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Video Psychics: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)


  • psychics the only people with more
  • misplaced confidence than Michael
  • avenatti now chances are you haven't
  • thought about psychics in a while which
  • is weird there's not really a whole lot
  • else going on but if you watch daytime
  • TV at all you'll see that they pop up
  • all the time when she was just a toddler
  • she's a wife and a mom who also happens
  • to talk to dead people
  • please welcome celebrity pet psychic our
  • next guest is a clairvoyant to the Stars
  • bond they're all psychic okay
  • I guess it's good that at least dr. oz
  • isn't wearing scrubs in that clip but
  • I'd still like him to do more to signal
  • he now lacks credibility as a medical
  • professional I think a sandwich sign
  • that says walking joke is the clothing
  • choice that I would be comfortable with
  • and look before we go any further I am
  • NOT going to be litigating whether
  • psychics are real in this piece for one
  • they're not see no litigation required
  • also for anyone who does believe in
  • psychic powers I know there is nothing I
  • could say that could convince you
  • otherwise logic isn't the reason that
  • you believe in them and it won't be the
  • reason that you stop which is not to say
  • that I won't be showing you clips of
  • psychics up but that is only
  • because it's really funny this is a girl
  • who you said was beaten and killed okay
  • this little girl is me and you told
  • somebody that she's dead wait a minute
  • you didn't disappear I'm right here well
  • that's interesting isn't it yeah
  • that is interesting I guess her psychic
  • abilities didn't include predicting when
  • she'd be utterly humiliated on national
  • television and look it is easy to
  • dismiss the psychics as a joke really
  • easy fun too
  • but the fact of the matter is one recent
  • poll found 4 in 10 Americans believe in
  • psychics just think about that
  • statistically that means out of all the
  • people who saw John Travolta's Gotti
  • movie four of them believed in psychics
  • so whether they are real or not is
  • incidental
  • what matters is a lot of people think
  • they are and the psychic industries both
  • larger and grimmer than you might assume
  • by one estimate it's a two point
  • two billion dollar industry and there
  • has been a lot of predatory behavior
  • when the the FTC settled charges with
  • the companies behind these psychic
  • readers Network in 2002 the one that
  • featured Miss Cleo they found that over
  • one three-year period they had charged
  • people about a billion dollars and a
  • collected half of it they took in five
  • hundred million dollars I had no idea
  • psychics could make that much money
  • he's like finding out the second richest
  • person in the world behind Jeff Bezos is
  • this gamestop employee named Greg I mean
  • good for Greg I guess but now I've got a
  • lot of questions about Gamestop and
  • literally everything else so tonight
  • let's take a look at the psychic
  • industry particularly one of the most
  • insidious parts of it
  • mediums people who claim to be able to
  • communicate with the dead they are
  • everywhere on TV some even have their
  • own reality shows she's a professional
  • psychic Mary knows bad 9:00 on TLC
  • spirit is important to me just as
  • important as my hair and my nails medium
  • only on TLC the crazy thing about these
  • shows is how they choose to focus on the
  • psychics personal lives who gives a
  • about that if I actually believed they
  • could communicate with the dead that is
  • the only thing I'd want to see them
  • doing the Long Island medium can ask
  • Abraham Lincoln Gandhi and Shakespeare
  • anything she wants so tune in next week
  • as she thinks about getting bangs I want
  • to mixed mediums make for compelling TV
  • most people have seen at least one of
  • them bring someone to tears with
  • messages from dead loved ones like this
  • did you lose your husband man your
  • husband wants to thank you for caring
  • for him and allowing him to leave the
  • physical world with dignity and grace
  • now that woman is clearly genuinely
  • touched although I will say it is weird
  • that the conduit to the afterlife is for
  • some reason Theresa Caputo living proof
  • of what would happen if you added too
  • much baking soda to Edie Falco
  • and while we're watching people tear up
  • can seem incredible the techniques that
  • psychics use to achieve those moments
  • are significantly less incredible
  • because there are two basic techniques
  • that psychics tend to use the first is
  • called cold reading it's basically
  • taking high probability guesses like I'm
  • sensing a loved one who had problems in
  • the chest area or is there a J or an M
  • in a loved one's name here are some cold
  • reading in action alright
  • and is there in theat like a Daniel
  • David like there's a big D so for me
  • it's initials it's usually on months of
  • the year like December being important
  • who is the MRNA mark Mary Marie they
  • don't have to be past they could be here
  • in the physical world
  • you know Maureen Mary Ann there's an M
  • name where's the M connection to you
  • does someone have a scar and the bun of
  • foot I do thank you cuz your daddy is
  • telling me there's a scar on your foot
  • she departed of Alzheimer's or some type
  • of dementia or something of the brain
  • and that you had to make choices and
  • decisions connected to her departure did
  • anybody have either a brain tumor brain
  • aneurysm or a cerebral cerebral
  • hemorrhage not connected to him not
  • connected to you somebody behind you had
  • that Oh someone been under had that nice
  • save buddy interestingly often turns out
  • that a psychics wrong guess is just
  • energy from somewhere else in the room a
  • room incidentally that he's very likely
  • to have someone who had one of the
  • problems he just listed because
  • cerebrovascular diseases are the fifth
  • leading cause of death in the United
  • States it's like asking a roomful of
  • praying mantises has anybody here lost a
  • loved one because you ate them after
  • having sex you know all those little
  • green hands are going up
  • the secret of cold reading is the
  • broader the generality the higher the
  • chance it resonates with someone it is
  • the same reason that fortune cookies
  • predict romantic developments ahead and
  • not your wife is gonna seem icy
  • withholding around the 12th of the month
  • that's because when she asked you to
  • handle the thing with the grout in the
  • shower she didn't mean be the plumbers
  • point of contact we keep abreast of
  • every step of the grouting process she
  • meant she wanted it off her plate and
  • she just feels like text in the middle
  • of the work day asking if she thinks the
  • landlord is gonna ask her the plumbers
  • insurance that's the off her plate
  • that's just new air and filling up the
  • plate instead of the plumber does that
  • make sense
  • Aaron it's not the garbage disposal
  • installation all over again lucky
  • numbers 8 14 and 23 and sometimes
  • psychics may make laughably sure bets
  • for instance here's John Edward in
  • Huntington Long Island a town where
  • nearly 1 in 5 residents are of Irish
  • ancestry is there a Brian Flanagan or a
  • Flynn or O'Sullivan or O'Reilly or some
  • type of whose past Brian Oh something
  • Flanagan Sullivan something like that
  • what are you doing Brian Flanagan or Oh
  • Flynn or Oh something he's supposed to
  • be speaking directly to people's dead
  • relatives not trying to guess the name
  • of the Lucky Charms mascot for the
  • record that leprechauns name ibrahim
  • abdul hameed been selling if that
  • surprises you maybe update you
  • antiquated Irish stereotypes
  • and once a psychic has you on the hook
  • they use your responses as well as
  • nonverbal cues that you may be giving
  • them to make narrower and narrower
  • guesses until you are amazed at what
  • they've just done of course it's not an
  • exact science it's not a science at all
  • and sometimes things do go wrong in fact
  • let's pick up John addresses reading
  • with the family of Bryan Oh something as
  • he doubles down on a bad guess I'm kind
  • of getting the feeling of not liking the
  • older female like not liking the mother
  • figure so if you tell me that you didn't
  • like you're his father's mother then I
  • would understand that I don't think I do
  • I don't think I do
  • I just want to be really clear because I
  • can't tell you what you want to hear I'm
  • gonna tell you what they're showing me
  • and if he's calling your mother a bitch
  • I'm gonna pass them on so what you want
  • about John Edward he's sticking to his
  • guns there none of that maybe this bitch
  • energy is coming from somewhere else in
  • the room nonsense this time no no this
  • time he chooses to go for it yeah Bryan
  • thinks grandma's a bitch and you know
  • what so do I now in fact hang on Amelia
  • Earhart just came through and she just
  • called grandma the c-word so don't be
  • mad with me be mad at Amelia Earhart
  • cold reading is basically just a magic
  • trick and yet prominent smart people are
  • willing to co-sign on psychics abilities
  • a few years ago Tyler Henry the
  • Hollywood medium and anime drawing of
  • Jared Kushner went on The Today Show to
  • do a reading of one of their anchors and
  • I'm afraid it's the exact Today Show
  • anchor that you are hoping slash
  • dreading it is there's a reference to
  • fishing but he's talking about being
  • spoken out loud to I know what this is
  • actually I don't know if you're aware of
  • this but he's acknowledging an
  • individual will be out on a boat and
  • it's like I'm sitting alone and I'm
  • fishing and I'm thinking that and he's
  • having me acknowledge this feeling of
  • like I'm there with you I'm there with
  • you um you know my dad shared two
  • passions with me he shared golf and
  • fishing night
  • and I do go out fish a lot alone on a
  • boat and this idea that that that might
  • be a time to communicate with him or
  • that he is attempting to communicate is
  • phenomenal to me yeah phenomenal it's
  • clear that Matt Lauer is touched there
  • and this time he didn't even have to
  • press were subordinate into doing it
  • maybe Tyler Henry just took a shot that
  • an older straight white male was upwards
  • of lukewarm toward fishing if he did
  • that would be cold reading but he may
  • have been using the other technique here
  • of hot reading which involves doing
  • prior research on a subject so for
  • instance he could have read articles
  • where Lauer talks about his father's
  • passion for fishing or seen interviews
  • little hour gave like this one my dad
  • taught me had a fish when I stand in a
  • trout stream now and I've got the waders
  • on and I've got a fly rod in my hand or
  • I'm fishing for bass I think about
  • sitting in a boat with my dad look
  • maybe Tyler Henry genuinely accessed the
  • afterlife an action which would
  • fundamentally change our understanding
  • of everything on earth or maybe he just
  • googled Matt Lauer dad and hit the
  • jackpot so so to recap hot
  • reading researching people beforehand
  • the even lazier skill than cold reading
  • which basically involves
  • indiscriminately shouting the names of
  • dead Irishmen in a hotel ballroom and
  • what's surprising is whichever technique
  • Tyler used Lauer fell for it and he is
  • smart he's a sophisticated Manhattan sex
  • monster but he fell for it
  • hard so hard he wanted to make it clear
  • to the viewers at home that this was way
  • more than just your standard TV
  • I tell you got home I cried I did plenty
  • of crying when I got home it's amazing
  • we want to let you know season two of
  • Hollywood medium with Tyler Hannah it
  • almost seems weird to be doing it as a
  • promo right now because it was so much
  • more important to me than a promo it
  • premieres Wednesday August 10th on our
  • sister network e well everything about
  • that is a little strange not least the
  • fact that it is weird to envision a
  • scenario in which something happened at
  • the Today Show offices and then Matt
  • Lauer was the one who went home and
  • cried
  • look you can see why people are
  • vulnerable to psychics
  • a message from a lost loved one is
  • something many people in the midst of
  • grief would do anything for and psychics
  • may tell themselves that they offer a
  • harmless way to deal with painful loss
  • in fact just watch as Theresa Caputo
  • pretty much spells that out in response
  • to a fairly obvious question so when a
  • tragedy happens let's say a murder if
  • somebody comes to a loved one and the
  • spirit of the person who was murdered is
  • there could that spirit potentially tell
  • you who did it they will acknowledge
  • maybe the relationship but never will
  • call someone out on the name why is that
  • my thing how I use my gift is I only
  • want messages that I got to help someone
  • for the healing process oh come on first
  • to be clear if I was murdered I would
  • definitely name names as a ghost it's
  • not like one of the rules in heaven is
  • go snitches get go stitches as we all
  • know the only rule in heaven is no
  • the clouds seriously it's a real
  • problem up there and to be fair I'll get
  • it they're so fluffy and you might say
  • at this point hold on where is the
  • downside in telling people their
  • grandmother loved them but I would argue
  • that at best it is reckless for a
  • stranger to take a stab at ventral
  • acquiring the dead loss is complicated
  • and mourning doesn't look the same for
  • everyone but at worst when psychic
  • abilities are presented as authentic it
  • emboldened a vast underworld of
  • unscrupulous vultures more than happy to
  • make money by offering an open line to
  • the afterlife as well as many other
  • services take Rose marks she
  • ran a lucrative psychic ring and in 2014
  • went to prison for defrauding clients of
  • more than 17 million dollars much of
  • which came from best-selling author Judy
  • burrow who marks had promised to
  • reconnect with her dead son and the sick
  • thing is parents in crisis are
  • frequently actively targeted by psychics
  • at their most desperate moments John and
  • Joann lowitz er have been searching for
  • their 17 year old daughter Ally since
  • she vanished last year but when the case
  • made national news
  • the Houston parents say they became
  • inundated with calls from so-called
  • psychic detectives they say some even
  • showed up at their front door promising
  • their psychic visions could help bring
  • Ally home he guaranteed me they need to
  • find Ally in three days and what parent
  • wouldn't be excited to hear that you're
  • gonna have your daughter home in three
  • days that is absolutely horrible because
  • the last thing any parent needs in that
  • situation is having to fend off an
  • attention-seeking parasite who feeds off
  • personal tragedy like a human sized deer
  • tick and the problem is TV actively
  • enables that ghoulish nurse the Montel
  • Williams Show regularly featured Sylvia
  • Browne a well-known psychic
  • who advised parents with missing
  • children on how to locate their kids on
  • one episode she advised the mother of
  • Amanda berry a missing child who had
  • been kidnapped now a man that was
  • actually alive and watching that episode
  • from captivity and after she eventually
  • escaped she talked about how watching it
  • had felt I would watch her every time
  • she was on Montone I say I wish my mom
  • would go in there and then she could
  • tell my mom that I was alive and then
  • I'm okay she but Sylvia Browne breaks
  • Luana's home I just hate this she's not
  • alive
  • I just broke down crying because I
  • couldn't believe she said that and that
  • hurt even worse that is heartbreaking
  • and Sylvia Browne is clearly an awful
  • person for doing that but I would argue
  • that Montel also bears some blame for
  • giving Browne a platform to begin with
  • put it this way if Oprah interviewed a
  • live alligator and it ate four members
  • of her audience I'd be angry with the
  • alligator but it'd also be kind of angry
  • with Oprah Sylvia Browne actually died a
  • few years ago or did she
  • people have been wrong about that sort
  • of thing before maybe she's alive and
  • watching me refer to her as dead the one
  • thing I know for sure is that Montel
  • Williams his show is definitely deceased
  • but but but daytime shows are still
  • holding hands with this
  • just last month dr. Phil had a psychic
  • detective on to help solve a cold case
  • and why would he do that the only
  • logical explanation for letting a
  • professional guess awayin would be if
  • dr. Phil was actually the murderer and
  • he was trying to throw people off the
  • scent but apart from that explanation
  • that now makes a lot of sense there is
  • no explanation although I will say this
  • every now and then when handled
  • responsibly a psychic on television is a
  • delightful thing just watch this
  • spectacular local news investigation of
  • a psychic named Deborah Dominique who in
  • exchange for 160 dollars
  • met an undercover reporter at a Denny's
  • our producer met her at a coffee shop
  • saying she wants to know what happened
  • to Matthew the ten year old boy in this
  • photo
  • after staring at his photo she uses a
  • special pendulum claiming it allows her
  • to talk with the day and then she claims
  • she is connected directly with memory
  • but is he because we're pretty sure
  • Matthew the boy in this photo is not
  • wearing white or in heaven in fact we
  • know he's wearing black and is alive
  • because you're looking at him sitting in
  • the boat right behind her yep
  • that boy is indeed in the opposite of
  • heaven he's in a Denny's but wait wait
  • till you see exactly how they Buster
  • because it is just perfect I'm Curtis
  • coming from channel 13 how are you
  • showing her the picture of Matthew she
  • tells me she thinks he was taken I
  • understand you said you thought he was
  • deceased yes I believe he could be I've
  • got news for you it might come as a
  • shock but he's very much alive oh that's
  • great he's actually standing right
  • behind you right now
  • it is great it is great it's utter
  • perfection the only way that could have
  • been any better is if the first thing
  • that kids said to her was hey mom and I
  • would argue that that is the only
  • responsible way to put a psychic on
  • television humiliating them with a ghost
  • boy in a Denny's parking lot because
  • this surprisingly large often predatory
  • industry relies on popular culture to
  • lend it credence and validity to put it
  • another way every time a psychic makes a
  • grieving widow cry on dr. oz 10 con
  • artists get their wings and that is a
  • problem because there will always be
  • people who feel an urge to reach out to
  • psychics in their time of need
  • so if you or someone you know is one of
  • them I may have a small way to help here
  • sadly this isn't really the best format
  • for me to show you so please join me on
  • the set of my new daytime talk show
  • instead
  • welcome back to wakey-wakey with John
  • Oliver it's some time between 9:00 and
  • 3:00 in the afternoon then but my next
  • guest is a Staten Island psychic and
  • author of the book these freaking
  • spirits let me tell you please welcome
  • Wonder Joe Oliver
  • thank you for having me John thank you
  • it's lovely to have you here now Wanda
  • if you look familiar to some viewers it
  • might be because you're also my beloved
  • wife I'm it's freaking angel she is no
  • quick question Wanda Joe what happened
  • to your accent are you from the south
  • I'm not from there anymore that makes
  • sense no wonder when did you first
  • realize that you had incredible psychic
  • abilities oh well it was right after I
  • saw a thing on TV about how much money
  • psychics can make and suddenly I was
  • like me too
  • hashtag me too oh no no no that's that's
  • not that's actually a different year my
  • gift with the world no Joe I understand
  • that you've graciously offered to give
  • our viewers psychic readings for free
  • bingo bango as part of a court-ordered
  • settlement I've been forced to set up a
  • website Wanda Jo the free psychic calm
  • just log on now and you can get a
  • breathing for me Wanda joke just like
  • this okay they want me to acknowledge an
  • EM connection that could mean Mark or
  • Mary or Megan it could be someone who's
  • passed or still alive it also doesn't
  • have to be a name it could be any word
  • that starts with M or has an M somewhere
  • in it maybe maybe Museum Oh hamper it
  • could be an upside down and like a W or
  • sideways then like a three or an E
  • anyway that person he or she wants me to
  • tell you that the time you had together
  • was really special to him or her wow
  • that is phenomenal to me and it almost
  • seems weird to be doing this as a promo
  • right now because wonder gave me a
  • reading yesterday and it was so much
  • more important to me than a promo I
  • cried all the way home I told them none
  • of his dead relatives wanted to talk to
  • him that's that's so then the point is
  • go to wonder Joe the free psychic or
  • medium impressive calm and get a free
  • psychic reading we promise it will be
  • exactly as accurate as any psychic
  • reading that you would pay money for
  • oh wait wait I'm getting a voice through
  • for someone at home hold on your
  • grandmother's a bitch Wow
  • [Applause]

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Psychics may seem harmless and fun on TV, but they can make a lot of money by exploiting vulnerable people.

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