Over the weekend I was recovering from a party by watching TV on the couch and playing mindlessly on my phone. At one point the show I was watching ended and I was presented with a fascinatingly stupid show called: Monica The Medium.
This is just one of many Psychic shows on television. There's Long Island Medium, Hollywood Medium and even Teen Hollywood Medium. Plus, when I was younger there were also psychic talk shows on TV such as Crossing Over with John Edwards and Beyond with James Van Praggue.
But this Monica the Medium show caught my attention because the girl doing the reading is so young. Perhaps that's why it was easier to spot the techniques she uses to do her "psychic predictions". The show may try to hide them using clever editing, but Monica's techniques are so typically textbook that it's almost laughable.
So if you've ever been impressed by one of these psychics or you are convinced they can somehow communicate with "the other side", I assure you that you have the same power within you.
I can even teach you how to use it and with a bit of practice, you can do your own psychic readings and freak the hell out of your friends
But if you get burned at the stake for being a witch, it's your own fault.
All you need to know about psychics can be summarized in 2 words: cold readings:
Every time you see mentalists, psychics, fortune-tellers, mediums and illusionists at work they are using some form of cold reading to convince you they know the future or that they can talk to dead people.
Step 1: Find Your Victim
You have to find someone who is willing to cooperate and who WANTS to believe. Then you must make them understand that you need their help. Tell them you can only see "images" and "flashes" and you need them to help you figure out what they mean.
Now all you need to do is make a few good guesses and the person will fill in the blanks and add meaning to what you say.
To make these guesses you need step 2.
Step 2: Figuring Out Who You Are Talking To
All you have to do is look. With a single glance you can pretty much figure out a person's body language, age, fashion sense, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, level of education, manner of speech and place of origin.
You then use this information to make a series of high probability guesses. (We'll explain those in the next section) You must emphasize any successful guesses and quickly dismiss any missed guesses.
With this technique, it helps to practice picking up on body language. When you start speaking, watch the person you're talking to. You can usually tell if they believe you or not before your statement is done.
Do their eyes light up? Are they smiling? Are their arms crossed? Are they looking away? Do they appear to be skeptical? All of these are signs telling you whether should continue in that direction or to move on to another guess.
Step 3: High Probability Guesses
This is where finding someone who wants to believe becomes important. It is due to something called "The Forer Effect."
The believer becomes so eager to fill in the details that they will make connections themselves between what you say and their own lives. They may even re-interpret your statements to give them more meaning.
Example: A psychic called Tyler Henry was holding a psychic session when he made the simple statement "Why am I connecting to Bambi?" Of course, this was a random guess. The subject then filled in the blanks by saying "My father didn't hunt because of the movie Bambi." Afterwards, when the person was interviewed, they said "it was weird that Tyler knew that my father would not shoot deer because of Bambi". Only Tyler never said it. All he said was "Bambi".
This is a perfect example of a high probability guess. It seems really specific at first, but remember, Bambi was a huge movie for most people growing up and many kids were even traumatized by it. Disney in general also hold a big place in most people's hearts, so making some kind of connection with this statement is very likely.
General guesses are very easy to make because as people we change a lot, our feelings change, our mood changes, our beliefs change and even our outlook changes. So there are many comments that may appear to be specific to you that actually apply to everyone. (Much like the statements you read in horoscopes.)
These apply to you and everyone you know because everyone experiences both sides of the same emotions:
- Most of the time you are positive and cheerful, but in the past when you were very upset.
- You are a very kind and considerate person, but if someone breaks your trust, you find it hard to ever trust again.
- You are mostly shy and quiet, but when the mood strikes you, you can easily become the center of attention.
See? I'm totally psychic!
Step 4: Manipulating The Odds
In addition to high probability guesses, there are guesses that don't apply to everyone but still have a high probability of being correct. Here are a few examples:
- You are sometimes insecure, especially with people you don't know very well.
- You have a box of old unsorted photographs in your house.
- You had an accident when you were a child involving water.
- You're having problems with a friend or relative.
- Your father passed on due to problems in his chest or abdomen.
You should only use the ones you think apply to your subject by playing the odds. For example, the last line about the dead father has a higher probability of working if your subject is older because their parents are more likely to be dead.
As for the chest problem it's the oldest trick in the book.
Diseases are very common and most people know at least one person who has either died of lung cancer, breast cancer, heart attack or a stroke. So saying something like "a problem in your chest" includes all of those possibilities.
Step 5: Putting It All Together
These are just a few of the many techniques and tricks used by psychics to convince you they have some kind of power. There are also techniques than can only be used when talking to large groups and of course there are psychics who simply use fraudulent methods to obtain information from their subject.
Shows like Crossing Over with John Edwards would place microphones in their studio so they can overhear audience members discussing the loved ones they hoped to connect with.
These days it's easier than ever. Just wait until you overhear someone's name in a crowded room, do a quick search of their internet history or their Facebook page before you approach them and you can appear to have a vast knowledge of their past.
All of these techniques combined with an eager subject who wants to believe, huge television audiences where whatever you say applies to at least one person, and some clever camera editing to hide all the missed guesses and you can pretty much convince anyone that you are psychic.