What can we learn from Derek Acorah?

The Sun newspaper reported today that self-proclaimed psychic, Derek Acorah, had said that missing child Madeline McCann was dead. The newspaper quoted Acorah as saying:

I know her parents are convinced Maddie is alive and I’m really sorry – but the little one has been over in the spirit world for some time. I don’t think she’ll be there long before she reincarnates. When children pass over who haven’t had full lives I believe they choose the time to come back in the same form again — as another little girl.

Derek was quick to point out that he had been misquoted by the newspaper and had never said the things written in the article. He told the Liverpool Echo:

“This chap came on the phone to do an interview for a feature about the tour I’m doing in Ireland. He asked a lot of questions about my belief in reincarnation – he has put things together by association. “I have been stitched up by a paper run by Rupert Murdoch.”

Mr Acorah claimed he told The Sun’s reporter he “hoped and believed” that Madeleine, who vanished while on holiday with her family in Portugal in May 2007, “could still be alive”.

He added: “I have to be a very sensitive person in my job. The last thing I would do is force my opinions on people. And Kate McCann is from our neck of the woods –  I wouldn’t say these things.”

It wouldn’t be the first time that a newspaper have put words into the mouth of the person they’re interviewing. I’ve certainly experienced such practice on a number of occasions when it comes to news stories about ghosts and paranormal research.

I think that anybody claiming to know psychically whether or not any missing person is alive is being distasteful and insensitive in doing so. Whether they believe that they are psychic or not, they must realise that the majority of people wouldn’t agree with such ideas (that have no evidential basis to them) being shared on such a public platform.

Not only do they have no evidence to back up their claims, they’re potentially wasting police time and also providing false hope to the relatives and friends of that person.

So I was quite surprised when Derek Acorah claimed on Twitter “I totally refute the article that had appeared in a newspaper today. I am not so sad that I have to cash in on somebody else’s misery!”

 A psychic such as Derek Acorah cashes in on other peoples misery every time he takes to the stage and claims he can talk to peoples dead relatives without providing one piece of evidence for those who doubt him. Time and time again psychics such as Derek Acorah are caught out or shown to be not gaining their results through the paranormal means they claim. Derek himself was caught faking a possesion by a South African jailer called Kreed Kafer who had never existed and whose name was actually an anagram of ‘Derek Faker’.

When such cheap tricks are used by people like Derek Acorah, Sally Morgan, Colin Fry, Peter Popoff and more, and they take to the stage and continue to claim they’re talking to the deceased through paranormal abilities they should understand that what they’re doing is gaining them a profit directly from the grief of those sitting in their audiences crying. The fact that Derek Acorah didn’t see the parallel when he tweeted this morning was stunning.

I’ve raised this argument before with psychics that I used to work with while conducting paranormal investigations, and was often told that the same could be said of grief councillors – however those who council the bereaved are trained and qualified to do what they do. There are standards of practice they must meet, and nothing alike what a psychic does on stage.

People have been outraged at Acorah for what he has said – me included at first, yet the more I thought about this situation, the more I realised that there are bigger issues being demonstrated here that we are missing.

As I watched the buzz around this story grow I realised why it is that people very rarely turn their backs on the psychics they trust in.

This morning as Derek Acorah was trending on Twitter, being spoken about on ‘This Morning’, on the radio and in various other newspapers his Facebook Fan page was buzzing with support from those who believe he genuinely has psychic ability. I rarely log in to the Project Barnum Twitter account, but I did out of curiosity and had numerous conversations with Tweeters about why people are so “stupid” to think someone like Acorah is really psychic.

I watched that sentiment unfold on the ‘Derek Acorah’ hashtag, I watched a man on the television blame Acorah fans for continuing to fund the man which allows him to maintain a platform from which to speak, and I watched as his fans flocked around him on Facebook, and it was clear to see that the readings that Derek Acorah provides to people in his audiences comfort them. I know that comfort – I used to be a ghost hunter who found ghosts wherever I wanted to. I also know that whenever people are on the television or radio talking about how your belief is nonsense you don’t listen to them, you go running to the websites and forums where like-minded people will tell you that you are right and the doubters are wrong.

I’ve said before, and I’ll say again that people don’t have to want to make a change – it’s not fair to hold people to your own standards and I wont ever do that.

However you shouldn’t be surprised if people don’t agree with you if all you are willing to do is tell them they’re stupid for believing in ‘x’ and it’s their fault that other people fall for ‘x’.

If you want to make people see psychic tricksters for what they are you can’t wait for the psychics to trip up and out themselves as tricksters because it doesn’t always happen. We can’t walk around insisting that psychics like Acorah aren’t genuine and are fraudsters because we know they’ll try to sue us and it just pushes the vulnerable closer to the psychics, so I figure that the best thing to do is to promote the tricks the psychics use at every opportunity we get, and to make it near impossible for the psychics to use those tricks without getting caught. 

I hope that Derek Acorah will demand a retraction from The Sun newspaper if they genuinely misquoted him, and I hope he didn’t say those things about a missing child to a national newspaper. I don’t know if Derek Acorah is psychic or not, but all things considered I personally think it’s rather unlikely. I hope that as a result of Acorah’s bad press today, any other psychic thinking of forcing upon the general public their opinion regarding a missing person, will think twice before doing so.

I genuinely hope that people who are suckered in by the cheap tricks that Acorah and his ilk display will one day find it within themselves to think twice about what it is they believe. I know it’s possible because I changed my mind, and since launching Project Barnum I have had emails from people who have read the information on the Project Barnum website, gone to a psychic show, and realised exactly what is happening up on stage in front of them.

About Hayley Stevens 442 Articles
Hayley is a ghost geek and started to blog in 2007. She uses scientific scepticism to investigate weird stuff and writes about it here while also speaking publicly about how to hunt ghosts as a skeptic.

1 Comment on What can we learn from Derek Acorah?

  1. Is this Derek’s ‘Sylvia Browne moment’? So that would hopefully be the end of Derek, if she was found alive, but they are rubber ducks. He is coming to Southport soon so I might just go and speak to my mother. Who is dead.

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