In 1966 the son of Bishop Pike committed suicide. After his death, Pike contacted the British medium Ena Twigg for a series of séances and she claimed to have communicated with his son. Although Twigg denied formerly knowing anything about Pike and his son, the magician John Booth discovered that Twigg had already known information about the Pike family before the séances. Twigg had belonged to the same denomination of Bishop Pike, he had preached at a cathedral in Kent and she had known information about him and his deceased son from newspapers.[169]
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When she mentioned that there had been abuse, I decided I didn’t care if every love card in the deck turned up—the answer was going to be that the relationship was over. Fortunately, the reading was stink-o except for the last card, the ace of disks. That card meant the beginning of good fortune, usually related to finance or work. I told her that Tom was going to bring her nothing but misery, that she had to completely free herself from this relationship because there was a happier future for her if she did. After 10 minutes, we got the signal that her time was almost up, so Claudia re-upped for another 10. After I finished putting a stake into Tom, she asked about someone at work, “Phil,” who seemed smitten with her. That could explain the ace of disks, I realized! But I was worried that Claudia would hop into the sack with Phil if I told her things looked promising. I just said I couldn’t tell if Phil was the one, but that freeing herself from Tom would allow her to slowly find someone better.


The medium Frank Decker was exposed as a fraud in 1932. A magician and séance sitter who called himself M. Taylor presented a mail bag and Decker agreed to lock himself inside it. During the séance objects were moved around the room and it was claimed spirits had released Decker from the bag. It was later discovered to have been a trick as Martin Sunshine, a magic dealer admitted that he sold Decker a trick mail bag, such as stage escapologists use, and had acted as the medium's confederate by pretending to be M. Taylor, a magician.[155] The British medium Estelle Roberts claimed to materialize an Indian spirit guide called "Red Cloud". Researcher Melvin Harris who examined some photographs of Red Cloud wrote the face was the same as Roberts and she had dressed up in a feathered war-bonnet.[156]
In 1991, Wendy Grossman in the New Scientist criticized the parapsychologist Stephen E. Braude for ignoring evidence of fraud in mediumship. According to Grossman "[Braude] accuses sceptics of ignoring the evidence he believes is solid, but himself ignores evidence that does not suit him. If a medium was caught cheating on some occasions, he says, the rest of that medium's phenomena were still genuine." Grossman came to the conclusion that Braude did not do proper research on the subject and should study "the art of conjuring."[180]
I dug them out again this spring for a foray into a career as a phone psychic—the latest installment of “Human Guinea Pig,” a column in which I am supposed to explore intriguing corners of life, but in which, so far, I mostly humiliate myself. (Like here, for example.) Locating openings for my extrasensory services was easy. I went to an online job site and typed “psychic” into the search engine. I sent e-mails to the three companies listed, and two—I’ll call them ESP Net and Chakra Con—sent me back contracts to fill out.
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