It was bound to happen. In Salem, Massachusetts, the established, "legitimate" fortune tellers are upset that upstarts from out of town are allowed to share in the racket. Apparently Barnum was wrong; suckers are in limited supply and protectionist legislation is indicated. The established hucksters are going so far as to tell the city council that some of these newcomers might be—and I’m not saying I believe this slander, mind you, but—well . . . . faking their psychic readings. Unlike the responsible, trained, highly educated psychics who have worked so hard to represent their honorable profession in Salem, these newcomers may be incapable of using tea leaves and tarot cards to tell you what your dead grandmother thinks of your boyfriend. Shocking, I know.
I wish I were making this up, but I’m not: One of the psychics describes having to do a “genuine” psychic reading for a police officer before getting her license. Another describes having to use her aura-detecting machine to correct the damage done by an out-of-towner who’d told a client that her aura was black (you’ll be relieved to know that her aura was actually “blue and beautiful.”)
Tip of the hat to James Randi, who notes in all seriousness that if any of these psychics are able to do the things they claim, they could simply demonstrate their powers and collect a cool $1,000,000 from the James Randi Educational Foundation.Somehow I think the money is safe for another day.