Here are some video clips of people claiming to have supernatural powers.
In the first, magicians Penn and Teller debunk a person who claims that she can talk to dead people. (Language advisory)
Notice how, when she interviews the black man at the end about whom she has no inside information, she resorts to inferences based on racial stereotypes and simple hereditary similarities in order to make her guesses. She is clearly hoping that he has a father, uncle, or other father figure who died from heart disease. Such ‘mediums’ often play the odds this way.
In the next clip, Penn and Teller take a look at someone who claims that she can talk to animals using telepathy
In the third clip, Penn and Teller and fellow magician James Randi debunk Nostradamus-based predictions.
In the final one Penn and Teller take a look at an exorcist at work. (Language advisory)
What do all these things have in common? They all share one feature and that is that unscrupulous people are taking advantage of people’s gullibility about the existence of the supernatural and using their emotional needs to con them. A lot of people would love to talk with their dead loved ones, they would love to talk to their pets, they would love to know what lies in the future, they would love to think that their problems are caused by demons that can be removed by a simple procedure. Thus they are only too eager to believe charlatans who promise them that they can do these things.
But all this rampant naïve credulity about the supernatural has to have a source. Why are there so many people who are so willing to believe things for which there is no evidence? I think that it is because religion has softened their minds up since childhood, weakening their powers of reasoning and logic. It has taught them that there are mysterious things out there that are beyond the reach of normal logic and evidence and science, and that one must simply believe in them. Such people are easy prey to all the charlatans out there, out to make a quick buck.
It is necessary for their very survival that religious organizations cultivate a deliberate naivete in their flock. They may say they appealing to the virtues of unthinking faith for noble reasons but they are effectively making their religious followers susceptible to fraud.
In Christopher Hitchens’ book God is Not Great, he describes how religions depend upon and take advantage of people’s credulity.
It is not snobbish to notice the way in which people show their gullibility and their herd instinct, and their wish, or perhaps their need, to be credulous and to be fooled. This is an ancient problem. Credulity may be a form of innocence, and even innocuous in itself, but it provides a standing invitation for the wicked and the clever to exploit their brothers and sisters, and is thus one of humanity’s great vulnerabilities. No honest account of the growth and persistence of religion, or the reception of miracles and revelations, is possible without reference to this stubborn fact. (p. 160)
Without people being indoctrinated early on by religion, these other fraudsters would have a much harder time making a go of it. They depend on the dulling of reason and the intellect produced by religion in order to ply their trade.