How Much is that Psychic Reading in the Window?
I have a rough reputation as being a "doubter"... someone who questions everything and works from a legitimately sceptical viewpoint.
Remember: Scepticism (or the American spelling, Skepticism) means to doubt, not deny out of hand... Many people who are "devout" non-believers refer to themselves unfairly as "sceptics" when they are actually "non-believers".
That said, many people assume (incorrectly) that I must be "anti-psychic".
Yup, you read that right... "Incorrectly".
You see, I've two views on psychics...
The first, and one that will make most "non-believers" and "pseudo-sceptics" happy is that in my travels and studies, MOST of the psychics I've met were not charlatans by the letter of that word's 'popular definition'... but simply well meaning people who do believe that THEY do posses special abilities.
Okay, there are "psychics" who do reek of fraudulent behaviour and do things that make me personally wish that we could do to them what they have done/continue doing to their "victims"... but this is a SMALL minority... the mass of the one's I've experienced really aren't "out to get you" and really, truly believe in their abilities.
Thing is, more often than not, they're readings and sensations aren't 100% at all... in fact, the majority don't come too close at all to hitting near the mark.
Most of them use "cold reading" techniques that CAN "fool" the unwary... they "read" the person and give vague comments that make the person involved assume there's something "magical" going on...
Things like, "You're very creative" or "You like to use your hands" are not likely to be met with, "ME!?!? NOT ME!!!!" and make the person attending the psychic to believe they have "read" the person.
They also pump out "You're under a lot of stress" or "You're troubled by something" and then go further and say "Family of loved ones..."
Again, find me the person this doesn't apply to.
I could also go on about - especially - John Edwards... I actually do believe he feels he's legit mostly because he has let himself be tested... and yeah, didn't do so well... and, most importantly, didn't fight the release of those findings. Edwards does use the "Throw-it-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks" method with crowds, and seems to tailor his "messages" to the party he's speaking to.
In one instance, we watched him "interview"(?) two women... both lovely... who were widow's of the same man... they were actually Window #2 and Widow #3 of four woman! The first wife (older) and the last wife (very young) weren't in attendance.
Edwards used the song "Respect" by Aretha Franklin to speak of the man... he started "singing" it to the women asking if it had special meaning...
Hmmm... Think about this... four times married, three times divorced, always to younger and more "trophy-ish" women... and "Respect" played a part you think?
What was funny was, apparently, both women said that he was "not into" Motown and didn't like the song... BUT... agreed that respect (as a thing, not a song) WAS important.
What a shock.
This led them to act as if Edward's had made MASSIVE contact with the fellow.
I don't agree... and I see that "clue" as a gimme.
Next, I watched him "interview"(?) Melissa Gilbert (of Little House on the Prairie fame) and he said, "I see two dad's coming through..."
She lept (verbally) up and went, "Gosh! It's my dad AND Michael Landon!"
Again, not a reach and in my eyes... and certainly not indicative of marvellous psychical abilities...
HOWEVER... and I need to say it again, most of the folks we've worked with that have done this are NOT at all trying to "rip people off". They really do believe that they are doing something special.
As I have to admit, I hated to hear it, but as it was said to me... "You believe that they are self delusional."
...but not all...
Now, I've experienced first-hand only THREE people who truly made my jaw drop.
Let me use one of these folks as an example...
At a seminar "up North", the sensitive heard a "disembodied voice" whining about putting flowers on a wife's grave. The grave, the voice said, was in a small hamlet nearby and the stone was misspelled... for the sake of anonymity, we'll say the name of the "voice" was Smythe and the stone was marked Smith.
After the seminar, the person told their friend about the voice and asked if they'd attend the cemetery with some flowers to look after the request during the weekend.
Well, the friend assumed it was nonsense, and humoured the sensitive...
They found the churchyard, and the Smith stone, and laid the flowers.
The voice returned and started whining, "What about Sam? What about Sam?"
They searched the yard, but found no "Sam" easily visible... the friend of the sensitive then parted some brush and found a footstone... "Sam".
This unnerved the friend, and the sensitive explained on the way back to the town in which the seminars were taking place that there was probably a "connection" to someone in the seminar and there was a person named "Smythe" taking the classes.
On the Monday when the seminars started again, they approached the Smythe person during a break and asked about their family in the small town... The person didn't know who they were talking about... and they moved on thinking, "They probably don't know that part of the family."
A while later, another person (not named Smythe) approached and asked how they knew of his Mother's family in that town. (The maiden name.)
Now, what made this case so interesting to me is the fact that we had two totally un-involved witnesses, and one semi-involved witness.
This same sensitive had another moment of note...
There was a house warming party, where everyone seemed very at ease... except this sensitive. Finally, after a time, the sensitive blurted out the words, "WHY DID YOU PAINT THE BED YELLOW!?!"
Now, this was interesting as no one had seen the "upstairs" area and no one had said word-one about a bed or yellow paint.
It ends up that the owners had indeed bought a lovely bed that was in bad shape. They thought about stripping the paint to the wood, but instead, opted to paint it yellow.
The sensitive's only remark was, "Well, someone doesn't like the colour."
As a last note on this person, at an event done by Torontoghosts, we had a speaker who was attending who had a big "anti-psychic" speech ready. The speaker arrived late and when he approached me (right after entering the site where the event was happening,) he warned me he was speaking and leaving due to a family concern... that's all he said and I was the first person he spoke to at any length...
The sensitive came right up to me and said, "Wish him well on the birth of his new granddaughter. That's why he's leaving... to see his new grandkid."
I re-approached and wished him well... to which his jaw hit the ground. Apparently, he had only learned of the birth on his way out the door and only had time to book the flight that night (hence his hasty departure) and then made his way to the venue.
When he had to speak, it was hilarious... His speech wandered into all sorts of odd places and was entirely "off the cuff" due to his original speech now being blasted by what he'd just experienced.
Needless to say, this sensitive/psychic impressed me... but there's only one problem with them... and the other two that have blown me away with these sort of things...
They can't do it "on command".
No "On/Off" switch for their abilities.
Either something "gets to them" or it doesn't... and in all three cases, I've been to haunted locations with them when they've experienced "nothing".
One of them did start having "off moments" (I'd claim like John Edward moments) on sites and I sat down and discussed the "On/Off" switch and how it's automatic only...
It was then that I realised an intrinsic problem with many people's "psychical investigations"... and even readings...
THE NEED TO PERFORM!
You see, those that are "self delusional" and even those that have good track records will start getting "false positives" because, in their need to "perform" for people, they will extend, and reach, and really almost delude themselves entirely into a false sense of... well... sensation.
Therefore, I'll go on record saying this...
I do believe there is SOMETHING to some psychics... but it's few and far between and this "something" does not have an "On/Off" switch and therefore can never be properly and thoroughly tested within scientific confines without a HUGE sampling of data.
I do believe that the lion's share of those who purport to be psychic and sensitive are not utter charlatans and hoaxers out to defraud... but they are over-extending what they might have to impress those around them.
I do believe there is a very small minority of psychics and sensitives that are utter hoaxers, fraud-artists, and terrible charlatans. Most of these types usually hit those "in need of help" and bilk money for rather sketchy assistance... all with the happy words on the receipt (when one is given,) FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY! (This frees them from lawsuits in the future.)
So, when it comes to psychic readings and assistance, it's truly "Caveat Emptor" (buyer beware) and remember... we've done a LOT of homework on this one and so far, no "Psychical On/Off Switch" to allow for a perfect track record of readings.
As long as you realise that when one goes for a reading that it's 99% miss and 1% hit (if you're lucky) that you're getting a REAL reading to the best of the psychic's abilities AND that it's really only for entertainment, then you'll be fine.
If there's a "psychic disturbance" around you, it will reveal itself, no doubt, and probably without anyone lining their pockets from you.
Oh, and if you're worried about a "ghost in your home", I entreat you to read the page at this link (click here) for ways to do that... that won't harm your wallet.
On a side note in closing, we have heard from many that have been horribly "ripped-off" by house-clearers... one elderly woman to the tune of over $8,000.00 who wrote to us begging for help without pay as she could "no longer afford it". Needless to say, we don't charge and were horrified that anyone would do this to a senior citizen.
Be smart, be frugal... and don't fall for it.
Sorry to get off on that bit of a rant, but I wanted to cover that base as well... I'm sure both Sue and I will revisit it again.