The Genuine Imposter


I am not a psychic. But I play one on TV and that is what counts.

I am not even that entertaining as one. I would not watch me but billions do. I am guessing nine out of ten of them are skeptical of me. Out of that seven want to see me fail.

But nobody hates me like George Kim.

He is dead sure I am not a psychic and has been trying to prove it for eight years now. If he do not succeed today, it will probably be the end of his journalistic career.

Kim knew the truth since day one. It was the day that I declared that I sense of the presence of extra terrestrial intelligence. I predicted that at 10:23am the next day someone will receive conclusive proof of alien intelligence trying to communicate with Earth.

It happened exactly as I said and the world changed with it. New fields of studies emerged, some naively attribute the finding to me.

I meant it as a joke with a straight face but it panned out. I dunno how it happened, it just did. From there on people started paying attention to me. They wanted more.

I started giving random prediction on sports results. I foretold earthquakes, celebrity divorces, quarterly earnings and many more. They all came true.

They asked how I knew, I said I read minds even when they have not been thought. Some are curious how I do that, so I made up mental models that maps on perfectly with their preconceived mind-territories. Rationalization is easier than reason.

I still dunno how my predictions came true. What if I am not predicting them so much as causing them? If that is true, do I have a moral responsibility about it?

Am I revealing too much? Technically I am not even revealing anything, I am offering a rendition into how world events may occur. They just happen to take place exactly as I said. I have problem placing myself in the ethical map.

But George Kim sniffed me out. He furnished me pointed questions in public every chance he gets, wanting to point out the logical fallacies in my statements. At first I got annoyed but hold myself back. I gave him softball answers to move the conversations along.

Each time George tries to expose me in public, we both share eye contact for a split second that lasted too long. I know he knows that I am full of shit.

They are many out there like George, their voices are getting louder. They can tell that I know nothing, some even know that I know I know nothing.

One day I got a question from a woman if it will rain the next day. It was a totally banal question but I started to think of her as a detractor like George. I froze not knowing how to deal with it.

In response I stopped prophesying. I started issuing commands "yes it shall rain" and rained it did.

Pretty soon everyone I meet felt like that. It did not feel like they were asking for prediction, it felt like they are out to discredit me. So I am going to show them.

They asked about hurricane? I gave them hurricane.

They asked about geopolitical conflicts, I said yes and gave them a new war. Many lives could have been spared. I try not to think about it.

Today George Kim and I sit down to discuss if America will finally decide to break itself into three separate nations via a public referendum. They set me up in TV studio while the voting takes place. Professional lighting, camera, sound, all that jazz.

He starts off demanding for a binary answer from me: "Split or stay united?"

He knows whatever I say next is watched closely not just by Americans but the entire world. That what I say will come true, the global game of geopolitics plays according to my 'prediction'.

I honestly wonder which one matters more to him: that the nation breaks apart or that my prophecy falls short.

To my believers, they are counting on my prophecies to inform how they are going to lead their lives next. To the rest, they struggle to shake the cognitive dissonance of squaring the fraud that I am against the undeniable results of my prophecies.

Of these people, the one I am truly rooting for is George Kim. The person with the most intense dissonance is me, while George is probably the only person in the world who is not swayed by what I say at all.

With George, there is no point beating around the bush. I answer: "Split."

Most people would be disappointed to hear that. I choose "split" not because I think that will be the referendum result but that is what makes good TV.

George proceed to ask me to go into the details of how I received this prophecy so he can break it apart piece by piece.

I have been secretly wanting George to prevail. I am unable to stop winning. The stench of fraud has been lingering too long I can no longer stand it.

I want to be wrong this time. I wanted to be wrong a long time ago, I just did not realize it. I wish I did not gain attention to begin with.

So I go about making the world not a better place in retaliation. I gave them 'predictions' on my whims just so they would suffer for asking it.

The referendum results are now in. The vote is "stay united".

For the first time in years, I felt a huge burden lifted off my shoulder.


This story examines the imposter syndrome, and the whole notion of self-fulfilling prophecies.

Unearned successes have the tendency to amplify the skeleton in our closet. Not having them exposed can be a bigger burden than trying to keep them a secret.

There exist a tension between authenticity and pleasing people. Very few people are capable of happily playing a role of what everybody wants them to be.

In rare cases, we get to see how the crowd is wrong and our action is perpetuating the falsehood. At this point there's an extra layer of falsity above our inner imposter syndrome.

Whether to continue on this path via inaction or to reset the game take enormous courage either way.

This is a also re-post from r/WritingPrompts.