Posts Tagged “barnum effect”

ABC News report on Mark Edward, an admitted phony 'psychic'We all know the phone-in psychics are really “phony” psychics. Or at least, we should. But too many Americans don’t. Even after the legal problems of famous phony psychics like “Miss Cleo”, phone psychic services remain an enormous business. ABC News reports on a man who worked for one of these services and confesses it’s all just make-believe (WebCite cached article):

When the economy tanks, psychics say their business soars.

The psychic industry is a $2 billion a year business, with millions of people still dialing “900” numbers, even after two decades of lawsuits, bad press and bankruptcies. But when someone calls a psychic hot line, does the person on the other end have more insight than anyone else?

Former psychic hot line worker and author of “Psychic Blues,” Mark Edward, says he’s blowing the whistle on his former industry.

“The psychic business is built on lies. There is no supernatural power. You can’t see the future,” Edward says. “We’re in the golden age of the con. There are people coming out of the woodwork that would love to separate you from your money. But people just want someone to talk to. That’s the bottom line.”

These services, of course, use various tactics such as cold-reading and take advantage of the Forer effect.

The ABC News video (which I can’t seem to embed) includes samples of real conversations with “psychics” which show how the phonies use evasive and vague language to appear to know what they actually don’t.

At the end of the interview, Edward reveals why he played at being a psychic:

Also, I was a skeptic the whole time, so I felt like I was doing a [public] service by infiltrating [The Psychic Network].

Hopefully he can provide enough details to government agencies that the service Edward worked for can be sued for fraud.

Hat tip: Skeptics & Heretics Forum at Delphi Forums.

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