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Chip Coffey

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Susan Gerbic (left) an Chip Coffey at a 2014 sting operation, "Operation Bumblebee"
Putting the psycho in
Icon psychic.svg
Men who stare at goats
By the powers of tinfoil

Chip Coffey is a psychic medium who claims to have a "God-given ability to provide others with insight, guidance and direction" for which he charges $650 for a 45 minute "reading", or $59 (+ service charges) to attend one of his personal appearances.[1] When not busy talking to dead people, he's performed as a cast member, ghost hunter and all-purpose woo-meister on A&E's Psychic Kids and Paranormal State where he specialized in encouraging supernatural beliefs among young people.

Psychic Kids[edit]

Should a parent whose child claims to see ghosts and talk with dead people consult a medical or mental health professional? Coffey says no. He believes those kids are misunderstood and "misdiagnosed". "Parents will take their kids to physicians or mental health experts who really don't understand the children," he lamented.[2] (Although in a later interview he claimed he encourages parents to rule out brain damage or schizophrenia before concluding a child has paranormal powers)[3]

Coffey, along with his cohorts on A&E's Psychic Kids believe such children need to be encouraged and nurtured in the ways of the paranormal,[4] and maintains that the power of God can help kids deal with annoying or frightening spooks:[5]

"If you are experiencing a troublesome or malicious haunting, the following prayer is a very powerful tool to use against negative entities. "I exorcize you, unclean spirit…in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ"

If you're concerned by a TV show led by a self-proclaimed psychic who targets those too young to make informed decisions, you're not alone. Skepchick founder Rebecca Watson observes:[6]

"Basically, a group of grown adults are singling out children who are troubled, who feel scared and isolated, and who claim to be haunted by evil spirits and possessed by demons, and telling them their problems can only be fixed by learning how to use their psychic powers in front of television cameras for the financial benefit of said adults...If there ever were a case that screams exactly what the harm is in letting psychics go unchallenged, this is it. Not only are kids and their parents getting sucked into believing things with no solid evidence, but targeting children with documented psychological problems and giving them bogus solutions precludes them getting professional medical therapy and assistance they obviously could use."

Yet Coffey dismisses critics who say he's exploiting of children for attention or profit with the rebuttal "Ask the children if they felt exploited." When asked how he deals with those who are skeptical of his ability to speak with the dead, Coffey stated:[3]

"I've done thousands of readings. How would I have supposedly deceived these people and they haven't exposed me on the Internet?"

Exposed on the internet[edit]

GSoW founder Susan Gerbic and several members the Bay Area Skeptics "stung" Coffey in September 2014 when they showed up at one of his public appearances in the guise of true believers. The skeptics created personal details useful to a cold reader and even carried photos of "dead family members" that, unknown to Coffey, were entirely fictitious. As expected, Coffey took the bait, and claimed to be communicating with these nonexistent individuals.[7]

"After an entire evening of telling anyone within earshot that I was hoping to contact my dead mother, and Susan saying that she wanted to communicate with her dead three-year old, Chip Coffey seemed to be repeating back to us verbatim the stories we’d been planting."

Nearly a year after details of the expose were published on the internet[8][7], Coffey posted a response on his blog, claiming he had known at the time he was being duped by skeptics but chose to say nothing and play along.

" --because we had identified this DISHONEST group of individuals, I decided to give them precisely what they paid for: fake readings!"

Coffey maintains he didn’t immediately address the matter publicly "because there will always be those whose intent is to discredit or destroy others".[9]

Talk radio confrontation[edit]

During the course of a 2013 interview with KFAN morning talk show host Cory Cove (a.k.a. “Sludge”), Coffey was asked for proof of his psychic powers. Coffey, no doubt used to being treated deferentially, cited the fact that he once told a woman who was trying to get pregnant that she would get pregnant, and she did! After enduring an array of similar bullshit answers, Cove called Coffey a “fraud”. Coffey walked out of the studio, complaining of a "combative" atmosphere.[10][11]