Mediums : are persons who claim they can communicate with and even rely messages from deceased persons.  These messages are thought to come from the beyond the grave and are normally intended for the living relatives of the deceased.  Typically some mediums appear to be more "accurate" than others and many mediums profess to seeing deceased persons, or hearing their voices since early childhood.  Some mediums are associated with the Spiritualist Church and often claim that they are in touch with the deceased loved ones of members of the audience.  Other mediums work on a one to one basis with their individual clients who hope to make contact with their dearly departed.  

Often money changes hands and it quite commonplace for a medium to charge a fee for his or her services.  Depending upon the belief system of an individual, and or religious persuasion, the whole subject of mediumship can often invoke a wide range of emotions.  The alleged ability to talk or communicate with the dead does not generally sit very well with the Church (except the Spiritualist Church that is).  Indeed certain passages in the bible warn directly against both mediums and the use of their services. The overall view is that the universe is a vast and mysterious place.  The universe also contains many things of which we are maybe not even aware, let alone hope to understand, including both good and bad spirits.  For this reason many believe the subject as a whole should be avoided at all cost.  However this is cold comfort to the many thousands of newly bereaved persons who struggle to come to terms with their loss.  It is for these people that a medium offers the longed for hope that their loved ones, since departing the earth, are now continuing a happy existence in the spirit world.  

Many mediums claim that because of the joy they clearly bring to the bereaved then their work is highly valid and offers the grieving the proof they need that consciousness actually does survive the death of the physical body.

However there are many sceptics who suggest that mediums are little more than charlatans or fraudsters.  They suggest that they do little more than prey on the grief and misery of their bereaved clients in order to secure quite hefty fees.

Can these mediums really communicate with the dead? Often persons on leaving a session with their chosen medium recount how "accurate" their medium was.  It is not uncommon to hear people talk of information that was only known to them and their deceased relative being discussed at a session.  This information is often taken as proof that the medium really is talking to the dead.  However it must be stressed that these clients have a huge desire for the medium to be correct, which naturally introduces a significant amount of bias into the equation.

After observing a number of renowned and respected mediums at work, in some cases it can be seen that quite a clear pattern of language and question and answer dialogue often emerges.  To illustrate the point a quite extreme example is laid out below:

MEDIUM ASKS: "I have a father figure here who wants to come through, can you tell me if that means anything to you?


MEDIUM ASKS: I think is it definitely a man, could it be your grandfather?

CLIENT RESPONDS: Er, well it could be

MEDIUM ASKS: Oh no the father and grandfather figures are receeding into the background and a much stronger mother figure is coming through.  I think I may have your mother.  Is your mother in spirit? 

CLIENT RESPONDS: Ah yes it's my mother I've been hoping to get in touch with my mother.

MEDIUM SAYS: Your mother says you have been doing a bit to much lately and you should slow down a little.

Although it may appear that the medium in the fictitious dialogue above has made contact with the departed mother of their client; clearly they have not.  In the instance above, if the medium was genuine and real contact had been established with the spirit world, it is highly unlikely that any questions would need to be asked at all during the conversation.  Closer examination of the dialogue above simply reveals that the medium is actually asking: is your father dead? if not, is your grandfather dead? and if neither of those relatives are deceased, then is your mother dead?

Once knowledge of which family member has been unwittingly extracted from the client, the medium may then make some sort of generalized comment about how the person may have died.  One of the favourites appears to be:

MEDIUM SAYS: Oh I feel this person had difficulty in breathing or a pain in their chest. 

Medical science will probably confirm that in someone who is dying, a difficulty in breathing would normally accompany death.  If this draws a blank then another avenue is normally explored.  For example:

MEDIUM SAYS: Did this person die suddenly? then could it be a car crash?

All of the time language is cleverly and skillfully used to extract information from a medium's client in order to convince the client that the medium really can speak to the dead.  

The hypothetical medium/client conversation above is extreme and an obvious example of how information is extracted from the unwitting client.  In reality the language used is much less obvious, but works on the same principle.  There is even a technical term for this type of unwitting information extraction, it is called: 'cold reading'.  Indeed for budding mediums a plethora of books and information exist about cold reading techniques and the art of subtle information extraction.  

It is probably true to say that if enough generalised statements are made during a sitting, then at least some of the information would be deemed to be correct.  For example:

MEDIUM SAYS: Your mother/grandmother/sister/aunt/father/grandfather/brother/uncle left you a watch or piece of jewelry?


MEDIUM SAYS: Your mother/grandmother/sister/aunt/father/grandfather/brother/uncle says you must keep that lock of hair safe.

or even

MEDIUM SAYS: Your mother/grandmother/sister/aunt/father/grandfather/brother/uncle says you have been tidying the house/garden lately - is that right?

Cold reading or the extraction of information from an unwitting client that is then fed back by a medium, is certainly one plausible explanation for the medium phenomenon.  However there is also a belief that in the more difficult to disprove cases, perhaps Extra Sensory Perception (loosely, mind reading) is at work. In other words the medium is actually unknowingly reading the mind of his or her client.  Until the most renowned mediums are tested under strictly controlled scientific conditions it is difficult to evaluate either way. 

When evaluating the performance of a medium, consider:

Did the medium give an accurate first name or better still surname without guessing at a few names first?

If the answer to the above question is no, then it is probably unlikely that the medium is speaking to the deceased.  However, even if the answer is yes; unless the session was conducted under strict laboratory conditions, there are still ways information can be obtained without the knowledge of the client.  For example: background research can be done on clients beforehand and sometimes conversations may be overheard before a sitting, thus giving the medium prior knowledge about the client. 

In conclusion: mediums are persons who can allegedly communicate with dead people. However as the messages they bring forth can be explained away by a variety of means other than spirit communication, a degree of scepticism and caution should probably be exercised. 


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