HoroscopeCredit: http://www.flickr.com/people/meddygarnet/Credit: http://www.flickr.com/people/meddygarnet/

    Astrology is a false science. It is a scam like many others. People buy into these tricks because they wish the predictions were true. The stars do not align in favor of one person or another. I myself have been caught in this web of deceit. Whenever I see a newspaper I look for my horoscope. I would like to think that my day will be an eight out of ten and that people will finally start treating me like a king, but in the end I know that it is only the way the world works. There are many other types of scams, but I will only be talking about three of them: psychics, magicians, and finally those clever con-men.

Psychic(69245)Credit: http://www.flickr.com/people/raymaclean/Credit: http://www.flickr.com/people/raymaclean/

    Psychics cannot see into the future or speak to dead people, yet they fool the public in many different ways. Some self-proclaimed psychics use methods such as cold-reading and hot-reading. Cold-reading is the practice of using vague statements to describe an individual. A psychic might say “some of your aspirations tend to be pretty unrealistic,” which is a perfect example of a vague statement that is true of anybody. Cold-readers often use the results of large surveys to fabricate their statements, which are sometimes called truisms. Hot-readers, on the other hand, use a technique called fishing. They start with a vague statement about the client much like a fisherman uses a basic lure. If the statement creates a response in the client, positive or negative, then the hot-reader can further adjust the statements he makes until he has one that is specific and accurate. Many clients make this extremely easy by actually agreeing with the psychic’s vague statements. They do this because they want the sentence to be true, and they want a psychic to be right. They expect him to be right, much like they expect a magician to make something disappear.

MagicianCredit: http://www.flickr.com/people/doonvas/Credit: http://www.flickr.com/people/doonvas/

    Magicians are not magical. In fact, many magicians will admit this fact and prefer to be known as illusionists. In a magic show or on the street, what is seen is exactly that: an illusion. There are numerous methods and ideologies that magicians use in their performances. Many magic tricks involve a technique called palming, which is a method of holding an item in the hand while that hand appears as if it is holding nothing. The point of view of the audience is taken into account when planning and performing illusions. In order for a magician to materialize a quarter he needs to have his hand in the correct position, relative to the eyes of the spectators, so that nobody will notice that the quarter has been in his hand the whole time. Misdirection is often used to divert the attention of the audience from what is actually happening up a magician’s sleeve to a prop or other item of which the sole purpose is to misdirect. Con men use a similar tactic to steal or swindle money from their victims.

Con ManCredit: David M. Goehring, http://www.flickr.com/photos/carbonnyc/5747629074/in/photosof-carbonnyc/Credit: David M. Goehring, http://www.flickr.com/photos/carbonnyc/5747629074/in/photosof-carbonnyc/

    Con men are the most dangerous lot of scammers in the world. Their swindles and cons do more harm than good, and are definitely not for show. Con men normally work in small teams, with one man acting as the misdirection. In some cases, the misdirection man will walk up to the victim and ask for directions or engage the victim in what seems to be friendly conversation. While this is happening, a second con man will creep up behind the victim and steal his wallet. Another con involves confusing the victim. A con man walks into a store or restaurant and asks for change, but then changes his mind about what kind of change he would like. All the while a line of customers begins to form behind the con man, and they are becoming impatient. Sometimes there is a second con artist in the line yelling and being unruly. In the confusion, the clerk gives the con man more money than he is owed, and the scam is complete.