Tuesday 6 March 2012

Bust Spooky College!

This is an interesting video; it’s an outtake from Richard Dawkins’ Skeptical polemic TV documentary, The Enemies of Reason, see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xswt8B8-UTM (The broadcast cut of Enemies of Reason can be watched here: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7218293233140975017# ). Derren Brown is a famous face in the media and on stage because he has become a very successful illusionist and hypnotist. Some of his work is important from a HPANWO-esque perspective because of his revelations about neuro-linguistic programming, see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kycWYd5iOn0&feature=sh_e_top&list=SL . However his other forte is less well-known: that of a Skeptic. He has made a few Skeptic programmes too, like Seance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dCfYwVVPMcg .

In the extended interview with Dawkins, from which the scene in Enemies of Reason comes from, we see Brown talking about training colleges for psychics (Part 1 from 8.31). The best known of these is the Arthur Findlay “Spooky” College in Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex, see: http://www.arthurfindlaycollege.org/ . According to Derren Brown there are no such things as real psychics and they’re all fake. Spiritualism only began in the 19th Century and was soon found to be a con; Spiritualists are actually just stage psychics like Brown who fool their audience into thinking that they’re really psychic by using the same conjuring tricks that he does. But there’s one very obvious course this area of research could take that neither Dawkins nor Brown suggests: Why not infiltrate the Arthur Findlay College? Get in there with a hidden camera and expose it to public ridicule! It shouldn’t be hard, after all Watchdog does it to dodgy plumbers and crooked insurance salesmen all the time. They should get a reporter to go undercover as a student at the college pretending to have burgeoning psychic powers and want to learn how to use them. Then, at some point the tutor will lock the door and shut the curtains and say in a low voice: “Listen! Don’t tell anybody about this, but all this is bullshit OK? There’s no such thing as psychic powers and you’re all kidding yourselves... now follow me.” Then he pulls a book off a shelf, presses a hidden button and a piece of wood paneling slides back revealing a secret passageway. He leads the students down a dusty flight of stairs to a secret cellar where they all learn how to do Cold Reading and exploit the Barnum Effect etc. The Skeppers are always scoffing at conspiracy theories, well this is their conspiracy theory! Let’s see if it stands up to the evidence!

I’m sure you’ve worked out that what I've written above is a parody. I don’t believe that all psychics are fake at all. We’ve only ever had a single whistle-blower, M Lamar Keene, see: http://hpanwo.blogspot.com/2008/08/psychic-mafia-by-m-lamar-keene.html when really, in a conspiracy which would have to be as top-heavy as the Skeptics claim, we ought to have them popping out of the woodwork everywhere; see here for more details: http://hpanwo.blogspot.com/2011/04/paranormality-by-prof-richard-wiseman.html

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