Psychic Coffey

If Chip could read my mind lol, what a tale my thoughts would tell

by Paul Dechene

Chip Coffey
Radisson Plaza
Hotel Saskatchewan
Sunday 28

Fans of paranormal reality shows will be familiar with Chip Coffey. He’s a psychic and spirit medium who’s been featured in A&E’s Paranormal State and Psychic Kids. And he’s coming to Regina as part of his latest Coffey Talk tour of North America.

In his show, he’ll tell stories about his life and career and do psychic readings for audience members. But it’s the final segment that will appeal to the local ghost-hunting crowd.

“We try to establish some sort of communication and connection with any spirit energy or entities in the locations where we are,” Coffey told me by phone, adding that the show’s producers chose the Hotel Saskatchewan because there have been reports of ghostly disturbances there.

And Coffey is hoping to lure some of those ghosts out.

When he isn’t traveling the highways and byways of North America, pestering the various denizens of the spirit world, Coffey has television projects he’s bringing to fruition, and he’s done some guest starring roles, such as his recent turn in the Paranormal Activity spoof, Paranormal Movie.

He also continues to do psychic readings, a job he’s able to carry on from home, as he does all that work over the phone.

Over the phone? Really? Like through fiber-optic cables? How does that work?

“I have no idea. But it just does,” he said. “Perhaps it’s just the fact that when my clients have paid money to do a reading with me, their intent is to have a good reading and for it to be successful.”

Well, in that case, my intent was to have a good interview, so I had to ask if he could pick up anything from me — you know, catch any stray energies through the phone lines.

“I wasn’t prepared to do a reading for you, but if you want to set up a reading with me for some time, I’ll gladly see what we can pick up,” he told me.

I tried cajoling him, but to no avail.

Which is too bad,because I was curious to find out if his psychic powers would have revealed that I am a completely duplicitous bastard. Maybe his spirit guides would have warned him that I had an interview already in the can with Mark Edward, a professional mentalist and magician.

Edward is also the author of Psychic Blues, which chronicles his time posing as a psychic, during which he infiltrated the multi-million dollar psychic-adviser industry and learned the tricks of the trade.

He’s very familiar with Chip Coffey, having been ejected from a Coffey Talk show in Los Angeles last year for distributing cheat sheets that explained the techniques of psychics.

According to Edward, like all psychics, Coffey not only lacks supernatural powers, he’s simulating them by using tricks that have been around for decades or even centuries.

The key tool in the psychic’s toolbox is something called “cold reading”, a system of making guesses about a person based on clues like their clothing, body language and the fact that they’ve turned up for a psychic reading. There’s nothing supernatural about it. It’s Sherlock Holmes’ deduction in real life. And ultimately, it turns on the fact that people are only after a few, predictable things.

“Basically, it’s love and money and health and travel. You can count the basic tenets on one hand. You’re just toggling between those different things and course correcting as you go along to ascertain what the person is really there for,” explained Edward.

He did caution that many psychics prepare for their shows nowadays by trawling the Internet for information on their audience — Facebook pages, blogs, Twitter; it’s all fair game. Some psychics will even exploit the credit card information audience members provide when booking tickets.

But he said he saw no evidence of such tech-savvy shenanigans at the Chip Coffey show he attended.

“He’s just lazy. He’s terrible. He’s not even a good mentalist,” said Edward. “He’s not even entertaining. He’s just using basic cold reading — at least when I saw him — and everybody just loves him so much he doesn’t have to do anything.”

But, he said, shows like these are more than just a night’s entertainment. They’re also about gathering a list of potential clients.

“They’re not just like a magic show where the guy comes in, pulls a rabbit out of his hat and goes to the next town. They want to get as many people as they can on their books,” said Edward.

And when I spoke with Chip Coffey, he confirmed that people who attend his Saskatchewan shows can set up private phone sessions with him.

“Absolutely. Anyone who pays money and sits in my audience, as a thank-you for them, if they call to book a reading with me and mention that they have attended one of the events, they get a discount on any sort of reading they set up,” he said.

Which isn’t illegal.

But claiming that you have psychic gifts and that you’re able to communicate with the spirits of the dead to lend credibility to your “readings”, some of which are done for people grieving the loss of loved ones…Well, I’d hesitate to even suggest that that falls into a legal grey area because, according to Edward, Chip Coffey is very litigious.

And maybe my reticence to use a word like “fraud” in the same sentence as Chip Coffey’s name — you can call it cowardice if you like — is a clue as to why so-called psychics and mediums can ply their trade unchecked and unchallenged. And with mainstream media outlets like A&E not only failing to question their claims but actually playing along and acting as ringmaster for a seemingly eternal reality show circus, it’s not surprising that peddlers of the paranormal only seem to become more popular.

No wonder Edward likes to say we’re in “the golden age of the con.”

[email protected]

2013-04-18

12 thoughts on “Psychic Coffey”

  1. Mr. Duchene, you knowingly misrepresented your intentions when you requested to do an interview with me. You presented yourself as a journalist interested in conducting a simple preview of my appearance in Regina when, in fact, you wanted to write an op-ed article about me and my work. Thus, the words you used to describe yourself in a separate blog associated with this article – “duplicitous bastard” – appear to be most fitting.

    As I said to you when we met face-to-face recently: “You accuse me of being a con artist and yet you conned your way into getting an interview with me.”

    You heavily quote Mark Edward in your article, yet blatantly absent is the fact that Mr. Edward attempted to “con” his way into my Coffey Talk event in Los Angeles last spring, without paying, using a fake ticket receipt. When his actions were discovered, he was justifiably removed from the room. To the best of my knowledge, he has never attended one of my events; therefore, his judgements of me are greatly generalized.

    The truth is: I have helped thousands of people to deal with their problems in life, with their grief, their loss and their anguish. And I never attempt to convince or convert others to my ways of thinking.

    This begs the question: Who are the REAL con artists?

  2. Hello Mr Coffey. Thanks for visiting our blog and speaking on your own behalf.

    First off, about the name… Not a problem. I’ve seen it misspelled far worse.

    Second, I think there is a misunderstanding about how our interview came about. Trixstar contacted Planet S in Saskatoon and offered them a chance to interview you. Chris, the editor there knew that I’d covered paranormal things before for Prairie Dog and asked me if I’d do the story. I said sure. I called Trixstar and told them that I’d heard they could set up an interview with you and that I’d be interested in doing one. At no point did I tell them what the content or context of my article would be. And they never asked.

    Several days passed after my call, during which I’d been in touch with Mark Edward, and I told Chris that I figured Trixstar had opted to pass on the interview with us because they’d probably Googled my name. If you do that, it will become pretty obvious within a couple clicks where I stand on claims of the paranormal — same goes for climate change, fluoridation, vaccination and Regina’s stadium proposal.

    I then followed up with Trixstar and they gave me a time when you’d be calling.

    In other words, I did not con my way into an interview. I can’t say that I wouldn’t have. But I wasn’t given the opportunity.

  3. Irrespective of HOW your interview with me came about, you certainly must have been aware of the fact that the purpose of the proposed interview was to promote my event in Regina, not an opportunity for you to write an article in which you promote your own agenda or seek to support your personal beliefs.

    You certainly did NOT disclose your intent to me when conducting the interview. You also did not afford me the opportunity to comment on claims made by Mark Edward about me and my work.

    Instead, you wrote a biased article and a blog that attempt to discredit me.

    In my opinion, that is a glaring example of irresponsible journalism.

  4. Mr. Coffey, maybe Paul is afraid to say it, but I’m not. You’re a fraud. Psychic powers don’t exist and you know it.

  5. No, TDot, I am not a fraud. And no, I do NOT know that psychic ABILITIES don’t exist. I am most confident that they do exist…and many others believe the same.

  6. Chip Coffey, I am astounded how aggressive you are in dealing with your critics. In your line of work, I would have assumed you would try to be more respectful, rather than crying foul because somebody said something not-quite-favourable of you.

    Do you only talk to people that agree with you and follow your shadow? How do you grow as a person without allowing the possibility of being challenged?

    Regardless of Dechene’s intent – obviously there was miscommunication on both sides, for which neither he nor you can truly be faulted – the result was an article that didn’t make you look good. I can understand your dissatisfaction with this, but the venomous nature of your responses has been quite eye-opening for me.

    And really, you call this irresponsible journalism? Would you have granted the interview had Dechene contacted you himself and told you of his intent directly? If the answer is no (as I have no doubt it would be, given your response so far and your responses to journalists in the past), then Dechene was absolutely in his right to get his story.

    What kind of world would we live in if journalists simply stopped interviewing corrupt politicians, CEOs, and frauds because they didn’t want the negative attention? Even if you aren’t a fraud, journalists have to be able to challenge people in order to sniff out those individuals that are. Just because you don’t want people criticising you does not mean they shouldn’t.

    Journalists that pander to their interviewee, rather than the audience they’re supposed to be representing, is what I would call irresponsible journalism. Wouldn’t you agree?

    It has been said that the greatest threat to frauds is being openly criticised. I’m left to wonder if this is the reason you were so upset about the response you received in Regina. A response, I might add, that was civil and respectful at all times – at least from our side.

    Before you had us kicked out of the venue, we were helping people find the show and gave them directions, whether or not they accepted our pamphlet – a pamphlet, by the way, that did not even mention you by name. But apparently helping people to their seats justifies you calling us the skeptical equivalent of the Westboro Baptist Church.

    With that full context now disclosed, I ask: who is unjustifiably besmirching whom?

    During the show, from what I have been told, you repeatedly apologized to the CFI members you invited to attend your show (a gesture that did surprise me, and for which you deserve gratitude). However, I daresay the quality of your character online perhaps suggests that you might want to consider a repeat performance here.

    I do empathize with you that the outcome of your interview with Dechene was not as you had anticipated, and I can understand your frustration. But that’s the nature of being pseudo-famous as you are, and I figured you might have offered a little more tact than you have.

    The responses you’ve been giving are, I’m sorry to say, beneath you.

    If you wish to truly knock your critics down a few pegs, then address the *content* of their arguments, not the contexts under which they were presented. If you’re incapable of this, then it might be good to, at the very least, respond like an adult.

    Thank you.

    – Kalen Christensen
    Branch Leader, CFI Regina

  7. A journalist that panders to anyone other than his readers quest for the truth is a propagandist. Which is probably all Mr.Coffey wants.

  8. I find it amusing that Chip chooses to call other people frauds instead of explaining (or perhaps proving?) that he isn’t a fraud himself. A question asked in our sidewalk discussion that was never answered:

    @Chip – Why don’t you take the James Randi Million Dollar Challenge? – http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/1m-challenge.html

    You mentioned on the sidewalk that this is what you do for a living. Not that it makes it right, it at least makes it more understandable. You found a niche ability to convince people that you have powers you don’t, and you can convince them to give you money for it. My point, however, is that if this is what you do for a living, and you truly think it is legitimate work (ie. you are truly psychic, and not just a poor mentalist or cold reader), then you should scoop up that million dollars. Seems quite easy for someone truly psychic, like yourself.

    Dan Benesh
    Event Coordinator – CFI Regina

  9. Imagine that, “Chip Coffey” is upset that he was deceived.
    “As I said to you when we met face-to-face recently: “You accuse me of being a con artist and yet you conned your way into getting an interview with me.”

    Oh the irony.

  10. Sorry, for some reason my name did not register.

    Anyhow, STANDING OVATION TO Kalen Christensen

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