My name is Josh Hunt and I am a skeptic. I wasn’t always a skeptic, though. You might be asked the question, “what’s the harm in believing in the paranormal?” You might even be asked why skepticism is important. I have an answer to both questions and it comes in the form of a personal story.
In 2004, when I was eighteen, I moved to New York City to study and pursue a career in acting. I had gotten a regular job working as a room service order taker. I remember feeling very out-of-place and very uncertain about what I was doing. I had so many questions that I wanted answered, but I didn’t know who to ask. Was I supposed to be in New York City? Was I supposed to be an actor? Will I be working in a job I hate for the rest of my life? Who would have the answer to these questions? Maybe a psychic would.
One day, on my thirty minute break, I was walking around lower Manhattan when I saw an advertisement for a local psychic. The fee was ten dollars. I figured I had spent more than that on junk food and porn. I called the psychic and a woman’s voice came on the phone. I told her that I was interested in getting a reading done. She said that her name was Crystal and that she would see me the next day in the afternoon.
I can only describe this woman as a sweet elderly aunt or grandmother with an accent. I sat down and she began the reading. Crystal started by staring at me and then looking me up and down. She told me that I had a "dark aura" and that “bad spirits” were causing it. Crystal said that these “spirits” were keeping me from achieving my goals and reaching my fullest potential. Before I left, I asked her if I was meant to be an actor, and I also told her that I was working at a job I didn’t like. I had given her all of the information that she would ever need. I came back a day or so after that and she told me exactly what I wanted to hear. She told me that there were people in Los Angeles talking about me and that I would start shooting a movie in a few months. A question that I should’ve asked her was how could people in Los Angeles be talking about me when they don’t even know I exist? At that point I had never even sent my picture and resume to anyone in Los Angeles. Crystal was telling me exactly what I wanted to hear and that’s all that mattered to me.
Crystal told me that we needed to get rid of these “bad spirits” and fast. How were we going to do that? She told me to get a glass jar, clean it out completely, tear off the label, and fill it with water from the tap in my kitchen. She also instructed me to put the jar of water in two plastic shopping bags (one bag was inside the other) and put it somewhere where no light would touch it. I went ahead and put it under my bed. I then brought the jar of water back to Crystal. Crystal said that if what she was about to do worked then the water would go from clean to dirty. She began to pray over the jar of water and she kept praying louder and louder. Crystal revealed the jar to me with a gasp. The water was dirty! It went from clean to dirty right before my eyes. From that point onward any skepticism I held was now gone. I was convinced that this woman was the real deal. At no point did the words “magic trick”, “slight-of-hand”, or “self-deception” enter my mind. Crystal performed the jar trick one more time. She told me that I had something like cancer in my stomach and took a different jar of water and turned it red. The red obviously resembling blood convinced me even further that this woman was the real deal.
Crystal had informed me that there were “bad spirits” surrounding my money. She told me that she could take these “bad spirits” away. She asked me how much money I could get to her. I told her about six to five hundred dollars. I immediately raced out, went to the ATM and got out about five hundred dollars. I brought it back to her and she prayed over it and told me she would bless it by bringing it to St. Patrick’s Cathedral for more blessing. Crystal kept telling me that she would give me my money back, but kept stalling. She then told me to quit my job, because I was not meant to work there. I put in my two weeks’ notice and felt very scared and uneasy. Well, she did give me a candle with Jesus on it. Surely a sweet old woman with a Jesus candle wouldn’t try to swindle me, right?
I finally decided to march right over to her apartment and get the money she said she would return to me. I walked up to the front desk clerk in her apartment building and told him I was there to see Crystal. He said that Crystal and her family had moved out. I walked out on the sidewalk and the next thing I remember I was in my apartment. I felt like the whole world had collapsed on me. I had been betrayed and swindled out of about $1,700. I kept asking myself how I could be so stupid to fall for that con. I said I would never tell anyone because I felt so embarrassed. This is why I think skepticism is important. What happened to me is happening to a lot of people even as you read this.
This story was also published here:
"The Psychic and I" on Indie Skeptics