Volunteers from the Merseyside Skeptics Society (MSS) recently worked with the Good Thinking Society (GTS) with their investigation into psychics. The volunteers visited different “psychics” and filmed their readings and the results are, quite frankly, appalling.
The first investigation involved a GTS volunteer visiting a psychic in Blackpool and paying £30 for a 5 minute reading. The GTS outline the concerns with this first reading, point out that it ‘was inaccurate, vague and included 22 questions in under 5 minutes. The palmist showed no sign of the supernatural insight she claimed to be able to provide, and left us concerned that a vulnerable customer could be exploited.’
It seems this prompted further investigation and GTS teamed up with the MSS to go undercover with more psychics. Worryingly, one volunteer called Alice suffers from Hypermobility Syndrome (a chronic and highly-painful disability) and was given irresponsible information from the psychic.
The GTS say on their site ‘[Alice] responds to the palmist as she would have done prior to receiving her diagnosis. Everything Alice tells the palmist about her symptoms is true … [Alice] was told that her chronic, highly-painful disability was ‘nothing serious’ and that she would make a full recovery in a few months – and that she alone was responsible for how she felt. In fact, hypermobility is a genetic disorder which cannot be cured.’
I… just… what the…
Another volunteer posed as somebody with a gambling habit and the psychic encouraged them to continue their gambling. The GTS report ‘The palm reader directly encouraged a client with financial troubles to continue gambling, to expect a big win and to ‘do nothing different’.’
Then, in the final part of this undercover investigation three volunteers visited the same psychic for separate readings and the psychic practically gives them the same reading. When a fourth volunteer visits another psychic in the next booth (who happens to be the daughter of the first psychic) she too delivers an spookily similar reading.
What has been recorded in these videos is cause for alarm. The psychic industry attracts people out to make a quick buck from the general public who don’t seem to care about the welfare of the people they come into contact with. This has the potential for disastrous results.
Imagine for a moment that Alice didn’t know her condition and didn’t consult a GP as a result of this reading? Imagine if the volunteer pretending to have a gambling habit didn’t seek help and carried on, potentially getting themselves into further trouble which could result in homelessness or worse?
When I still believed in psychics I visited a stage show during which one of the guys on stage told a mother with a grown child who had some sort of developmental disability that her dead husband was telling her that her concerns about the medication for their son were correct and she should stop using those medications.
When I confronted the psychic about this online after the show he denied he’d said this and I wish I had recorded the show. With all of this in mind here are some steps that you can take to minimise the risk of being ripped off by a charlatan:
1 – Film your reading (and walk away if you’re told not to)
2 – Check reviews online before
3 – Ask for a receipt (and don’t pay and walk away if denied)
4 – Don’t answer questions with anything more than a “yes” or “no”
5 – Count the misses as well as the hits
6 – Count the number of questions asked and how many names you are given.
Yet even if you follow these tips the chances that you’re going to be ripped off is still pretty high. Last year I visited a local psychic fair with my mum out of curiosity and I was amazed at how flattering the psychics were during their readings. Nobody is going to disagree with an encouraging statement about themselves, are they?
Is it worth the risk? I don’t think so…
People can believe in what they wish and they can visit a psychic if that’s what they want to do, but investigations of this nature are important and should not be seen as non-believers/skeptics attacking believers. In my opinion, this is people working to help other people – in this case those who seek guidance from psychics.
I can only take my hat off to the MSS and GTS for this work. I hope it will open a few eyes.