Assessing the Accuracy of Psychics


What can be make of the accuracy of psychics? Some people have assumed that psychics are incredibly accurate, but this is far from the case. Even psychics themselves admit that no psychic is infallible. My goal in this article is to challenge the notion of psychic accuracy and present the real facts.

Former occultist and psychic Marcia Montenegro was told during her training that a highly skilled psychic could achieve 85 percent accuracy. In reality, most psychics struggle to achieve even a quarter of that accuracy rate. For example, John Edward, a well-known psychic, was observed by a critic to have a success rate of between 10 and 20 percent. In one instance, Edward made nearly 40 wrong guesses before coming up with something accurate.

The unfortunate truth is that many people, especially those who are grieving and long to communicate with their deceased loved ones, are willing to overlook these inaccuracies. They cling to the hope that within this 10 to 20 percent accuracy rate, a connection can be made with the deceased. Surprisingly, despite the high percentage of misses, most people tend to remember only the accurate information, demonstrating a selective memory.

The Track Record of Psychics

The history of failed predictions by psychics is quite extensive. One among countless examples relates to 9/11. Most people agree that what happened to our country on September 11, 2001, was one of the most catastrophic events in U.S. history. And yet, in the days leading up to 9/11, not a single psychic predicted the devastating terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers in New York City. After the tragedy, some psychics lamely claimed to have sensed something ominous was coming, but these statements were made long after the fact. This example, along with countless others I could mention, casts doubt on the authenticity of psychics. 

Edited for Primetime

Some of today’s popular psychics have had their own television shows. On these shows, the psychics appear to be amazingly accurate. The problem is this: Each of these shows is heavily edited. John Edward’s show “Crossing Over” is one example. His show required six hours of taping for a half-hour episode. The editors of the show carefully selected the few successes from a sea of inaccuracies to create the illusion of accuracy.

One person in the studio audience during a taping of “Crossing Over” later claimed that his interactions with John Edward were heavily edited to make the psychic appear more accurate. In addition, on more than one occasion, Edward’s production assistants have been observed mingling with the studio audience and eavesdropping on conversations that are relayed to Edward prior to the taping.    

Excuses Excuses!

When psychics make incorrect predictions or provide inaccurate information, they often offer excuses to maintain their credibility. Common excuses I’ve seen over the years include the following:

Mistakes are caused by “trickster energy”: Psychics like Char Margolis blame mistakes on “trickster energy,” suggesting that mischievous spirits are responsible for any inaccuracies.

The information must be intended for someone else: Psychics such as James Van Praagh and John Edward claim that inaccuracies occur because the information may be intended for someone other than the client, and that “someone” may be alive or dead. 

Symbolic communication can be difficult to interpret: Psychics claim that spirits communicate through symbols, which can be difficult to interpret accurately.

Spirits may be limited in what they can share: Psychics, including James Van Praagh, suggest that spirits may be prohibited from revealing certain information due to certain spiritual laws in the universe.

Sometimes another (uninvited) spirit communicates: Psychic John Edward says that clients may be disappointed when they don’t receive messages from the desired deceased loved one. Sometimes an uninvited spirit may “crash the party” and speak through the psychic, providing information that is irrelevant to the client. 

People change in the afterlife: Psychics claim that people undergo transformations in the afterlife. This can result in differences in personality or appearance. So, if your loved one seems like a different person, there’s a good reason for it.

Sometimes clients themselves are unaware of relevant data from their family’s past: Psychics like John Edward argue that clients may not recognize the accuracy of information from a spirit because they are unaware of certain family history details.

People can develop psychic amnesia: Psychics say that clients may forget important details, such as names or dates, which could cause them to dismiss accurate information when it is given by a spirit. 

What About Lotteries and the Stock Market?

Critics often ask why psychics don’t use their abilities to win the lottery or excel in the stock market. Psychic Sylvia Browne answers that true psychics are meant to use their gifts for the benefit of others, not for personal gain. Other psychics claim that emotions can interfere with their psychic work, preventing them from calmly and objectively picking winning lottery numbers or making profitable stock market investments.

The Million Dollar Challenge

The Amazing Randi offered a one-million-dollar prize to anyone who could objectively prove their psychic abilities under proper observation conditions. Sylvia Browne initially agreed to accept the challenge, but repeatedly failed to follow through. She gave various excuses, such as that the money had not been placed in escrow, and finally refused to take the test. To date, no one has successfully claimed the million-dollar prize.


Despite the public image of psychics as accurate seers, a closer look reveals a very long track record riddled with inaccuracies, excuses, and a reluctance to subject their abilities to objective testing. Stay away from psychics!

Go Deeper

I invite you to consult my article, “A Christian Assessment of Psychics and Ghosts,” posted here at the John Ankerberg Show website.  

Dr. Ron Rhodes received his Th.M. and Th.D. degrees in systematic theology from Dallas Theological Seminary, graduating with honors. He is currently the president of Reasoning from the Scriptures Ministries, an apologetics organization located in Texas.

The author of more than 60 books, with millions of books in print, Dr. Rhodes is a keynote speaker at conferences across the United States and Canada. As time permits, he also teaches at a number of seminaries, including Dallas Theological Seminary and Veritas Evangelical Seminary. He has been a guest on many national and regional radio and television programs, including the John Ankerberg Show. He and his wife, Kerri, reside in Texas.

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