People like games. Games are a lot of fun. Though, some games are unhealthy. Some games are pointless. And some are rigged from the beginning to make fools out of everyone. Sometimes, the only way to win a rigged game is never to sit down at the table in the first place. Other times, you sit down and know you’re going to lose, but you win on another level by just having fun. The real fool is the person who can’t tell what kind of game it is, what’s at stake, and still thinks s/he can win.
So let’s talk about games, psychics, and foolish people. In every middle-to-low income community, in converted sheds and trailers on the outskirts of town, or in the dilapidated offices of old buildings, there’s always a sign that reads, PSYCHIC CONSULTATIONS. People love to make fun of those who go to such advisers. And in many cases, professional psychics have to work outside the city limits because there are still “fraudulent medium” laws on the books from the late 19th and early 20th centuries when seances and spiritism were in vogue. Could they all be con men and hustlers?
If you find a situation where you can watch people near a psychic’s business, you’ll see the well-off travelers glance at those advertisements as they pass by. But they won’t go in, too embarrassed to satisfy their curiosity by even knocking on the door, too convinced that it’s all a bunch of fakery. At least, that’s the stereotype: ignorant gullible people go to psychic readers and desperate smart people go to therapists. Because there’s a difference between those two things, right?
The reality is very different than the stereotype. Nobody wants to be publicly shamed for believing wholeheartedly in psychic phenomena, but actually every sort of person goes to psychics—young, old, rich, poor, smart, gullible, educated, and illiterate. They go when nobody is looking, when they can slip in through the alley, down the poorly lit hallway, to the door with the beveled glass that reads MONEY – LOTTO – ROMANCE – KNOW THE FUTURE – CHANGE YOUR LUCK. It used to be a private investigator’s office, but he went out of business 12 years ago. And now the rent is cheap. But there’s a difference between a psychic reader and a private investigator, right?
Maybe the psychic offers a “candle service” or a “prayer session” or straight-up magic on the side. Maybe that person also teaches Reiki, meditation, yoga, massage, acupuncture, or works with crystals. But everybody knows all that is just unprovable pseudo-science and the placebo effect. There’s a big difference between an “alternative healer” and a regular old doctor, right?
These questions represent interesting games people play with themselves in order to be able to feel alright with the idea that there are things in this world they can’t explain, things they can’t control or even define. It’s hard for them to accept that a good psychic consultant can give you counseling, investigate your problems, and heal you on levels that materialistic science doesn’t even recognize.
Professional readers can and regularly do all those things for their clients. And that’s scary sometimes—scary enough that some people like to play a “ meta-game” called “Fool the Psychic.” This is when they pay good money in order to feel less afraid by coming into a consultation as a hidden skeptic. They ask questions like, “What was my mother’s maiden name? What did I have for breakfast yesterday? Where did my grandfather live for two years when he was taking a break from university?” And they often feed the psychic incorrect information to see if it gets detected.
Some psychics are uselessly gifted to know this kind of trivia and, sadly, those are the only ones who can impress this kind of client. But I’d be cautious of someone who has spent all their time honing the ability to tell you that you had a Denver omelet with black coffee and a side of toast three days ago.
Fool the Psychic is a game for losers. It’s rigged from the beginning and based on fear. Though it may seem fun for a mean-spirited client as a way for him or her to feel clever or overcome their anxieties by trying to put one over on the psychic, it doesn’t do anything but waste money and time. If the psychic passes the “test,” the client learns nothing of value. If the psychic fails, the client has paid for a short feeling of superiority. Then the psychic goes on with his or her life and the client goes on wondering.
Don’t play this game. If you don’t believe, don’t go. If you want to believe, keep an open mind, be courteous, and see how it feels. If you’re afraid of believing because the psychic may represent all the things you cannot understand or control in life, face your fear with sincerity. Maybe buy a tarot deck and a few books on the subject. But if you sit down at the psychic’s table in bad faith, you can be sure that the only person getting conned is you.