Psychic Reality TV Show: Harmful or Helpful?

Photo by Frogman

Recently I’ve been seeing TV commercials for a show called “The One – The Search for Australia’s Most Gifted Psychic”.  Essentially it’s a reality show testing the abilities and accuracy of the 10 psychics, through a variety of different challenges posed to them.

My first instinct was disinterest.  Mainly because it’s reality TV, and I’m not a fan of those shows.

Today however, as the comedy shows on TV had finished, so I thought I’d give “The One” a shot, lets see what it’s really like.  There were 10 contestants and two judges – one from the skeptics association, and is a practicing “witch”.  At the end of the show, a contestant gets eliminated, in typical reality TV style.

I was a little surprised that they were asked to describe a murder that had happened in an apartment 30 years ago, and then as their second challenge, they were to match 8 people up in the appropriate pairs, and describe their relationship, like if they were married, business colleagues, siblings etc.

Let’s have a look at the murder challenge first.

The challenge had three requirements:  the contestants needed to discover:

  1. the intentions of the murder
  2. the location inside the apartment where the murder took place
  3. the cause of death

It was interesting, I think only one or two of the contestants got all three correct, a handful managed to get the intentions, fewer still got the cause of death, and only the two who got 3 out of 3, identified the location of the murder.

It’s interesting that there were a wide variety of techniques that the contestants used.  I picked up on the following:

  • mediumship – the ability to connect with the dead
  • clairsentience (empathy) – the ability to experience the emotions of other people in oneself
  • postcognition – the ability to view past events

There were hits, and there were misses.  The actual murder was the revenge of a jilted lover who strangled his ex in the threshold of the bathroom.
It was interesting to note, that the majority of the contestants expressed that the murder happened in the bedroom over a relationship issue, and the cause of death was stabbing.  The judge from the skeptics association explained that this would account for most of the murders that took place, and so there would have been a good chance that guessing, and not psychic ability is what the majority of contestants were demonstrating.

The second challenge was a set up for failure for the contestants.  4 pairs of people were bought out.  They had different relationships – adopted siblings, married couples, best friends and non-identical twins.  The pairs were separated and the contestants had to match the pairs up and state the siblings.  This was turning out to be more of a guessing game, however I was impressed when one of the contestants identified that there was an adopted pair in the group – but then he failed to correctly identify them.

The vast majority of the contestants got nothing.  1 contestant matched two pairs, and another couple of contestants matched 1 pair a piece.  The judge from the skeptics association said that this was what he expected, in line with the odds of success.

At the end of the show, the judges eliminated two of the contestants – which I wonder, if anyone knew psychically, who would be eliminated…?

So what do I think of this whole show?

Firstly, I have to say that the contestants should not be the ones who are criticised.  Like anything, people develop their abilities in line with their interest, and psychic abilities follow suit.  People with developed psychic abilities will be strong in some areas, but weak in others.  Not everyone has the desire to develop psychic mediumship, or read the tarot, or do psychic forensics – so you can’t really challenge them the same way.

Apparently on the next instalment of the show, the contestants will have to find a man in the boot of a car, and the car will be parked in a full parking lot.  To me, that sounds a little ridiculous and like the other challenges that they’ve had on the show, they all cannot be taken too seriously.

The show tends to trivialise the ability of psychics, and turns it into a trashy TV series, which I can say pretty straight up, that I won’t be spending time on watching.  It’s simply not my cup of tea.

However, it does lend publicity to the segment of people who have developed psychic abilities.  While there is a touch of mystery about people’s abilities, however it is in a sense showing that psychics are also human – they err, they have emotions, they have their days too.  This demystification may allow people to explore and develop their own abilities.

Is it a joke?  Well, reality TV doesn’t make anything look classy, but I don’t think the intention of this show is to demean or discredit people’s psychic abilities, or the psychic phenomenon in general.  I believe that like any TV show, it’s about ratings, and really it’s about cashing in on something that the audience  may engage with, and reality TV tends to engage a lot of people.

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