Dona Murphy of Lake Bluff, Ill., said she similarly ran up thousands of dollars in debt when working as a corporate personnel executive in 2002, trying to fill a spiritual hole in her life. "Often, what you need is not a reading," Ms. Murphy, 48, said. "There is something in there you are not getting: intellectually, emotionally, in terms of social stimulation. At that point you're in trouble."
In her willingness to suspend disbelief Ms. Lassez is not alone, even among educated and intelligent people, psychologists said. James Alcock, a psychology professor at York University in Toronto, who has studied the belief in the paranormal, considers himself a confirmed skeptic but pointed out, "If you look at the Gallup polls, the majority of people believe in the paranormal."
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So, there you have it, my first (and probably last, since I'm apparently shitlisted) foray into psychic-busting. I'm not going to tell people to stop seeing psychics - if it makes you happy and you have the cash, go wild. Whether you go in as a believer or as a shithead like me, the psychics are the ones making bank, so either way, in the end, they win. And who knows, maybe I have a sister I don't know about whose birth and death dates I guessed right, in which case, I should set up my own psychic shop. I'm sure Emily would approve.
Many private clairvoyants also offer free samples, but you do need to take care. Psychics and clairvoyants are not regulated by any professional body, so there are frauds and fakes. Some free readings are truly free samples, but others may be “bait and switch” tactics. One of the most common tactics is to tell you that there is a “hex” or a “curse” on you that the psychic can remove if you pay them. In most cases, if a psychic or clairvoyant says you have a curse, particularly during a “free” reading, they are fraudulent, and you should stop the reading.
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?