21 September 2011

Medium revealed as fraud (Jams O Donnell stating the blindingly obvious part 3,779)

Since 1735 England has had protection against fraudulent mediums in the form of the Witchcraft Act of 1735 (nothing much to do with persecuting witches despite the title), then the  Fraudulent Mediums Act of 1951 and since 2008, consumer protection regulations.

So basically it has been recognised in law for the best part of 300 years that fortune tellers, mediums et al are charlatans, frauds, cheats, tricksters and thieves…

The Guardian has an article on charlatan, fraud, cheat, trickster and thief , err sorry I mean medium, Sally Morgan. Morgan, who is better known as Psychic Sally, describes herself as "Britain's best-loved psychic". She has written three books and is currently filming the third series of  Psychic Sally on the Road for Sky LIVING.

A little while ago, however, an incident occurred which will hopefully cause at least some of her fans to realise that her act is probably nothing but a con.

On Monday 12 September, a caller named Sue phoned the Liveline show on Irish radio station RTÉ Radio 1. Sue said that she had attended Morgan's show the previous night at the Grand Canal Theatre in Dublin and had been impressed by the accuracy of the readings she made in the first half of the show.

But then something odd happened. Sue was sitting in the back row on the fourth level of the theatre and there was a small room behind her ("like a projection room") with a window open. Sue and her companions became aware of a man's voice and "everything that the man was saying, the psychic was saying it 10 seconds later."

Sue believes, not unreasonably, that the man was feeding information to Sally through an earpiece attached to her microphone. For example, the voice would say something like "David, pain in the back, passed quickly" and a few seconds later Sally would claim to have the spirit of a "David" on stage who – you'll never guess – suffered from back pain and passed quickly.
A member of staff realised that several people near the back of the theatre were aware of the mystery voice and the window was gently closed. The voice was not heard again.

Sue speculated, again not unreasonably given the history of psychic frauds, that the man was feeding Sally information that had been gathered by engaging members of the audience in conversation in the foyer before the show began. This is a technique widely used by psychic fraudsters, as audience members will naturally discuss with each other who they are hoping to hear from "on the other side", how their loved one died, and so on.

The theatre's general manager, Stephen Faloon, claimed that the voice heard by the audience was actually the voices of two members of staff working for the theatre, not someone supplying information to Sally. Sally Morgan Enterprises also denied that the medium was being fed information during the show.

I will grant that some mediums genuinely believe they have a power. The only thing such mediums have is the ability to use cold reading to get a reaction from their audience. This category of medium is as deluded as their audience.

Most mediums, however, are downright frauds. From what the caller Sue had to say it would seem that Psychic Sally falls into this

Sadly Psychic Sally could be busted a thousand times and yet there will be people who will line up to hand over their hard earned cash to this charlatan.


Francis Sedgemore said...

Cold reading is a technique used to great effect by mediums who know that they do not possess supernatural powers. It is a skill based on pure reason and psychological manipulation. A few years ago, the magician Derren Brown made an excellent TV documentary about cold reading.

jams o donnell said...

And a very handy technique it is too. It is easy to be taken in by it. Some mediums genuinely mistake the technique for a power

PsychicPsycho said...

Jams o'Donnell, not his real name I'd say... will post a photo on his blog soon... within the next few daya... He saw a cat today... Oh... He's clicking something... I'm getting a clicking and I'm thinking of a little furry animal like a hamster... or maybe a mouse, yes... clicking a mouse, or a mouse running on a track... oh maybe a track pad... but clicking, yes... How can you possibly doubt?

jams o donnell said...

Oh my god this is uncanny, I will be posting a photo tomorrow and I saw a cat not three minutes ago.

The only thing that does not fit is that I do not have a track pad or a mouse. In fact I control my computer by sticking my finger upa Hippo's bottom!

SnoopyTheGoon said...

But that voice from the window could have belonged to the other word creature in communication with the medium. Well, with some use of modern electronics, granted - why not?

Otherwise - he he he.

jams o donnell said...

That is true Snoopy... somehow I think not though!!!

The Resident Sceptic said...

"So basically it has been recognised in law for the best part of 300 years that fortune tellers, mediums et al are charlatans, frauds, cheats, tricksters and thieves"

Really? is that what any of these acts say? Have you read the acts at all? What they actually do is recognise that people can make a represtation that they are a medium and if they do so then they must deliver what they promise, without the use of pressure sales tactics and that the consumer has an avenue of reddress if they do not deliver, just like any tradesperson. There is no fruadulent politicians act, does this mean they are all trustworthy and upstanding?