Friday, February 09, 2007

Scepticism and the media

First post today is in response to this article in the Scotsman Newspaper.

I have just read this article in the newspaper and I must confess I am unlikely to give any further money to Scotsman Newspapers again until they agree to stop giving free publicity to scam artists and charlatans such as this man.

Let's look at this properly. Acorah has been caught faking predictions (as the article points out but "alledgedly" - he was caught on camera repeating a planted name!) but there are other accusations. Please see here for details:

He claims to be able to hear messages from where? The spirit world? Please explain the mechanism, where exactly is this world? Are all 'souls' there? How about children? babies? foetuses?...Why do they only ever give him the first letter of their name (or a very common name such as George Smith - I know two of them, no doubt get 20 people together and someone will know one)? Are they playing charades?

The world renounded US Magician James Randi would be happy to offer Derek Acorah (or any other medium with a public profile) $1m if they can demonstrate their claimed power under agreed conditions.

Acorah and others like him, such as Colin Fry or Sylvia Brown in the US, use the same cold reading techniques that magicians or scam artists have used for centuries Under the Fraudulent Mediums Act 1951 (How does one determine a real one?) I don't know why these people are not procescuted!

Please Scotsman, a little less deferential journalism. David Hume must be spinning in his grave (sorry - I'm getting a message from er, a man, name begins with er "D"- David, Daniel, Desmond, Dick, something...he's a little unhappy about our lack of critical thinking but Granny loves us and wants us to know she's in a happier place!)

You should investigate the claims of these people and ask them searching questions not just give them cheap publicity for their forthcoming shows (with suitable advertisments to be placed in Scotsman Publications media outlets no doubt). Did you mention the Randi challenge? What about Cold Reading techniques?

Sloppy journalism by Scotland's 'premier' paper.

1 comment:

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