so useful to name drop from time to time especially if you’re
trying to work your way up the celebrity ladder. For example
it didn’t exactly do David Blaine any
harm to mention his friendship with Leonardo DiCaprio. It’s
also useful if you are re-climbing your way up, remember Uri
Geller’s “wedding” in
which he invited his old pal Michael Jackson. I doubt that it
would have received the publicity it did without Jacko’s
seemingly reluctant appearance.
And of course we have Derek Acorah (minor celeb) courting favour
with Robbie Williams (major celeb).
Now Robbie, if newspaper reports are to be believed, is not exactly
a hard line skeptic. For example a report in The
Daily Mirror (
20/09/2005) claims that Robbie is a bit of a UFO buff and he is
quoted as saying;
think they are definitely on their way, seriously. Mark my
words. From now until 2012 - watch out, kids.”
In another Mirror snippet we discover he is a bit of a medium
Daily Mirror 21
ROBBIE: I CAN SEE THE DEAD
By Cameron Robertson
ROBBIE Williams claims he sees ghosts and could have been
star, 31, said: "I think I have powers.
seen things - my sister's dog jumping up at her feet when it
had passed away years before.
locks opening and closing in front of my eyes. TVs switching
on and off."
had his pop career flopped he could have become "a
holistic man of medicine and spirituality", he claimed.
Robbie also said he dreamt of hosting a TV show on the paranormal
like author Arthur C Clarke.
can’t help wondering about the accuracy of these reports,
even if we assume they are true perhaps they were just off the
cuff comments. However Robbie must have some interest in the subject
because he invited Derek Acorah over to his Chelsea penthouse.
got this next report from www.robbiewilliamsoz.com which
says it came from The Sun in which Derek gives his account of
the meeting. The subtle headline is;
I HELPED ROBBIE WILLIAMS TALK TO HIS DEAD GRAN
Casting discretion to the wind Derek Acorah tells us,
invited me to his apartment in London .
He was really friendly and started calling me Degsey immediately.
chatted and he told me how much he loved the programme. He
said he had given Most Haunted DVDs to lots of friends including
De Niro, Danny DeVito and Billy Crystal and that they were all
hooked on the show.
sat chatting for while but I noticed he had something on his
mind, I sensed he needed reassurance so I offered to do a reading.
was able to contact a couple of his loved ones, including his
grandmother, whom he dearly loved. It was very emotional, he
was moved to tears. But he was thrilled that I was able to
make contact. She told him some personal things he said only
she would know.
he was gobsmacked when his gran gave her opinion about a women
he had asked on a date.
"I can't say who it was but he couldn't believe it saying, "No one
knows that. It only happened 36 hours ago."
if you can’t tell the world about a personal meeting
what can you do?
in a Times article
this week we get a somewhat different perspective. Here Robbie
Williams is being interviewed by Caitlin Moran.
In part of this interview Williams gives his account of the same
meeting. First we are told.
came up with little more than what a search would yield on
Williams’s dead relatives, albeit rendered in
a blaze of peerlessly camp Scouse dramatics.
quite "moved to tears" then?
that his faith in Acorah’s ability to
contact the dead appeared to have been misplaced, Williams thanked
him, saw him out of the flat and resolved not to see him again.
Acorah, however, had other ideas. “The next thing I know,” Williams
says, lighting another cigarette while scratching at his broken
arm, “he rings up and goes ‘Robbie! Robbie! I’ve
just been on the phone to the head of LIVINGtv and he says — and
listen Robbie, this is true — he says that you can do whatever
you want. Whatever you want! Make any show you like!’ And
I’m on the other end going, erm, I think I could get ABC
if I wanted, to be honest. I’ll be OK, Derek.”
Still nice of Derek to offer Robbie a bit of a hand up. There
goes the Arthur C. Clarke thing.
Acorah didn’t give in. Having failed at brokering
the pivotal LIVINGtv deal, a week later he rang Williams to tell
him that he’d arranged a dinner for himself, Williams and “my
great friend, Uri Geller”.
He passed up the chance to see the bent spoon trick. You know,
that one Uri never seems to do on TV anymore. Just imagine spending
and evening with both Geller and Acorah. Personally I’d
rather poke myself in the eye with a stick.
Acorah’s pleading, Williams did not turn up
for this paranormal tête-à-tête.
“I thought, I’m not talking to you, you ****ing
idiot. You’re outside the circle of trust. Next thing I
know,” Williams says, rattling his belt buckle with his
knuckles in a surge of nervous energy, “he’s promoting
a DVD in a double-page spread in the Daily Mirror, going “Yeah,
I got (contacted on ‘the other side’) Robbie’s
nan. And when Robbie’s in America ,
his friends watch my DVD. Robert de Niro, Robin Williams, Dustin
Robbie does a face of scandalised boggling.
“I’VE NEVER MET THEM!” he
shouts, slowly, as if communicating with a deaf idiot on the
other side of the Thames . “I
DON’T KNOW DUSTIN HOFFMAN! And hang on a minute — YOU’RE
ALSO SELLING A DVD USING MY DEAD NAN !" Robbie
Robbie! Which sums up the whole distasteful encounter. If you
could actually talk to the dead and if you actually got
in touch with someone’s dead relative is it a nice thing
to do to use this as part of your sales promotion? No it bloody
well isn’t. Such an encounter would be deeply personal.
credit for Robbie for seeing right through this charade. I’m
even tempted to buy his new album.
Tell you what Robbie next time you're up this way do drop in and
we'll give Dustin and Robert a call and we'll all go down
the pub. I think I could get you a slot on Karaoke night if you're
interested? Any song you want!
advantages of not having an open mind
Have you ever been accused of being close-minded? It's a favourite
retort of many defenders of the improbable. If you have you
might well have rushed to your own defence rather than debate
what is actually at issue. By contrast open-mindedness is perceived
as a positive virtue and to some extent it is but surely there
comes a point that to continue with an open-mind is ridiculous.
Are you open-minded about the
flat earth theory? Probably not.
parapsychologists seem to perpetuate this idea. They have to
maintain an air of open-mindedness as they feel it would be perceived
as "unscientific" to do otherwise. Don’t
misunderstand me many parapsychologists do a great job in investigating
paranormal claims but others are doomed to present an
ever open mind which can give quite the wrong impression.
take mediumship as my example. If you ask someone, “Do
you think X can communicate with the dead?” then the scientific
answer will probably be, “Well I’d have to test them.” Whereas
I just say no they’re not.
On the face of it this looks like the scientist is keeping an
open mind while nasty old dyed-in-the-wool skeptic (me) is obviously
a close-minded bigot.
point is you can’t stay open-minded forever. When you
first look at something then of course you should be open-minded
in your search for the truth but when you have researched the subject
in some depth then you are entitled to come to some conclusion.
With post-mortem communication we might consider the following;
long history of deception.
- The proven effectiveness of cold reading.
trite rubbish spoken apparently by “the dead”.
- The fact that no great scientist ever returns and improves
upon their earlier work.
get the idea. That sort of stuff. So at this point I consider
that, as the probability of an afterlife is somewhere between slim
and nothing anyway, mediums are probably not a genuine phenomenon.
I should emphasise here the importance of weighing the evidence
carefully and to help with this process you would use usual critical
Having arrived at my conclusion it does not necessarily rule out
the possibility of my being incorrect but something, some additional
piece of evidence needs to turn up in order to persuade me to change
my mind. This evidence would need to be very great indeed and simply
testing one medium is not going to carry much weight at all.
when I hear about various celebrity mediums such as, Colin Fry,
Tony Stockwell, Derek Acorah, Gordon Smith, James Van Praagh
and John Edward I do not say, “Well without testing them
I can’t be sure if they are genuine or not.” What I
say is that the chances of them being genuine are even less likely
than a tadpole becoming the next Pope. The onus is on them to supply
me with hard evidence. In fact the onus is on them to supply humanity
with hard evidence but the sad fact is that they don’t. Despite
all their posturing and attempts to appear all spiritual and superior
they have absolutely nothing to back up their claims.
no, I am not open-minded about mediums: all the credible evidence
tells me such claims are nonsense. Which of course raises another
question: Are they lying? Here we depart from scientific enquiring
into the world of litigation, you see you just can’t go round
calling people liars. Perhaps they are deluded, perhaps they
have some psychological illness but as to whether they are actually
lying it is a matter of opinion – and opinions can be wrong.
So I don’t call them liars but what I do say is that no medium,
which includes all those named above, have ever provided sufficient
evidence (by a wide margin) to give me the slightest reason to
suppose they are genuine and until they do I say unambiguously
that I do not believe them. To quote Penn & Teller they're
just talking bullshit.
week I received my DVD of the JREF Amaz!ng Meeting 3. If you
are a skeptic then surely you must buy these. They are absolutely
wonderful to watch. BUY THEM NOW!
plug. I have given an interview to Skepticality which
you can listen to here. I was interviewed by Fraser
was very nice to me and let talk incessantly. Derek
to improve and will hopefully be returning to Skepticality sometime
soon. Meanwhile Swoopy continues to keep the flame going. If
been to this site before then that’s your next stop (after
the DVDs). You can also listen to interviews with Randi, Bob Carroll,
Dr Michael Shermer and many others.
really must get around to discussing the Incitement to Religious
Hatred Bill. Meanwhile go to No.80 and read, Intense