I know I shouldn’t get worked up about this kind of thing, but it pisses me off. I received this link to an online psychic website the other day via a tweet.
The home page has an online “psychic experiment” that uses the tired old missing card gag. On the off chance that anyone is still unfamiliar with this basic parlour trick, here it is again.
The subject is shown 6 cards, as below
The subject is then asked to choose one of the cards, but not to say which one, or touch or click the card. OK, Have you picked one?
You then insert your chosen mystic woo into this bit. Here's mine:
After you’ve looked into their eyes are waved your arms around or whatever method you choose to symbolise paranormal activity, the subject is instructed that the paranormal forces have transmitted the chosen card to the receiver.
The subject is then shown the following 5 cards and asked if their chosen card was the one mystically selected to be removed from the list.
Miraculously their card is no longer there, because these are four different, but similar cards. The subject generally only remembers the actual card they chose, plus the fact the others were picture cards of various suites. They scan the new list unsuccessfully for their card and assume the others were part of the original set.
Of course the trick is less effective here, as you can scroll back up and re-look at the original 6 cards. To complete the misconception you would set it up in such a way so as to not reshow the original cards.
Having (hopefully) amazed you with this “psychic experiment”, the website then takes you on to the next screen that claims to tell you how it is done. However, there is no explanation like the one I have just given, just lots of mumbo jumbo and bandying around of words used inappropriately, like crystals and energy. Then of course, the opportunity to register and pay them lots of money for the services of various charlatans and hoaxers.
The art of deception is a clever and wondrous thing. I’m hugely entertained by people like Derren Brown and James Randi, who can invent clever tricks that fool my simple brain. But they openly tell me that I’m being deceived. Creating the illusion that the trick is accomplished by paranormal means in order to extract money from the credulous is immoral and it pisses me off big time.