Recently, I had a woman come up to me after my show and ask what I thought about Psychics. Are they real? Is there any validity to them? I told her that the only real supernatural I believe in (after much research into the subject) is what is talked about in the Bible. I do have an obvious bias here, but I also have done my research.
First, do I believe that someone could read fortunes by a spirit, even if it is an evil spirit like a demon? Yes. In Acts 16:16ff it talks about a girl “who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling.”
Do I believe that most modern psychics and fortune tellers are using demons? No. Nor do I believe that crystals and the like have supernatural powers. I know how to perform the illusion of reading minds. I know how to stack a deck of card (which could be regular playing cards or Tarot cards). I have read books on palm reading where the book basically said, “Make the fortune encouraging, but not too great and clean cut or the person will not believe it…” Modern Psychics are entertainers or know how to read people (like mentalists) and are really good at tickling peoples ears and then unloading their wallets.
So how do they do it? They use something called “Barnum Statements.” P.T. Barnum (co-founder of Barnum & Bailey’s Circus) is famous for saying two things: “We have something for everyone!” & “There’s a sucker born every minute!” Both are true here. A “Barnum Statement” is statement that could be true of most any human being, but we make personal to ourselves.
In 1948, phycologist Bertram R. Forer tested this theory out by telling his students that he would give them all an unique personality analysis based on very limited information given by the student. When the students received the analysis back the students gave them a 4.26 out of 5 for being uniquely accurate of their personality. The problem was that everyone received the exact same analysis. This is how most modern psychics give fortunes…
In case you’re wondering if it works, here’s the analysis that Forer gave his students. Try it out on a friend or co-worker–have them give you their full birthday, and then pretend to think about it for a while, then copy and paste the following to them:
You have a great need for other people to like and admire you. You have a tendency to be critical of yourself. You have a great deal of unused capacity which you have not turned to your advantage. While you have some personality weaknesses, you are generally able to compensate for them. Disciplined and self-controlled outside, you tend to be worrisome and insecure inside. At times you have serious doubts as to whether you have made the right decision or done the right thing. You prefer a certain amount of change and variety and become dissatisfied when hemmed in by restrictions and limitations. You pride yourself as an independent thinker and do not accept others’ statements without satisfactory proof. You have found it unwise to be too frank in revealing yourself to others. At times you are extroverted, affable, sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary, reserved. Some of your aspirations tend to be pretty unrealistic. Security is one of your major goals in life.