I am actually starting to get annoyed by people that are friends of relatives that are spouting crap (on FaceBook, where else?!) suggesting that somehow "medium shows" are somehow real. There are people that have been suckered by cold readings and think there is communication with the dead somehow!
Cold reading is very clever and there are well practiced people that can do it one to one, and those that are perhaps less capable that do it with a large audience (where they can start by picking the people they talk to from a group, which is one step easier). It really is clever stuff, and makes you think the reader has knowledge that they could not have.
Cold reading can be really entertaining done as part of a magic/illusion show. It is impressive. But as any professional magician will tell you, it is a trick, a good trick, but a trick. Read the wikipedia article. You can learn to do it yourself if you want. There are books on it.
What worries me is not only that some people have been suckered in to this themselves, which is sad enough, but there are others that know it is all fake and somehow think it entertaining to see people in the audience clearly fooled in to thinking they have a message from a dead relative. People moved to tears, even. And that this is somehow "entertainment"! This is nothing short of exploitation, and somewhat distressing to see. They don't even finish with "only kidding", and somehow it is quickly forgotten by those present that they start by explaining that it is only for entertainment purposes.
That final point - that they tell you it is for entertainment only - is forgotten to such an extent that one person posted that they have never heard any medium say that. It would be worrying if they did not as the Fraudulent Mediums Act 1951 (which repealed the Witchcraft Act 1735) makes that a criminal offence which they only get around by saying it is not real and is only for entertainment. Yes, we have been trying to stop vulnerable people being ripped off by charlatans since 1735!
There are prizes sat waiting for anyone that was genuine and did talk to the dead - obviously never claimed, because it is all bullshit.
Whether you believe in fairies, unicorns, star trek or some sort of deity, in your spare time, I don't really care, but don't think this crap is real when they say themselves that it is not and when it is easily explained by cold reading techniques that are well documented.
Being entertained by seeing someone else fooled and emotional when they have lost a loved one, is somewhat sick if you ask me.
But I am sure there are shows that are entertaining, and not exploitative, maybe. If there are, and you enjoy the show, then great, but don't be fooled in to thinking any of it is real, like any magic show.
The debate has raged on, and one of the key points raised is the notion that this is at all like religion. That believing in a medium is like believing in a god, and a faith and everyone entitled to their own belief. I have to say strongly that this is not the case with a medium claiming to talk to the dead. Unlike most religions that are carefully designed to avoid questioning or testing of the religion, the idea of talking to the dead is very much something that can be tested. It is possible to test if someone comes up with information that only a dead person would know - even something simple like a locked safe that only the dead person knew the combination, but by any number of similar and properly testable means. This is a testable claim and there are many prizes for genuine mediums to claim if they can pass such tests. So this is not a vague matter of faith or belief - it is a matter of testable fact. Next time you talk to a medium claiming they are real - ask them, on stage, why they have not claimed the prizes offered? If they say they do not want/need the money, ask why they have not claimed it to donate to a charity - why deny a charity $1,000,000 if they are genuine?
Update: All rational discussion has clearly ended...