#3. Australia's Top Psychics Run in Circles
In 2008, Australia broadcast a reality show called The One, which was like American Idol, except with psychics. The premise was to find "Australia's top psychic" and involved putting several psychics through a series of challenges to discern which (if any) of them had genuine magic powers. Being that apparently they failed 94 percent of the challenges put to them, it seems that question was pretty much answered. But out of the myriad failures, one of the most embarrassing was the helicopter search.
The psychics were dropped off in a forest and given 15 minutes to find a waiting helicopter. To aid them in their search, they were given a map and a personal item belonging to the pilot (wallet, keys, novelty butt plug, etc.). The psychic vibes coming from these items were supposed to guide the contestants to the chopper. If you can guess how that worked out, you're more psychic than they are.
And if you guessed "they traced the path of an erect dong," you're only half right.
Four out of 10 contestants were able to find the helicopter, but that sounds less impressive when you know that they had a map of the area and the chopper was uncreatively located in the opposite corner from where they started. This goes to show that a couple of years in the Boy Scouts is probably more useful in the long run than psychic powers.
For the rest, they ran around totally randomly while spouting psychic-sounding nonsense about "feeling a pull" and listening to their angel guides. At one point, one of them "feels" a strong pull to the right when the helicopter is clearly visible to his left.
Angel guides don't like psychics any more than we do.
Another loops around and ends up back at the car that dropped her off, while a third says a voice kept telling her to "run." As opposed to what, sit down and hope a friendly kangaroo carries you to the goal? Remember, these are Australia's top psychics. If they had recruited some of their lesser colleagues, they would have ended up dead in New Zealand somehow.
#2. A Psychic Cold Reading Goes Completely Cold
Like most psychics whose schtick is talking to dead people, James Van Praagh's performance relies on "cold reading," a technique where you start out making general guesses and gradually hone in on more specific ones to create the illusion that you're talking to Uncle Jack's ghost. The ghosts are always happy, by the way, because nobody wants to hear that Grandma is getting jabbed by pitchforks in hell.
Unless you had one of those "eccentric" grandmothers.
Generally when you're filming a psychic who you want to make look good, you'll edit out the stuff they get wrong so that it looks like they're only getting "hits." If you forget to do that, you might wind up with something like Van Praagh's appearance on Australian talk show The Circle:
Van Praagh starts out by asking a lady about her dead mother, correctly guessing that she took some kind of medication. You know, like every old woman ever. From there it went downhill, as he asks whether she had arthritis (no), a back problem (nope), or trouble with her legs (nuh-uh) -- all common ailments that he assumed had a good chance of a hit. Realizing that he's starting to sink, he asks whether someone else has leg problems, and learns that her father had two hip replacements. Bingo! But then:
"So he can't walk as well as he used to."
"No, he walks very well."
"But he walks on legs, right? Which are below his waist? So I'm clearly on to something?"
Backpedalling frantically, he asks about a Cathy or a Catherine. No dice. He correctly guesses that they are Catholic (like a quarter of Australians) and amazingly has a vision of a picture of Mother Mary in someone's house. A picture of Mary in a Catholic household? Why, this man must have a direct phone line to the afterlife.
The marathon of failure continues when he asks who in her family plays music (nobody), at which point he abandons ship and starts questioning someone else, asking a lady whether her dead father liked cars. She replies with an eye roll that would utterly shrivel your balls.
And a pause so they could add a laugh track in post-production.
#1. A Psychic Fighter Is No Match for an Actual Fighter
Yanagi Ryuken is a Japanese "fighter" who claims to be an expert in the art of kiai, or psychic fighting. His technique allegedly allows him to defeat his opponents without touching them, using the psychic power of chi rather than the more traditional power of punching dudes in the face.
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Not to be confused with the psychic power of chai, another alternative to punching dudes.
A video of Ryuken in action against his students shows that the kiai style relies on casually waving your hands through the air while your disciples take stage dives that make the extras from direct-to-DVD Chuck Norris movies look like Laurence Olivier. If we saw this out of context, we'd assume it was bad anime cosplay. You would think that Ryuken's antics are a scam to trick gullible wimps into forking out money for DVDs, but, depressingly, Ryuken appears firmly convinced about his own abilities, because the below video documents what happened after he made a $5,000 bet with an MMA fighter that he could defeat him with psychic ability:
We can assume that his students shifted uncomfortably in their seats as he laid out the challenge, because up to this point they had all been pretending to get knocked out by his invisible hadokens to make a crazy old guy feel good about himself. If you watch closely, you can see the exact moment the professional realizes this is bullshit. After Ryuken slaps the air a couple of times, eliciting ooohs from the crowd and absolutely nothing else, the fighter drops his already casual guard and goes to town, overwhelming Ryuken's psychic shield with the mystical art of "actual kicks to the face."
After Ryuken recovers, the fighter seems hesitant to continue, at this point realizing that he's essentially just beating up a confused old man. But Ryuken insists, perhaps hoping to salvage at least a little dignity.
"It's OK, just a broken nose. Noses don't even have any chi."
Moments later, the video ends with Ryuken writhing on the ground in a fetal position, having learned an important lesson in the most brutal way possible. It could have been worse -- he could have tried to use that shit on a mugger.
Related Reading: Don't feel TOO bad, psychics. Music censors have some pretty epic fails of their own. Like the time an album with zero words was slapped with a parental advisory sticker. Plenty of movie badasses also failed in their moment of truth- You know we're talking about Boba Fett. But hey, nobody's perfect. Just ask Thomas Jefferson, the President who ended his life in crippling debt.