Dial a Psychic
On Sunday morning the 15th of August, I was looking in the classifieds section of the Atlanta Journal and Constitution. As I was searching for a new career I came across an ad in the counseling section which was recruiting for psychics. I couldn't believe it. "Counseling, I can do that," I thought to myself. I called the number advertised and spoke to a gentleman who informed me to meet with him at a Shoney's restaurant in the northwest end of town (Cobb Pkwy, Marietta, GA). When I arrived there a conference room in the back was already filled with eager people waiting to learn the particulars of psychic-hood. I apologized for being late and humorously informed them that if I were psychic I would have found the place. They all chuckled. The ringleader was a warm and friendly Caucasian female around 30ish. She began to explain the hours involved, paper work, commission structure, tricks of the trade, and so on. The concept seemed sound enough. The longer you keep the caller on the line the more you get paid. So, if you are consistently receiving calls you can make a fortune. A computer program calculates everyone's averages and distributes calls based on your averages.
I decided to give it a try. A "ring master" line was added in my home and in two days the calls came rolling in. I was taken aback on how amazingly gullible and ignorant these people were. I received calls ranging from the curious to the suicidal, from the depressed to the malign, from young to old. No one seemed immune. Over 75% of callers were female and 50% of those were over the age of 55. It gets worse. A startling 95% of my callers made insinuations, and some overtly, that they believe in a god. My first thought, " Then why are you calling me? The Bible explicitly forbids this behavior." Also, over 95% of my callers truly believed that I was psychic. Some even made reference to God giving me this ability as a gift, and that I should use it often. Of course the truth is that the callers had given me plenty information about themselves. Even them not speaking gave subtle clues that any observant person would pick up on. Breathing, background noise, pauses, interjections, tone of voice. All these factors play a role. I guessed rather easily whether someone had children, were married, dying, or ill. Even the sex of their children I guessed. (Hey, you've only got a fifty-fifty chance of getting it right, so what did I have to lose?) No special powers here though. It was all done utilizing reason, probability, and luck. Is it by chance that I guessed that a man was dating a woman who's name begun with an "M"? Not at all. He told me. Part of his reading went as follows:
Psychic: "I don't know why, but I see someone in your life."
Gullible 1: "Really, what do you see?"
Psychic: "I see someone whose name starts with an "M" in your life."
Gullible 1: "Wow," (clue #1) "Uhhh, where did that come from?"
Psychic: (Utilizing clue #1 to suppress doubt) "I don't know, I'm certain (now I am) that someone whose name starts with an "M" will be an important factor in your life."
Gullible 1: "That's amazing! I'm dating a woman named Martha."
At this point I could have told him anything, true or false. It doesn't matter what I say at this point because hey, I'm psychic. Did I simply make a good guess? Darn right I did, but a very ambiguous one at that. He could have easily applied the letter "M" to anything. He began to assist me in trying to discover what the significance of the letter "M" was. Even if the "M" didn't pertain to his past or present, I could have easily transferred it to his future. Either way, I win. I'm psychic remember?
Another reading went as follows:
Fooled again: "Are my boyfriend and I going to stay together?" (Kind of obvious there's a problem if she's asking)
Psychic: "I sense troubling waters up ahead. I hear arguments'." (pause'..)
Fooled again: "Well, yeah (surprised) we've been arguing a lot lately." (No'.really???)
Psychic: "I see some children here."
Fooled again: "Yeah, we have a daughter." (I later discovered that her boyfriend has a son that visits from time to time. This added more credibility.)
Psychic: "I sense some infidelity here''"(long pause)
Fooled again: "(chuckling) "Really'" (pause again)'..(quivering) "Hmmmm'."
A long pause generally denotes personal reflection. She obviously was wondering whether I knew if it was her or not. If she were guilt free she would have quickly responded with: "Who is he cheating on me with?" "Do I know her?" However, she didn't, so I saw the hole and went for it.
Psychic: (concerned) "You've cheated on him haven't you?"
Fooled again: "Oh, my god!!!! How did you know that?"
I so badly wanted to say, "I didn't, you just told me idiot!" Needless to say that at this point she was convinced. She stayed on the phone with me for a complete hour. Let's see, $4.99 a minute times 60 is, well, you do the math. Eventually, I began to feel awful perpetuating such an obvious fraud, especially since mysticism goes against everything I support. So as a result I quit. I regret that I didn't tell these people after the reading that it was all trickery and psychological games. Money, silenced me. I'm elated that I can now tell this story and be an opponent of mysticism.'
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