“People want the illusion of control.” Online psychics raking in the cash.

Fear makes people stupid. The fact that we re-elected George W. Bush is one form of proof for that theory and another is the fact that people worried about the stock market crash have been wasting money consulting online psychics:

While it doesn’t take a psychic to see that tough times lay ahead for the economy, online practitioners of the divination arts say they’re seeing a marked sift in the questions posed by their clientele, with anxious consumers increasingly asking what’s in store for them financially in the months ahead. Believers who normally seek psychics for advice on a cheating spouse are now asking whether a pink slip is in their future, and internet psychics across the board saw a spike in traffic in the days following the initial market crash.

The boom in superstition is a predicable response to troubling times, says Columbia Business School professor Gita Johar, who’s studied the phenomenon. “If the future is uncertain, people turn to psychics,” Johar says. Consumers tend to embrace the supernatural when confronted by stress, combined with uncertainty. “You have an illusion then that you can then control the outcome. People want the illusion of control.”

The problem with illusions, of course, is that they aren’t real. That doesn’t stop the psychic snake oil peddlers from charging you a hefty fee for it:

Spears is one of many self-described psychics, empaths and mediums who make a living giving online readings by instant message or phone on sites such as LivePerson.com and AT&T’s Keen.com. Spears performs readings by online chat for $2 to $3 a minute, and says that since September she’s been talking almost exclusively with Americans who are concerned about their economic futures.

“People ask if they are going to lose their house or if they are going to find a job soon, or am I going to be laid off,” says Spears,

“Usually I can give some time frames, and for some people, it is clearly ‘yes,’” Spears says. “I can tell them if another job is coming and a time frame for when they will get another job.”

Hourly rates for online psychics typically range from $100 to $1,000 per hour, but those steep rates haven’t seemed to deter the monetarily anxious from reaching out.

Another IM reader, Pure Empathy, says his business has soared since the economic downturn. He charges $2 a minute and says he gives away lots of free time.

“It’s really starting to pick up,” he says. “People are more depressed, and I can easily make $150 to $200 a day.”

“Finances are coming up a lot more lately,” he adds. “People want to know when their finances are going to get better. I tell them I don’t see it happening until middle of next year — we are going to have a long down period.”

The sad part is you don’t have to be a psychic to figure out things are going to be painful for awhile to come. All you have to do is pay attention to current events. What I find most amusing, though, is a lot of what these psychics are selling is just plain old common sense and they even admit as much:

All three say their job isn’t just about making future predictions, it’s also about giving good advice and listening to people’s concerns.

“I answer all of my questions using my cards or gifts, but I make sure to tell them to use common sense in spending, to not quit a job that is a sure pay until another job is secured, and to make sure to use a budget and stick to it as best they can,” Elliot says. “I also remind them that readings are entertainment and not a necessity, to keep in mind the things that are wants and the things that are needs.”

Sometimes people ask the obvious, according to Spears.

“Sometimes a person asks what does that person feel about me,” Spears says. “If he doesn’t call you in four weeks, that tells you other things are on his mind, and you are not it.”

Can you believe there are people out there who pay these charlatans for that? They don’t need a psychic, they need a swift kick in the ass.

3 thoughts on ““People want the illusion of control.” Online psychics raking in the cash.

  1. You know, one time a few years back I paid $10 to have my palm read only because I had never done it before.  The quack told me I was going to have a nervous breakdown and that she was worried about me and that she could help me for a mere $50 extra an hour.

    I left and never went back.

    And for the record…never did have that nervous breakdown.

  2. Ummmmm….
    I feel economic uncertainty in your future…..
    You need to be frugal…
    Your “partner” is nervous and needs your reasurance you can get through it together…..
    Hard work and community will help you get through……
    That will be $1000 Please, preferably Euros or Gold, dollars not accepted.

  3. Back in my younger days I made extra money scamming people with rune stone readings on the beach. At least I did till the local cops decided I was scamming, but that’s another story.  cheese

    I have to admit I’ve thought about digging out the rocks and going for it again since I made a killing the last time and was only taking “donations”. I couldn’t help it if the suckers left $50’s and $100’s!  LOL

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