In March this year I put up a post called Bring Out Your Dead in which I worked myself up into a lather over psychics and mediums.
I became so enraged that I ended up standing in the garden with no shirt on, bellowing incoherently into the sky until I was tasered by the police.
Ok, not that last bit.
Now I wouldn't normally revisit a subject that I have already posted about but I recently had a conversation with a work colleague who had visited one of those medium shows.
She said that the medium had 'known things she couldn't possibly know'.
These turned out to be how her grandmother had died, what her name was what had happened to her grandad.
However my friend said that the medium askd a lot of questions before coming out with these facts.
This technique is called cold reading, where the medium throws out vague questions into the crowd like bait until someone bites and says they know someone called Trevor or something.
The medium will then ask questions, eliminatng any dead ends or questions that aren't leading anywhere by saying that another stronger message is coming through or something, until the person he is asking has unwittingly given the medium all the information they need. People tend to forget about all the leading questions and focus on the ones that hit home.
So other than stuff that my friend already knew, what did granny have to say? Basically nothing other than don't worry about me now, I'm alright.
Now as far as I'm concerned, being dead is as far away from being alright as anyone can get, so what was the point of this excercise other than the medium trying to prove that they can talk to the dead?
My friend defended the medium by saying that she brought comfort to the grieving.
Grieving people want to believe that their lost loved ones still somehow exist somewhere and that we will meet them again. I lost my mother and the aching hole that is left inside takes a long time to heal and never truly goes away.
Now imagine that you discovered that you could talk to the dead, you have proof that there is an afterlife.
What would you do?
I bet most of you would not take your gift out on the road, charging grieving and vulnerable people £20 for a theatre seat where you would tantalise them with vague statements and platitudes. It may bring comfort but it isn't right.
Like I said before, if mediums are so confident of their power then why aren't they aproaching the scientific community and saying, 'I can talk to the dead, hook me up to whichever machines you think can help and together we can prove there is actually an afterlife. That way I can really provide comfort to the grieving'.
But they never do. When confronted with a sceptic who puts them on the spot on a talk show or something and asks them to talk to the dead their usual line of defence is that they cannot turn their power on and off like a tap.
Unless they are in a theatre full of paying customers, then the power flows just fine.
It says something about how strong the need for comfort is within us all when we tolerate this level of opportunistic bullshit and is a worrying sign of our increasing tendency to disregard rational thought in favour of unthinking, emotional response.
Anyway, next week I promise I will post something a bit more light hearted, about when I got run over by a car perhaps or when my mate shot himself in the bollocks with a crossbow.