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September 21, 2010

For the general entry on Parapsychology, click here

The Claims:

Psychics are people who claim to possess abilities that allow them to access the supernatural realm. These alleged abilities could include clairvoyance, aura reading, telepathy, astral projection and many others. Psychics can also use a variety of tools such as crystal balls and tarot cards to aid their readings.

Psychics are most commonly asked to tell of a person’s past and future, and predict worldwide events.  Although in-person psychic readings are the most common, online and telephone consultations are also quite widespread.

The Evidence:

There exists no proof for the existence of a supernatural realm, and thus a psychic’s predictions are taken fully on faith. Psychics have been shown to be inaccurate in their readings through various tests, and have even been debunked on live television.

James Randi examined the predictions of the famous Sylvia Browne on the topic of crime and murder investigations. Out of 115 predictions, 25 were wrong while the rest could not be verified due to lack of progress on the cases. Currently there is a $1,000,000 prize offered by James Randi to anyone who can prove their psychic abilities in a controlled setting.

So far no one has been able to claim the prize.

Faith in psychics remains widespread. People often abandon reason when faced with the possibility of knowing about their future. Psychics employ various techniques common to con artists, such as cold and hot readings.

A cold reading is performed through obtaining information about a person from various visual details, such as clothing, body language and ethnicity.

A hot reading can be done when the psychic has prior access to background information on their subject, which can then be used in the reading. Through these techniques, psychics can feign a connection with the subject and base their predictions on the information obtained. This method can be very effective and aid in convincing people of the psychic’s ability.


While cold and hot readings can be effective, they are certainly not examples of psychics communicating with the supernatural realm. Due to the lack of evidence for any of the powers that psychics declare to have, their claims can be dismissed as bogus.

Wikipedia Page on Psychics

Skeptic’s Dictionary Entry on Psychics

Psychic Defective: Sylvia Browne’s History of Failure

“Debunking Seeing Without Sight” TIME Article by Leon Jaroff

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Adrian Lawler permalink
    November 9, 2012 2:19 PM

    “Once, on a road trip, I had a talk with “god” in my head.”
    How do you know you weren’t just talking to yourself. My father recently passed, and I’ve heard my siblings talking about feeling him near and speaking to them. While I have not felt presence I have heard what I believe could have been his voice and using the sort of speech he did. I cannot verify that was just me trying to comfort myself from his loss. It’s hardly surprising the voice sounded so like him after all he been my Dad for 42 years, I knew him as well as I’ve known anybody, thus my mind was able to conjure him up. It’s the same with God, the voice in your head is YOU.

  2. Stuffini permalink
    August 22, 2011 2:39 PM

    You will never understand until you die. It is a gift and it is not for performing dog and pony shows. I have had so many psychic experiences that I am now convinced. The problem is, like other fields, there are quacks and scammers taking advantage of people. The medical field has quacks & scammers, the law field has quacks and scammers, the POLITICAL field has quacks & scammers and so on. I have encountered phonies and I have encountered the real thing. In a cold reading with no background, first time meeting me, a psychic told me my aunt anne was with me and wanted to guide me. She had recently crossed over. I had never visited this psychic before and randomly tried her out when I saw her name on a calendar in an esoteric bookstore. Another psychic told me I was moving away, not just down the street but to another state after a break up that was not ugly, but filled with love and simply a situation in which we both needed to move on. She was right on the money. I had never seen her before in my entire life. This psychic also told me to check on my mother asap. This was on a Wednesday. I resolved to go visit my mom that very weekend, but my sister called on Thursday to let me know mom had been taken to the hospital due to a possible heart attack or stroke. Once, on a road trip, I had a talk with “god” in my head. I expressed my tendency, at the time, to not believe a higher power existed. I went on and on for about an hour while driving expressing my anger about some things, my sadness about others and my lingering questions about whether there was any point whatsoever to our being here. After I felt I was “done” with this internal dialogue, I let out a deep breath and turned on the radio. The song “What if god was one of us?” was playing and I laughed at the coincidence and sang along. When the song was done, I hit seek and the next song “Counting Blue Cars” was playing. I laughed again and again sang along until the song was done. I hit seek a third time and got a country song about god that I recognized despite not being a listener of that type of music. I can’t remember the name of it because by now, I’m paying attention to what’s happening rather than to the song itself. So, I didn’t laugh this time and just listened to the song. I hit seek a fourth time and go another song that mentioned god and by now, I’m starting to cry. I’m not even listening to the song, I’m trying to deal with the fact that I have gotten 4 songs in a row that mention god and as the song ends, I hit seek one more time, the fifth time, and yet another song that mentions god is playing and I had to pull over to the side of the road at this point. 1 song, 2 songs, MAYBE even 3 songs in a row could fall into the coincidence category, but for me, 5 in a row were absolutely not coincidence. I had the feeling I could have continued hitting seek and continued getting songs about god. Now don’t get me wrong; I don’t think he’s some old guy on a throne watching us shower and shit and I do not believe in hell unless you count this world and I do not believe in sin although I believe we make wrong choices. What I do believe is that “god” for lack of a better word is a scientist and this world was indeed created by a higher intelligence or power, but it has no interest in being worshiped. It does have an interest, however, in seeing us evolve past our differences and to a point where we are a loving species, full of compassion and love towards all our fellow human beings. Ain’t gonna happen in my lifetime, but here’s to hoping!

  3. Will permalink
    April 12, 2011 11:03 AM

    James Randi is an extraordinary man.

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