Your Mom Claims to be Psychic… How Do You Respond?

A reader on this site came out as an atheist to his mother a few months ago. They’ve handled it like many families do — by ignoring it.

That was fine by him, but lately, he’s been getting emails from his mom detailing her views on spirituality and religion…

He writes:

Usually I ignore this sort of thing, rarely replying. However, the most recent letter from mom actually scared me. In it, she disclosed her long kept secret that she has the ability to see into the future. She says she’s had this gift (or, curse as she calls it) since childhood — but has fought to repress it because knowing the future was too stressful for her.

She has always had an interest in the occult, and spiritual weirdness in general, but this “new” claim of having magical powers is concerning.

Am I right in thinking that this could be a serious sign of mental illness, or is this just another “harmless” delusion like Christianity? I seriously want to get her help, but not sure how to go about it.

How would you approach this?

Does anyone have relatives who think they have similar “powers”?

  • TXatheist

    OT: can it get better? Let’s hope so…http://www.onenewsnow.com/Culture/Default.aspx?id=518466

  • Siamang

    It’s probably not mental illness unless you see strange behavior in other ways.

    This isn’t significantly different from various supernatural claims made by my father and stepmother, and they’re just credulous, not crazy.

    How would I deal with it? However you want. Say “whatever you say, mom” if that’s how you deal with her on other issues where she claims knowledge of the supernatural.

    I might say “I don’t think you actually can see the future. I think you just have a subjective memory. I’ll tell you what, over the next week, write down fifteen predictions you think will happen in the coming year. Then we’ll have a follow-up conversation in a year.

  • http://rubyleigh.blogspot.com Ruby Leigh

    Don’t think that claims of phychic-ness are a direct link to Chritianity… however interestingly enough my mom claims to have the gift of “discernment” which renders her able to make ambitous claims about other people charachter. i.e. spotting a fraud or whatever – some of it’s good judgement, but sometimes it’s a tad mystical/not logical how she derives the “facts”.

  • CC

    Was she able to predict his atheism?

  • http://www.travisjmorgan.com Travis Morgan

    I would just ask her to prove it.

  • Nick Awesome

    “”Does anyone have relatives who think they have similar “powers”?””

    yeah, I do. A lot of my family is clinically insane, but not legally. They say some guy in the sky made them and everyone else and is watching them and loves everyone. Kinda sounds like a pedophile to me, but whatever. Apparently a lot of people share in this delusion…

  • Gavrilo

    My mom doesn’t say she has “powers”, but still sometimes claims things that are not rationnally tenable.

    What I have found is that when a person reaches this point, trying to rationalize her into admitting that it’s just an impression or an irrational point of view is just a loss of energy, as this person won’t be convinced by rational arguments.

    So my answer is clearly a path of least effort, but it’s, as another commenter said, saying “whatever you say, mom”. If you can’t change the person, then trying to do so is just a loss of energy for you, and will on the long run make your relations worse.

    Then, regarding mental illness: can’t we say that everyone has a mental illness, that would justify some personality trait? If it doesn’t harm anyone, trying to “cure” the illness might just do more harm than good.

    In addition, regarding more particularly the fact of predicting the future, there is an interesting psychological phenomenon that makes that we tend to integrate informations about a phenomenon, that we learned after the phenomenon occurred, as if we knew them before. This is what makes us so good at “predicting the past”, and might give a retroactive illusion of being able to tell the future. If it’s this, then it’s just humane ;)

  • AnonyMouse

    My dad can apparently see auras (I think it’s a visual manifestation of vibes, but whatever) and my mother claims to be empathic (she suffers from enochlophobia, and becomes very agitated in/around large groups of people). My dad also said once (on the last day of our huge Christians vs. Apostates battle) that he had been sensing all day that God had had enough and was about to act – the same day that my sister’s seizure ended the argument. Human empathy, or some kind of intervening spirit? It’s anyone’s guess, but I’m confident that it wasn’t God.

    Now here’s the crazy part: I (the sane, rational atheist) have some kind of bizarre empathic connection with my mother. Maybe I’m picking up on pheromones or body language or plain ol’ vibes, but I can sense when she is experiencing a particularly strong emotion. It’s a terrible thing to have happen when she’s upset, because I have always been a momma’s kid and my first instinct is to assume that I did something wrong (usually nothing) and try to figure out what I did so I can fix it.

  • Allytude

    I think it should be a cause for concern only if it gets dangerous. “I burnt myself because the voices told me to” sorts. Other than that- “Whatever you say” seems the best reaction. I have had “psychic” or other cousins, but now it seems they were just deluded.

  • Larry Huffman

    Just as his atheism is his busines…her spirituality and beliefs is her business. I agree with others here that unless there are other signs…or unless this belief of hers is causing a danger to her health and others (and I mean something identifiable and verifiable…not just the general religion is dangerous view), then it is not mental illness. It is spirituality.

    I am not sure how different saying “hey guys…my mom thinks she is psychic, what should I do?”…is any different from “hey guys, my son says he’s an atheist, what should I do?”

    Just as an atheist would respond by saying “mom, my beliefs are personal and my business. No need to try to save me from myself.”…I would assume his mother would feel the same…unless she is specifically asking for help.

    Maybe take a page from her book. Ignore it. She ignored your atheism.

  • Sarah TX.

    My mother thinks that her family has an ‘ability’ to unconsciously manipulate cards and dice rolls. My grandfather believes in ESP and extraterrestrials and dowsing and such.

    If they’re crazy, it’s mildly so, and since it doesn’t much affect their day-to-day I don’t see why it’s anything to worry about.

  • carrotplease

    My mom believes in Reiki and crystals and stuff… I pretty much handle it by grinning and nodding. She’s a pretty awesome lady, so I say whatever floats her boat, as long as she’s not claiming to cure cancer with a piece of quartz on a string.

  • Matto the Hun

    I am not sure how different saying “hey guys…my mom thinks she is psychic, what should I do?”…is any different from “hey guys, my son says he’s an atheist, what should I do?”

    One is a lack of belief in gods. The other is the belief in something that is falsifiable, and is a fantasy that is not real.

    We cannot prove there are no gods (nor do we need to, the burden of proof is on those who make the claim). Psychic powers can be and have been debunked.

    So I think that’s a pretty big difference. The claim of psychic powers goes beyond something ‘spiritual’.

    Still, I agree that, sadly, it really isn’t his business to “do” anything about it, unless the is harming herself or others. Or if she brings it up in conversations, in which case she’s opening the door for a critical discussion of her super duper powers.

  • Anonymous Howard

    What I always say: “Mom! Dammit, I told you not to smoke my pot!”

  • John Larberg

    When a person tells me that they see ghosts or can be psychic at times and they actually want to discuss it. (Sometimes these things are not open for discussion with people for whatever reason). When a person tells me these things I usually at least get them to admit that there’s a chance that they are wrong and tell them that it’s very important to be a skeptic when dealing with unprovable things.

  • Reckless

    My boyfriend is into a lot of weird New Age spiritual stuff. Auras, Chi, evil spirits, eastern medicine… I don’t believe in it myself, but it’s essentially harmless. It makes him happy, and since it gets him to burn scented candles and grow an herb garden (which is quite useful for cooking), I sure can’t complain.

    I’ve more or less made it clear that while I am a staunch atheist, I will support him in whatever spiritual path he elects to follow — provided he doesn’t try to make me walk it with him.

  • http://evilburnee.co.uk PaulJ

    I know it’s tempting to offer all sorts of advice in this situation, but I would urge caution, and would advise only this: don’t act on advice from anyone who doesn’t personally know your mother.

    It’s a delicate situation, and her reaction to any questioning of her belief will depend on her mental state and on the relationship between parent and child. Poorly judged action could be disastrous for all concerned.

  • http://www.shadowmanor.com/blog/ Cobwebs

    If she’s “had the gift” for years and isn’t doing anything harmful (either doing something dangerous based on her “foreknowledge” or harming herself somehow), I’d just nod and smile. Half my family claims to be psychic and/or plugged into some other kind of supernatural knowledge. It doesn’t seem to be hurting anything (other than my sense of rationality), so I primarily ignore it.

  • Kurt

    I would guess that if you quiz her closely enough (if you can stomach it) you will find she won’t claim to “predict the future” in the stressful Dead-Zone-by-Stephen-King sense. She won’t claim to be able to predict the answers to such questions as “What will be the closing stock price of Caterpillar Corp. on Dec. 1st of this year?” or “On what date will Dick Cheney die?”

    Instead, she will claim to be able to discern things like “If you start dating that girl from work, it will end badly within a year” or “Your friend’s law career is going to be really successful.” That’s not seeing the future, that’s just plain old wisdom based on experience.

    On the other hand, if she does make very specific claims, she is probably losing it. Make her short-sell her Caterpillar stock (just in case!) and get her primary care doctor to refer her to a mental health professional.

  • Stephen P

    Just as his atheism is his business…her spirituality and beliefs is her business. … unless there are other signs … then it is not mental illness.

    OTOH she does say it is causing her stress.

    If she shows any willingness to talk about it, I would gently enquire further and try to find out what she considers to be seeing into the future. Perhaps she can be pursuaded that it’s just intelligent guessing, or selective memory (remember the hits, forget the misses) or whatever. It could be tricky to do by letter/e-mail though: face-to-face would work better.

  • http://www.subhumansuperwoman.blogspot.com Tucker Wright

    My mom, her sisters, and my grandma have all claimed my entire life that they are psychic. They also all claim to have seen ghosts; my grandmother pretty much thinks she’s the kid from “The Sixth Sense.” Every time someone in our family dies, they all go visit her apparently. Funny thing…every story they tell about their powers happens to be when they’re asleep. And no matter how many times I imply that what they experienced were dreams, they dismiss ME as the lunatic. Oh well. Anytime they bring these stories up to me, I just shrug it off, and say “Well alright then.” Really not much else you can do unless you want an argument, or at least that’s what I’ve experienced.

  • Ash Miller

    I’m still not convinced that sometimes they just don’t fabricate those stories on the fly as an attempt to get you to believe. You know if you get saved what difference does it make if I lied or not. Some actually believe their own hype but many may just be trying to convince you with the whole “but I’ve seen the ghost” routine. So unless she is notably insane in other aspects of her personality I wouldn’t consider it a sign of a serious mental disorder

  • RobL

    She is no nuttier than my mom who believes the same thing. Mostly that when some family member dies or gets badly hurt she knows in advance. She was raised LDS but has morphed into a wierd mix of eastern and western beliefs (she believes in the power of crystals whatever the hell that means). Smart well read lady too with a college degree. Zero math and science background though. Fortunatly she does not push it on us and takes it well when we tease her.

    We (her kids) think she is certifiable but it is pretty harmless crazyness.

    You can try what we do which is tease her about it in a friendly way – after a while she may give up talking to you about it which is about all you can expect to accomplish. Your not going to change her mind.

  • Larry Huffman

    Matto…come on, give me a break…I know the difference between atheism and belief in a god or gods, that was not the point at all. In fact, what the view or belief is makes no difference. I meant in terms of whether it is his business.

    Still, I agree that, sadly, it really isn’t his business to “do” anything about it, unless the is harming herself or others.

    Sadly? You would prefer a world where one person could make another’s belief their own business? Or did you mean gratefully?

  • GreyTheory

    Allytude is on the money. Confronting beliefs, even from the irrational/insane vein, usually results in the entrenchment of the person in defense of those beliefs to the point where their mind will fabricate further observations. Best to leave them alone unless their delusions involve harming others (the libertarian in me can’t fathom stopping people from hurting themselves).

    Case in point, my mother’s dad died about a decade ago and to this day she is convinced she ‘saw’ and ‘felt’ his spirit leave his body when she was in his hospital room. I remain convinced things would have been better had I let her just believe that until she could rationally process the reality-v-perception on her own.

  • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com miller

    It is not a sign of mental illness. Lots of people believe in psychics, or believe that they are psychic. It is much more common than you might think.

    First, tell her about how amazing intuition can be, even though it is completely naturalistic. Then, explain to her how to devise a test that would distinguish between intuition and foresight. Lastly, do not expect to be successful in persuading her, no more than you should expect to be successful deconverting her.

  • ccubeman

    They should check out: Full Facts Book Of Cold Reading by Ian Rowland. He instructs how to put the kibosh on alleged psychics. It’s also descriptive for use of basic psychological trickery that can be used/is used in everyday situations.

  • David D.G.

    miller wrote:

    It is not a sign of mental illness. Lots of people believe in psychics, or believe that they are psychic. It is much more common than you might think.

    A delusion shared by many people is no less a delusion.

    ~David D.G.

  • Petra

    I have met several people who claimed to have powers of some sort or another. In my experience, this so-called powers often appear in stressful situations. Your Mom probably is very distressed about something.
    Just talk to her and try to figure out what triggers these episodes. You will find the connection if you are patient and non-confrontational. I dont think it is positive to leave a person thinking weird stuff. They do not think weird stuff because they want it, they think weird stuff because no one bothers to help them out of the mess. Think about it… when you think about something that doesn´t affect you, you don´t go out and try to talk to people about it. You talk about something either because it is a good thing or a bad thing for you; either it brings you pain or it brings you pleasure. If it brings you pleasure (like a joke) you want to share it with other people in order to make them feel as good as you do. If it brings you pain (worries, problems) you talk to other people hoping to feel better. Your mother described her “premonitions” as being a curse, so it is safe to assume it is an issue that brings her pain. Talking to her to try and help her out of this pain, is the humane thing to do, to say the least.

  • http://cupcakesandmace.com Ms Constantine

    This has definitely been the hardest part of being atheist for me. I still don’t really know what I believe in, because I haven’t researched it.

    Basically my nana started up a clairvoyants church many many years ago that is still going strong. During their gatherings there is a section where the mediums or clairvoyants give messages from the dead. It appears very real so I don’t know how to reconcile this with my other beliefs. Can anyone give me some advice or point me to a good website that will explain how this can happen.

    I cannot imagine them “setting it up”. There is no money involved and they’re all little old ladies.

  • Old Beezle

    Ah, I love good old paganism and superstition covered with a thin veneer of Christianity!

    Today’s religion is tomorrow’s paganism.

  • http://www.sheeptoshawl.com writerdd

    Seriously, I would just roll my eyes.

    My mother is a born again Christian and about 10 years ago starting hinting around about stuff to me & my husband and one of her friends started telling us how much it would mean to my mom if we would “come back to the Lord.”

    I had to tell my mother if she was going to harp on that stuff and try to reconvert us, then she was not welcome in our home. She bit her tongue. Now she lives with us and we have a truce. She does not try to convert us, and we don’t try to deconvert her. Sometimes we have discussions about doctrinal issues but not debates where someone has to win. Usually we just avoid the topic of religion completely.

    I’m sure she is praying for us, which sort of pisses me off, but mostly I just don’t think about it.

  • http://mylongapostasy.blogspot.com ATL-Apostate

    Was she able to predict his atheism?

    Good question. I’m the one with the sooth-saying mother referenced in Hemant’s post.

    Her exact words to me when I told her I was an atheist were, “I knew it. They ruined you! All that education and science. You’re ruined.”

    Interesting to hear a teacher rale against education.

    If you ask her, she would say, “yes, I did see it coming.”

  • JSug

    Tell her she should try for the JREF prize.

  • http://www.noonespecial.ca/cacophony Tao Jones

    Okay, first of all it probably isn’t a sign of mental illness. There are plenty of ways for natural phenomena to be perceived as supernatural manifestations of psychic abilities.

    Imagine, if you will, someone with the cognitive abilities of Sherlock Holmes but without his rigour in implementing the scientific method. This person may very well consider themselves psychic.

    “Psychic” abilities do not necessarily have to be *magic*, because “psychic” abilities do not necessarily have to be psychic abilities. It could be intuition, pheromones, microexpressions, “vibes,” or an understanding of cause and effect.

    Our minds are extremely powerful simulation engines and we work hard to establish patterns and ways for our mind to model information in a useful way. Of all the input our brains get from our observations, we only really pay attention to a very small portion of it — what we consider important or relevant at the time. Different people may see different things. Different people may see the same thing, but model and/or articulate it differently.

    Personally, I’ve had many experiences that could be considered “psychic” … predicting a “paradigm shifting terrorist attack against the US within 6 months” in March of 2001 was one of them. It wasn’t magic. It wasn’t purely scientific either, but there’s plenty of room for grey.

    As for this reader and his mom… challenging her is not the answer at all and that would merely be a sign of immaturity. Instead of saying, “no you can’t see the future, that’s crazy,” ask, “How does that work, exactly?” Get her to explain what she means by it. Armed with that information, you can try to figure out what she really was experiencing in a way that fits in with your subjective understanding of the world. Odds are that there is a reasonable explanation for it, if not a rational one. And so what if her metaphor for it has a supernatural connotation to it?

    Anyway, I’d also consider yourself lucky if coming out as an atheist to your mother resulted in a conversation about spirituality and an honest conversation about her own non-doctrinal beliefs.

    Qualia Soup has some excellent videos on YouTube about dealing with superstitious people. Pretty sure we can only do one link so here’s the channel page, but watch “It could be a coincidence” and “Arguing with Ghosts.”

    http://www.youtube.com/user/QualiaSoup

  • JSug

    @Ms. Constantine: What sort of information are they providing that you find convincing? Off the top of my head, I would suggest researching the topic of cold reading. Very basically, it involves spouting out a large amount of very general information in the hopes that you will get at least some hits. Due to psychological processes, people tend to remember the hits and forget the misses, creating a false perception of accuracy. An experienced practitioner can tune their reading to basic observations of the subject. These are some of the techniques most commonly used by purported psychics/clairvoyants/whatever. As far as it being a “set-up” or not, it is possible for people to perform cold readings and genuinely believe they are psychic.

  • Shel

    My mom also claims mild psychic powers. She is an atheist and follows no organized religion, but she tends to be a little more “spiritual” than the rest of the family. She claims to have premonitions about things happening, though this is almost always after the fact. I tried to tell her about confirmation bias and how her premonitions are not as accurate as she thinks they are, but I’m not sure she totally gets it.

    Her beliefs are mostly harmless; she doesn’t actively do anything about her psychic premonitions, doesn’t use them to make major decisions about how to run her life or anyone else’s. Really all it’s good for is some amusement and interesting stories, so in the end I figure there’s no harm in letting her think what she wants.

  • http://cupcakesandmace.com Ms Constantine

    JSug. It has been a long time since I went to the church. But I remember the mediums taking on some of the physical ails of the person they were talking about, reporting who the person was and generally being very John Edwards.

    I guess it’s just hard to convince myself that these sweet old ladies are actually just cold reading. But if they’ve convinced themselves that’s not what they’re doing then they’re not actually being liars on purpose.

  • zoo

    Ruby Leigh: I would say I have a mild version of that. Certain people I meet I just don’t feel right about. I can’t speak for your mom, but in my case I think it’s just instinct. ‘Course, I keep my thoughts to myself until there’s more evidence, and, as it usually translates into how well the animals I work with will work with those people, it’s generally pretty plain to everyone else at that point.

  • JSug

    Ms Constantine: Derek Ogilve is an excellent example of someone who appears to be very much convinced of his own abilities. He claims he can speak psychically with babies and small children. If you watch him in action, it’s very clear that what he is actually doing, whether he realizes it or not, is cold reading the parents. Last year, he appeared on a BBC documentary where he made a try for the JREF prize (1 million USD to anyone who can show evidence of paranormal abilities under controlled experimental conditions). The show was almost painful to watch, as he is visibly upset by his inability to produce results.

    Here’s the first part on youtube:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ooWVdunwK6Q&feature=PlayList&p=7BA017CB33EDFB91&index=10

  • http://RightToBleed.com Issa

    I have lots of Pagan friends who think they have one magical ability or another. Psychic abilities, reiki, telekinesis, controlling the weather, etc. I generally just use the smile-and-nod approach when we’re in group settings. For private conversations, I just state that I don’t believe in these powers and don’t wish to hear about them or discuss them.

  • Tom

    “Psychic powers” are often a person’s way of interpreting their own strong intuitive abilities. They subconsciously observe a bunch of stuff, they intuitively (and subconsciously) infer what someone is going to say before they say it, and then they believe they read the person’s mind. Or they infer what someone is going to do before they do it, and then they believe they predicted the future. It’s a bit silly, but it’s human, and normal. I kinda had this belief myself as a teenager (“Hmm, I seem to be psychic… am I?”) but I eventually realized it was erroneous. Remember, “I have psychic powers” could simply be an incorrect conclusion drawn on the basis of real, factual observations from her life.

    As long as your mother isn’t OTHERWISE showing signs of mental illness, as long as she is otherwise behaving more or less rationally and seems to show normal mental function – she can balance her checkbook and buy her groceries and keep her home clean and drive safely – I would chalk it up to “she’s just a bit kooky” rather than mental illness. Lots of people have this particular delusion, and as long as they otherwise lead a functional life, it’s not a big deal. I know it may be distressing to you in the short term, but try just giving her a nice big 70′s-sitcom “Oh, mom!” with an indulgent smile and a dismissive wave. (And don’t forget to flick your big wavy hair.) Gentle mocking is more likely to make her rethink it than a big ugly argument.

    If on the other hand she is showing other signs of mental degeneration – she has stopped doing many or most of the everyday chores of life, she’s obsessing about her magical powers to the exclusion of going about normal life, she imagines that if she parks in a parking lot where there’s already a green car someone will run out of the store to murder her, etc – then you should start by going to see a psychiatrist yourself for a consultation, to learn what they think you can do to best help your mother. They can help you form a strategy for approaching your mother about getting help, and advise you on the legalities of involuntary commitment in your state. (It varies widely from “three psychiatrists must sign a commitment order after having examined the patient” to “any police officer can have anyone committed at any time for any reason”, so you’ll need to find out what the details are in your state.) They can also advise you on whether you should be standing by her side to help her through treatment, or running like crazy to get away from a dangerous maniac.

  • http://ordover.wordpress.com orDover

    My mom thinks that she can see/sense demons. A few weeks ago she took me aside and very seriously told me how she had recently sensed an “overwhelming evil presence” and then cast it into a flock of black birds by evoking the name of Jesus.

    I find that sort of belief very distressing. It’s one thing to believe in Jesus sitting up in Heaven and waiting to give us hugs when we die (or cast us into hell, alternatively), but it’s another thing entirely to believe that the world is filled with evil spirits that you can see and have the power to manipulate. It suggests such a dramatic amount of irrationality and disconnection from reality…it makes me feel really overwhelmingly sad.

  • Greyfox

    “Mom, stop with it, or I’ll have to call the ambulance to take you to the psychiatric center.”

  • Andrew N

    Its hard to talk to the irrational. Even more so if they are a family member. Sigh.

  • Rennek

    a lot of evangelical Christians I’ve met think they’re “prophets” (i.e. they can see the future)

  • Anticontrame

    Whether or not you call it mental illness, it sounds like it’s negatively affecting her life. (She calls it a curse and a significant source of stress.) I’d do some research on cold reading techniques and all the peculiarities of memory, and then ask her if she’d feel better knowing her experiences weren’t really psychic. If she would, you can feel better about explaining the common misunderstandings and objectively testing her claims. Just remember to approach the situation as a shared quest for truth based on agreed-upon premises, not as you setting out to debunk the idea.

    Of course it might just result in emails pestering you about Jesus and psychic powers too.

  • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com/ miller

    A delusion shared by many people is no less a delusion.

    ~David D.G.

    True, but it was not a delusion in the first place, certainly not in the psychiatric sense which you implied.

  • http://hurtlingthroughspace.wordpress.com/ Jumile

    I think it’s unlikely to be mental illness, though it’s not impossible (e.g. the correlation between mental patients and religion). But it’s more likely that she’s just drunk far too much of the Kool Aid, watches Oprah and Dr Phil, and is probably quite a serious idealist and just wants the world to be more than it is. Like “Fate” — for many it can’t possibly be a good relationship simply because you’re compatible and get on well, instead it has to be ordained by the stars or gods.

    As with religion, you’re unlikely to be able to rationalise and reason her back to reality, especially if she’s proselytising you, as her beliefs have no basis in either. Simply providing a refutation of something she sends you probably isn’t going to work and will create pigeonholes and communication blocks.

    Perhaps the better response would be to provide a reference explaining which logical fallacy she’s fallen for (Argument from Authority, Argumentum ad Populum, False Dichotomy, etc). By teaching her critical thinking and logic skills, you may be able to help her think her way out of the fog.

  • Jason

    My mother is a practicing Wiccan who believes she can converse with animals. Should I be worried?

  • http://www.juanformoso.com.ar Juan Manuel

    lol @ Nick

  • Grimalkin

    I used to have the same belief when I was a kid (kid = as late as 15years old). I’d get a gut feeling about something and then it would happen. I still do. The difference is that now I’m able to analyse my gut feelings and to realize that it’s just normal old observation/prediction. Someone looking really exhausted and working with machinery? I “predict” that they will have an accident (or at least a good scare of one). Nothing magical. But if I’m taking in all these non-verbal (and often non-conscious) cues without thinking, it can feel a lot like a supernatural power.

    Now try this one: my sister-in-law believes absolutely everything, and I do mean everything, health-related that people send her. Drinking water with a meal causes cancer, didntcha know? If it uses big words and looks “science-y,” she will forward it to everyone she knows and, often, make huge adjustments to her diet (usually temporary, she’s thankfully a very lazy person).

  • http://cupcakesandmace.com Ms Constantine

    Also, (sorry to chime in again) I used to be a practising wiccan as well – until I actually read about science.
    I used to think my spells were doing something, when I see now that it was coincidence.

    I feel pretty stupid about it now, but it just goes to show when someone is educated they can realise how wrong they were.

  • http://www.noonespecial.ca/cacophony Tao Jones

    @Ms Constantine:

    Now, I don’t know what kind of spells you were trying out when you were a practising Wiccan, but now that you’re certain it wasn’t magic, are you sure it was just coincidence? Is there no room for something else?

    @Jason: Talking with animals? In the fall I found a lost dog on a somewhat unfamiliar street not too far from my house. Being the helping type I tried to find his home. Not really knowing where to start I asked him where he lived and he told me. Sure enough the first door I knocked on was the right one. Communication is a very broad concept, what does your mother really mean when she says things like this?

  • http://cupcakesandmace.com Ms Constantine

    Well I remember one spell to make my landlord give me back the bond he owed me. Which he did. Which was obviously a coincidence.

    I don’t know what you’re trying to infer with the emphasis you’ve given. But it seems with your comment to Jason that you believe in magic or something like it.

  • http://www.noonespecial.ca/cacophony Tao Jones

    Okay, that one was probably coincidence. Unless your “spell” gave you the confidence to speak to the landlord in manner persuasive enough for him to side with you. If that were the case, it wasn’t really coincidence and it certainly wasn’t magic, which would mean it was something else… a motivational pep talk, perhaps. Just because it wasn’t the magic you thought it was, that doesn’t necessarily mean it wasn’t something.

    “Magic or nothing” is a false dichotomy. Read my first comment above where I outlined some of the non-magical things that some psychic phenomena could be.

  • Kayla

    My mom claims the same thing. I don’t immediately discard the idea because I’m an atheist. Whether she’s psychic or not, I don’t know.

    Although I do know that, after my sister’s boyfriend’s (now husband’s) mother died, my mom claimed that she told her where certain items were hidden in the house, how she was treated at her home, etc.

    I often find her talking to someone in the kitchen, when she thinks I’m not there.

    She could be crazy – she’s had a traumatic life, lesser women would not still be a live – or not. I can’t really say.


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