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Tags cold reading , mediums , psychics

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Old 30th October 2019, 03:33 PM   #641
arthwollipot
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Originally Posted by Armitage72 View Post
Back in the day I was told that tabletop roleplaying games were dangerous because evil spiritual entities could watch you play, learn intimate details about you that you reveal during the game, and use them to manipulate you. I think I backed away slowly.
I was told that engaging in fantasy actually opened you up so that demons could possess you.

My church was all about demons.
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Old 30th October 2019, 06:27 PM   #642
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
I was told that engaging in fantasy actually opened you up so that demons could possess you.

That's completely correct. Provided that creative imaginative independent thoughts qualify as demons. Which, to the people who were telling you this, they do!
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Old 30th October 2019, 06:33 PM   #643
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Originally Posted by Myriad View Post
That's completely correct. Provided that creative imaginative independent thoughts qualify as demons. Which, to the people who were telling you this, they do!
Indeed! All sorts of things were demonic. Roleplaying games, fortune telling, the Alexander Technique...
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Old 31st October 2019, 03:42 PM   #644
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Christianity is such a fear based religion, demons and what not, it's just awful!
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Old 1st November 2019, 08:31 AM   #645
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Originally Posted by AmyW View Post
Christianity is such a fear based religion, demons and what not, it's just awful!
In my observation the different forms of Christianity really run the gamut. Arthwollipot describes a form of evangelical Christianity that's prevalent in the American South, extending up into the Midwest. It's definitely obsessed with "letting Satan into your heart," and thus makes its member live in perpetual fear of the most innocent activities. But then there are others like the American Episcopalians for whom religion seems to be little more than a Sunday morning social club. Look for the ones running the food pantries and the homeless shelters and free day care centers. That's what I've always imagined Christians should focus on.

The harmful forms of religion seem to be less about creating a god to worship and more about creating a devil to fear. And I think this dynamic operates in areas besides religion. In general, I think you want to beware of people who insist that you're under threat of danger -- especially danger you can't immediately see -- and present themselves as your only deliverance and protection. Similarly you want to beware people who style themselves as the special source of benefits they tell you that you need. That would include self-proclaimed mediums. It's all about making you dependent on them in some way.
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Old 1st November 2019, 09:56 AM   #646
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Originally Posted by JayUtah View Post
In general, I think you want to beware of people who insist that you're under threat of danger -- especially danger you can't immediately see -- and present themselves as your only deliverance and protection.

We've been seeing this in the US for the last 18 years.
"Vote for me or the evil terrorists hiding behind every bush will kill you and your family."
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Old 1st November 2019, 10:16 AM   #647
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Originally Posted by JayUtah View Post
In my observation the different forms of Christianity really run the gamut. Arthwollipot describes a form of evangelical Christianity that's prevalent in the American South, extending up into the Midwest. It's definitely obsessed with "letting Satan into your heart," and thus makes its member live in perpetual fear of the most innocent activities. But then there are others like the American Episcopalians for whom religion seems to be little more than a Sunday morning social club. Look for the ones running the food pantries and the homeless shelters and free day care centers. That's what I've always imagined Christians should focus on.

The harmful forms of religion seem to be less about creating a god to worship and more about creating a devil to fear. And I think this dynamic operates in areas besides religion. In general, I think you want to beware of people who insist that you're under threat of danger -- especially danger you can't immediately see -- and present themselves as your only deliverance and protection. Similarly you want to beware people who style themselves as the special source of benefits they tell you that you need. That would include self-proclaimed mediums. It's all about making you dependent on them in some way.
This. My grandfather was a non denominational protestant pastor in NJ. Spent a lot of time working with the Atlantic City Rescue Mission and Salvation Army. No proselytizing, unless someone asked him about his faith or outlook. No fire and brimstone in his teachings, mostly talking about love and forgiveness and doing the right thing. Helping others was probably the dominant theme. It's really strange to hear how nasty others describe Christian practitioners. Completely at odds with my experience.
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Old 1st November 2019, 10:38 AM   #648
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Back when I was in college, I would sometimes listen to a syndicated radio evangelist for a laugh when I was driving to work after class (It was particularly amusing around Halloween). I remember him being incredibly offended by the ending of the 1995 Casper the Friendly Ghost movie, because it suggested that someone could get into Heaven simply by being a good and kind person and helping people.
The horror.
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Old 1st November 2019, 11:32 AM   #649
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Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
This. My grandfather was a non denominational protestant pastor in NJ. Spent a lot of time working with the Atlantic City Rescue Mission and Salvation Army. No proselytizing, unless someone asked him about his faith or outlook. No fire and brimstone in his teachings, mostly talking about love and forgiveness and doing the right thing. Helping others was probably the dominant theme. It's really strange to hear how nasty others describe Christian practitioners. Completely at odds with my experience.
I've found the same to be true. Perhaps the way to sort the good ones from the bad ones is to check their financials. If they're making (and keeping) quite a lot of money from talking about their gods they can probably be assumed to be doing for the money.

I worked with military chaplains who were very supportive, tolerant, and interested in helping people. In my experience they never pushed their religion on others. I had the quite strange task, as an atheist, while on duty crew at Dhahran AB Saudi Arabia of assisting a Catholic chaplain set up the meeting room in our rec center as a temporary Synagogue for the Passover service. (Out of deference to the Saudis the chapel was always euphemized.) The Rabi was flown in off one of the carriers in the gulf. That chaplain was fun to work with, very interested in other faiths.
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Old 2nd November 2019, 12:27 PM   #650
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Originally Posted by Armitage72 View Post
We've been seeing this in the US for the last 18 years.
"Vote for me or the evil terrorists hiding behind every bush will kill you and your family."
That's so last-election. "Socialist" is the latest politico-economic demon, I think.

Pope130 makes a great point about American military chaplains having to be faith-fluid. I have heard many such stories. Those seem to be good stories of what I envision as religion in action. But he makes a better point about watching the financials. I'd like to expand that to advise paying attention to the whole dynamic between a religion's officiators and its congregants.

I'm reasonably sure Pope130 alluded to the giant mega-churches -- again, a particularly American vernacular. Here, the relationship between congregation and officiator (one part of the dynamic) includes keeping the officiators in a lifestyle that the congregants don't generally enjoy, or even approach. The so-called "prosperity gospel" doesn't seem to have any basis in historical Christian doctrines, but might be considered a perversion of the communal property doctrine. Here clearly there is a power dynamic that results in material wealth migrating almost exclusively in one direction. It's hard to separate it from brazen money-grubbing.

Another part of the dynamic I advise paying attention to is the effect of a religion on the separate personalities of its officiators and congregants, and how they differ. Again we look to mega-churches and officiators like Joel Osteen as egregious bad examples. Regardless of how much money Osteen makes and how much his congregants don't, part of the equation is Osteen's smug duplicity. I'm speaking of the storm Harvey incident. His response was that God wants people to be self-sufficient and trust in the almighty rather than flock to his giant church for shelter and get mud on the carpet. As a result, his followers come to think that the consequences of misfortune are their own fault, and that they shouldn't expect help. In other words, the power dynamic determines not only the flow of wealth, but the emotional and social dispositions of the followers.

There are other religions who respond to tragedies by mobilizing their resources to relieve suffering, without regard to whether the beneficiaries are believers. In these cases the clergy take off their robes and collars and swing the hammer right next to their congregants. This is the power dynamic I would love to see more of in all religions. The leaders of these religions have the power to motivate their congregations for good, to lead by example, and to evolve the moral character of their followers along with their own in ways that everyone can see and appreciate. That's true power used well.

What do we see when we apply these standards to spiritualists? Well, it doesn't matter so much whether they belong to an organized church or whether they are celebrity mediums like John Edwards. I mean, it does. But in the context of this thread, and of the mediums AmyW is likely to encounter, the more subtle aspects of the dynamic are important. I agree the vast majority of mediums are not likely to get rich, nor are necessarily motivated by money. So what's really going on?

As we said before, the medium interposes herself into one of the most sacred relationships, that between the living and their dearly departed dead. The justification is the well-meaning sentiment, "We want to help people feel good in the face of loss." I'm sure part of them believes that. But I'm sure part of them is at least a little bit unsure whether they're actually in contact with the dead. So having someone validate that will tend to dispel any doubts on the medium's side. She may tell herself that she starts out with cold-reading techniques, but by the end of the reading she's really communing with the spirits of the departed -- you know, it just takes a little bit of that fakery to seed the true process. So yeah, that feeling of dependence -- "The living depend on me to talk to their departed friends and relatives" -- is all part of what the medium gets out of it.

And if we go to the posts that have been repaired to a more appropriate thread and see where someone dredged up the publicity for an actual medium, we see the effluence of self-congratulatory nonsense. They may not have perfectly coiffed hair or sparkling teeth or giant churches, but the point of mediumship is clearly to set up the notion that by some criteria that's important to the medium, the medium believes himself to be a better person than the general rabble. They're more "in tune" with the Great Beyond, or they have "spiritual" gifts that are difficult or impossible for anyone else to manifest. Let's hit the nail on the head: they want to believe they have super powers. That's really all the payoff is, or needs to be.

If we turn to the other half of that imbalance, the followers looking to the medium to assuage grief are just going to have salt rubbed in the wound every time the medium pretends that the loved one is still exists somehow, somewhere in a form similar to mortality. This is not helpful grief management. Grief and loss can be very hard for some people to process, and it may take a long time for some. I highly doubt the process that mediums propose to employ results in long term mental strength and health. Sure I miss my father, but the companionship and wisdom I valued in that relationship has transitioned to more appropriate pursuits. The lesson to parents in that example is to parent so that your children don't have to throw themselves desperately on fortune-tellers to wonder whether you loved them and are proud of them.

This is why I don't really oppose the terms "grief vultures" or "grief parasites" to describe mediums who like to think they're helping people work through grief. They aren't. They're just feeding their own delusions by prolonging and amplifying the suffering of others.

Even where recent death is not involved, telling people they had long-dead, never-known siblings and so forth still has a profound effect on the way people live. Finding out that you were not the first but the second child changes the way you think about your parents, whether they're still alive or not. It undoes whatever heroic efforts the parents may have gone to in order to achieve a stable family. How families decide to move on from unpleasantness is really not any stranger's business.

Even in the seemingly most benign case of people simply seeking spiritual advice, the premise of where that advice comes from matters. A friend recently bought his first house, built in the 1970s, and is remodeling it. He comes to me for advice, knowing that I'm good with tools and with home repair and maintenance. Not all of my advice works for him. But because I'm honest about where it comes from, he's also consulting licensed carpenters and other people. Let's face it: we all seek advice from people and thus invite them to interpose between us and our problems in some way. But someone seeking advice from a person who claims to have super powers is probably not treating that advice properly. He's probably giving it far more weight than it deserves.

I know how to work on houses because my dad built the house I lived in growing up, and he showed me how to build houses by helping me finish out some of the rooms in it as I grew older. I went back to him for advice because, as I moved out on my own, I ran into situations I hadn't learned about. At a certain point, Dad said, "I don't know how to fix that either." In other words, I transitioned away from depending on his advice and toward needing to make my own way. We convey knowledge and we give advice in the hope that people will eventually become more self-sufficient. We want them to have the courage and confidence to face problems on their own, not labor perpetually under the delusion that someone else always knows better just because she pretends to commune with the Great Beyond.

If the behavior and attitude of the congregant is that of a host satisfying its parasite, then it doesn't reflect what I consider a healthy relationship.

We've pared away the differences between kinds of Christians, and now I think we need to pare away the differences between different people in these various pursuits. It's the people who are good or bad, or somewhere in between. Over in Religion and Spirituality we talk at length about the accused evils of the Roman Catholics. And I've railed plenty against the Mormons. But you have to find a way in your mind to see both the excesses and evils of an organization and the altruisms of some of the individuals in it. It's facile to say that a Catholic chaplain in a war zone behaves altruistically because he's a good Catholic, or in spite of how Catholicism oppresses some. It's more informative to look at actual people and consider all the factors dispassionately that make them who they are.
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Old 4th November 2019, 12:48 AM   #651
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Why do people feel the need to believe in a god? One thing that I can't understand is people claiming that they have felt the Holy Spirit, is the HS just a chemical reaction?
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Old 4th November 2019, 05:58 AM   #652
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Originally Posted by AmyW View Post
Why do people feel the need to believe in a god? One thing that I can't understand is people claiming that they have felt the Holy Spirit, is the HS just a chemical reaction?
That's outside the scope of this thread, I'd say start a thread in the Religion section to discuss that.
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Old 4th November 2019, 06:52 PM   #653
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Originally Posted by AmyW View Post
Why do people feel the need to believe in a god? One thing that I can't understand is people claiming that they have felt the Holy Spirit, is the HS just a chemical reaction?
Mostly dopamine, seratonin, and oxytocin, actually.
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Old 4th November 2019, 07:10 PM   #654
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Originally Posted by AmyW View Post
Why do people feel the need to believe in a god?
Sex, usually.
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Old 5th November 2019, 08:53 AM   #655
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Originally Posted by AmyW View Post
Why do people feel the need to believe in a god? One thing that I can't understand is people claiming that they have felt the Holy Spirit, is the HS just a chemical reaction?
There are epileptics who have a religious experience every time they have a seizure, which might give you a clue.
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Old 5th November 2019, 08:59 AM   #656
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Originally Posted by Pope130 View Post
I've found the same to be true. Perhaps the way to sort the good ones from the bad ones is to check their financials. If they're making (and keeping) quite a lot of money from talking about their gods they can probably be assumed to be doing for the money.

I worked with military chaplains who were very supportive, tolerant, and interested in helping people. In my experience they never pushed their religion on others. I had the quite strange task, as an atheist, while on duty crew at Dhahran AB Saudi Arabia of assisting a Catholic chaplain set up the meeting room in our rec center as a temporary Synagogue for the Passover service. (Out of deference to the Saudis the chapel was always euphemized.) The Rabi was flown in off one of the carriers in the gulf. That chaplain was fun to work with, very interested in other faiths.
The monsignor at my parents' church (the same church to which they dragged me when I was growing up) is a pretty chill guy. I went and talked to him one time as a sort of Hail Mary (haha!) when I was having a hard time and couldn't afford therapy. He was all right. He didn't shock anywhere near as easily as I'd have expected. And he didn't push returning to Jesus as the only answer to my problems. (He did suggest it as something to try at the end of our session, though. I told him I'd think about it and never went back.)

Zero fire and brimstone. Relatively few platitudes. Good listener. I give him a solid B+.
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Old 5th November 2019, 09:09 AM   #657
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Originally Posted by AmyW View Post
Why do people feel the need to believe in a god? One thing that I can't understand is people claiming that they have felt the Holy Spirit, is the HS just a chemical reaction?
I think many people feel the need to believe in some kind of higher power because they badly want the mysteries of life and the world to make a little more sense. No one knows what we're doing here, or what the world even is (objectively speaking). The universe it bigger than we can comprehend, full of violence and supernovas and incomprehensible periods of time. Believing some guy or guys in the sky have some kind of plan for us can be comforting in certain respects. It can also, however, be very frightening if you think about it too hard. A lot of people go back and forth on wanting to believe for this or similar reasons.

As for the HS being a chemical reaction, well, pretty much every feeling we experience is just that. So yes. People who describe being touched by the spirit describe a sort of ecstasy, or at least a significant burst of serotonin. You can get that from tons of things other than pondering gods. Looking at the Grand Canyon can trigger it. Sex can trigger it. Watching a really great movie or reading a brilliant book can do it. Drugs can do it. Holding a newborn baby in your arms can do it. It just depends on the individual.

I personally feel nothing when I stand in a grand-looking church and hear the swells of the congregation singing a hymn. My heart is just empty. When I hear prayers and sermons, even if the words themselves are beautiful, I remain feeling empty. On the other hand, I have been brought to tears by the sheer beauty of a friend's supportive hand on my shoulder. It's all chemicals, really, and they work a bit differently for everybody.

****, that got rambly. I swear I am 100% sober, hahaha.

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Old 5th November 2019, 09:21 AM   #658
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Originally Posted by Pixel42 View Post
There are epileptics who have a religious experience every time they have a seizure, which might give you a clue.
Since I just commented on it in another thread, I may as well wheel it out here as well. Having had one of those NDE deals, I can actually understand why it is that some interpret it as a godly event. It really is that bizarre that one could easily imagine people struggling for explanations. In my case, the anesthetist was asleep at the wheel such that I emerged mid op, and such blunders are shockingly common. My eldest had an emergency appendectomy some years back. On the slab, he was telling the anesthetist that he couldn't breathe. A series of soothing blandishments followed. Breathe deeply and soon you will be fast asleep. Nevertheless, he insisted he could not breathe until eventually, the anesthetist casually said Oops, forgot to turn on the gas. Meanwhile, abaddon Jr is having coniptions after all my pre-op reassurance.

Amusing anecdote in hindsight which now gets japed, but WTF?
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Old 5th November 2019, 09:31 AM   #659
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Originally Posted by isissxn View Post
The monsignor at my parents' church (the same church to which they dragged me when I was growing up) is a pretty chill guy. I went and talked to him one time as a sort of Hail Mary (haha!) when I was having a hard time and couldn't afford therapy. He was all right. He didn't shock anywhere near as easily as I'd have expected. And he didn't push returning to Jesus as the only answer to my problems. (He did suggest it as something to try at the end of our session, though. I told him I'd think about it and never went back.)

Zero fire and brimstone. Relatively few platitudes. Good listener. I give him a solid B+.
I tend to find most in the priesthood to individually be stand-up genuinely nice folks. Their particular flavour of religion is at best peripheral. It would not matter which deity they subscribed to. It is their nature to be so good or not.

Sadly there is another subset, A different and darker subset. Alone, that is not enough to hand out condemnation. Such subsets exist in postmen, or electricians, or CEOs or whatever. Such is the human condition. The real problem emerges when the clergy closes ranks to actively conceal the crimes.
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Old 5th November 2019, 09:47 AM   #660
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Originally Posted by abaddon View Post
I tend to find most in the priesthood to individually be stand-up genuinely nice folks. Their particular flavour of religion is at best peripheral. It would not matter which deity they subscribed to. It is their nature to be so good or not.

Sadly there is another subset, A different and darker subset. Alone, that is not enough to hand out condemnation. Such subsets exist in postmen, or electricians, or CEOs or whatever. Such is the human condition. The real problem emerges when the clergy closes ranks to actively conceal the crimes.
Yes, and the bad apples in the world of clergy can often be (basically) like supervillains, in the sense that they've convinced so many people that they hold the ultimate spiritual answers. This allows them to act outrageously while still falling ass-backwards into pools of fawning defenders.
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Old 5th November 2019, 10:42 AM   #661
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Originally Posted by AmyW View Post
Why do people feel the need to believe in a god? One thing that I can't understand is people claiming that they have felt the Holy Spirit, is the HS just a chemical reaction?
For some they actually do believe they are feeling the holy spirit. When I was younger, I felt the same thing. I grew up Pentecostal, speaking in tongues, falling out in the spirit, dancing, shouting and such were normal and it's hard to explain but something does come over you and in that moment you do actually feel like the spirit of God is in you. It's not a chemical reaction, but I do think it's a reaction to the feeling around you.

Now I'm no longer religious and I view such things as release. Afterwards you feel better, you feel happier and with that, I think, people are releasing stresses in their lives in a way that helps them, it can be contagious if you are in a good service and something moves you.


I have nothing on speaking in tongues, I've done it when I was a teen but I have nothing to explain why I did it, as even back then it was weird to me for someone to speak in tongues and then have someone else interprets what you said.
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Old 6th November 2019, 06:39 AM   #662
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Originally Posted by abaddon View Post
Since I just commented on it in another thread, I may as well wheel it out here as well. Having had one of those NDE deals, I can actually understand why it is that some interpret it as a godly event.

Similarly, I've experienced the combination of sleep paralysis and hypnopompic hallucination, waking up in the middle of the night unable to move, with what appeared to be shadowy figures moving around my bed, and then going back to sleep. It's easy to see why someone unfamiliar with those phenomena and having appropriate preconceptions might think aliens or demons.
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Old 7th November 2019, 06:01 AM   #663
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Old 7th November 2019, 08:28 AM   #664
Darat
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Originally Posted by Wudang View Post
Confessions of a former astrologer

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeands...works-psychics
Not sure if it has been mentioned in this thread , but suggest folk interested in how the business (and it is a business) of mediums and the like work should read M. Lamar Keene's Psychic Mafia. It's out of print but I have seen PDFs of it on the Web. It's the "confession" of a successful medium and in it he explains the many means used to dupe people. The time period is the 1970s but it shows even back then how organised the mediums were. Drop in today's technology and it would be simpler than ever to run the scam.
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Old 7th November 2019, 09:26 AM   #665
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Originally Posted by Wudang View Post
Confessions of a former astrologer

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeands...works-psychics
What an interesting read. I liked the quote about astrology being a word-association game.
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Old 7th November 2019, 09:50 AM   #666
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Darat mentioned Keene. I haven't found a free version of his book, but this is informative:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M._Lamar_Keene
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Old 7th November 2019, 09:56 AM   #667
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My younger sister works for a local paper, heading up the advertising section. She regularly contributes the daily astrology chart as part of a turn based system undertaken by various bods as a chore.

If they're not copy/pasting from years back they're (you'll be surprised to read) making it up.
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Old 7th November 2019, 11:03 AM   #668
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Originally Posted by bluesjnr View Post
If they're not copy/pasting from years back they're (you'll be surprised to read) making it up.
In one of Douglas Adams' Dirk Gently novels Dirk gloomily reads his horoscope in his paper, which is predicting something awful. It is later revealed that (as Dirk well knows) the guy who writes the horoscopes knows and hates him, and deliberately makes up terrible predictions for his sign just to annoy him. The author adds that the circulation of the paper has recently dropped by about a twelfth, to the mystification of its owners.
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Old 7th November 2019, 11:16 AM   #669
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Originally Posted by wasapi View Post
What an interesting read. I liked the quote about astrology being a word-association game.
I like this one-:

Quote:
I would weave a story and, later, the customer’s memory would add new elements. I got to test this theory after a friend raved about a reading she’d had, full of astonishingly accurate predictions. She had a tape of the session, so I asked her to play it.

The clairvoyant had said none of the things my friend claimed. Not a single one. My friend’s imagination had done all the work.
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Old 7th November 2019, 06:11 PM   #670
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Originally Posted by wasapi View Post
What an interesting read. I liked the quote about astrology being a word-association game.
If you haven't read them before, you may be interested in my descriptions of how Tarot cards "work". They're pretty old, but I'll see if I can wrangle the search function and find a couple of links.

Here's a pretty good post I made on the subject some time ago. It's probably the most detailed and complete description of the way I approach Tarot.

Here's a thread where I actually did a couple of Tarot readings. Shame I never went back to that.

Anyone want a reading?
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Old 7th November 2019, 08:37 PM   #671
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Arth, I read that thread, and

a. Why didn't you do the other readings?

b. What was your grandfather's middle name?
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Old 7th November 2019, 09:12 PM   #672
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Originally Posted by xterra View Post
Arth, I read that thread, and

a. Why didn't you do the other readings?
To be honest, I'm not entirely sure. I think 12AX7 may have been banned before being able to return and tell us about the result of their court case, and I suppose I just forgot about the rest.

Originally Posted by xterra View Post
b. What was your grandfather's middle name?
It was JihadJane who was asking for their grandfather's middle name.
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Old 7th November 2019, 10:31 PM   #673
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
It was JihadJane who was asking for their grandfather's middle name.

I know it was JihadJane that asked the question -- but I was teasing you.
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Old 8th November 2019, 12:03 AM   #674
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Originally Posted by xterra View Post
I know it was JihadJane that asked the question -- but I was teasing you.
Just because you know that I don't remember my grandfather's middle name...
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Old 8th November 2019, 03:32 AM   #675
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For a while I played with the I Ching and found it moderately useful. 3 reasons, basically you're casting your problem into words and that changes how you look at it. In the process of relating it to the blatherings of the I Ching you take your problem apart. And finally if presented with an answer you realise you don't like you'll choose the other.

Nowadays I just talk to the duck. Much more straighforward.
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Old 8th November 2019, 05:31 AM   #676
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At archive.org you can download free books and articles by and about Harry Houdini. Many include details about how the spiritualists of the time pulled off their cons.

https://archive.org/details/1924Houd...mongTheSpirits

Most people are probably aware that Houdini spent many years exposing spiritualists as con artists, but many might not know that before that he actually performed a spiritualist act. He and his team would go canvas a town when they arrive to learn secrets that they would "magically" reveal during the performance. Apparently, people like to gossip even to strangers.
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Old 8th November 2019, 05:59 AM   #677
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Originally Posted by Wudang View Post
Confessions of a former astrologer

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeands...works-psychics
I've just read this and am amazed, so informative and she explains her cons perfectly and how she did it
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Old 8th November 2019, 06:09 AM   #678
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Originally Posted by jadebox View Post
At archive.org you can download free books and articles by and about Harry Houdini. Many include details about how the spiritualists of the time pulled off their cons.

https://archive.org/details/1924Houd...mongTheSpirits

Most people are probably aware that Houdini spent many years exposing spiritualists as con artists, but many might not know that before that he actually performed a spiritualist act. He and his team would go canvas a town when they arrive to learn secrets that they would "magically" reveal during the performance. Apparently, people like to gossip even to strangers.
In one of those books by Houdini you can find the story I have related more than once on this forum. Here is my version of it on a much earlier thread:

"Are you aware of the magician Harry Kellar? He was one of the premier magicians at roughly the time of Houdini. He was on a tour overseas when he gave a reading to a man he had never met before. Kellar told the young man that he (the young man) was traveling under an assumed name, and he told him his real name. He told him where he was from in the United States and the name of his parents. He also told him that he was about to receive a letter from his mother.

All of what Kellar told the young man turned out to be true. The man was flabbergasted; there was no one around who knew that his traveling name was false, let alone what his real name was. There was no one who knew where he was from or his parents' names. Most impressively, he had not communicated with his parents in a very long time, and there was no way Kellar could have predicted that a letter was coming from his mother.

All of which is at least as impressive as what you are relating. I would say that the prediction of the letter is more impressive. And Kellar did it without psychic abilities."

And here is my response when the believer with whom I was engaging insisted I tell him where to find the documentation and how it was done:

"It is findable, which is one reason I gave few specifics. More importantly, most people who find out how he did it will be immensely disappointed. Most importantly, in my experience the believers who find out the specific methods for such things invalidly use it to defend their interpretations of their own experience. They will usually say something along the lines of "That obviously isn't what happened in my case, therefore I am justified in claiming real psychic ability for the person I visited."

It profoundly misses the point. Even setting aside faulty memory (which we really cannot do here), there is not just one method for giving the appearance of psychic ability; some of those methods are planned, and some simply take advantage of of elements of the situation that the sitter is unaware of. And they are not static. The methods used today may not be the methods used next week, even with the same sitter."
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Old 8th November 2019, 06:29 AM   #679
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
If you haven't read them before, you may be interested in my descriptions of how Tarot cards "work". They're pretty old, but I'll see if I can wrangle the search function and find a couple of links.

Here's a pretty good post I made on the subject some time ago. It's probably the most detailed and complete description of the way I approach Tarot.

Similar to your post, I read a book years ago that had a section on performing Tarot readings for yourself. It basically amounted to studying the images on the cards while thinking about the meanings traditionally associated with them, letting your mind wander, and seeing what pops into your head. A slightly more guided version of looking at a relaxing picture while thinking about a problem.
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