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The Truth About Psychics

Mentalist Wayne Hoffman who has appeared on NBC’s Phenomenon, The Ellen Degeneres Show, and more, gives surprising answers to Breezy Mama’s questions on psychics! But, first, my long winded intro…

Just in time for Halloween, I thought I would talk connecting with “spirits”… well, okay… at least have us all learn how to fake it for fun. After becoming completely obsessed with The Long Island Medium where Theresa Caputo “connects with the dead” and sends their loved ones messages, I just had to learn more. In fact, I’ve gotten my husband addicted to the half hour show and he mainly just likes to watch ME watch. And, believe me, it’s a sight to be seen… I laugh, cry, gasp – the show is incredibly entertaining and amazing just how right she can be. My obsession wouldn’t die, so I googled, “Is the Long Island Medium Real” and found a Wikipedia page on how to do “cold readings.” After learning the techniques, I was completely let down and felt The Long Island Medium was fake. In fact, I even tried the techniques on a couple of willing participants and was able to “read” them! No, I’m not psychic and I am not hearing from spirits, but when you start with a generic topic, it’s amazing how you can suddenly connect with a person who completely believes you are “reading them” and then connect the dots from there.

After learning these tricks of the trade so to speak, I watched the TLC show with new eyes. Admittedly, I am still floored at some of the connections Theresa makes (and I definitely am still a fan and watch every episode)! Though, it’s hard to say how many times or if she’s wrong because the show may be editing it out. Nonetheless, I reached out for an interview, but I have not heard back. Thankfully, Wayne Hoffman — a professional mentalist, illusionist and author of Mind Candy who has been featured on NBC’s Phenomenon, The Ellen Degeneres Show, Glenn Beck, Howard Stern and The Discovery Network — was willing to answer Breezy Mama’s questions. Oh! And feel free to use these tips at your Halloween parties – you are sure to be the mind reading hit!

It seems that [The Long Island Medium] Theresa Caputo’s “readings” start very generic. For example, if a family is grieving their son who died, she would say, “Did he have an iPod”… which most 18 year olds do. Or, she’ll ask an elderly woman if her mom has passed (duh). Or does someone know a man who died due to an issue with his chest, which could mean heart, lungs… most people know ONE man who has.

My question: When doing a reading, once you throw out the generic connection, does intuition kick in or is she just a genius at reading people or a combo of both?

The idea of spiritualism has been around for hundreds of years. It was highly prevalent in the early 1900’s and it seems there is always someone in pop-culture who has the apparent ability to speak to the dead. The techniques of those who claim these abilities range from subtle to outright devious. Throwing out general statements is a very often used technique as the participant listening will latch onto to anything that makes sense. This is driven by the intense urge to speak to their loved-one. Another method is to repeat back something that the participant already told you. When you recollect the story, you’re likely to falsely remember the medium miraculously knowing that fact. My theory is: If the deceased could speak to us…..I think they would be a little more direct.

How do you learn to do cold readings and what are some of your tips from your book Mind Candy for mastering the skill?

Psychic frauds tend to hang out and communicate with other frauds. There are tight circles of so-called mediums that share publications that teach how to dupe people out of their money. Performing cold-readings well, like most things, comes with practice. Watching for subtle body language from the participant that will signal that your guess is correct and other various techniques take tons of practice. So while the basic idea of cold-reading is simple, to master it truly takes skill. My book Mind Candy really steps away from the art of psychological manipulation and is my venture into the world of motivation. It’s a book that teaches people how to achieve their goals.

Do you believe The Long Island Medium is real and that she really is “talking with spirits”?

Absolutely not. I could, with way more accuracy, tell people things about their loved ones. Anyone who has attended one of my live theater shows can attest to that fact. The difference is in the fact that I don’t claim to be speaking with spirits. The fact remains that despite the human need to have proof of “the great beyond,” it is impossible to contact those who have died.

Whether psychic readings are really talking with “spirits”, they seem to bring people a lot of comfort. As someone who has studied psychology, do you feel the results are pretty similar to seeing a counselor or psychologist?

It’s a debate that I’ve had with others and even myself for quite sometime. It’s true that many people will walk away from their interaction with a medium and feel better. The problem comes when they also walk away a little lighter in the wallet. I was told that John Edwards charges up to $500 to sit in the audience of one of his performances and that doesn’t even guarantee that you will be “read” by him. It’s my personal opinion that mediumship is a great form of entertainment, but people should go in with exactly that in mind. It’s for entertainment.

When doing a reading, have you ever picked up on something you decided not to share with the person that is too negative?

As a professional mentalist I’ve studied cold-readings and I even tried it a few times to see what it was like. I decided that I wasn’t going to cross the line and claim to be a psychic. During my career I’ve had people think of things that were extremely personal and sometimes negative. It’s my personal rule to never proceed to invade someone’s thoughts if they are of that nature. If they think of a random number or a random word I will figure it out and watch them react in amazement. Otherwise, no dice.

Since you have studied psychic demonstrations, can you tell us some interesting things you have uncovered?

Most people are inherently interested in psychic phenomenon. The interesting thing about it is in the fact that true psychic phenomenon doesn’t exist. However, human beings will forever have a place in their mind that tricks them into believing that it does. The other funny thing is that John Edwards is a former ballroom dance instructor.

Just for fun, what are some fun things people can do at upcoming Halloween parties to entertain with?

I would recommend that people go to a local magic shop and learn a few magic tricks. With the right story, people will believe that they are witnessing something from another world!

Any other tips or information you’d like to share?

James Randi, a former magician, for many years offered $1,000,000.00 to anyone who could prove they had psychic ability under scientific conditions. Nobody was ever able to claim the money. He has created a great resource for information in his James Randi Educational Foundation or “JREF.”

If you’d like to experience what it feels like to have your mind read you can check out the interactive portion of my website via this link:

As for psychics who have solved crimes? According to Wikipedia:

“Claims of psychic crime-solving repeatedly failed scrutiny. A major ploy the claimants used was a technique called “retrofitting” (or after-the-fact matching). For example, the psychic offers several vague “clues”—such as “I see water; I’m getting the number 7; and so on”—which are invariably of little use to police. However, after the facts become known, the psychic attempts to fit them to the earlier offerings. (For instance, a corpse may have been near a stream, pond, lake, or other body of water, and the number 7 might be made to seem a fit by pointing out that the location was 7 miles out of town, or off Highway 7, or 27, or the like.) Retrofitting has duped even seasoned homicide detectives.”

(Psst.. and in case you are wondering about Allison DuBois that the show Medium was based on, read this article.)

For more information on how to do cold readings and be the hit of your Halloween parties, be sure to read about them here)

Do you believe in psychics? Tell us in the comments below!

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About Wayne Hoffman

Wayne Hoffman was raised by his single mother in a small town in Pennsylvania. At a young age Wayne’s mother gave him a magic set and this sparked Wayne’s lifelong passion. Even though only starting his craft at the age of seven Wayne was performing professionally by the age of fifteen, and by the age of eighteen Wayne was touring the US performing his show “Mind Candy”.

His two current shows, “Mind Candy”, and his theater show “Phenomenon”, are high-energy displays of magic and psychological stunts. Wayne’s stage presence reminds his audience of a down-to-earth friend who happens to be able to read minds. His loose style and highly interactive show give a fresh approach to magic and mentalism. Wayne is currently authoring his first motivational book entitled “Mind Candy”, as well as his own clothing and jewelry line under the same name.

To learn more about Wayne, visit:

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  1. Very interesting read!! I’ve never done a cold reading, but had my palm read a couple times for fun at a carnival. 😉

  2. Wow this was SO interesting! I love the Long Island Medium too and feel like if she’s bringing people peace and making them happier, than I don’t care if it’s real or not. Regardless of how much they’re paying for it. When you have unanswered questions ANY amount is worth that peace of mind to me. I think if she were giving families damaging information….that’s when we’ve got a real problem.

  3. Love the Long Island Medium! I’m with Kat. I don’t care if she’s real or not. I love that she’s bring peace to these people who’s lives she touches.

  4. Very true Kat and Theresa. The peace she brings is usually what has me blubbering w/ tears running down my cheeks as I watch -lol. And, Laura, thanks for sharing! I’ve never had either… still curious as to what would come out of it 🙂

  5. I’ve never seen this show but I have often wondered about psychics. Seems exactly like you call it–them reading body language after starting with a very generic question. Like “I see a man in your past”. Yeah, no shit! Could be a dad, brother, boyfriend, anything. Then they follow your cues. But I can see that if they’re “power” brings people a sense of healing and/or closure then it can be a good thing.

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