Fortune tellers, psychics, and mystical fraudulence

psychic

I’m sorry ma’am, but I’m gonna need more evidence than just a crystal ball.

If you look around in a city area, you’re likely to find someone claiming to be a fortune teller, someone who can allegedly read the future. If they believe it’s real, and they can do it any time, then why would they charge you for it? Isn’t it obvious? It’s because it’s not real, and the fortune teller is actually a con artist of some variety.

I know that fortune tellers, or “oracles” as they were called in antiquity, are part of various mythologies, like the Oracle at Delphi. It is also an important part of Chinese culture, in the form of the I Ching. However, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam denounce fortune telling as sorcery. In fact, some fundamental Christians see fortune tellers as “slaves to Satan”.

Of course, Christianity hypocritically denounces prophecy while using the Bible (specifically the book of Revelations) to predict the end of the world. And let’s not forget the number of “prophecies” that are supposedly found in the Quran.

On the issue of psychics, there have been a number of reality TV series in which people supposedly have psychic abilities, or encounter other supernatural phenomenon. Of course, there is actually no evidence for this sort of Hollywood hooey, but sadly, there’s also no evidence to say that it’s not real, which means Hollywood and the TV producers can exploit this in order to attract gullible viewers and make money.

Since the release of the movie The Sixth Sense and the TV show Crossing Over with John Edward (both in 1999), there have been numerous claims of people who can communicate with the dead. However, it’s been known that John Edward and all other psychics are merely “cold readers”, people who fish for information while leaving the person you are reading to think that you gave them the information. If you really want a demonstration of this point, watch South Park.

The fact that psychics make money this way officially makes them frauds. In fact, notable “psychic” Sylvia Browne has made numerous predictions that were later proved incorrect, but was only convicted of investment fraud and grand theft, and that was over 20 years ago. That still doesn’t make up for her latest crime.

sylvia browne

At this point, even Hell won’t do it, and Hell is probably where she’ll end up because the Christians don’t look too kindly on the whole “psychic” thing.

Lastly, I think I’ll talk about astrology. Every newspaper comes with a horoscope, a vague, unspecific prediction that attempts to predict the future in relation to one’s “star sign”. Astrology involves giving you a star sign (determined by your date of birth), which an astrologist to “predict your future” based on a personality stereotype associated with that star sign.

I was interested in this sort of crap when I was 13, but I eventually realized that it’s nothing more than pseudo-scientific nonsense that, I’ll be honest, denies any possibility of free will because it ignores that fact that everyone is different. Also, because it relies on the activity of stars and planets (which is impossible to observe on a long-term basis), it is completely unreliable, and seems to be grounded in some New Age hippie crap (though I have heard that astrology originated in Vedic India).

Overall, psychic powers, fortune telling, and all that mystic crap is best left for fiction and fantasy. In the real world, this stuff needs some scientific evidence behind it. These people can’t go around scamming people like that, especially since the scientific community knows that they’re frauds.

In case I sound a little too vitriolic, try to understand that I’ve never believed in superstition of this kind when I was a kid. Maybe I just have an investigative streak.

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