Dr. Oz with con man John Edward
Guerrilla Skeptic and psychic sleuth Susan Gerbic (and her team) tenaciously and meticulously expose the clever and deceptive methods psychics use to give the appearance of being in contact with deceased loved ones in the spirit world. Desperate and unsuspecting clients are eager for the psychic to be right and totally unaware of the devious methods used. Below are a summary of 8 sly methods that lead many to exclaim “There is NO WAY the psychic could have known that!”
The cold logic of cold readings:
“Most psychics are good at observing and sum you up as you walk in the room. Remember these psychics have probably done thousands of readings and are pretty good at it, possibly learning from their mother and grandmother. Humans are more alike than they are different, so psychics can make general statements that apply to most people, watch for feedback and course-correct during the reading. Throw out a few specific things, and maybe it will stick to the wall and you will make the connection. Or not. If you don’t, then the psychic moves on and you are likely to forget the miss. But if it hits, it is a big deal.
“Something very specific and personal like a miscarriage is a great example. A lot of women have miscarriages, and if it didn’t happen to you, it could have happened to a family member or your close friend, or it will happen in the future or even the psychic could claim that it did happen and you didn’t realize you were pregnant. And suddenly you will remember that one time you had an extra heavy period and you make the connection that it might have been a miscarriage. BINGO! Or it might have happened to your mother or grandmother before you were born. How can you even know, but if the psychic states it with confidence, who are you to believe?”
When you’re unreadable, they quickly move on:
“And that is the same if the psychic is hot-reading you (that means they have information about you before the reading) and can’t find information, they don’t know your name, or it is too common, you aren’t on social media. The psychic throws something out to see if it will stick, try some cold-reading and then if nothing, they move on to someone else. They say that they must be getting the person who was just in the room sitting in that chair, or it was the person from yesterday or who will be coming in later. They just move on to someone else, and there are always a lot of others who are easier to hot-read.”
The regulars are called upon – regularly:
“After a Thomas John show one of my team attended, a very distinctive looking woman had some very specific hits, very specific. Afterward my team member went over to the woman to chat, and as some other people walked by they said to the woman, ‘Your (deceased) family always wants to talk to you, how come he calls on you every time you come to the show’? She might have been a willing stooge—she might really think her family is very strong and just pushes others out of the way when she attends a Thomas John show. Either way, to the unsuspecting people in the audience, they don’t know what is going on and think that Thomas John just scored a big hit.”
Anatomy of a clever manipulation:
“If the sitter says that the psychic knew the name of their second-grade teacher—that would be pretty remarkable. But that isn’t exactly how it happens. It’s not as if the sitter goes to the psychic and says, ‘Tell me the name of my second-grade teacher’ and the psychic knows the teachers name and everyone is wowed. It probably went more like this:
--Psychic: I’m seeing you as a young boy—and there is this woman who you really looked up to but wasn’t a family member or a neighbor or even a friend of the family.
--Sitter: Hummmm well I don’t know ….
--Psychic: Why am I getting a name like … Ann …. Ahhh … something like that?
--Sitter: Humm well maybe (trying really hard to help the psychic) it could be my teacher? I don’t know if she has passed over.
--Psychic: That could be it, it’s getting clearer now, was she Mrs. … An something?
--Sitter: Miss Anderson?
--Psychic: That could be it, it’s not quite clear …
--Sitter: That must be Miss Anderson, I was her favorite student, she was my second-grade teacher when I was living in Utah before we moved to Virginia, I thought she was great and I missed her and the rest of the class because I could not finish the year and went to a new school where I didn’t know anyone, it was pretty stressful for me, I was quite shy.
“And then later when the sitter re-tells this story he will say, ‘I went to this psychic who knew my second-grade teacher was Miss Anderson and that I had to switch schools mid-year and was stressed to start over in a new school where I knew no one, and I hadn’t known that Miss Anderson had died but it was fifty years ago, so I guess it’s possible.’ See how this story morphs? The sitter made the connection and when recounting the story to his friends it is much more interesting the way he tells it, and not that the psychic was struggling to make a connection to some woman’s name that had an ‘Ann’ sound somewhere in her name. Also notice that the sitter said ‘she,’ which allowed the psychic to become more specific. And everyone has a teacher of some kind when they are young, or it could have been someone at church, or someone somewhere that you sorta remember but aren’t quite sure. And if they miss—then the psychic moves on and you forget about the exchange.”
Beware of so-called “friends”:
“Another way to get the hot-read without being on social media is that often times psychics are recommended. ‘You must come talk to my psychic, she is amazing, here let me arrange an appointment with her.’ And what happens is that the psychic pumps the friend for information so that when you go to your first appointment, the psychic seems to know a lot about you. ‘I’m sending my best friend to you, she has been stressing a lot lately because her oldest daughter is dating this really flakey guy and she is worried that her daughter is going to get pregnant and drop out of school, I just know you can help her.’
“I’ve also had people who have been fans of the psychic for a very long time who have started to realize that something isn’t quite right with the readings. Two people have told me that they have confided to Thomas John’s assistant some personal story and then during their next reading with Thomas John, he seemed to know about that personal story. The only person they had told was his assistant.”
Some psychics actually employ innocent looking spies to gather info:
“Psychic events with audiences are ripe with information gathering opportunities. You don’t know who is working for the psychic and who is not. That friendly woman who is asking you ‘Who do you hope to hear from tonight?’ might just be a friendly person, or she might be someone who will be feeding what you tell her back to the psychic.
“The bartender, wait-staff, people sitting near you at the bar before going into the psychic event can be gatherers of information. You could be talking to someone in the elevator in the parking garage with someone else you don’t know who looks disinterested but is actually paying close attention to you talking about your upcoming vacation to Hawaii.”
Susan Gerbic and mentalist Mark Edward (not to be confused with popular psychic con man John Edward) work together to expose how it’s done:
“Microphones in the lobby where people are gathered to enter or mingling disinterested people in line who are looking at their phones might actually be listening and then texting the content to the psychic. I’ve done this myself while waiting for the start of Mark Edward’s show at Hollywood’s Magic Castle. I look like a bored lady sitting beside groups of friends that are talking about vacations and their grandchildren. I watch where they sit and send a text backstage to Edward with a description, where they are sitting and the general knowledge I gleaned. When Edward puts his special spin on the information, being very general and then becoming more specific as he holds their hand after he calls them up on stage. Starting out with, ‘I see you are a grandparent, but wait … I feel like there is something new happening … is your daughter expecting her second child this Spring?’ It is so powerful, the grandparent rushes to agree and the audience is shocked. There is NO WAY he could have known that! You haven’t even shared that information on social media yet.”
During a psychic event make sure you stay in your seat and don’t move around – or you will confuse the spirits:
“In an investigation by the Operation Grief Vampire group I run and the Las Vegas Society of Skeptics, we witnessed Thomas John at the Thomas John Experience at Caesars Palace concentrate on a specific area of the room looking for a ‘Joe from NYC’ only to discover that the woman that the reading was for was located on the other side of the room. She stated that she had been sitting in that area before but moved, leaving Thomas John to remark ‘Well your dead people didn’t know you had moved!’ We don’t know if others put two and two together and wondered why he knew where she had been sitting before and the spirits around her didn’t know she had moved to another seat.”
There Is NO WAY The Psychic Could Have Known! https://skepticalinquirer.org/exclusive/there-is-no-way-the-psychic-could-have-known/
Busted: Psychics Exposed For The Con Artists They Are https://www.mybestbuddymedia.com/2019/04/busted-psychics-exposed-for-con-artists.html
30 Prying and Probing Questions To Bolster Critical Thinking http://www.mybestbuddymedia.com/2016/10/30-prying-and-probing-questions-to.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