Entries from: March 2005 to July 2005
for this page
trouble with religion
Voice: The Money Lenders Fight Back
complete and utter emptiness of the paranormal
unpleasant world of the psychic detective.
Cashing in on death
Off topic rant - The Election
- The alternative to medicine
Spiritual healing on the NHS
July 2005 (amended)
trouble with religion
the London bombings I have heard, on more than one occasion,
that these suicide bombers like their counterparts in Iraq and
elsewhere, follow a perverted form of the otherwise peaceful religion
known as Islam. My own feeling is that the bombers would argue
that the ‘peaceful’ version
is in fact a perversion of ‘pure’ Islam. Of course
the Christian religion is also made up of a similar spectrum ranging
from those that devote their lives to helping others, to the extremists
who bomb abortion clinics. No doubt a similar case could be brought
against other religions.
are many things that religion can be criticised for; persecution
of homosexuals, promoting Creationism as having scientific credibility
(in whatever form), refusal to endorse condom use, bullying art
forms (Satanic Verses, Harry Potter, Behzti, Jerry Springer the
Sunday Special’ campaigns, banning stem cell research and the
general subjugation of women to name but a few. In fact anything
that achieves progress at the expense of religious doctrine. And
I submit that for all those who rigidly stick to such dogma there
are probably many more who despair at such excess.
the problem like this, Holy Scripture (e.g. Bible, Koran) follows
P.T. Barnum’s creed of having, “a little something
for everyone”: So taking the Christian Bible as an example
we have some sections that tell us to kill homosexuals and others
telling us to forgive and love one another. You can find the Almighty
will back you whether you prefer to take, “an eye for an eye” or
simply turn the other cheek.
being overly familiar with the contents of the Koran I’ll
quote the well known Islamic scholar Boris Johnson (note
for foreign readers: Boris is actually a Member of the
UK Parliament and not known for his religious knowledge),
As for the unbelievers, for them garments of fire shall be cut
and there shall be poured over their heads boiling water whereby
whatever is in their bowels and skins shall be dissolved and
they will be punished with hooked iron rods.
exactly “peaceful” in my view but surely we have the
imminent and much vaunted ‘Incitement to Religious Hatred’ law
standing by ready to curb these unpleasant excesses? Not necessarily,
Muslims are apparently already trying to seek exemption for their
own scripture and
if, as many seem to think, this law is simply an appeasement to
Muslim unease after the invasion of Iraqi, I imagine there is a
good chance that they will receive a favourable hearing.
next part of the problem is that because these holy books are supposed
to be the immutable word of ‘God’ they are forever
fossilised in the distant past, never to be revised or updated.
problems and numerous challenges inevitably change with time but
alas not scripture. Thus followers are bound to the past and whilst
most religious supporters don’t go round bombing innocent people
it seems, at least to me, that the cycle of violence is doomed to
be repeated as extremists can always find the necessary theological
justification. Topped with the cherry of martyrdom what’s to
persuade the extremists of their error?
I can’t help but notice that all religions demand rights but
few if any shoulder any responsibility. This isn’t helped by
increasing fragmentation. Islam is not controlled by some El Supremo
Imam who has the final say in what is acceptable and what isn’t
leaving everyone free to make up their own minds. Even the Pope and
Archbishop of Canterbury have their limitations. They have no authority
or even influence over Christian Evangelists who are pretty much
leaderless and free to interpret what they consider to be acceptable
and what isn’t. And yet religious groups continue to pursue
favour through the political process. I feel a need to emphasise
that morality is not the sole province of religion and doesn’t
come under its authority.
a solution? I don’t really know but I’ll venture
a suggestion. Surely it is time for the separation of church and
state, the disbanding of religious schools (and otherwise using the
education system as a means of early indoctrination) and the establishment
of firmly secular government. I would never suggest the banning of
any religion, I would rather humanity learned to outgrow such naivety
but as this isn’t likely to happen anytime soon I’d like
religion to be a question of personal choice and its political ambitions
kept in check.
Ross Sargent's Guest
Contribution on James Randi's site. Brilliant as ever!
Make AIDS History?
is it that AIDS is such a problem in the African continent? Perhaps
they have a particularly virulent strain whilst in Europe we
have a sort of AIDS Lite? Probably not, so what’s different?
AIDS first came to our attention here in the UK we had a massive
advertising campaign. Remember John Hurt’s voice telling
us not to “die of ignorance”?
the first time that I can remember condoms were freely discussed
on television. There was some kind of acknowledgement that sexual
activity was actually going on and a nervous realisation that this
wasn't just a 'gay problem'. Even anal sex got a mention. The
Church of course were not happy with all this promiscuity. I mean
one thing to die, but casual sex? Appalling! (See here if
you don’t believe
me). But the good news is that loads of us didn’t die of ignorance.
without the heavy promoting of the good old condom (remember Richard
Branson and his 'Mates') what would have happened? Well the self
appointed guardian of our morals the Church, seemed to prefer
the somewhat unpopular birth control method of abstinence - but
was this ever likely to be a successful strategy? In Africa manifestly
not. Shocking as it may seem people do have sexual urges and whilst
AIDS could be stopped if people just didn’t
have sex anymore this is hardly a practical solution. If it was
we could stop people smoking by just asking them nicely. The problem
of obesity? A cinch – stop eating. Now as far as I
know the Church has never taken a strong moral stance on smoking
or the fat content of a Big Mac, because whilst the Church doesn’t
seem to mind if we smoke or thicken our arteries it has never really
liked us mucking about with our genitalia. It actually feels it
has a legitimate say in what I do with my willie. Now I can accept
friendly advice to keep it away from the bacon slicer but other
than that it’s
surely mine to do with as I please.
me what I can or can't do with it is bad enough, but criticising
its dress sense is surely overly intrusive. If I wish to glad my
tackle in a rubber suit then I bloody well will, okay?
getting back to AIDS in Africa….
heard a lot in the last few days about how a child dies every 3
seconds, a vile and damning statistic that will hopefully apply
some moral pressure on the G8 summit, but I’ve
heard no mention of the Catholic Church’s part in this horror.
If there is anything that can be done to help bring this misery
to an end then it would be the most immoral inhuman act imaginable
not to do it? Therefore this is an appeal to the Catholic Church,
THE NAME OF HUMANITY PROMOTE THE USE OF CONDOMS NOW.
Not all Catholics believe in this out dated doctrine but apparently
those at the top do. And that is where the guilt should lie and it
is they who will eventually be judged by history.
accept that just allowing the use of condoms will not automatically
end the epidemic but it would be a massive start. Of course it
would have to be backed up with persuasion and education but if
that Catholic Nun or Priest could now turn to those they claim
to be helping and tell them it’s okay to use condoms then
I believe things would at least start to improve. If not, then
people will continue to die needlessly and one day in a sadly distant
future a Pope will read from a prepared script apologising to the
world for the millions who died because of a pointless doctrine.
It will be too late.
let Africa die of ignorance.
links of interest.....
News 10th December 1981.
disease kills homosexuals
mysterious epidemic, which has been discovered in homosexual
men, is causing increasing concern in the United States .
The unknown condition, which consists of two separate diseases
- a form of pneumonia and skin cancer, has been found in 180 patients
in 15 states since last July.
the same site…
estimated 24 million people, both homosexual and heterosexual, have
died of Aids since the disease emerged in the United States . It
has now reached pandemic proportions in some parts of southern Africa
, where two million died in 2001 alone.
The Catholic Church is telling people in countries stricken by
Aids not to use condoms because they have tiny holes in them through
which HIV can pass - potentially exposing thousands of people to
Catholic Church is telling people in countries stricken by Aids
not to use condoms because they have tiny holes in them through
which HIV can pass - potentially exposing thousands of people to
What do you know about Pope John Paul II? He was a Catholic. He
travelled a lot. He's now dead. And he apparently did more to spread
AIDS around Africa than 'prostitution and the trucking industry combined'
(1). That last claim has won the status of established fact among
critics of the Vatican since the Pope died, tripping off the tongues
of various left-leaning commentators and radicals who claim that
the Vatican's condemnation of condom-use in turn condemned many in
Africa - where over 100million are Catholic - to long and painful
“When priests preach against using contraception, they are
committing a serious mistake which is costing human lives.” With
this distinctly undiplomatic language, Peter Piot, head of the Joint
United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), voiced the international
community’s continuing distress over the Catholic church’s
policy on condoms.
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- South Africa's largest newspaper says the country
is facing a state of emergency following a surge of child rapes.
The lives of 1.7 million South Africans could be saved in the next seven years
if the government made anti-Aids drugs universally available immediately,
an unpublished government study suggests.
Global Health Council
DURBAN, South Africa (Reuters) - AIDS will kill 20 percent of southern
Africa's agricultural workers by 2020, researchers said on Thursday,
possibly threatening food production in a region already facing frequent
been that long since I decided to bite the bullet and succumb
to the Siren song of Sky Television. This means that
I am now afforded the opportunity of watching an entire broadcast
of ‘Most Haunted Live’. Of course
having the opportunity doesn’t mean I’m actually going
to watch it. The damn thing is on for three nights in a row and
each time it’s three hours long. That’s nine hours
of complete crap. If Sky paid me the monthly subscription I still
wouldn’t endure nine bloody hours!
Anyway I did manage to see some of the last show, which this time
came from Wakefield.
My main criticisms are these;
show is mainly hosted by Dr David Bull, who
is quoted as saying that his ‘paranormal status’ is “open-minded”,
but at the same time says the scariest location he went to was
a pub in Somerset, “I cried with fear” claims the qualified
doctor. For saying that alone he earns a certain amount of contempt
(say about 2 kilos) but for having qualified, at great expense,
as a doctor only to host a show that consists of mindless crap
gets him a whole lorry load of contempt.
there’s Ciaran O’Keeffe one of the
token sceptics (an open-minded sceptic if you please). Do MHL viewers
think this is what all sceptics are like? All I’ve seen him
do is walk around with a few superfluous bits of equipment making
ineffectual, easily forgotten statements. Now perhaps I’m
being unnecessarily harsh here but as the whole show is a cloob,
(for those that don’t know it means a ‘complete load
of old bollocks’) to appear on it as anything like a real
sceptic would mean biting the hand that feeds you: and when I say ‘biting’ I’m
talking missing fingers!
this insipid contribution with something that James Randi might
offer. Randi still stands out as a giant amongst sceptics. He
would never compromise his position and wouldn’t
sit back making flaky, equivocal points. But of course that wouldn’t
be at all welcome in a programme like this would it? The alternative
is to end up as an ineffectual, intellectually compromised fumbler
of useless equipment and mumbler of unremembered words. You takes
Fielding just fluctuates between asking a ghost to make
themselves known and then squealing at any unexpected noise.
I mean is that all there is to it – you just ask them to make
a sign? I suppose because they’re on TV the otherwise shy
spooks make a special effort.
course the absolute favourite has to be good old Derek
As a diversion from the camara operator's normal close up shot
of Derek's flaring nostrils I experienced the hilarity of seeing
him being dragged into the abyss by some imaginary Wakefieldian
phantom. This was easily the most amusing piece of the whole
show. As memory serves Ciaran did, and said, pretty much nothing
already forgotten his contribution) while the rest of the team
showed their deep concern regarding Derek’s
narrow escape. I’d like to take the opportunity to suggest
a better response to Derek’s clowning around. Here goes…
“Well Yvette I personally can’t determine any difference
between Derek’s ridiculous over-acted performance and a prat
just running off screaming for no particular reason. Either Derek
is just hamming it up or we can re-write the laws of physics? What
do you think?”
in summing up, this programme is certainly not a scientific exercise.
In fact it’s just a load of trivial nonsense that
really doesn’t even deserve the effort of debunking it.
yet this tripe manages to generate a huge following. As our American
friends say, “Go figure”.
the other hand how many programmes have had a sceptic as the
main focus? Why not produce a show unashamedly sKeptical.
Hey you can even have a token psychic bumbling around in the
background making useless comments – just for balance you
Voice: The money lenders strike back
quote one of the wise sayings of Solomon, “Whoso diggeth
a pit shall fall therein: and he that rolleth a stone, it will
return upon him”. To put it another way, “what
goes around comes around”.
Christian Voice homophobic bully boy Stephen Green has found
the Co-op bank less than happy about his organisation’s
stance on homosexuality. So much so they have given notice that
they are closing the account.
In a press release Christian
Voice (i.e. Green) writes,
“Stephen Green, National Director of Christian Voice, said
today: “The decision from the Co-operative Bank fits a pattern
where politically-correct bully-boys try to attack Christian organisations,
Christian symbols, the Bible, and in the case of Jerry Springer
the Opera and BBC2, even the person of our Saviour.”
There is nothing better for a Christian than to feel persecuted,
but of course the Co-op is not doing any such thing. It is rightly
offended by homophobes like Green who think such things an abomination
before the Lord!
know what you’re thinking! That nice Mr Green will be
turning the other cheek as recommended by the afore mentioned Saviour.
Nah! He’s asking Christians to boycott the bank. I
seem to remember when Green harassed Maggie’s
Cancer Caring Centres into not accepting a donation from Jerry
Springer the Opera, he said the Lord would provide for them. Well
Steve perhaps God will recommend a bank for you. But if that bank
turns out to be mine I’ll be changing.
complete and utter emptiness of the paranormal
took part in a debate at GhostFest the
other week. The subject was “Are ghosts real and can mediums communicate with them?” in
essence my response was, “no they aren’t” and “no
they can’t” but I did make an attempt to explain a
little of what lay behind my skepticism. The first reason I gave
was evolution. Despite various religious groups desperate to persuade
us that, “god did it”, for no other reason than because
a ‘holy’ book says so, the theory of evolution by natural
selection presents the most convincing explanation of how come
we humans came to be here at all. Having accepted the theory I
can’t see any evolutionary mechanism for the creation of
a ‘spirit body’. It simply makes no sense at all.
evolution didn’t do it then we have to resort to supernatural
explanations and the most popular candidate is that unknown thing
many refer to as ‘god’. The concept of a god is a strange
one and whilst believers are content to accept god as the ultimate
cause of everything they refuse to explain what caused god. So
the argument seems to run, everything must have a cause therefore
if we trace back all causes we end up with the first cause – god”.
And when atheists asked what caused god the response is he (genitals?)
is uncaused. To me this has the distinct aroma of male cow droppings
about it. Here we are a tiny planet occupying no particular position
in a universe so vast that it is beyond our comprehension. And
yet I’m expected to accept (and even respect) the fact that
this unknowable entity chose a small primitive tribe in the near
east as being his chosen race. Sorry, whilst there’s a slim
chance you could convince me that Tony Blair really did believe
there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq I can’t swallow
the god hypothesis. It’s just too crazy.
even if I suspend belief for a moment and allow that the universe
did have a supernatural beginning, there is still another problem
- dualism. The philosopher Descartes thought that there were
two kinds of ‘stuff’ in the universe; physical
stuff and spiritual (mental) stuff. The latter being essentially
non-physical. Now we have various people around some of whom seem
to think they can communicate with ‘god’ and others
who tell us about ‘spiritual energy’ without ever feeling
the need to either prove its existence or explain what it is. So
here’s a question that no one has yet managed to explain.
How can something non physical interact with something physical?
To say it’s mental or psychic energy explains precisely nothing
at all. I challenge any medium or theologian to come up with a
satisfactory explanation, but they can’t, they have no idea.
Some don’t even understand the question. How could something
that is not physical be said to exist at all? On the other hand
if the souls or spirit is made up of something physical why can’t
we say what it is? If something is not physical how do people see
it? One thing perhaps sceptics and believers can agree on, with
a ghost you’re literally seeing nothing.
yet if some idiot medium tells someone that their second cousin
twice removed died at 2 weeks of age and was called Gladys I’m
supposed to ditch all of the above and accept the spirit world
as being fact! The popularity of the paranormal is nothing more
than the collective desperation of people longing for eternal life.
Paranormal and religious belief survives because a certain percentage
of the human race can’t learn to accept their own mortality,
and until they do the rest of us have to endure this infantile
nonsense on a daily basis.
of infantile nonsense BBC
News has a report
at a Grimsby museum are taking part in a vigil with paranormal
experts to try to explain a series of strange happenings over
the past two years.”
experts? Is there any point in being an ‘expert’ in
bullshit? Probably not but hey it makes BBC News. What evidence
is there to justify this vigil? Well it comes down to, “Unexplained
smells, extreme cold spots and loud footsteps….” Fair
enough let’s forget evolution, embrace the omnipotent creator
and forget the problems of Descartes' dualism. I mean after all,
an “unexplained smell” you can’t argue with evidence
like that can you?
for me anything supernatural is a make believe. A fantasy for
believers to construct in order to give meaning to their lives.
Should we infer from this that without this fiction life has
no meaning? Does it mean that being a skeptic commits you to
a cold and dark view of the world? Is life, in the words of Thomas
Hobbes, just "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short."? Happily
no, even a skeptic can have a ‘spiritual’ dimension
and two things recently reminded me of this. The first is a picture
sent to me by Number
Eighty showing the remnant of a once massive
star that died in a violent supernova explosion 325 years ago.
You can find it at: http://ipac.jpl.nasa.gov/media_images/ssc2005-14c.jpg.
When I saw this I felt truly privileged to see such an amazing
picture. The second can be found in James Randi’s Commentary
this week. It’s the words of Phil Plait who runs the Bad
Astronomy website. I won’t reproduce them here but please
read them in Randi’s Commentary. If you’re a believer
in the paranormal it’s an eloquent invitation to abandon
the chimera that is the paranormal and embrace the wonder of reality
- the world of real science. Go to: http://www.randi.org/jr/061705like.html#6
“I know a place where the Sun never sets…..”
unpleasant world of the psychic detective.
you a parent? I am, and I can think of nothing worse
than the disappearance of one of your children; even if your ‘child’ is
now an adult. This is every parent’s worst nightmare and it
goes without saying that anyone enduring such an ordeal deserves
the community’s full support.
when it isn’t someone you know you just wish there was
some way you could help. It’s probably feelings like this that
make people tune into Crimewatch. But sadly we have to accept that
in most cases we simply cannot help. We don’t know the people
involved or the facts about the disappearance and we recognise, frustrating
as it is, that we are powerless to help.
real life there are no amateur detectives like Hercule Poirot to
bail out bumbling police inspectors and solve cases with nothing
more than a few civil interviews and the focussed application of
their “little grey cells”. So regardless
of any perceived imperfections, we have to rely on the professionals
who make up our modern police force.
However although there are few, if any, wannabe Hercule Poirots
around to trample over police procedure and generally get in the
way we do have the entirely superfluous phenomenon of the psychic
detective. I honestly try to be charitable to those who believe in
what I consider to be the most unlikely of abilities but I am fast
developing a special loathing for this particular breed of non psychic.
now have another case where a psychic medium is offering ‘help’ to
the parents of a missing woman. Lisa Dorrian was last seen at 5am
, on Monday 28 February 2005 , after a party at a caravan site in
Ballyhalbert in County Down . She is now presumed dead and all her
desperate parents want at this stage is to recover her body and give
her a decent funeral. At the moment the crime remains unsolved and
although accusations have been made regarding the Loyalist Volunteer
Force (LVF) the police are keeping an open mind.
Enter Warren Coates, founder of the Northern Ireland Paranormal
Research Association (NIPRA), with a magnanimous offer of help to
use his mediumistic talents to locate her body.
To quote from Sunday
“According to the medium, he would require a photo or
one of Lisa's personal items, in an attempt to see if he can gain
information which may point him to the whereabouts of her body.”
take this as being an accurate reporting of his words, in particular, “… require
a photo or one of Lisa's personal items.” (my italics).
A photo would be enough would it? Well here’s the one that’s
been included in every BBC report of the case.
what’s the delay? And why bother the family?
Just do it.
I’m sure many will take the charitable view that, “he’s
only trying to help”. But while we might allow that any medium
is motivated by the noblest of intentions it is reasonable to point
out that no medium and/or psychic known since the dawn of humanity
has ever shown with anything approaching convincing evidence that
they actually have any such ‘gift’ at all. So we begin
this process with the usual unproven abilities. But once such an
offer has been made what’s going to happen?
family, whose torment can’t even be imagined, are likely
to cling to any glimmer of hope - no matter how unlikely. “It’s
worth a try” and “What have we got to lose?” are
likely responses. They probably feel some frustration with the police
in not being able to resolve matters. You really can’t blame
them. Then we have the police. Now it’s quite possible that
someone on the force thinks there might actually be something to
this claptrap or they might feel obliged, on behalf of the family,
to follow up any lead, no matter what the source. They may also feel
the need to respond because of another possibility. Assuming there
is someone who actually knows what happened and that it might be
the work of an organisation such as the LVF, contacting the police
could be very risky indeed so why not tell a local psychic who can
pass it on for you? If the police think this is a possibility then
once again they may feel the need to follow it up.
But what is the likely result from a psychic medium, who has never
had their claims scientifically validated, and just wants to play
The first thing is the wasting of police resources. I imagine that
if there was a league table of overstretched police forces the Police
Force of Northern Ireland would come somewhere near the top.
Then there is the obvious raising of false hopes for the family
involved. Why any medium or psychic thinks these outcomes are acceptable
is beyond me.
So assuming Warren Oates actually knows diddlysquat what is information
likely to consist of?
I was a psychic it would be something along these lines…
are 2 men involved. One is an older man in his thirties and the
other around 19. The younger man is thinner than the older man.
They used a car. It wasn’t new, I’d say around 3
years old. I feel a blue vehicle is involved. The letters “J” and “H” are
in someway significant.”
to the location of the body I would probably suggest it was taken
out to sea. Why? Well if the body is never found then it can be
assumed that I’m right. But in fact it’s
a pretty likely guess anyway considering that Ballyhalbert is located
by the sea. Alternatively we have variations on a rural location
see a small road that leads to a wooded area but it’s
not in the immediate area of the disappearance. They passed a large
building on the way there. There’s the sound of running water
and what sounds like a dog barking. I can see some kind of monument
but can’t quite make it out.”
are a couple of things worth pointing out about statements like
this. Firstly it is of absolutely no use and secondly, should the
body be discovered in an even vaguely rural location, it will probably
be vague enough to enable enough retrofitting to show how ‘accurate’ they
were. This will help enhance the medium’s reputation whilst
achieving absolutely nothing for either the family or the police.
have missed out some of the more unpleasant details such as weapons
used, etc. as I feel the above description makes the point sufficiently.
If I were a ‘real’ psychic
I would probably have included them.
It’s perhaps worth exploring why we entertain the idea of
psychic detectives at all. Although I realise they are a convenient
modern scapegoat I feel the media need to take some responsibility
here. It is no longer unusual to see a medium on television or hear
one on the radio. Newspapers too like to print sensational stories
about how psychics have helped the police. For many it’s no
longer ‘weird’ to consider such things possible. Then
there are the police themselves. They can be very tight lipped about
the use of psychics. I have yet to hear any Chief Constable come
out and complain about the number of psychics contacting police with
conflicting stories which just waste time and effort.
and by no means least, there are the psychics themselves. I’m sure they think they are helping and even the victims may
publicly thank them for trying. But they are not helping: They are
a waste of time. They are silly people who believe they are wizards
a fairy tale world. We don’t need them.
Have you ever dealt with a psychic detective who proved utterly
useless? If you are I would like to hear from you whether you are
a victim of crime or a police officer. Your anonymity is assured.
if you do know anything please contact the Police
Force of Northern Ireland.The family are offering a £10,000 reward.
background about the case see these reports;
News 6th March 2005
Father's plea over missing woman
News 13th March 2005
Loyalist 'link' may hamper probe
News 28th April 2005
£10,000 reward over Lisa's murder
LVF denies involvement in Ballyhalbert killing
more on psychic detectives see: Another Psychic
Did a Medium Identify a Murderer?
go to Eighty for
bringing this to my attention.
See also Eighty's comments on medium Allison Dubois
If you have seen the Living TV's 'Sensing Murder' have a look at
the comments by Australian Skeptics
more media fascination with ghosts and hauntings, this time
in Leeds. Four members of Yorkshire
Psychic Investigators have been
tracking down those elusive phantoms at Leeds Grand Theatre.
As I expected the group came fully equipped with a variety of pointless
gadgets. To quote www.leedstoday.net,
by theatre staff, the psychics were kitted out with a range of
technical kit, from traditional ghostbusting artefacts such as
crucifixes to motion sensors and electromagnetic frequency detectors.
I still haven't worked out why but detecting electromagnetic frequency
seems de rigour for any self respecting ghost hunter these days,
but crucifixes? Do these psychics assume that Christianity is the
one true religion or are they just edging their bets? I see a slight
problem here in that once again God doesn’t
like this sort of thing at all. To quote Deuteronomy 18:10
one shall be found among you who makes a son or daughter pass through
fire, or who practices divination, or is a soothsayer, or an auger
or a sorcerer, or one who casts spells, or who consults ghosts
or spirits, or who seeks oracles from the dead.
more worrying is Leviticus
man or woman who is a medium or a wizard shall be put
to death; they shall be stoned
to death, their blood is upon them.
a little severe but then if you’ve ever sat through
two hours of Derek Acorah the
desire to throw something is almost overwhelming.
I digress. Let’s have a look at what they found.
To quote again from Leeds Today,
Relton said the presence in the upper circle was a man
in his early 20s, about 5ft 8in tall, wearing black trousers,
a white shirt and a waistcoat.
She said: "I think he was from the early 1900s.
I became aware someone was running through the wall
behind me, along the back of the seats, then through the door.
We were told later there used to be double doors where
he was coming through the wall."
Mother of God! I never realised that electromagnetic frequency
detectors could tell you so much, very impressive. I must
ask about this on my next trip to Maplins.
taking part in a debate at GhostFest
2005 on 4th June 2005.
The topic up for discussion, “Are ghosts
real and can mediums communicate with them.” I won’t
give my answer now it might spoil the surprise.
eager for their children to receive a moral grounding
are fuelling growth in US-style Christian schools that
suppose on the parent’s list of ‘morals’ is
not telling lies which to me at least makes the syllabus
of morality and creationism somewhat contradictory.
if you want to bring up your child on a diet of misinformation
and myth you can. Emmanuel College in Gateshead being one
of the most well known.
ic Wales report continues,
are 14 independent Christian schools in Wales and demand
for places is growing as parents fear ordinary schools
are turning their backs on Christianity.
course! That’s the main worry we parents have. Keeps
us awake at night doesn’t it?
from the attempt to indoctrinate of children in pseudoscience
and the preferred religion of their parents I am more
than a little irritated at the idea that those who attend Christian
(or any religious school) are somehow more ‘moral’ than
the rest of us. I have four children none of whom have had
the benefit of a private Christian education and to imply
that they have less morality than some religious elite
is offensive. None of my children think homosexuals are
an abomination before the Lord for a start.
remember good old Tony “I’ve listened to the
being asked about the teaching of creationism in UK schools.
This is from Guardian Unlimited
The appeal for reinspection is backed by Dr Jenny Tonge, Liberal
Democrat MP for Richmond , who yesterday asked the prime minister
if he was concerned that staff at a state-funded school were promoting
Blair sidestepped the question, commenting: "I think it
would be very unfortunate if concerns over that were seen to remove
the very, very strong incentive to make sure we get as diverse a
school system as we properly can.
the end, it is a more diverse school system that will deliver better
results for our children and if you look at the actual results
of the school, I think you will find they are very good."
a sad state of affairs when even our own Prime Minister refuses
to condemn this nonsense. Respect?
in on death
dead are the new living. The mediums that Harry Houdini spent so
much time exposing are now an established part of modern life.
The likes of Derek Acorah and Colin Fry strut the stage confidently
chatting away to invisible friends that give unheard responses – and
nobody laughs. Everyone seems to have a ghost story and waiting in
the wings are various ghosthunters fully equipped with essential
items such as electromagnetic-field detectors. I’m still unsure
of what frequency ghosts occupy of the electromagnetic spectrum but
hey, I’m probably being silly.
more amazingly research from Lloyds TSB shows that such nonsense
even has an effect on home buyers. Myfinances.co.uk report:
research from Lloyds TSB has found out that one person in four
would not buy a home with the number 13, another 50 per cent would
be put off if the property overlooked a cemetery, while the idea
of a ghost in the house would put off 47 per cent of prospective
not all ghosthunters are thermometer wielding anoraks. Professor
Richard Wiseman looks beyond the nonsense to try and study
really going on.
Thank you Richard for trying to apply some real science.
Just how far this silliness goes was brought to my attention
in this week’s ‘Chat’ magazine (Issue 20). On
page 24 we hear from Chat’s psychic agony aunt ‘Ruth
Someone enquires as to why she dreamt of her dead father appearing
to her in fancy dress. Showing an amazing rapport with the dead Ruth
explains that her dad has a job on the other side “keeping
children company in what are known as spirit nurseries.” More
seriously another woman asks if she will ever have a child of her
own as she has a condition that makes conception difficult. Based
on this scant knowledge ‘Ruth the truth’ unhesitatingly
offers her false hope after consulting with her “witchdoctor
bones and stones”. Yes you read that correctly. Curiously
Mrs Thetruth also mentions IVF. Really? Resorting to technology,
admitting defeat? I mean science doesn’t know everything does
it? Why not suggest a course of voodoo first?
are also provided with the opportunity to call Ruth’s
magical ‘Mystical Bones & Stones Line’ for
just 65p per minute. In case you don’t trust the ‘Bones & Stones’ method
you have the alternative of phoning her ‘Angel Love Oracle’ where
one of her 40 angel guides is waiting to serve. Excuse me but this
is unmitigated crap! How can this humbuggery be allowed? You will
call and all you’ll get is some woman giving you her ill informed
opinion. Don’t do it! And once you discover that you’re
just throwing money away who are you going to complain to? Trading
standards? Try it, see how far you get. This is just a licence to
Ruth’s cheap, on the page opposite (after the ghost
story) you can call ‘The only genuine Chat psychic phonelines’ which
cost £1.50 per minute.
I’ve picked on Chat because that’s the magazine
I was shown but there are plenty of others and they’re all
doing the same thing. Remember ‘just say no’.
If you need advice why not ask a close friend?
for a moment let’s pretend that all this is true. Acorah
and Fry can talk to dead people. Ruth the truth can divine the future
with her witchdoctor bones. Why then are there so many unsolved crimes?
There are people the police would dearly love to trace (See: Crimestoppers)
why not just tell them exactly where they all live? You’re
psychic so just send in the information. Why doesn’t Acorah
ask ‘Sam’ to do something bloody useful for a change?
By next week I expect all these people to be in custody. No chance.
we're at it let's get the faith healers to empty the hospitals.
have also started up a new section Instant
Skeptic. My succinct
view of a number of skeptical matters.
before you go I recommend The View from Number Eighty,
Stealing of America. It's shows the growing depth of intolerance
in George W. Bush's theocracy.
may have noticed I didn’t write any commentary last week.
Well as it happens I have an explanation almost unique among feeble
excuses. I went to Chicago to test a parrot for telepathy. I doubt
I’ll ever use that excuse again, but I can assure you it’s
true. The parrot was Spaulding and her owner was Michelle, one of
the nicest people you could wish to meet. Whilst Michelle and I hold
entirely different views about some aspects of the universe I won’t
have a word said against her. Not everyone who believes in strange
things is automatically a bad person.
on with this week’s breathtaking insight into the
world of the weird. Every Saturday I buy a copy of The
amongst its numerous supplements is ‘body&soul’.
This week I was fortunate to learn a little bit about angels. I confess
that the article stirred my creativity. The result being I wish to
introduce a new word into the English language, ‘cloob’.
Cloob is actually shorthand for “complete load of old bollocks” and
although it can be applied to anything supernatural it is by no means
limited to that field. For example homeopathy is also a cloob.
back to angels. Diana Cooper (I’m sure we met once
on ‘Kilroy’) knows a thing or two about angels and her
guardian angels are telling her there will be a “shift in consciousness” around
2012. Unfortunately at the moment there is too much greed and hatred
around but luckily angels are here in sufficient numbers to clear
our spiritual blocks. Methinks I spot a cloob, but supposing it’s
true? I don’t really want my consciousness shifted? I regard
it as a fundamental human right to have my consciousness left exactly
where it is thank you. What happened to free will?
course there is an upside in believing such a cloob. Being able
to converse with the angels means an opportunity for making bucket
loads of cash. Ms Cooper has sold over 180,000 books in the UK alone
(2.5 million worldwide) and also offers CD’s, crystals (to
help you ‘vibrationally’ connect to specific archangels)
and packs of angel cards. And there was me thinking that to make
money you actually had to do something useful.
article also mentions Diana’s U.S. counterpart Doreen
Virtue. Virtue? Is that a real name? I imagine her empire is so large
she’s known as Vice President Virtue. Anyway, Doreen was on Richard & Judy this
week and whilst she may have been accompanied by a host of angels
from upon high the show was completely free on any skeptics. I didn’t
see it myself (due to the assignation with the parrot) but I hear
the hosts were suitably uncritical and fawning. This free publicity
will no doubt help boost the sales of her lectures. Cloob or not,
the cash just keeps rolling in.
enough of this imported cloob, let’s get back to the good
old British stuff. Diana Cooper tells us she met her first angel
during a black period of her life when she called for help and suddenly
found herself with a ‘being of light’, who showed
her how her future mapped out. Now I don’t want to pick holes
but why is some supernatural entity, possessed no doubt of all
sorts of powers, mucking around with Ms Cooper? I’m mean all
she has done so far is to sell a lot of books and a range of angelic
accessories. Why didn’t the damn angel go and have a word with
Mrs Bin Laden about her son Osama? The world is in need of many things
and an angel giving an interview with Jeremy Paxman might carry some
weight. Before I leave this sorry tale of delusion and gullibility
I’d like to comment on one more of Ms Cooper’s claims. “I
started off as a healer and worked with spirit guides, which operate
on a lower frequency than angels.” Lower frequency? I
fear we have moved up a notch from cloob to cauloob (pronounced ‘cowloob’: complete and utter load of old bollocks). Where exactly
on the electromagnetic spectrum do angels sit? Somewhere between
X-rays and Gamma rays or can we find them lurking near Radio
Four? Are angels cancer forming? Has she done tests? This is all
conclusion our only hope is widespread inoculation against TB (Total
Bollocks!). Skepticism is the vaccine.
topic rant – The Election.
Speaking entirely on behalf of myself
I believe a fundamental principle of being a skeptic is that you
base your conclusions on the available evidence. Thus when Tony Blair
was telling us with absolute certainty that Iraq had WMD I looked
at the evidence. We had Colin Powell showing us blurred images of
trucks moving from somewhere in Iraq to somewhere else. We had Tony
Blair waving dodgy dossiers in parliament and we had Hans Blix saying
he couldn’t find any evidence of WMD.
In short there was nothing that led me to think the UK or any of
her allies was in the slightest danger. Certainly in no immediate
danger. I felt at the time we were being told a cloob!
this Tony Blair, with unseemly haste, went ahead and committed
our country to killing thousands of innocent mean women and children.
And now he wants my vote. Well he’s not going to get it. Firstly
I don’t care if we suffer if Labour doesn’t get a third
term. We deserve to pay the price for our barbarous aggression. Secondly
if Labour do win, and I expect them to, I want their majority hacked
back as far as possible. Noises are already being made in the direction
of Iran and I don’t want to be part of George W. Bush’s
Christian crusade: neither do I imagine do a lot of Christians.
voted Labour last time and if it wasn’t for the war I would
vote for them again this time, but sometimes you just have to listen
to your conscience.
Tony Blair can go to Hell!
begin with a brief, but bad, review of Derek Acorah's appearance
Wells, South Wales Echo writes, "For
the half-dozen or so people he and his 'spirit guide' Sam connected
with, it was a profitable, healing type of evening. For
the rest of this inexplicably full house, it was a bore." He
also mentions the large gothic text that are a quote from 'Sam',
Acorah's spirit guide.
the believer, no proof is necessary, to the non-believer, no
proof is possible.”
words indeed .
My first problem is that they aren’t
really true they just sound good. As a non-believer I would certainly
like more proof than Derek talking to imaginary people on stage.
A few ghostly manifestations would be a start. This coupled with
communication that actually meant something would also go a long
my second difficulty is that ‘Sam’ seems to have
plagiarised someone else’s words.
it me or does this sound awfully similar?
those who believe, no explanation is necessary; for those who
do not believe,
explanation is possible."
quote originated (as far as I know at least) with the legendary
mentalist Joseph Dunninger (1892 – 1975). Now it could be
that Sam asked Dunninger if he could borrow his snappy phrase,
but even then it would surely be the right thing to acknowledge
the original source.
awful truth has finally hit me. If Derek is a genuine medium and
truly in contact with his spirit guide ‘Sam’ then ‘Sam’ is
surely cold reading. Yep, Derek is being cruelly deceived by someone
who is just a lying, cheating, cold reading, quote stealing son-of-a-bitch.
Luckily anonymous dead people can’t actually sue for defamantion.
even more evidence that Sam is an egocentric creep persuing fame
and fortune at the expense of the bereaved. Badpsychics* has
come up with yet more embarrassment for Derek. Evidently he got
in touch with the spirit of a dead highwayman called ‘Rik
turns out to be an anagram of ‘Derek
Lies’. I'm betting Sam knew this and just wanted to make Derek
look a complete bozo. My guess is that Sam wants his own series and
intends to cut out the middle man. Living TV could pay him in spirit
this makes me wonder if can mediums claim some sort of copyright
over the names of their guides? I can’t really see how they
can. Hmm, that gives me an idea – stay tuned.
the link to 'Most Haunted Exposed'
seems that the above quote that Sam has claimed as his own words
of wisdom was around even before Dunninger used it. The oldest attributed
author seems to be St Bernadette although others claim it as simply
anonymous. Either way Sam has gone down in my estimation. Letting
poor old Derek down like that. I think we should start a 'Sack
thanks to Emma from www.doublexposure.co.uk for
the St Bernadette clue.
- The alternative to medicine
a pleasure to read the article Undiluted
Tosh by Michael Hanlon,
(Daily Mail 12th April 2005 ). At last someone is speaking about
the pseudo-treatment homeopathy. Its enduring appeal stands testament
to just how stupid we can be. I need add nothing to this so, providing
the link still works go and have a read.
continue their media led renaissance. BBC
News reports of ghostly goings on in a spooky Cornish jail
(‘gaol’ would look better here don’t you think).
After a ten hour investigation at Bodmin jail, members of ‘Paranormal
Site Investigators’ have announced that something was “definitely
usual no ectoplasmic evidence was found so what has persuaded
the PSI group that, “There’s definitely something
they had a go at getting an EVP (electronic voice phenomenon)
recording and got what was described as “an unexplained
grunt”. A grunt you say, maybe there’s more to this
than I thought.
the clincher, despite there being no open windows and a metal
ceiling, stones were thrown at the team while they were in the
condemned cells. It was observed that the stones thrown were
significantly hotter than the temperature in the cell. Although
admitting this wasn’t conclusive proof team leader Nicky
Sewell felt that something was trying to make its presence known.
own cynical mind thinks that someone among the team was having
a bit of a joke. If the source of the stones was someone’s
pocket I humbly suggest that these would feel somewhat warmer
than the ambient temperature, particularly if held in the hand
for a while prior to throwing. Alas the EVP ‘grunt’ must
remain a mystery.
can visit Paranormal Site Investigators here: http://www.p-s-i.org.uk/about.htm -
a strangely difficult website to navigate.
be taken seriously you must have green tinted pictures
Meanwhile someone has drawn my attention to some very interesting
links. These show clips from Most Haunted Live (I assume Living TV
hold the copyright).
know how this Ouija thing works don’t you? You all stick
your fingers on top of an upturned glass and the glass moves. But
what if the glass remained still and someone’s finger moved
instead? Hmmm. http://tinyurl.com/5x7d2
2. Sick Sense
Most Haunted team relax before a take. They don’t seem
too scared between takes. Maybe it’s their way of coping with
the constant strain? http://tinyurl.com/5nuo9
popularity of paranormal “ghost-hunting-ooooo-doesn’t-it-feel-scary-in-here” type
shows continues unabated. Leader of the pack is the show with the
oxymoronic title ‘Most Haunted Live’. Now I confess I’ve
seen very little of this but what I have seen has never contained
anything remotely paranormal.
The viewing public seems to have bought into the idea that ghostly
activity can and will take place right on cue just because a TV crew
turns up. The idea that this programme could ever be real can be
dismissed by taking a few moments to reflect on just how much nonsense
we are being expected to swallow.
off has anyone ever seen a ghost during the show? Well no but hey
stuff happens. Spoons fly around, things fall for no apparent reason,
sometimes even nearly hitting people. Crew members get badly shaken
up causing Yvette Fielding to show much motherly concern. Best
of all of course is when Derek Acorah becomes ‘possessed’ by
some ancient malevolent and/or deeply troubled spirit who takes control
of his body much to the merriment of any sceptics who may be watching.
This is obviously regarded by the crew as dangerous and poor old
Derek, weakened by all this, finds himself having to rest and regain
let’s consider this from a different angle, namely health
and safety. Under regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety
Regulations (1999) all employers must carry out a suitable and sufficient
risk assessment of any risk to which their employees may be exposed
and having done so, reduce the risks to the lowest level reasonably
practicable. So knowing that all this dangerous stuff is happening
they must surely have completed the required risk assessment prior
to tackling another potentially nasty phantom. If they have I’d
love to see it. Then we have the Reporting of Diseases and Dangerous
Occurrences Regulations commonly referred to in the trade as RIDDOR.
All companies need to keep a record of accidents including near miss
accidents (i.e. those that did not actually result in personal injury)
and considering stuff like flying spoons, etc. actually happens then
this should be recorded in an Accident Book. Is there an entry in
any such book? I honestly doubt it. Then we must consider the risk
of harm that ghostly possession exposes Derek to; is this hazard
adequately controlled? These days there is a great deal of concern
about stress in the workplace, something that is also covered by
regulation 3 of the Management Regulations. I’m shocked to
think this hasn’t been properly addressed.
see once you expose fantasy to the harsh light of reality it starts
to look stupid. No one actually gets hurt, neither is anyone really
scared. It’s just TV. What is the overriding desire
of any director? I’ll tell you, it’s to make the programme
interesting enough so that people will actually take the trouble
to watch it. Which is why they don’t make many programmes about
sceptics, it’s just too easy to make any programme more interesting
with a spooky paranormal angle. Why then do shows have sceptics at
all? Generally they would probably rather not but it all comes down
to ‘balance’ or at least the appearance of it.
here’s the problem, you can’t
keep a television series going, even one about the paranormal,
without sufficient drama to allow viewers to vicariously experience
the fear of coming face to face with the dead. Has there ever been
an episode when nothing happened? No? Really? I wonder why that
the public’s imagination takes flight, basic economic theory
kicks in and supply increases in order to meet demand. We now have “Paranormal
investigator” Jane Goldman (aka Mrs Jonathan Ross) joining
the psychic feeding frenzy.
latest series Ftn says, “This
be delving into the darker side of the paranormal, with real-life
encounters and firsthand evidence that will raise the hairs of
the steeliest sceptic. (no it won’t) She meets a
voodoo priest, a victim of demonic possession and a family whose
lives have been ruined by a plague of poltergeists. Then there
are journeys into the terrifying worlds of alien abductions and
the talking dead.”
best get those risk assessments sorted out.
a strange game of supernatural one-upmanship this week the ‘Express
and Star’ boast that prior to the Most Haunted
team descending on the Four Crosses Inn near Cannock they took the
liberty of checking the place out with their own preferred psychic “Mystic
Ed”. Ed has already jumped in and identified some of the pubs
wayward spirits. Evidently these have been spotted by various members
of staff over the years which might have Most Haunted fans sitting
on the edge of their sofas hoping to finally catch a glimpse of a
real ghost. I don’t want to spoil things but my guess is that
they won’t see anything.
I’m old enough to remember the time when volunteers were
hypnotised on television shows and then people called in complaining
that they had accidentally been hypnotised too? This virtually stopped
such shows completely. Well it occurs to me that in today’s
world where everyone is taking everyone else to court, what’s
to say that someone watching won’t find themselves possessed
by one of Derek’s itinerant spirits? What no risk assessment?
It’s an open and shut case.
you want to read more about the doubtful side of Most Haunted Live
have a look here:
Christian bully boy Stephen Green from Christian Voice now needs
your financial help to prosecute the BBC for blasphemy. He obviously
deems this a case worthy of Christian outrage whilst depriving
cancer charities of much needed cash is not. I can’t quite
believe this is even possible in the 21 st century. I think blasphemy
is an ill thought out concept at best. Can you really insult
someone (or something) whom you believe not to actually exist?
After yet another earthquake would such a being, even if it did
exist, deserve anything other than our contempt? Should we get
down on our knees and thank him for the smallpox virus? What
exactly is this vain and deeply insecure deity supposed to be
anyway? An old guy with a long white beard in the clouds? No
one knows, and I mean no one. In other words the very thing that
we’re all supposed to treat with
such reverence is a complete mystery even to its staunchest allies.
don’t care if Stephen Green is offended just as he obviously
doesn’t care who he offends. I get the impression he would
dearly love the UK to become part of George W. Bush’s theocracy
but as far as I’m concerned his imaginary god has no place
in a secular society.
could write more but 'Number Eighty' has it covered wonderfully
so go and treat yourself to a look.
for 'Begging Voice'
Easter when we remember how Jesus fed 5,000 people with a single
Meanwhile the latest story seems to be about yet another big
cat sighting. Skeptics do get asked about this sort of thing although
it’s not exactly a paranormal claim. I mean a large cat on
the loose is at least possible unlike bending spoons with your mind
which isn’t (it really isn’t).
personally ‘Big Cat’ sightings invoke a response similar
to those of Nessie and UFOs. Over the years UFO sightings have
been reported in huge numbers with some even claiming alien abduction,
so we know it’s possible to get convincing reports from reliable
witnesses about things that don’t exist. There are other
similarities; ‘Big Cats’ (which often seem to be black)
once witnessed seem to disappear and avoid all detection, they
just vanish. Photos tend to be blurred and provide little in the
way of conclusive evidence. The only difference seems to be that
cats do actually exist whereas flying saucers don’t.
latest attack in London has a ring of familiarity about it. The
victim, Anthony Holder, is reported to have said a 6ft-long black
animal pounced and then knocked him to the ground. He also says
it was about the size of a Labrador dog which is a lot less than
6 feet. It was a black cat that suddenly jumped out at him during
the middle of the night so conditions are not good for a reliable
sighting. I understand that he has scratches on his face which,
considering the size and ferocity of most big cats, is getting
off lightly in my opinion. I’ve no doubt that to Mr Holden
is completely sincere but my prediction is that no big cat will
BBC News story: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/4370893.stm
the hunt with British
Evidently a ghost has been photographed in a church spire in Halifax.
Proof at last; and there was me thinking Most Haunted Live was just a pile of crap. The photo was supposed to be of some nesting
birds but when steeplejacks zoomed in to take a picture they caught
a ghost instead. I hate it when that happens.The
photo was taken by apprentice Anthony Finnigan (18) and now workers
are supposedly too scared to work up the spire alone.
18 year old apprentice with a digital camera eh? Well at least that
rules out a
picture on the left is the one that is supposedly of the ghost haunting
the Church spire in Halifax. The picture on the right is one I took
of my daughter Sophie. Picture three is an enlarged version of the
the original story.
healing on the NHS
Apart from a few metaphysical differences and
the wording of incantations I’m not entirely sure what the
difference is between a ‘spiritual energy channeler’
and a witch doctor. There is one difference though and that is that
the first is available on the NHS and the second isn’t (yet).
our fascination with healing hocus pocus descends ever deeper into
absurdity we hear of “a ground breaking move to complement
conventional cancer treatments”. Graham King who heals using
the power of ‘cosmic energy’ has been employed by the
paediatric oncology ward, an acute cancer unit, at Middlesex Hospital
in London treating around 8 children a week. His role is to not
to cure cancer but to help with the side effects of chemotherapy.
King is a reiki master an art we are assured “can be traced
back several thousand years to the mountains of Tibet”. That
pretty much settles it then, it has the necessary pedigree. As with
other similar forms of
claptrap healing arts reiki involves
the manipulation of the mysterious ‘chi’ energy.
have an idea that Middlesex Hospital might well be interested in.
I’m going to start a chi transfusion service. If everyone
in the UK could give just a pint of chi every six months they would
have quite a stock pile to help the sick and needy. Of course it’s
not quite that straightforward as there is a risk of giving ‘AB’
positive chi to someone who is type ‘O’ but I’ll
work out a safe procedure, promise.
item ends by telling us that “One US group believes reiki gives
its members the power to talk to their dogs”. Talking to your
dog is okay, it’s when you think they answer back that you have
the article here
bottle of chi goodness
Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells disappeared in August 2002 the whole
country held its breath and hoped they would eventually be found
alive. Tragically as we know, this was never to be. The two young
girls, aged 10 had been murdered by school caretaker Ian Huntley.
father has written a book ‘Goodbye Dearest Holly’
part of which recounts the story of how psychic, Dennis McKenzie
told him and his wife that the two missing girls were in fact already
dead. I feel I need to make clear that I can’t blame anyone
who finds themselves is this terrifying position from desperately
trying anything that might help find their daughter. Even as a father
with daughter’s of my own I don’t think I can truly
appreciate the emotions felt by the parents of these two young girls.
I would like to comment on the ‘psychic’ aspect to this
case. I should also point out that I have not yet read the full
account given in the book, only what has been quoted on the Internet.
Details of the story can be found here.
At the time of writing I am also uncertain about how soon after
the girls disappearance this reading took
any psychic can feel enough confidence in their powers to tell the
parents of a missing child that she is dead is beyond my comprehension.
The fact that this turned out to be true does not diminish my abhorrence.
But let’s look at some of the statements given by this psychic.
are three people involved, two men and one woman.” I
humbly suggest this is wrong. There was only one person actually
involved in the murder, Ian Huntley. However this is where an ambiguous
vocabulary can help. What is meant by “involved”? Maxine
Carr is an obvious candidate for being “involved” but
she took no part in the murder of Holly and Jessica. Her crime was
to give Huntley a false alibi but even this had no material outcome
on the fate of the two children. But what about this other man?
Do we conveniently forget him?
man is dark-haired and looks to be in his thirties”.
Huntley was 29 and “dark- haired”. A hit? McKenzie continues, “The second man is much older.” Whether there
is a second man somehow “involved” I don’t know
but this would certainly be stretching the meaning of ‘involvement’.
The woman is described as having, “mouse-like features
and looks quite young.” Many would readily apply this
to Maxine Carr, and with some justification, but again let me emphasise
this depends whether you regard her as being “involved”.
It also depends on how you interpret “quite young”.
15 is quite young but what about Carr's age of 26? The term is relative
not absolute. Even so I accept many would say this matches Carr
but even if we allow this we still have an extra non-existent person
and not much in the way of a description for the other two. Had
the murder been commited by a man of 60 along with his son aged
35 and his young wife of 18 this too would have been regarded as
are not from this area. They have northern accents and possibly
come from York or Manchester.” Well Huntley had come
from the Humberside area which is certainly north but it’s
a long way from Manchester (approximately 115 miles). York is nearer
to Humberside being only around 60 miles away but is this actually
a hit? I can see how it might be accepted as such but again there
is a certain vagueness about the original statement “They
are not from this area”. True they didn’t originate
in Soham but they did live there. Had this been someone who was
just passing through Soham, it would have probably sounded even
is a red car involved…” Huntley’s car was
red but once more we have “involved”.
letter ‘J’ was of significance.” Huntley’s
car number plate had a ‘J’ in it. This seems like shoe-horning
a fact to fit an otherwise vague statement. Had Huntley got a ‘J’
somewhere in his name this would be hailed as even more evidence
of a psychic gift. As it is I’d say it was pretty weak. Similarly
the letters “C” and “O” were deemed to have "importance" but the best that can be found is
that Huntley’s house was in “College
Close”. Again the name 'Ian
Kevin Huntley' doesn’t fit. Three letters offered and not
one is contained in the killer’s name.
course we can’t be exactly sure what was said, unless there
is a tape recording of the reading. With the enormous strain the
family was under it would not be surprising if some of the facts
were misunderstood or eventually reinterpreted. What other things
might McKenzie have said that turned out to have no bearing on the
case at all? I doubt that we’ll ever know, but what disturbs
me most is that while so much of this information seems ambiguous
McKenzie felt entitled to tell two distraught parents that their
daughter was definitely dead.
Just to test this misplaced confidence a little further I did a
web search which revealed another case involving Dennis McKenzie’s
psychic gift. The case of the serial killer known as the ‘BTK
Strangler’. This was an unsolved case spanning 30 years (see here)
and in September 2004 McKenzie was taken to Wichita by Firecracker
Films where he was escorted around various crime scenes.
suggested, “He is an ordinary person. He would be just
an ordinary, nice guy. At least he’s a nice guy 95 percent
of the time.” This doesn’t exactly narrow things
down does it? And I’d be willing to bet that someone who commits
murders over a 30 year span doesn’t stick out like a sore
thumb. McKenzie also says, "I felt he's either a maintenance
man or a plumber, that kind of profession, and I'm almost certain
that he works for himself.” With the help of an artist
McKenzie left the Wichita police with three sketches.
1st March 2005, Dennis L. Rader, 60, of Park City, Wichita, was
arrested and charged with the 10 ‘BTK’ (Bind, Torture
and Kill) killings (see here).
The case has yet to come to trial but McKenzie’s contribution
is starting to look shaky.
he was seen by many as a ‘nice guy’ but by no means
everyone. He was not a plumber or maintenance man and he didn’t
work for himself. He was a ‘Compliance Supervisor’ (in
charge of animal control, nuisances and inoperable vehicles). And
if we compare Rader’s picture with the three sketches….
Well what do you think?
thanks to http://www.livejournal.com/users/ukskeptic/
which mentioned the story about McKenzie and the Soham murders.
Yes I realise Shirley Ghostman is funny but I don’t think
we should run away with the idea that this is a pro-skeptic/anti-medium
show. Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t. It is, first
and foremost, comedy. I wish Shirley aka Marc Wootton well.
bullying, gay bashing, evangelist organisation run by Stephen Green ‘Christian Voice’ (see: Ignorant
bigots) has inspired another website ‘Anti-Christian
Voice’. One link will even lead you to 'Dress
up Jesus' fridge magnets. See if religion is shoved down our
throats it just makes people angry. Like bees, if religionists would
just leave the rest of us alone then we'll leave them alone.
yet again to The
View at Number Eighty for bringing this to my attention.
the Cursing Stone has thankfully won a reprieve.
Carlisle City Council is upset at a piece of local artwork called
the ‘Cursing Stone’ which was originally commissioned
to mark the millennium. The sculpture created by artist Gordon Young
is cited as being the cause of a run of bad luck which includes
floods, foot and mouth disease, job losses and the recent lack of
wins for the football team.
Cumberland News Liberal Democrat councillor Jim Tootle wants
the stone to be destroyed and has actually tabled a motion blaming
the stone for the city’s woes. The motion says,
groups and individuals warned the council that placing a non-Christian
artefact, based on an old curse on local families, would bring ill
No mention cattle and football teams?
Gordon Young describes this as “ignorant superstition”,
and I think most of us would agree.
It is truly amazing that even today people look
for something supernatural to blame for their ills instead of facing
reality but at least local witches might appreciate the change of
scapegoat. As if anything as inanimate as a stone could influence
the outcome of a football match, cause flooding and bring about
bovine disease. I’m sorry but you have to be particularly
stupid to think so.
article also mentions that some evangelical Christians moaned about
it from the start. Maybe Christian Voice can send up a few protestors?
At least that’s better than bullying cancer charities.
what did I tell you – the dark ages are making a comeback!
Any ducking stools on eBay?
non Christian artifact
I have resurrected the webpage (with some slight updating) that
I removed last December explaining my own connection with the programme “High Spirits” being shown on BBC Three. I’ve
also been reading some of the comments posted on the web about “Shirley”.
Some sceptics seem delighted, at least with the first instalment
and I’d be lying if I said didn’t laugh myself. But
while some of the lines are very humorous others just plain infantile,
the ‘bumology’ scene being a case in point. The idea
of telling someone’s fortune from their rear end is already
laughable and Wootton’s ‘Ian Jackson’ character
didn’t really bring this out. The focus seemed to be on making
the woman herself, rather than what she does, the butt of his jokes
misgivings (and I accept I have a vested interest here) are that
virtually everything in this show could have been done without having
to pretend ‘Ghostman’ was real. If the target was celebrity
mediums (as I was told by someone from Tiger Aspect) then the same
job could have been done just using actors. Instead the show seems
to be aimed at making everyone look complete fools regardless of
how sincerely held their views are. I understood the BBC had guidelines
when filming members of the public for TV. Hmmm. I’ll withhold
judgement until I’ve seen more but the humour made me feel
a little uncomfortable at times, particularly as I assume that those
taking part were deliberately misled.
to Shirley Ghostman page
I really though this subject was dead in the water and everyone
had moved on and started to chat to the dead rather than hobnobbing
with aliens. Seemingly not, as the annual UFO
Congress taking place in Navada as I write (MUFON).
Obviously a few brave souls continue to be enthralled by the prospect
of yet more mysterious lights, more harrowing abduction stories
and even more eyewitness testimony from really honest, salt of
the earth people. They still think the proof is just around the
corner. Oh boy just you wait and see! Well we’re waiting
all right but hard evidence remains as elusive as unicorn droppings.
It’s time to mufon, get it ‘move on’, mufon?
Oh please yourselves (Frankie Howerd voice helps here).
By the way
the picture on the right was taken by me. The ‘UFO’ was made using a serving plate with a wok stand on top.
well I should be discussing this very subject on the Richard
Bacon Show (BBC Radio Five Live) at 00:30 Monday morning (or
half past midnight Sunday night if you prefer).