Wanna know what really happened? Read on.
We spent a LOT of our own precious time in the audience watching the making of this dreadful show, purely in support of Richard. It was at times tedious, but overall a very good education in how psychics do their stuff. Over the five weeks of recording there was always a representative or two from the sceptical community, so collectively we didn’t miss an episode. This gave us precious insight into the editing process too. Typically, 6 – 8 hours of footage would be recorded a week and eventually whittled down to the 43 minutes you would see every Tuesday evening.
Hence, there was plenty of time to make mistakes, and LOTS of excuses for getting it wrong. Particularly with respect to the off site tests, when we did the sums, the results were ~92% fail! In fact, it was only in episode one, the lost boy in the bush where the psychics had any success. One may have just got the lucky, the other ran around for 15 minutes until the entire area was covered. Sheesh we can do that too! It would be interesting to repeat this test with seven lay people and see how we do.
I digress…Suffice to say, much of the footage ended up on the cutting room floor a lot of which was when the psychics didn’t get hits. Unfortunately this also applied to Richard’s comments so I guess we can’t cry foul there. In the early days of broadcast, I heard some criticism from sceptics accusing him of not being hard nosed enough, not mentioning the buzz term “cold reading “ etc. Well I’m here to tell you that he did do these things. He did get frustrated and call them out when necessary. Unfortunately this just doesn’t rate. The producer’s designed a show for entertainment and ratings. The populus is not interested in a bunch of psychics being wrong and looking silly. And it worked, the last episode (the just-awful-bad-taste Peter Falconio ep.) was the highest rating show in the country, attracting 1.5 million viewers.
And despite the fact that Richard’s approach was as the “humanist sceptic” i.e., nice not nasty, people still thought he was mean. Recently, whilst doing a Mystery Investigators show at the Australian Museum for Science in the City, one of the girls in the audience told Richard, prior to the show commencing and BEFORE she recognised him, that that guy from The One was a “meanie”. Later as the show progressed and he put up a photo of himself from the set, the poor kid cringed and put her head in her hands! Don’t worry all was forgiven when he signed her an autograph, bent a spoon or two and had his photo taken with her.
Just last week Richard and I went to Adelaide, South Australia to attend the National Sceptics Convention Australia where we stayed with my folks. My Mum’s hairdresser was a big fan of the show and was heard to say following the Falconio debacle, that the police simply must head up north, she was convinced they would find his remains (grrrr). When Mum subsequently mentioned that Richard was currently staying at her place, the hairdresser’s response was, “Doesn’t he spook you?”. Well, yes he does, but not for that reason…
In any case, we witnessed an awful lot of guessing and classic cold reading techniques being thrown about, some more blatant than others. And the excuses were always the same. This is a collection from my memory, (so don’t quote me on this) but you get the idea and I note, these were used multiple times.
I was nervous performing on television
I interpreted the psychic messages wrong
On Ned Kelly’s bones, they were where I said they were, even though they were not
I’m not used to performing in this environment (hmmm, well a fair few of you do stage shows so that doesn’t cut the mustard with me)
I wasn’t listening to my spirit guides
My spirit guides were punishing me for being too confident (well then, fire them!)
I was reading the person next to you
You may not know about it now, but go home and ask your family, you will find a connection somewhere.
When I said it was definitely not silver, I meant that silver is considered to be Gold in some parts of the world (wha?!!)
This is not what I normally do
I did not go with my first choice, which was right
On the airport luggage challenge, the people were standing too close to one another
I never claimed to be always accurate
This always works for me at home
I had no time to practice
The times for the tests were too short