Throat cancer, the color of a glove, a pet tagged with it's name, a shrine in the yard (and wrongly assuming it's the logical back yard) - this one's easy. It's (almost definitely) a description of the kid's facebook page. You get the audience to give someone their e-mail before even letting them in ("win a free iPad!" or "Questions? We can e-mail you insight that has been helpful to others."), then have someone behind the scenes use the list of addresses to find facebook pages by audience members, and you'll quickly spot some made by grieving people, which is paydirt for a psychic show. Then you can feed them back all the detail they posted, and they don't see that you're being fed the data on an earpiece. It's a variation of the same trick that faith healer Peter Popoff got caught doing. http://youtu.be/q7BQKu0YP8Y?t=1m52s And it can't be done by a true believer - it is deliberately, carefully set up by someone with the intent to deceive people. So, were you presented with any opportunities to give someone (who may not have appeared to be associated with them) your e-mail address?
Talking to Dead People: My Confession
No. I don’t talk to dead people.
And I don’t want to talk to dead people.
However, on Saturday afternoon, I did pay money to sit in the cheap seats and watch somebody else “talk to dead people.” At least, that’s what Theresa Caputo believes, that crossed over spirits come to her in hopes of reaching the loved ones they left behind on earth.
That’s my confession: On Saturday, I went see the Long Island Medium perform at Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center. I know what you’re thinking. You did what? Why in the world would a Christian be interested in seeing a medium? And you just got scammed.
And trust me, I thought all of those things, too.
In fact, when I first watched Theresa Caputo’s show–The Long Island Medium–on TLC, I honestly expected to laugh or roll my eyes or I anticipated being utterly convinced that this New York middle-aged-stuck-in-the-1980s woman was a complete fake. Others (here and here) have certainly come to that conclusion.
I’d seen mediums “perform” on TV before–Sylvia Browne, James Van Praagh, and John Edward. And honestly, I’ve never been convinced. Their tactics–often called “cold readings”–seem staged and/or gimmicky. And the “whoever” they’re connecting to on the other side often seems uninformed or vague.
However, after watching two or three episodes of Long Island Medium and watching Theresa contact “Spirit”—whoever “Spirit” is—and then inform people of intricate details about their lives and the lives of their dead loved ones, I was intrigued. In fact, on a couple of occasions I even teared up.
And while Theresa’s “connections” seem far more detailed than any medium I’ve seen on TV, it could just be television, right? The “magic” could be found in the editing or the producing or the research performed ahead of time. Though Theresa swears that all she knows about an individual when she enters a session is the person’s first name, she could be lying. I mean, she could be Googling these people for months ahead of time (she has a three-year waiting list) and have a list of things that Spirit could say to them that would “prove” she’s in contact with someone or something from the other side.
And too, there are indeed practices that famous mediums engage in when put in front of a large crowd, a technique that, if mastered, can create opportunities for the medium to convince a man or woman that he/she is making “personal connections” with their dead loved one on the other side. But I wanted to see Theresa Caputo’s “gift” for myself. And that’s why I went. Not because I’m convinced she’s real. Or that she’s fake. But because I simply wanted to witness her “gift” in person without the magic of television editing.
Here’s a little bit about what happened.
Eighteen hundred people were packed inside the auditorium, and they exploded into a thunderous applause when the flamboyant Theresa walked out on stage. After a short introduction–which included a giveaway, an explanation of her gifts, a disclaimer to skeptics, and a weird misplaced honoring of all veterans in the room–Theresa (donning 6-inch glitter heels) carefully made her way down into the audience.
“Who lost the son?” she said.
Of course, 40 hands shot up. But Theresa said “Spirit” was very specific. “It’s in this section,” she said. Soon, somebody in that section was standing up and Theresa was giving them messages from “Spirit.” Honestly, the first two “readings” were unimpressive. Though her subjects seemed convinced, they were also emotionally involved. In truth, she offered them no information that I couldn’t have given them about their dead family members.
Then, Theresa walked up the aisle. “Who lost the father-figure to throat cancer?” she asked. “Somebody in this section lost a father or grandfather to throat cancer.”
A woman, already in tears, raised her hand. “That’s my grandfather,” she said. The woman was there with her son and her mom (the dead man’s wife). At first, Theresa offered them information that anybody could have offered, very generic sentiments that any person mourning a loved one would have loved to hear. Then, Theresa said to the son, who was 10 or 12ish. “You sometimes see your grandfather, don’t you?”
Tears formed in his eyes. Nodding, he said, “Yes ma’am.”
“Do you play baseball?” asked Theresa.
Theresa then told the kid and his mom that their grandfather watched his baseball games sometimes. “Did you just get a new glove? One that you’re having a hard time breaking in?” The kid and his momma, both crying, nodded yes. “And you have a new bat, too?” The kid nodded. And Theresa said, “Is it green?”
The kids grinned, “we call it the big green monster!”
Theresa offered all three members of the family details that were very convincing. In fact, one of the details was so personal that the wife of the dead husband (the most skeptic of the bunch) said, “Oh my God, you are for real.”
After that, Theresa offered a couple more vague readings. But then she walked up to a couple and said, “Sadly, you lost a daughter.”
The woman nodded. The man, seemingly skeptical and not really wanting to be there, just sat and listened.
Theresa described the event that took the girl’s life and with every detail, the woman nodded. Moments later, Theresa asked, “Sir, did you build a bench in memory of your daughter? Is it in the backyard?”
Tears began falling down both sides of his cheeks. “Yes ma’am. But it’s in the front yard.”
“Was your daughter a fan of yellow flowers? Did she love dandelions?”
Both the mom and the dad burst audibly into tears. In complete disbelief, the mom rolled up the sleeve of her sweater to reveal a dandelion tattoo in memory of her daughter. Even Theresa seemed a little surprised by this, quipping, “You can’t make this shit up, people.” And then Theresa asked the couple “Who’s Daisy?”
Again, crying, the mom said, “That’s her dog who passed away two months after she did.”
Theresa offered other very detailed information about their daughter and assured them that she was safe and with God.
During the two-hour experience, Theresa probably performed 10 lengthy readings, four of which were very detailed, and to a degree, convincing. Those four families left that event very moved by their experience and seemingly convinced that they had been in touch with their dead loved ones.
Is Theresa Caputo’s gifts real? I don’t know. Sometimes she seemed connected to something otherworldly. But whatever it was, it seemed far too inconsistent to be “God” or heck, even “Satan.” There was certainly some sort of gimmick involved. But unless these people were planted ahead of time (and their very real emotions suggested they weren’t) the gimmick would seemingly only get her so far. And like I said, at least 4 of the readings were detailed and specific enough that there could have been more to it than just trickery. But I don’t know.
But anytime Theresa tried to explain Spirit, her words seemed more like psycho babble than anything remotely true. She’s a practicing Catholic and though she speaks about God and the “other side” like no Catholic I know, she at times also takes about her faith with very real sincerity.
But she also sincerely believes that she talks to dead people.
And I’m still not sure what to think about that.
What do you think? Are mediums real?
Fake please don't tell my wife I would love to talk to my grandparents. But I can wait another 40 years.
1 Sam 28 leaves some very interesting room for conversation about this. Saul wasn't supposed to consult the medium, but he did. And it seemed to work. What?!? I never learned this story in Sunday school; didn't learn it until seminary! And how do we deal with it? We don't. Most of us haven't heard it, or we just ignore it. Any interesting thoughts on it? I haven't dived in much, but I think it should be part of the discussion, so I'm throwing it out there.
Chill out buddy. Jesus talked to spirits, his disciples talked to spirits, so having a discussion about whether or not it's possible for people to talk to spirits seems, well, entirely relevant.
I am a little stumped. I thought this was Christian blog.....all of this talk about mediums seems to miss one minor fact, the Bible says not to be involved with such people, and calls the practice evil. Should we take part in evil, even if for entertainment value? We are to be set apart. The Bible does talk about very real spirits and powers that are in this world, and there is a war raging. If you are a true Christ Follower then the spirit you should seek is His Holy Spirit and reject all of the other voices for what they are, they are either frauds or very real fallen ones whose goal is to deceive and ultimately destroy. - If you call yourself a Christian shouldn't you be concerned about what the Bible says? I am not a preacher or a Bible scholar, but I can read. (Leviticus 20:6, Leviticus 19:31, 1 Chronicles 10:13-14, Acts 16:16-19, Leviticus 20:27, Deuteronomy 18:10, Acts 19:19, Isaiah 8:19)
Someone I was doing business with once gave me a spontaneous and unsought after and totally unrelated to the business we were doing "reading" over email about my grandfather, who she knew through our business talks had been killed in Vietnam. It was definitely all very generic. I still don't know what to think of it all. After the "reading" she described herself as being like the Long Island Medium. I tend to be a skeptic though.
Our souls (if you believe in souls) and afterlife (again, if you believe) are much more complex than we think. True psychics (yes, there are fakers) are picking up on energy signals and symbols then relay that information. They are interpreters of sorts. As we progress in physical life from child to adult, we progress as souls after death. It is not a stagnant eternal resting place. Souls continue to learn and evolve.
You completely missed the real show. Most of the effect is done well before you've sat down in your seats. Was there a line outside the door? People were I'm sure discussing what was going to go on in the event. Some were probably hoping to hear from their dead relatives, and were probably speaking about it with the friends and family outside. The line, the foyer, the event the box office, all must have had a few "producers" running through the audience looking for people, overhearing conversations, even probably engaging in a few, gathering small bits of information which were relayed to the host. The rest is are complex Cold Reading techniques.
Does she have a gift? Yes. Whether fake or not (and I too have teared up--many times--perhaps because of my own grieving), she brings healing, closure, and sometimes forgiveness for folks who are grieving, lost, or guilting themselves. That, in my opinion, is a huge gift. Thanks for sharing your story and starting a good conversation.
Utterly fake. Lots of evidence has shown how these fraudsters do what they do (basically just statistics, profiling, etc) and how they manipulate people into believing them.
It's fake. It's fake. It's fake. With that much money at stake, there is no reason for those four families not to be a plant with actors. Or else she is just really really good at cold reading. If she's real, then she should have her gift tested by James Randi and collect her million dollars. I'm guessing she won't.
I think the thing with Saul highlights 2 truths: The first is that it is possible to communicate with the Spirit world, though I think most modern mediums are simply hucksters... BUT the second point is more sobering...even if it "works," things went down the toilet for Saul after that... a case study in God saying to stay away from them.
Neither Jesus, nor his disciples talked to spirits in order to do anything other than rebuke them. Never will you find them conversing to encourage or comfort those still living. The scriptures quoted above are not random or pulled out of context and our opinion of their accuracy or of this medium's validity or "gift" are irrelevant in the face of such clear biblical direction. Teresa is at best a deeply caring person operating in and deceived by a spirit realm she doesn't fully understand and at worst a charlatan preying on the pain of those in her audience.