Are All Psychics Frauds?: A Speculative Essay

Source

 Good Day rajivnandy

Thank you for this question: Are all psychics frauds? I'm going to say at the outset that if you visit a "psychic," and you are comfortable with him or her, there is no reason to stop consulting with her, even though I just put the word psychic in quotes. I will say at the outset that they are professionals just like anyone else. They have cultivated natural talents through hard work to earn a living by providing a service. They are like any other kind of counselor, a priest, therapist, psychologist, what-have-you.

I do not believe the nature of their faculties is what they themselves tend to believe it is. I believe that "psychics" have an especially highly developed intuition -- not unlike the guy who plays on that CBS show The Mentalist. But the "psychics", most of them, I believe, are not necessarily being fraudulent in calling themselves psychics.

Psychic counselors are said to have ESP (extrasensory perception). Let's think about what that means -- Extra Sensory Perception. To me this would mean that there are people who have means of perceiving the world that are of an entirely different or "higher" order of knowing than is available to the rest of the species. I approach this question on an evolutionary basis.

For example, ten million years ago in Africa, the beginnings of the human species are said to have originated in the forest belt stretching horizontally from one end of the continent to the other (looking at it on a map). The forest belt was dense, meaning that a lot of trees were really close together. The "ape-like" beings who inhabited the area relied on their sense of smell to navigate their way around, hunt prey, etc. The point is that smell was imperative and the most highly developed sense. Of course they could see and had the other senses of touch and taste and hearing -- but it was smell that was dominant because of the situation, the environmental imperative was such that it demanded the acute development of smell.

But then due to certain environmental/geologic changes the forest belt thinned out considerably. The trees got much, much farther apart, and vast, wide open spaces were revealed. This situation created a different environmental imperative for those creatures. The need for the acute development of sight was called for now, and the sense of smell was somewhat de-emphasized over time. Now, these creatures who spread out from this area, gave rise to both the beings who would become us and the apes. There were other modifications of physiology and anatomy, of course, that occurred but they needn't concern us here.

My own perspective is that of a religious naturalist. We needn't define that here, but it demands a certain approach to questions like the one we're dealing with here. When I hear talk of "psychics" or ESP, the first question I ask is: where is the specific environmental imperative calling for the emergence of these faculties? If such environmental imperative(s) exist then that would mean that the entire species is changing -- that these enhanced faculties are to be the birthright, someday, of everyone, not just a select "chosen" few.

Let's back up a step and define what we mean by "psychic" and ESP. Psychics, for our purposes purport to have some form of extrasensory perception. We are not dealing with the totality of "psychic phenomena" (telekinesis, reincarnation, etc., -- some people call it "supernatural," perhaps "mind reading, etc). I am aware of two basic forms of purported extrasensory perception proper: clairvoyance ("remote viewing" -- there's people who work with the police to find missing people: some of them use objects of the missing person to try to build a connection which enhances their ability to hone in on the missing person and find them) and seeing into your future or several of your possible futures.

Now then, if an environmental imperative did exist which seems to call forth the emergence of enhanced faculties, then this process would, of necessity, be organic. In other words, these enhanced faculties would have to be merely the augmentation of faculties we already have. These abilities cannot just come out of the air as "gifts" to a "select" few. If I do not find such an environmental imperative I do not necessarily scream "fraud."

The next question I ask is: is it possible that we have miscategorization here? I think we do. In my opinion psychics, as I have narrowly defined the term, are people who have quite consciously and deliberately developed their sense of empathy (as opposed to sympathy, there's a difference), intuition, and imaginative visualization to a much higher degree than the rest of us.

But here's the thing. They are no less professional and valuable to society for it. Why does someone become a lawyer? Because one has a natural argumentative, analytical dominant tendency and decides that the law is a profession that best suits his innate talents and abilities. He goes through his schooling and formal training to -- hone that argumentative, analytical tendency. Why does one become a writer? Because she has a strong narrative, storytelling urge that dominates the way she processes and interacts with the world.

And on and on it goes. Choosing any profession and going thorugh the schooling and training for it, then, is all about honing one's dominant tendencies. I'm sure many "psychics" would make excellent detectives, criminal profilers, psychotherapists, social workers, drug counselors, and the like. But on the other hand they're fine where they are.

So, are all psychics frauds? My answer, therefore, is no. I would say that most of them are genuine. Its just that their highly developed empathy, intuition, and imaginative visualization (faculties we all have), are miscategorized. If I had my druthers I would call them facilitators or something like that.

More by this Author


Comments 12 comments

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California

I think you make a very sound argument as to why some people are more naturally inclined towards the profession of psychic. Particularly in the developed sense of empathy and storytelling, not to mention, I think, a certain adeptness of noting body language and facial expression and other forms of passive communication (much as a good sales person or interrogator, therapist might).

The only place I’d jump in and add something, not because I disagree, but just because I am in that sort of mood, lol, is on your assessment that were there to be environmental imperatives to exist for the emergence of this ability, the whole species would change.

While I agree that if something like that were NECESSARY to survive, then any individuals manifesting the trait of ESP would be the only ones TO survive given the definition of “necessary.” However, that does not mean that, due to the nature of random mutation, some individuals might get the trait through whatever mechanism (disease, radiation, random gene mutation, etc.) but, given a lack of necessary conditions to favor that trait, it might linger in the gene pool, or malinger and die as chance would have it. It can exist, just offer no significant advantage, despite how advantageous it might seem it must be.


wingedcentaur profile image

wingedcentaur 6 years ago from That Great Primordial Smash UP of This and That Which Gave Rise To All Beings and All Things! Author

Good Day Shadesbreath

Thank you for visiting and deigning to comment on my unworthy scribblings. I guess we agree, then, that "psychics" are people who have developed certain innate talents like any other professional -- and that these innate talents are things or faculties that we all have. It is just that, like any other professional, in any field that best suits them, "psychics" are naturally suited to their job because they were most inclined and able to develop those innate characteristics of the species that we all have.

In other words, we can all run and jump (those of us who are temporarily able bodied) but there are some who seem to have a greater innate ability to do these things, which combined with dedication and hard work can produce a great athlete like Bruce Jenner (remember that guy from the Wheateys box?). I know that no matter how hard I work and how many steroids I took, I could never achieve anything like that -- my natural or innate ability is not at that level.

And on and on and on. I am not good at math or science. I don't think well in the necessary quantitative, analytical way; I don't have a strong innate ability in math. So no matter how hard I worked I could never achieve anything remotely like (in my wildest dreams) like what, say, Stephen Hawking achieved.

We seem to run into a little problem with evolution. What I have said is that for me to believe that psychic is really "psychic" in the sense of having to do with extrasensory -- enhanced sensory in the way that the augmentation of eyesight in the species was ten million years ago, adaptative in response to environmental changes -- we must similarly be able to identify some environmental imperative that would call forth clairvoyance, etc. I have engaged in a speculative thought experiment.

I don't really think psychic is really psychic, but no less an innate talent that a worker in the field have worked hard to cultivate, in order to provide a service to people. I wouldn't call them "psychics," is all.

I'm saying IF, just speculating. As I said all working psychics are using faculties we all possess, but I am skeptical about the "supernatural" nature of their abilities because I can trace their exhibition to no natural circumstances. There seems to be no pressing imperative which makes the way our perceptive faculties work the way they do, to make them operate in a radically different way.

I hope I understand you when you wrote" "However, that does not mean that, due to the nature of random mutation, some individuals might (not?) get the trait through whatever mechanism (disease, radiation, random gene mutation, etc.) but, given a lack of necessary conditions to favor that trait, it might linger in the gene pool, or malinger and die as chance would have it. It can exist, just offer no significant advantage, despite how advantageous it might seem it must be."

Conditions are not such that favor the mass manifestation of the trait, if that is what you mean, yes.


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California

That's what I meant. Unless, and I confess to being absurd, but it is to make a point, so bear with me, unless that ability became something like an X-man mutation or something, wherein there are actually environmental conditions that favor it. (Which I believe your assertion up above does cover, that it would "change the species" given that, if someone suddenly had that kind of psychic power, to control minds etc., they would either make a family and pass that gene on, ultimately spawning a new class of more fit humans, etc.) I think we probably agree on that though.


wingedcentaur profile image

wingedcentaur 6 years ago from That Great Primordial Smash UP of This and That Which Gave Rise To All Beings and All Things! Author

You sure are prompt about answering comments and responding comments, I must say, Shades! Yes, I believe we are on the same page. Thanks


rajivnandy profile image

rajivnandy 6 years ago from India !!

hello der wingedcentaur....n thank you for the hub ...i am not pretty sure about the whole concept of psychic but from what I have heard about them i feel kind of confused .People say things like psychics can talk to dead people ,get spirits inside their bodies ,foretell the future etc, I mean how can someone talk to dead people or predict my future ? . I know one such guy called John Edward. He used to run those psychic shows on tv but i still have no idea of how genuine his predictions used to be. It can be a set-up , who knows ?


dawnM profile image

dawnM 6 years ago from THOUSAND OAKS

I think that when I would go to see a physic, it would be to talk to someone who has passed on or want to know something about the future.

A great therapist is more in tune with reading someone’s emotions, feeling their energy. when I used to do one on one counseling which I will now only do over the phone, there were many times a person would come into my office and because I am sensitive or worked on being open to another person’s energy, a few times I had to go home and literally shower after because their energy was so toxic. So that I think is not psychic, but more in tune and open to feel other people’s emotions and that comes with training. Many people who work in the military or are spies go through this training as well kind of like you were saying about the show the mentalist.

Great article very insightful and written well as all of your work is


wingedcentaur profile image

wingedcentaur 6 years ago from That Great Primordial Smash UP of This and That Which Gave Rise To All Beings and All Things! Author

Good Evening rajivnandy

I understand your uncertainty. I think we both agree that we cannot take the claims of "psychics" at face value, in a completely uncritical spirit. At the same time I think we both don't want to throw around labels like "fraud" or "charlatan.

As for "psychics:" talking to dead people; foretelling the future; and getting spirits inside their bodies -- I believe these performances, are in fact, a throwback to shamanism. Here's what I mean.

The "other world" is so mysterious that we cannot have real knowledge of it in "this life," and therefore what the shaman/"psyhic" provided/provides is a kind of artistic representation. While I don't think they are necessarily being fraudulent in any way, at the same time I don't think we're meant to take their representations literally.

They are artistic representations, as genuine as a painter who paints a picture, a writer who writes a work of fiction, to the extent that it is a "lie."


wingedcentaur profile image

wingedcentaur 6 years ago from That Great Primordial Smash UP of This and That Which Gave Rise To All Beings and All Things! Author

Good Day dawnM

Thank you for commenting on my unworthy scribblings today! So you will only do counseling over the phone now, is that right? Are you too sensitive? Do you feel other people's pain too deeply, take their problems too personally?

How unusual is it, what you do -- only counseling people over the phone? I suppose it helps you not to have to look at the people?


cascoly profile image

cascoly 4 years ago from seattle

winged centaur said

===They are artistic representations, as genuine as a painter who paints a picture, a writer who writes a work of fiction, to the extent that it is a "lie."

the difference is that no novelist makes a claim to be telling the truth, and non-fiction writers who make up facts are exposed as frauds

so, when psychics claim to be able to contact dead people or make other un supported claims, there's no reason not to label them as liars and frauds; this is especially true since they prey on vulnerable people for a living, eg families of crime victims

if they want to make an artistic representation of some fantasy world beyond this one, they should clearly label their product as fiction


wingedcentaur profile image

wingedcentaur 4 years ago from That Great Primordial Smash UP of This and That Which Gave Rise To All Beings and All Things! Author

Hi cascoly! How's it going?

Thank you for stopping by and commenting. Let me just say that, to my way of thinking, a whole lot depends upon precisely how one defines the word 'psychic.' As I tried to indicate in this essay (perhaps I didn't do this as clearly as I thought), we must, first of all, separate sincere workers in this field from the self-delusional, huckster fringe element (at least what I believe is a huckster/self-delusional fringe element). That is very important.

Also, as I tried to indicate in this essay (again, apparently not making myself transparent) that I believe the word 'psychic' is an unfortunate one. I suggested the word 'facilitator,' perhaps; I've heard others use the word 'sensitive.'

Furthermore, in my sympathy with what I see as a sincere element in this field, I am excluding certain kinds of phenomena (telekinesis -- I don't know if you're old enough to remember Uri Geller, the spoon-bender, and so forth.

This sincere element I'm referring to do not purport to 'tell the future' or anything like that. It is my understanding that this sincere element is rather modest in its claims -- again, perhaps 'claims' is not the right word.

Think of this as an analogy -- recall the 'prophets' from the Bible. The original meaning of that concept was not supernatural in anyway; a 'prophet' was more like a political analyst, the best of whom talked about the unsustainability of a society where extremes of rich and poor lay along side by side.

So, I am excluding, for the most part, those people who claim to be able to contact the dead -- though I could be wrong, that's a bit too fringe for me.

Take it easy.


cascoly profile image

cascoly 4 years ago from seattle

ok, that's closer - yes i do remember Uri Geller - prime example of a fraud -- Johnny Carson exposed his act on the Tonight Show.

but we differ on psychic definitions - to me they are either self-deluded [ie, they think they have ppsychic powers] or they are cons [they know they dont have powers]. in either case they are preying on the unfortunate or the gullible


wingedcentaur profile image

wingedcentaur 4 years ago from That Great Primordial Smash UP of This and That Which Gave Rise To All Beings and All Things! Author

Hello again cascoly.

I would say that all 'psychics' are mistaken in that I believe there is a miscategorization of what they attempt to do. As I tried to bring out in the essay, if there were REALLY such a thing as PYCHIC POWERS, then we would be talking about an evolutionary development in the species, in my opinion.

And as I understand evolution (though I could be wrong), there must be some identifiable environmental imperative, as it were, sort of.... spurring on 'natural selection.'

For example, ten million years ago in Africa, the beings who would evolve into you and me, homo sapien lived in a thick forest. They found their way about through smell mostly, researchers think.

Then, for some reason, those forest belts thinned out dramatically, and the need for sight was more strongly emphasized. And so on and so forth.

I do not think that is what we are looking at with 'psychics.' I think, perhaps, the sincere element have developed their sense of empathy. I think of them more like facilitators (helping people get in touch with their innermost feelings and so forth) and, what I would call emotional/psychological forecasters, if you will -- not fortune tellers or anything like that.

The poet and translator Robert Bly, in his book, Iron John, wrote something fascinating. He wrote that other animals more or less have all they need to survive indelibly inscribed on their DNA. Human beings do not. Our species, sensing the flexibility we would need to respond to changing circumstances, sort of placed that 'knowledge' outside ourselves in stories, fairy tales, legends, myths, scripture, whatever.

This literature, according to Bly, can serve as a kind of repository of wisdom that we can mine when old ways of responding to life's challenges grow stale. Perhaps, psychics are particularly skilled at this.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working