Psychics and Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

The Fool Tarot CardI’ve gone to a psychic before. A couple of times, in fact. Skeptics accuse psychics of doing “cold readings”, inferring things from a client’s appearance and mannerisms. That’s what I like about psychics. I don’t believe in psychics or horoscopes, but I do find it interesting, from a psychological perspective, to know what a stranger thinks of me. I’m more interested in knowing about the present than the future. If a psychic, doing a cold reading, can tell me that I look unhappy or unhealthy in a specific way, then maybe there’s a real problem that needs addressing.

I’m much more skeptical about psychics’ ability to tell the future. Even if I did find a psychic who could tell the future, would I really want to know the truth? Imagine if the psychic told you that you would never be rich, or that you would die alone. These are real possibilities, but if I were truly psychic, I wouldn’t have the heart to tell my clients the cold, hard truth.

The biggest problem with knowing the future is that it can lead to self-fulfilling prophecy. For example, say I go to a psychic and ask about my love life. She tells me that I will meet a tall blonde at a Starbucks on a Tuesday afternoon. Whether or not the prophecy is true, I might decide that this is the only girl for me. I might ignore the short brunette in the corner, or the tall blonde at the supermarket. Worst of all, I might go out of my way to meet a tall blonde at the Starbucks on a Tuesday, only to end up in a forced and dysfunctional relationship.

The same goes for other aspects. If the psychic tells me that I’ll make money as a writer, I might give up on graphic arts. Or if she says I’ll lose weight in the next year, I may consider it a fait accompli and eat whatever I want. Thinking too much about one specific future can ruin the other myriad possibilities. So even if you believe in psychics, you would do well to not take them too seriously.

Steve Lovelace

Steve Lovelace is a writer, photographer and graphic artist. After graduating Michigan State University in 2004, he taught Spanish in Samoa before moving to Dallas, Texas. He blogs every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at http://steve-lovelace.com.

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3 Responses

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