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Enlightenment anyone?

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Presentatie van Bernd Kramer tijdens Skepsis congres 2013.
Speaker investigated the German esoteric scene in a very personal way: He tried to offer supernatural services himself. He quickly got a job at a psychic hotline. Soon he had clients willing to believe almost everything he would tell. What makes these kinds of fake realities so attractive for people? And are we all seducible?

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Enlightenment anyone?

  1. 1. Enlightenment anyone?
  2. 2. Enlightenment anyone? ● Overview 1. Why I did an undercover research in the esoteric scene? 2. How I became advisor on a psychic hotline 3. How I offered my services at a paranormal fair 4. Conclusion
  3. 3. Enlightenment anyone? ● Overview 1. Why I did an undercover research in the esoteric scene? 2. How I became advisor on a psychic hotline 3. How I offered my services at a paranormal fair 4. Conclusion
  4. 4. Why I did an undercover research in the esoteric scene? ● „Invisible religion“ (Thomas Luckmann, 1993) „Religion“ spreads out of its original institutions, religious elements can be found nearly everywhere in daily life: workshops, health sector, wellness, therapy... Two characteristical features: 1. based on individual experience (instead of dogma) 2. everyone can be a potential religious leader (for himself/herself as well as for others)
  5. 5. Why I did an undercover research in the esoteric scene? ● „Invisible religion“ (Thomas Luckmann, 1993) Are we all seducible? How easy would it be to become a „guru“?
  6. 6. Enlightenment anyone? ● Overview 1. Why I did an undercover research in the esoteric scene? 2. How I became advisor on a psychic hotline 3. How I offered my services at a paranormal fair 4. Conclusion
  7. 7. How I became advisor on a psychic hotline ● The market for psychic advice in Germany: Pioneer and market leader: Questico, a Berlin based company founded in 2000
  8. 8. How I became advisor on a psychic hotline ● The market for psychic advice in Germany: Questico: founded 2000 as an Internet portal for those seeking advice and expert advisors (a huge range of advice, not only esoterical advice) The only category that worked: „astrology“, a sub-category of „health“ In 2002, Questico specialised in esoteric advice In 2004, Questico launched an own TV programme to promote its services: „Astro TV“
  9. 9. How I became advisor on a psychic hotline
  10. 10. How I became advisor on a psychic hotline
  11. 11. How I became advisor on a psychic hotline ● So I decided to offer my supranatural services on one of these websites...
  12. 12. How I became advisor on a psychic hotline ● The first customer is calling ...
  13. 13. How I became advisor on a psychic hotline ● They do damage... For example: A woman, 38 years old, mariage crisis, looking for advice at Questico In March, she paid 88,31 € April: 122,89 € May: 3224,65 € June: 5341,63 € July: 5376,94 € (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 23. 10. 2010)
  14. 14. How I became advisor on a psychic hotline ● And nobody feels responsible: 7.6 We have no control over, do not guarantee, and You will not hold Us responsible for: (a) any damage arising as a result of actions taken by Customers in response to Services such as readings and interpretations and advices provided by Readers; (b) the quality, safety or legality of Content displayed, or Services and/or information exchanged between Users; (c) the truth or accuracy of Content, information and Services such as readings and interpretations and advice provided by Readers; (http://www.thecircle.com/uk/terms-and-conditions/)
  15. 15. How I became advisor on a psychic hotline ● How to be a good advisor „You have a need for other people to like and admire you.“ „You have an tendency to be critical of yourself.“ „You have a great deal of unused capacitys.“ „Disciplined and self-controlled on the outside, you tend to be worrisome and insecure inside.“ „At times you have serious doubts as to whether you have made the right decision or done the right thing.“ „At times you are extroverted, affable, and sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary, and reserved.” (Forer, B., 1949: Fallacy of Personal Validation. A Classroom Instrument, p. 120)
  16. 16. How I became advisor on a psychic hotline ● And how the clients react „It's unbelievable how you described me although you knew nothing about me but my name.“ (Dorothea) „No one before described my so perfectly. That's me! That's my life!“ (Silke)
  17. 17. How I became advisor on a psychic hotline ● And if clients have a very specific question? Same advice: Tell them something that will be true in any circumstance!
  18. 18. How I became advisor on a psychic hotline ● And if clients have a very specific question? “Use the technique of' 'fishing'. This is simply a device for getting the subject to tell you about himself. Then you rephrase what he has told you into a coherent sketch and feed it back to him. One version of fishing is to phrase each statement in the form of a question. [...] Emphasize that the success of the reading depends as much upon his sincere cooperation as upon your efforts. [...] Dramatize your reading. [...] Make it seem more than it is. Always give the impression that you know more than you are saying.“ (Hyman, Ray, 1977: Cold Reading. How to Convince Strangers That You Know All About Them)
  19. 19. How I became advisor on a psychic hotline ● And if clients have a very specific question? “Finally remember the golden rule: Tell the client what he wants to hear.”   (Hyman, Ray, 1977: Cold Reading. How to Convince Strangers That You Know All About Them)
  20. 20. How I became advisor on a psychic hotline ● And if clients have a very specific question? “My question concerns a relationship with a man, that is already over, but still bothers me. What does it mean? Will we make contact again?“ (Dorothea) „Will he come back? Will we have a second chance? What does he feel?“ (Caro)
  21. 21. How I became advisor on a psychic hotline ● And if clients have a very specific question? “My question concerns a relationship with a man, that is already over, but still bothers me. What does it mean? Will we make contact again?“ (Dorothea) „Will he come back? Will we have a second chance? What does he feel?“ (Caro)
  22. 22. How I became advisor on a psychic hotline ● And if clients have a very specific question? “I clearly see that you are very disappointed and hurt by him. But let me tell you: Inside he is aware that he has lost an extraordinary spiritual person with you. I see that there will be a chance for new contact with him as soon as you both have sorted our your feelings.”
  23. 23. How I became advisor on a psychic hotline ● And if clients have a very specific question? “How you described our relationship and his way of thinking. It's absolutely true!” (Caro) „I thank you so much for your words. It's unbelievable how you described our situation.“ (Dorothea)
  24. 24. Enlightenment anyone? ● Overview 1. Why I did an undercover research in the esoteric scene? 2. How I became advisor on a psychic hotline 3. How I offered my services at a paranormal fair 4. Conclusion
  25. 25. How I offered my services at a paranormal fair ● Christmas decoration with supernatural power
  26. 26. Enlightenment anyone? ● Overview 1. Why I did an undercover research in the esoteric scene? 2. How I became advisor on a psychic hotline 3. How I offered my services at a paranormal fair 4. Conclusion

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