Recently I was flicking through  one of the vapid women’s magazines at work (distinct from the puerile men’s magazines) when I happened across a psychic reading but an alleged Medium. As I was wondering why there didn’t seem to be a single magazine aimed at women nowadays that doesn’t contain something of this sort I realised that it was a perfect example of how these “Mediums” operate and get away with pulling the wool over the eyes of those whose only crime is to want to communicate with their loved one one last time. So here is my deconstruction of a magazine Medium. I will show it here as it is displayed in the magazine, with a brief letter from the bereaved, followed by the reading, completed by a follow-up letter from the the bereaved, whom I will refer to as the subject. For the sake of simplicity I will assume the entire communication between the Medium and the subject is represented in full by these exchanges. To keep everything straight I will number each point made by the Medium to reference throughout the subject’s reply letter. All identifying names have been changed.

Subject’s Initial letter:

Brad died 16 years ago while I was pregnant with his daughter. I would
like to know if he, or any other spirits around me, have any messages for
his daughter or myself.
Alison.

Medium’s Reading:

This guy is saying, ‘How did I end up here?’[1] He is a deep
thinker and seems quiet and reserved with me.[2] He’s telling
me about drugs[3] and says there were problems with girls.[4] I hear
the words ‘neck’[5] and ‘snap’.[6] He says, I’m sorry’[7]

There are two sides to every story.[8] His own story has not
been heard.[9] He says, ‘I wanted to make a difference with my
life.[10] I wanted to be someone.[11] I feel broken.[12] I tried to make
it work, but I couldn’t.’[13] He says,’Leave me alone,
I don’t need your help.[14] People talked about me. It hurt me,
and my family.’[15]

He seems to have a battle inside him about who he was
– about being accepted or not.[16] He is saying the names Ted[17] and
Anthony or Tony.[18] He’s bringing in a man who passed suddenly with
a heart attack.[19] He is standing at his side with his hand on his chest.[20]

I’m hearing the word John or Joana.[21] This young lad must have been
tormented a lot at school.[22] He liked i schoolwork but he didn’t like beings
teased.[23] He says, 1 have been trying to get through for a longtime, but
no one has been listening to me. It’s important to say that I miss my
family and friends[24] and I’m truly sorry for the heartache I caused.[25]

Now he is talking about his funeral. My service was A1. Spot
on with the choices of songs,[26] and I am placed in such a peaceful
environment. Thank you’. He is showing me a lot of young
people at his service.[27] He is talking about being ID’d, Did
someone have to identify him?[28]

Now I’m seeing newspaper photos[29] and a blue trampoline.[30]
I see cricket bats[31] and a goldfish tank.[32] There’s a lot of junk here.
His room was cluttered with all sorts of things.[33] He is talking
about technical drawing skills[34] about layout and design.[35]
December is important[36] He showing me a big letter B.[37]
He is saying he is one of three kids[38] and that the person
who sent his photo will have building renovating around
them.[39] He says you are looking nice[40] and also tells me that you
need a new lawn.[41]

Subject’s Response:

The photo was probably taken around 17 years ago at a friend’s
wedding. At the time of Brad’s passing, he was 20 years old
and a big part of my life.
Kelvin’s comments about Brad’s death being self-inflicted were
right After hearing the reading, some of the things that rang true
included the way that he died.
Brad had a sense of humour once you got to know him, but
normally he was quiet[2] He was one of three children.[38]
He said the name John,[21] which is my father, and the man he is
with is my grandad Charles, who had a heart attack.[19] I don’t think
he knew them when he was alive. I wish that he had
said something about our daughter.
He once told me that kids had picked on him at school,[22]
so that part of the reading was right
He also talked about drawing. I have pictures he drew that
he showed me when We first got together.[34] They
were portraits. One was of me sitting on a stool. They were very
good – I still have them.
Welcome to our World and Down on the Farm were the songs at his .
funeral, and they were his favourites[26] He sang them all the time.
He mentioned the letter ‘B’ [37] and December,[36] which probably stands
for his name and his birthday on Boxing Day
I thought it was funny that he mentioned I needed a new lawn.[41]
There were a lot of weeds in an area of my lawn where I wanted
to put a barbecue, and I recently sprayed it, so now the lawn’s dead.
I would like to thank Kelvin for the reading. It was very important
to me to hear that Brad misses his family and friends.

So, for a start lets count up the hits. In fairness I’ll admit that what I counted was somewhat arbitrary, but I don’t think I’m more than two or three out in either the predictions (for lack of a better term) or confirmed hits. Tallying up what the subject responded to gives us about 10 hits. Out of 40 predictions (he threw them out thick and fast once you broke it down) that’s 25% right. Not bad I think. lets take them in the order he gave, I will rate the predictions as Hit, Miss or Indeterminate based on the subject’s responses:

[1]. I included this one as it speaks to the deceased’s state of mind after death and as such may find resonance with the subjects’ sense of loss or the speed of the passing of the deceased.

Rating: Miss

[2]. This is a good one, people are seldom 1 dimensional characters, they have facets of personality and the subject hints at this in her response “Brad had a sense of humour once you got to know him, but normally he was quiet“. If you know someone intimately you will eventually see all of these sides and be able to recognise almost any characteristic as relating to your loved one. Indeed, judging from the reply here the reading could have made the complete opposite claim and still have been a hit in the subject’s eyes.

Rating: Hit

[3]. This one is trickier as the drugs are not specified, they could be prescription, illicit or over the counter. Thus there is a wide net being cast here. In any case the subject does not confirm any drug related issues, nor if true would I expect her to.

Rating: Indeterminate

[4]. Again this is vague and could refer to almost any situation involving a female.

Rating: Indeterminate

[5]. [6]. [7]. I’ve grouped these together as the subject at least seems to interpret them as refering to her loved one’s death. However I numbered them separately as thy are all distict claims. The subject appears to be fitting the prediction to the facts as there are a number of interpretations that could be made and self inflicted death is not one that immediately springs to mind for me.

Rating: Miss

[8]. [9]. [10]. [11].  Again, this is banal to the point of ridiculousness. Of course there are multiple sides to a story and of course a private individual has much of their life which isn’t made public, basically by definition. Also, everyone wants to have made a difference and to be considered to have been worthy and appreciated, to “Be someone” if only to our friends and family.

Rating: Miss

[12]. [13]. [14]. Through the vicissitudes of life who hasn’t felt these emotions? Once more, these could apply to anyone.

Rating: Miss

[15]. Here we have a slightly more substantial claim, that of possible controversy around the family. The subject is mute on this point.

Rating: Indeterminate

[16]. Another platitude about life.

Rating: Miss

[17]. [18]. No mention of the owners of these names, given the stretching to find a connection with other parts of the reading this does not bode well.

Rating: Miss

[19]. [20]. [21]. The subject matches these to her father and grandfather even though her loved one never had any connection with them. I really hope the afterlife isn’t one long family reunion.

Rating: Hit

[22]. [23]. I’m sorry but who likes being teased? And to my mind once metioning that “kids had picked on him at school” does not constitute being tormented. I was teased at school, I suspect a large proportion of the population also were.

Rating: Hit

[24]. Another comment on the normal human experience, I would have been surprised if he said he didn’t miss his family.

Rating: Miss

[25]. Who hasn’t caused heartache that they regret? Even the most careful person can’t please everyone all of the time.

Rating: Miss

[26]. If my family don’t play songs I like at my funeral then I refuse to participate in the after party.

Rating: Hit

[27]. Come on, the guy didn’t die in a nursing home, of course there are going to be young people at his funeral. Way to go Sherlock.

Rating: Miss

[28]. I think that often if people die away from their family and friends they would need to be identified. The subject does not mention the circumstances surrounding his death so this one can’t be judged.

Rating: Indeterminate

[29]. No mention of a media presence in the deceased’s life but newspaper photo could also have refered to obituary postings. In either case no response from the subject.

Rating: Miss

[30]. Everyone loves trampolines! No? oh well.

Rating: Miss

[31]. [32]. Not hitting a six with these two it would seem.

Rating: Miss

[33]. Clutter? Really? That’s you’re great psychic insight? Sorry.

Rating: Miss

[34]. [35]. I’m sorry, but portraits are art, not design. Have to go against the subject on this one.

Rating: Miss

[36]. [37]. Suddenly, after speaking clearly all this time (trampoline?) the deceased is reduced to spelling out his name? The subject to obviously undergoing some contortions to make this fit. It was a luck break that his birthday is on Boxing Day but I can think of at least one other reason why December might be considered important and I don’t think it’s limited to this one individual.

Rating: Hit

[38]. Ok, this is the best of the bunch. Very impressive. Spot on. What can I say, well I can reasonably assume that the magazine was privy to the subject’s last name and address and possibly passed this on to the medium with the letter. Along with the length of time given since the death he now has information that could be used to track down further details from obituaries with a little effort. But still quite good.

Rating: Hit

[39]. Another good specific one, even if the delivery is a little formal considering the intimate connection, but no follow up from the subject. I’m tempted to label it a miss but let’s be generous.

Rating: Indeterminate

[40]. Who doesn’t like complements from beyond the grave. A picture was given of a woman who is probably the subject but I don’t think I can really comment on the accuracy of this one.

Rating: Indeterminate

[41]. A new lawn, what the meaning of life too difficult? OK, this one ain’t bad either but really, unless you’re a grass obsessed freak this can apply to anyone.

Rating: Hit

Now frankly I consider this guy and his ilk the scum of the Earth, feeding on the grief of others and prolonging pain for their own benefit. This particular medium also has a TV career as one of the resident psychics on the Australian/New Zealand show “Sensing Murder“. Where the family members of murder victims, where the case is unsolved, are exploited by the production company and these so called psychics for ratings an publicity. But I digress, to the matter at hand. The remarkable thing about this reading is how unremarkable the topics covered were. They were more generic observations of the human condition instead of the distillation of a lifetime of knowledge gleaned from peering through the veil of death. Teased out and displayed one by one as here it is almost trivially easy to show that this is the case and yet people by their thousand flock to those that spew these inanities. I can’t blame them, who if given the chance would pass up the opportunity to communicate with a loved one just one more time? I’m lucky enough not to have lost a close family member or friend but the temptation to think of them as looking down at me from on high, that their life had not simply been snuffed out would be great I think. In the end I’m not fooling anyone here, if you belived in psychic mediums before reading this, you still do, if not, you still don’t. I just hope I’ve given everyone something else to think about.

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