Sunday, 16 September 2012

Psychic and science show with Derek Acorah and Richard Felix

OK, so an unusual title for the show in York: Psychic and Science!

Here's a brief resume of what happened. Harry Martindale, the man who saw the Roman Legion in the basement of the Treasurer's House gave his story. We all know about this famous York ghost sighting, but this was the first time I'd heard it first hand. Derek then did some readings for members of the audience. A number of hits and a number of misses here, although none of the misses appeared to be a fault with Derek or his spirit guide Sam, clearly the audience member had forgotten the person who was now a spirit who was looking over them. I found this to be great news really. Its nice to know that if all this is real, we will have loads of people, including people we don't really know, looking out for us. Then again, perhaps it just means that life after death is so boring you'll poke your nose into anyone's business. A couple of the hits were obviously not due to random chance as the names were too unusual, but in other cases I think the spirit must be having a laugh and feeding false information to Derek. Oh, that would be so tempting wouldn't it? Other interesting things that Derek's spirits know are the future (one woman will get pregnant next October or November, and a friend called Steve will present a good plan to make money) and how to heal people (one audience member with an occasional bad back will feel better in the next few weeks). Well, maybe that's not so good on the healing side, I'm sure some sufferers of asthma, psoriasis, eczema, or depression could have done with the treatment.

Richard Felix then led a glass divination with 6 members of the audience chosen by Frisbee. The 'glass' correctly answered a number of questions (although did not seem sure if it was male or female) before Derek had a revelation that the spirit involved was a young lad hung for stealing three horses that were actually stolen by his dad.

Just before the break, Derek mentally projected an image of an object that was in a small flat case and asked people to text their thoughts. Amazingly someone guessed an old pistol - who'd have thought! And this was the first time in 18 or 20 shows that someone got it right. Why did the right guess happen tonight - Richard did not know.

In the second half, we had a human pendulum controlled by a spirit, a walking table, eight people holding a seance in Dick Turpin's cell and one person having a solo vigil in the cell. This last item was very entertaining. Finally - and I'd been waiting all evening for this - the science bit. A collection of objects and leads and a crystal Van der Graaf were set up on stage to project the images recorded in the stone of the building into a cloud of steam caused by dry ice. The audience were invited to take lots of photographs and look for faces. I took over 150 and did not see a single face, but other people were much more fortunate, with a number of ghostly apparitions caught on camera. Strangely the building only ever recorded faces, no bodies, and no images from the back or underneath where you might expect(!) a building to notice events.

So my conclusion. An impressive bit of reading (but I have never witnessed this before), a variety of ideomotor effects and a strong 'dousing' of pareidolia. The show promised that it would "break away from the normal Hollywood or TV ghost show, where the scare factor was always prominent. “Instead we’ll conduct various experiments and demonstrations and test theories to open people’s eyes and prove that the realities behind ghosts are far more fascinating than the Scooby Doo side of things.” Well it had a complete lack of experiments, no science (unless a useless box and wires is included as science) and no proof on "the realities of ghosts". An entertaining evening, but there was no way this could be argued to have any science or experimental content - a breach of trading standards perhaps.

Addendum: Skeptical paranormal researcher Hayley Stevens has written a more in-depth article about the "Stone Tape Projector" used in the show.

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