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Abilities of psychics

How is it possible that scientists repeat and claim that paranormal ability has never been demonstrated under controlled conditions, and yet so many people come out of meetings with scientists of all kinds full of admiration and convinced of their supernatural powers?

By: Marius Cohen, Galileo


Many people come back impressed by meetings with various experts: psychics, chirologists (palm readers), astrologers, numerologists, coffee readers, card readers, graphologists (as opposed to legal handwriting experts) and others who claim the special ability to know almost everything about their clients without knowing them personally. The impressive ability of these psychics to tell their clients about their personality, about their past events, about what is happening to them in the present and even about what the future holds for them is seen by many as an expression of psychic ability (of psychics), of hidden cosmic connections (of astrologers or numerologists) or even knowledge scientific (of chirologists or graphologists). At the same time, the accepted scientific position is that psychic ability has never been demonstrated under controlled conditions, and that "theories of knowledge" such as astrology, chirology, numerology or graphology lack any scientific validity. Furthermore, for many years there have been funds such as the JREF fund (The James Randi Educational Foundation), which undertake to pay huge sums to anyone who succeeds in demonstrating some kind of psychic or esoteric ability. To this day, no one has won the prize, and most pundits even refrain from trying their luck and putting their skills to the test (and this with various pretexts, such as expressing a lack of interest in money or claiming that their powers do not work when they are doubted). How, then, can one explain the fact that so many people believe, some following personal experience, in the authenticity of these scholars and their abilities?

The explanation

There are several explanations for this phenomenon, some based on sophisticated methods and others - on our human tendencies and weaknesses. Below we will review these explanations one by one. For the sake of convenience, we will use the term "medium" to indicate any type of knowledge, and the period of time in which the medium sits and talks with the client is called a "meeting". The use of the masculine language is intended to avoid awkwardness, but the medium can of course also be a medium, and the client - a client.

Forer result - this result is named after the psychologist Bertram Forer, who discovered that people tend to treat general and vague personality descriptions, which may fit almost any person, as a specific and accurate description of their personality (see box). This result is sometimes also called the Barnum result. Simple examples are: "You tend to think independently, and you don't like being limited" or "You sometimes strive for things you can't achieve", as well as: "You have abilities that are not fully expressed". The generality of the sentences may cover the entire range of possibilities, so it is very difficult not to accept them as true: "You have great generosity, but sometimes you hesitate to give." "You like changes, but you also have a tendency towards routine" and the like. Psychics often use such general personality descriptions (which, by the way, the astrology and graphology sections are full of), and they do this mainly at the beginning of the session, when their information about the client is still limited.

Informed guesses - every piece of information that a medium has about the client allows him to make an informed guess, and basic information is available to the medium at the very beginning of the meeting: age, gender, origin (some of which the accent gives away), clothing, jewelry, degree of grooming (including even the type of perfume), The way the client moves - all these and many other details visible to the skilled eye of the medium may direct him in his first inquiries. So, for example, if the client is very young, the psychic will tell him that he is planning a trip, and that he is looking for the love of his life (or, alternatively, that he is experiencing unrequited love). With a slightly older client, the medium will talk about his career and money aspirations, and when the client is older, the medium will guess that he is worried about his health. The way of clothing and the type of jewelry may indicate the customer's financial situation, body movements on his health status, and so on. If the client says that he is a student (see "hot reading" below), then the doubts about continuing his studies and future career may certainly be relevant, as well as the statement that his house has open books and papers scattered everywhere.

Educated guesses can also include mentions of things that are common in almost every home, and which people tend to see as successful shots: scattered photos that are not arranged in the family album, a broken electrical device, jewelry of a family member who has passed away, some set with missing parts, an old calendar, A broken watch, a drawer that doesn't open properly, keys that the customer doesn't remember their purpose, and more. Another type of educated guesses is regarding common phenomena that most people also perceive as unique: a scar somewhere on the body, a childhood accident, unrequited love, changing from long hair to short hair at some point in life, the death of a familiar person, and more. The fact that most people have a concern stemming from one of several popular areas: health, love, family, financial situation and career, as well as the fact that many clients come to a psychic to receive advice in these areas, allows the psychic to say a key sentence such as "I perceive something that is bothering you", and depending on the client's response (See "Cold Reading" below) He will begin to probe in a more specific direction.

Cold reading (that is, without prior knowledge) - this is the skill of extracting details from the client during the meeting, without disclosing the fact that this is happening. The information provided is used by the medium to make educated guesses, which give the client the impression that his knowledge stems from some kind of supersensory ability or from the wisdom north of the esoteric teachings that the medium uses. The main method of the cold reading can be called "fishing" or "casting a rod": the medium says vague and general sentences such as "I perceive a name that begins with the letter M belonging to a person close to you", or "the month of January has some meaning for you", and uses the responses The customer to choose the right direction to continue. Many times the psychic will come up with responses such as: "My wife's name is Michal" or "My sister got married in January", which allows him, the psychic, to confirm that this is indeed exactly what he perceived, and to continue on this line in a confident tone. This way he instills in the client the feeling that he, the medium, does know very specific things about his wife or sister. If in the client's mind no suitable associations arise despite the generality of the sentences, the psychic will continue to cast his rod until something comes up, or will increase his room for maneuver with sentences such as: "I still perceive a name that begins with the letter M very strongly, but Maybe it comes from someone else present" (this is when the client has companions, or the medium appears in front of an audience), which increases the chance of successful fishing, and causes those present to marvel at the medium's impressive ability to absorb information even from people whose attention is not directed to them.

3 תגובות

  1. The reason so many people need and believe charlatans
    All kinds (no other definition is suitable for all kinds of readers)
    is that most people in the world have low intelligence
    Whereas the charlatans of sorts are highly intelligent

    When there is a need there will always be someone to provide it.

  2. Why insist and make a reduction to the old ways of thinking, to explain everything based on what we know.
    Why not say it like that, simply - it's wonderful - we don't understand it.
    Maybe there is a field of thought that does not depend on us?
    Maybe there really is a "law of preservation of the soul"....?

  3. Abi Shlomot
    In your appearance in "Politics", opposite the arrogant astrologer
    A small comment/clarification was missing,
    Astrology is about five thousand years old and is based on physical condition
    The sky at that time, since then the state/place of most of the grams has changed and so has their state towards our globe, so that even if there was something in it once,
    Today, there is nothing more than coincidence between a person's date of birth and the position of the zodiac signs, and anyone who tries to draw conclusions must go back in time,
    So that everything is for those who rely on ignorance

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