Are there a bigger group of con artists operating today than psychics and mediums? There are – marketers of quack medicine – but psychics are certainly in the top five of society’s biggest scumbags. There are an estimated 95,000 of these vermin in the United States. They deviously prey on people’s desperate need to find answers to life’s most troubling questions or to receive a comforting message from a departed loved one. While I believe the most successful psychics and mediums must have some kind of demonic influence, the majority, like the ones exposed here, are just clever hacks out to make good money with their cunning and conniving talents.
A savvy group of intrepid debunkers who call themselves Guerrilla Skeptics are turning the tables on psychics and use Facebook to expose them. For several months they create numerous fake Facebook profiles and update them almost daily, posting very specific and made up normal, everyday facts and events in the person’s life. When a psychic holds an event, the undercover Guerrilla Skeptics attend and register as their fake profiles. The devious psychics will have assistants who immediately search the social media profiles of registered attendees and secretly give the name and personal details to the psychic, who will use the info to “accurately” reveal details to gullible audience members. When reading a skeptic, the psychic doesn’t realize he is merely revealing the details from fake Facebook profiles. Busted!
The following is an excerpt from a New York Times Magazine piece on the con artists. Skeptics Susan Gerbic and a friend registered as Susanna and Mark Wilson and exposed psychic Thomas John:
“On the appointed night of the show, in came Susanna and Mark Wilson, dressed in fancy clothes and toting third-row V.I.P. tickets and unobtrusive recording equipment. Because Susanna’s Facebook page mentioned her losing her twin brother, Andrew, to pancreatic cancer, Gerbic arrived clutching a handful of tissues, a tactic she encourages because it sends the psychic the message that you will be an emotional and entertaining reading. Right away, Thomas John said he was tuning in to a twin brother who wanted to speak to his sister. Gerbic raised her hand.
“‘Somebody is making me aware of cancer?’ John asked, and Gerbic choked up, yes, yes. John reeled her in: ‘I’m getting something right in here,’ and pointed to his abdomen, ‘stomach or pancreas?’ Gerbic acted emotional. And John went straight down the rabbit hole, all the while being careful not to bring the crowd down. He said of Gerbic’s fictional dead brother: ‘First off, he is making fun of you, teasing you for being here with me! He’s laughing about it!’ And the audience laughed, too.
“Over the course of the reading, John comfortably laid down the specifics of Susanna Wilson’s life — he named ‘Andy’ and amazingly knew him to be her twin. He knew that she and her brother grew up in Michigan and that his girlfriend was Maria. He knew about Susanna’s father-in-law and how he died.”
Inside the Secret Sting Operations to Expose Celebrity Psychics https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/26/magazine/psychics-skeptics-facebook.html
Susan Gerbic writes:
“I also had to make sure that my volunteers understood that we were going to create the very sort of fiction that the psychic creates; fighting fire with fire. As much as we disliked doing so, we were going to have to hand over money. We could have purchased $65 tickets, but those people aren’t going to get a reading. VIP is the only way to get a chance to get called on. We wanted to look like we were grieving and were not living paycheck to paycheck. The psychic wants to get his/her hook in the real believers and wealthy newcomers. In this case, each seat was $125. My team understood that we were not going to expose the psychic at the venue, and it was quite possible that our actions might have made the believers in the audience into even bigger believers as attendees we were going to agree with whatever the psychic told us.”
Operation Pizza Roll – Thomas John https://skepticalinquirer.org/exclusive/operation_pizza_roll_-_thomas_john/?/specialarticles/show/operation_pizza_roll_-_thomas_john
30 Prying and Probing Questions To Bolster Critical Thinking http://www.mybestbuddymedia.com/2016/10/30-prying-and-probing-questions-to.html
6 Ways Liars and Hustlers Use Confirmation Bias To Dupe The Public http://www.mybestbuddymedia.com/2018/02/6-ways-liars-and-hustlers-use.html
10 Common Characteristics of People Who Get Duped http://www.mybestbuddymedia.com/2017/08/10-common-characteristics-of-people-who.html
9 MORE Common Characteristics of People Who Get Duped http://www.mybestbuddymedia.com/2017/08/9-more-common-characteristics-of-people.html
9 Basic Ways Shameless Health Gurus Dupe Their Followers http://www.mybestbuddymedia.com/2018/02/9-basic-ways-shameless-health-gurus.html
9 Basic Ways We Fool Ourselves Into Believing Things That Aren’t True http://www.mybestbuddymedia.com/2018/04/9-basic-ways-we-fool-ourselves-into.html