In an article published by Elite Daily, writer Alexandra Strickler explained how a reading from a psychic medium named MaryAnn DiMarco made her “question” her “years of atheism.” And whenever someone makes a claim like that, it’s worth looking at the story with a skeptical eye…
First, let me clarify that Strickler (presumably) still identifies as an atheist. In fact, it doesn’t even seem like she believes in psychics. She writes in her conclusion:
So, coming out on the other side of my reading with DiMarco, I don’t suddenly believe in the all-knowing power of all psychics, nor do I suddenly believe deceased loved ones are guiding me through life.
But, I do believe some people are more intuitive than others, and with the right dedication to that craft, you can harness it to help other people navigate this world, which is exactly what DiMarco is doing.
Let’s get the obvious question out of the way: Can you be an atheist who also believes in psychics? Sure. It’s not out of the question to dismiss God while believing in other supernatural ideas, including ghosts, Heaven, and karma. That’s not to say those beliefs are rational, but that it’s possible. The only requirement for atheism is that you don’t believe in deities.
Strickler appears to be in that group of atheists who believes in psychics from the start. She writes in the beginning of her article that she believes “in a general concept of energies out there in the universe.” Whatever that means. (It sounds like a kind of pseudoscience related to the misnamed “Law of Attraction.”)
I believe that, as human beings, our thoughts and our “vibes,” if you will, play some part in the overall workings of the universe. They make shit happen, even if I’m not entirely sure how they make shit happen.
Despite my skepticism about DiMarco’s line of work, I still went into the reading feeling utterly terrified. I may not believe in this stuff, but like most people, I am afraid of the unknown.
So Strickler was already primed to believe; she was ready for someone to fill in the blanks in her beliefs and make them make more sense.
Ultimately, Strickler didn’t become a believer, but she said that she was was “speechless” and “seriously freaked” out by her reading with DiMarco.
Here’s why she shouldn’t have been, and why you shouldn’t be either should you decide to undergo a psychic reading.
- DiMarco, like most psychics, seems like an intuitive person who knows how to read people. This is a common trait for those who use cold and hot reading tactics to trick unsuspecting customers because it makes inane observations seem significant and relevant. While it might sound amazing to unsuspecting victims, it’s all part of the game for parlor-trick psychics.
A conversation with DiMarco feels eerily like speaking to someone you’ve known for a really long time. It felt like I was reconnecting with an old friend or a long-lost family member. She was warm, she was passionate, and she knew way more about me than I ever expected her to.
- Psychics like DiMarco rely on our human tendency to interpret seemingly random statements within our own mindset and relate them to our life experiences. In this case, the psychic classified Strickler as an “empath” and said she’d be “interested” to see her “in a really crowded room.” She added, “I wonder if sometimes you’re like, ‘Why do I not want to stand near so-and-so?’” Not only was DiMarco describing a common behavior for most people, but she was also linking it to her client’s supposed emotional connection to people. Strickler interpreted this differently, but took the bait nonetheless.
DiMarco was beyond accurate about this. I tend to feel extremely overwhelmed in a crowded room, and then subsequently drained after most social interactions. However, I’ve always personally chalked it up to social anxiety, or me being an introverted person.
But, it’s interesting to reexamine my introverted personality under the psychic medium’s interpretation of me. It’s almost as if DiMarco was confirming something I already knew about myself, and helping me reframe that in a different context.
- DiMarco, like almost every alleged medium, used common knowledge and statistics to make safe bets about her client’s life. She guessed, for example, that the writer “had aspirations of writing a book one day” and that she had a family member who struggled with “addiction.” Crazy, right?!
For example, she knew about one of my family member’s struggles with addiction, even though I’ve only discussed this with a small handful of people close to me.
She also knew about the distance between my mother and one of my brothers, and she described me as a “gift” to my mother.
We don’t know how many predictions were “misses.” We only know which ones struck a chord with Strickler. We also don’t know if the medium had a chance to learn anything about Strickler before their meeting (via Google or elsewhere). It’s also not weird to suggest there are rifts in a family or that a child is the apple of her mother’s eye.
DiMarco went on to predict that Strickler loves “the sounds of nature” and that she has “vivid dreams.” Really, who doesn’t?
I’m unimpressed, and this story certainly didn’t make me question my atheism. Strickler would be wise to use the skepticism that guides her thinking about religion to the medium. Would she have felt any differently if a pastor said similar things in a sermon?