (vanishing negative) and making unverifiable/unfalsifiable claims that can never become misses (escape hatch).

George Anderson, a former switchboard operator, now talks to the dead.

George Anderson, a former switchboard operator, now talks to the dead.

Inflating probabilistic resources: this technique can be used both when performing a private reading and when doing a reading on e. g. a TV audience. Both are based on the fact that the more possible connections that can make between what the alleged psychic claims and reality, the greater probability that the claimed psychic will score a hit. During a private reading, the psychic might make vague claims about the victim’s dead relatives (e. g. who had the cat?). Since any given person might have quite a few dead relatives, there is a greater probability to score a hit than if the psychic had asked “did your mother have a cat?”. During psychic readings on a studio audience, an alleged psychic will throw out a bait to the entire audience, such as asking “who had the dad with the clock?” or similar. The alleged psychic is almost guaranteed a hit, because there is bound to be someone who can relate to it. In this case, the inflation does not occur by making claims that could refer to any dead relative. Instead, the inflation occurs because there are so many people in the studio audience. Using these techniques, the probability of getting a hit is increased.

Shotgunning: the defining characteristic of the shotgunning technique involves throwing out a lot of claims, particularly names, and hoping that the victim can relate to at least one of them. The alleged psychic relies on the confirmation bias of the victim to ensure that he or she will remember the hits and forgetting the misses. This is based on the same general ideas as inflating the probabilistic resources, although here it is about increasing the number of allowed guesses instead of increasing the probability that a given guess is interpreted as a hit.

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When All of Us Are Nostradamus

By Kyle Hill via the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal

psychic_fraudYou open up the morning paper to check the obituaries. With a shaking hand, you read what you’ve been dreading all along—your own name. Your number is up; your fate is sealed. Sometime in the next month you are going to die. Everyone knows it. And you know it, too. At least you have time to choose your own epitaph. You’re psychic; everyone is, or at least has the potential to be.

Peeking at the hand fate dealt you is commonplace in a world where psychics actually exist. For them, the future is as clear as the past, though abilities would range from Spidey sense to Oracle at Delphi. The most powerful seers—the Nostradamuses, if you will—among them wouldn’t be relegated to pricey phones lines. Such powers almost demand public service. A Minority Report-style pre-cognition division would surely spring up in every police department that could afford one. Seismologists and volcanologists could no longer be persecuted for inadequate predictions—the onus would be on the psychics to alert the public of impending natural disasters. Predicting better than even our best computer models, tune in for the psychic weather forecast on the nightly news.

psychicFair_210pxIf people had psychic future-sight every phone number would be for a Miss Cleo. Casinos around the world would close. Gambling isn’t a matter of luck anymore; can you predict the snake eyes or not? And the lottery hardly seems fair when any real psychic could pluck the numbers from the tealeaves. Insurance plans would diversify and skyrocket. When a psychic insurance agent could predict a cancer diagnosis, future-existing conditions are what they will deny. Forget about the heat of competition. Every sports team is a group of players on a stage going through the determined script until the last whistle blows.

Raising children in a world full of actual psychics would involve going through another stage of development: existential turmoil. If a psychic taps into the loom of fate to see where a string weaves, children would quickly learn that they live in a determined world. Perhaps they will learn about free will like psychology students learn about behaviorism—a clever idea that eventually fell by the wayside in the light of how the world really is. Is anyone really responsible for his or her actions? Should we punish criminals if they are beholden to fate and not sadistic whim? Parents in a world full of real psychics wouldn’t look forward to fielding such questions. The “birds and the bees” talk is much easier to handle.

Real psychics wouldn’t just grasp the future. They would be able to sense beyond what an eye or ear can tell them—a “sixth sense” for objects and feelings. Marriage disputes over where the hell the remote is are no more. Car keys, if not in the pocket, are never lost. Neither are children or loved ones. Real psychics wouldn’t be the laughing stocks of detectives anymore; they would be their saviors. Resolving a manhunt or Amber Alert would be a simple matter of having the psychic manpower (and psychic children would find hide and seek pretty boring). Every cold case would be hot again.

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Aura Cleanser: Another WTF Item

Via The Soap Box

Aura Cleanser only $3.23 per ounce!!!!! (source: Amazon)

Sometimes you can find some really strange products on the internet. Some of these products honestly make me wonder how these things can even legally be sold, and why the website companies that these products are being sold off of would even allow these items to be sold using their websites in the first place. Recently I came across such a product on Amazon.com called Aura Cleanser, and the only thing I could think of when I saw this is, “why is this allowed on Amazon?”

In the product description of this spray, it first claims to do this:

  • AURA CLEANSER is a highly effective patterned recipe formulated to erase negativity in and around you on many energy levels.

Okay, how exactly can a spray, whom’s contents are unknown, erase “negativity” (as if that’s a real thing rather than just how you perceive the world and how you allow it to affect you) and effect energy levels on any scale?

The second claim goes as this:

  • This Essence was especially created to help neutralize and cleanse areas where it is sprayed.

Again, how is some simple spray going to “cleanse” an area of something that really hasn’t been proven to exist, more or less yet been proven to actually affect a person’s mind?

Now the third claim made says it can do this:

  • This powerful essence encourages energetic responses from multi-levels of consciousness, clearing any negative threat, psychic or otherwise.

There’s no such thing as psychic powers, and thus no such thing as psychic threats, negative or otherwise. Also, what exactly is this so called “energetic responses” that it is said to encourage? In my opinion that is sort of vague.

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How did the psychic know that?

Actually, he didn’t.
The Great Psychic Con

via The Skeptic’s Dictionary – Skepdic.com

There’s no way he could have known my grandmother’s name?” “How do you explain his predicting the lights would go off at the shop?” “How did he know my uncle’s name?” “There’s no way he could have known my father died of a heart attack.” “How could he possibly know that my brother collects cuckoo clocks?

John_Edward_3_200px

John Edward has been described as a fraud by James Randi [Skeptic, v. 8, no. 3] and Leon Jaroff [Time, March 5, 2001].

These and millions more like them represent the kinds of statements we get from people who say they’re skeptical, but who’ve been to a psychic and have come away as believers in the paranormal. Many times I’ve been asked to try to explain the “paranormal” experiences of people who tell me they’re skeptics, but who can’t think of any other explanation for something than that it was paranormal. I call it the “Explain That!” game. I’ve posted responses to some of these requests, but I can’t say I’ve been able to persuade any of the believers to consider alternative explanations, even though they ask me to provide them with one. [Some of my explanations for various psychic readings are here, here, here, and here.]

George Anderson, a former switchboard operator.

George Anderson, a former switchboard operator, now claims he talks to the dead via his psychic switchboard.

How do psychics know so much about me? I’ve heard or read many times variants of that question asked by people who are intelligent and educated, but naive. For example, a local sports writer visited a psychic to get a story about her predictions for the local high school athletic teams. He ended up writing two stories. I didn’t read the second one, but the first revealed how amazed he was at how much she knew about him and how accurate she was. It made him think, he wrote, that maybe there’s something to this psychic business. There is, but it’s not what he thinks. In my letter to the editor of the local paper where the sports writer plies his trade I said:

Bruce Gallaudet is an experienced journalist, but he seems to know nothing about cold reading and subjective validation, the two tarot cards up the sleeve of a working psychic. He’s dazzled within 60 seconds and befuddled when she tells the old man that she’s sorry he had to cancel a trip. Did she ask about your knee injury? Or about the outdated calendar you keep at home, along with the box of newspaper clippings? Did she mention your business venture setback (but you’ll do well in new endeavors) or the health problems a loved one is having?

Stick to local sports, Bruce. You were in way over your head with Ms. Mertino, the Davis Psychic.

James Van Praagh plays a kind of twenty-questions game with his audience.

James Van Praagh plays a kind of twenty-questions game with his audience.

The fact is, psychics may know certain things about you in the same way that many people know many things about others by knowing their age, sex, occupation, education, where they live, how they dress, what kind of jewelry they’re wearing, or their religion. Does anyone have perfect knowledge of others based on what are sometimes called warm reading techniques? Of course not. We’re dealing with probabilities, not absolute certainties here, but it doesn’t matter. The psychic is not obligated to stop the reading when she makes a mistake. If she misinterprets your wearing black as a sign of grieving for someone who has died, she doesn’t have to say “oops, wrong again.” No, she just slithers on to the next question or statement, ignoring her “miss” and counting on you to ignore it as well. Eventually, she’ll hit something that resonates with you, that you can validate. The key to a psychic reading is not the psychic’s ability to tap into a world you are not directly privy to. The key to a psychic reading is your willingness to find meaning or significance in some of the statements she makes or questions she asks. If mentioning the death of a loved one evokes no response from you, the psychic will move on to another statement, another question.

“Psychic” Sally is seen removing a microphone from her right ear, and what appears to be an earpiece from her left ear.

It is also possible that the psychic you are dealing with is a very sleazy professional fraud who investigates her clients before she does the reading. Doing a hot reading, however, is not likely if you are a drop-in. Although, even drop-ins can be conned by distracting the client and looking through her purse or wallet. Some psychics who work fairs, for example, have a colleague who walks by those in line trying to pick up information about various clients who are in conversations. The colleague passes on the info to the “psychic” via a wireless device. Most people who visit psychics on a whim are probably not going to be a victim of someone using hot reading, however. Why? Because it’s really unnecessary. Cold reading works just as well. (For a special case of using hot readings by sharing information in order to con wealthy clients who go from psychic to psychic, see Lamar M. Keene. The Psychic Mafia. Prometheus, 1997).

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5 Things I’ve noticed about… Psychics

LongIslandMedium_250px_200pxvia The Soap Box

Ever watched a psychic on TV, or met one in real life? Well other than meeting one in real life, I sure have, and I have noticed certain things psychics that they tend to do a lot of.

So here are five things that I’ve I’ve noticed about psychics:

5. They apparently don’t play the lottery.

Despite the claims of many psychics that they can predict the future and that they can use that power to help guide other people in a positive way, none of them apparently plays the lottery so that they can win lots of money and not have to charge people $50 so they can talk to their dead relatives for 20 minutes.

Why don’t you remember this headline?

(Author’s note: that last part is just a guess. I don’t have any clue what the average going rate for speaking to a psychic is.)

4. They make lousy detectives.

There have been hundreds, if not thousands of criminal investigations in which psychics came in and either volunteered, or were actually asked by an officer on the case to use their powers to help solve a case. Currently not a one has ever solved a case.

In fact the total success rate for psychic detectives isn’t even zero, it’s actually in the negatives because sometimes the psychic leads the investigative officers to the wrong person, and this has even lead to some innocent people being arrested.

3. They ask a lot of questions.

For people who’s powers are suppose to let them know everything, they sure do ask a lot of questions before they start to give a person answer to the question that they originally asked.
psychic-john-edward-2012-events_02
Why the heck would a psychic need to ask a bunch of questions for in the first place? In fact why would anyone need to ask a psychic a question? Shouldn’t they already know what question you want to ask them?

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Online Psychic Service Warns Public to Avoid Psychic Scams (seriously)

This is just too funny – like a burglar trying to be upstanding by warning you against other burglars.

Just for sh**s and giggles I visited the Psychic Accesshow to spot a psychic scam” page to see what kind of advice they provide to help us avoid psychic scams.

Under the header Screened, verified and accuracy tested they list these qualifications as characteristics of a legitimate psychic service (presumably referring to themselves):

  1. The psychic has been tested by an independent organization, or
  2. is registered with the local authorities, or
  3. the site clearly has a strict selection and hiring policy available to the public.

Most people would read this list and believe each psychic meets all 3 of these qualifications and is therefore Screened, verified and accuracy tested, right? You would be wrong.

Note the header DOESN’T SAY: Each psychic is screened, verified and accuracy tested”.

Also note the word “OR” placed between each of the 3 qualifications. This means, to be considered a true statement, ONLY 1 of the 3 qualifications need be fulfilled – NOT all 3. So, as long as the Psychic Access website “clearly has a strict selection and hiring policy available to the public (qualification #3),” they’re technically not being deceptive.

So rather than promising real, verified and tested psychics, these words only promise a website with a clear, strict selection and hiring policy available to the public.

Am i the only one seeing the irony of this deception coming from a psychic service warning us to avoid deceptive psychic services?

Mason I. Bilderberg (MIB)

P.S. The fact Psychic Access doesn’t have a money back guarantee didn’t escape my notice.

Psychic Access, a trusted global leader in online psychic reading services, has issued a public warning against fake psychics, fortune-telling scams and con artists.

Via sbwire.com

psychic_250pxCarson City, NV — (SBWIRE) — Psychic Scams conjured up by fake fortune-tellers continue to be a major concern for legitimate, professional psychic companies. Every day unsuspecting members of the public are conned into forking out ridiculous amounts of money to line the pockets of con artists, despite the fact that potential victims have access to online information on the subject.

“We often deal with the tragic aftermath of psychic scams, when the victim finally finds her way to us for skilled help and guidance,” says Doug Christman, CEO and President of Psychic Access, Inc. “Phony psychics not only damage the reputation of other legitimate psychic services, but they also wreak havoc in the lives of innocent, vulnerable people. Our team of readers at Psychic Access too often has to clean up the confusion and distress caused by these fraudsters. ”

In an effort to combat the prevalence of online psychic fraud and swindles, Psychic Access has now published a set of useful tips and guidelines on their website. The new information page offers a detailed anti-scam checklist informing consumers on how to spot a psychic scam. The set of red flags and danger signs was compiled from actual cases encountered by the experienced team at PsychicAccess.com and is made available online in an attempt to inform and educate the general public and potential customers who are interested in locating legitimate psychic reading services.

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What You Need To Know About… Psychometry

via paranormal.about.com

The incredible phenomenon of psychometry that senses an object’s past – by touching it

WHAT IS PSYCHOMETRY?

Psychometry is a psychic ability in which a person can sense or “read” the history of an object by touching it. Such a person can receive impressions from an object by holding it in his/her hands or, perhaps, touching it to the forehead. Such impressions can be perceived as images, sounds, smells, tastes – even emotions.

Psychometry is a form of scrying – a psychic way of “seeing” something that is not ordinarily seeable. Some people can scry using a crystal ball, black glass or even the surface of water. With psychometry, this extraordinary vision is available through touch.

For example, a person who has psychometric abilities – a psychometrist – can hold an antique glove and be able to tell something about the history of that glove, about the person who owned it, about the experiences that person had while in the possession of that glove. The psychic may be able to sense what the person was like, what they did and even how they died. Perhaps most important, the psychic can sense how the person felt – the emotions of the person at a particular time. Emotions especially, it seems, are most strongly “recorded” in the object.

The psychic may not be able to do this with all objects at all times and, as with all psychic abilities, accuracy can vary, but the ability is available to the psychic.

A BRIEF HISTORY

“Psychometry” as a term was coined by Joseph R. Buchanan in 1842 (from the Greek words psyche, meaning “soul,” and metron, meaning “measure.”) Buchanan, an American professor of physiology, was one of the first people to experiment with psychometry. Using his students as subjects, he placed various drugs in glass vials, and then asked the students to identify the drugs merely by holding the vials. Their success rate was more than chance, and he published the results in his book, Journal of Man. To explain the phenomenon, Buchanan theorized that all objects have “souls” that retain a memory.

Intrigued and inspired by Buchanan’s work, American professor of geology William F. Denton conducted experiments to see if psychometry would work with his geological specimens. In 1854, he enlisted the help of his sister, Ann Denton Cridge. The professor wrapped his specimens in cloth so Ann could not see even what type they were. She then placed the wrapped package to her forehead and was able to accurately describe the specimens through vivid mental images she was receiving.

From 1919 to 1922, Gustav Pagenstecher, a German doctor and psychical researcher, discovered psychometric abilities in one of his patients, Maria Reyes de Zierold. While holding an object, Maria could place herself in a trance and be able to state facts about the object’s past and present, describing sights, sounds, smells and other feelings about the object’s “experience” in the world. Pagenstecher’s theory was that a psychometrist could tune in to the experiential “vibrations” condensed in the object.

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