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Recently Silvia Brown, a Medium/Psychic was ousted as a fraud and attacked through social media, mainly due to the fact that she had ‘read’ that one of the women found locked in a Cleveland basement several months ago was in fact dead. Claims when psychics get it wrong range widely, it is due to weather, uncommunicative or malevolent spirits, or a simple mistake and trick of the ‘between worlds.’ The strangest thing to me is that when something like this happens, the psychic in question will even have a right of reply, will be given a chance to explain why they got it wrong, and the reputation and the several thousand dollar phone consultations continue as though this isn’t a person benefiting from the deaths and suffering of others. Why is it that she has a right of reply when what she is peddling is unsubstantiated tripe?
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Recently Silvia Brown, a Medium/Psychic was ousted as a fraud and attacked through social media, mainly due to the fact that she had ‘read’ that one of the women found locked in a Cleveland basement several months ago was in fact dead. Claims when psychics get it wrong range widely, it is due to weather, uncommunicative or malevolent spirits, or a simple mistake and trick of the ‘between worlds.’ The strangest thing to me is that when something like this happens, the psychic in question will even have a right of reply, will be given a chance to explain why they got it wrong, and the reputation and the several thousand dollar phone consultations continue as though this isn’t a person benefiting from the deaths and suffering of others. Why is it that she has a right of reply when what she is peddling is unsubstantiated tripe?

Let’s start this off by saying that there has never been a tested and validated psychic to date (For tests and refusals check out the James Randi Educational Fund). Psychics say that they can’t be tested, that spirits might not respond if they know that testing equipment is around (but they will happily turn up when the video cameras roll and they are often their in televised events that charge many dollars to attend).

As previous posts have noted, humans have an innate ability (called the cognitive miser effect) to use any information that is provided to them to fill in the gaps in information around them. These gaps are most likely to be filled when there is a dissonance, that is a difference between how things actually are and how we want them to be. And where is the gulf of this dissonance at its widest? With death of course, whether it be an actual death or the fear of death, there is a yawning gap between how we want things to be and how they are. Death is an inevitability, something that we all must get to, but there is such mystery about what happens next that we are forced into finding ways to fill that gap.

The trick that is used by mediums and psychics is called ‘cold reading’ (or warm reading depending on the preparation of the audience) as anyone who has an interest in skepticism will know. Psychics and mediums are salespeople, they exploit gaps in the information that they see and they run with it. Cold reading is quite a simple concept though, the most important aspect is that of stage craft, the ability to make it look like something is occurring, the ability to distract, redirect and refocus when a prediction or a reading does not go as planned. Look at any group of people that you see around you and ask yourself what are the commonalities of that group. Public transport for example in a city with a poor public transport service, we could assume that some people on a bus may have some sort of money concerns due to the inability to afford private transport (Let’s start with a general name (watch a medium in action, they will never ask for a Phoebe, a Corrine or other non-common name) I’m looking for a: John (which can be perceived as John, Joe, Jonathan) Catherine (Cait, Kate, Catherine, Cathy)) And lo and behold, a hand is raised, (First question, as per the assumption of issues with money, ‘I am sensing stress about money‘) This could also be substituted (or further added to) as stress about a job or health (people with money concerns are overrepresented in having health issues and obvious problems with a job, whether that be getting a job, or not earning enough. This process can go on for a little while, but what you will note is that a medium will never stay with an individual for too long, why? For a very simple reason, statistics. That is, the more information that you have an informed guess about someone, the higher likelihood that a mistake will eventually be made. Mediums will also close interactions generally (or depending on stage presence and ability to work an audience more specifically), such as “He wants you to know that despite everything that you are your own person and he knows that you can get through this, like you have before”

There is nothing in what psychics do which is magical, that is, unless you count the amount of money that they charge.

Psychic Mediums may be seen as salespeople, as performers, but they definitely should not be treated as a legitimate way to answer away questions left unanswered. The reality is, that death is final and isn’t it logical that sometimes questions will be left unanswered? The need for closure is only for the living, not for the dead.

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