To some people, the term ‘fake psychic’ is a tautology. Some believe there’s no such thing as a real psychic, so the word psychic itself is enough to indicate fakery. I’m going to admit that I’m at the very least doggedly suspcious of anyone who claims to be psychic, and not one has yet convinced me they’re doing anything which can’t be done without the aid of the ‘supernatural’.
But that said, I respect anyone who does feel more inclined to believe in psychic phenomena. We’ve all had different life experiences. Yours may have been vastly different from mine, and our beliefs can only be based on the experiences we’ve had. However, what I think we’d all agree on, is that not all psychics are genuine. In this article I want to suggest some effective ideas for weeding out the kind of psychics who anyone, regardless of their beliefs, would agree are a complete waste of money.
You may initially feel that some of the recommendations I’m about to make are unethical, but remember, none of the suggestions are as unethical as defrauding the public (and often very vulnerable members of the public) in the way fake psychics do. You have a right to see proper proof that your psychic can do what he or she claims. All you’re doing in implementing these ideas is taking steps to ensure you get that proof. If the psychic is real, he or she will know and understand that, and will be grateful for any opportunity to prove that he or she is genuine. So, here goes, a ten point plan which should see off any fake psychic in absolute minimum time…
1. Tell your psychic a lie. There’s always a reason someone goes to see a psychic, and the psychic will quickly want to establish what that reason is. Lie about your reason. A real psychic will know you’re lying and will be able to see what the real issue is. A fake psychic, on the other hand, will most likely be led in entirely the wrong direction and will misunderstand your motivations, emotions, etc. Perhaps, if you’re looking for information on the prospect of getting back with an ex, you could instead say you have concerns about a financial issue. Or vice versa. Just let things run for ten minutes or so and see what happens. Yes, it’s a waste of session fees, but you’ll waste a heck of a lot more money if you don’t properly test a psychic and you end up seeing a fake for six months.
2. Make right into wrong. When your psychic gets something right about you, pretend they’ve got it wrong. Appear puzzled. Pretend you don’t understand what they’re talking about. I know that can be hard when it seems someone has miraculously gained secret information about you, but always remember – people can GUESS THINGS. Especially when they have a massive amount of experience in a particular field of work. A good salesperson can tell, within seconds of meeting someone, how much money they probably earn and what sort of product features they’ll be looking for – all based on image, demeanour, language, the brand of car they arrived in, etc… It’s not that difficult to make assumptions about people and very often be right.
But fake psychics have to go deeper into clients’ personal lives than salespeople, and so they have to work with more tenuous indicators. That means their guesswork will be less predictable, and they’ll expect to be wrong more of the time. Your reactions tell them whether they’re wrong or right. So assume everything is an educated guess, and even when it’s right, pretend it’s wrong. If your psychic starts to change his or her line when you deny correct statements, you have a pretty conclusive indication that he/she is simply reaction-reading and is not genuinely getting information through means outside of your interaction.
3. Make wrong into right. When your psychic gets something about you completely wrong, pretend it’s right. I think this one’s quite a bit easier to pull off than the last one, because you don’t have to try and hide any surprise or amazement at a correct synopsis. Never overact, but try to look impressed, and tell the psychic their incorrect statement is correct. See where they go, and keep up the bluff if they continue to head down the wrong road. If you keep doing this for a whole session with a fake psychic, you’ll almost certainly get nothing but a load of utter nonsense which doesn’t apply to you at all. It could be worth protesting, if this happens, and angling for a refund. Remember though, psychics now officially operate as entertainers, and as long as they’ve made that apparent to you at some point, they’re still entitled to payment, however inept and useless their readings turn out to be. The classification can protect them more than it protects you.
4. Give a false name and personal details when you book your session. You’d be amazed at what people can find out about you when you provide them with your identity. Don’t allow a psychic to do any research on you before you meet up.
5. Take a good look at yourself before you set out to see your psychic. Are there any dog hairs on your coat? Are you giving away any evidence that you smoke? It’s not a problem if you are providing this sort of evidence, but you need to be aware of it. At least if you know when you go into your session that the psychic will be aware that you have a dog, or that you smoke, or that you have kids (as evidenced by the seating in your car), then you won’t be interpreting statements of the obvious as nuggets of psychic insight. We often get so familiar with ourselves that we don’t realise how obvious certain aspects of our physical appearance make things. If you’re a student, chances are you’ll look like a student. You may not think you look perceptibly different from anyone else, but next time you go out, look around you. Do you get a sense of what some people do and what type of people they might be, just by looking at them? I’m sure you do, and so does your psychic, when he or she sees you.
6. Consider that THE PSYCHIC MAY ON NUMEROUS OCCASIONS HAVE SEEN YOU LOCALLY, with your husband, coming out of work, doing your shopping, or whatever else. This is something so many people overlook when they start crediting psychics with special powers. Just because you’ve never seen or noticed your psychic, doesn’t mean your psychic has never seen or noticed you. Keeping this and the previous point in mind won’t of course prove that your psychic is fake, but it will make you a lot less prepared to accept that they’re genuine without some proper and more reliable testing.
7. Fake psychics ask a hell of a lot of questions. They’ll say things like: “Who’s Dave, or David?”, “What’s the significance of a green jumper?”… The very fact that they’re posing these questions should tell you they’re either a) getting hopelessly vague information and need to change their ‘spirit guide’, or b) they’re simply making wild stabs in the dark and hoping you’ll provide them with the information they’re supposed to be giving you. DON’T ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS. Instead, respond with questions of your own. For example…
Psychic: “Who’s Dave or David?”
You: “Can you be more specific?”
If your psychic is psychic, they’ll be able to give you more without you filling in the detail for them. That’s what they’re supposed to be there for, and if they can’t do it, they certainly aren’t worth £80 an hour or whatever it is they’re charging. Don’t feel bad about repeating yourself with the same response to various different questions. It’ll just highlight how many questions your psychic is asking and make him/her feel more obliged to start giving you information rather than constantly trying to prize it out of you. Anyone can pluck a name out of the air and ask: “Who’s Dave?” It’s just a cheap and easy trick used by fake psychics who don’t really know anything and need you to do your own reading. Monitor how much of what your psychic says is phrased as a question. If questions account for most of what they say, you can pretty much conclude that they’re fake based on that alone.
8. Confuse the psychic. Make a deliberate mistake in the middle of a reading. Change you father’s name. Change your job. Change your age… See what the psychic says. If the psychic is psychic, he/she will know the truth and will be able to correct you on your ‘mistake’. A fake psychic will just be puzzled and will probably try to clarify what’s going on by asking you more questions. A really good and effective implementation of this trick is to divulge, say, a name for your father, then let the psychic use it a number of times. After he or she has used the name a few times, you could say: “Sorry, are you calling my Dad Jim?… Jim’s my brother. My Dad’s called Alan.” See what the psychic says and how he/she reacts. The more you can mess with a psychic in this manner, the more likely you are to find out how they’re doing what they do. You don’t need to let on you’re doing it on purpose. Just act like you weren’t thinking straight and you’ve got stuff on your mind. It seems like a very underhanded thing to do, but that’s the way the world is. You have to fight like with like, and you’ll never expose a liar unless you play them at their own game.
9. Look out for any of the old chestnuts in the following list. I published a version of this on the UK Skeptics forum in late 2010. It’s a complilation of stock convincers used by many fake psychics. The lines sound very personal – especially when used in combination. But actually, they apply to more or less everyone. These comments, and any variations upon them, should be dismissed as ‘psychic reading by numbers’. Remember also that there are plenty of other universal convincers just as persuasive as these…
You kind of feel at present that life is a lot more difficult than it should be.
It feels like people perpetually want to take from you, but not give anything back.
You have so much to offer the world, but few people have realised as yet what your true talents are.
Each time you take a step forward, it’s like you’re taking another step back.
For a good while now, either your personal life or your life at work, has been proving stressful.
There’s someone quite close to you, with whom you don’t see eye to eye.
I keep getting money coming up as an issue with you.
There's a sleep-related problem. You don’t always sleep as well as you'd like.
10. Finally, control the conversation, and don’t let the psychic control it. Immediately start by asking questions, and keep asking questions, and avoid answering any in return. Any genuine psychic will be able to give you at least some information when you ask for it, and without you having to prime them first, or perpetually qualify their remarks for them. Don’t let them tell you they’re used to “working a certain way”, or that “it doesn’t work like that”. You’re footing the bill and it works however you say it’s going to work. Excuses from psychics scream the word FAKE! out loud, and should not be tolerated.
You now have the tools to spot and expose most fake psychics. There’ll always be some fakers who are incredibly clever and will have workarounds prepared for even the toughest situations. But most fakers will find it impossibly difficult to read and convince you if you adopt the above approach in full. Give it a a go. It may save you a fortune.