Where's the IT angle?
Yes, we al love Derren ...
Ofcom has ruled that the psychic at the centre of an episode of Derren Brown Investigates was treated fairly. The show, which was broadcast by Channel 4 in May, centred on Joe Power, a Liverpool psychic who claimed he could talk to the dead. Power claimed that he didn't know the show, which featured Derren Brown following him …
1) Even the dead are unable to fathom the processes of Ofcom.
2) Being dead doesn't make you any more all-seeing and prescient than you were when you were alive, but it does make you much better at bullshitting the living.
3) It's all cobblers and being dead means you can't talk to anyone, psychic or not.
I *really* like (2) here, as an eternity of winding people up sounds like oodles of fun to me, but I suspect that I am to be disappointed and that (3) is actually correct.
I'd also like to point out that genuine psychics are very easy to spot. They're the ones who have used the proceeds of their several double-rollover Euromillions wins to retire to a private island in the Caribbean and not the ones scrounging an appearance fee off Channel 4 to make ends meet. I believe that the number of such thus qualifying remains, as it always has been, at sod-all.
I haven't seen this particular episode but I applaud the outcome. Fake psychics who prey on the people's grief to make money are despicable. I've sometimes wondered why do they do it. I mean is it the money and the appraisal of being something better than the others? These cold readers seem to completely disregard the feelings of another person when they talk their lies. Maybe they are sociopaths who just simply don't give a damn about other people, who they just use to get money and possibly fame.
I have no idea whether there are real psychics. At the moment I don't believe in them. In a way I'd like to believe that some people have special powers, but when you scratch the surface of the current batch of celebrity psychics you pretty easily find that they are just bullshitters. It was hilarious when Allison DuBois (tv-show Medium's Patricia Arquette character is "based" on her) lost her cool in the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (yeah, I don't watch it but that's why there's Youtube for clips). Her real colours came out and showed what a heartless person she really seems to be.
Between finance and Woo clans I'm thinking the we in the UK need to take an in-depth rethink as to the framing and scope of our fraud laws.
If a flim-flam man abused the memories and the love of any of my relatives by claiming they speak for the deceased in order to profit... well ...sometimes I can't shit fast enough before the skittery bastards are out of range and undercover.
Calling out these pretend psychic frauds who play on people's sadness and vulnerability is important, there are far too many people who fall for their rubbish and part with their (maybe limited) cash to someone who is outright conning them.
It amazes me how being paid for "psychic services" is not treated as fraud by society at large and in particular the police, I haven't seen a shred of credible evidence any of these people can really talk to the 'dead spirits', thus they are misrepresenting the truth in order to make financial gain - virtually a dictionary definition of fraud.
To the people who seem to read this site just for the IT angle, here is a way to deal with stories that may not have an IT angle...
Once you realise that it is a non-IT story, STOP READING IT, and stop posting the same old lame comments about "Where's the IT angle?"
"really showed up this "psychic" as a scam artist"
I'm not sure I'd put it like that. I'd say it wasn't the show that showed him up, but the guy himself. That was part of the beauty of the whole series.
Consider this: he made similar observations with both the medium and the taped voices guy, and every difference in the two episodes was instigated by the comportment of the subject of the episode. The medium tried to get one up on Brown at every turn, and was smug about it. He initiated all confrontation up until the final revelation on the neighbour. Meanwhile the tapes guy was genuinely cooperative and enthusiastic about trying to demonstrate his craft to a willing sceptic. There was no confrontation.
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If Psychics don't exist, and the dead don't talk to the living, how did Derren Brown know what the lottery numbers were going to be?
Maybe the program was a sham, and Joe Power could get his own back on Derren by doing an investigation.
On the subject of Derren Brown investigates, please could he do Homeopaths and Astrologers next? (appologies if he already has, don't watch it)
Because if that were to happen then the whole tenuous deck of cards supporting organised religion would have to fall as well. And there are far to many vested interests to allow that to happen.
Just for the record though - in this case, what would you deem as "credible evidence?"
You'd at least have to sit the psychic with a string of proven total strangers (ideally from the other side of the world), a screen between them, have some of the people lie to the psychic and agree when they are wrong - a real psychic should of course know who the bullcrappers were, a fake psychic would just keep "reading" them - or something along those lines.
I'm not a scientist, but I can understand what people with better knowledge than me tell me, and time and time again people like Derren Brown convincingly demonstrate these "psychics" are frauds, and show how the con is done.
Brown provided evidence that this guy lied to him.
Even if the idea of a god/gods was demonstrably false (rather than simply not being supported by current evidence*) then you would still have to prove that the hierarchy of organised religions don't actually believe in their particular deity. I think you'll find that most do. As most ministers of religion in this part of the world are significantly worse-off financially than myself, I don't think they're in it for the money.
* Which is to say that I claim no authority to say it is either true or false. I, like everyone else, do not have that data.
The technique used by such people (and by Derren on stage) is called "cold reading", and there are various books on the topic. The best one (IMHO) is by Ian Rowland, who also teaches this in a course called "Applied Cold Reading" which I had the pleasure to attend - the best way to arm you against such people is to study the tools they use.
Best fun I ever had on a weekend course. From what I heard he's going to do smaller ones this year (one day versions) - I'm sure you'll find details on the web.
Yes, you do need a brain, but no, you don't need to be such a complete and brilliant master as Derren Brown. Take the course, and then keep practicing.
Another technique worth knowing about is micro expressions, something you can study online at Human Intelligence. It has not yet managed to get the tag "science" as more study is needed - I would thus suggest you take the series "Lie to me" which is written around that concept with a large dose of salt. But it's fun nevertheless (yes, done that one too).
When you die you leave your brain and body behind, it either gets buried or burned. So what are the dead meant to think with? If people survived after death, the afterlife would be exactly like this life. Society (ghost world) would be built by the same people who built this one. No body/spirit would have the time to chat to 'mediums'. they'd be too busy with their own lives. And if they could be bothered, I'm sure they would like to pass on more important things than 'they don't like the picture hanging in the hall'.
Well done Mr Brown.
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