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Atheist Community of Austin
A psychic

My brother and I are both skeptical to supernatural. He conveyed to me an experience of a psychic whom he met at a party. The psychic was there doing readings. Brother didn't ask for a reading. The psychic, however, felt necessary to speak with him. The psychic spoke about a trouble that was bothering brother for awhile. In his turn of century rental home, many strange things occurred after the death of the land owner whom owned this rental property. His electrical appliances would suddenly turn on and off without reason, including stove top, lights, television and radio and the oddest one was the dryer. My brother being frustrated and mechanically inclined found no reason whatsoever for any of this.

The psychic indicated his house as a turn of the century house, indicated that the land owner had recently died and indicated that the land owner has become ghost and is in his house. The psychic went on to indicate the appliances that were being turned on and off. Then to brother amazement, she pulled out the landlord's exact name, which is a very difficult name to say. Brother was sold. This woman knew.

I listened to story and couldn't make sense. I asked if he had given any details. No. Did anybody know him there? Yes. Did anybody share anything about your situation? Nobody else knew about his situation was his answer. Did she ask leading questions? No. etc, etc, etc...

At the end of it, brother becoming frustrated... saying, swearing that he would not make something up since he considers himself atheist in the first and in the second that the events are not exactly something that one wants to advertise.

Dumb founded... I still can't explain this one. How does a psychic know all this stuff from never knowing a person in the first place and second, given brother's background in repairs and him subsequently not being able to identify a root cause for the problem, the possibility of supernatural (ghost) being the cause. If in fact ghost was the reason, one could suggest afterlife possibility.

The problem has since diminished since the reading and Brother turning (as improbable as he wanted to do so), basically "yelling at an invisible ghost" to go away... Brother claims the sense of spirit is still there and that the occasional thing still happens with the appliances, but not nearly as bad as before.

I realize that this sounds bigger than anything anybody ever heard before, so I wouldn't be offended for a non-post on this... but as I heard it, I tell it. I know Brother is having doubts now.


I read your story a couple of times and thought up of a couple of possible explanations for how the physic was able to obtain such information from a worldly source.

The psychic could've done a reading of a family member who told the psychic about the rental property, the ghost, the landlord's name, and about your brother. Cold reading could've also been used during your brother's reading.

Another way is that the psychic asked somebody at the party for the name of your brother and then search your brother's name on the internet. Searching a name on the internet can bring up all kinds of personal information such as the names of your friends, where you live, who held title of the property where you've lived, family deaths/obituaries, where you work, what you do in work, and so on.

Why do you think the psychic insisted on giving your brother a reading? Could it be that the psychic gave great details for your brother's reading and vague details on other readings?

There is a reason why police departments have detectives on payroll instead of psychics.

Your attempts are directed at explaining how the psychic knew about the events. However, what about the events themselves?

There are many worldly explanations on why those events occurred.

For example, lights can flicker because of a large appliance such as a refrigerator being on the same fuse as the lights. There are also many other causes and this is well documented, simply search for "causes of light flickering" in google.

If I died and turned into a ghost, I wouldn't be haunting someone's house. There wouldn't be a point in doing that. Instead, I would instead try to demonstrate to the world that some type of metaphysical reality exists. Since ghosts can apparently violate the laws of physics on a whim, I would think it would be very easy for just one ghost out there to prove that a metaphysical reality exists. With all the ghost sightings, wouldn't you just expect one ghost to appear on TV?

The idea of there being no afterlife or possibility of going to hell can be an incentive to believe in a delusion. I myself can't fathom just ceasing to exist when I die.

These stories are inherently frustrating. The necessary lack the first-hand information necessary to fully investigate the issue. Often, they're presented by a believer who use it as evidence of the supernatural. In such a case, the story acts as a mechanism to shift the burden of proof to the person who wants to discount the story.

We are programmed by evolution to err on the side of attributing something to agency when it's not an agent doing the action. If you run away from the rustle in the grass when nothing is there, no harm is done. If you make the other error and ignore the rustle when it's a lion, you die. The cost of falsely attributing something to an agent is small (having to deal with these stories) compared to the other error.

Cold readers are good at making you think they know something when they are just eliciting responses from you. You may think you've given them nothing, but a trained person can see otherwise.

The proper response to a story like this is that you don't have enough evidence to evaluate it. If there is real evidence of the supernatural, maybe the claimant can win the James Randi Educational Foundation $1M prize.

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