Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Mediums: Trampling over mourning families for decades

So, I know I'm late to the party but I just watched the first week's episode of the new 'Derren Brown Investigates' series.

Derren Brown is one of my all time ultimate heroes, he's got more knowledge of people's thought processes than a lot of academics and even better he's completely open that nothing he does is in any way super natural, although its proof of how good he is that some people will still insist he is psychic. And so we come to this week's 'investigation', he looked at whether people who talk to audience members dead relatives could actually be genuine.

Personally, I'd put psychics in a nice group of wacko ideas that can be dangerous along with religion, alternative medicine and anyone else who mentions the word 'energy' or 'aura' without having the foggiest what they're on about. Fair to say I'm a sceptic then, I'm not going to pretend to be open-minded about this, but that doesn't mean I don't like to look at the evidence for it. Like Dawkins said, 'If you open your mind too much your brain will fall out.'

So anyway, back to the programme. He followed this guy around for some time, watching his readings and his shows and at every stage showing how it could be done without any need to be talking to 'spirits', he even did a pretty good reading himself at one point. The whole cold reading is something he's said before and its amazing how personal people think a generic statement is if you word it in a certain way. Needless to say the guy, Joe Power or something he was called, wasn't impressed and got pretty agitated whenever his mask seemed to be slipping. He also refused his one stonewall opportunity to prove that he was for real, a scientific test which didn't allow him to read cold reading or other tricks.

This is why I don't believe psychics or any of the rest of that 'wacko' group I mentioned. It's not some kind of ideological problem I have with them, it's just that they shy away from any chance to really prove themselves. If I'm supposed to believe things without evidence what's to stop me believing in the Flying Spaghetti Monster? All the excuses they come up with to explain why they can't be tested are utter rubbish, if you can't prove it, then either find a way to do so or stop pretending to have some kind of monopoly on the truth.

The other problem I have with psychics is that they destroy the memory of loved ones that have been lost. To trample into someones grief and pretend to bear a message is just plain disgusting. It's one thing to lie to make money or be famous, but why choose a way that is so low and ugly, leave the dead to rest and the family to grieve.

I guess that its possible some people reading this will believe in the things on my 'wacko' list, I'm not going to force my opinion on you, but if you'd like to argue your point you're more than welcome. Or else you could just call me a heathen and wish me luck in hell :)

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