Thursday, 27 June 2013

Psychic Sally wins Lawsuit

Skeptics keep telling us that they are the absolute epitome of logic and reason and they, more than anybody else, know exactly how to apply evidence correctly. I’ve said many times before that the Skeptic Movement’s self-definition is not so much a description as a slogan, see: http://hpanwo-radio.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/programme-5-podcast-skeptics.html. Case in point: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-22988215. A few months ago suspicions were first raised that the famous stage and TV medium “Psychic Sally” Morgan was cheating. The method she was using was identical to the one used by the former Christian tele-evangelist Peter Popoff at his “miraculous healing” sessions; he had on a spy radio earpiece and somebody backstage with some notes and a microphone was secretly telling him details about the people in his congregation as he performed in front of them. Popoff was caught red-handed when James Randi brought in a radio scanner which intercepted their communication, see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7BQKu0YP8Y. In September 2011 the very same accusation was laid against Sally Morgan when she did a show in Dublin, Ireland and some people called the local TV station to complain that they heard a voice from the theatre control room predicting the supposedly psychic readings Sally was giving. This hearsay was then instantly rebranded as “fact” by those who see themselves as the ultimate adjudicators of what fact is; it resulted in The Daily Mail being sued after the Skeptic magician Paul Zenon wrote an article accusing her of pulling a Popoff. Sally won a richly-deserved £125,000 in damages from the newspaper. This story was covered somewhat more cautiously at the time on Trystan Swale’s now defunct Skeptic radio show Righteous Indignation, see here for a cache of the shows (Sorry, I can’t recall which show it was; if I find out I’ll edit this article): http://hayleyisaghost.co.uk/righteous-indignation-back-catalogue/. I left a comment on the show’s webpage suggesting that somebody with a radio scanner should be employed to do to Sally what James Randi did to Popoff… I also warned against jumping to hasty conclusions; sadly it seemed that I “out-Skepticked” the Skeptics. To be frank, if I had my own radio scanner I’d have been happy to lend it to somebody and help them catch her out myself; and if she was indeed using a “hot reading” radio set, she should be arrested, banned and disgraced as Popoff was. But I was surprised at the eagerness of the Skeptics to denounce her without even attempting to gain such direct evidence of her misdeeds. Not only that, but Sally reports that she was sent death threats and other abuse; this I can well believe because it’s happened before, see: http://hpanwo-voice.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/skeptics-troll-their-own.html. I’ve heard Skeptics try to mitigate their blunder over Sally Morgan with terms like “balance of probabilities”, “Occam’s Razor” and “Which is more likely, that she’s got a radio set on or she’s talking to the dead?” Leaving aside the logical fallacies in these statements which I cover in the HPANWO Radio show linked above, you simply can’t take that sort of thing to court! I know how strongly Skeptics feel about Sally and how much they suspect her of perpetrating fake psychic powers, but they just need to get a grip on themselves. Remember, the plural of strong feelings does not equal data! And ordinary claims require ordinary explanations!  

4 comments:

Steve Trueblue said...

Lovely article Ben, its going under my Sally video. Skeptics only have vigour to abuse and defame people.I'd like to see her alleged thing, duplicated by skeptics using a radio earpiece. Its not as simple as it would seem. Getting all that info together then putting it down the radio link a the right time. Can you really look up Facebook and get useful stuff very quickly? I am SKEPTICAL How good a show could skeptics put on? Could theyattract full houses? Could the skeps find a new career making a fortune ? They could follow Sally and duplicate everything she does couldnt they? Ruin her career. Why haven't they ?

Ben Emlyn-Jones said...

Cheers, Steve. Good question. Richard Wiseman says in his book that he knows a medium who is very successful and a complete fake, but of course he won't say who it is!

Paul Obertelli said...

I don't trust her as far as i could throw her and see no reason for those women to phone up on Irish radio to explain what she had done, it also does not mean she uses a head piece for every session, just the ones she would like to be "spectacular".. I have always been skeptical of how these people "Perform" on a stage like this and never seem to have an "off night" ... I don't feel that such energies go hand in hand with live entertainment.. Not that I do not believe in the spirit world and the capabilities of interacting with it.

Ben Emlyn-Jones said...

Maybe you're right, Paul, maybe wrong. But the important thing is to get proof of what she's doing. These people accused without proof.