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Not Really Psychic, Just Faking It

I'm an esoteric TV junkie, watching any program that's about ghosts, UFOs, cryptids or psychic detectives. Two of my favorite shows are Psych and The Mentalist. Psych has been on for a few seasons now, but The Mentalist is new this season. Maybe it's a bit surprising they're both favorites of mine, because both programs share the idea that one isn't really ever truly psychic, just highly perceptive and able to quickly assess people based on clues and the keen ability to "read" people. Therefore, there are no such things as psychics, psychic phenomena, esp, telepathy, precognitive dreams or the rest of it. It's just show and distraction on the part of the fake psychic.

It's not surprising skeptoids like these programs, seeing them as entertaining while sticking it to the goofy self deluded so-called psychics or "New Age ninnies."

Neither show's premise offends me. I love detective shows, so there's that. Simon Baker, the actor who plays Patrick Jane, The Mentalist, is kind of sexy, so there's that. But, while both shows poke fun at psychics; The Mentalist in an urbane, hip and cool way, Psych in a fun, goofy way, there's the hint that, well, maybe there really are authentic (and honest) psychics out there, maybe there really is something to psychic phenomena itself. But even if that's not the case, it doesn't bother me, for I know there is "real" psychic phenomena, and I'm not in a contest with anyone over the fact.

I find Psych enjoyable because it's funny, and it's set in Santa Barbara, a place I'm always up for visiting. I sure wouldn't mind living there. The characters are silly; the main character, fake psychic Shawn, is out to make a living his way -- without working, mainly. But there's a corny kindness in all the episodes which is nice. So I don't mind.

The Mentalist is a crime drama. Baker's character, Patrick Jane, was once a psychic along the lines of a John Edward, but the message was clear: Jane was faking being a real psychic, he was using clues and body language and all that "cold reading" stuff the skeptoids on places like the James Randi forum like to talk about so much. And yet. . . well, one wonders.

The point is, for the psychic, messages come in strange and varied ways, ranging from consistent to random, depending on all kinds of factors, including one's own commitment to the process. Within all this is the fact that we all read people and situations all the time, picking up all kinds of "clues" that tell us things about an event or an individual. We're often not aware we're doing this most of the time.

Some of us use tools, like Tarot cards or other divination techniques, allowing what we pick up to flow through us. It happens quickly and we don't think consciously about it -- call it psychic, a "cold reading" or what, it's really all part of the same thing. If you're a skeptic, insisting such things don't exist and that reading people is all just stage magic, you're not only splitting hares, you're just dense.

But, as with all things skeptoid, where reenacting Bigfoot sightings by wearing fur suits, UFO sightings by flinging Frisbees in the air, or sea serpent sightings by tossing logs into the water; just because you can recreate something doesn't mean the thing itself doesn't exist.

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