Sunday, April 12, 2009

Mediums & Psychics

By Stephen Ellis

Nobody asked me, but…

Most people do not understand the difference between the terms “psychic” and “medium”. A “medium” is someone who (supposedly) can communicate with the spirits of the dead while a “psychic” is someone with a “sixth sense” extra sense beyond the five senses we all live with: sight, sound, taste, touch and smell. The true psychic can sense the thoughts of others sometimes even when the thought they are sensing is many miles away. Sometimes the true psychic can hold an object belonging to someone and sense many things about the owner of that object

Two of the most popular TV series are “The Medium” and “The Mentalist”. The first about a lady who can pick up the thoughts of dead people and the second about a man who is exceptionally sensitive to the thoughts of those around him. Of course, both these TV shows are fictionalized.

Probably the single most important thing to remember if and when you meet someone who says that he/she is psychic or has the abilities of a medium is that 99% of them are frauds. Being a recognized psychic or medium is very big business. People like John Edwards, James Van Paagh or Derek Acorah probably make enormous amounts of money every year by convincing people that they are talking to the spirits of the dearly departed. I have seen them perform and they are excellent “showmen”, but in my opinion, are not believable at all. Probably the biggest frauds are those who claim to be able to predict the future:

One of the most famous “psychic predictions” was that of alleged psychic, Jean Dixon, who announced to the media that she had warned President John F. Kennedy not to go to Dallas where he was assassinated. Whether or not Dixon really did this or whether she has capitalized on a national tragedy may never be known, but Dixon’s predictions subsequent to the Kennedy assassination have proven to be significantly less than reliable…even though many of her subsequent predictions were about things that were “expected” to happen.

This may point-up a serious problem with psychics: The abilities of true psychics seem to “come and go” without warning. The same psychic who made my knees shake when he told me intimate details of events I had shared exclusively with my brother and father may be 100% wrong in trying to pull up events from the life history of someone else.

In fact, I have met several people who have convinced me that they have genuine psychic abilities, but I have never met anyone who has convinced me they are a genuine medium. If you pay close attention to the way popular mediums work, they give what is known as a “cold reading”. They pretend that a name or a word has come to them from a spirit world and see if anyone in their audience picks up on the name. Then they proceed to follow it through with someone’s initials or other non-specific terms. If the audience member acknowledges that the spirit is a female, the medium will suggest that it is the mother or sister (a high probability guess). Cold readings are very impressive…and very phony. Frequently the medium will have a “plant” or two in the audience with whom the medium can be very specific and impress the other members of the audience. It’s all showmanship and not communication with the dead.

It hasn’t even been a hundred years since the famous magician/escape-artist, Harry Houdini, offered $10,000 to any medium who could demonstrate genuine medium powers. On course, $10,000 in 1910 was like $250,000 or more today. A lot of very famous mediums sought the funds…and put on some elaborate shows for Houdini, but none were able to demonstrate genuine medium powers and no one collected Houdini’s money.

But before you write-off all mediums as a waste of time, there have been a few very convincing incidents with which I am familiar: Just like in the movie “The Sixth Sense”, I’ve been told about some people who claim to be able to see and talk with dead people. The major difference between such people and professional mediums is that dead people seem to contact the medium and the medium has little or no ability to choose who it is that contacts him.

Then, too, several psychics have proven that they may have limited medium abilities: The best example of this I know is when psychic, Peter Hurkos, located the exact spot in Amsterdam where a little girl had accidentally fallen into a canal and drowned.

A further example of this is the growing number of psychic detectives who work with law enforcement agencies and have helped to locate where “missing” bodies can be found. The general detective routine is to tell the psychic nothing about the case, but merely show pictures of a missing person. The work of psychic detectives has truly been amazing even to the point of locating and identifying a murderer.

Mere “identification”, while helpful to the police, is not legally sufficient information for police to make an arrest or a District Attorney to bring charges. But psychic detectives have often set the police investigations in the right direction when the police had few or no clues to work with.

If you’d like to see exactly how a fake medium gives a cold reading and convinces his audience that he is speaking with the dead, use this link. A former professional medium, Darren Brown, now an admitted fake, shows how he did it.

If you’ve had some experience with someone who claims to be able to communicate with the dead, please contact me at I’d like to hear from them.

As I said…nobody asked me.

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