I Spent Years Studying Psychic Mediums: 6 Myths About Them I No Longer Believe
Being a science-minded skeptic, I had always assumed that psychic mediums—and the possibility of an afterlife in general—were complete nonsense. It was out of desperation after the passing of my dad that I set out to further explore the world of mediumship. And to say I was astounded by what I encountered is an understatement.
After sitting through over 50 medium readings (using fake information so they couldn't Google me!), I've watched human beings defy the laws of the universe as I always understood them to be. I have now spent the past five years researching the evidence of an afterlife and the scientists who officially study it. (Yes, they exist!) The experience even inspired me to write a book about this topic, WTF Just Happened?!: A Sciencey-skeptic Explores Grief, Healing, and Evidence of An Afterlife, which comes out next month.
Before I committed to learning more about psychic mediums, I believed so many commonly accepted misconceptions about them. Here are six such myths that I personally would now consider busted:
Myth #1: All psychic mediums are frauds.
In my experience, it's true that some are, but many are not. Many take their craft very seriously; they attend classes and dedicate hours to studying and perfecting their abilities, and ethics are important to them.
For example, I have had mediums who ask clients not to give any personal information when booking a reading, or who hire assistants to manage all bookings so they don't know anything about the future client going into a reading. In group readings, some mediums have shared that they know some information about me “by normal means,” meaning they know I lost my dad ahead of time.
To avoid mediums who are fraudulent, I suggest staying away from the storefront psychic shops where they have signs offering cheap, $10 readings. I also suggest, as I mentioned above, concealing your information so mediums cannot "cheat" by looking you up beforehand. (The ethical ones won't anyway, but if they end up giving you accurate information, this will ease any potential doubts about how they got it.)
Myth #2: If they aren't frauds, they are delusional.
I will admit that many mediums I've come across conflate logical reasoning with psychic or mediumship abilities.
For example, when I took a mediumship class and had to give a reading to another class member—a middle-aged woman—I told her she had lost her grandmother, that her grandmother was a warm woman, and that she had gray hair and baked cookies. These were all logical deductions that I figured would most likely be right, and they were. I was not intentionally "cheating," but these thoughts popped into my head logically. I was not reading her mind, nor could I sense her grandmother communicating with me. If I thought I had psychic abilities (which I don't), I might have considered this a psychic moment.
However, if I'd known the name of her grandmother, her hobbies, her personality, or the cause of her death, that would be harder to attribute to logical deductions. There is a small selection of mediums that get to this level of specific information regularly.
Myth #3: Science does not take psychic mediums seriously.
Yes, the majority of scientists dismiss the concept of an afterlife and would never consider psychic mediums to be worthy of consideration. However, there are a handful of serious researchers who study psychic mediums using science-based protocols.
For example, The Division of Perceptual Studies (DOPS) is a research group of the University of Virginia School of Medicine that studies everything from past life memories to near-death experiences to, yes, mediumship. The Windbridge Institute administers rigorous testing to psychic mediums to assure they get accurate information without cheating. And The Forever Family Foundation is an organization that combines science and spirituality to help those grieving, and they work with certified mediums and also have a scientific advisory board.
Myth #4: Psychics and mediums are the same thing.
A psychic reading is when someone connects with a living person to read their energy, thoughts, and life path. When you want information into your own life choices, you want to get a psychic reading. During a mediumship reading, the medium connects with a person or being who has passed away. I've found that all mediums can give psychic readings as well, but not all psychics are able to connect with those who have passed away.
Myth #5: Psychics always know what you're thinking.
No. Psychic mediums do not know the thoughts, deep secrets, and internal dialogue of all their friends or everyone they hang out with socially. They might know something that the average person wouldn't, such as that someone is cheating or has a deceased loved one. However, there are boundaries and limits. Mediums want to socialize and have friends like the rest of us. They learn to "turn off" their abilities and not "tune in" while they are just going about their lives.
Myth #6: Mediums never grieve.
Mediums are humans, and they grieve like the rest of us. While their "knowledge" or experience of the afterlife can help ease their pain, they still miss their loved ones just like anyone else. Since a medium reading is more like playing charades than talking on the phone, they cannot talk to their loved ones the way they could when their loved ones were alive. We would all love medium abilities to be that perfect!
If you too are dealing with grief or are anxious about mortality in general (aren't we all?), don't dismiss the possibility of psychic mediums and that there is more than this life. Once I opened up my mind to the world of mediumship, I was surprised to find that some common misconceptions about it might not be based on truth.
Liz began examining if there was valid evidence of an afterlife in 2015 following the passing of her father. She wrote a book and created a podcast that will both be launching in late 2021 on the topic entitled WTF Just Happened?!: A sciencey-skeptic explores grief, healing, and evidence of the afterlife. Her writing has appeared in Thrive Global and The Huffington Post.