The Fake Medium — not just for skeptics

I appreciate not everyone believes in the afterlife. Feel free to stop right here and choose another topic. However, before you do, let me float these thoughts;

  1. It's pretty much impossible that we are here on the planet anyway, let alone attempting to write a blog. So, if everything is actually impossible, doesn’t that make everything possible, including talking to dead people? Because
  2. It’s assumed that humans can see light only within a certain spectrum and hear sounds only within a certain frequency. Given the whole spectacular process of reproduction — in which nature doesn’t always get it ‘right’ — surely it’s possible the occasional human being could be wired just outside of these frequencies, resulting in them seeing and hearing things the rest of us don't’??

Be open-minded, is what I’m saying. I haven’t ruled it out for the above reasons and personal experience. I once had a reading from a clairvoyant medium who told me not say a word (this was over the telephone, so she didn’t want me giving clues away) and went on to give me a fabulously (disturbing) accurate reading. Another clairvoyant could look at a photo of you and tell you exactly what was going on in your life without you even being present. Hmm.

My mother was engrossed in spiritualism and as a teenager, I quickly adopted a fascination for it. She didn’t encourage me but answered my questions honestly and I respected her beliefs. I saw the incredulous look on people’s faces when they heard something so personal to them that they briefly held their breath. The reactions of skeptics were interesting too; a momentary glance of disbelief before dismissing the information as a lucky guess. The possibility of something else existing outside of the life we already know is, quite frankly, too scary for some to consider.

My interest in the afterlife continued until my 30s when a rather traumatic event, and a discussion with a clairvoyant medium, made me realise I was turning to readings whenever a life-changing decision was to be made (usually in my relationships). I was doing this for the wrong reasons. I needed to find the confidence to make my own decisions without ‘outside’ influence and separate my beliefs from my need for reassurance. Whilst it would be another twenty years before I finally found that confidence (yep), I never dismissed the possibility that certain people had a gift for speaking to the dead. Or not, as it may seem…

A few months ago, a friend of mine repeated her wish for her, my daughter and me to see a local medium. After many weeks of consideration, I decided my head was in a good place and I didn’t need to go, but I’d part with my money and see. Naturally, I wanted it to be a memorable experience.

It certainly was.

I sat and cringed my way through 30 minutes of utter guesswork by this man. It was like being at the dentist, only cheaper and more painful. His technique was so basic that I’m sure my son was doing something very similar at the age of 4 in a fact-finding mission. I felt annoyed and embarrassed by the thought that he thought I believed him and that he was ripping off other people who maybe wouldn’t question it (the skeptics would be raising their eyebrows way before all this, of course). My two accomplices did not see through him at all, even though he was using information from each sitting to tell the next person some nugget of information that he’d learned from the person before. It was the classic skeptic view of wanting to believe any old rubbish. My stance is that it’s not all rubbish, as I may have mentioned.

So, let me shamelessly paraphrase my Fake Medium and explain his technique in practice: -

Hi! Have you been to a medium before? I can find out if you ‘believe’ to start off with as it sure makes my job easier, lol. Who came through? I will tell you they’ve come through again and call them the name you do, i.e., Grandma, Nan etc. How easy is that?

You want to record me? Good Lord no! There’s no need. I’m going to sit about 10 feet away from you with my notepad and pen and I’ll write everything down. By the time you get to look at this paper, I’d have had your money.

Now, please. Only answer yes or no. This really helps my particular technique. I’ll watch your body language and note the speed at which you answer, then work everything out from there. I’ll have alternative answers ready on the pad. If I get it wrong I’ll show you these and say, ‘See? I knew it wasn’t right! I had the right answer written here all along!’ Of course, if I repeatedly do this, I will tell you this is my style, used to create further mystery! And if I actually get it right, I’ll have to disguise the wrong answer on my pad by overwriting it with something else, so excuse me if there’s a delay whilst I pretend I’m hearing voices.

Obviously, I’m only going to talk about dead grandmothers or dead grandads because I can see that you’re old enough for both of these to have passed away. If not, I’ll pretend they’re your great Gma or Gdad. It’s a win-win for me.

Later, when you do your research, you’ll also find out that I tell everyone the same thing; that you didn’t get to say goodbye. This usually works because most people are young when their grandparents die and I suspect your parents didn’t let you see them.

And so on and so forth.

So let’s look at how he ‘evidences’ his skill: -

Example 1:

He’s writing the number 1 on a piece of paper, and the word CHILD.

Him: You’re from a large family?

Me: (hesitates) Yes

Him: But not really large like 5 or 6?

Me: No

Him: But you’re not from a small family?

Me: No

Him: I’m thinking 3 children?

I’m thinking he needs help.

Me: 4

He writes on the pad.

Him: See? I said 4!

He shows me his pad from the other side of the room, proud as punch.

His proof: He’s changed the number 1 into a number 4, and added the letters REN to the word ‘CHILD’ so it now looks like he always had ‘4 CHILDREN’ written on the pad.

Example 2:

Him: You have a dog.

Me: What, in spirit or here?

Him: Er, the one standing there with your Nan.

He looks over by the door where I can see nothing, turns back to his pad and writes down BROWN/BLACK.

Him: Is your dog is white?

You tell me, Mr Fake, you’re the one looking at him.

Me: No

Him: Is he brown?

Me: Yes

He pauses and writes on his pad.

Him: I knew that!

He shows me the pad as proof, again.

His proof: He’s overwritten the word ‘BLACK’ with ‘DOG’ to make it look like he’s written BROWN DOG. Impressive stuff.

Example 3

Him: You’ve just had your birthday…

I pause.

Him: Sometime back in the year…?

Me: Yes

Him: It was in January, February, March, April…? (eyeing me intently)

I must have flinched somewhere around March.

Him: March!

Me: Yes

Him: But you weren’t born at the end of March were you?

Me: No (hesitantly, but he doesn’t see it.)

Him: But it wasn’t between the 1st and the 10th?

Me: No

Him: Nor between 20th–27th?

Me: No

Him: Not between 11th–17th?

Me: No

He pauses and writes down the number 18.

Him: Its the 18th, isn’t it?

Me: No

He’s not happy.

Him: When is it???

Me: The 28th.

Him: I knew that! (scribbles). See! I wrote it down!

His proof: He overwrites the 1 into a 2, making his original number 18 look like the number 28.

What the fuck has this got to do with my dead relatives anyway, Mr Fake?

Example 4:

He informs me that he is going to tell me my Grandad’s name (bet you’ve never had anyone do that, eh?). He uses a process of elimination to guess it’s a 3 letter word with the middle letter ‘E’. As it did not have a ‘B’ or an ‘N’ in it and therefore couldn’t be Ken or Len, or Ben, but it did have an ‘R’ first letter, he worked out it must be REG. Then he tried the same with my Nan’s name…

Him: It’s not a long name is it?

Me: No

Him: It’s a name that’s abbreviated, isn’t it?

I pause.

Him: It's not abbreviated is it?

Me: No

Him: So its about 5 letters?

Me: Yes

Him: Is there an A in it?

Me: Yes

Him: Second letter?

Me: Yes

Him: and an E?

Me: Yes

Him: At the end?

Me: No.

Him: Is there an N?

Me: No

He’s stumped. He thinks long and hard to try and come up with 5 letter names, second letter ‘A’, ending in E. It clearly isn’t DIANE, which was the only other name I could come up with.

Before I prolong your agony any further, let's just say he didn’t guess MABEL because he thought it was spelled MABLE. I could see him make a mental note to add that name and spelling to the long list of potential names given to people born in that era.

At the end of the session, he proudly hands me over his two pages of scribbles, puffs out his chest and says something I can’t even remember (as I’d stopped listening), but he was chuffed with himself. I clearly had my poker face on, or he was just stupid, as I don’t think he realised I’d sussed him. I took the papers away and examined them: -

‘ELDEST’ — overwritten with the word ‘YOUNGEST’, used when guessing where I sat in the birth order of my siblings.

‘GIRL GIRL — overwritten with BOY BOY, then added the word GIRL in front and underneath to amend the order I arrived amongst my siblings.

‘AT HOME’ — overwritten with AT HOSPITAL when guessing where my Nan died (potentially a one in two chance of getting the place of death right).

‘NAN’ — the first ’N’ was overwritten with an ‘R’ and the letters ‘G” and DAD added to turn it into ‘GRANDAD’ when referring to who died first.

RIGHT — overwritten with LEFT when it came to proving which eye had been affected by a tumour in my dog (we had a long debate about a tumour being called cancer, because most people die of cancer or a heart attack, so it had to fit. ).

CANCER/HEART ATTACK — used to guess the mode of death of both my grandparents, as there is a very high chance that's what most people die from.

So, the moral of the story is this; the skeptics will still believe it’s not possible and that’s fine (although I hope they will at least consider the points made in 1 & 2 at the start).

For the believers, don’t believe for the sake of it. Keep your guard up and look for the obvious signs. A genuine medium, clairvoyant, psychic etc., will be able to tell you specifics. They should never be running through the months of the year to guess your month of birth, nor ruling out bands of numbers to eliminate the bulk of the 31 possible days your birthday could be. Neither should they need to write anything down on paper, nor have the front to then overwrite it in bold pen thinking you won’t notice. I was shocked my accomplices didn’t. They’re still convinced to this day that what they were told was correct, even though I could see gaping flaws in the information. I could also see how happy it had made them too and a part of me was aware I was dismantling their joy.

I could make it my future mission to be a ‘reverse skeptic’ and hunt down the gifted. I could blog in praise of them. In the meantime though, I hope this helps you to do some useful foreseeing of your own:-)