As an atheist I reject all religions and supernatural claims. It’s fairly simple really, but many religious people seem to take this as a personal attack on the beliefs. It’s not. A Christian’s beliefs are as ridiculous and unfounded as a Muslim’s or a Hindu’s and should be treated with an equal amount of derision.

But let’s not forget that it’s just not the religious leaders that are happy to prey on the vulnerable and gullible. If hell existed, a special place in it would be reserved for psychics, mediums and other frauds who claim to be able to contact the spirits of people who have died.

The really, truly disturbing thing about those who claim to posses these supernatural powers is that they must take an incredibly calculating approach to their “profession”. To use techniques like cold reading, and to carry out the amount of preparation they do requires a certain dedication, a certain amount of planning, to carry it off. So when you consider that these people are taking advantage of the emotionally vulnerable in such a callous way, it really drums home the unpleasantness of their actions.

Boing Boing recently posted the video embedded below. In it, three psychics are invited to do a reading in an old chocolate factory. Specifically, the host is seeking information about the boss of the establishment.

If this video doesn’t hammer home the blind face cheek and unashamedly deceitful nature of these people, you should really watch it again. Out of the three psychics, one is attempting cold reading whilst the other two have simply researched the subject before hand. All three have ended up contacting the spirit of someone who simply never existed.

This brings to mind a famous story I once heard of a very famous ghost hunting show. This particular show visited a hotel that was known to be haunted by a certain ghoul. The psychic duly contacted the spirit of the ghoul and recited information regarding the circumstances of their death. All very convincing until we learn a few years later that the current owner of the hotel had made the story up in order to raise publicity of the establishment. Like the chocolate factory in the video above, the psychic contacted the spirit of a person, and recited details of their life, even though this person never existed.

Like religion and the complete absence of evidence for any of the claimed deities, there is no evidence whatsoever for the claims these psychics make. In fact, they consistently and regularly fail scientific “double blind” tests and are incapable of performing in front of people who are wise to their tricks.

All this is important to remember because these people try to invade people’s lives when they are feeling the most vulnerable. Much like religion, they try to plug a gap that is perceived by those who are incapable of coping with a given situation. It’s hard to criticise those people, and they should very much be treated as victims of these scams. What cannot easily be forgiven is that the authorities allow these people to operate, sanctioned by the law in many cases.

However, the real enemy in this are the perpetrators themselves. Whilst many atheists give religious people a free pass on the grounds of being indoctrinated and brain washed from a young age, the same cannot be said of psychics and mediums. They know absolutely that the claims they make are not true, otherwise, why would they resort to techniques such as cold reading and research? And yet they happily give false hope, false information and take money from the vulnerable and misguided. Sickening.