Cold reading also explains why psychics have consistently failed scientific tests of their powers. By isolating them from their clients, psychics are unable to pick up information from the way those clients dress or behave. By presenting all of the volunteers involved in the test with all of the readings, they are prevented from attributing meaning to their own reading, and therefore can't identify it from readings made for others. As a result, the type of highly successful hit rate that psychics enjoy on a daily basis comes crashing down and the truth emerges – their success depends on a fascinating application of psychology and not the existence of paranormal abilities.[50]
In 1958, the English-born Spiritualist C. Dorreen Phillips wrote of her experiences with a medium at Camp Chesterfield, Indiana: "In Rev. James Laughton's séances there are many Indians. They are very noisy and appear to have great power. [...] The little guides, or doorkeepers, are usually Indian boys and girls [who act] as messengers who help to locate the spirit friends who wish to speak with you."[20]
The poet Robert Browning and his wife Elizabeth attended a séance on 23, July 1855 in Ealing with the Rymers.[67] During the séance a spirit face materialized which Home claimed was the son of Browning who had died in infancy. Browning seized the "materialization" and discovered it to be the bare foot of Home. To make the deception worse, Browning had never lost a son in infancy. Browning's son Robert in a letter to The Times, December 5, 1902 referred to the incident "Home was detected in a vulgar fraud."[68][69] The researchers Joseph McCabe and Trevor H. Hall exposed the "levitation" of Home as nothing more than his moving across a connecting ledge between two iron balconies.[70]
Humans have been fascinated with contacting the dead since the beginning of human existence. Cave paintings by indigenous Australians date back 28,000 years, some depicting skulls, bones, spirits and the afterlife.[3] Other cave paintings in Indonesia date back a further 10,000 years.[4] Mediumship gained popularity during the nineteenth century, when ouija boards were used by the upper classes as a source of entertainment. Investigations during this period revealed widespread fraud—with some practitioners employing techniques used by stage magicians—and the practice began to lose credibility.[5][6] Fraud is still rife in the medium/psychic industry, with cases of deception and trickery being discovered to this day.[7]