Was It Right for Skeptics to Try and Expose This Self-Proclaimed Psychic?

Earlier this month, Susan Gerbic, an activist who frequently works to expose paranormal nonsense, wrote about two operations she conceived to try and catch a “psychic” in the act.

In one case, her target was Chip Coffey, one of those guys like John Edward who claims to be able to talk to your deceased loved ones. A lot of gullible people are impressed by these readings, but there are generally two ways to pull off the trick:

In a cold reading, psychics use information you’re giving them to make further “predictions.” For example, if a woman said her son died unexpectedly at a young age, the psychic might suggest there was a tragic accident involved (because why else might a healthy young person die?).

In a hot reading, the psychics have information about you that you didn’t even know they had. For example, maybe you inadvertently told them about your problems through prayer cards (as James Randi once famously exposed), not realized the psychics were being given the details of what you had written.

That latter method was the gist of Gerbic’s operation: She bought several tickets for one of Coffey’s upcoming live shows. And then she, along with a group of friends in on the sting operation, created a fake Facebook page where they talked about who they were hoping Coffey would reach.

For example:



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Ladies: To Attract Love, Shine Your Yoni At the Moon!

Not since Gwyneth Paltrow steam-cleaned her vagina have I read such sage advice about what women ought to do with their lady parts.

An article in Vice, by Jennifer Schaffer, introduces us to Olivia Olkowski, a shamanic healer who swears by crystals and purple clothes, and who caters to women seeking “love, guidance, and … heart healing.” She does this by re-aligning clients’ invisible vibrations and frequencies, if I’m understanding her correctly. You know Olkowski is the real deal because she stumbled upon her special abilities while she took a three-year “master course” in feng shui.

This is what she tells a group of mostly women looking for a (better) relationship:

“One powerful thing you can do – and I’m not sure how you’ll do this in New York City, ladies – is shine your yoni at the full moon.”

Yoni is Sanskrit for vagina.



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A Public Radio Station Aired an Awful Story About the Supposed Power of Psychic Detectives

The Faith Middleton Show, which airs on Connecticut’s WNPR among other places, recently aired an episode about psychic detectives.

If this were a ten-second piece that said “It’s all bullshit,” no problem.

If it were a piece exploring why people take them seriously, I’d understand that, too.

Turns out it was basically an hour-long infomercial for a group called Find Me, which uses “talented psychics” to help discover missing persons.



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Simon Singh Wrote a Perfectly Fine Article About Homeopathy, but an Indian Newspaper Rejected it

During a recent trip to India, author and scientist Simon Singh was asked by the editors of the Hindustan Times to write an article about homeopathy. Singh did just that, only to have his piece rejected



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This is What a Protest Looks Like Outside a Psychic Demonstration

The other day, I posted about a protest some skeptics held outside an event featuring television “psychic” John Edward — better known as the Crossing Over guy.



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