Talking to the Dead

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About every community believes in the desire to connect with the deceased. Many individuals have claimed to be able to communicate with our dearly departed members since time immemorial. Classic fiction, such as Shakespeare’s plays, the Bible, and folklore, describes this contact with ghosts and spirits (Holloway 182-187). For a long time, psychics have deceived people into believing that they wield this supernatural ability, which is, in reality, built on lies. The essay will employ a scientific approach to unearth the lies and the tricks employed in psychic ‘powers,’ “look at the logical fallacy behind the belief and the harm caused by the faith in the pseudoscience.
Psychics employ the cold reading concept to convince the clients that they know about their personal information. The technique is also used by mediums, mentalists, illusionists and fortune tellers. Through a quick analysis of a person’s manner of speech, body language, clothing and sexual orientation, a cold-reader taps enough information to achieve the intended goals (Hyman 169-170). Psychics used the signals relayed by the client at hand to evaluate the probability of making the right guesses. Whenever they feel the guesses are wrong, they quickly move away from them to keep the person seeking the services glued to the ‘expert’ for help. From a scientific point of view, it is, therefore, evident that psychics use the knowledge in psychology and mathematical skills in estimating the probability of being on the factual side concerning the issues at hand.
Hot reading is another technique used by the psychics in deceiving people to have the ability to communicate with the dead and the spirits. Hot reading happens when the psychic has prior information about the victim before the actual visit. The information can be retrieved from the internet or probing close friends and relatives. When this information is then presented to the victims, they perceive it as a miraculous form of knowledge and discovery. The victims are thus psychologically conditioned to think that this all-knowing capability can also assist in communicating with the dead. In reality, these people just gather information from reliable sources with the victims’ knowledge. Psychics have always kept themselves informed about the current trends in networking media such as Facebook where the information posted is used against a victim.
The shotgun approach is also based on the ability to employ psychological and probability technique. In this approach, the psychics present many claims that are wisely selected in order for the victims to relate at least some of them. A good example of tools used here are names of people and places. After presenting these claims, the psychics employ the confirmation bias technique to ensure the victim is more aligned to the hits and whenever possible, forgetting about the misses. The confirmation bias is a form of a logical fallacy which results in errors in arguments and reasoning. An almost similar approach is employed in the inflation of the resources that are probabilistic in nature. The shotgun approach further proves that the psychics are only good at fooling people and making them believe that they have the supernatural powers to communicate with the death.
Inflated hits is another technique that is used to guarantee and increase the probability of making the right guesses. This technique can be employed when conducting a private reading or when doing to the audience in a T.V show. Whenever the targeted victims make connections between the presented psychic claims and the reality, the probability of the claimed psychic to get a hit are increased. In the private readings, psychics tend to make claims that are vague in nature concerning the dead relatives of the victim at hand. Given that every person has a number of dead relatives, the chances of getting a hit increase. For example, the psychic may ask if a victim’s dead uncle had a cat. The answer to such a question is less likely to be a miss. When considering an audience, psychics ask questions that are more likely to target individuals in the crowd. For example, they may ask, “Whose father had a beautiful clock?” From the question, a hit is almost guaranteed because there are a number of individuals to relate to the question. The Inflation technique rarely uses specific cases such as mentioning the exact names of the dead relative which might result in a miss.
The Barnum effect coined from P.T Barnum is a psychological tool used by psychics to come up a high degree of accuracy regarding their description of personalities. These descriptions are tailored to meet their needs but in the real sense apply to many people. According to Barnum, it is paramount for a good circus to have something for everyone (Barnum & James 34). Through the Barnum effect, psychics manage to fool the victims through convincing them about possessing the ability to understand them and the messages from the dead. This is the same technique used when passing the messages in the horoscopes where people relate the contents with the understanding of their personalities (Tobacyk 737-739).
The editing for the T.V shows on psychics is also done in a manner that pushes their agendas forward. These shows are mostly edited to the extent that what you see is probably not what you get. The programs are made and edited to favor the mysterious acts and have a wide viewership (Hyman 169-170). When targeting the audience, it is certain that nobody would want to spend minutes or even hours on psychic performances that fail. The strong belief in the life after death is built upon and tailored to meet the needs of the life after death communication. However, an informed and a rational being is likely to discover that the cold reading and the fishing techniques are heavily employed.
Believing in psychics has brought harm at the individual and societal level. Individuals have been subjected to negative psychological impacts of the pseudoscience to the extent of committing suicide. Psychics may make predictions that are convincing at the moment but never actualizes in the end. Victims are assured of getting healed from their treatments and upon leaving their medications, deteriorates in health and eventual die. Those seeking answers about the whereabouts of their loved one are at times convinced to be dead by the psychics through their ability to communicate with the dead. In some instances, the missing persons who are said to be dead by the psychics, through their supernatural powers, show up alive after subjecting their loved ones to torture.
The effects at the societal level are likely to be more dangerous and affecting every individual. For example, in the town of La Grulla in Texas, thousands of federal funds were embezzled after the mayor made psychic consultations as reported in the article, What’s The Harm in Believing in Psychics? The funds were likely to spur economic growth in the town but ended up benefiting the psychics. With the wrong and false healing claims through psychics, the society is likely to be fooled and leave the scientific medications which might result in massive loss of lives. Skepticism and the demand for the extraordinary evidence are good in reducing the detrimental effects of psychics. To some victims whose finances are tapped to the last cent through the psychic consultations, poverty immediately falls on them with minimal chances of recovering. People should learn how to question what they see and seek sufficient prove before falling in the hands of cons who make pseudo-scientific claims about their magical powers.
Conclusively, psychics are normal people who are able to make psychological claims that are high-sounding and emotionally satisfying to fool the victims. This fact has been proven through the various techniques employed and their ability to maximize on the logical fallacies. People should learn that there is more to what meets the eye and employ the various epistemological theories to establish the claims brought forward by the psychics. If possible, the psychics should face negative sanctions for fooling and conning people which result in death and loss of resources. All these scientific facts have proven that psychic powers are pure lies without scientific proofs and aimed at enriching the psychics at the expense of the unknowledgeable and misinformed victims seeking the services.

Works Cited
Barnum, Phineas Taylor, and James W. Cook. The colossal PT Barnum reader: nothing else like it in the universe. University of Illinois Press, 2005.
Holloway, Julian. “”Enchanted spaces: The séance, affect, and geographies of religion.”” Annals of the association of American geographers 96.1 (2006): 182-187.
Hyman, Ray. “”The psychic reading.”” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 364.1 (1981): 169-181.
Tobacyk, Jerome, et al. “”Paranormal beliefs and the Barnum effect.”” Journal of Personality Assessment 52.4 (1988): 737-739.
“”What’s The Harm In Believing In Psychics?” Whatstheharm.net. N.p., 2017. Web. 9 May 2017.

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