Why Long Island Medium is fake

Theresa Caputo is the star of the TLC reality series Long Island Medium, and she claims that she has the power to talk to dead people. This type of assertion happens periodically, and Caputo is nothing new. She's a fake. She has no powers.

It's an old magic trick

If someone approached you on the street and claimed they saw something behind your ear and then pulled a coin out from behind it, you wouldn't be amazed. You would understand it was just a cool trick. Caputo is essentially pulling coins out from behind ears and performing sleight of hand with folks' emotions.

Professional myth buster Ron Tebo told Radar that Caputo uses old-school psychic techniques to dupe her clients. Her tricks include "cold reading"—analyzing a subject's body language, clothes, speech and other initial impressions to make a high-probability guess about someone—and "shotgunning"—asking a large audience a vague question for a greater chance of a positive response. "She schmoozes with the audience, and wins them over with her big hair, designer shoes and comedy. When they trust her, she goes in for the kill," Tebo said. "She'll ask the group a question like, 'Who lost an older male relative to heart problems?' It's the oldest trick in the medium's book."

That's not how conversations work

Caputo says she communicates with the dead using a "vocabulary of signs and symbols." She'll often determine what spirit she's speaking with by asking clients to relate to a letter of the alphabet, a number, or a month, but that's not how normal conversations work. No one ever brings up a mutual friend by just mentioning letters of their name. If you want to talk about Thanksgiving, you don't say "November" over and over again until someone guesses the correct holiday.

Caputo claims to relay information the way it comes to her, but it's very random and inconsistent. The dead go from supposedly speaking in vague codes to suddenly making crystal clear statements. They go from dancing around information to directly proclaiming, "I love you," or "I miss you," or "I want you to be happy." Why would a spirit flip-flop from sneaky to straightforward in a matter of minutes?

Because the "spirit" is Caputo using her tactics and experience to hone in, that's why. "Theresa is like a vulture preying on the most vulnerable," Tebo told Radar. "She does more harm than good," he said. "She's bringing comfort under false pretenses, and taking advantage of vulnerable, grieving people. It disgusts me."

She gets things wrong

When working with large audiences, there have been times when Caputo has reportedly started talking to the wrong person. For some reason, the departed don't stop her from going down this path? In fact, why does she ever get anything wrong?

People who have seen Caputo live have mentioned that she seemed to miss the mark more during live events than she does on television episodes. Disenchanted fans have even left heartbreaking messages on Ticketmaster's site after attending Caputo's live shows. "I was a Theresa Caputo believer and watched every one of her shows," said one attendee (via the Daily Mail). "My young daughter died this summer and I needed to believe in something. After tonight, I am no longer a believer…[most of the audience members] left defeated and deflated." Another attendee said, "She seemed off and almost every reading was like pulling teeth to match up info."

Some participants are so amazed by what Caputo gets right that they don't notice how much she gets wrong. The correct guesses are simply more memorable than the incorrect ones.

Nothing is negative

Caputo defends herself by saying that she makes people feel better, which is true. Her shows and specials are full of heartwarming moments, but that's exactly why it's clear the show is fake. The living and the dead never exchange any harsh sentiments on Long Island Medium. Even if there were problems, the spirits are always either sorry or forgiving.

Okay, maybe dying gives souls a sunnier perspective, but that doesn't just erase all problems. Some dead people should be like, "Even though I died, I'm still mad about that time you got drunk in front of my parents."

Caputo says she only asks her "spirit guides" to share "good things," unless, of course, a negative morsel of memory can lead to a positive breakthrough for her clients.

There's never any new information

Caputo's conversations with the dead never seem to bring up any information that wasn't already known. People keep secrets. Sometimes those secrets are small. "I never liked your cookies." Other secrets are major: cheating on spouses, hiding debts, committing horrible crimes. Are there no spirits who want to unburden their souls and admit to anything or at least brag about never getting caught? "I stole tons of money from my company and buried it in the backyard!"

Maybe Caputo has asked her so-called "spirit guides" to only transmit shared memories, but others suggest those guides are actually the show's flesh-and-blood staff members. Myth buster Tebo thinks assistants may run background checks, conduct preliminary interviews, or even eavesdrop on audience members before sessions. "When you purchase a ticket, you provide your full name, address and phone number to the vender," he told Radar. "The vender can share this information with [Caputo's] staff, and then they can investigate the individual audience members."

Others clients allege they've been interviewed by Caputo's staff before meetings and that camera crews often tour the house in advance and sometimes move furniture around or take down photos before filming. "The one thing she got right that initially shocked me was that my son liked to watch SpongeBob SquarePants in the mornings," said one participant, who declined to share her name with Radar for legal reasons. After Caputo left, the subject realized the crew had set up shop in her late son's room, which had a giant SpongeBob stuffed animal on the bed.

Caputo doesn't care if you don't believe her. "I don't focus on that at all," she told People. "I can't tell people how to feel."

She's doing the most boring thing possible with her powers

Even if everything else here hasn't convinced you that Caputo is a fake, explain this: why isn't she doing something interesting with her powers? Sure, it's cool to reconnect dead people with their living relatives. That's very kind of her. It's also not very helpful. If Caputo can really talk to the dead, how about solving some open murder investigations or clearing up missing persons cases?

There is so much mystery surrounding death, but Caputo spends most of her time telling people that their grandparents really enjoyed those Fourth of July barbecues. That's nice, but it would be much more interesting to watch ghosts name the person that murdered them. Long Island Medium would be so much better if spirits were like, "I know it looked like a heart attack, but I was actually poisoned! Gary did it!"

Caputo has defended her abilities. "I'm so blessed that I'm able to help so many people. My gift is so much more than me speaking to people that have died," she told People. "It has restored people's faith, whether it be in a religion, faith in themselves or in their family. When my clients walk in, I can feel how broken they are. I just hope that everyone gets the experience of knowing that there is truly more to life than just here in the physical world."