If psychics are genuine, why do their readings differ so wildly?

The psychic industry is rife with frauds and rank amateurs. Everyone knows it, and any honest psychic will admit it. However, having dealt with quite a few I can say with some conviction that many psychics are sincere, and truly believe that they are receiving messages from the other side. Indeed, most of them probably are to some extent. Nearly all psychics that I have dealt with were able to give me specific details about my life that they should not have been able to know. Specific, precise details – like that I used to play brain training games, that I was working on a novel and that I used to drink too much. And they managed to tell me these things out of the blue without fishing around for clues. While this falls far short of scientific evidence, my experience tells me that these abilities are absolutely genuine but rarely properly developed – and often hampered by ego or other energetic disturbances.

I say the ability is rarely properly developed, because none of the psychics I’ve consulted agreed on everything. In fact, many of them flagrantly contradicted each other. And some of them spoiled their own credibility by telling me things that clearly did not make sense, even after proving some genuine ability.

The trouble is, psychic ability is really just the ability to tune in to and read energy – whether it be another person’s energy, the energy of a situation, the energy of the future, or the energy of thoughts and beliefs. So if you don’t properly clear your own thoughts, beliefs and assumptions before a reading, your own energy is inevitably going to interfere with the reading. If you believe in guides and angels, you’ll see guides and angels – and they’ll tell you the sorts of things you’d expect guides and angels to tell you.

One of the psychics I consulted told me to look for a wife by placing a personals ad online, on “the Australian equivalent of Craig’s List”. That would be Gumtree. No go – they had recently closed down their personals section due to rampant abuse, and there was nothing else remotely equivalent. When I returned and told her so, my guides changed their mind and told me to join Tinder – which, for the more innocent among you, is an online hookups site. No thanks.

The most successful psychics – the ones that tend to get called in to solve impossible police cases (yes, it does happen – and they often succeed) are the psychics that not only clear their energy before a reading, but they’ve actually spent months or years deeply cleaning up their entire energy field so that their own beliefs, emotions and other rogue energies can’t interfere with their perception. These top-shelf professional psychics usually charge a fortune for a reading and tell you very little. You won’t get the fairy stories about guides and angels, and you may be disappointed by just how little information you get from them compared to the “fun” psychics that let you talk to your dead canary or tell you the love of your life is waiting for you on Tinder. But the information you get has a much higher chance of being accurate. And let’s be honest, that’s not what most people who approach a psychic actually want, is it? Amateur psychics thrive because they’re selling hope, or the thrill of communicating with the other side.

And that leads me to channeling – one of the most dangerous aspects of the psychic profession. Not only is it well known that frauds use many deceptive techniques to read a subject and tell them things about themselves that they theoretically should not be able to know (known as “cold reading”), but many sincere psychics actually use aspects of the same techniques without realising it. By giving squishy information that changes in response to the client’s promptings, most credulous subjects can be easily convinced that the psychic is contacting dead relatives. Even in the rare instances that the psychic hits on some specific, correct details about someone in the person’s life, there’s no guarantee that they’re actually channeling something from the other side. They could simply be picking up on the client’s memories of the person, for example.

My family on both parents’ sides is extremely small, and my circle of acquaintances has always been extremely limited. This produces some amusing results when psychics attempt to channel for me. A Canadian psychic I once consulted produced a gentleman in 1940s clothing who referred to me as “mate” and said he was hunting wallabies. Of course, there was never any such man in my life – he was a mere patchwork of Australian stereotypes. The same channeler produced a dead friend – perhaps a drinking partner from my university days, he said – who had a message to deliver. When I told the channeler that I never went to university and have never had a friend die, it turned out that he was a friend of my brother’s. Of course. The messages these people so desperately had to reach out across time and space to deliver were mere pats on the back, by the way. “Go ahead with your chosen path, you’re on the right track. We support you.” Thanks for that.

Such obvious nonsense only works because most people who consult psychics are highly credulous, they’re excited to hear from dead relatives, and they have enough people in their social circles to shoehorn the psychic’s usually vague descriptions into the memory of one dead relative or another.

You can see where amateur psychics get their poor methods from if you attend a cheap psychic development course. One such course that I attended for a few sessions before giving up in disgust entailed having our third eye chakras opened, and then giving readings to other members of the group. No other instructions were given. We were simply to have our chakras opened, and then wait for the information to come. Naturally, anything that popped into the reader’s head was considered a psychic insight rather than a random thought. As you can imagine, this participation-award approach was great for everyone’s self esteem, but not so great for accuracy.

But that’s half of what being a psychic is all about – ego and identity. It makes people feel special to have psychic abilities – and understandably so. Secretly harbouring a superpower that 90% of the world has no concept even exists would be incredibly tempting to anyone’s ego. No surprise that the majority of people with such abilities tend to base their identities on it. When you base your identity on an ability, you need to constantly reassure yourself of how good you are at that ability. Hence the tone-deaf warblers who audition for talent shows firmly believing that they’re headed for superstardom – they’ve based their identity on assumptions of talent and future success. And hence the meltdowns when the judges tell them they sound like a drowning rat. An attack on their abilities is an attack on their identity. So it is with the amateur psychics who believe they have a direct hotline to god. Being psychic is what makes them special, and examining their own work for accuracy would tend to put a dampener on their specialness.