I just read this interesting blog post by Mark Edward, professional mentalist, exposing the Long Island Medium.
Is Kaputo Caputo Yet? (SkepticBlog)
In addition to the standard cold reading tactics, he notes:
Like many of the latest crop of bullshit tossers making the rounds, Theresa and her savvy crew have learned from the mistakes of others like Sally Morgan, John Edward and Jimmy VanPraagh. Instead of taking chances with too much guessing, Theresa bumps-up her percentage of hits and avoids bad misses by front-loading her stage shows with a combination of techniques; some time tested like cold reading and planting previous clients they have already read for in specific seats in the audience, (ala Rosemary Altea on the Penn & teller “Bullshit!” episode I worked on) but also making use of the latest social media outlets.
In combination with selling seats through Ticketmaster and the use of credit cards, Facebook, Fousquare, Twitter and all the rest of the latest places people post private information, our own egocentric fascination with ourselves makes it easy for the techie-smart-agent or producer to make seeming miracles happen. Like the old days when the gypsy only needed to tell her sitters what they wanted to hear about themselves, we are now in an era when anyone can tell you more about yourself than you might ever want to know.
At the show we saw, at one point Theresa asked a woman, “…Why am I picking up baby clothes?” To which the woman replied, “On, that’s weird. I just put up a bunch of pictures of baby clothes on my Facebook page!”
[ . . . ]
As in the Belgian PSA posted a few weeks back – the information gathering search and destroy technique is a goldmine for the entrepreneur showman and underscores the need for caution in placing anything on the internet – especially if you plan to visit a high-end medium or buy tickets to one of their shows. I know I’m preaching to the choir once again here and it’s not likely if you are reading this you would do such a thing, but you might know someone who would – and they should be warned.
Long Island Medium: A Tall Story (Karen Stollznow)
The Skeptic’s Dictionary (an incredibly depressing read, by the way)