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…