Whether or not you believe that people can possess the sort of supernatural abilities covered in our September/October issue, not all professed psychics are the same. A good psychic will never come across as groping in the dark for information, even if he or she actually is. The reputable ones we’ve spotlighted in this issue’s article are considered evidential mediums because of the specificity of their “hits”—the evidence of their credibility. They have reams of testimonials praising their abilities, and many have undergone tests to confirm their gifts. If you believe in psychic phenomena, and even if you may not, you’ll likely get what you pay for when purchasing a reading.

But there’s another world out there—that of the dubious storefront psychic, offering $10 palm-reading specials or $25 tarot readings, advertising their services to assist the sick, bereaved, depressed or confused, specifically targeting the vulnerable.

I visited a storefront psychic on Palmetto Park Road, one of many that have sprouted up in Boca and beyond, capitalizing on the booming popularity of this cottage industry. I sat in the back of an un-air-conditioned room in a largely unadorned, low-slung building in a small plaza off the beaten path. The first warning side of fraudulence was the psychic’s refusal to let me record the reading, because my handheld device would “affect the vibrations.” Any professional psychic would tell you this is complete nonsense; recordings are often encouraged for posterity.

Then, using 10 tarot cards, she assessed my life, striking out on nearly every occasion. I asked about my parents’ health at a time when my father was suffering through the final stages of esophageal cancer; she said both my parents were in fine shape for the future, except for perhaps high blood pressure. She asked too many prying questions. She inquired if I’d ever questioned by sexuality, or if I’d been abused in the past. No and no. She threw out names without any connection, employing techniques from both cold reading and warm reading—“Who’s the J name besides yourself?” Nobody. She said my professional life was hampered by drudgery and routine, and that I craved excitement.

My job at this magazine is anything but routine, and regardless, I’m the least adventurous person I know. She said things that completely contradicted what multiple psychics before her had accurately proposed.

She had a few minor hits, but even a broken clock is right twice a day. Clearly, she had no ability or sixth sense—she spoke in generalities based on my physical appearance and mannerisms. Like a poor dart player, she threw arrows at her attempted bulls-eye but rarely even hit the board. Learn from this lesson, and don’t always drink the Kool-Aid.