According to James Alcock, everybody is vulnerable to falling for scams when they play on the belief system that we learned as children.
Alcock is a psychology professor at York University and teaches a class on belief systems. “Everybody’s vulnerable,” says Alcock. “You could take a person who doesn’t believe in curses, won’t believe in psychics, is very careful about responding to spam emails and yet they could be suckered by some financial adviser.”
People usually learn about psychics, curses, spells, and witches when they are children, and the belief in these paranormal things are a major component of many different cultures.
Even though most psychics are genuine and authentic, there are others who use this title to deceive and rip people off. They are very good at picking up on the weaknesses and vulnerabilities and use those things against them to take advantage of them, says Alcock.
He states that, “There’s a need the person has, or the psychic creates the need, and then they fill the need.”
Even though Alcock is not a psychic, he gives his students what he calls a “cold reading” every year to see how much he can figure out by just being their professor. He believes that fraudulent psychics use certain “tricks of the trade” so that they can interpret people and get a sense of what they are like, then use that to acquire their confidence and trust.
“When you’re talking to a psychic, you’re giving feedback, even if you’re trying not to,” says Alcock. “We’re constantly giving feedback and a good practitioner will pick up on these things.”
Alcock states that his method of careful observation and using nonspecific statements does seem to work since every now and then he will have a student privately approach him after class and ask him if he is in fact a psychic. They believe this because he seemed to have known all about them, including extremely personal things that had happened to them at some point in their lives.
“Usually what I said was, ‘something tragic’ happened, but the person fills in the blanks and later thinks that’s what you said, because they assume that’s what you were talking about. A good performer can be extremely convincing,” he says.
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