Never be afraid to get dirty, but be sufficiently sure-footed to avoid the abyss of contamination.


USA Network debuted Psych a few weeks ago. The show is about a man who uses his photographic memory to solve crimes. However, no one believes he has a photographic memory, so he pretends to be a psychic.

A photographic memory is not a precondition to convince others you have psychic powers, and con-artists have used this to their advantage. Cold reading is a powerful psychological trick that allows the practitioner to discover information about a target without any advanced knowledge and without appearing to ask the target any questions. The technique is popular among television psychics and others to convince people of their abilities. So-called pickup artists have also used it to seduce women, as chronicled in Neil Strauss’s The Game. Another technique, known as warm reading, is when the practitioner actually has advanced knowledge about the target. In a video about his investigations, James Randi explains how he uncovered a self-proclaimed faith healer that resorted to this form of trickery.

While some readily accept psychic powers, there is one recent event in which a photographic memory was not accepted as a credible explanation. Sorry, Kaavya!


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