Once again, the Post-Gazette wastes a considerable amount of ink promoting nonsense. Today, we were treated to a two page article in the regional North section on mediums and psychics, without a single word from a skeptic explaining how these frauds take advantage of peoples' grief at $120 to $200 an hour.
So to the editors: If you really must run this kind of story, do you think you could devote at least a paragraph or two showing how these charlatans do their tricks? Try googling "hot reading" and "cold reading." That'll get you started.
Prediction: The abundance of Gemini juju on the Senators’ squad is a boon in terms of astrological events. The end of May heralds Jupiter migrating into Gemini, removing its influence from Taurus. Factor in that the Senators’ captain, Daniel Alfredsson is a Sagittarius (a sign ruled by the planet Jupiter), and this is a pretty dang good omen.
In astrology-speak, Jupiter moving into Gemini signals a streak of good luck and blessings — particularly where it concerns hard work and a diligent effort. Jupiter has a positive impact on any sign that the planet enters. In this instance, this astrological event can swing the odds in the favor of the Senators in their bid for the Stanley Cup, seeing them trump the Penguins and send them packing, Cup-less, all the way back to Pittsburgh.
I have no idea who will win the series, but I do know that the likelihood of this "prediction" coming true is no better than random chance.
Orf course, I have to ask, is SI so bereft of writers that they have to turn to this sort of factless schlock to fill out their webcontent?
Psychic Sylvia Browne, who has made a career of televised psychic readings, told Louwanna Miller on a 2004 episode of the show that her daughter was dead, causing Miller to break down in tears on the show's set.
With her mind wide open and her eyes tightly shut, a Sacramento spiritual psychic says she can see the future, even predicting March Madness winners.
“It’s like I’m closing my eyes and I’m able to see them play,” she says.
Tammy Adams calls them mini-movies, showing March Madness in action.
She says she can tell who is advancing just by the energy she feels, even though the spiritual psychic doesn’t know a thing about college basketball.
She's predicting that the final two will be Indiana and Gonzaga. Doesn't know a thing about basketball, eh? And yet she's picked the two number 1 seeds! Psychic ability, or mere ability to read the bracket chart?
So far, she's 0-1 as she picked Bucknell over Butler. Lets see how it goes.
A West Village psychic who’s accused of being a serial swindler pleaded not guilty Wednesday to fleecing hapless customers out of at least $150,000.
Sylvia Mitchell, who allegedly stole from Singapore native Lee Chong between October 2007 and April 2009, was arraigned on grand larceny and fraud charges. She promised to ward off “bad spirits” in exchange for about $128,000, but didn’t come through, officials and a source said.
Since there are no such things as "bad spirits" perhaps she did come through? After all, its pretty easy to ward off the imaginary. It would be a novel defense, I'm sure.
Police in the mountain community of Crestline have arrested a psychic and accused her of embezzling money from her clients...
The Crestline resident met with Cindy twice. “She told me that I had a spirit associated with me that was not an evil spirit, but a spirit that was unhappy.”
To rid her of the unhappy spirit, the woman was told she would have to pay $9,000 – that would be returned in nine days.
She gave her a third – the $3,000 – and a month later said she wasn’t able to reach Cindy and wasn’t getting her calls returned. “She said she’d been ill and wondered if we could meet in a couple of days. And I said that was fine. Then a couple of days later, she wasn’t returning phone calls or text messages.”
The psychic was hauled off to face embezzlement charges.
Unfortunately, too many people fall for this sort of nonsense.
Today in "psychic" fraud news, we read about Melanie Barnum in the Connecticut Post. The writer, Deb Keiser, assures us that Barnum is "legit." After all, she studied under James van Praagh (you can read more about van Praagh here)!
Reading the article, its clear that what this woman is doing is nothing more than cold reading, augmented by a little internet research. For example, we read this from the exchange between Barnum and Keiser:
Q: How do you know the answers?
A: When I do a reading, I tune into that person's energy field. Even before they arrive in my office, I sit in a chair and do a grounding exercise, a meditation of my own, and then I write some notes that come to me about what I should share with that person.
That's how I knew you were a petite, energetic and organized brunette even before you got here. (True: she showed me the notes.)
It took me less than five seconds for me to find Keiser on Facebook, her page contains a lot of information about her, including numerous photographs. Wouldn't be hard at all for Barnum to do the same. Deb, you might want to review your privacy settings.
And again, here:
In a different reading, a woman came in who was unsure about her professional direction. Suddenly I felt I had to say, "I have to talk to you about all the soldiers. You are digging up all the soldiers." She was stunned, and asked how I could know that.
That was her moment. It turned out she had started a family research project and every single generation going back to the Revolutionary War had a soldier who'd served in a war, including the Civil War, World War I and II. The soldiers came through to tell her to continue the research, and that she was headed in the right direction by doing that.
I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that Barnum has an account with a service like Ancestry.com, and routinly does a search on whoever happens to be coming in for a reading. Wouldn't be at all surprised either if you have to make an appointment, I doubt she sees "drop ins" (her webpage is silent on the matter, but there's plenty of contact information). Of course, if she really were psychic, she'd know you were coming, right?
As P.T. Barnum is alleged to have said, there's a sucker born every minute!