Chip Coffey: sixth sense, showbiz or both?
Chip Coffey: sixth sense, showbiz or both?
April 23, 2011
By Serena Dai
Rhw Miami Herald

Chip Coffey says he connects people to the spirits of their dead loved ones.

He senses the presence of the dead and speaks to them for his clients, asking questions and facilitating final goodbyes. He also tells people information about their present, past and future—details that supposedly can’t be found on the internet or from just chatting.

And if you ask for an explanation—perhaps visions in a crystal ball, or some childhood encounter that triggered a sixth sense—he insists that there’s no rhyme or reason, answering most inquiries about his ability with, “I don’t know.”

“I’m a healthy, open-minded skeptic,” the 56-year-old psychic and medium said. “I’m not buying anything hook and line. I’m not one of those hold hands, let’s sing Kumbaya, dance naked. I’m a practical pragmatic kind of a guy who’s happened to have seen the inexplicable.”

At 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Coffey will put on a show at the Biltmore Hotel as part of his spring tour, where he will do a Q&A and a live reading of some audience members. Tickets start at $49, plus service charge.

Coffey used to regularly appear on A&E’s “Psychic Kids: Children of the Paranormal and Paranormal State Kids,” where he and a child psychologist spoke to children who sense they have paranormal abilities. It ran for three seasons.

Coffey also speaks to two to four clients a day by phone for readings. He charges $200 for a general reading, which lasts 20-30 minutes, and $500 to contact the dead, a 40-45 minute affair.

Most of the people who call him up seek advice about their finances, romantic lives and careers. Though he does have repeat clients, he says he refuses to give readings to the same person more than three or four times a year.

“I don’t want someone calling me every day saying ‘What color dress should I wear today?’” he said.

Instead, Coffey tries to counsel his clients, seeing himself as a catalyst for them to make their own decisions, or as a grief counselor. Coffey does hold a degree in psychology and said he worked in a mental hospital for many years. He also used to be an actor. He doesn’t care if you think his psychic ability is just a performance. He’s gotten that before.

“Why does one thing have to preclude the other?” he says. “Actors are typically emotional. That’s what helps make me good at what I do. I don’t feel I have to prove anything to anybody.”

A lot of people don’t believe that psychics actually possess a sixth sense.

In fact, Joe Nickell has made a career out of debunking them. Nickell, a senior research fellow at the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, thinks there are two kinds of psychics: Those who purposefully take advantage of people, and those who think they’re really psychics.

Both, he says, are simply just really good at catching onto peoples’ vocal intonations and body language and don’t actually possess powers. One tactic is to ask the client a question and to let them answer it, meaning psychics are just good listeners.

Nickell also thinks “believers” will only remember the facts psychics got right anyway, perpetuating their belief in paranormal.

“Mainstream science has not established the fact of clairvoyance,” Nickell said. “And before we say science doesn’t know everything, well, science knows a lot.”

Again, Coffey has no interest in quelling the skeptics. The black and white of science will never be able to explain his sixth sense, he said.

“I’ll tell you the truth. I’m living my dream,” he said. “I love the work I do. It came as a surprise to me that I’d be going down this path.”

He didn’t expect this career because he can’t read himself, possibly because his own emotions, hopes, and fears get in the way, he said. Unlike his clients, Coffey really has no interest in hearing his own future.

“[Knowing] would interfere with me enjoying the surprises and the disappointments and the spontaneity of life,” he said.

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