The Psychic Tests


I enjoyed The Psychic Tests so much! Gary Nunn began this exploration of the appeal of psychics, fortune tellers, astrologers, mediums, clairvoyants etc, firmly on the strictly rational, scientific, it's-all-a-load-of-nonsense side of the fence; in fact he embarked on the project partly to debunk his sister's addiction to visiting psychics. However, partway through the book, he discovers that his sister has abandoned her obsession (well, almost) and feels slightly ashamed of her former preoccupation, while Gary himself has begun to see some value in it.

This is a thoroughly engaging trip through the history and pseudo-science of mediumship of all types -- the sincere, the openly fraudulent, the mysterious, the fun and the solemn. Nunn begins to feel sympathy for those, like his sister, who use psychics to help them work through deep grief or psychological confusion, though he doesn't have much time for the supposed 'clairvoyants' who pronounce on crimes, like one who told a mother of a missing child to give up hope. Alas, the mother died of grief and the child was eventually rescued from her abductor. Unforgivable.

The Psychic Tests finishes with Nunn converting to the enemy camp (not really) and learning how to read tarot cards himself. This is hands-down the best account of what it feels like to read tarots that I have ever read. Nunn is upfront with his 'clients' that he claims no supernatural powers, and is merely regurgitating what he's read about the meaning of the cards; nevertheless, he describes the seductive power and playful fun of interpreting a tarot reading; the eagerness of his subjects, leaning bright-eyed over the cards; the subtle art of favouring one interpretation or another; the delight of the rich symbolism of the cards themselves. The Psychic Tests was worth reading for this section alone. Lots of fun.

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