Top 10 Psychic Debunkings
James Randi is a stage magician and scientific skeptic best known as a challenger of paranormal claims and pseudoscience. In this list we see 10 of his best psychic debunking (and have a bonus clip of a lecture of his). These are all extremely damning to the practitioners of these magic arts and Randi makes no apologies for his tough approach; in fact he is offering a reward of $1 million to anyone who can demonstrate evidence of any paranormal, supernatural or occult power or event, under test conditions agreed to by both parties. As of this time, no one has claimed this prize.
According to Randi, a large number of European businesses uses graphology (the ability to determine a person’s traits by their handwriting) to help in their hiring process. In this clip, Randi tests a professional graphologist to determine whether they actually do have the ability to recognize certain traits, or whether their results are determined entirely by chance.
Astrology is the ability to forecast a person’s life based upon the positions of the stars and other heavenly bodies. In this clip we see a very prolific astrologer giving a reading for a selected person in the audience. The best part of this clip is the series of witty comments at the end made by Stephen Fry. Excuse the sound quality at the start – it does improve.
Psychometry is the ability to determine information about a person through their personal possessions. In the clip above, James Randi sets up a test for a woman claiming to have psychometry abilities. Unfortunately for her, the test did not go well.
Crystal power is the idea that certain crystals effect a person in a particular way. For this reason they are used for healing and psychic readings. In the test above, a professional crystal healer was tested. This is definitely one of the best clips. Despite the result, the “psychic” took it all very well.
Aura reading is the ability to see the aura (a field of color that radiates from an object) around people. In this clever test, James Randi has the reader see the auras of 5 people and then has them stand behind a thin wall. The reader then determines where each person is standing behind the wall based on their auras.
Telekenesis is when a person is able to move objects with the mind. In the 1980s, James Hydrick developed a cult like following due to his abilities. In this clip, we see James Randi debunk him on television. Some years later Hydrick was exposed as a criminal and he confessed his psychic fraud. He admitted that he learnt his trick whilst in jail. I am not sure what he spent time in jail for, but it may well have been crimes against fashion.
Clairvoyants claim to have the ability to communicate with the dead. In this clip we see a reading performed by Maureen Flynn which is analyzed and tested by James Randi. He exposes the various tricks used psychics of this variety.
Dowsing is the ability to locate water, oil, minerals, objects, locations, missing persons etc. using such objects as a metal rod, a pair of bent wires, a forked stick, a pendulum or the open hands.
In this clip, a special device is used to determine whether a person is receiving thoughts sent by a second person. The most interesting comment of the clip is when James asks the man responsible for the device whether he would consent to electricians looking inside he exclaims “I most certainly would not!” Pseudo-science at its best.
This clip demonstrates that psychic abilities and supposed gifts from God are often coupled with fraud and financial gain for the psychic. Peter Popoff, the evangelist seen here, should have done prison time for the web of lies and deceit he wove. At the height of his career (just prior to being exposed by James Randi, he was earning over 4 million dollars a year). After declaring bankruptcy, Popoff is back at work defrauding thousands of people. For more information, see the wikipedia article.
I realize that homeopathy is not related to psychic abilities (though it is about as credible) but this last video had to be included. In this clip, James Randi explains how homeopathic medicine works (or rather, how it doesn’t). An excellent lecture that any person considering using homeopathic medicine should hear.