Dear John Oliver,
I’m Courtney. I’m a professional Tarot advisor with over twenty years’ experience. I see private clients and work for a phone psychic hotline. I published a Tarot deck and wrote a book on reading your own cards. First of all, I love your show. My husband and I watch it every week. Keep calling out truth to power, eliminating health care debt, and making fun of Gladiator. We need to laugh in these dark times.
This week, you ran segment a focused on “the widespread fraud” of the psychic industry, making it sound as though every psychic out there is greedily scheming to scam people out of their money by preying on their emotions. The problem is, you only focused sensational television personalities who also claim to be psychics. I don’t know these people’s work and I don’t know them personally, so I will not comment on whether those individuals were frauds.
But I will say that by making a huge generalization while focusing on a select few sensational personalities, you grossly mischaracterized a huge industry of honest people who simply want to help make others’ lives better.
As I mentioned, I’ve been reading Tarot for over twenty years. I have some clients who have been coming to me almost that long. I care about them, and their lives. They trust me with things they would never tell another soul.It’s that relationship that keeps them returning as much as my predictions. I take that seriously. Every other psychic I know takes that approach, too.
People need someone to listen to them.
Through the psychic hotline, I’ve spoken to people who are contemplating divorce, but are afraid to tell their families or friends out of judgment. I’ve had calls from people with family members in the throes of addiction. Some are dealing with complicated romantic feelings about a co-worker. Some are shy and anxious. Sometimes it’s a man who simply wants to practice talking to a woman. Pastors can’t always be trusted (or perhaps the person isn’t into organized religion) and therapy is expensive, but people might find $20 to speak to someone anonymous and caring, but who has no personal investment in your choices and therefore, no judgment. That’s a legitimate service, don’t you think?
Most psychics don’t use “cold readings.”
I know no psychics who stand in a room and start shouting out things they ‘feel’ about people there. First of all, yes! We’re humans and personal projections are possible. This is why I use cards–to separate myself and my assumptions from the question because I fucking care about people’s feelings. Second, no honest psychic would shout out personal things about someone for the whole room to hear, even if they were picking up on a legitimate message. These sessions are and should be private and confidential. An honest psychic doesn’t try to prove they are psychic. They simply want to help. That’s fair, right?
Most psychics would never do a “hot reading.”
You pointed out that Matt Lauer’s psychic could have researched him to find out that he shared a passion for fishing with his father. Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t. But no honest psychic would do that. I never google my clients before they call and I follow very few of them on social media for that reason. It’s not my intention to wow them with my uncanny abilities to know what they had for breakfast three days ago. I simply want to help them with whatever they’re trying to navigate in their lives. I’m also not trying to sell ratings on a television show…so maybe there’s something to that? Maybe it’s not that one maybe-psychic’s fault?
Most psychics don’t want to be on television, so no. We’re not in it for publicity.
Want to know why? Most of us hate playing “test the psychic.” We get that enough at parties.
We don’t target grieving people.
Honest psychics don’t do that. Honest people don’t do that. You want to know who does? Assholes do. Good god. Who in the hell would go to someone who is looking for their missing child and offer to find them with their crystals for $3,000? That’s not a psychic–that’s a thief. But you also get people hocking fraudulent insurance policies to hurricane and fire victims. Does that mean that every insurance salesman is a fraud? No. And not every psychic is looking for a vulnerable person to empty their wallet.
Most of us aren’t making six digits a year.
Most of us didn’t get into this because of money. I got started by reading just for fun. But the people I read for told friends (and they told two friends….and so on…..wow, I’ve just dated myself) and these people kept coming back. The work got serious. But I’m not buying a beach house with my earnings. I don’t keep investments in the Cayman Islands. My earnings helped pay off our car this year (yay!!!!) and there was a time when my husband and I were down on our financial luck and my reading Tarot was our only income. It kept us from losing our apartment. I helped others and their small fees helped me. Honest exchange amirite?
Frauds exist in every industry, John. You know this.
From medicine to insurance (as I pointed out before). You might say that the aforementioned industries offer concrete products..but so do we. There are some moments when something can’t be reached by a religious doctrine or a therapeutic diagnosis. Souls are strange and complicated. Psychics get to the places where standard means of support simply can’t reach. We offer the time and space for our clients to get there.
I get it. It seems weird. But guess what? It’s been around since the dawn of time.
Astrologers, mediums, clairvoyants and the like have always been a part of human culture. It’s not going anywhere. This isn’t a new phenomenon. You mentioned four in ten people believe in psychics and that you think that’s outrageous. The only thing that’s outrageous to me is the number, which is probably more like 8 or 9 in 10 (and probably 10 in the end as most people who swear they don’t believe actually do but don’t want to admit it).
No, John Oliver. Not all psychics are frauds.
If anything, my psychic senses tell me there will be even more of us honest psychics in the future. We fill a need. This is a tumultuous time and people are scared. We help people navigate these things, give them hope, and help them find clarity.
That’s a good thing.
P.s., I still love your show and I’ll still watch it next week. Glad we had this talk!