Psychic secrets revealed

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Here are my notes from my October 2001 lecture at Indiana Wesleyan University. (Adapted from
The Why Files: Are There Really Ghosts?.)

There are only five shopping days left until Halloween, so today I’m here to talk about The Psychic Friends Network, Nostradamus, talking to the dead and other really creepy stuff.

You’ve probably seen the info-mercials for “Psychic Friends,” horoscopes in magazines and newspapers. All promise to give us a sneak preview of the future: Does that cute girl in World Civ. really like me? Is this a good time to declare a major? (If you’re a senior, the answer is YES!) Will I fall asleep in chapel? (Hopefully, the answer is no.)

Let’s do a little experiment on horoscopes. Here are today’s horoscopes, as well as the characteristics of the 12 signs of the Zodiac that make up astrology . . . which teaches that the position of the stars determine your destiny.

[Scroll down to your horoscope, read only yours, then continue on to the end of the horoscopes.]

      Aries (March 21-April 20)
      Those born under this sign are imaginative and sensitive; compassionate and kind; selfless and unworldly; intuitive and sympathetic. The stars reveal that an old friend will have the answer for an important decision you are facing. The loss of many lives will make national news during this phase, so this is good time to re-evaluate your own relationships. Resolve a long-standing disagreement or misunderstanding with a family member. Don’t be discouraged with a personal failure, success will follow during this time period.

      Taurus (April 21-May 20)
      Thse born under this sign are adventurous and energetic; pioneering and courageous; enthusiastic and confident; dynamic and quick-witted. The stars reveal the loss of many lives will make national news during this phase, so this is good time to re-evaluate your own relationships. Resolve a long-standing disagreement or misunderstanding with a family member. Don’t be discouraged with a personal failure, success will follow during this time period. An old friend will have the answer for an important decision you are facing.

      Gemini (May 21-June 21)
      Those born under this sign are patient and reliable; warmhearted and loving; persistent and determined; placid and security loving. The stars reveal it’s time to resolve a long-standing disagreement or misunderstanding with a family member. Don’t be discouraged with a personal failure, success will follow during this time period. An old friend will have the answer for an important decision you are facing. The loss of many lives will make national news during this phase, so this is good time to re-evaluate your own relationships.

      Cancer (June 22-July 22)
      Those born under this sign are adaptable and versatile; communicative and witty; intellectual and eloquent; youthful and lively. The stars advise don’t be discouraged with a personal failure, success will follow during this time period. An old friend will have the answer for an important decision you are facing. The loss of many lives will make national news during this phase, so this is good time to re-evaluate your own relationships. Resolve a long-standing disagreement or misunderstanding with a family member.

      Leo (July 23-August 23)
      Those born under this sign are emotional and loving; intuitive and imaginative; shrewd and cautious; protective and sympathetic. The stars reveal that an old friend will have the answer for an important decision you are facing. The loss of many lives will make national news during this phase, so this is good time to re-evaluate your own relationships. Resolve a long-standing disagreement or misunderstanding with a family member. Don’t be discouraged with a personal failure, success will follow during this time period.

      Virgo (August 24-September 22)
      Those born under this sign are generous and warmhearted; creative and enthusiastic; broad-minded and expansive; faithful and loving. The stars reveal the loss of many lives will make national news during this phase, so this is good time to re-evaluate your own relationships. Resolve a long-standing disagreement or misunderstanding with a family member. Don’t be discouraged with a personal failure, success will follow during this time period. An old friend will have the answer for an important decision you are facing.

      Libra (September 23-October 22)
      Those born under this sign are modest and shy; meticulous and reliable; practical and diligent; intelligent and analytical. The stars indicate this is good time to re-evaluate your own relationships since the loss of many lives will make national news during this phase. Resolve a long-standing disagreement or misunderstanding with a family member. Don’t be discouraged with a personal failure, success will follow during this time period. An old friend will have the answer for an important decision you are facing.

      Scorpio (October 23-November 21)
      Those born under this sign are diplomatic and urbane; romantic and charming; easygoing and sociable; idealistic and peaceable. The stars advise don’t be discouraged with a personal failure, success will follow during this time period. An old friend will have the answer for an important decision you are facing. The loss of many lives will make national news during this phase, so this is good time to re-evaluate your own relationships. Resolve a long-standing disagreement or misunderstanding with a family member.

      Sagittarius (November 22-December 21)
      Those born under this sign are determined and forceful; emotional and intuitive; powerful and passionate; exciting and magnetic. The stars reveal that an old friend will have the answer for an important decision you are facing. The loss of many lives will make national news during this phase, so this is good time to re-evaluate your own relationships. Resolve a long-standing disagreement or misunderstanding with a family member. Don’t be discouraged with a personal failure, success will follow during this time period.

      Capricorn (December 22-January 19)
      Those born under this sign are optimistic and freedom-loving; jovial and good-humored; honest and straightforward; intellectual and philosophical. The stars reveal the loss of many lives will make national news during this phase, so this is good time to re-evaluate your own relationships. Resolve a long-standing disagreement or misunderstanding with a family member. Don’t be discouraged with a personal failure, success will follow during this time period. An old friend will have the answer for an important decision you are facing.

      Aquarius (January 20-February 18)
      Those born under this sign are practical and prudent; ambitious and disciplined; patient and careful; humorous and reserved. The stars indicate it’s time to resolve a long-standing disagreement or misunderstanding with a family member. Don’t be discouraged with a personal failure, success will follow during this time period. An old friend will have the answer for an important decision you are facing. The loss of many lives will make national news during this phase, so this is good time to re-evaluate your own relationships.

      Pisces (February 19-March 20)
      Those born under this sign are friendly and humanitarian; honest and loyal; original and inventive; independent and intellectual. The stars advise don’t be discouraged with a personal failure, success will follow during this time period. An old friend will have the answer for an important decision you are facing. The loss of many lives will make national news during this phase, so this is good time to re-evaluate your own relationships. Resolve a long-standing disagreement or misunderstanding with a family member.

So, how close was our psychic in assessing your personality traits and in predicting what issues you’re dealing with? Rate them on a scale of one to five.

      1. Completely inaccurate

      2, Somewhat inaccurate

      3. Some were, some weren’t accurate

      4. Somewhat accurate

      5. Scary accurate

If like most people, you’re probably thinking, “Wow, that’s amazing!” How did he know that?!

Well, actually I shifted the astrological traits up one category, so your alleged traits are actually in the previous sign. For instance, Aries characteristics are actually listed under Taurus; Pisces traits are listed under Aries.

And the psychic advice is identical—except for the order—in each of the signs.

Oh, one more thing, I’m the psychic!

Swami Watkins advises: Don’t be discouraged with a personal failure, success will follow during this time period. An old friend will have the answer for an important decision you are facing. The loss of many lives will make national news during this phase, so this is good time to re-evaluate your own relationships. Resolve a long-standing disagreement or misunderstanding with a family member.

Astrologers and psychics are counting on you wanting to believe them.

The characteristics of the various signs of horoscopes are so vague, we could talk ourselves into believing “that’s me”!

And stargazers are depending on you to interpret their general predictions with your specific situation. Say, for instance, you didn’t do well on a midterm last week. If you really believe in my astrological powers, you will interpret the vague word “failure” as “C- in Organic Chemistry. “Wow, Swami Watkins knew that! No, I didn’t. But I do know that every single one of us is going to fail at something this week.

Astrologers and psychics get into trouble when they try to predict specific events.

For instance, did Nostradamus, the French astrologer and grocery-store tabloid icon, predict the terrible terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in 1654? Here’s what was making the e-mail rounds:

      The big war will begin when the big city is burning
      on the 11th day of the 9th month that . . .
      two metal birds would crash into two tall statues
      in the new city and the world will end soon after.
      Nostradus, 1654

Wow! Amazing, but just a few problems:

First, Nostradamus was dead in 1654! (He died in 1566.)

Secondly, he never wrote that! Here’s what he did write:

      The sky will burn at forty-five degrees latitude,
      Fire approaches the great new city
      Immediately a huge, scattered flame leaps up
      When they want to have verification from the Normans
      Century 6, Quatrain 97

New York City lies at exactly 40 degrees, 42 minutes, 51 seconds north latitude and the Normans are the French. For the truly paranoid, beware of Alpina, Michigan; St. Cloud, Minnesota; Billings, Montana; Portland, Oregon and Aberdeen, South Dakota. They are all on the 45th latitude!

Third, his predictions, written in four-line verses called “quatrains,” are so vague that his words can be interpreted to mean virtually anything.

A more recent “seer” was Jean Dixon, who had a best-selling book in the 1960’s, gained fame for predicting the assassination of President Kennedy. Then, again, so did my chronically conservative grandfather: “Somebody’s gonna kill that young, liberal whipper-snapper.”

What doesn’t appear on Dixon’s resume’ is that she also predicted that Richard Nixon would win the 1960 election—not Kennedy and that the Russians would beat us to the moon. She had a 6 percent record for accuracy during her career!

For the last ten years, I’ve tracked the New Years’ predictions that the tabloids run each December or January.
Here are some of the events they’ve predicted that at least until now have not come to pass ten years later.

      Soviet cosmonauts will be shocked to discover an abandoned alien space station–with the bodies of several ETs aboard

      Tom Cruise will lose his hair

      Vanna White will be electrocuted while turning letters on “Wheel of Fortune”

      Michael Jackson will lose his voice

      O.J. Simpson will breakdown and admit he killed Nicole and Ron Goldman on Howard Stern’s Show. He’ll call back to say it’s an April Fool’s joke, but it will be in July.

      Hillary Clinton will give birth in the White House

      Bob Dole will become president

Ten years later, aliens still haven’t shown up on network TV!

And then there’s James VanPraugh’s best-seller Talking to Heaven. He’s a “survival evidence medium.” He writes he is “able to bridge the gap between two planes of existence, that of the living and that of the dead, by providing evidential proof of life after death via detailed messages.”

As a person of faith, I believe in life after death. But, I’ve got to admit, I don’t believe in medium Van Praagh or any of his psychic friends.

Like psychics, medium Van Praagh’s secret is to be vague very vague.

On “Good Morning America” he amazed a New York writer by telling her that her dead father wanted to talk about shoes. She immediately burst into tears. “I used to polish my dad’s shoes.”

Now, unless you live in West Virginia, you probably wear shoes. VanPraagh merely provided a very general category, and the woman filled in the specific details herself. He then followed this lead to provide other “amazing details” such as “he likes shiny shoes.” Well, duh, isn’t the reason you polish shoes!

Van Praagh explains his vagueness by the fact that he doesn’t hear voices (that should reassure a court-appointed psychiatrist) but he senses the deceased feelings.

[In “Sixth Sense” voice] “I feel dead people.”

He told another subject on “The View” talk show. “I sense laughter,” “Yes,” she gushed. “My uncle had a wonderful sense of humor.” Another safe guess. Everyone, except a few professors, has a sense of humor.

“Psychic Friends” and Van Praagh depend on their subjects deep desire to believe in their powers. So, they begin with making vague statements,

“Is there a conflict in your life?”

Well, duh, who doesn’t have conflict!

Next question, “Does it involve someone close to you?” Duh, again. You rarely have conflict with someone you don’t know.

The subject—who’s often paying $3.95 a minute in phone charges or $250 per session with Van Praagh? provides all the answers for the clever psychic! “I see you losing a great deal of money!”

And like psychics, Van Praagh, seemed to be as wrong as many times as he was right. He had a message from beyond from a living person on the morning news show.

The ancient Hebrews assured the survival of the fittest prophets by killing those who didn’t have perfect prediction records. I kinda like that!

And, for people of faith, the Bible seems pretty clear on the subject astrology, horoscopes, and psychics which it calls “divination” and “sorcery.”

      “Let no one be found among you who . . . who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you” (Deuteronomy 18:10-12).

In the New Testament, new converts to Christianity rejected their old pagan practices:

      Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds. A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas (Acts 19:18-19).

I agree that most psychic phenomenon is strictly sophisticated fakery. But the Bible provides a second possible explanation in Acts 16:16-19:

      Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.

      When the owners of the slave girl realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities.

I believe that, like the slave girl, some psychics get their power from the enemy. That’s why I’d stay a long way from psychics, ouija boards, horoscopes, mediums, and all the rest.

So why do people turn to Nostradamus who was the second highest search engine word following the terrorist attack?! to Psychic Friends?

Stephen O’Leary, a professor of communications at the University of Southern California, and who studies Nostradamus, believes “Finding an event predicted in prophecy gives people some kind of comfort, as if there’s more order.”

I’d suggest you get in touch with the real spirit world: The Holy Spirit

Jesus promises us in John 14:26 and 16:26:

      But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

      But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

You are making major life decisions here in college, so you’re desperate for direction. But beware of where you turn for direction. Psychics are charlatans at best, and satanic at worst. You never see the headline, “Psychic Wins PowerBall Lottery.” Why trust a psychic who can’t even tell you your name when you call them, when God Himself calls you and knows your name?

So why consult the stars when you can have a relationship with the One who made the stars?

And why tamper with hokey spirits when you can be filled with the Holy Spirit?

As I shared with you last spring, God has a plan for your life that Romans 12:1-2 says is “good, pleasing, and perfect.”

So, you have some major decisions with major consequences Will you receive direction from horoscopes or the Holy Spirit?

Swami Watkins advises the Holy Spirit!

Copyright © 2001 James N. Watkins. All rights reserved.

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