For example, if a spirit wants to give the psychic medium the name Sandy, they might flash (in the psychic medium’s mind) the face of a person whom the psychic medium knows named Sandy. If they want to get the psychic medium to say the word “coffee,” they might show the psychic medium someone’s cat that had the name Coffee. This can be confusing and requires that the psychic medium interpret what they are seeing in their mind. For instance, the psychic medium might say cat rather than coffee; and to the person being read, the psychic medium might appear wrong when the psychic medium is actually just “misinterpreting” the message.
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.