In 1918, Joseph Jastrow wrote about the tricks of Eusapia Palladino who was an expert at freeing her hands and feet from the control in the séance room. In the séance room Palladino would move curtains from a distance by releasing a jet of air from a rubber bulb that she had in her hand. According to the psychical researcher Harry Price "Her tricks were usually childish: long hairs attached to small objects in order to produce 'telekinetic movements'; the gradual substitution of one hand for two when being controlled by sitters; the production of 'phenomena' with a foot which had been surreptitiously removed from its shoe and so on."
The exposures of fraudulent activity led to a rapid decline in ectoplasm and materialization séances. Investigator Joe Nickell has written that modern self-proclaimed mediums like John Edward, Sylvia Browne, Rosemary Altea and James Van Praagh are avoiding the Victorian tradition of dark rooms, spirit handwriting and flying tambourines as these methods risk exposure. They instead use "mental mediumship" tactics like cold reading or gleaning information from sitters before hand (hot reading). Group readings also improve hits by making general statements with conviction, which will fit at least one person in the audience. Shows are carefully edited before airing to show only what appears to be hits and removing anything that does not reflect well on the medium.
The questions floated around in my head for awhile, but it wasn't until last Sunday that I decided to act on them. Inspired by Houdini, I made up a basic pass/fail test that I could apply a few times to see if someone was actually in tune with all the truths in the universe: If I made up a dead sister and asked a bunch of psychics to connect with her, how many wouldn't be able to tell I was full of shit?
If you are considering consulting a psychic medium, check the company’s credentials on its website and look for negative reports or criticism through watchdog organizations. You might want to check with the Better Business Bureau also. A psychic medium reading conducted over the phone can be very frustrating if the medium really isn’t psychic and you aren’t getting reliable answers to your questions.
These employees, hired by psychic service companies who know they have no paranormal skills, usually fumble through a telephone session by asking the client numerous questions and providing generic answers to the client’s questions. Some callers get disgusted and hang up after several minutes, after paying a tidy per-minute sum to enrich the company.
Aura readings involve the observation and interpretation of auras. The aura is purported to be a field of subtle, luminous radiation surrounding a person. Psychics have offered aura readings for many years. They claim to have a unique ability to see or sense individual’s auras, however no evidence has ever been provided to substantiate this claim.
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Modern tarot decks contain 78 cards, broken into two sections, the Major and Minor Arcana (modern terms, used only in relation to tarot used for divinatory purposes). The 56 Minor Arcana, or pips, are broken into four suits of fourteen cards each. These cards are numbered one (Ace) to ten, and there are four “court cards,” similar to a regular playing deck, only with one additional face card. The 22 Major Arcana, or trumps, are numbered 0 through 21, although some people exclude the Fool (0), considering this card to be outside the deck, a sort of “wild card,” rather like his descendant, the Joker.
The tarot can be used for many different purposes. The archetypal images on the cards reflect your story back to you, helping you to better understand a specific moment in time, and your greater journey through life. Those same images make good meditation companions or can provide you with a ‘thought for the day.’ There is no limit to how these images can be used.
To up the difficulty for me and to make it easier for the psychics (it's one thing to lie over an email or call, but another to lie to someone's face), I decided to see my next psychics in person—who knows, maybe getting readings via email didn't provide a strong enough spiritual connection or clues to see I was lying. I also looked for people who charged for readings (maybe you get what you pay for?) and settled on one for $20 and another for $40. Both told me to bring a photo so I pulled one off a (very much alive) friend's Facebook and, armed with Emily's backstory and a few years of high school acting/improv experience, headed out for my third reading of the day. At the point, I was almost hoping to be called out soon—it was too easy.
“I first met Catharine a number of years ago for a reading. She described my husband and told me that he would be taking 4-6 weeks off work and relaxing. I have to admit I was skeptical…my husband is a complete workaholic and this was definitely not him! A few weeks later he hit his head on a staircase, ended up with a concussion and, yes, had to have 6 weeks off work to rest. I was hooked. Since then, she has described holidays that we would be taking, described my children’s mannerisms down to a tee and also work activities that I would be getting involved with. The rest of my family think that I’m strange for wanting to have readings like this…but it’s amazing how interested they all are when I get home to find out what she’s said and what’s going to happen in their lives. Thanks Catharine!