Petr Sidorov

22 People Discuss Whether Or Not Psychics Are Just Scammers

1. Tarot Card Reader

I like to dabble in tarot.

Tarot readings are not really meant to tell the future.

Each card is a visual representation of a theme, stage, or archetype that we all go through in our lives.

Each card can be related to ANY situation in your life. It’s useful to gain insight and start looking at the situation in a different way.

I do readings for myself to think about every choice and outcome that may happen before I make a decision.

To me, being “psychic” is just being super aware of the situation at hand and being able to discern the right choice from the wrong based on your experience.

Though honestly I have had some very unbelievable experiences. I shuffle the deck after every card is drawn and I pick a random card each time.

A few times I can think of, I have drawn the same reading 2-3 times in a row. I chalked it up to maybe not shuffling well enough or something but it’s fun to think about.


2. Total Scammer

I knew a guy in college that made money online scamming people as a psychic. He’s seriously a therapist now, and still a douchebag.


3. Wrong Will Be Forgotten

Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

Every time they make a wrong prediction, they’ll forget about it entirely within a short time. But if they make a correct one then they will always hold onto it for story telling.


4. Believing It’s Magic

I don’t bill myself as a psychic but I do occasional rune readings at renfaires when I’m vending or there with my guild.

I tell people that it’s a bunch of shiny rocks with symbols on them and I will at very least tell them what the symbols that come up for them mean. Sometimes my intuition adds a little more.

I’ve done some readings where I genuinely don’t know where the information came from. I’m not actually that good at reading people. But I’ve told people relatively specific things about themselves and their situations that were dead on that I never would have guessed on my own. Maybe I’m better than I think I am, maybe the shiny rocks with symbols on them are magic, maybe I’m magic, or maybe it’s just a whole lot of coincidences.

I tend to believe it’s magic because the world is more interesting that way. But I also don’t base major decisions on what my runes tell me unless there’s a lot of other good reasons to choose that path anyway, and I tell people I do readings for to do the same.


5. It’s Real…

I made a throwaway for this because perhaps it will be downvoted and I don’t like exposing this. I have talked to spirits ever since I was a child. Not ghosts, I’ve never seen them but I know they exist. Every one of us has a “version” of ourselves in a spiritual dimension. I go into a trance and talk to them, ask them questions. Sometimes they come to me and warn me of things, other times I must ask.

All I need is someone’s name and birth date and a personal object (anything really, a button for example) so they can know who I’m talking about. They will then find that person’s version in the spirit world and check on their condition or ask around whether there is something negative in store for them.

I’ve received warnings. A friend about to go on a trip told me not to let her go, so upon waking I told her and there was a bus crash. Another friend told me she was very sick in a dream, turns out she was developing Hodgkin’s lymphoma. No, they are never wrong and this is not cold reading or general things. I’ve been told very specific things too, such as my sister is pregnant of a girl. So I told her to get tested and of course she had a girl. I had not seen my sister for a couple months when that happened. When my father died, I felt it, got into a trance and looked for him and he told me he had just passed and was moving on now. I came back in tears but I know, for a fact, that he’s in a better place.

It’s a lifetime of this, with too many examples. Yes, it’s real. Yes, I can do it. I’m not from the USA. No, I do not suffer from hallucinations, the advice only comes in dreams and the answers to questions come in whispers when I place myself in a meditative trance.

Nobody knows about this except a few close people. The spirits refuse to tell me anything about myself or my life. I don’t know why I can do this. My mother said I used to see and talk to spirits as a very young child, but that hasn’t happened in a long time.


6. Closet Psychic

Not a professional psychic, closet psychic. Runs in the family, at least 2 generations back on my mom’s side (maybe more, not any records on my great grandmother other than she was native American, likely Cherokee)

I haven’t always been closeted, was pretty open about it when I was younger. Later in life I realized that letting out that little bit of information tends to lead to a lot of whackos bugging you about “DEMONS ARE INVADING MY DREAMS!!!” and “My past life is haunting me!” all variety of typical garden paranoia. In addition it’s not something you want to be associated with when pursuing a science degree. Most of the other true psychics I’ve met do about the same thing around their early 20’s.

I am a skeptic, and I believe that 95% of everything claimed to be “psychic phenomena” is a mix of cold reading, luck, and the general gullibility of the public. 4% has a scientifically supported but poorly understood basis (hypnosis, emotional trauma causing physical ailments, some of the weirder forms of the placebo effect, etc.) And then there’s 1% that really does defy all rational fucking explanation.

I have observed that some people can pull off divination with more accuracy than a simple cold read and common sense would allow. I was one of those, and specifically trained in cold reading so that I could avoid accidentally doing it. I think that most moderately successful psychics are just spewing cold reads and truly believing that what they’re saying has meaning. Hippies tend to talk in rainbow ruses anyway, or phrase the blatantly obvious as some esoteric secret. Very successful psychics are just admirably skilled con artists with a flair for theatrics.

And then there’s the real ones, who tend to be rather unpopular. A little logic for you: if you are a skilled psychic that can predict the outcome of future events, then your predictions will be rather ordinary and bland for most people. These people are even likely to be labeled as cold readers, since the actual future generally CAN be predicted with basic common sense. People don’t WANT to hear that if they try to pursue that cute girl at work it’s gonna result in a few awkward dates and maybe some halfhearted crappy drunk sex. They want to hear that they are star-crossed soul bound lovers, searching for each other over dozens of past lives, because in one past life he was a samurai warrior that saved her, a virgin geisha, from a dark and evil wizard! Nobody gives a shit about the REAL answer, because it’s boring and they generally have a good idea what it is already (and often don’t want to accept it). People want to feel important. Let me ask you, if everyone’s got a bunch of past lives, how come nobody was an illiterate farmer that married a kinda boring and overweight woman and had some bratty kids before dying of dysentery? Or a factory worker that hated his life and took it out on his liver? Or just a plain, totally unexceptional Joe?

As someone else said, it’s entertainment. That’s what people want, they want a show. They want to feel important, and they want someone to justify their fantasies and paranoid delusions. I once got annoyed by this kid that was about as gifted as brick, and was scaring the muggles by instigating superstition and generally being a creeper. So I gave him some new age crap about how if he kept pursuing magic he would “damage the fibers of reality!!!! Demons will come after you to correct karmic violations of the pact of the ancient faerie lords!!1! Quit now or Cthulhu will find you and use his mind control to unravel your sanity!!” It was total bullshit, and he loved it. He started acting it out, and getting “visions” of what I described, and just went into his own little delusional fantasy world. And I don’t even blame him, because you know what? It was a more exciting reality for him than the truth: that he was an acne ridden fat kid living in his parents basement, with no friends, no job, and no life. Hell, his new delusions actually gave him a life, because he made a coven with some new friends that he made when he fed into THEIR delusions of grandeur.

TL;DR Some psychics are genuine but no one likes them because they correctly predict how your life is going to be boring and shitty. All the money is made by delusional hippies and flamboyant con artists.


7. I Believe

My friends and I trade readings for free. Sometimes people ask me to show up at parties. Any money given to me is donated to local cat/dog/horse shelters. (I do not ask for money but people feel the need to pay me? I dunno.)

That having been said, I look down on people who charge those who “need” it. Someone I knew spent $60 every month. Same psychic. Because she was so “accurate.” I believe life can change but not month-to-month. Go, like, twice a year or something.

To me, that’s wrong. And so are ticket prices to sit in an audience for a 10% chance a mainstream, televised psychic might “read” you.

I believe in psychics. I believe they can help people. I don’t believe in preying on those who think they need it.


8. Family Claims To Have Abilities

I have a mother in law, technically step-mother in law, who claims to have abilities. She says that she can see spirits and they talk to her a lot. It’s hard to deal with sometimes. She even told me once that she saw my dead father around me. I was more offended than anything.
My father-in-law claims he can hear spirits too. The worst part about the whole situation is they keep trying to convince my husband that he has “the gift.” They analyze any dreams they know he has and we generally don’t know how to handle those situations. I don’t know if they honestly believe it or what.
Of course everyone wants to believe it and I think that’s why the industry is so big. No one really wants to think we’re alone and this is it.


9. People Remember What You Get Right

I worked in that field for a number of years a few decades ago when I lived on the road. My grift was I Ching readings. I was pretty good at it. Depending on where I was, I could make decent money doing it. Phish concerts were a good market. Any city with a good New Age type population would work. I had a pretty good hook. The idea was that the readings were a glimpse at the underlying order of the universe. It was like a fractal pattern out of the chaos that could give guidance. Hell, I had a great patter about the quantum nature of reality and how the observer altered the reality around them (real scientists feel free to cringe).

Here’s the thing about that kind of work. The very best are people who can both believe and not believe at the same time. I have no doubt that even the most wretched frauds out there, such as John Edwards or Sylvia Browne, honestly believe in their hearts that they have a gift and that they experience the divine….even when they use every cheap trick in the book.

Couple of quick terms for those who haven’t looked into the subject. “Cold reading” and “hot reading”. Cold reading is taking clues from the person and crafting your reading around it. You start with some things which everyone believes. “You’ve always known that there was something that set you apart from other people” for example. You can also use events that are common to everyone. “I feel like there’s a male member of your family who passed away and it still haunts you. I don’t know how they die but it was something to do with their lungs”. From there you pick up on clues about the person. How are they dressed? Are they wearing a ring or a piece of jewelry?

Here’s the big trick. People only remember the things you get right, not the things you get wrong. Every believer in the supernatural has a story about the times someone told them something and it turned out to be true. Well, what they don’t remember is how many times it didn’t. If you believe in fortune telling, bring along a recorder next time you go for a reading. Write down everything. If you approach it with an open mind, you’ll be surprised.

“Hot” readings are different. That’s where you actually know something about the person. While I was doing a reading, I would sometimes have a partner who worked the crowd. Listened for someone talking about what they hoped to get from the reading. “I just broke up with my boyfriend and I want to know if we’ll get back together”. That sort of thing. We had a few signals worked out. If there was something juicy I might stop the reading I was doing, and address the crowd that I sensed someone was looking for “x” and go right up to that person and tell them I just had to do a special reading for them on the spot.

I knew exactly what I was doing, but I never would have been able to do it if I didn’t believe that I actually had a gift, and that I was actually in touch with the divine. Those I Ching sticks, in my mind, did reveal the binary nature of our existence, and were a working tool…even if I cheated to make it work.

Our brains are pretty great at being to hold two contradictory beliefs at once.

Now, there are many out there who genuinely believe in what they’re doing. They’re usually not very good.


10. My Mom the Psychic

My mother is a psychic and charges $150 an hour, her accuracy rate is ~81% she is often hired by the FBI to help find missing persons and corpses she believes she has supernatural gifts, i always thought of it as educated guessing although her track record proves otherwise.


11. The Power of the Cards

My mother in law, though not a psychic, is a witch who practices Wicca. She owns a metaphysical shop selling crystals and the like and she reads Tarot cards. She does not claim to have psychic powers but does, however, 100% believe in the power of the cards. She believes whole heartedly believes that Tarot cards and Wicca really works.


12. Selling the Idea of It

I’ve got a buddy… He believes he is psychic. He reads or watches videos about it. I was subjected to a monologue where the orator bounced between E=MC2, why people always have the TV on, bacteria growing in a spiral and a couple of experiments that haven’t been duplicated (doesn’t stand up to peer testing) and uses that as proof of psychic ability. Yeah, I didn’t get it either. The thing is though, that they are selling the audience the idea that they (the audience) is psychic and too smart for any nay sayers. This summer the same buddy paid to attend a workshop and was told that his psychic ability was manipulating objects in Australia. He believes this will lead to a mastery of the stock market. I donno, man. I couldn’t tell if the orator knew that everything was BS or if he truly believed it. Some kind of scam though, I’m sure the workshop wasn’t cheap. I mean, you’d have to pay somebody to pick up the phone in another room and fake an Australian accent and all.


13. People Take What They Want

I’m not a “psychic” exactly but I do tarot readings for festivals etc. and the thing is people take out of it what they want.

Now I’m not going to lie a lot of it is along the lines of cold reading, even seasoned “psychics” have told me as such along similar (“in order to get a proper connection you need to form an emotional bond with them, get to know them, get to understand them and your readings will improve massively”).

Now here’s where we get to the aforementioned “thing”; I only do readings at festivals for a couple of dollars a pop, so pretty much 90% of my customers are just there for shits and giggles, I talk to them, give them some vague positive advice and they go on their merry way.

So in answer to your question: people aren’t paying me to tell their future, their paying me for them to tell them what a “magic card” means, so in that sense, no I am not scamming my customers.


14. Cold Reading Is Easy

I’ve never told this story before, and I’m a bit late to the party. I am not a psychic, but…

When I was 11, my aunt (who is a firm believer in psychics and all things paranormal) gifted me a deck of Tarot cards because she thought I was ‘special’. In reality, I was just quiet and observant. I flipped through the book that came with it and disregarded them.

About a week later, my aunt comes, very excited to have her reading done. I didn’t want her to feel disappointed that I hadn’t been using her gift, so I faked it. I had her shuffle the deck, I laid the cards out, and I focused. I just started spinning a web with information I already had, and using her subtle reactions to guide me further. She was so pleased with the reading that she gave me $10.

Then she started calling all of her friends. I became so good at doing cold readings that these people would flock to me, and even if I said I wouldn’t take money, they would leave it for me. I’d get $20, $40, and sometimes $50 per reading. I think the fact that I was so young helped, too. I was young, but I wasn’t stupid. Moral of the story: Cold reading is incredibly easy.

When I got tired of doing it, I just told my aunt I’d lost the ability. She’d ask me about it routinely for the next 15 years.

I don’t really feel bad about what I did, though. I was entertaining these people and never asked for money. I was being paraded around like some prodigy so I may as well have gotten something out of it.


15. Not All Psychics Are Scammers

I’ve been involved with the pagan community for over 20 years & I know people who are professional psychics.

Personally, I lean more towards psychology and the power of belief/intuition when it comes to the magical woo-woo. I have met college educated people who truly think that orbs in digital photography are spirits or the fey or whatever. I know people who claim to have seen ghosts or faeries. Some of these folks are educated and believe… well, whatever they feel is true. Many of these folks don’t read cards for money or talk openly about what they believe. I’d say, some talk like this for show. They want to be seen as special and admired, which is how I see many pro-psychics. Others really believe in the supernatural. My pro-psychic friends and others that sell magical goods like charged candles or write books believe in what they’re doing and seem sincere in wanting to help people.

I can’t say if there’s anything supernatural about what they do. I think they provide a service to people who need guidance though. There are always going to be people who feel like they need to look to someone or something for advice or guidance, and many want magic or psychic powers to help change their fate. Does it? Well if a person believes that it can I think that can definitely have an impact. Attitude is everything, and thinking positively about a situation you want to change goes a long way in changing it. Some folks need that support, or permission, and some look to folks they think have supernatural powers.

I’ll say though there are assholes out there just looking to scam their marks though. My coworker has an aunt that spends hundred of dollars a month on this psychic she sees weekly. She won’t make a decision without consulting her. This psychic charges her to remove curses and for spells or prayers to god as well as readings, and she charges a lot. Is my friends aunt being scammed? Absolutely. But suckers are born every minute. If it wasn’t this she could be sending money to a tv ministry for blessings to get money or love or whatever. As long as there are people that want to put blind faith in something, there will always be folks that will take advantage be it a bad psychic, bad minister, or bad therapist, etc.

The thing is, anyone can use ‘psychic’ tools for reading, dousing, charging, blessing, etc. It’s not a domain for the spiritually gifted. Anyone can learn if they want to. Meditation is useful, and stuff like tarot cards can stir your creative juices if you dig symbolism and mythology. I’ve had friends read for me and I often find they help me see my situation in a different way, which can help. I don’t generally pay for readings & I never charge (I only read for friends or people I like, I don’t advertise). I tell people that psychic readings should be taken with a grain of salt, it’s not gospel and nothing a psychic says is set in stone. Even if psychic powers were a concrete thing the future is not set. It can run in predictable ways based off of the choices you make but if you change your behavior enough you can change your ‘future’.

Anyway, I don’t think all psychics think they are scamming people. I think some definitely are, but some aren’t.


16. She’s Full of Nonsense

I unfortunately cannot speak for myself but I have a co-worker who does readings for parties and individuals on the side (for which she charges money). She 100% believes the nonsense pouring out of her mouth about signs, auras, energies and whatnot. My field unfortunately draws a fair number of people into mysticism and “energy” so I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised.


17. I’m a Skeptic

There are many unexplained things in this world. I am not a psychic, and I am a skeptic. That said, I have worked closely with a paranormal team that has a medium. She doesn’t do any wonky tarot cards, or bang on a drum while reading crystals. She does seem to have the ability to read… energies? She has for instance “seen” people who have passed. Once was a random encounter, with a person that she never met. She didn’t tell them about it, and I confirmed it later on. It was a son who committed suicide, and he was looking out of in a window in their house, she told me. The family, I guess, didn’t like to talk about it. So it was a guarded secret. Now, I believe that she may have some sort of ability. Now, on the paranormal side; I’ve been on a couple “hunts” and have seen nothing that seems to be solid proof of a ghost haunting. I’ve done the midnight cemetery of “the most haunted place in the area” and saw/felt/experienced nothing. Well, one of the “investigators” felt drained and lightheaded. so, I guess I saw some acting… I believe there is a lot of fraud out there involving psychics and psychic abilities. But, there are a lot of gifted people that may be legit. it seems unreasonable to discount a profession that has been proven to help people, (even as far as helping to solve murder/missing persons cases along side government agencies) because there are people who try to monetize their “ability.”


18. She Doesn’t Actively Seek Her Powers

My friend’s mom definitely has some physic abilities. She doesn’t tell anyone about them but her close friends but there are stories of her knowing her daughter’s bus was going to get into a accident and she called her to put on her seat belt and she’ll be okay. Sure enough my friend fell asleep and the bus hit something.

She’s also really good at gambling and will tell her friends before going on a trip to go to a certain table and put this much on this whatever and they’ll win every time she tells them and buy my friends family something nice because they usually win thousands of dollars because of her.

Something similar to the bus story happened to her husband but I forget the details. She doesn’t actively seek her “powers” but when they come, they come.


19. It’s All About Intuition

Tarot reader here! I’ve only been practicing for about two years but I’ve been told I have some talent.

When I give a reading, I ask for no information at all and I go in blind. I’m not interested in cold reading you or just telling you what you want to hear.

I interpret the cards using their meanings and my own sense of intuition. I’ve given a few readings that actually served as a warning (my cards pointed towards somebody stealing from him, turns out someone had lifted one of his credit cards) but I don’t believe I’m psychic. I’m not entirely willing to say my cards are a hoax but I truly have no intentions of scamming people.

Most people who come to me for a reading are more interested in the novelty of a tarot reading. I like reading for people and I only ask for a few dollars if you’re requesting a very time intensive layout.


20. Zero Evidence That It’s Real

There isn’t a single solitary shred of empirical evidence to back the claims that magic is real. And yes, I said “magic” as the word “psychic” is just pseudo-scientific bullshit designed to make a person less stupid about making these ridiculous claims in the post-industrial era. Somebody calling themselves a psychic is no different than saying “I’m a wizard”, only it sounds slightly less ludicrous to the mouth-breathers.

That being said, as a person with a penchant for playing practical jokes (especially the long con variety), I have on multiple occasions managed to convince people that I can read their minds. In reality it’s nothing more than a knack for putting together body language, tone, and word preferences into a coherent pattern, asking leading questions to tie down the response to specific information. There’s nothing whatsoever magical about the process, and con men of all stripes have been doing the same thing since time began.

I never made any money off of it as I just used it to pull jokes which I thought were insanely funny, but when I was younger I was surprised at just how gullible and completely, utterly full of shit most people are. Anything to be a special snowflake, I guess.


21. Palm Reading

I do some palm reading and I NEVER try to tell the future with it. I can look at some of the lines on your hands as indicators of health (ex: there is a line that, if present, shows if you can be prone to infertility), and a lot of the lines on your hands change on a daily basis, since a lot of the things on your hands a purely indicators of short term and long term stress. I just try to tell people where these stresses may be coming from, and that they need to take better care of their minds, because it’s having a physical effect on the body.


22. I Don’t Think I’m Psychic

Preface: I don’t think I’m a psychic, but I think what would happen to me is rather interesting.

This probably isn’t the type of post you were looking for, but here it goes anyway. When I was very young (4 – 13 years of age) I used to frequently have dreams with a similar look and feel to them, and each of these dreams would match up with events that occurred in my life in the near future (premonitions).

These events were never important or significant. They were just things, stuff that would occur in the life of a child. Some of the things I dreamed about were unique one time events, while others were things that happened every day. In the beginning I thought the dreams were coincidence, until I had one particular dream, where the circumstances were specific to a one time event that I could not have reasonably predicted.

All of the dreams were much darker and grainier (almost like lower resolution) than the real life counterparts. It was like looking through a neutral density filter. Although it was dark and grainy, everything was still easily visible. The audio was always perfect, and background noises were noticeable. All the dreams were in the first person (from my point of view). They never lasted more than 15 seconds.

I’d wake up from these dreams, and often think about them. When I got older, the dreams occurred less and less. Eventually I planned to try and spot the dreams as they were happening, and try to change the course of events, but the dreams stopped before I could ever try.

The fact that this happened scared the hell out of me when I was little. I still don’t really understand what was happening. The most non mystical explanation I can come up with is that my brain somehow falsified memories after a real life event… which is equally scary and weird to me. Not only did I have memories of my dreams that would have to be fabricated, but memories of thinking about the dreams during the days preceding the actual event.. That is a lot of re-writing than I’m comfortable with.

In some ways, I sort of wish it still happened. I’ve thought of a few ways I can test it to see what was really happening… but its been well over 20 years, and I don’t expect it to happen again.