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reader comments: Long Island Medium

9 Nov 2012
Dear Mr. Carroll,

In regards to your article on The Long Island Medium, I know you are wrong. TLC recently did a FAQ show on her and asked her about cold readings, she didn't know what they were.

reply: You don't have to know or understand cold reading to do it and be good at it. Some people are very sensitive to others and pay attention to minute details of their lives that most people would not notice. Some of the sensitive people are encouraged to believe they're psychic and they come to believe it, doing exactly what professional cold readers do, though without knowing anything about cold reading. I'm not saying Caputo is sensitive. She's more likely a huckster like Sylvia Browne.

Also, these days there are so many mediums on television and appearing in venues across many nations that even a child can pick up what kind of routine a John Edward, a Sylvia Browne, or a James van Praagh uses. In fact, children have imitated these mediums, some with great fanfare. Please see my article "Child's Play: Pretending to be Psychic."

She has had skeptics on the show that did not want to believe her but she got messages from their loved ones and they didn't doubt her. Several of her clients have spoken with their deceased loved ones and asked them to say a word to Theresa, which she will say to the client and they are stunned. They said they asked the loved one to say a word so they would know if Theresa was on the level.

reply: I don't doubt that many people believe Theresa and hundreds of others like her actually get messages from the dead. I think mediums take advantage of the strong feelings people have for their deceased loved ones. Mediums find it easy to manipulate vulnerable people. Some, like van Praagh, justify their actions by appealing to their belief that they are offering comfort to the bereaved. I think such mediums are deceiving themselves.

I can see how you and others would believe that Theresa is the real thing since she can feed back to a client some word that the client allegedly told the deceased one in private. Ask yourself this question: if the deceased can get messages from the living, why don't they directly communicate with them? It doesn't make sense. There may be some trick being played here. I can't prove it, but it wouldn't be the first time that a medium used hot reading to dupe a client. It's also possible that clients assent to her claim of word transfer from client to ghost to medium just to please the medium. If the medium isn't pleased, she might just cut short the session and the desired communication with the loved one might be stifled. Again, I can't prove it but it is possible that Theresa is in cahoots with the clients. In any case, I don't find the evidence you provide here to be very strong in favor of actual communication with the dead.

How do you explain that she always gets information right? How would she know that the son of a loved one picked her up when she died or what was whispered in someone's ear? How would she know what the loved one died from, car crash, heart attack, suicide? She mentions tattoo's that she can't see, articles of clothing, jewelry, etc, specific to that person.

reply: You are watching a television program. It is edited. The producers of the show are not going to show the medium making wrong guesses. If you make enough claims, you are bound to get assent to some of them. If you know anything about how subjective validation works, then you would understand that there is a natural tendency among humans to try to find meaning even where there is none. In the case of mediumship, the clients are highly motivated to find some sort of significance and meaning in just about anything the medium throws out. That's why there are dozens of true dolts who are very successful with this mediumship shtick.

I am a very logical person and can usually dismiss most so called "signs." I, however, did have an unexplained experience a few years ago. I walked through a spirit. I was taking a walk in the neighborhood and all of a sudden I walked into a cold spot on a warm day. Weird, I thought, but then I remembered our neighbors deceased son. It was his spirit. I quickly crossed the street.

My father recently passed and my mom has been having dreams where he talks to her. He tells her that there are a lot of people in heaven. He gave her this interesting news, "Heaven isn't what I thought it would be but I didn't do too badly for myself." I have no doubt that there's an afterlife, I just wonder what it's like.

Theresa gave the perfect description of a skeptic, "A skeptic is someone who wants to believe but doesn't know how to believe." Is this you?

Sincerely, Yolanda

reply: Theresa's description of a skeptic is silly. What does it mean to not know how to believe in ghosts or to not believe that clowns, ballroom dancers, and telephone operators get messages from dead people?

Many people like you want to believe in an afterlife and look for anything that will confirm that belief, including the work of mediums like Theresa Caputo and Sylvia Browne. I used to believe in an afterlife, so clearly I once knew how to believe (whatever that might mean). I gave up the belief when it became apparent that the evidence for the belief is in the form of anecdotes, sessions with psychics and mediums, apparitions, dreams, religious myths, and other things of dubious merit. Upon reflection, however, I have come to the conclusion that living forever as some sort of ghost is not that attractive, especially if all I have to look forward to is sending clipped messages to characters like John Edward or spend eternity worshipping some Lord.

Anyway, the Nov. 8th episode of Inside Edition featured Mark Edward's exposé of Caputo. I recommend you read Mark's blog about the experience. There's more to Caputo than meets the eye.

Long Island Medium

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