Update: In the original version of this post, I wrote that ‘[a]fter receiving a stern letter from his solicitor a number of years ago for my criticism of Acorah, I knew there was a chance my name would be noticed on the guest list’. This was incorrect. I actually received a legal threat via email from a Celeb agent on Acorah’s behalf which can be seen by clicking here.
When I discovered that Derek Acorah was taking to the stage in the town of Trowbridge as part of his 2018 Love Life Laughter Tour, I knew I had to attend. Not because I’m impressed with Acorah’s psychic abilities, but because I’ve always wanted to see him at work in person.
I don’t believe people have psychic abilities but I’m willing to have my mind changed. I think that the majority of people who say they’re psychic genuinely believe that. Then, on the other hand, are the celebrity psychics. It’s not fair to lump them all in together, but I’ve never been convinced of their claims and I believe that if you’re making a decent career out of making such claims, you should provide evidence of your so-called abilities. However, famous psychics like Derek Acorah and Sally Morgan refuse to do so.
Now, the problem I faced was that Derek Acorah and his team know who I am. A̶f̶t̶e̶r̶ ̶r̶e̶c̶e̶i̶v̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶a̶ ̶s̶t̶e̶r̶n̶ ̶l̶e̶t̶t̶e̶r̶ ̶f̶r̶o̶m̶ ̶h̶i̶s̶ ̶s̶o̶l̶i̶c̶i̶t̶o̶r̶ ̶a̶ ̶n̶u̶m̶b̶e̶r̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶y̶e̶a̶r̶s̶ ̶a̶g̶o̶ ̶f̶o̶r̶ ̶m̶y̶ ̶c̶r̶i̶t̶i̶c̶i̶s̶m̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶A̶c̶o̶r̶a̶h̶,̶ [please see update at the top of this post 🙂 ] I knew there was a chance my name would be noticed on the guest list. So I cracked out one of my alter-egos (which makes me sound more awesome than I actually am), paid my £19, and printed off my ticket.
After what I saw last night, I think it’s a good thing that my real name wasn’t listed on the guest list…
Last night, I sat in the half-empty Civic Centre hall in Trowbridge. There were approx. 300 seats laid out in the front half of the hall, but a good number of these were empty. Those that had been sold were occupied by mainly women, and mainly older women at that.
I thought perhaps I would end up writing a long review of the show here which picked apart all of the readings that Derek did during the evening. However, to be honest, it was such a boring show that I don’t think it would make for very interesting reading at all.
The one thing that did strike me early on was how Derek was coming off of the stage and walking up to people in the audience to give them their readings. At first glance, it might have seemed as though spirits were directing him in a very precise manner. Or… was it that he knew where certain people would be sitting?
I have no evidence to back up my suspicions, but I personally believe that Acorah knew who would be sitting where, and had obtained information about them in advance. This is a technique referred to as Hot Reading.
Hot Reading: ‘the reader uses information about the person receiving the reading (for example, from background research or overhearing a conversation) which the receiver is not aware that the reader already knows.’ (Wikipedia)
I think this would also explain why his psychic readings were so mundane. He told one woman that she wasn’t happy with a duvet she had recently purchased and that her kettle was on the blink and that the spirits were saying she should go to Argos. He told another woman to seriously consider going to a solicitor, and another woman was told how she doesn’t like taking her tablets.
Insight from the other side or something someone might post on their Twitter or Facebook account?
During one reading, Acorah seemed to pick up on the fact that two women were going to Egypt on holiday in November. Again, this was either very impressive psychic insight… or again a product of pre-obtained information?
The entire show was pretty mundane. At least three people walked out during the second half. At one point, Acorah even told someone they had a mole on their knee, which is cold reading 101.
Cold Reading: commonly employ high-probability guesses, quickly picking up on signals as to whether their guesses are in the right direction or not, then emphasizing and reinforcing chance connections and quickly moving on from missed guesses. Psychologists believe that this appears to work because of the Forer effect and due to confirmation biases within people. (Wikipedia)
There was one moment that I felt was pretty tasteless which involved Derek making a beeline for a woman sitting further along my row. Derek announced to us all that she’d had a miscarriage which I felt was pretty insensitive of him. Traditionally in psychic stage shows, you put your hand up if you think the reading is for you, and only if you want to claim it. This woman wasn’t afforded that chance. She was then told that her baby was being looked after now by an Angel of Mercy – apparently, a sort of spirit nanny -and that the baby, now grown, was always around her at home. Acorah delivered lots of well-meaning and thoughtful platitudes… and then misgendered the dead baby.
Words fail me a bit at this. As I watched this unfolding I saw a lot of heads shaking in disapproval in the audience around me. There’s a 50/50 chance of guessing the correct gender of a dead person. We’re supposed to believe that your spirit guide is so precise as to take you directly to the woman that your message is for, but can’t tell you the correct gender of the baby involved? Hmm. Seems rather fishy to me.
It seemed to me that people at the show were largely hopeful that they would receive a message and that when they did, they were given lots of nice sounding, thoughtful platitudes jumbled together with snippets of information that were supposed to impress. It was unimpressive and rather boring for anyone not receiving a reading. Perhaps this explains the low turnout for the show? Not so long ago, people like Derek Acorah, Sally Morgan and the late Colin Fry would be filling large theatres in the big cities as they toured around the country.
Now, these once-famous psychics (who seem to use the Big Brother house as a booster for their flagging careers) are touring in smaller venues in small towns instead. Maybe this is because people have realised that they have more chance of having a reading if they use local psychics in a one-to-one capacity? Or if they attend their local spiritualist church? Or if they use online psychic services? I think this is the case and my suspicions were bolstered last night when I witnessed the ghost of Derek Acorah’s career.