Here’s something fun.
In a 2015 piece for VICE, Jackie Hong did a little experiment with a few local psychics in Toronto. She created a fictional sister named “Emily” who’d since died in a fictional car crash, and went to the mediums to ask if they could help her communicate.
As you can imagine, each one of the psychics claimed to tune into Emily, but the most interesting part of the piece was when Hong followed up with the psychics and revealed that it was all just a ploy.
Kind of shocked that I had successfully bullshitted my way through four psychics, I decided to follow up with all of them via text (email, in Psychic Two’s case) to tell them about my little experiment and see what they had to say for themselves.
Psychic One: “There’s a spirit around trying to tell you something, but why would you do that anyway.”
Psychic Two said it became obvious when I lied about the necklaces, nothing more.
Psychic Three called me a few minutes after I sent my text. She said she read the picture and told me what the picture told her, and the picture told her the person in it was happy. It didn’t necessarily mean she thought the picture was of Emily. I asked her about the guardian angel and passing on bit but she stood firm.
If Hong learned anything from the experiment, it’s that psychics can bring people a lot of comfort.
“If you’re willing to let yourself believe they’re not full of sh*t, psychics can help ease the fear of the great unknown that is death and give meaning and purpose to seemingly unfair and random events in our chaotic universe,” Hong said, adding that she felt the practice preys on the “emotionally vulnerable.”
It’s those exact concerns about the vulnerable that has led to a push for more regulations on the fortune teller/medium industry. With psychics on nearly every block on some major cities, a single consultation can cost anywhere from $5 to $100 – meaning big profits for an industry that relies on true believers.
And that’s especially true in uncertain economic times.
Anecdotal evidence indicates that psychics, astrologers, palm readers, Tarot card shufflers, numerologists and other paranormal specialists have become the rage as investment advisers and brokers appear clueless. After all, if the times aren’t normal, why not try the paranormal?
Just like every other form of quackery, psychics profit from the fears of the easily-duped. There’s no doubt that a certain contingent of practitioners actually believe they possess supernatural powers, but those who know they don’t are perpetrating an immoral scam just by default.