ANYTHING REMOTELY USEFUL
We have today, in the 21st century, a wealth of self-proclaimed 'psychic' mediums who make a living from purporting to be the mediator/translator in conversations between the living (but vulnerable and, it has to be said; extraordinarily gullible). Some of them live and work in tiny communities around the world and exert their particular influence over those who choose to believe (or who are too frightened to dissent) their pronouncements. While unsavoury and in my opinion as much a load of old tosh as, for example, a belief in the entirely fictitious 'rapture' nonsense which has taken hold in - lordy, lordy, who'da guessed; the U.S of A; it's not this kind of 'psychic' that draws my particular ire. What really gets my goat is the continued fame - and of course; fortune - of TV-sponsored and enabled 'mediums who either go into people's homes to hold 'consultations' and 'readings' about their dearly departed, or hold shows wherein they offer comfort and solace to various members of their audiences.
It is, of course, business; these self-anointed people tell the world that they have special powers to speak with the dad, who in turn, talk back to them and through the wonders of being dead, are able to give them advice about the future. The very same mediums often (if not always) claim to have special knowledge about forthcoming events, medical conditions among the living, and where to avoid (personally I think this cramps the style of that other band of self-anointed charlatans; astrologers, but who am I to stand in the way of dishonest people slugging it out with each other).
These outwardly cheerfully consoling, vicariously bereaved and professionally compassionate performers trawl the audiences with cold reading techniques until they find someone gullible enough to cooperate with their process and supply them with enough details and 'yes' replies to keep the momentum of the show going. The nature of the readings, however, tends to be depressingly monotonous. First, a name is hit upon - always just a first name, never a surname, oddly enough (you'd think that the dead would remember their family names, but apparently not), then a series of bland, Barnum statements are used to warm up the sucker - I mean participant - into supplying a bunch of information which is duly repeated as if it's new and revelatory. What then follows is always - ALWAYS nothing but fluff - always 'information' which is anything but; unverifiable nonsense.
Interestingly, the mediums (media?), never, EVER - and I mean EVER, have anything useful to tell us. We hear about how they died (which is usually something the bereaved already know, so if it's about comfort and solace, I'm not sure how that helps), how old they were, the number of their relatives (with wildly varying accuracy), that they are happy in heaven (nobody ever says that things on other side are ever a bit less than wonderful), and that the living audience member shouldn't worry about the pain in their knee/hip/head or the kids (always dependent upon the age of the responding audience member) because everything will turn out alright. I wish that this was a parody of what happens, but it isn't - this is the absolute crap that (let's be honest here: vulnerable but stupidly gullible) people believe when it comes out of the mouths of these liars.
In almost fifty years I have never seen a single so-called medium tested that didn't fail miserably to provide any accurate information. I have never seen or heard any medium ever produce factual information about the present and in particular about the future - which is weird, considering that the dead seem to know everything else.
Perhaps the most pointed question I can ask, however, is why do the allegedly psychic people need to ask any questions at all? Apparently, the dead only give teasing hints of information until the cold reading starts, and at that point they feel comfortable enough to send the worthless platitudes which seem to be what people most wish to hear.
Recently I watched a cold reading, at the end of which (and during which the medium got literally everything wrong) the clearly fraudulent medium threw in a "Your grandma's watching over you and says she loves you and is really proud of what you're doing.". Yep, I know - pathetic isn't it? HOWEVER, with this, the ONLY thing he'd said which pleased the client, the young man in question pronounced the reading (which, remember, had been inaccurate in every way) to have been 'amazing' and 'really good'. The clincher came when the client said "That bit about my grandma was the only thing I wanted to hear." - regardless of whether or not the fraud had been on themoney with any part of the reading, being told that his dead grandma (and bear in mind that this particular stab in the dark wasn't really a huge risk for the medium - most people in their thirties are likely to have a dead grandma or two) approved of him.
I have little sympathy in such situations for people who are so dim as to discard an entire cold reading consultation of misses in favour of a Barnum statement which makes them feel warm and cosy inside. Hand over your money, you idiot, and don't complain if, a week from now, it dawns on you that you've been very obviously exploited.
While I despise these criminals posing as people with special powers (for the record: special powers of this nature have never been demonstrated to be real - ever), I have only a little less disdain for those people who are prepared to suspend reality and not only believe, but encourage and defend what is very, very obviously a load of complete crap. The so-called psychic criminals only prosper because there are enough people in society to feed their business; to enable their criminal behaviour.
I don't need special abilities to know that psychics are liars; I'm relying on common sense, science and the complete and total lack of any proof that what these people do is real - and therefore honest. Creating false hope, false joy, false comfort for money is not only immoral and unethical; it's despicable and disgusting. It's about time the authorities caught up with these people and held them to account - or at the very least, some kind of standard of proof.