I was perusing a skeptoid.com article recently (see also my review of the Skeptoid podcast), and Google's ad selection algorithm decided that since the article was about the paranormal, I would probably like to see ads for paranormal services. Logical to some extent, since the Google algorithm couldn't easily detect that the article was debunking the particular paranormal event it was discussing. Anyway, one of the ads was for Tara the Medium, which, as it turns out, was not a Queen of England who was not particularly tall or short. Tara is a psychic (at www dot tara dash medium dot com1) and offered a free psychic reading, and I'm not one to turn down something valuable that I can get for free.
1 - I'm listing the URL but intentionally not including a link to the site so she gains no pagerank from this article.
Tara is apparently a "special case, even in the occult field". She is a "pure psychic", unlike other types of hybrid psychics I suppose. Her bio page says that she was born on August 8, though no year is given. She also talked about another event, her first "vision", which happened on February 27, but again no year. How does knowing these dates with no years give me any information at all, other than the ability to send her a birthday card? She was trained by an unnamed "Western Spirit Master", and is now so powerful that she can do reading of people she's never met or even seen, as long as she knows their date and time of birth and their email address. I was not aware that my email address was somehow connected to me spiritually, but who am I to argue with the spirits? (Yes, I know the email address is only necessary so she can contact me. But that's not as funny.)
Despite this being a free reading, there are some terms and conditions. Here are some of the more interesting ones. Note that "The Company" refers to "the company selling the offers found on the website www.tara-medium.com".
- "The Company offers no commitment regarding the actual unfolding of the events mentioned on the website or affiliated emails."
- "The texts provided by the www.tara-medium.com website and affiliated contents cannot be regarded as advice provided by recognized regulated professions like legal, medical or psychological advice."
- "If the User is suffering from a specific illness or problem (legal or juridical), he or she should consult a professional suited to that problem as soon as possible."
- "The Company may not be held liable for any breach of contract in case of force majeure, including but not limited to: war, catastrophe, fire hazard, strikes, power failure or breakdown, and more generally any event that would not allow for the proper processing of the orders." – Why not? Surely a pure psychic like Tara can see these things coming.
"The Company" is called Astroway, based in Hong Kong. I did a search on them and found a complaint on complaintsboard.com. (This by itself means nothing – regardless of how great your company is, someone is going to complain.) This guy had dumped in more than £750 (over $1100 Cdn as of mid-July 2011) before deciding that Tara wasn't giving him anything except "a load of false predictions and plausible stories". There was a comment on the posting from someone saying that Tara was running a psychic scam (note that "psychic scam" is redundant). The commenter gave some suggestions on who to complain to, although "the appropriate bodies in you [sic] relevant country" is not very helpful. But his credibility went right out the window when he tried to be more helpful by saying "I found a really good psychic at [some other site]".
I sent in my request for a free reading on Friday evening, June 24th 2011. I received my reading (via an email link to a web page) two days later on June 26th. (I received another email the next day saying that she was surprised that I hadn't looked at it yet, which was strange since I had.) The reading was far longer than I expected, and rather than include the entire thing in this article, I've copied it here and added some comments. As I said the reading is quite long so you may not want to read the whole thing but just skim it for my comments, which are easy to find in blue boxes throughout. Same goes for the subsequent emails she sent me later – more details on those below.
Here are the main points of my reading:
- She spent 13 hours on my reading
- There will be a decisive turning point in my life on July 25, 2011 (give or take a couple of days). This is one month from when I received the reading.
- The three months after this date will be the most important of my life, followed by three more very good months.
- She detects in me "unbounded magnetic power, along with extraordinary strength and exuberance".
- She says "You radiate your amazing magnetism with so much force that people perceive it even long after you’ve left". [I'm sure that those of you who know me personally are nodding right now.]
- I have "often violent and destructive anger". [Again, those of you who know me personally are nodding. But don't let me catch you nodding, or I'll kick your ass.]
- I have remarkable "energy, vitality, endurance, and resistance".
- I am "too egocentric to be able to love someone absolutely".
- I should "learn to take things easier and not be too aggressive" or it will spark my violent anger.
- My lucky numbers are 1, 9, and 10.
- I have a huge potential for luck and unexpected money, and yet bad luck is unjustly affecting me.
- The sun is my dominant planet (despite it not being a planet at all). It has provided me with numerous lucky occasions but I couldn't take advantage of them because no one was there to help me. [Thankfully, now I have Tara!]
- I have Unlimited Inner Power [note proper capitalization] that I "totally ignore and make no use of at all".
- A person who is envious of me may try to direct harmful unlucky vibrations at me. [This person is obviously unaware of my "violent and destructive anger".]
- I will be getting enough money over the three month period starting July 25 that I will never need to worry about money ever again.
- She can tell me all the decisions I will have to make and what to do, which games to play to maximize my winnings, and what "interesting encounters" I will have, with whom and where, and if they will be favourable or if I should avoid them.
- She has helped many famous people to be more successful, but she's not naming names (for their privacy, you know).
- She's willing to give me "the most complete, detailed and precise astral reading of [my] entire life".
- If I'm not completely satisfied, I can send her an email and she'll refund my money, no questions asked.
- As a free gift, I'll receive a "magic wish-fulfilling pentacle", which "seems to be impregnated with a mysterious secret that contains powerful astral forces" and "is reputed to trigger the rapid realization of your secret wishes".
To get my complete astral reading, all I have to do is fill out a questionnaire. Oh, and send some money to cover her costs. The questionnaire contains 14 yes/no questions such as "Do you tend to regret your past?", "Are you sometimes afraid of your future?", and "Do you sometimes doubt your abilities?" These are utterly useless questions since anyone who doesn't answer "yes" is a liar. She asks for "a small contribution of only $CAD99.00 (instead of the usual $CAD178)" though she gives no reason for the discount. I would love to continue down this road and see how accurate my personal DATED ASTRAL READING OF LUCK AND MONEY is, but sorry dear reader, I'm not paying $99 for it. If anyone would like to send me $99 via Paypal, I will use it to pay for my reading, but otherwise I'm afraid my professional relationship with Tara the Medium is at an end. But if you're thinking of sending me the $99, please, read on first.
Now, someone who believes in psychics is likely to look at their reading and focus on things that are correct, ignoring statements that are wrong, and then manage to convince themselves that the psychic who got two right guesses out of twenty "nailed it", at which point I would point out the error of their ways. As a skeptic, it's likely that I'm doing exactly the opposite: focussing on things that she got wrong and dismissing what she got right as coincidence. Perhaps the truth, as it so often is, is somewhere in the middle. But Tara did say that she "can see the future of someone accurately, 97% of the time", so I would have expected a lot more hits and very few misses. As it happens, there was a bunch of stuff that's true about me but it was all vague enough that it could be said about anyone.
There wasn't one single thing in my reading that made me think "wow, how did she know that?", and certainly nothing compelling enough to warrant spending $99 for another reading.
Tara Follows Up
On July 2nd, six days after receiving the reading, I received another email with a link to a different page, which I have copied here, again with comments. On July 6, another one, copied here. There aren't that many comments in the third one, because it doesn't contain any information that wasn't in the second one, and the second didn't contain much that wasn't in the first. On July 12th, I got yet another email (which she resent again on the 14th), in which she offers me my DATED ASTRAL READING OF LUCK AND MONEY for only $CAD79.00 instead of $99, though again she doesn't state why she's giving me this discount. To those of you who were considering giving me the $99 via paypal, great news! I just saved you $20! You're welcome.
But wait, there's more! On July 18th (shortly after I was considering posting this article), I got another email. Not only did this one reduce the price again to $69 (another $10 in your pocket, dear reader!) but there was no mention of the July 25th date. This time, she knows the exact amount of money I'm going to win ($9600), and the date is now August 24th. And the cheque will come in a yellow envelope. I'm no psychic, but I could have predicted that as we approached July 25th and I still hadn't paid anything, the date would change.
I'm assuming that she'll give up on me at some point because it will eventually become obvious that I'm not going to partake. Watch my twitter feed and facebook page on July 25th and August 24th to see what kinds of wonderful things happen to me. But if nothing spectacular happens on those days, you gotta know that it's entirely my own fault, for not having given Tara the opportunity to help me. I will also update this article periodically if I continue to get more emails from Tara.
Let's get serious
I've had a good laugh with this whole thing but just underneath the surface, I'm quite angry. I keep referring to Tara as a she, but I doubt anyone named Tara is actually involved here. It's probably a whole staff of writers who have experience with human psychology and how to manipulate people. The thing that makes me angry is how much work went into my "reading" and the subsequent emails. Granted, they are very likely form pages with "insert name here" and "choose random planet" and stuff like that. But nobody is going to put all of that together to make a few hundred bucks off a handful of gullible people, which tells me that they are likely making tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. All they have to do is provide people with meaningless drivel about the astral plane and positive energy and negative vibrations and all of that bullshit, and they will find people who believe it and are willing to part with their money just so they can be told exactly what they want to hear. "You've had bad luck and problems with money (or you wouldn't be on this web site), but it's not your fault – someone else is to blame and if you give me some money, I can prevent them from getting in the way of your rightful happiness." Some people will pay the money, receive the fake readings, and be quite happy. Others will realize that they're being scammed, but by the time they realize that she is not telling them anything actually meaningful, she already has their money.
Dear Tara: You can shove your DATED ASTRAL READING OF LUCK AND MONEY right up your astral plane.
Update - July 25: Got another email from Tara, and the price was reduced again to $59.
Update - August 5: Another one - this time with a 3-day deadline. Down to $29. The price is low enough now that I'm actually considering paying it just to see what happens next, but I know better.
Update - August 11: Another one, this time with an offer for a "Great Magical Intervention" for only $39.
Update - September 2: Another offer from Tara, this time she's promising $100,000 or more, if I pay $29.95 for a Active Magic Thought ritual. This will likely be the last offer from Tara, since I have finally clicked on the "if you don't want to receive further offers, click here" link.