Psychic Mediumship

by Tiffany Posey


Psychic mediumship is the belief that people with special, also known as supernatural, abilities can contact the dead and deliver messages from loved ones from “beyond the grave”. Psychic mediumship mostly consists of doing hot and cold readings on people. A cold reading is when the medium makes a very general statement or inference that applies to everyone, like horoscopes, and hot readings are inferences that mediums makes when they have knowledge about a person either from investigation or past encounters. It also consists of retreats to the supernatural, tarot card readings, palm readings, crystal ball usage, promising the impossible, and seances where the medium summons a ghost for a group of people. There are many reasons why people go to mediums or are mediums but the popular reasons are to make money, receive fame, bring or offer comfort, and to bring closure. Information on psychic mediumship can be found online, including what it is, who performs it, where to find them or how to contact them. Medium “shops” can be found just about anywhere in the city and there are also television and phone psychics, so accessibility is not an issue.

Gary Schwartz, a psychologist who graduated and received his PhD from Harvard, believed in this matter after he completed a series of experiments. He “witnessed” certain individuals speaking to the dead during his experiments and later concluded that “gifted psychics” did exist and could in fact talk to the dead. Others who believe this are those who just lost loved ones and are looking for comfort and advice. Usually, people who read horoscopes and are looking for the meaning of life believe in psychic mediumship because they want there to be something “more” out there. Psychic mediumship arose around the 19th century and is still popular today, though there are many people who believe mediums are just exploiting people and taking their money (Lamont, 2013). This belief is extraordinary because it seems impossible to most based on the current human knowledge of how the universe works, which is when people pass they are gone and there is no way to contact them again. This belief is important because even though it has been disputed generation after generation, people continue to believe it, despite all the contradictory evidence. Peter Lamont, author of “Extraordinary Beliefs” said “…in constructing and maintaining particular beliefs about particular phenomena, we have been in the business of constructing ourselves.” What people believe in constitutes who they are and how they behave, and if people base this on a lie, this pseudoscientific practice, then they will not adhere to the well-established knowledge that everyone else follows and believes in already and will believe in nonsense and not actually understand how the universe works. If they hold these pro-supernatural beliefs, then their knowledge of the world is very different.

The evidence for psychic mediumship is that psychics get things right, as seen in the series of studies performed by Garry Schwartz and the Canyon Ranch Experiments. This is due to the fact that psychics usually use cold readings and make very general statements that give them a good chance of guessing right. Also, mediums were shown to be right about half the time in all studies, which is chance level (The Guardian). In addition, results from experiments claiming they proved the supernatural exists could not be replicated. Even though there is little evidence that Psychic mediumship is real there is evidence that it does help people and if something helps enough people, then who’s to say they should not believe in it. It provides people with positive feelings and that death is not the end, which can be comforting, and is why people believe in it. People who believe in psychic mediumship are being misinformed and driven to believe that these things are really happening. Those who believe in it misattribute paranormal causation to experiences that have a natural explanation which can be due to poor cognitive abilities and poor probability judgement (Wiseman).

Humans are social creatures and we make deep connections and relationships with each other which contributes to our desire to hold on to the ones we are close to, even if they are gone. When people have such a close relationship or deep connection with someone it is hard to just let them go because they were the “normal” way of life. Humans are creatures of habit and do not like change which is why people hold on to this belief. A contextual contribution is if the person had an unsatisfactory last experience with the deceased. If someone feels like their last ever experience with that person was bad they want to believe they have a chance to fix it or make amends instead of feeling guilty and being grief stricken over the experience.

Even though there is no evidence to support psychic mediumship people believe in it because there is a desire to stay connected. When a person passes, people do not want to believe they are gone which is why they turn to psychic mediumship. Due to the fact that mediums seem like they know a person and their life people continue to believe in it, thinking they are actually contacting the dead. People who believe in psychic mediumship are being misinformed in this way, leading people to believe in it.

Works Cited

Lamont, P. (2013). Extraordinary beliefs: a historical approach to a psychological problem. Cambridge:

Cambridge University Press.

French, C. (2009, May 12). Scientists put psychics paranormal claims to the test. Retrieved March 01, 2018, from

What Kind of People Believe in Psychic Phenomena? (2015, August 23). Retrieved March 01, 2018, from







9 thoughts on “Psychic Mediumship

  1. I found this post very informative and enjoyed reading about your research and opinions on psych mediumship. I like how you pointed out the research against this, especially with the study from the Guardian. I also like how you pointed out the inevitable fact that humans are social beings and we tend to hold on to those we love – even after they’re gone. I think this plays a crucial role in the confidence in psychic mediums.

  2. I liked how you focused on one person, Garry Schwartz and how you used him and his experiments at Canyon Ranch to show how Psychic Medium ship falls into Pseudoscience. By being able to show how he went about Psychic Mediumship and how real science is able to disprove him specifically it outlines Psychics as a Pseudoscience accurately.

  3. I really liked your paragraph highlighting how hard it is to let a deceased love one go. That need to still connect to people that were important to us is a contribution to believing in something like this that I feel like can be looked over. Overall I really enjoyed this post!

  4. Tiffany, it was not until this class till I learned about hot and cold readings and the difference between them. What was funny is whenever I would read a horoscope I would find it weirdly relatable and now it makes sense. Before you learned about hot and cold readings and how they set it up, were you ever curious about how they make it relatable? I really liked your comment about connections and relationships and our desire to hold onto those things. It makes sense, as relational people why people would want to believe in something like this.

  5. Hey Tiffany,
    I wrote about psychic mediums as well so our posts have a lot of the same ideas. One of the things your post made me think about was the question, should we teach people about the dangers of mediums or pseudoscience? I know it is true for a lot of people that they have never received any education about how false these things are, and only see the media portrayal of them. Do you think that teaching would help expose these people and reduce harm?

  6. Psychic mediumship is definitely an obscure concept. You mentioned in your post that many people believe mediums are exploiting people for monetary gains. This is something I agree with, it seems like people who claim to be able to talk to the dead are only really using those who have suffered a recent loss and want answers. By charging outrageous prices to pretend that you can talk to the dead, mediums take advantage of a vulnerable population.

  7. I also did mediumship and I loved how you put that people are social creatures and want to make that connection with each other. And also, how if they were in a bad position with the person who died, that they believe more because they want to believe that they can fix the guilt. I didn’t think of that when I was writing mine, and it’s just a good reason!

  8. I like how you said that people who maybe had a not so great last experience with their loved one are more likely to want to connect with that person. Obviously, this makes a lot of sense, but it was something I had not considered before. I only thought about the person missing their loved one as motive for wanting to be able to talk to them. As phony as mediums are, if they are providing closure to these people, then maybe it might be worth it for them.

  9. I do find it upsetting to think that mediums are out there finding people who are in their weakest states while grieving a loss and missing a loved one that is gone and spark home in them to talk to this person again. I am sure they make money off of it, too. I am sure it still brings a sense of comfort or even closure for these people, though, which is good. It can be a release of negative emotions.

Comments are closed.