I recently spoke with the president of the Spiritualists’ National Union (SNU), David Bruton, and he was quick to point out that what people like Sally Morgan, Derek Acorah and co. claim to do is not actually psychic ability but, in fact, mediumship.

“I understand there is great interest from the general public but Spiritualism concentrates on mediumship and offering evidence of survival not psychic readings which are simply the reader feeding the sitter information gleaned from themselves.” He continued “within Spiritualist Churches you will see a service which includes a demonstration of mediumship which is dependent upon a link with the Spirit world, the majority of people that work in our Churches are properly trained to fully understand their gift of mediumship. Over the years the SNU has moved on many occasions to expose fraud within the movement, true mediumship needs no trickery… true mediumship does not require grand theatres, technology or slight of hand or mind techniques it is simply making a link between the two worlds and sharing the message in love.”

Following on from the controversy surrounding recently released footage that shows Sally Morgan’s husband and tour manager, John Morgan, being homophobic and threatening a skeptic outside a Psychic Sally show, lots of people have been tarring all psychics with the same brush. I’ve seen comments like ‘they’re all con artists‘, ‘they all prey on the vulnerable’ and similar.

I don’t believe this to be true and, in fact, I know that there are people who claim to be psychic who are not intentionally misleading people, who genuinely believe the have an ability and want to use that ability to help others. People who claim to be psychic and people who believe in psychic phenomena have been quick to criticise skeptics for the generalisation of all psychics as similar to Sally Morgan, one Twitter user that I follow wrote ‘While the actions of ‘Psychic’ Sally’s people is despicable, can’t help but note some serious generalising happening from top skeptics’ and it is a fair point.

Yet these despicable incidents are not just a symptom of famous psychics who feel the pressure to keep up the act. This is a problem that runs through the whole psychic industry, from the unknown psychic operating from offices at home to those who sell out theatre tours.

If it isn’t Sally Morgan communicating with the ghost of a fictional character, it’s Rosa Marks being imprisoned for fraud, it’s Nina Knowland offering to heal sick children with her hands, it’s Ian Lawman using dead kids to gain some publicity, it’s Sylvia Browne lying about missing children time and time and time again, it’s Goldy admitting to hot reading for a television show, it’s Vickie Monroe delivering messages from murder victims to their murderer, it’s Joe Power calling skeptics paedophiles, it’s Joe Power failing to realise that Karen Matthews (whom he posed with) had kidnapped her own daughter, it’s Adrian Pengelly claiming to cure cancer and being exposed on BBCs Watchdog, it’s Olivia Evans stealing $400,000 from clients, it’s Nancy Marks stealing $300,000 from customers, it’s Derek Acorah pretending to communicate with the fictional ghost Kreed Kafer who name is an anagram of Derek Faker, it’s Colin Fry being caught holding a “levitating trumpet”, it’s Michael Ireland being charged for sexually assaulting his customers, it’s Paul Eckersley doing the same, oh and Graham Dare too and it is the thousands of self-proclaimed psychics and mediums who demand that people take them at their word about their abilities and refuse to undergo testing in controlled conditions.

I think it is completely outrageous that people would criticise someone like Mark Tilbrook for trying to raise awareness when they do nothing themselves because “people have the right to believe what they want.” As true as that may be, people also have a right to not be intentionally misled and ripped off and if you do nothing to tackle a problem within the community or industry you are a part of – and you criticise others who do – then perhaps you are contributing to the problem and perhaps now is time to contribute to a solution instead…

cat putting bag on head gif

A Public Advisory re: Black-Eyed Children

black eyed kids

Following on from its recent Front Page news items about the plague of black-eyed children ghosts into the UK The Daily Star have team together with the UK’s top Paranormal Experts to bring you an advisory of other similar warnings.

A list of things that are best to avoid are included below. Do not let these enter your homes for fear of some terror that nobody can actually define.

black eyed kids



black eyed cat


the black eyed dog


black eyed susan


black-eyed peas


the black eyed peas


other parents


A Critical Look At The Black Eyed Child Of Cannock’s Chase

The Daily Star

The Birmingham Mail broke the news and the Daily Star followed up with a front page story: The Black-Eyed child ghost has returned to Cannock’s Chase, taking up residence once again with the Hell Hounds, a Werewolf, a Pig-man (human-pig hybrid), Bigfoot, Alien Big Cats, Aliens, and the plethora of phantoms and ghosts said to roam the area.

…excessive, don’t you think?

Lee Brickley is the investigator at the centre of this story because of a report he received from a member of the public who sighted what has been described as a black-eyed child. The woman wrote to Brickley

‘… I turned round and saw a girl stood behind me, no more than 10 years old, with her hands over her eyes, like she was waiting for a birthday cake. I asked if she was okay and if she had been the one screaming, she then put her arms down by her side and opened her eyes, which is when I saw they were completely black, no iris, no white, nothing. I jumped back and grabbed my daughter, when I looked again, the child was gone.’

website screenprint one

The report of the sighting was received by Brickley prior to July 17th 2013. Why the current coverage of it is appearing over a year later I don’t know. I’m sure it’s nothing to do with Halloween being around the corner and having a book about the weird side of Cannock’s Chase to sell. I’m sure that’s purely a coincidence.

The image at the top of the report on Brickley’s website reads ‘I Want Your Soul’ accompanied by an eerie picture of a little girl with black eyes and there is no critical evaluation of what he has been told. For me, this is an indication of just how seriously we should take Brickley as an investigator. In the ten-or-so years that I’ve been researching paranormal sightings I have come into contact with many people who somehow blur the line between fiction and reality and allow what they see in horror storeis to come off of the page and influence what conclusions they find in real life. It’s hearing cats fighting and claiming “it’s Pipes the poltergeist” when it’s just cats, it’s receiving word of a sighting of this nature and claiming “they’re heeeee-re” when they’re not…

The acceptance of one eye-witness testimony as evidence of something paranormal is another indicator of just how seriously we should take Brickley as an investigator. Eye-witness testimony counts for nothing when it comes to alleged paranormal activity. As a paranormal researcher myself I turn down case after case because there isn’t enough to go on – just word of mouth.

In the case of the Black-eyed child ghost there is the testimony from just one person and who knows what may have happened there. The most obvious explanation for what they reported is that they’re making it up, but it would be unfair of me to say that was definitely what happened here. If this case had been reported to me I would have chalked it up as interesting and would have left it at that. We could speculate until the cows come home, but there’s little point because there’s hardly anything to go on…

…that didn’t stop Brickley though, and I’m not surprised. I reviewed his book when it first came out after he sent me a request asking that I do so and I found it a bitterly disappointing read. In the review that I wrote I noted that ‘as soon as I began to read the book any excitement I’d held before turned into slight disappointment because throughout, the quality of the book is often let down by Brickley’s biased narrative and irrational leaps of logic.’

The leaps of logic in the book are infuriating and so I wasn’t surprised to discover Brickley once again waving around an eye-witness report as evidence that Cannock’s Chase is paranormally interesting. I am disappointed though, especially considering the fact that The Daily Star have tried to link up this eye-witness account with the murders of three children in the area that took place in the 1960’s.

The paper shows photos of the murdered children
The Daily Star

Their report states

‘In the late 1960’s, the remains of three young girls were found buried in woodland at Cannock Chase. Motor engineer Raymond Leslie Morris was found guilty of murdering Christina Ann Darby, seven, in 1969 and jailed for life. There was not enough evidence to convict him of the murder of Margaret Reynolds, six, and Diana Joy Tift, five.’

I like a good ghost story as much as the next person, but casually linking a sighting of this nature with the murders of children is crossing a line. It needlessly exploits a tragedy for the sake of making a story spookier and it creates the narrative that the souls of these children are not at rest which can be very distressing for surviving relates.

If anyone who knew the children that were killed should somehow discover this blog post I want to assure you that there is no good evidence that the supposed child ghost reported to Lee Brickley in the Cannock’s Chase area is anything to do with the girls. It is very unlikely that their spirits are wandering the area screaming, and I am sorry that people have suggested so. If you want to discuss this you can contact me and I am more than happy to talk.

There is little doubt that this news coverage will shift some books and attract legend-trippers to the Cannock’s Chase area, and good for them I say. Yet, there’s a tackiness about the stories that come out of the area that reek of a desperation to stay interesting. “Experts Baffled” cried the Daily Star, but I’m not quite sure they understand who qualifies as an expert in this subject. Perhaps if they’d actually read Brickley’s book they’d have reconsidered going to print?

Let’s Get People To QEDcon. Again.


Another QEDcon approaches and tickets have gone on sale so I guess it’s that time again. Let’s rally together and buy conference tickets for those who can’t afford them! We’ve done it for *counts on fingers* lots of times now. Yeah…lots of times! (I have genuinely forgotten how many times I’ve done this. I think it is three?)

I know it seems cheeky to ask for donations just as tickets go on sale, but don’t feel pressured to give if you cannot afford to.


Since 2011 I have begged people to give me their money so that I can get people on a low income to the fantabulous QEDcon which is held annually in Manchester.


Why not? The folks who create and organise QEDcon work hard to keep their ticket prices below £100 which is incredible. That’s for the two days of interesting talks AND the comedy and entertainment on the Saturday evening. Yet, even though they keep the price as low as possible some people cannot afford the ticket AND accommodation AND food… so I think it’s a really nice way to help people attend.

In a nutshell? I don’t think your income should stop you from accessing educational talks, socialising with people who are a lot like you, and meeting your heroes. In fact, the first time I did a ‘Get People To QEDcon’ fundraiser it was so that my friend Bob could meet his hero who was flying from the USA to speak in Manchester. Not being able to afford a ticket should not be a barrier to stop that from happening.


Hell yes it works. Through the generosity of other people I ended up buying fifteen people tickets to QEDcon 2014 and just shy of that the year before.


Donate some cash! Every bit will help. Click the button below to go to my Paypal account and make a donation. I will close donations on October 20th and then open applications for the tickets to those who want to go to QEDcon but cannot afford it.


Click here to find out more.

Should You Try Ghost Hunting Methods Before You Dismiss Them?

you stop that

It is explained to me time and time again that I don’t think something is true simply because I haven’t tried it or because I lack experience in that certain subject. If I just tried these things, people explain, then I’d have a completely different opinion about it. Whether the it in question is Electronic Voice Phenomena, Psychic abilities, the latest ghost hunting gadget or any such thing that I have written sceptically about at some point, people are quick to point out in the comments ‘Hey, why don’t you just, like, try it!’

The truth is that I’ve been actively involved in ghost research since 2005 and was a keen observer of ghost research long before that. I have done the vigils in the dark, I have sat in seances, tried glass divination, table tipping, dowsing, scrying, automatic writing and more. I have attempted to record Electronic Voice Phenomena, tried my hand at Instrumental Trans-Communication, set up Trigger Object experiments, called out, attempted ghost photography and all manner of other methods of capturing evidence of ghosts… and at one time in my life I believed that all of those things could be true.

Then I stopped believing. I realised that those methods did not make sense and that the conclusions reached using those methods were flawed and, more often than not, giant leaps of logic.

Despite all of the experiences I’ve outlined above- the very experiences that people in the comment section of my blog insist will change my mind -I still do not believe that those things provide evidence of ghosts or the survival of the soul. I do not believe that they are good research methods because the evidence does not support that claim.

Here’s the real kicker though… even if I hadn’t tried all of those things it would still be okay for me to not accept that those methods prove ghosts are real because the evidence that supports such claims relies on flawed reasoning, leaps of logic and misrepresentation of actual science and research. You don’t have to try ghost hunting first hand to examine the claims and find them wanting, and to suggest that your personal experience is somehow more reliable than the reasoned processing of such claims against known facts is kind of arrogant.

Having research experience is all well and good but it doesn’t make you an expert and it doesn’t put you and your claims above being questioned or doubted and, to be completely honest, if your expertise is pseudo-scientific ghost hunting techniques then I don’t really think you have the grounds to demand that people try out your methodology before dismissing it. Awkward…