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All The Tricks Psychic Mediums Use To Rip People Off

Updated May 29, 2019 5.8k votes 1k voters 56.8k views13 items

List RulesFor those who've had psychic readings, vote up the tactics you've picked up on.

57% of Americans reportedly believe in psychic phenomena like ESP or telepathy. According to believers, accurate psychic predictions happen all the time and can help solve cold cases or allow people to speak with the spirits of the departed. Even when mediums' tricks of the trade are exposed, devotees continue to give their money to fraud psychics who prey on the frightened and bereaved.

When psychics use cold reading, hot reading, or other methods to convey messages to clients, they often employ psychological and observational skills honed over a lifetime of practice. But how do psychics read palms? What is cold reading, for that matter? What other cons do mediums employ to convince paying customers they either have a link to the afterlife or the ability to see the future of anyone who crosses their path?

The techniques they use to appear mystically inclined are so simple, yet they have kept people enraptured with the idea of psychics for thousands of years.  

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    Piggybacking

    When a psychic makes a pronouncement to an audience member and it's a miss, they will often claim the information was meant for someone else in the crowd. This is called "piggybacking," and the medium usually explains that the spirits are providing messages at the same time. 

    This technique allows mediums to fish the rest of their audience for a match to the reading. 

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    Casting A Wide Net For A Spirit's Role

    To appear as accurate as possible, a medium or psychic will mention seeing a spirit that held a specific role in the client's life. However, they often throw out multiple options for the client to embrace in an effort to appear all-knowing.

    An example is, "I'm seeing a male behind you, like a father or an uncle or a grandfather or someone outside of the family that was close to you - possibly a father-figure."

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    The 'Sherlock Holmes' Technique

    Psychics make assumptions about clients based on their appearance. They see a wedding band and deduce the client is married or will be soon. A tan may indicate a person is recently returned from a vacation while dark circles under their eyes may be due to sleepless nights. The psychic can use those details to make statements about a person to build credibility for the rest of the reading.

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    Mentioning 'Heart Problems' Or 'Cancer'

    According to a 2017 study, heart disease and cancer are the top two causes of death in the United States. When a medium speaks to a client one-on-one or in front of a large audience, they use these common ailments to convince listeners they are speaking with a loved one who has passed.

    It's a safe bet for mediums: There's a high likelihood the client knows someone who has suffered from one of the conditions.

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