Phone psychic reading.

Skeptics are known for warning the public about the perils of psychics (ranging from exploitation to fraud), but it may surprise you to understand that "real" psychics sometimes join in too, offering advice about how to avoid those "fake psychics. "

A recent article explained, "Each day thousands of people look to psychics for advice, information and insight on their lives. There’s little doubt that some psychics can help people find peace of mind [sic], but it’s unfortunate that amongst the genuinely gifted psychics around [sic] that there are also several fakes. Individuals who best have zero or very restricted psychic ability but need to help others, or at worst place out to con their audience from the start — whether for payment or even because they crave attention and they need to feel special. "

This report is interesting for many reasons for the pseudoskeptical and special pleading fallacy approaches. Here’s a few of these tips it provides:

"True psychics are able to offer you accurate and appropriate details on particular matters which are not obvious, by way of instance, they may mention the exact full name of an individual from your past, or even a place you spent a holiday. Fake psychics cannot do so, instead they make general claims such as: ‘I’ve an older man here, he handed due to a heart issue ‘, knowing that statistically it’s likely a good number of people in the audience have lost someone who fits the bill. "

This reasonably accurate description of cold reading is followed with, "In contrast, a real psychic could mention an older man, but they’d add detail like he passed on several years back from a heart problem which he had known about but not told anyone. He says that’s the reason he stopped driving, although he blamed it on his eyesight. " But this still doesn’t really solve the problem, for various reasons. Just including the qualifier "he knew about but not told anybody " doesn’t help; how could a person understand that the deceased knew about his heart problem when he never told anyone, or that was the real reason he stopped driving? It’s more plausible speculation than confirmable fact, and due to flexible interpretation, the psychic’s client may believe, "Well, he didn’t stop driving, but he may have thought about it," thus seeming to confirm the information.

The report goes on: "Fake psychics speak slowly as they are fishing for hints. " That is wrong, but the reason the author gives is right in some situation: "They make a statement then read your body language or wait for your response to correct their own ‘insights’; which makes statements such as: I can feel you have experienced heartbreak in your lifetime. If you’re suddenly emotional or anxious they will ramp this up.) It’s latest, but you have spirits together with you, supporting you. (If you look blank they try another tactic.) "

Many psychics, like John Edward, speak quickly, while others don’t. The concept that fake psychics speak slowly to provide them time to respond and redirect responses is seldom accurate; a proficient speaker can do it in a second or less and doesn’t must draw out the statements or words fishing for a while. In fact most psychics speak quickly precisely because the more they say, the more possible pieces of information and guesses they throw out, the more likely it is that something will capture someone’s attention and perceive it meaningful. This is especially powerful in a massive audience, where the psychic on stage may not be close enough to the individual (or the place may not be well lit enough) to read the microexpressions and body language. Speaking slowly are of no help in those conditions, so that they embrace a faster, rapid-fire patter technique (I saw this firsthand at several readings by Edward).

And "Fake psychics demand money to remove curses or spells. This is one of the ugliest aspects of fakery from the psychic sphere. Individuals who believe that they could be cursed following endless bad luck are vulnerable to suggestions that they may escape it should they cover the curse or spell to be eliminated. " This is a great and valuable warning, though obviously the best way to avoid these unethical "bogus psychics" would be to avoid all psychics…

Carla Baron Fumes at Fake Psychics.

They had been acting on a suggestion by a psychic who told them that the property was the scene of a grisly mass murder: heaps of dismembered bodies would be located there, she insisted–including those of kids. The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry was about the narrative almost immediately, getting the cynical perspective out. I wrote a piece that appeared on MSNBC and the Christian Science Monitor, and Joe Nickell was quoted in The New York Times.

Within a day or 2 psychics were commenting about the disbelief and the entire fiasco–including a famous TV psychic called Carla Baron, who fumed on her website.

She wrote that the girl "falsely reported a crime. She falsely claimed she’d ‘psychic’ ability. THIS is precisely the irresponsible behaviour I’ve pointed out previously in my official website. Those who wish to ‘help’ — those who feel that they have some type of intuitive ability, those that are simply simply lunatics looking for a little attention. This ‘psychic’ who predicted from the false strategies to law enforcement is, in fact, not a psychic at all…. This behaviour threatens to rip at the very fabric of any authenticity displayed by AUTHENTIC psychics, mediums, and psychic profilers like myself. She inquires, "Why is it that many MEDIA outlets (and many lesser websites — i.e., sites, discussion forums, individual websites) find it necessary to use my famous name to promote their articles, commentary, and news bits? "

The clear answer is that in case the subject of the news item is usareviewers.com/psychics psychic detectives who cannot solve cases and provide false and useless information, then she is Exhibit A.

Baron was part of this TruTV series Haunting Evidence, where she and two additional researchers handled real-life unsolved murders. The series was cancelled after 22 episodes without any of those cases was solved; 2 were afterwards closed through police function. The Independent Investigations Group did an superb evaluation of Baron’s claims and discovered a near-spotless history of failure. Baron’s question would be like Tiger Woods wondering why he’s being mention in a news article on golfing.

Baron was worried that this negative publicity about psychic failures is contributing to a modern witch hunt reminiscent of the Salem Witch Trials. No, seriously: "My thoughts is beseiged at the moment with images of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. From June through September of 1692, nineteen men and women, all having been convicted of witchcraft, were carted to Gallows Hill, a barren slope near Salem Village, for hanging….Is history not only repeating itself, but mutating into enthusiastic new ways of ‘witch burning’? "

Baron was seemingly fearful that she along with other "real psychics" could be abducted by angry mobs, put on mock trials, and maybe suspended or pushed to death in a public place. It’s not clear whether Baron was concerned about "fake psychics," such as the girl who led authorities to the Texas house. Presumably the very best proof of psychic abilities (or even witchcraft) would be a history of amazing achievement and accurate information; in this case I don’t believe Baron has much to be concerned about.