For a long time, skeptics have been trying to debunk claims of psychic powers by explaining how cold readings work and demystifying the whole game.
But maybe James Randi just needed Yelp.
An article in the New York Times by Michael Wilson — in his appropriately named “Crime Scene” column — says that reviews on the site may be affecting people in the clairvoyance business.
Several New York psychics have been reviewed by the same person, Vinny Pinto, 65, a clairvoyant connoisseur of sorts who lives in Maryland and visits the city several times a year. A self-described “mystic, spiritual healer and spiritual guide,” Mr. Pinto seeks tarot card readings and turns to Yelp to pass judgment.
“Hopefully they may eventually be of some use to someone,” he said recently of his reviews.
In August 2013, Mr. Pinto visited a psychic on West 43rd Street who called herself Cristina. “Cristina did try an upsell attempt,” he wrote on Yelp. “She told me that my aura was full of negative energy, and offered to clean it for an additional fee of $450, which I politely but firmly declined.”
None of this has to do with the legitimacy of psychic powers — we know it’s a scam — but so much of the power of tarot card and crystal ball readings has to do with the secrecy and mystery, the smoke and mirrors. By giving it all away on Yelp, telling you exactly what the actors will do to get your money, they may be stopping others from falling for the same tricks.
Not everyone, of course. The type of people who visit psychics for anything besides entertainment probably aren’t the kind of folks who check out Yelp reviews beforehand. But they’re not listening to skeptics, either. This isn’t about them. This is about the people who are merely curious but want to know more.
The best part about online reviews of psychic stores is that you don’t have to be biased when talking about your own experiences. Just telling people what happened during your visit may be enough to prevent others from walking through those curtains.
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