Skeptic magazine latest issue – the psychic business

Psychics are big business – in the US, the ‘industry’ is valued at more than US$2 billion a year. Considering that one US phone psychic company in the US was closed having made a billion in a few years, and had to ‘forgive’ another $500 million in debt, indicates that it might be worth a lot more.

The December 2019 issue of the Skeptic includes a special feature devoted to psychics, how they operate, the ruses used, and the impact on victims.

Tim Mendham, editor of The Skeptic, said “Psychics regularly make hugely unsuccessful predictions. Richard Saunders, host of The Skeptic Zone podcast and past president of Australian Skeptics Inc, is currently undertaking a survey of predictions made by psychics that have appeared in Australian magazines. An interim result is that psychics get it wrong 90 per cent of the time.

“If your car mechanic or neurosurgeon got it wrong nine out of ten times, you’d probably be looking for another mechanic or surgeon,” Mendham said. “If the whole industry gets it wrong that often, you’d have to give serious thought about the education standards or intelligence of all practitioners. Skepticism and cynicism would be totally justified.”

“Understanding why people still go to psychics, tarot card readers, astrologers and their ilk, despite their low success rate, leads to an understanding of why people follow woo generally. And that would be the $2 billion question.”

The feature includes a detailed report by Susan Gerbic on her highly-publicised sting of a psychic medium – talking to Facebook rather than the dead.

Also in the issue are a look at media reports on scientific results, the history of Charles Fort and his followers, and the answer to the question – why did Richard Saunders don a toga. Plus many other one-offs and regular items.

The Skeptic is published four times a year, with subscription available for hard copy and/or digital (subscribers to the hard copy can get the digital for free).

A sample article from the December issue, a feature on psychic mediums in Australian RSL clubs, is available here.

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