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September 21, 2010

The Claims

Tarot is a system of divination and fortune telling using a deck of cards.

The Evidence

Playing cards first appeared in Europe late in the 14th century, most likely coming from Egypt. The first known tarot cards were created in the 15th century in northern Italy to be used in trick-taking games called “triumphs” (later called trumps in English). The English/French word tarot derives from Italian tarocchi, whose origin is unknown. Later, tarot cards become associated with mysticism and magic.

Cartomancy is the act of fortune-telling or divination using a deck of cards. There are many different tarot decks used in cartomancy, with the meanings of the cards varying greatly from reader to reader.

The Skeptic’s Dictionary puts it well: “There is a romantic irresistibility to the notion of shuffling the cards and casting one’s fate, to putting one’s cards on the table for all to see, to drawing into the unknown, to having one’s life laid out and explained by strangers who have the gift of clairvoyance, to gamble on the future, and so on. Centuries of scientific advancement and learning have not diminished their popularity…”

The James Randi Challenge offers $1 million to the first person who can prove a paranormal claim under controlled conditions and this offer remains unfulfilled. Although many people claim to possess extraordinary abilities, only a minuscule portion of them dare to come forward and be challenged. One has to wonder why. In any case, those who do always fail to deliver on their claims.

Various tests of the validity of tarot readings have taken place under controlled scientific conditions, and no one has ever achieved a better outcome than what one would expect from random chance. In the study titled “Testing the Validity of Tarot Cards” (2004) by I. Ivtzan and C. French, the participants failed to distinguish between “real” tarot readings and readings based on a random collection of cards. Ironically, believers in Tarot fared worse in this task then the non-believers.


There is no evidence to support that tarot cards are anything other than a simple deck of playing cards.


3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 16, 2011 10:30 AM

    I have several decks of these cards and have used them for divination many times with accuracy which would be considered MORE than just chance. I do not do this professionally nor do I charge anything. I only do it for my friends and family free of charge. They were not created as a game at all. That information is incorrect. From what I understand the ‘standard deck’ of cards was originally used for divination as well and was not a game. As to the Amazing Randy. He understands little to nothing of what he portends to and makes it virtually IMPOSSIBLE for anything or anyone to prove anything since his ‘controlled circumstances’ ALWAYS circumvent the needs of the individuals ability to be fulfilled. For instance, I watched his short lived television show long ago. A woman who read ‘auras’ was on the show. He had set up about 6 or 8 cubicles with open tops. He had placed people in only a few of these cubicles. He wanted the woman to tell him which of the cubicles had people in them by viewing the top of the cubical to see if she could perceive their aura there. Right before she began Mr. Amazing Jack Ass turned the lights up in the studio. The woman told him, the light is WRONG. I cannot see the energy in this light. It has to be turned back down. He REFUSED to adjust the light touting it as being a CONTROL issue and, of course, the woman FAILED his B.S. challenge. The Amazing Randy is the biggest fraud of them all and he makes is IMPOSSIBLE for anyone to prove anything since his ‘controls’ are ever changing according to the skills being brought forth to prove. For those in the know, the jokes on HIM!

  2. January 1, 2011 8:31 PM

    I play the GAME of tarot and I would have to disagree with the definition of “tarot” as a divination system. The article is absolutely right that the cards were intended for a game but it should also be said that this game is still played today in many European countries like France and Italy. Tarot is a family of trick taking card games which has been hijacked by occultists. To define “tarot” as a divination system is to endorse this cultural thievery.


  1. Psychics « Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence

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