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cockswain's avatar

Are all psychics, tarot/palm readers, etc... intentionally defrauding the public, or do some of them truly believe their "abilities"?

Asked by cockswain (15269points) April 23rd, 2010

There is little doubt many of these practitioners are full of it and they know it. But do you think some believe they actually have these “gifts” and think they run a legitimate business? Alternately, do you think some who believe they are psychics might see bad news in someone’s future but lie and tell them good news so they keep coming back?

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18 Answers

Qingu's avatar

I don’t think this is an either/or situation.

Many frauds convince themselves along with the people they dupe. I think the way our brains work—specifically, how we deal with “cognitive dissonance,” allows for this. Almost everyone holds some kind of contradictory beliefs in their head.

I’m sure for many psychics and other frauds, they know on one level that it’s bullshit, but on another level they believe in what they’re saying.

Blackberry's avatar

Some are full of it, and some are truly delusional, kind of like religious people and religious leaders.

The one that are full of it assume: “Hey, these guys are dumb enough and I’m making money, no one is getting hurt so what-evaaaa…”.

beautifulbobby193's avatar

None of them have any real gifts, except the gift of successfully bullshitting people into parting with their hard earned.

kevbo's avatar

Some people have those gifts.

Whether belief causes reality or vice versa is another question.

PhillyCheese's avatar

Most of these people are frauds.
They study the tone of voice, body language and what you’re saying to tell you what you already know.
They also use something called selective memory with their clients

JeffVader's avatar

Regardless of whether they truly believe they have powers or not….. they dont & are defrauding their clients.

mattbrowne's avatar

Only partly. They interpret body language and tone of voice. But the cards are fake. Just for show because some people like shows.

cockswain's avatar

@mattbrowne Why only partly? Being good at guessing someone’s current state of affairs based on their appearance and information gained through subtle questioning will not give them any ability to predict the subject’s future.

Anyways, do you and @JeffVader think they actually think they have these powers?

mattbrowne's avatar

@cockswain – Why only party? Because one part is intentional fraud giving the impression they can see the future in cards or crystal balls or whatever. It’s not total fraud because they talk to their clients learning about their personality and emotional state. They power some might have is also called empathy, emotional intelligence or social intelligence. There is nothing supernatural about it.

JeffVader's avatar

@cockswain No, happily I’m neither insane or deluded :)
I do however think that alot of these clairvoyants genuinely believe they have the powers they claim to have. Therefore, I’d rather not classify them as fraudsters as I feel that implies deliberate intent to deceive.

cockswain's avatar

@JeffVader I think you misunderstood my last question I directed at you. I was asking if you think the psychics actually believe they have the powers they claim to have. I don’t want you to think I was accusing you of being nuts. But you did answer the question I asked afterwards.

@JeffVader @mattbrowne So now we have a couple points of discussion. Matt, you are saying it is only part fraud because they ascertain certain real facts about the subject through non-supernatural means. I think that is just a tool they use in their overall deliberate attempt to deceive the subject into believing they can tell them their future. It is advertised as a supernatural service, so I view it as total fraud.

Jeff, I agree with you that if they genuinely believe they have powers, then they aren’t intentionally fraudulent. However, they are actually selling a service they cannot provide. So the question is, while unintentional fraud seems less shitty than intentional fraud, does not intending to be frauds exonerate them from being classified as frauds? Supposing someone prosecuted the intentional fraud and unintentional fraud. Would/should the punishments be different? It would be really hard to ascertain whether or not someone is being truthful when they say they believe they have psychic powers.

JeffVader's avatar

@cockswain Very fair points….. the reality is that fraud is fraud, & just because someone is deluded about it doesn’t exhonerate them from their actions.

mattbrowne's avatar

@cockswain – It is advertised as a supernatural service, because their ignorant customers want it that way. When there’s a demand, in free markets, someone will make offers to meet the demand. So it’s people asking for fraud. There’s another non-supernatural aspect called the placebo effect when psychics are foretelling a positive future like being able to overcome anxiety when dating people or when presenting something to senior management.

Smoking is a fraud too. Cigarette companies suggest that smokers will feel good and cool while in fact after a few months smokers need to smoke not to feel bad. Selling easy credit is a fraud too, suggesting life is so miraculously easy and our wishes just come true without the need for a good education, a good job or hard work. Just sign here.

cockswain's avatar

@JeffVader Ah, now this brings up a familiar question: should good intentions affect punishment for a negative outcome? If I premeditate to kill someone, that’s not like accidentally running someone over with my car. Am I less of a fraud (and hence should be punished less) if I believe I’m a psychic?

@mattbrowne As usual, you make excellent points. Do you think psychics should be outlawed?

mattbrowne's avatar

@cockswain – I wouldn’t outlaw them and rather expose them. Plus give kids a good education and teach them critical thinking. Hopefully at some point psychics will run out of customers.

JeffVader's avatar

@cockswain Excellent follow-up….. I do have slightly mixed feelings about this. On a human level I feel peoples intentions & beliefs should be taken into account. However, I dont think this could work legally as it would open the system up to abuse, so I have to say people should be judged on the evidence of what they actually did, not what they intended.

Silhouette's avatar

It doesn’t matter what they believe, if the customer believes, they are getting their moneys worth.

cockswain's avatar

So if I believe I’m buying a good car but I get a lemon, did I get my money’s worth?

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