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My guest columnist
is Montague Keen, a brilliant psychic researcher, journalist,
agricultural administrator, magazine editor and farmer.
of the Council of the Society for Psychical Research for
55 years, chairman of its Image and Publicity Committee
and secretary of its Survival Research Committee, he was
principal investigator of the Scole Group of physical mediums,
and author of the Scole Report, published in the Proceedings
of the SPR (Vol 54 Pt 220) in 1999 with his co-investigators
Professors Arthur Ellison and David Fontana.
THE PSYCHIC CHALLENGE
This note is written in response to a request to comment
on James Randi's observations on his website on The Ultimate
Psychic Challenge programme screened on Discovery Channel
on August 17th, and to be repeated both on that channel
and on Channel 4 (on August 23rd); and it embodies a challenge
to Mr. Randi to live up to his repeated assertion on the
programme that if only adequate evidence of paranormality
could be demonstrated to him, he would be happy to acknowledge
it - and give the claimant the $1million prize he so publicly
and consistently pledges. I have already commented on the
programme as edited, although I reproduce below both my
pre-edited and post-edited comments for the benefit of those,
including Mr. Randi, who may not have had the opportunity
to see them.
A preliminary comment on Mr. Randi's ethics - and those
of Fulcrum TV's producers: When he practices as a stage
illusionist, the audience know they are being entertained
and deceived: they suspend their disbelief and enjoy the
show. To pretend to be a genuine psychic, and to connive
with the TV staff without the knowledge or consent of the
victims to garner details about members of the audience,
their friends and their sitting positions, with a view to
misleading them - even though the ruse is later acknowledged
- is to employ deception in what was claimed to be a serious
programme about a very serious subject.
I should first note that Mr. Randi may consider himself
fortunate on at least three counts: 1. The edited version
omitted his first extended but futile attempts at cold reading
which was so unsuccessful that the embarrassed floor manager
had to announce a technical fault and stop the show. 2.
The editing omitted what was probably the single most impressive
piece of evidence, told to me beforehand in the Green Room
and later to the audience, of an anonymous and untraceable
booking made by a grieving father for a private reading
with Keith Charles, the medium, who described to him the
detailed contents and design of a sealed letter that had
been placed, unbeknown to the father, in the coffin of his
daughter by her sister. When Mr Randi asserted what he has
since reiterated on his website, that all such messages
could be attributable to cold reading as evidenced in Ian
Rowland's instruction book, it was lucky for him that no-one
had an opportunity to challenge this insult to our credulity.
Even with hot reading prior research at his disposal, a
stage illusionist could not have struck oil this rich. Charles
himself, exceptionally restrained, was shut up, doubtless
because of the severe time overrun. Finally, 3., it was
lucky for Mr. Randi that Charles was given no opportunity
to say why the $1m challenge was both misleading and worthless,
an omission I hope to remedy below.
I need hardly
say that the excision of the very brief comment I was allowed
to make, explaining that serious scientists had long been
fully aware of the cold and hot reading techniques, and
had safeguarded against them by single or double-blind or
proxy sittings, constituted a serious breach of trust by
the producers, as well as letting Mr. Randi off the hook.
Some idea of the sort of evidence Mr. Randi escaped answering
is contained in an attached letter to the Glasgow Herald
from one of the principal experimenters in a major investigation
into the authenticity of mediumship.
[As an aside, and to illustrate Mr. Randi's dedication to
objectivity, I must also provide a more accurate account
of the incident to which he devotes so much spleen on his
website: his encounter in the exit corridor with a "very
obese, unattractive woman" and his reaction to her
"direct affront, a rude insult and an uncalled-for
accusation" who "stabbed her finger at me, her
face red and contorted with hatred" who called him
a fake and a fraud, to which he calmly retorted in his best
Churchillian manner, "Madam, you are ugly, but I can
I am sure this
is how Mr. Randi would like to remember the episode, but
since I was alongside the lady at the time, and observed
what went on, as did Dr. Parker and Dr. Puhle who were immediately
in front of me, I should say that she takes (USA) size 10
clothes at Macy's, which is way down the obesity scale,
is regarded as attractive for her age, smiled at Mr. Randi
and said quite politely but firmly, with no finger stabbing,
and to his obvious astonishment, "Mr. Randi you're
a fraud", whereupon he staggered back and stammered,
"And you, you, you, you're ugly," to which the
lady responded as he disappeared backwards through the double
doors, "But at least I'm honest". There was no
Churchillian suffix. The classic Churchillian riposte, by
the way, occurred when Mrs Bessie Braddock, a Labour MP
of vast dimensions, accused him of being drunk; to which
Churchill responded, "Yes, Madam, and you're ugly,
but I shall be sober in the morning." This sets the
standard for Mr. Randi's dedication to factual reality.]
Now for the more serious bit: first, the $1million prize.
Loyd Auerbach, a leading USA psychologist and President
of the Psychic Entertainers Association (some 80% of the
members of his Psychic Entertainers' Association believe
in the paranormal, according to Dr. Adrian Parker, who was
on the programme, but given no opportunity to reveal this)
exposed some of the deficiencies in this challenge in an
article in Fate magazine.
3, the applicant allows all his test data to be used by
the Foundation in any way Mr. Randi may choose. That means
that Mr. Randi can pick and chose the data at will and decide
what to do with it and what verdict to pronounce on it.
Under Article 7, the applicant surrenders all rights to
legal action against the Foundation, or Mr. Randi, no matter
what emotional, professional or financial injury he may
consider he has sustained. Thus even if Mr. Randi comes
to a conclusion different from that reached by his judges
and publicly denounces the test, the applicant would have
no redress. The Foundation and Mr. Randi own all the data.
Mr. Randi can claim that the judges were fooled. The implicit
accusation of fraud would leave the challenger devoid of
be it noted, are in stark contrast to Mr. Randi's frequent
public assertions that he wanted demonstrable proof of psychic
powers. First, his rules are confined to a single, live
applicant. No matter how potent the published evidence,
how incontestable the facts or rigorous the precautions
against fraud, the number, qualifications or expertise of
the witnesses and investigators, the duration, thoroughness
and frequency of their tests or (where statistical evaluation
is possible) the astronomical odds against a chance explanation:
all must be ignored. Mr. Randi thrusts every case into the
bin labelled 'anecdotal' (which means not written down),
and thereby believes he may safely avoid any invitation
to account for them.
production of a spanner bent by a force considerably in
excess of the capacity of the strongest man, created at
the request and in the presence of a group of mechanics
gathered round a racing car at a pit stop by Mr. Randi's
long-time enemy, Uri Geller, would run foul of the small
print, which requires a certificate of a successful preliminary
demonstration before troubling Mr. Randi himself. A pity,
because scientists at Imperial College have tested the spanner,
which its current possessor, the researcher and author Guy
Lyon Playfair, not unnaturally regards as a permanent paranormal
object, and there is a standing challenge to skeptics to
explain its appearance.
That these doubts about the genuineness of Mr. Randi's dedication
to objective research are far from theoretical may be concluded
from the efforts made by Professor Gary Schwartz of Arizona
University in designing his multi-centre, double-blind procedure
for testing mediums. Schwartz was not interested in the
prize money: he merely sought to obtain Mr. Randi's approval
for his protocol for testing mediums - and he duly modified
it to met Mr. Randi's suggestions. Having falsely declared
that the eminent parapsychologist Professor Stanley Krippner
had agreed to serve on his referee panel, Mr. Randi ensured
that the other judges would be his skeptical friends Drs
Minsky, Sherman and Hyman, all well-known and dedicated
opponents of anything allegedly paranormal.
As the ensuing
Randi/Schwartz correspondence (which Mr. Randi declined
to print on his website) makes clear, when the outcome of
the experiment proved an overwhelming success, Mr. Randi
subsequently confused a binary (yes/no) analysis with the
statistical method required to score for accuracy each statement
made by a medium, and falsely accused Dr Schwartz and his
colleagues of selecting only half the data for analysis.
He then derided the publication of Professor Schwartz's
findings in the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research,
the world's oldest scientific peer-reviewed publication
devoted to the paranormal, and in which Mr. Randi himself
has published contributions. He criticised the fact that
the Schwartz findings appeared in neither Nature nor Science,
although he must have been aware of the long-standing refusal
of these two leading scientific journals to publish anything
touching on the paranormal. He then reported that one of
the gifted mediums, John Edward, could have seen the sitter
through a 2" curtain gap, regardless of the facts that
the crack was about quarter of an inch, was subsequently
sealed from ceiling to floor, and that readings were later
done long distance. Mr. Randi declined an invitation to
see all the raw footage for himself, while protesting that
he would never [be allowed to] see it. Yet all the media
representatives who visited the Arizona laboratory saw the
raw footage, as did magicians and visiting scientists. Mr
Randi specifically declined an invitation to be videoed
viewing the data and commenting on it.
his confident assertions that cold reading can produce results
as impressive as any from a platform medium, he declined
an offer to prove it by comparing his performance with that
of a genuine medium, surely a crucial test. Similarly, Mr.
Randi accused the experimenters of "blatant data searching",
i.e. remembering the hits and forgetting the misses. This
was false, and could readily have been shown to be so .
He thereafter publicly declined to read any of Professor
Schwartz's emails, having confined himself to deriding the
Professor for believing in the tooth fairy, making wild
claims and being a "doctor who embraces bump-in-the-night
theories without a trace of shame". Further, that he
had been a colleague at Harvard of Dr John Mack, "the
man who has never met anyone who hasn't been abducted by
aliens", and similar abuse. This is the language and
conduct of the gutter, not of an honest difference of opinion
expressed in civilized and restrained terms about scientific
Mr. Randi notoriously
failed to fulfil his boast to be able to replicate Ted Serios'
"thoughtography" tests (as described by his investigator,
Dr Jule Eisenbud in The World of Ted Serios, Jonathan Cape,
1968) and has consistently ignored efforts by Mr. Maurice
Grosse, the principal investigator of Britain's most famous
recent poltergeist event, the Enfield Case (See Guy Lyon
Playfair's book This House is Haunted, Souvenir Press, 1980),
to examine the recorded visual and aural evidence to support
a claim of paranormality and apparent veridical messages
from a discarnate entity.
Worse still are
the multiple errors of fact, admixed with derision, abuse
and misrepresentation, which Mr. Randi makes in his book
Flim-Flam (1980) about a number of distinguished scientists,
notably Russell Targ, Harold Puthoff and Charles Tart and
their roles in the remote viewing experiments with Ingo
Swann and the clairvoyant claims of Uri Geller. That Randi's
denunciations turned out to be mainly a tissue of lies is
apparent from the penetrating account given by parapsychologist
D. Scott Rogo in Psychic Breakthroughs Today (Aquarian Press,
1987, pp.216-226), and devastatingly amplified in a recent
website publication by Michael Prescott (http://michaelprescott.freeservers.com/FlimFlam.htm)
to Mr. Randi and friends
I am not applying for Mr. Randi's $million but only for
some evidence that his challenge is genuine. Before I reproduce
my comments on the television programme , I present Mr.
Randi, and any of his fellow-skeptics, with a list of some
of the classical cases of paranormality with most or all
of which Mr. Randi will be familiar. I know he will be because
he has been studying the subject for half a century, he
tells us. And just as I would not pretend to authority and
expertise in conjuring unless I could perform some party
tricks to bedazzle a troop of intelligent ten year olds,
or apply for an assistant professorship in physics while
admitting I had never heard of Boyle's Law or the Second
Law of Thermodynamics, nor seek admission to the Bar without
first having some familiarity with the leading cases, so
I would not imply that Mr. Randi is ignorant of these cases,
many of which have long awaited the advent of a critic who
could discover flaws in the paranormality claims. For me
to suggest this would imply the grossest hypocrisy on Mr.
Randi's part. But to refresh his memory, and help him along,
and despite the refusal of some of his colleagues like Professor
Kurtz, Professor Hyman and Dr. Susan Blackmore to meet the
challenge, I list the requisite references. They are based
on (although not identical to) a list of twenty cases suggestive
of survival prepared by Professor Archie Roy and published
some years ago in the SPR's magazine, The Paranormal Review
as an invitation or challenge to skeptics to demonstrate
how any of these cases could be explained by "normal"
i.e. non-paranormal, means. Thus far there have been no
takers. It is now Mr. Randi's chance to vindicate his claims.
AND HERE ARE
THE CASES FROM WHICH MR. RANDI MAY WISH TO SELECT A HANDFUL
1. The Watseka
Wonder, 1887. Stevens, E.W. 1887 The Watseka Wonder, Chicago;
Religio-philosophical Publishing House, and Hodgson R.,
Religio-Philosophical Journal Dec. 20th, 1890, investigated
by Dr. Hodgson.
2. Uttara Huddar
and Sharada. Stevenson I. and Pasricha S, 1980. A preliminary
report on an unusual case of the reincarnation type with
Xenoglossy. Journal of the American Society for Psychical
Research 74, 331-348; and Akolkar V.V. Search for Sharada:
Report of a case and its investigation. Journal of the American
3. Sumitra and
Shiva-Tripathy. Stevenson I. and Pasricha S, and McLean-Rice,
N 1989. A Case of the Possession Type in India with evidence
of Paranormal Knowledge. Journal of the Society for Scientific
Exploration 3, 81-101.
4. Jasbir Lal
Jat. Stevenson, I, 1974. Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation
(2nd edition) Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia.
5. The Thompson/Gifford
case. Hyslop, J.H. 1909. A Case of Veridical Hallucinations
Proceedings, American SPR 3, 1-469.
regression. Tarazi, L. 1990. An Unusual Case of Hypnotic
Regression with some Unexplained Contents. Journal of the
American SPR, 84, 309-344.
communications. Balfour J. (Countess of) 1958-60 The Palm
Sunday Case: New Light On an Old Love Story. Proceedings
of the Society for Psychical Research, 52, 79-267.
8. Book and Newspaper
Tests. Thomas, C.D. 1935. A Proxy Case extending over Eleven
Sittings with Mrs Osborne Leonard. Proceedings SPR 43, 439-519.
book-test. Lady Glenconnor. 1921. The Earthen Vessel, London,
10. The Harry
Stockbridge communicator. Gauld, A. 1966-72. A Series of
Drop-in Communicators. PSPR 55, 273-340.
11. The Bobby
Newlove case. Thomas, C. D. 1935. A proxy case extending
over Eleven Sittings with Mrs. Osborne Leonard. PSPR 43,
12. The Runki
missing leg case. Haraldsson E. and Stevenson, I, 1975.
A Communicator of the Drop-in Type in Iceland: the case
of Runolfur Runolfsson. JASPR 69. 33-59.
13. The Beidermann
drop-in case. Gauld, A. 1966-72. A Series of Drop-in Communicators.
PSPR 55, 273-340.
14. The death
of Gudmundur Magnusson. Haraldsson E. and Stevenson, I,
1975. A Communicator of the Drop-in Type in Iceland: the
case of Gudni Magnusson, JASPR 69, 245-261.
of deceased officer. Lodge, O. 1916. Raymond, or Life and
Death. London. Methuen & Co. Ltd.16. Mediumistic evidence
of the Vandy death. Gay, K. 1957. The Case of Edgar Vandy,
JSPR 39, 1-64; Mackenzie, A. 1971. An Edgar Vandy Proxy
Sitting. JSPR 46, 166-173; Keen, M. 2002. The case of Edgar
Vandy: Defending the Evidence, JSPR 64.3 247-259; Letters,
2003, JSPR 67.3. 221-224.
17. Mrs Leonore
Piper and the George "Pelham" communicator. Hodgson,
R. 1897-8. A Further Record of Observations of Certain Phenomena
of Trance. PSPR, 13, 284-582.
from "Mrs. Willett" to her sons. Cummins, G. 1965.
Swan on a Black Sea. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
19. Ghostly aeroplane
phenomena. Fuller, J.G. 1981 The Airmen Who Would Not Die,
Souvenir Press, London.
responses via two mediums: the Lethe case. Piddington, J.G.
1910. Three incidents from the Sittings. Proc. SPR 24, 86-143;
Lodge, O. 1911. Evidence of Classical Scholarship and of
Cross-Correspondence in some New Automatic Writing. Proc.
7th) on the pre-edited TV show
These comments are written in response to those eager to
know how last night's Fulcrum TV programme The Ultimate
Psychic Challenge was conducted at the London Television
Studios. It purported to be a serious television programme
aimed at discovering whether there was sound evidence of
after-death communication. More immediately, this is an
appeal to those responsible for the production to correct
in the cutting room the serious imbalance and misleading
message of the taped programme.
I had been pressed
to attend the studio in order to help provide that evidence,
as a counterbalance to whatever James Randi might be presenting
or arguing. The filming lasted three hours+ . The show is
to be edited down to one and a half hours, less commercial
of several who believed that Fulcrum TV deliberately conceived
the programme to rubbish the concept of survival, and not
to present a balanced assessment of the case for and against
communication with the dead; and despite at least two pieces
of evidence suggesting that this is what they did, I am
prepared to acquit those responsible of any charges worse
than naiveté, arrogance and inadequate research.
But first let me summarise what happened.
was first asked to vote whether they believed, disbelieved
or were uncertain about discarnate communication. The initial
voting percentages, from a self-selected audience, were
respectively 44, 19 and 37. Randi was introduced pseudonymously
as a psychic and proceeded to attempt cold readings, with
embarrassingly negative results. He was eventually stopped,
ostensibly because of some technical hitch, left the room,
and later returned to resume his act, this time with more
success. The presenter, Kate Galloway, who did a difficult
job with considerable skill, then revealed to a far from
astonished audience, most of whom said they had recognised
Randi from the outset, that it was all faked, and that Randi
had access to audience names and addresses, and indeed employed
a researcher to show how easily fake mediums could discover
information about potential sitters, or clients.
All of this,
which took up most of the first hour, was simply to demonstrate
how cold and hot reading works. The implication was absolutely
clear: this was typical of how mediums, platform or face-to-face,
operated. To illustrate this further, we saw a screening
of a freshly-coached actor under the guidance of sceptic
Tony Youens giving a fake reading to a young and clearly
inexperienced client who confessed himself impressed with
the evidential standard achieved.
To make certain
we got the message there was another clip, this time of
a genuine medium, who was present. Her statements were interlarded
with comments from Youens aimed at showing how each of them
could be reasonably deduced from responses, facial expressions,
guesswork, etc. The medium herself, from the front row of
the audience, protested most vehemently that by omitting
much more evidential material the extract of her filmed
sitting had given a false impression, stigmatising her as
were aimed solely at proving how gullible people are. Randi
produced half a dozen so-called psychological studies based
on questionnaires previously completed by members of the
audience. Each was asked to score the results for accuracy/appropriateness.
Only one gave him top marks. The analyses were, of course,
identical, and were simply designed to show how readily
people attributed general characteristics to themselves.
with this were responses by Professor Chris French to questions
on a range of associated psychological and sociological
issues. French, a noted sceptic of the less unenlightened
kind, gave fairly reasonable responses, and appeared to
have ample time to do so. He was not asked to deal with
either the leading cases indicating survival (readers of
his magazine The Skeptic will have noted that he is too
busy to study this sort of evidence) or even the current
work of Professors Archie Roy and Gary Schwartz.
- indeed virtually the only - counterbalance to this was
the performance of a genuine medium, Keith Charles, an ex-detective.
Two of his former clients gave impressive testimony to the
accuracy of statements he had made, e.g. about the precise
contents of a sealed letter deposited in the coffin of their
daughter. His appearance in person was preceded by a clip
in which Philadelphia police officials testified to their
conviction that Charles could help trace missing persons.
His on-floor readings were likewise impressive, save when
an opaque screen precluded sight of a studio guinea pig.
The only other
person of whose presence I had previously been advised was
Dr Adrian Parker, who spoke briefly on Near Death Experiences
as an indication of the independence of consciousness from
I had been given
four questions the responses to which, albeit necessarily
brief, were aimed at addressing the issue of communication
evidence. One related to the SPR and its membership; a second
asked how compelling was the evidence from people like Professor
Gary Schwartz, Professor Fontana and myself. A third asked
why I thought some within the scientific community had rejected
that evidence, and a fourth asked whether there was any
particular experience that had convinced me - with special
reference to the Scole investigation and report.
I was given very
little time to deal even with the first and last question,
but had virtually no opportunity to explain the steps that
had been taken both in the distant past and at present to
eliminate all of the sensory clues on which skeptics like
Randi continued to dwell, and to indicate the measure and
importance of the recent work of Roy, Robertson and Schwartz,
with which I had assumed the programme to be essentially
ended with a slightly botched experiment in psychometric
reading by Charles for which there was quite inadequate
time, and then an entertaining card trick by Randi, who
stated that everything Charles had told the audience could
be attributed to cold reading, a statement so grotesquely
at variance with his own performance as to be risible. Clearly
a good many of the audience felt the same way, since at
the end the percentages of believers, non-believers and
uncertains had changed to 54, 24 and 22.
But, as Randi
rightly said, the evidence is determined by scientific investigation
(plug for his $1,000,000 offer amid cries of "phoney")
not by votes.
my general comments on what was wrong with the entire conception
of the programme, which is likely to be seen by a very large
number of people, may I examine the two aspects which I
find disquieting? One is the vehemence and distress of the
medium who said her interview gave a wholly false impression
and left the clear impression that she was a fraud. I believe
an independent person or group should be invited to examine
the uncut and the edited version and issue a report.
The second concern relates to a very positive instruction
I received from the person whom I believed to be the producer
(actually assistant producer, I later learned) that I was
not to mention the Jacqui Poole case when giving examples
of impressive evidence of posthumous messages. (Many will
know that this refers to a large number of highly evidential
statements about a murdered woman given to the police shortly
after the crime and resulting eventually in the conviction
of the person accurately described and named). Ostensibly
this was because it would cause distress to the relatives.
The murder was more than 20 years ago. Details have been
widely circulated on the Net and in the Police Gazette,
and the case was the subject of a half hour TV programme
in Ireland where the medium lives. It seems to me far more
likely that the producers did not wish to confront Youens
and French, both of whom are familiar with the strength
of the case, with evidence they couldn't answer. I may be
wrong, but this arbitrary prohibition is suspicious, all
the more so since I learn that Youens, desperate to find
holes in the evidence, has contacted the police officer
responsible and found his theories shot to pieces by facts.
ALTHOUGH it will
be seen that some attempt at balance was achieved, undue
emphasis was given, and time devoted, to the views of Youens
and French, neither of whom addressed themselves to the
evidence, but concentrated (as indeed they were doubtless
asked to) on such interesting but strictly irrelevant issues
as human gullibility and techniques for fraud.
The deepest flaw
in the entire programme was obsession with entertainment,
based on the conviction that audiences interested in the
most profoundly important issue for mankind need gimmickry,
and are liable to switch off or over because "talking
heads" aren't stimulating enough. While this is a belief
common to television producers generally, when a serious
topic is supposed to be under expert examination and discussion,
it constitutes an insult both to the television studio audience
and to subsequent viewers.
So quite apart
from the more personal issues arising from cavalier and
misleading treatment of invitees (one man told me he had
spent three days rehearsing the answers he was to give to
three questions from the production team, but was not only
ignored but left stranded at the studio late at night after
the departure of his last train), the uncut programme spent
far too much time on matters essentially irrelevant to the
question at issue, and on sheer gimmickry, and far too little
time to learn from those familiar with the evidence what
it was, how strong, and why all of the demonstrations seen
by the audience were based on the wholly false premise that
serious investigators of mediums were either unaware of
those dangers or had been unable to devise safeguards against
them when experimenting with mediums.
Despite the fact
that there was a significant swing towards belief, the audience
did so in the absence of the scientific evidence they should
have been given the chance to consider, and for the presentation
of which I had been specifically invited. Had I been given
one quarter the time devoted to Randi the audience would
have been in a better position to form a judgement.
As it is, I trust
this message arrives in time to influence the cutting process.
comments (August 18th 2003)
Not all addressees
will have seen my earlier note of August 7th written immediately
after the filming of Fulcrum TV's "Ultimate Psychic
Challenge" which was screened last night on Discovery
Channel on Saturday, August 23rd, in advance of its repeat
on Channel 4 during a Paranormal evening devoted to three
programmes on mediumship and associated phenomena. I therefore
append my original note (in italics) which explains the
reasons for the criticisms which I and others had of the
manner in which the show was formulated.
To fit over three
hours of programming into the (slightly less than) one and
a half hour slot, some severe cutting was necessary. The
substance of this complaint is not that the programme as
edited lacked balance between the negative and positive
approaches, but that there was deliberate suppression of
important and relevant material in favour of irrelevant
gimmickry, with the result that viewers were denied what
small opportunity they could have had to be aware of at
least one crucial fact about the scientific evidence from
We were constantly
reminded that the programme was devoted solely to discovering
the answer to the question: can we talk to the dead? I had
been invited to give the scientific evidence, and given
prior notification of four questions, previously discussed
with the assistant producer Victoria Coker (see below) and
recorded on email. Probably the most crucial question, which
I was given all too little opportunity to answer, was
are a number of scientists who are investigating the
existence of the spirit world: how compelling is the evidence
they are producing? (you, Fontana, Gary Schwartz etc)"
It would be reasonable
to conclude that this went to the heart of the issue. As
stated below, I had barely an opportunity during the filming
to point out that from the earliest days scientists had
been aware of the need to guard against sensory leakage
when testing mediums. However, this question and answer
was cut entirely from the edited text. My contribution lasted
a fraction over one minute. This compares with the minimum
of five which I had been led to believe I would have, and
contrasts with 40 or more minutes devoted to Randi.
What made this
worse, and which I cite to justify my accusation that this
crucial omission from what was already a severely truncated
contribution was dishonest as well as deliberate, was that
three and a half minutes at the end of the programme was
devoted to a card trick by Randi which had not the remotest
bearing on the subject. Yet the brief passage excised from
my remarks would have shown that most of the programme devoted
to Randi's hot and cold readings, and to two film clips
and subsequent discussions by Tony Youens on the same subject,
were irrelevant to the scientific evidence, particularly
in the light of the single and double blind procedures adopted
by Gary Schwartz and Robertson and Roy during the past five
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Montague Keen. 22nd August 2003