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James Randi Educational Foundation

An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural

Introduction | "R" Reading | Curse of the Pharaoh | End-of-the-World Prophecies

Index | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z

psychic portraits Some persons who believe they have psychic powers produce what they call “psychic portraits” of dead persons. They say that the evidence they have that the persons so represented have ever lived is the acceptance of the sitters for whom the images were produced, and they usually say that they are unable to produce a likeness of any specific person upon request.
      Frequently a sitter will accept a likeness as representing someone they have known. Since these performances are usually done for very large audiences and all present are challenged to come up with a correspondence between the portrait and someone who looked like the artwork, it is likely that the attempt will be successful. Sometimes sitters who are interviewed admit that they “went along” with the artist in order not to cause any conflict. They are, after all, believers, otherwise they most probably would not pay to attend such a gathering. Having paid their money, they have an interest in the performance being successful and want it to be a positive experience. Going along with it seems harmless enough and moves things forward.
      See also cold reading.

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