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Notes from My Bulk-Mail Psychic File


Barry Karr

Skeptical Briefs Volume 4.3, September 1994

I come to you, Dorothy Lea...

I find myself drawn into your life, today, June 29, 1994. I am going to use my power to put you in a world I believe you have never known. A world of big money. Exciting people. Happiness. Well-being.

So begins an 8-page letter addressed to Mrs. Dorothy Lea of Kelowna, British Columbia.

Is it possible for me to do all this?

Yes, Dorothy Lea.

I’m not called “The Amazing Kreskin” for nothing.

Add one more name to the legion of bulk-mail psychics, astrologers, and human potential, self-improvement, motivational gurus popping up in mailboxes throughout the land.

Need a psychic/astrologer? Well, there’s Contessa Di Maria from Torino, Italy, who has been “blessed by God with clairvoyant abilities.” The Contessa says she has helped many people win enormous amounts of money playing lotteries and sweepstakes. She must be good because writing to a man in Sturgis, South Dakota, she claims to know the winning lottery numbers. “Remember,” she writes, “I’m not talking about the daily 3-digit or 4-digit number, but the weekly 6-digit lottery.” Apparently, psychics in Italy are well versed in the South Dakota state lottery.

Need guidance but think Italy is too far to go? How about Katherine, with a P.O. Box in Brooklyn, New York. Katherine tells the addressee:

Do not ask me who I am or how I know. Nor do I want to embarrass you by going into details. Suffice it to say that I can sympathize with what you are going through and believe I possess the knowledge you need to help you out of your present difficulty.

What difficulties does Katherine know about? Well, there are dangerous alliances and entanglements in the future, a staggering debt to repay, a downturn in physical health, bad news from a distant source, and doubts concerning performance in an area where once there was pride and confidence.

Katherine wants to reach out and offer her hand in friendship and guidance. She knows what’s coming: World War! Epidemics! Mass Hysteria and Confusion! All you need to do is reach out and send her $20.00. She will guide you through the stormy and frightening times ahead. You are on the brink of greatness, so hurry. She is anxiously awaiting your reply so that you can rejoice together.

Then there’s the world’s #1 astrologer June Penn, who wrote to my mother to tell her that she traveled halfway around the world, from Sussex, England, to Park Ridge, N.J., because something wonderful is happening in my mother’s life right now. How do we know that June Penn is #1? Well, she said so. June Penn said she knew that my mother needed a lot of money and was about to enter her “Time of Power.” With information like that, Penn just had to write.

Penn guaranteed that my mother could expect $1 million to come into her life during this Time of Power. For only $20.00 Penn will devise an action plan that is guaranteed to bring my mother the CHANCE to enjoy $1 million. Mom saved the $20.00 and sent Penn’s letter on to me, I assumed Mom’s personal Time of Power wouldn’t be the same as mine, so the letter went into my bulk-mail- psychic file.

In a postcard that is likely to get June Penn’s dander up, Norvell, the “world’s #1 astrologer” and “advisor to U.S. Presidents and Hollywood stars” will compute your lottery winning numbers for only $7.00. Within 90 days, you will win at least $10,000, or double your money back!

In a curious bit of shared office space, Lynne Palmer, astrologer and numerologist to the stars, who will for $20.00 make you rich and happy, shares the same address as the Lottery Research Center, who for $15.00 will send you the Winners System. This system will enable you, as a group participant: (1) to enjoy a 75 percent chance of hitting a major $200,000 to $40-million-plus lottery pot, (2) to win the lottery again and again. Someone should tell Lynne Palmer she needs to drop her price if she’s going to continue to pay her half of the rent.

My file is a lot thicker, but the time is right to return to Kreskin.

Kreskin writes Mrs. Lea that he got to be famous “for how I’m able to come into people’s lives ... and move them out of a rut, shake them out of a stagnant existence, through a living performance. I can get into a person’s mind and awaken their sleeping phenomenological power. I’m talking about a strange wonder-power that defies rational explanation. A power that’s been called a fourth-dimensional force....”

Kreskin informs Mrs. Lea that he can show a person how they can, among other things, have “the power to enable a certain kind of special person to Ôpull’ money, success, love, happiness ... even good health into their lives.” This is, Kreskin points out, the best way he can help out Mrs. Lea.

Kreskin goes on to say: “So, now it is my turn to ask you to show your good faith: I need to know that you are serious about wishing to change your life and that you will take directions from me.” All of the wonderful Kreskin services are available for a modest $20.00, with money back-guarantee.

Did I mention that Kreskin’s “fourth-dimensional force” failed to pick up on the fact that Mrs. Lea has been dead for more than two years?

In his promotional material Kreskin includes a quote from Phyllis Diller that reads: “Kreskin is a male witch and should be burned at the stake.” I don’t totally agree with this statement: I don’t think Kreskin is a witch!

Barry Karr

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Barry Karr is the director of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.