Secrets of the Psychics

Secrets of the Psychics

Ratings: 7.76/10 from 54 users.

Secrets of the PsychicsAre psychics power real or fake? This is a documentary that try to answer that question. Are some of us born with mysterious powers, able to move objects at will, read a person's thoughts, even cure physical ailments with the power of the mind? Follow master magician James Randi as he uncovers the secrets about psychics.

Can psychics predict the future? Many people seem to think so. Others argue that, in most cases, so-called psychic experiences are really misinterpretations of events. In this episode of NOVA, magician and confirmed skeptic James Randi challenges viewers to weigh the evidence for and against the existence of psychic phenomena.

Randi argues that successful psychics depend on the willingness of their audiences to believe that what they see is the result of psychic powers. The program highlights some of the methods and processes he uses to examine psychics' claims. Using his own expertise in creating deception and illusion, Randi challenges specific psychics' claims by duplicating their performances and "feats," or by applying scientific methods.

His goal is to eliminate all possible alternative explanations for the psychic phenomena. He also looks for evidence that they are not merely coincidental. His arguments can motivate your class to discuss the differences between psychic performances and legitimate cases of unexplained phenomena.

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73 Comments / User Reviews

  1. issaidso

    Whatever you believe your special abilities or beliefs are, it is up to you to wrap them in a testable procedure if you wish them to be acknowledged by science, if that is so important to you.

  2. Razzle Bathbone

    Many people have approached the "Un-Amazing" Randi to prove their psychic abilities and he just ignores them if they might win that money. It's a PR grift by Randi to promote his "debunking" career. He is a professional for-profit debunker (whatever a debunker is) and has made a living smearing and harassing people. He spent decades harassing Uri Geller, while bolstering his own reputation, when Geller had ALREADY been tested at several top notch universities in serious scientific double blind experiments that proved his psychic abilities. Randi has been nailed for lying and omitting facts that did not support his debunking theories. He is an ex carny "showbiz magician" and not a scientist.

  3. georgiypotulov

    One time this person looked like he had to take a cr*p and sure enough he had to take a cr*p. Does this make me a psychic? All intuition is just refined thought, all thought is just memory in movement. Nothing mystical really..

  4. Mmk Kirschbaum

    Teresa, Great post. Yes, I have written several books on this issue. You cannot have "fakes" unless you have a "truth". We live in a world of good and bad duplications. In some cases, things are not really as they appear. I have seen, experienced and written about them. We have the truth in us but we continue to search and search and search. That is the way of life. Stay blessed. MMK

  5. Teresa

    Psychicism and Religion are one in par insofar as disbelievers and sceptics are concerned. I am not religious and cannot prove or disprove that a God exists. Randi knows he's safe in his offer of a million (or whatever it is?) to try and get a psychic to prove his/her autenticity. It's absolutely impossible for me to prove to you my psychic experiences/dreams. One can never measure extra-sensory phenomena. Randi is very cleverly living off this fact.

    1. georgiypotulov

      With extra ordinary claims requires extraordinary proof

  6. Teresa

    Don't think Randi is on this show (or any other) for no money.....even if a genuine psychic nailed him, he would deny it because he is earning his living as a controversial sceptic. Emailed him and asked if anyone can explain how I dreamed of a murder before it happened and also a dream of my brother's death before it happened? All I got back was...,,,QUOTE: ''If you can predict the lotto numbers, that would be impressive''

    1. a_no_n

      Except he's retired, and for the fact that Randi doesn't have the money, his lawyer does, and his lawyer is specifically ordered to award the money to a winner.

      The reply you got was perfectly you not find it funny that no psychics ever win the lottery? does that not tell you something?

    2. Razzle Bathbone

      If you had the ability to remote view the lottery to win, or to score big in Las Vegas... would YOU be running around telling everyone about it? I doubt it. I would keep my mouth shut and spend that money! Just cuz we don't hear about things does not mean that they aren't happening. Absence of public evidence does NOT mean evidence of absence of events and experiences.

  7. Teresa

    The thing is, Randi knows it's not possible to prove anything psychic to a sceptic. No matter what they are told they can explain it away with a ''so called'' logical explanation. I once emailed Randi about precognitive dreams and got a reply saying...unless you can predict the lotto numbers then there is no proof? Coincidentally, I once did dream of five lotto numbers which came up some years ago...didn't play it myself but told some of my friends before the draw (who were very happy). It's a bit like religion, ''Is there a God?''.........who can ever prove that?? Of course there are some charletons out there and this is what keeps Randi in the media spotlight.......though it is grossly belittling to genuine psychics.

    1. elvan

      Dear Teresa,
      They are all fake. because they can not feel for others. Your dreams are yours. I agree you could feel something. BUT is tis totally different. The thing with these physics ,they are the ones who wont believe you at all if you tell them your experience. And Randi is doing a great job warning others .It is better not to take these things seriously.

    2. Steve Leward

      The psychics NEVER seem to play the lotto numbers. Just "give" them to friends. Yeah right. LOSER

  8. Kim Njore

    been searching the world wide web for really cool documentaries. Am home!

    1. Anna Lainez


  9. PaulJ1985

    fraudsters caught with there pants down! always enjoyable viewing! good doc!

  10. fifimsp

    My favorite is the water. What a crock of s***.

  11. robertallen1

    If something scientific fails the scientific test, merely claim that it is not scientific.

  12. robertallen1

    The anthem of the psychic--Don't examine, accept!

  13. Intbel

    Sponsored by Johnson & Johnson - say no more ...

    1. IzirAtig

      :D :D

  14. ann

    i believe in psychic phenomenon because I have experienced it myself... as of now, some disprove of its existence because it is unexplainable...psychics are real, but i believe they tend to hide themselves because they don't want to be accused of demonic associations...many are scared. Others are trying to use some dirty tricks and call themselves psychics which I think is an advantage for some of the real psychics, so that they can live their lives as how are they living right now. However, soon enough, this phenomenon will be acknowledged as a fact, even those who are unbelievers right now will certainly attest its veracity.

    1. robertallen1

      We have only your word that you have experienced psychic phenomena (or is it a psychic phenomenon--I can't tell). One way or the other, your grammar is so on a level with your ignorance that I find it impossible to take anything you write seriously.

    2. Kate Georgia

      That is such an ad hominem argument, you putting their experience into question merely because you don't think they are intelligent enough due to their grammar. The two are not synonymous. I am not defending their belief, but I do think they are entitled to them without being subjected to fallacious arguments.

    3. Vikash Jha

      ?? how is he sticking it to the man? if anything, he's sticking it to the psychics and faith healers who are sticking it to the man. you aren't defending their beliefs, but they are entitled to being misled without being subjected to fallicious (misleading*ahem*) arguments... (which would be that most likely they are getting conned?)

      "noooo, i'm tellinggg youuu, this lady, she knew like everything about me, things she couldn't possibly know!"

      "You're grandfather sends his love from above... he says to... watch the money..."

      i think that was the point of it, don't get it twisted, peaches :-p

    4. Tina Yuzilaitis

      ive had more than a few psychic experiences aswell, know theyre real theres no denying it i wont explain though -- you have your mind set , which is in itself not very scientific... sure there are scam artists in the world, that goes for everything but dont discount everything..keep in mind the government has been using remote viewers to spy on other countries and militia for decades and experiemented with psi-capabilities in something called project "jedi"--no joke .. so you go ahead and dont believe in the power of your mind but the government knows better.

    5. robertallen1

      Why should anyone believe someone as ignorant as you? Offer scientific proof and I'll start to take you seriously. That's my mind set and I'm proud of it.

    6. Out_Of Africa

      Sorry... I can't quite grasp what you're saying owing to your poor grammar. When you've finished 'yer skoolin' could you please re-post to confirm you've grown up and, aged 10+, understand "Why Silly People See What Isn't There"... Thanks :)

    7. georgiypotulov

      The reason people have these so called psychic abilities is because thoughts come from outside of us and not from within us. The brain acts as an antenna and it is only a container and a reactor and not a creator-- that is the illusion. All intuition is just refined thinking and all thought is just memory in movement, nothing mystical about it especially if one has enough courage to test things for and by themselves to see if there is anything those abstracts that others throw at them.

    8. robertallen1

      @Kate Georgia

      Thought and the expression of it go hand in hand. A deficiency in one usually indicates a deficiency in the other and the case in point does not appear to be an exception.

      P.S. Your grammar is as bad as theirs. "Are entitled to them." What does them refer to?

    9. Mmk Kirschbaum

      Ann, You are correct. The real ones tread carefully because the supernatural dimension is a very slippery route. I have seen things that cannot even be uttered. One thing is certain, protect your mind and your spiritual space - that way, you can endure the onslaught of this world and survive to do great things.

  15. Five

    Until I found James Randi I felt alone in the world with my beliefs (or lack of...) I will be forever grateful for his life work. Years ago I worked at a historical hotel and many of the customers asked me if I had seen the ghosts. I worked the night shift and never saw or heard a thing. I just told them,"Sorry, I am spiritually challenged."

    1. georgiypotulov

      What do you really know about belief? Belief is an extension of yourself, not an abstraction. It is like the habit of drinking or smoking. The more you try to stop it, the stronger grows the habit. You talk of faith when you are not sure. Belief -- where is the need for faith?
      When belief is not producing the results you expect of that, you introduce what is called faith. You must have faith in that belief. That means hope.

  16. Galloway Grumblefield

    "I thinks randy’s excuse for not using mind altering/expanding drugs is a poor one. I feel like if your looking for the truth you would take plunges into the mind to experience some of the states of being above thought processes."

    You misheard Randi. What he said was that he prefers to be in full control of his life, which is why he does not take narcotics or drink. He admitted that he forfeited a sense of comfort that other people enjoy from putting faith in external influences like fantasy and religion.

  17. Kinsley

    I think Randi was a great person for what he did. People were getting ripped off and spending money carelessly. He was a intelligent and brave man. So get off of him.

  18. A. T. Heist


  19. Patrick

    It's crazy how a person like Peter Popoff can go on scaming people. He's the real definition of the devil--someone who presents themselves as a man of God, but is really scamming and deceiving people.

  20. Patrick

    You can't use science, which is a limited subject, to test something that falls out of what we know of science. That is why it's called paranormal.

    1. robertallen1

      Scientific claims such as speaking to the dead, seeing ghosts, mind reading, must pass scientific muster. Standing behind the shield of paranormality merely exposes delusion or fraud.

    2. Kate Georgia

      Most things can be subjected to scientific inquiry and peer review to be proven. Things that are not (such as psychic ability) are therefore only theories and cannot be given the same amount of credibility, and rightly so, because if everything were known as beyond the realm of science, people would be believing them willy-nilly without empirical evidence.

    3. Guest

      @Kate Georgia
      I agree! But...we still see lots of folks subscribing to them anyway, don't we?
      It's exasperating, how much is taken as truth, even today, on no good evidence whatsoever.
      Sometimes, though, I get the feeling that a good many who claim to believe in these sorts of things actually don't, at bottom (though they may not be too aware of it), but are simply looking for a little color and mystery in their lives.

      Not to mention the ones who charge you for their time.

  21. Tracy

    circa 1993

  22. Ashish

    I want that James Randi action figure!

  23. wow

    oh he never added anything about Woo-Doo and any other type of magic. There are plenty curses and other beliefs that exist in this world, i don't think that everything is fake.... just saying :)

  24. wow

    so harry potter isn't true ? :P

  25. Randy

    Let me just clarify-- I've only ever been to a strip club once in my life, on my 30th birthday. It was "Delialah's" the "gentlemen's club" (really?).

    My wife let me go, on the condition that I never mention it, or ever go to another strip club ever again!

    I had an "in" with the Italian mob that owned the clubs, (this was in Philly, but I think they had clubs in Atlanta and Atlantic City, of course...).

    Actually, it was very clean and seemed very safe, (the Italian Mob always does it right...), but a little creepy...

    The men there just stared evilly at the women dancing, and drank their 12 dollar beers. I was like, "Um... these woman are real human beings!"

    I was standing up, cheering, clapping and fanning myself with my hand and, of course, I was rewarded by these women coming over to me and giving me special attention.

    ('Course I was young and cute then...)

    Also, I had a 15 inch stack of one dollar bills that they loved.

    But, the point of this story is this:

    What was really funny is that I was right up on the stage, I mean there was a stage bar, a few inches lower than the stage, and I was drinking these long-neck texas beers, so the necks of the beers stood above the stage.

    Well, these women all had on massive clear heels, like 7-8 inches tall. And when they writhed in front of me, they kept spilling my beers all over me, knocking them down with their heels.

    Everytime, they came over and apologized, over the loud Van-Halen music, but I would just nod and grin and say, "That is totally all right! Spill all the beer on me you wish!"

    Ah... good times...

    (I'm sure this will be moderation... sorry Vlatko...)

  26. Randy


    HAHAHA! Absolutley correct! And I loved, (LOVED!), the use of the word "bullcrapistry"--- LOL!!!

    And, you know, there ain't nothin wrong with no strippers, my friend...

    OUCH! My wife just smacked me again...

  27. Pacha

    You seem to know a lot about strippers ronanthem

    Is there something you want to share with the group?

  28. ronanthem

    You know......I once saw a guy disapear into thin air and never come back. I was of course, baked out of my skull on weed at the time. Drugs may definately give you some kind of insight. But, I would have to say that Randi is correct in staying sober and trusting the normal currents of his own brain. If you want to see the genious-causing effects of 'E' and coke, you can have an inspired conversation with a stripper. They seem like lucid and intelligent people who surprisingly enough, are very much into - astrology, palmistry, and other forms of bullcrapistry. On the average. Not all strippers are this way. (*OK, most of them are*)

    I love the matter-of-fact approach Randi takes in debunking this crap. He's not carrying the burden of proof and he shouldn't give them any lee-way in proving their claims. Afterall, these people are taking advantage of others' gullibility, insecurities, and fiscal status. Isn't he the same guy who made the baby-psychic cry? Good Doc! Thanks for posting it!

  29. whatistruth

    This may sound like a load of crap to every1 but about 15 years ago I went out to meet a friend. I was waiting at a post office(I had no cell phone back then) in the dead of winter with no heater in my car. I was there for about 15 minutes when a female voice in my head that I reconized as a girl at the party i was at said "Come back Thomas called and said he is not coming over." Well I'm not one that hears voice in my head not even my own, it freaked me out. I waited about 10 more minutes for the guy to show up he never did. I headed back to the party and confronted the girl whose voice I had heard. I asked her if she "talked' to me in my head she said yes. I asked her to repeat what she had said. She repeated it word for word, After she did I told her to stay the flock out of my head from then on needless to say. I don't know about talking to the dead but that girl proved to me ESP was real.

  30. Hannah

    Thanks Pacha. Like they say, "it's hard to fill a cup that's already full."

    Randi does a really important service of reminding that there are suckers out there and people who take advantage of them. I just think people need reassuring about the world they live in and hope for better. Some find it in the logical, concrete and others find it in the mystical. Either way, I'm sure both are hallow in excess.

  31. joe

    I think Randi is the one with supernatural powers or what you would consider supernatural powers in our times:
    He possesses:
    common sense
    unbiosed judgement
    authentic interest to know the truth
    repect for the individual
    the desire to confirm, test, back with facts and genuine information anything he deems as true

    1. Guest

      I would say he's "getting to be a rare kind of man, indeed," if if weren't for the fact his sort has always been that.

  32. Pacha

    @ Hate machine
    Your parties don't sound like much fun to be honest :)

    I dont want to get into an argument about what's real or not but I have personally had plenty of experiences with psychics, shamans, healers, ghosts, homeopathy etc etc.
    And although I totally understand what he's getting at and concede that some of these things can be faked and some of the people involved do come off as a bit wacko and maybe it's the placebo effect working in some cases, I have rarely paid for any of the above services and I have received unending benefits and some startling, very personal readings.
    I am a very sceptical person and even though I've studied and practiced some healing techniques and have been told that what I do is amazing, I still find it hard to believe. I even went to India to try and meet some spiritual leaders, to prove to myself that they were fakers but I have to admit I was blown away by some of the things I saw them do.

  33. Randy


    Yes. I agree, I have always loved James Randi... he taught me critical thinking. For that I will always be greatful.

    (And, really, sorry again about being so b*tchy to you before! I think you and I are probably much alike... I hope we can still be pals!)

  34. HaTe_MaChInE

    @Pacha - "He comes across way too arrogant."

    He seems like a fun guy to have at a party if you ask me. Not arrogant at all. I found it that the people he was debunking sounded pompous. Randi was there to do a job. He was doing the best he could to give them the benefit of the doubt.

    Maybe Randi hit a little too close to home for you. The fact remains that not once in history has a supernatural phenomenon been recorded tested or proved. It is just not real. And no matter how much you want it to be real it never will be.

    I think that anyone that offers a service for money should have to describe the benefits of said service. If you cannot PROVE you are bestowing said benefits you should be fined and barred from performing said services in the future.

    Just my opinion.

    1. Max2620

      Well then you should look up Edgar Cayce

  35. Randy

    Addendum: Of course, the really big illusions need some prior preperation and help from assistants.

  36. Randy


    Yes. That's what I was talking about earlier.

    He's a bad magician, I agree. Because he's just not very bright.

    A good magician can do magic anywhere, with anything at hand.

  37. Canadian

    Let me tell you guys from inside the magic circle, Cris Angle is a horrible Magician. His magic are low on technique, and mostly can't be done live. It's normal for him to film with all planted paid actors, I am talking about even the mass "demonstrations" in "public". It's normal for him to film from specific angle and take hundreds of shots and edit it down so everything is perfect. It's all camera trickery.

  38. mr savage

    me too!
    i was looking forward to a little physics doc!
    perhaps this is more proof that the mind sees what it wants to see.

    in reference to tomoa's penultimate comment, i fully agree, without the occasional 'trip' into the unknown, we would never have come so far so quickly. infact one of albert einstein's great visions may have been partialy due to the local ergot contamination that occured during the same fortnight in which he had his 'experience' from which he 'saw' how mass affected speed/velocity.... something about the speed of light etc...

  39. Pacha

    He comes across way too arrogant.
    Maybe some of this stuff is faked but I dont like the way he discounts everything as though he's all seeing and all knowing.

  40. tomoa

    the axiomatic* <--and that is ironic

  41. tomoa

    I thinks randy's excuse for not using mind altering/expanding drugs is a poor one. I feel like if your looking for the truth you would take plunges into the mind to experience some of the states of being above thought processes. If anything, in an attempt to simply understand more; I personally feel great insight can be gained into the nature of the mind and what we are. Randy saying that these are simply fantasies seems to refute his own logical standing, a 'rational' person can clearly see axiomatic differential that we each experience is essentially an illusory fantasy-like perceptual island in which we each are the center of our own worlds.

  42. Randy


    See? Exactly what I have been saying and what James Randi and Penn Joulet and Ricky Jay have been saying for years...

    Also, Richard Dawkins and Carl Sagan and... many others...

    This stuff actually HURTS people! If we eliminate fantasy and religion, we have people looking out for people and none of this...


    (I'm sorry, capricious... that sounds terrible!)

  43. Randy

    I'm sorry Vlatko, I used the "I" word which is offensive...

    Please allow me to re-phrase:

    By the way, Chris Angel can walk on water and he is a not very intelligent, not well educated man!


    Hello! Sorry to be pi**y with you when Dio died!

  44. Randy


    My point exactly...

  45. satir

    Yuri Gellar, until recently was vigorously defended by his followers as a true magician. It was only really when Cris Angel's followers were getting as rabid as they were that he came out and labeled himself as an illusionist. Truly great illusionists can really pull of illusions that will make almost anyone believe they are actualy performing magic... it's an amazing mind over matter excercise in reverse...

  46. Randy

    Alistair Crowley, Israel Regardi, and Anton LeVay all said essentially the same thing:

    [Paraphrased], "If you can levitate a tea cup with wires, and the dupes believe it, what do you need with real magic powers?"

    This character you call Yeshua/jesus/esu, his "miracle" of the loaves and the fishes was a magic trick. People went nuts over it!

    This is the very origin of religion.

    Anyone remember the "Amazing Kreskin"? He was a mentalist from the 50's... a brilliant man! He was banned from Eastern Europe, (in the 80's!!!), because he was considered a "black magician"...

    Really? What year is it?

    Anyways, thank you, Vlatko!

  47. tomoa

    I agree with Ryan.

  48. LifeQuest

    Is it me or does Randi with a cloak seem very.. Jedi-like? :P

  49. Ryan

    James randi: I like how he smokes out the rats, but on the other hand, i think he's also a professional "wet blanket" with no imagination or sense of fun.

  50. Seb

    ditto Hate_Machine, he is a true legend

  51. HaTe_MaChInE

    Randi is my hero. Go sell your snake oil somewhere else... I guess in Russia