If you go to
consult a psychic, the first thing you want to
know is whether this person is really psychic
or not. Most people are aware that charlatans
coexist side-by-side with genuinely gifted
psychics; it's a lucrative profession and the
only quality control is word-of-mouth reports.
A little psychology and common sense can
reduce the risk of "being taken for a ride."
Essentially, to give a persuasive reading,
pseudo-psychics must rely not on psi, but on
inferences and clever interviewing techniques.
Information can be gleaned from a wide range
of subtle clues, and combined with past
experience and knowledge. By paying close
attention to details of the client's
appearance and behavior (weight, gestures and
posture, choice of clothes and jewelry,
vocabulary and style of speech, etc.), the
pseudo-psychic can deduce the client's
socio-economic status, lifestyle, and
personality traits (reserved or extroverted,
conservative or adventurous, etc.). Also, from
past experience, the pseudo-psychic knows the
kinds of issues which most often lead a person
to consult a psychic -- professional,
financial, relational or health problems.
They will make general assertions that could
apply to many individuals and will try to get
clients to talk a lot, inviting them to
elaborate on every new point, while closely
observing their behavior. Given the data at
hand, some good "guestimates" can be made as
to the question preoccupying the client, and
subtly tested. It may suffice to make a
general assertion and observe reactions;
expressive gestures such as head-shaking,
involuntary signs such as pupil-dilation or
change in breathing patterns -- all this will
help to orient the reading and help the
pseudo-psychic make the right guess.
Genuine psychics, by contrast, generally won't
fish around for details in advance; they'll
seek instead to concentrate on an "inner"
contact with the client. They'll also have no
problem with the person taking notes, or even
tape-recording the session, for later
assessment. The information offered is
typically non-trivial, precise and original,
and refers not only to the future (which is
always hard to assess on the spot!) but also
to the present and the past.
Though the tactics of pseudo-psychics should
be fairly easy to detect, the situation is not
always clear-cut. Even charlatans can
accidentally stumble on some real psi
information (like stage magicians who
sometimes pick up things which weren't part of
their act!). And even sincere and gifted
psychics may mix some psychology with
parapsychology, or be perfectly on target
about some things and mistaken about others.