How do psychics still exist?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by MohanaMisra, Apr 25, 2020.

  1. Honestly, the above is exactly my (indignant) question. How do psychics still exist and how is it even legal actually, if they are proven to be nothing but hoaxes time and time again?

    Psychics, unlike magicians pretending to contact the dead, not only sell what they are doing as something absolutely real, but they manipulate memories of people, twist and change facts! PigCake made a recent video on them (it's about Tyler Henry I believe), a Discovery Channel special I rewatched also spoke about them and they sometimes even have television specials of their own!

    Hating a group of people is not what I like to do, so can anybody please tell me why do ''psychics'' still exist and if there's any argument for it being 'okay' for them to exist and lie about people's loved ones?

  2. Before I answer your question it is important to know there are two types of psychics. The first type is those who truly believe they are psychic and the second type are con men who scam others out of their money. The first type are quite common in local communities usually using things like tarot cards, leaf reading, palm reading, or other methods. The thing about these systems is they foretell common things. They might say "a big change is coming" for example, which is true because changes happen all the time. However, this type of psychic usually does not gain much popularity. Their methods aren't tricks so they aren't as accurate or true as the methods used by scam artists. The second type are the most popular ones, people like Uri Gellar, The long Island Medium, and others. They use tricks such as cold reading, combined with hot reading. Hot reading (if you aren't familiar with it) is a technique scam artists use where they get information about the person pryor to the reading. They could research the person online or if they are doing a "show" could have assistants talk to people before and then feed the "psychic" that information later.

    Now to answer your question: there are a couple of reasons psychics exist. Seeing your question was geared more to those psychics who are frauds I won't go into those who truly believe they are psychic. The first reason scammers pretend to be psychic is for their own personal gain they either want fame, fortune, or both and don't care about honesty or integrity. They decide to take advantage of others for their own gain. The reason they thrive is because people need to believe in something bigger than themselves. It's human nature to do this. Many of those who believe in these psychics are in pain and look to psychics for hope. Sometimes our need for something bigger than ourselves overrides our common since, we let our guard down and people swoop in to take advantage of us. The problem is legally not much can be done. Psychics are a spiritual belief and cannot be banned without violating religious rights. On a case by case basis, if you proved one was a scam they could be arrested but banning them as a whole would require all of them to be exposed and that would be impossible. The methods the use are pretty much undetectable. You couldn't really prove it was cold reading because who is to say what non believers call cold reading is just an explanation to what they claim is truly psychic abilities. So all we can do is try to educate the public on these matters and train them not to fall for it.
    Justin.Morris and MohanaMisra like this.
  3. People want to believe in something... and this people (the psychics that scam people out of their money) exploit that... there will be always people willing to believe anything, and just because of them, the psychics will always exist...
    MohanaMisra likes this.
  4. There are laws on the books in many states (including my own) that specifically outlaw "fortune telling" or the "casting of spells for financial gain". I believe the last time it was used in my state was around 2010, and more recently in NYC a fraud was busted under the same sorts of laws.

    Why do psychics exist? Because of how humans are wired. We are a curious species with a massive talent for seeing patterns. Even when there are no actual patterns to see. What that means is that we need to know how things work, and will make up any explanation that seems to fit if we can't figure it out for sure.

    The other side of it is that anyone who does 'readings' on a regular basis, assuming they are not just spouting Barnum statements, will eventually have intuitive leaps that seem to come from nowhere and are weirdly accurate. Like, it's one thing to be able to guess someone is into sports, it's another to know exactly which sport and how long they've played. I'm not saying it's supernatural (I have my own theories on how it works) but it's eery and I can absolutely see how people would think that is genuinely psychic.

    So, on the one side - some people think they are psychic because they have these intuitive leaps and they end up putting two and two together and coming up with "psychic". On the other side there are people who believe in psychics because they've seen enough of a pattern of people supposedly being able to predict the future that they can dismiss any time it didn't work. Inertia of Belief, as it were.

    The vast majority of people who work as psychics are not predators. And by that I am saying I would wager that something along the lines of 90%+ are "genuine" (or at least believe they are offering a genuine service). It's only a fairly small percentage that rip people off, but unfortunately as far as I can tell any psychic that's made it on TV comes from that 10%. Unfortunately the media is only interested in the 10% that are scandalous so that's all most people ever hear about.

    Spend some time in the new age/witchy/esoteric community and you'll see a vastly different picture than what is painted by the news or the Long Island Mystic.
    MohanaMisra likes this.
  5. As your questions seem geared towards the people who scam others with their abilities (the 10%) let's look at those.

    I don't know what the laws concerning these people are in our respective countries, and in the US alone I'd imagine that some states have different laws than others. But the question is: Would things change if they were illegal? In the end, all such a (for want of a better expression) "scamming psychic" is, is a con-man or -woman with a unique hook (ChaseC6 outlined several of these hooks). It's not legal to con somebody out of his/her money, but guess what, it still happens. I'd imagine things would be the same if you forbade such "psychic" activity by law.
    If you're interested in some more detail concerning cons and why they work, you can have a look at this podcast:
    The first victim described in this podcast actually fell victim to a "scamming psychic" (can somebody please come up with a better expression?).

    The best thing we can do, as ChaseC6 said as well, is educate the public about the methods used.
  6. I see your point about religious rights...

    Just wondering, could it be because the players of the particular sport heard the psychic's prediction and are influenced by it?

    I did not know that. Thanks! Also, I wish such laws existed worldwide.

    That is true too! There are so many things which are legal or illegal, but whether they are socially accepted or not, I think that's the more important variable.

    I just wish people could see how every single (almost, unless I am unlucky on a particular day :D ) prediction of a psychic for every single person matches their lives too! Barnum statements (and some of the riskier approaches especially) are so magical, for better or worse.
  7. That plays an important role as well (religious rights were cited above; people might hesitate to say anything for fear of offending), but it's not what I was aiming for. Email scams are neither legal, nor are they socially accepted, but they still exist. I imagine it would be similar with these psychics. They'd hang around looking for the right kind of person (the "sucker") and lure him in, regardless of whether the law or the community likes this.

    You know what many would say? "Oh my goodness, he even predicted my life when he wasn't even talking to me!"
    MohanaMisra likes this.
  8. (Note: I am not a psychologist, psychiatrist, neurologist, or anything like that - these are conclusions I have reached through my own observation and logic over a few decades)

    The mind's ability to recognize patterns is an unconscious behavior. We do it 24/7/365. But the conscious mind can only process 7 pieces of information at a time, plus/minus 2, unless said mind is specifically trained to do more than that. And even when trained, it only goes to up around 9 and is generally just better at chunking information so it's still kind of 7, it's just that the 'bits' are bigger. So what happens is the unconscious mind also has to filter the millions of pieces of information per second that it picks up, and only allow the 7 or so important ones to go to the conscious mind for active processing.

    We don't need to consciously process every leaf on every tree, or every spoke on every tire, etc. We only need to process what's important - ie: dangers and things of interest.

    However, the unconscious still processes those millions of bits of information and can draw conclusions from them. Sometimes those conclusions get tossed to the conscious mind and they seem to appear out of nowhere.

    Side note - the unconscious mind has been proven to process information and decisions before sending them over to the conscious mind in experiments where the brain is observed as someone is asked to move a finger or whatever. Signals are sent to do that movement before the mind is consciously aware of them happening - this is possibly how ideomotor movement happens.

    So where am I going with all this? With the unconscious mind reading millions of bits of information and occasionally spitting conclusions out, all one has to do is learn to listen to those little bits of information being spat into the conscious mind to be able to make seemingly psychic statements. The unconscious mind will pick up on bits and signals that the conscious mind won't, and since it will be relevant to the actions at hand (particularly when doing readings), it may get 'marked' as important enough to stick into one of the 7 slots.

    If you've ever watched the show "Lie To Me" (based on Ekman's work), a 'psychic' would be someone who that show would label as a 'natural'. Someone who probably grew up in an environment where they were forced to develop the ability to pick up on cues unconsciously in order to protect themselves/loved ones, as opposed to someone who has purposely focused on learning to pick up on those cues like Lightman.

    This is another subject I am working on building a lecture for.
    MohanaMisra likes this.
  9. Why does Religion still exist?

    it is not a system that should be used to impose control, authority, morality, etc over peoples, like when my ancestors got colonized and their animist's beliefs were thought of as "pagan" and "Satanic" and was one of the reasons why they were genocided if they didn't convert

    "psychics" are just another personal belief system, people believe in Magik, in Psychic-abilities, mysticism, etc

    if you are asking from a "morality" and "ethics" perspective... those are "phantasms" "constructs" that only exist if you make them exist and shouldn't be imposed on others, besides a "personal opinion"

    which is why I don't agree with the performers who take it upon themselves to tell the audience one way or another that Magic/Psychic abilities exist or don't... my main issue with Derren Brown, James Randi, etc

    and as a side note, Houdini was a snitch.., and we all know what they get ;)
    MohanaMisra likes this.
  10. You're confusing apples and oranges here. We're not talking about people who believe in psychic abilities, but about those who choose to rip others off by claiming to have these psychic abilites. For an example you can listen to the podcast linked above; the (for us) relevant story begins at 2:45.

    If we continue that line of thought, what's wrong with scamming others out of there money? Or for that matter, stealing it outright?
  11. Psychics exist, absolutely. But whether they actually have psychic powers or can talk to the dead is a whole other question. The answer to that is `no' - just do some googling and read up about James Randi's Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge.

    People want to believe that they are real, and especially "mediums" who supposedly talk to the dead take advantage of vulnerable people who are already open to the power of suggestion. Do some reading up on "cold reading" and you'll see what I mean.

    Derren Brown has also done some good specials showing how fake it really is (e.g. his 2010 show "Derren Brown Investigates - The Man Who Contacts the Dead"), and how easy it is to replicate.
    MohanaMisra likes this.
  12. I view Randi and Houdini as similar self-absorbed snitches who needed to do what they did to feel a bit of superiority...also Randi is as big of a charlatan as the people he allegedly "exposes"
  13. I agree Randi and Houdini were snitches and I think most of it was ego driven.
    Liderc likes this.
  14. I can't recall coming across that claim before. Could you explain what you mean by that, and point us to some substantiation for it?
  15. I don't mind that. My hero is Vernon, neither Houdini nor Randi.


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