Unhappy mediums: Should psychics face tougher controls?

April 18, 2008

crystal-ball.jpgAnyone who wants to spend money trying to commune with dead relatives has never had so much choice.

There’s a growing array of satellite TV channels, Web sites, phonelines and even psychic churches which offer the services of mediums.

 But from next month, spiritualists will have to abide by strict new consumer protection regulations that are designed to give clients greater safeguards.

Some spiritualists want the government to rethink their plans to replace the Fraudulent Mediums Act of 1951 with new rules.

They say it will lead to the bizarre situation where mediums will issue disclaimers before they get to work in an attempt to stay on the right side of the law.

Psychics may have to tell clients that their service is simply entertainment or a sort of scientific experiment which has no guarantee of success.

The Spiritual Workers Association fears sceptics may bring malicious prosecutions.

They say they shouldn’t be treated like other traders. They view their strong beliefs as more akin to a religion than commercial transactions.

But critics say it’s high time psychics faced tougher controls. The British Humanist Association says there were only a few successful prosecutions for fraud under the old laws.

Should healers, mediums and fortune-tellers be subject to the same consumer rules as other traders?

36 comments

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

Not one “contact” proved using scientific methods. Ever. Of course it’s fraud. These so called psychics should be burned at the stake with peadophiles. Think of the children!

Posted by Jan | Report as abusive

As with any person/company who provides a service they should be able to stand by and prove that what they say/do is correct and true.

Its no good me going and selling the wonder weight loss curry/kebab if there is no foundation for my claims.

If what they say/do is real then they should have no problem with the law protecting people from the scammers.

Posted by Jim | Report as abusive

If they are so “psychic” then surely they will be able to see into the future or read a clients minde and tell who will or won’t bring a malicious prosecution. All they have to do then is to delcine that business. I can see that any person with supernatural abilities will find this easy to do, so there is no risk as far aws I can see.

Posted by John | Report as abusive

I have no sympathy. They should have seen this coming.

Posted by Charlie | Report as abusive

There is this interesting case going on in UAE (Dubai) courts where a person was prosecuted for advertising to sell a ring (£150 million) which bullet proofs the person wearing it.

The accused has claimed that he is ready to be tested with him wearing it and someone firing a shot at him.

The ring has been passed to scientists to see whether it has any gravitational effects! tyr googling this case.

Posted by Mohammad Salam | Report as abusive

LOL! ~ I am surprised they did not see this coming.

Anyway I agree with Jim, they provide a service and should fall under the consumer protection act…

Posted by Jonathan | Report as abusive

Going to them is voluntary, if you don’t believe stay away, if you want to go for a bit of fun then be careful you might not like what you hear. Personally I would avoid them but I know people who have had positive experiences, and I am sure there are those that have been ripped off by the unscrupulous. Is there not already enough laws on the books to protect the vulnerable in these cases, are there not more pressing issues to keep the law makers busy, or is it another case of the Civil Servants seeing another little empire to build costing already stretched tax payers more.

Posted by Butlerq | Report as abusive

the thing that disturbs me is the term genuine mediums we all know that they are frauds and should be prosecuted for the damage they do to there victims

Posted by G. | Report as abusive

i am wholly and completely for the regulation of these services. i’d like to see ALL of them be registered with a regulatory body and issue their ‘clients’ with reciepts. me and my friend have been scammed by these sorts of fortune telling people, we went to a ‘anyone’ chap who ended up defrauding me and my friend out of £5000. had we seena symbol of quality and regulation, of the alck of, we’d have been more careful in our approach to this person.

So for regulator reasons i am wholeheartedly for these new arrangements under the EU directive. Besides, (shuldn’t they have seen it coming!>?<)
lol

Posted by Osborn | Report as abusive

Why did they not sort all this out last year,they must have known it was coming.

Posted by j cox | Report as abusive

Will politicians be subject to this new law to protect “consumers”? If it does, bring it on!! – and bring back the stocks as the penalty for hucksters.

Posted by Mike T | Report as abusive

I wonder if they can get around it by suggesting that money given is a “Donation” and not payment to buy supernatural favours. You know, like the church does?

Posted by Mark | Report as abusive

there will always be people that seek to take advantage of those that are vulnerable. Still not everyone should be bracketed with being a fraud.
No one can prove the existence of god, there for are all priests charlatans? should i give the church money only if they can give me a receipt. Does the church provide a service? should it not then fall under the consumer protection act, or is the church the biggest fraud of all?

Posted by B C | Report as abusive

I think its completly unfair, if you people think its fraud, then theres an easy answer, dont pay for it!! no one forces you to go see a medium. We dont need laws to regulate this because if you pay for something you dont belive in your a moron and deserve to be ripped off.

Posted by Micky T | Report as abusive

About time too, this band of scammers have been fooling the gullible for far too long.
I’m afraid it’s human nature for some to be gulled so easily, these are the people who need protection from these dishonest charlatans.

Television and the media in general also help to sustain these myths, so there should also be a law forbiding this rubbish, include astrologers too.

Posted by Neil | Report as abusive

I think these charlatans ought to be grateful.

This was an activity punishable by death. Leviticus 20:27
“A man or woman who is a medium or spiritist among you must be put to death. You are to stone them; their blood will be on their own heads”

Just because we don’t do that today doesn’t mean it’s any the more acceptable, in the same way certain deviant sex acts are no more tolerable to God just because secular politicians and Judges think it’s OK……….

Posted by Chris Williams | Report as abusive

Spiritualists. Mediums. Psychics… They are all deluded, potentially dangerous lunatics and the world would be a better place without them. Nuff said.

Posted by david | Report as abusive

Most religions don’t charge you for prayers or to take part in the service.
Fortune tellers, mediums etc are offering a commercial service. I’m certain they believe wholeheartedly in what they do and, as we know, faith can move mountains. In which case they have nothing to fear. If they aren’t scammers and fraudsters then there should be no problem and the burden of proof shouldn’t be that much of a burden. However, if they are indeed dregs of society who prey on the weak and vulnerable and do not have the abilities or talents they claim to posess, then they should suffer the consequences of their past actions.

Posted by RL | Report as abusive

A genuine psychic must work very hard so I think this is a bit unfair.

Posted by Stuart Glendinning Hall | Report as abusive

Wow. It always amazes me how people actually encourage the government to impose more and more controls and regulations, all of which penalise or criminalise those who choose to think different from the ‘norm’. Do you really want our ‘wonderfully honest’ politicians to tell you what you can or can’t do? All great progress in society comes from those who think ‘outside the box’ and are allowed to ‘imagine the impossible’. And the arrogance of those who say Western Science is the ultimate truth is the equivalent of religious fundamentalists who insist that only they are right. Those who champion the ‘infallible’ truth of (current)’scientific proof’ are desperately trying to hold on to a Newtonian world-view that is predictable and controllable, yet our pioneering scientists who explore Quantum Physics have found that on the sub-atomic level our reality includes time travel, faster than light communication, and the key role that our consciousness plays in creating reality. So while I personally might not choose to visit a medium, at least I can keep an open mind about what might be possible, and work to encourage and protect a diversity of beliefs in our society.

Posted by Chris | Report as abusive

……Spiritualists. Mediums. Psychics… They are all deluded, potentially dangerous lunatics and the world would be a better place without them. Nuff said.

– Posted by David ……

you should include Priests and Politicians. Nuff said.

Posted by Old James | Report as abusive

The fact that there are enough people around who believe in this type of superstition is proof enough that education systems need revising. There is simply no need for belief in any superstition or representatives of same, whether it is psychics, healers, mediums and fortune-tellers or organised religions and priests.
We are no longer hiding in caves listening to strange noises outside, and wishing someone was looking after us.

Posted by John | Report as abusive

‘Genuine mediums need protection’! LOL!! There is no such thing, what a truly preposterous thing to say.

I run a business and I sell products to people, people are protected against me selling bogus products, that’s civilisation for you. It is about time these fraudsters, that is all mediums, are unable to hide their uncivilised and exploitative trade that quite frankly belongs back in the dark ages with snake oil and all the rest of the hocus pocus garbage our society has slowly weeded out.

Ben

Posted by Ben Robinson | Report as abusive

One can only hope it is that biggest scandel and exploitation of all next, organised religion.

Ben

Posted by Ben Robinson | Report as abusive

Are we to begin burning witches at the stake again next? I have enough trouble with nonbelievers. People looking to be duped will be duped- it’s not difficult to tell what is fake and what is real. And those of you who don’t believe it– learn by experience. If you really think calling a 1-800 number will get you “in touch” with anything, feel free to call. Those types tend to believe anything, anyway. Unless you do it just for fun! *giggles*

Posted by Starla | Report as abusive

Wow! What a thorny issue!

I do think that there are a number of deluded people out there who mistakenly believe that they are gifted with psychic abilities.

Maybe a few people are psychic. I tried a couple of them out twenty years back and found them facile, superficial and ultimately just tawdry scanners.

But I also know of several TV performers who appear to have some kind of real ability.

There are far too many scammers out there, fleecing consumers of their services, so if a psychic gives out codswallop, then denamds payment, it is only fair that the consumer has some kind of statutory right to refuse payment on the grounds of service not being of sufficient quality.

Yes – it’s a good idea indeed!

Posted by Keith M Warwick | Report as abusive

Like everything else in the world there are good people and bad people. Don’t let the bad ruin it for the good! All I have seen on the news lately is unfortunete children being abused in sacred places! Is anyone asking them to prove their beliefs in a court of law?? Solution? Lets clamp down on the spiritualists!!! Give your heads a shake!!! I thought we lived in a logical society.

“The truth is right under your nose, you just have to look.”

Posted by Marc | Report as abusive

Yeh lets go after these fraudsters and charletons. They’re easy to get at. Whether or not they actually help people is irrelevant… We do have the choice of not using their services and perhaps they should be regulated. But what about the other fraudsters and charletons currently in out political and judical systems? We don’t have the choice of not being affected by these fraudsters (politicians / lawyers / judges etc) unless we don’t live in society or if we do, don’t vote, don’t be a victim or offender, buy property etc etc. By the way I don’t think these psychic fraudsters are in the same legue as pedophiles and should not be regarded on the same level. Pedophilia, if you actually think about it, is not a service that the children can choose to use, nor does pedophilia offer those vulnerable victims hope or put them at ease. Most Psychics won’t inflict and continually inflict their irrational perverseness on children. That is of course if they are a pedophile and the parents are stupid enough to continually take them to this person. It’s a pity such a morally, psychologically and physically devastating activity (pedophilia), can’t be ‘punishable by death’ or castration etc.

Posted by Conscientious Observer | Report as abusive

if you dont believe in mediumship then why comment on something you dont understand. spiritualism is a faith and religian and noone asks christians to prove their faith. nor do people think ministers comeing to offer you guidance from a church are fraudsters. if you feel drawn to visit a medium go to a spiritualist church not a private medium. spiritualist mediums go through years of training before they are allowed to stand up and give messages to the church.
mediumship isnt about seeing into the future its about picking up things from a persons energy and passing information on from the spirit world. if you dont belive in it then dont go.

Posted by carrie | Report as abusive

The argument for tighter control is fair when you see all the US based ‘internet psychics’ Who tell you you have a big window coming up that will mean vast sums of money will come your way, but to take advantage of this’window’ you need a full reading which will cost $60.

Also there are the “fortune Tellers” who will tell your fortune, though some are psychically gifted and can sense things, often they are picking up from your aura what is on your mind and interpreting it, and sometimes just telling you what they think you want to hear. For £5 on a sea front, these are often taken by people with a pince of salt, though if someone walks away from a job or marriage “because a psychic said to” there must have been doubts already present.

Mediums and spiritualism is different, in that Mediums receive messages from those who have passed over to ‘spirit’ and whilst there is no scientific proof of the existence of ‘spirit’ then the same applies to ‘God’ and all other Religions that pronounce upon “a life after death”

If Spiritual churches are now to declare that the demonstration of Mediumship is for entertainment only, then so should all churches where there is service that involves any mention of ‘life here after’ Or those that propound reincarnation, as no ‘scientific proof’ exists of that though many examples of regressive hypnosis have been documented.

Posted by Mark Walls | Report as abusive

I have read all of the comment so far and it appears that there are a lot of ignorant people out there. When I say ignorant, I mean that they come from a place of ‘not knowing’ and there are those who have closed minds.

Spiritualism was on the Earth many, many years before the recognised and ‘organised’ religions. Seers and prophets have also been on the Earth before today’s religions; these were the mediums and psychics of their day.

A true Spirit medium connects with Spirit to deliver truth and guidance that is timely and appropriate for the listener. The emphasis is always on ‘guidance’. All those who come for a reading from a true Spirit medium should always be advised that they have free will to either accept the guidance given, or not. If the words they hear fit in with a current situation in their lives and offers a helpful way forward, then they may choose to accept it. If the listener does not feel that they can ‘work’ with this guidance,or that it does not fit in with their feelings about the situation, then they should ignore it. It does not mean that the information is incorrect, but that the listener has chosen at that time not to accept it. This is free will, which we all have.

A psychic is one who predicts the future and some who practice psychic readings also receive their information from Spirit.

In both situations – guidance or a future prediction – it is for the listener to decide whether that which is being given is acceptable and resonates with what is happening in their lives at that particular time. If they feel it is not, then they are free to withhold payment. As with all purchases, the consumer is king!

I accept that there are vulnerable people who are searching for answers and need protection those who will exploit them, but will this new piece of government interference really solve the problem. I think not.

Dorothy

Posted by Dorothy | Report as abusive

tighter control or not.. i find this news very disturbing. what i fail to understand is why have religious leaders and preachers have been left out

Posted by rao | Report as abusive

The regulations simply revoke the previous controls. They do not specifically target mediums or pyschics nor exclude other religions. Unfortunately they do not target fraudulent media which would be far more useful!

As to enforcement, this will mostly be by trading standards and with only one officer for every 2000 business premsies in the UK don’t hold your breath.

Posted by Ian | Report as abusive

I’m appauled by Jan’s statement, please show some respect. why do skeptics always compare mediums and psychics to frikkin paedos? TWO VERY DIFFERENT things

Personally I have never charged nor will ever charge for my services, I believe anyone who wants these services and needs help should be able to get it for free, so this law will not affect me but this is very worrying for spiritualists, why should we have to say we don’t beleive in what were doing, why should we have to be forced to say this, are christians forced to say “god may not be real so please don’t sue us if he’s not?” NO, spiritualism is a religion.

The govt really haven’t thought things through, AS USUAL, this has left the industry wide open for skeptics to bring malicious cases forward. We get no protection from this other than if we prove ourselves, which may not be so easy for some ‘genuine’ psychics.

Think about it this way, when you apply for a job or go for an audition, you get nervous as hell dont you? and nerves often get the better of people in these situations, it’s exactly the same for psychics fear, worry and all of those things can have an affect on our abilities exactly the same way it would affect your voice if you were nervous at an audition. What would happen if a malicious case came up against a ‘genuine’ psychic and they couldn’t prove themselves because they were nervous, scared or worried, an innocent person could end up being prosecuted.

It’s not fair, the law should protect BOTH clients and readers but from what I see this is very one-sided and a chance for skeptics to make a mockery of a thriving industry with many genuine psychics and mediums who do a lot of good for this world, yes there are lots of frauds and they should be prosecuted, there will be frauds in EVERY single industry there is, the psychic industry is VERY different and needs it’s OWN set of laws, you just cant standardise something like this, you have to take the nature of the industry into consideration.

Posted by -ES- | Report as abusive

It is with interest in uniformity and fairness that I ask the question:

“If the new legislation is to keep people (in this insance psychics)honest, then when will this legislation be passed on to those people entrusted with more important things than the services that psychics offer? It would be nice to know that forecasting and promise-making by financial advisors, investors, civil servants, doctors and politicians to name a few, would be enforceable by law if their ‘predictions’ failed to meet up with reality!”

Oh, now its a different story hey? Well, actually no, it’s not.

Everyone can have a ‘bad hair day’, psychics included, and NO! I am NOT a psychic. I am just bemused at the rants and raves of controllers in positions of power who make and apply these laws and ‘ethics’ that they mete out to others yet do not apply these same laws and ethics to themselves.

Let’s get with the program, and change things by stopping hypocrisy and taking care of how we personally conduct ourselves. Who knows, it might just spread!

Cheers, Diane H

Posted by Diane | Report as abusive

Having grown up in the world of spiritualism it was always the norm to myself.One of the first things that a SNU medium will say is i won’t predict when working.9 times out of 10 that is the first thing they do.Contacting loved ones maybe, but to predict is opening doors of hope to vunerable and gullible people.Many use this information to forge on with their lives looking for the prediction to come to light.This destroys confidence and self esteem leading to depression,self harm and possible suicide.All mediums whatever they believe all give unproven predictions and have such power over the clients they read for.Regulation and or some type of accreditation must happen to safeguard the public.Not to mention the financial prosperity of the phonelines who use the entertaiment ploy to push more unproven readings.One particular company also runs a one to one sex chat line from the same building in London.Need i say more.

Posted by C. Pragnell | Report as abusive