Today the ‘Strange Quarks’ podcast released an episode in which Project Barnum was discussed and criticised. I wanted to address the points raised in the podcast.
1 – Simon Singh doesn’t lead Project Barnum as claimed in the podcast by Martin Robbins. I do.
Simon helped to form the idea of the petition, but everything else has been me with the help of people like Tannice Pendegrass, Keir Lidde, Simon Clare and a few others. That is all over the Project Barnum website and isn’t hard to find…
2 – Deobrah Hyde split Project Barnum (PB) into two ‘halves’. One half being where PB aims to spread information and inform people on how one might be tricked and how con artists use certain tricks to appear psychic which helps people make their own choices. The other half being where we “try and influence theatre overheads to a degree where they would not put on shows” which she thinks is aiming at “the distribution of a certain world view.”
The petition was a small part of what PB is about and not ‘half’ of what we do. The petition was asking theatres to reconsider hosting shows that are, by their very nature, misleading and upsetting to many. It wasn’t trying to censor people, it was simply asking “is this appropriate?”
The petition led to us being able to understand the extent to which theatres use ‘entertainment only’ disclaimers which, after a little research on our part, we have been able to advise people don’t mean very much at all (e.g. just because a psychic claims to be for entertainment purposes only doesn’t mean you can’t ask for your money back if you think you’ve been misled by them – learn more here.)
No psychic shows were cancelled, and we didn’t think they would be, we were really using that petition to demonstrate how strongly people felt about the subject, and also to discover the extent to which theatres hide behind useless, misleading ‘entertainment purposes’ disclaimers.
3 – Martin Robbins says he has a problem with the way in which the term “fraud” has been banded around. I don’t know if this was in regard to PB, or whether it was a general observation – but I will just point out that PB has always clearly stated on the website and elsewhere that we’re not interested in accusing people of fraud or cheating -we’re interested in helping people work out for themselves if they’re being misled or not.
PB has never used the term ‘fraud’ in relation to anyone. We list some examples on the site of mediums and psychics who have been documented as cheating in certain examples (with evidence to back those examples up), or accused of cheating in case of Sally Morgan.
It is concerning that basic information about Project Barnum, that is easily accessible, was not researched before the episode was aired.