Posted in Derren's Posts

Posted by Derren Brown October 30, 2011 at 7:07 pm


I thought I would pen a few words about the high-profile test offered to Sally Morgan by Simon Singh, Chris French and the Merseyside Skeptics tomorrow Monday. It looks like Sally has declined to take part, but their offer is open to conduct a fair test or at least discuss the test with her to make sure both they and her are happy with it.

Simon Singh, along with other sceptics, has had concerns about Sally and published them here on his blog. I add, as does he, that I am not saying that Sally is a fake or a fraud. I’d really like to think that she’s not, but reserve all judgement. I don’t know her and have never seen her show, on TV or on stage. Even if I had, my opinion about her would mean very little, and I’m sure she could give a flying doughnut about what I had to say. Really the only worthwhile point is whether claims such as Sally’s stand up to testing, not what I or any other individual with our own inevitable prejudices happens to think.

Until recently, I thought I had never met her, but I have since heard rather excitingly that I may have filmed an unused sequence with Sally once at her home. If I did, it would have been for one of those old Mind Control specials ten or so years ago. I have my team looking into that to see if we ever did and if they can dig it out. Certainly we filmed with one lady psychic at her house, where we each gave each other a reading, so perhaps that was it.

Sally has recently received mixed media attention following a phone call to a radio station made by a lady who had attended her show in Dublin, who said she heard what sounded like verbal cues being given to the medium on stage. Apparently she heard phrases like ‘Dave – bad back’ being whispered from the lighting booth at the back of the auditorium a few seconds before Sally repeated those words on stage, raising the strong suspicion in this woman’s mind that Sally was using an earpiece. If this were true, it would follow that the assistant in the booth had most likely picked up information in the foyer where people were openly discussing what they were hoping to hear that night. The phone call can be heard here and is worth listening to in full. Sally has since denied the insinuations, saying that it was simply lighting technicians chatting, although to me this doesn’t seem to answer the question of why she was delivering lines moments after they were heard coming from the booth.

Frustratingly for Sally, her explanation may of course be fair. To be honest, if I were a fake psychic and wanted to use an earpiece to receive my cues, I wouldn’t put my assistant in the lighting booth where in-house staff would normally work. There would be the advantage of receiving visual cues, but my preference would be to tuck him away safely backstage somewhere. Unless, that is, I was supplying all the crew for the show, in which case it wouldn’t be an issue. Sally may well supply all her crew, I have no idea. (Note: Thanks ‘Chez’, I hear the theatre in question would have indeed required Sally to bring all her own crew) But I have heard from in-house theatre crews who have hosted big-name psychic shows that they were surprised to see the shows follow a fairly tight structure and an oddly similar script every night: therefore another possible explanation could be that the whispering was indeed cheekiness from the lighting technicians who were just pre-empting what they knew was coming next, having seen the show so many times. Who knows. Maybe both they and Sally are genuinely psychic and they should all have their own shows.

Point is, this could be a totally innocent incident which has gotten out of hand. Once you’re aware of the huge amount of fraudulence committed in the name of mediumship, it’s hard not to smirk when someone seems to have been caught out. If you watched ‘Miracles For Sale’, you may remember the ‘healer’ Peter Popoff getting caught out rather splendidly with an earpiece by James Randi: this is astonishing footage. Irrespective of whether to not Sally was using the earpiece, she has made a name for herself and made a lucrative business from the seemingly astonishing business of connecting people with their loved ones, so some scrutiny is important. If a psychic were simply a doctor – and arguably mediums and psychics involve themselves with their clients in a similarly personal and delicate way – then you’d want to know that he or she had passed her medical exams. We even like to check the credentials of a plumber. Surely the bigger and more amazing the claims being made, the more solid the evidence needs to be for them to hold up, and the more important that evidence is.

Sally may be a perfectly innocent victim of unfortunate tar-brushing. If she is a real stage psychic, she finds herself in bad company. Doris Stokes, her antecedent that most immediately springs to mind, has, since herself passing over to the Happy Summerland, been exposed on a number of counts. She would enter a town with her sell-out show to a flurry of mail from desperate people giving her all the information she’d need for a full evening show. She would, I heard, give readings during the day for people, and then invite them to the show in the evening and feed back, from the stage, the information she’d learnt from them during the day. A woman I once knew who had lost her son in a drowning accident was asked to come along to an event given by  Stokes and receive a message from the spirit of her child, and was furious to have her tragedy exploited and twisted when the the rosy-cheeked, grandmotherly medium simply trotted out the details of the death as reported in the local newspaper and used this woman as a sure-fire hit after a couple of dud readings. Other mediums, very much alive and well, are watched nightly by in-house stage crews who then delight in passing on their apparent modi operandi when I turn up with my show. One very big name psychic was caught ushering in a couple of stooges through a side entrance – self-evidently, I was told, his mother and a friend of hers – who then became his most enthusiastic audience members during the show.

Hence it would be a very good idea to test a psychic who claims to be real and to not be like all those nasty, manipulative frauds, who prey on the guaranteed paying audiences of vulnerable people who know no better. But who will call for such testing? Not the audiences. Ironically, they’re the last to insist that we check that the medium on stage before them is real, and not self-deluded or lying through her teeth. And why should they? Who would risk denying oneself profound comfort? Instead, to them, their psychic is the real one, those others are the fakes, and they know that because… because they just know it. Because they’ve seen the show and they think the show is the evidence. They most likely are unaware of the self-working technique of Cold Reading which can allow anyone with little sense of morality to get up on stage and carry off a perfectly convincing psychic show. Here’s a page where you can learn how to be a fake psychic yourself – its one of the oldest businesses in the world. Add some benign, trustworthy charisma, a bit of ‘hot’ reading (where you have some information on your punters) and some decent PR,  and you have got yourself a world class show. Many people might think you’re a fake, but you will be guaranteed to sell-out theatres across the country with people who will defend you to the grave and goodness me, it’s good business. In fact I sometimes wonder if the main reason why people would rather believe a psychic is genuine might be because the implications of it being a lie – of that person, for reasons of ego and renumeration, happily getting up on stage and trampling over the lives of people who know no better – is so ugly that it’s preferable to give them the benefit of the doubt.

So I hope Sally isn’t like those people. And there’s no way of knowing without a test. For those who say they’ve seen her and have all the proof they need, then that’s great for them, but her show is not the test, it’s the very thing we’d need to test. If the magician David Copperfield went mad and claimed to really be sawing a woman in half, and you wanted to see if he was just using trickery, it would make no sense to say ‘I know he’s real, I’ve seen the show and he really saws that woman in half’. Instead you’d have to take what he does out of a show environment and see if he can still do it when other explanations have been removed. For example, if on stage the woman has to be first placed in a special box or on a special table, can he do it without the box and on any table? If not then maybe it’s something to do with the box or the table. Can he do it with any woman? With any blades? You get the idea. We’d have to put aside our emotions (the ones that want us to believe he’s real or fake regardless of testing) and base our new beliefs on the outcome of the test. Of course in this imaginary scenario where he is claiming to have real magic powers, Copperfield would know he’d never stand up to this sort of examination and would most do anything to decline the test.

You’d think psychics would be very eager to prove they can really do it. There’s a million dollar prize fund to be won by any psychic who can show under reasonable and controlled conditions (which they can decide upon in conjunction with the scientists) that what they do is real. This is money that could be kept or given to charity of course, not to mention the likelihood of also receiving a Nobel prize and the ability to give the world vital new knowledge that would change us forever. Imagine that! If I woke up to find that I could really do it, I’d be a selfish and odd creature to offer it only to TV viewers and theatre audiences. I’d be out there, doing every test I could until the scientific establishment sat up and listened. You’d be forgiven for doubting my sincerity if I said I had better things to do.

Sally Morgan has said she does have better things to do, which may be true, but if she’s real it’s a shame to deny the world the first psychic to have been able to prove herself. Sadly no psychic or medium to this point has ever been able to do so. The test is based on asking her to reproduce the phenomena she produces in her show, but importantly the scientists have invited her to discuss the test if she feels any aspect of it should be changed. Some entertaining correspondence on the subject between her lawyer and Simon Singh can be read here.

I imagine Sally will decline the test, and people will draw their own conclusions. I can’t imagine this will make any difference to her fan base or indeed to her. She may be seen by that minority as somehow gloriously ‘rising above’ the test and the ‘haters’ and the ‘sceptics’. Usually when people say this they mean ‘cynics’ rather than ‘sceptics’ as the former is negative and the latter is neutral. A sceptic reserves judgement until the evidence is in. A sceptic or a scientist should never be a ‘hater’ – he or she just feels that a suitable test is a way of finding truth rather than unreliable anecdote or a stage show where any cheating could be going on. The pre-determined negative views of cynics and ‘haters’, meanwhile, are as blind and irrelevant to the discussion as those of ardent, true-believing fans.

Another term that gets abused is ‘open-minded’. There’s being open-minded and there’s being so open minded that your brain falls out. Ian Rowland, the author of ‘The Full Facts Book of Cold-Reading’ (an excellent guide on faking these skills) gives an example. Suppose you are a chef, cooking soup for two hundred diners. You say to yourself ‘Well, I know if I put arsenic in this soup it’ll kill everyone. But hey! Gotta be open-minded!’ And you go ahead and add the deadly metalloid to the goats’ cheese crostini and float it atop the watercress and mint broth. Are you being open-minded or… just ignoring important information? In life we can only work with the best information we have to go on. We know that poison kills people so we don’t add it to our soups. We know that gravity works so we don’t jump out of windows unless we want to kiss a cruel world goodbye. Likewise when we know that psychic ability can be very easily faked – particularly on stage where the size of the audience can help enormously – it is not ‘open-minded’ to ignore that fact and keep believing without real evidence. Sadly, however, the methods of the fraudsters are not so well-known, which is why I spend some of my time trying to bring them out into the open. It is not being ‘closed-minded’ to want to put these people to the test or be wary of a psychic’s claims. It’s the best use of available knowledge in a world where we know how it can be faked and where vulnerable people are being asked to pay for the promise of something supernatural, with no firm evidence to back it up.

Most of you, as readers of this blog, will know all of this of course. Others won’t, and will just feel annoyance towards the scientists offering the test (‘Who the hell are you to test our Sally? Leave her alone, it’s nothing to do with you’). So it’s always worth saying why it’s really important to check carefully when these sorts of claims are being made. Meanwhile, brace yourselves: Sally may decide to show the world tomorrow that she can really do it, and the course of human knowledge will take a sudden swerve to the left. We can look forward to her and other verified psychics working with governments and scientists and finally, perhaps, these proven individuals can engage with the forces of the departed in order to advance our race, help us find peace amongst ourselves and understand the nature of eternity, rather than merely pass on bland condolences or upsetting revelations from the Other Side.

Or maybe she’ll have better things to do.



October 30, 2011 at 7:09 pm

Another interesting read! 😀

October 30, 2011 at 7:25 pm
Chez says:

‎”Thank you for your email. The Grand Canal Theatre is a receiving house, all concerts and shows hosted at this venue are organized by promoters and producers, who control all aspects of the incoming show, from the ticket pricing and stage design to production and sound, bringing all equipment including set, costumes and AV equipment”
Grand Canal Theatre Dublin, Facebook page, 29.9.11.

Sally Morgan DOES use her own crew.

Brilliant article, Derren. Thank you. Looking forward to seeing any footage of Sally being tested on your show, (if it does exist). She has also claimed that she’s been tested by ‘renowned scientists’ like Gary Schwartz (‘Afterlife Experiements’), on her old website But she does not provide any evidence of this.

October 30, 2011 at 7:26 pm
Michael says:

Incisive as ever Derren and enormous fun making these charlatans sweat but I can’t help thinking the truth is the audience doesn’t want to know. Unlike one of your shows where we all gawp and ask “how did he do that?”, Sally’s audience gawp and say “isn’t she amazing?”. Until her victims, sorry ‘customers’ demand proof she will continue. And what’s a million dollar reward worth when she probably takes multiple millions annually.

October 30, 2011 at 7:33 pm
firstbuddha says:

Looking forward to Sally turning up and after proving sceptics of her abilities, cackling as she clicks her fingers and exits in a cloud of smoke

October 30, 2011 at 7:36 pm
Oliver says:

Derren, Derren, Derren. This is too easy for you.
I wish you would challenge yourself with destroying greater irrationalities.
You may destroy psychics, but the stupidity that causes belief in psychics will still exist.

October 30, 2011 at 7:37 pm
Reilly Brown says:

She won’t give up that high-paying job until she is undeniably shown to be a fraud. She will cling on with every ounce of her being, its her livelihood, her team will utilize every PR trick in the book, their jobs are at risk too. She won’t let go until she is beaten down with straight up evidence. There needs to be an Oceans Eleven style con, where a team of misfits in costumes infiltrate one of her shows and get to the bottom of everything. Hey, that would make a good special 😉

October 30, 2011 at 7:37 pm
Rhian says:

Very valid point Derren. Sadly people will seek comfort in whatever gets them through the day. x

October 30, 2011 at 7:41 pm
Laura James says:

This is a well thought out article with cited information. Its my hope that people in my sphere of influence read it, because I have friends who pay psychics for useless or harmful information.

October 30, 2011 at 7:44 pm
Ella says:

This article is fantastic. As always, it’s very well written, and very informative.
I do think that if Sally was truly psychic, she’d have no problem with it all…

October 30, 2011 at 7:44 pm

Beautifully argued. The crux of the matter is: ‘if you really can do this, why haven’t you helped to change the world’? What could we do if we have that knowledge, and why not share it? It could become a skill you learn, like plumbing.
Sadly, that’s possibly being too open minded.

October 30, 2011 at 7:48 pm
fraac says:

The whole psychics/theists versus skeptics/atheists thing confuses me, in a way where I don’t think I’m being facetious, there’s an actual point being missed. Maybe it’s the implied idea that there’s an objective reality and some people are ‘getting it wrong’ and have to be corrected. To me that seems like groupthink taken to a level we don’t mind because we’re in the group. Is that the aim here? To be in the comfortable majority and then we can relax?

What’s going on is definitely not what appears to be going on. Angry skeptics don’t make other people feel better; you can’t simply disprove a person’s reality and have them be better for it. Either you hurt them or you cause conflict between you. For what end? To defeat them and be in the comfortable majority?

I call shennanigans.

October 30, 2011 at 7:48 pm
Simon Powell says:

Fantastic, I just wish there were laws in place to prevent people from making these outlandish claims and benefitting from peoples gullibility and hopes.

October 30, 2011 at 7:49 pm
Jacob says:

Lot sof beating around the bush here with regard to Morgan’s authenticity.

October 30, 2011 at 7:50 pm
Sally says:

I recently saw Sally Morgan in Bromley I didn’t once feel that she connected with anyone from the ‘otherside’ there were frequent name changes and the person in the audience taking the message kept changing I felt a bit embarrassed for her as things didn’t seem to be going very well. I was with my sister and mum who was so bored she sat and played scrabble on her phone. We decided that we could have spent our time and money better at home watching a highly edited version on the telly with a takeaway and we would still be under the illusion of her accuracy 🙁

October 30, 2011 at 7:50 pm
Stephen says:

I am open to the possibility of believing in a psychic who can demonstrate their powers repeatedly in an objective test. The laws of Physics would have to be modified in order to explain all that we now observe in the macro- and micro- scales, and would benefit from being able to explain the Physic ability too. The increase of knowledge about the world and how it works is a worthy endeavour. My only disappointment is when people decline the opportunity to push the boundaries that little bit further in order to explain new phenomena. I continually hope that a Physic will one day sit down and assist in the construction of an objective test of their abilities, which they can then provably and repeatedly pass at a rate significantly above chance.

October 30, 2011 at 7:52 pm
Bernadette says:

I enjoyed reading that. I do believe that some people have extraordinary gifts but I am very sceptical of the so-called mediums/psychics. I had a tarot card reading 12yrs ago, as a 2 for 1 freebie from a friend. The lady had nothing relevant to me to disclose and she really was digging for a response. My Nan has died since, and I miss her like mad. If anyone tried to trick me in this particular guise I would certainly want them revealed as a fraud! I hope people have an open mind to both sides but look at it with objectivity…although I know it’s not easy when someone may be grieving. That is all! Thanks Derren.

October 30, 2011 at 7:53 pm
Jewels says:

About Sally

“We live in a cynical world and I’ve had to prove myself time and time again. Some of the world’s most renowned scientists have tested my ability and been astounded, among them Gary E Schwartz from Harvard University. I am now regarded as one of the most accurate psychics in the world.”

Are there any further details regarding these tests conducted by world renowned scientists?

October 30, 2011 at 7:56 pm
denise says:

Derren we have tickets to see Sally! But after seeing your show with the seance et al and the subsequent evidence! It’s a bit hard to swallow! Xx

October 30, 2011 at 7:56 pm
The Bajan1 says:

I was a fan of Sally Morgan’s TV show and belived her skill until I went to one of her live shows. Her mediumship seemed to have left her that evening and she received very little response to the feeds she was receiving from the dead.

This does not mean she is fake, but for me, the underwhelming performance was enough to convince me that her skills in connecting with dead or knowing things about the living with whom she has no connection are unproven.

Any medium worth their salt would not flinch at a scientist setting them a challenge. In Sally’s TV shows this is something that was undertaken albeit not in controlled conditions, just people randomly placed in front of her in a room for her to identify. She was blind folded and was only allowed to touch the perdon’s hand. Needless to say, she always got it right.

There is a Scottish medium whl is a hairdresser and I always wondered if he was ‘real’. I wonder if he would take your challenge.

October 30, 2011 at 7:58 pm

Thanks for this info, I have been trying to teach myself cold reading techniques to prove its fake because if I can do it anybody can, plus I think it would be cool to be a ”medium” at party’s. Im not doing it for financial gain just for a laugh. another thing that gets me after doing some research is how easy it is to learn but hard to master and make it look genuine. Your next show should be me an armature convincing people im real that would be soooooo much fun to put holes in all the physics claims. If a young dyslexic Scottish guy can cold read and admits having no special ability’s and taught himself how to cold read in a month or so would make pros look a wee bit more stupid than they already do.

Keep up the good work Derren

p.s Make more investigation documentary’s

October 30, 2011 at 7:59 pm
Matt Hawken says:

Great article. Strange isn’t that all these dead people follow her around, surely they could think of more exciting places or people to follow!

October 30, 2011 at 8:01 pm

If only everyone would read this. Personally I think the people with the most to gain from reading it will give up by the 2nd paragraph due to some kind of cognitive overload. Beautifully written Derren, but as you know, probably for nothing.

October 30, 2011 at 8:06 pm
GeoffH says:

Great Experiment this week. Great ending, totally unexpected. The audience must have been pretty pissed though!

October 30, 2011 at 8:09 pm
Ash says:

Interesting read, thanks. Read a few things from Paul Zenon relating to Sally and watched the Richard Bacon radio interview. Shame she wont do a test isnt it. Cant imagine why…

October 30, 2011 at 8:10 pm
Jon Gordon says:

A fantastic blog Mr Brown, I read this sort of thing and just want to somehow force everyone to read it so I could then say, ‘there, what do you say to that?’ But I can’t, they won’t, and even if they did their response would likely be as ignorant and illogical as ever. I like to think I’m ‘open minded’, in that I’m fascinated by what could be, but that doesn’t mean I ignore what clearly is, or what far brighter minds than mine could explain. I’m waffling so I’ll stop.

October 30, 2011 at 8:11 pm
John S says:

Anyone who is in anyway skeptical of mediums will see through the dazzling lights of a show production and see the common sense of what these people do. It’s easier to accept that Sally’s powers are real rather than decline them as accepting it the most straight forward way to think about it. Its OBVIOUS Sally’s powers are not genuine , anyone can see this. But why is it this ‘profession’ of being a medium that for some reason has a gateway through the majority of humans skepticism and just becomes something we automatically accept?. I suppose the very difficult way in which we are able to test these ‘mediums’ is the reason behind the general acceptance that they are genuine.
Of course Sally has better things to do, an hour away from picking her own bum would simply be a disaster.

October 30, 2011 at 8:12 pm
Lewis says:

Really loved this.
It might sound stupid, but just asking.
Is Derren psychic? He mentions it several times and faking it?
But is he?

October 30, 2011 at 8:12 pm
roz says:

as i’ve said before…cant be done, darlin.

LH&S, roz

October 30, 2011 at 8:17 pm
Kmc says:

Fantastically written, just wish more people had a logical outlook on subjects such as this.

October 30, 2011 at 8:18 pm
alijo_g says:

While I don’t believe that psychics are real, my dilemma is that they seem to give real comfort to the people that they do ‘cold read’ and apart from the money side of it, I can’t really see what harm they do.
When I lost my sister several years ago I went to a spiritualist church a few times because, as most people who’ve lost a loved one, I would have given anything for one last word from her. If I’d have received a ‘message’ from my sister telling me everything was alright and that I’d always have her love, then I wouldn’t have given a damn whetther they were real or not and would have gone home an awful lot happer than when I went in!
I also went to see Colin Fry and really felt that it was a load of old bunkum, but some people seemed to get real comfort from their ‘reading’

October 30, 2011 at 8:19 pm
John S says:

@Lewis No, If you had any knowledge of Derren you would know he never claims to be physic.

October 30, 2011 at 8:20 pm
Lee Dowling says:

Is it really just that mean to write these type of people of as con-merchants, and their followers as gullible fools? It’s what I’ve always done, I see no need to give them the PR. If you’re gullible enough to believe the tripe they peddle, I don’t believe that someone walking up and proving them to be a fraud is in any way useful. The gullible will find any number of things “miraculous” and just move onto something else.

Though I love watching both the people who peddle the tripe (entertainment value alone is fabulous, once you pick yourself up off the floor and stitch your sides back together), and the type who debunk it (which, admittedly, are probably infinitely more interesting if for no other reason than they confirm my already-set-in beliefs), I can only lead a horse to water…

October 30, 2011 at 8:21 pm
Valda says:

I sense a pinch of sarcasm in the defence of the probability of Sally being a real psychic – and nobody should blame the author. It would actually be thrilling to hear Sally’s explanation of why her powers do not work during the testing: static electricity? block of energy? hostility from the testers prohibiting her concentration? The paranormalists get so admirably creative at those crucial moments of self-explanation.

October 30, 2011 at 8:21 pm
Jimbo says:

Here’s a short video about open mindednness

October 30, 2011 at 8:23 pm
Seb says:

It saddens me to think there are innocent people out there who get hoaxed by these conmen/women. People, often in times of personal trauma and hardships, look to whatever method they can to find peace and this is understandable. But for ‘psychics’ to exploit these people with there provision of bogus solaces is not only deceitful, but down right disgusting.
‘Psychics’ , when eventually found out (and they WILL eventually be rumbled), may feel that they have helped hundreds/thousands of people through tough times in their lives when in fact all the have done is lied to people who are ready to believe in absolutely anything that may provide them with the comfort or safety they desperately crave, and make ridiculous amounts of money doing it. People of God?? Quite the opposite, in fact.

October 30, 2011 at 8:26 pm
Bluebird says:

If Sally Morgan is genuine, why has she not offered to assist with the search for Madeleine McCann.
A successful outcome to this investigation would provide Sally with worldwide recognition.
It isn’t that she claims just to contact those who ‘pass over’ but also predicts outcomes within the lives of those who choose to consult her like the personalities she meets with on her TV Show.

October 30, 2011 at 8:33 pm
Alan C says:

I have a message from the other side coming through, it’s from a…… I’m getting a letter D……. Mike he says he is old, 24 years old with black blonde hair. Anyone know him. Well he says this important message this winter when you get a cold use chicken noodle soup. Oh and he tried going through Sally Morgan but she wasn’t available, something about getting ready for a big test.
Think these people should be strung up to dry could do with someone taking them to court for fraud.

October 30, 2011 at 8:34 pm
Sam says:

The only way i see these shows becoming more unpopular is if more people test the shows themselves.
Is there a group who does that already? I hope people start telling fake storys at these shows in the time before they start and and see if they still retell it.
It annoys me so much that people can get away with this.

October 30, 2011 at 8:37 pm
Jay says:

Well written DB and bang on the money as always….if it’s any consolation I’m a full member of the Jedi temple! ‘Big Juan’ as I’m known on Corisant and that my good man is as impressive as our Sally….

October 30, 2011 at 8:37 pm

There have been psychics who have put themselves through scientific tests one example is Nina Kulagini, the SPR have also done research on this matter. A person who performs in front of an audience for profit is first and foremost an entertainer. If fraud is being committed then it should be investigated. However just because a performer is shown to be fraudulent it does not mean that there is no ”Other Side” or that the claims of all psychics are fraudulent. The reason people believe in the ”Other Side” is because very small things have happened to them personally .. for example they smell a favourite perfume or the smell of a cigar.. it could be put down to imagination, it cannot be proven conclusively at least not yet.

October 30, 2011 at 8:37 pm
carol bargielowski says:

Dear Derren,Wow i think i’m psychic,i was thinking last night how you should approach Sally Morgan,and i come on here tonight and here you are approaching Sally Morgan.I will be packing theatres out soon x
Seriously i want to beleive,i miss my late sister,i want to see my beloved pets again more than anything.Even though i have had unbelivable experiences,which i’m sure would be bored listening to,i still can’t quite beleive and i really want to.If i was psychic i would be chasing you and wanting to show the world,and not for a million pounds and not for fame,to give the world comfort,the comfort i myself would love.especially now as am in really really poor health.
I have just listened to the phonecall and beleive that 100%.looking into this more,thanks Carol age 45.luv your shows

October 30, 2011 at 8:39 pm
Robert says:

Beautifully put. I wouldn’t be so polite. Given the existence of frauds and the lack of tested evidence for mediumship these people should be distrusted until they can prove otherwise.

October 30, 2011 at 8:42 pm
Steve says:

Great blog Derren. Especially the description of what you would do if psychic; focusing on the well-being of others and the advancement of human knowledge, rather than more “important” issues, such as counting the cash you made from the last audience…

I enjoyed reading your points, but in my opinion, you are far to subtle. Perhaps conveying your views with such sensitivity is appropriate. However, I simply prefer the provocative approach. These charlatanic frauds deserve no respect and absolute exposure. Who are they to exploit credulous and sincere people, grieving and craving closure?

October 30, 2011 at 8:50 pm
Laura James says:

Lewis, are you ADD? Seriously. Read Derren’s blogs. He clearly states he does not believe in the supernatural which includes…. psychics. So, obviously not.

October 30, 2011 at 8:54 pm
David Davison says:

Derren you are my hero, couldn’t have put it better myself. I mean if it was truley possible I would eat my hat and. Ow down to her skills, it would. Hangs everything, one of the biggest events in human history. You could always test her abilities by. Buying lots of tickets to shows and get people to give false information to people in the foyer and see if she stills gets it correct, now that wouldn’t prove anything but would certainly. Be impressive.

October 30, 2011 at 9:05 pm

I just wanted to raise a tiny issue, In your blog you seem to be falling over yourself to be ‘open minded’ when really anyone who follows your work knows that you are not a supporter nor a believer of people having supernatural powers, and that you are, rightly, keen to prove them fraudulent. I don’t think Sally Morgan is psychic, any more than anyone else on the planet is, and I think you think that too, so why not just come out and say so? The more we cushion these people with ‘openmindedness’ the more they get away with. Unless and until they can prove their gift they should not be allowed to profit from it. I know of so many people who earn money this way and it is legalised fraud. Please Derren, stand up and shout about it!

October 30, 2011 at 9:11 pm
Sue Deighton says:

I was very interested to read your blog Derren. I went to see Sally in December last year. I had seen her programmes and was looking forward to the evening; hoping for some sort of ‘proof’. I came away from the evening wary of all psychics and with very little trust left in Ms Morgan. I found the explicit description of a young man’s suicide to be unnecessary and upsetting (from what I have read here, this seems to be the norm in all her shows). However when she began to channel young children and started using baby voices and gestures I found this extremely disturbing and very distasteful.

If she IS genuine then I think that that the best thing she could do to help people is to tone down the performances, and then take these tests to prove her worth to us all. Once and for all.

October 30, 2011 at 9:15 pm
Hannah says:

My mum’s neighbour had a medium over a couple of months back, and invited my mum and their mutual friend over for a reading, along with myself. I, naturally, being a hardened skeptic of such antics, chose to opt out with grace and dignity. My mum came home, flapping about in a manner beyond embarrassing, claiming the woman was incredible and knew things about my, sadly deceased, grandmother that nobody else could have known, including the fact my grandfather was an alcoholic bully. Imagine my despair at my refusal on reading this, that I might have had something other than second-hand twaddle to repeat!

October 30, 2011 at 9:19 pm

You should organise a psychic show amnesty. Offer 2 tickets to Svengali for every Sally Morgan ticket that’s handed in.

October 30, 2011 at 9:27 pm
Lou says:

Very eloquent article & fairer to Morgan than I’m sure a lot of us feel but after Simon Singh’s libel case I understand why! Thank u Derren coz u encouraged me to question psychics a few years ago, I’m now a sceptic hoping for proof but realistic enough to realise we’re not going to get it from ppl like Sally Morgan.

October 30, 2011 at 9:33 pm
Janine Pickering says:

Very good point about how much it would change things if she was a ‘real’ psychic. Why wouldn’t you want to prove yourself?

October 30, 2011 at 9:42 pm
Derinda MacGregor says:

OK, I am a medium and I would love to be tested and I have asked Derren before – so, please get in touch and let’s get on with it! I would go to the states for the million dollar test, but can’t afford to get there.

October 30, 2011 at 9:44 pm

Sally Morgan is an evil woman 🙂

October 30, 2011 at 10:46 pm
Paul says:

I don’t quite get why they target mediums. Recently JREF dressed a bunch of people up as zombies and went to try get Van Praagh to take the test and posted the videos thinking they are oh so hilarious. Why is it they do not dress up a bunch of people as Mohammed and march on a mosque demanding the Imam prove prayer works? Why are they not lobbying for the abolition of Judaism until such a time a Rabbi can show there is a god and he does care what you do?

It is all too easy to attack fringe people and ignore the elephant in the room who offer the same service: solace at a premium. JREF for me just smacks of cowardice and I find their tactics deplorable. I don’t believe in psychics nor hassling then for proof which they obviously won’t provide. Makes me wonder what’s in it for the sceptics

October 30, 2011 at 10:54 pm
Tim says:

Derren, I really enjoyed the write up on Sally. Although having always believed in the supernatural and been witness to things that I simply can’t explain, I do believe Sally is simply another Dereck Akora crock of pants. It’s all about the money and status with Sally unfortunately, like when she claims to have predicted Princess Diana’s death and said she saw the crash and the queens arm was hanging out of the car. Wrong, Diana wasn’t the queen though and if she did see it why didn’t she inform people and try to channel more information in order to try and prevent it. We follow you a lot Derren, you are very interesting and love you outing Sally. She won’t do the experiment, we all know that. Great read, keep them up. Cheers.

October 30, 2011 at 11:09 pm
Clovis Sangrail says:

Austraila is running a gameshow called ‘the One’ – the search for Australia’s best psychic. They give them various tests (eg. Match up the couples from the audience, or find the car with the red handbag inside). Its hilarious watching them mess up and then justify the reasons why.. (eg. I’ve a bad habit of listening to my conscious mind) – unfortunately it is meant to be serious, and is cut to show the psychics in the best light possible.

October 30, 2011 at 11:21 pm

A quite astonishingly well-written and thought-provoking blog piece, Derren. I found your post very well balanced and of the issue at hand, not unduly biased either way.

Having seen psychics perform (very well-known ones too), and been a total believer in the past, it saddens me to learn that there are people out there, whoever they may be, that profit financially through the grief or loss that someone else has experienced. It’s just so horrible to think about.

Like you, I’d be overjoyed if just one person could prove beyond all doubt that they have some sort of psychic power. Think of the endless possibilities that this could lead to (murder investigations etc).

But alas, I have a feeling we could all be in for a long wait…..

LC x

October 30, 2011 at 11:50 pm
goatboy says:

Beautifully constructed argument. I love you, Derren Brown.

October 31, 2011 at 1:38 am
Scott says:

Well, at the end of the day. The information is out there that people should know by now that mediums is pretty much all BS.

I understand the desperate and the need to want something so much that you will do anything to hear someone say – yes your XXXXX is looking down at you and is happy.

But come on, there has to be a line between letting the people who part with their money part with it. It is just good marketing on their part. Marketing is what everything is about now a days, no matter how crap the product is.

October 31, 2011 at 1:42 am

totally agree with this comment rig it so the whole crowd dosent cooperate and see how physic she really is

She won’t give up that high-paying job until she is undeniably shown to be a fraud. She will cling on with every ounce of her being, its her livelihood, her team will utilize every PR trick in the book, their jobs are at risk too. She won’t let go until she is beaten down with straight up evidence. There needs to be an Oceans Eleven style con, where a team of misfits in costumes infiltrate one of her shows and get to the bottom of everything. Hey, that would make a good special

October 31, 2011 at 4:16 am
Christopher says:

If anyone is interested in the history of mediumship, I would encourage them to read Harry Houdini’s, “A Magician Among the Spirits” or ” The Miracle Mongers, an Exposé” (available as an ebook,

Houdini is sensitive to those who seek out physics, but critical of the “human vultures” prey on them. It’s amazing what became of two girls fooling their mum.

October 31, 2011 at 6:49 am
cp says:


October 31, 2011 at 8:55 am
Steve Bryson says:

I can not remember a time when I ever believed in Santa. Or the tooth fairy. I don’t believe these fictions ever held any sway in my head.

Visiting Winchester Cathedral to take photographs (say what you like about religions, and I do, they knocked up some impressive buildings) a lady walked up to my friend and asked, “Are you a fireman?”. He’d just retired from the service and it freaked him out. I didn’t bother telling him that he was a published underwater photographer with his background quite exposed regularly in magazines. After all she didn’t ask me if I were a, well, whatever I am.

I don’t understand why Morgan’s “abilities” are even debatable, it’s not possible (until proven otherwise). If a judge gave her any credibility in a libel case he doesn’t deserve his position.

October 31, 2011 at 9:20 am
Stevie says:

I couldn’t be as nice as Derren in this article. As others have said – she will never comply, even in response to nicely worded articles like this. She is making too much money to risk it all. But then, I’m sure people would still continue to believe her even if she failed! There is no possible way it can be true anyway.

Ultimately, if looks like a piranha, moves lime a piranha, and smells like a piranha – I wouldn’t dangle my testicles in the water.

October 31, 2011 at 10:53 am
Slugsie says:

My breath is not being held that for certain.

Excellent article Derren.

October 31, 2011 at 11:30 am
Jan Johnson says:

Well articulated and I sit before you chastened, falling as I did into category of cynic rather than sceptic. In the chaos of ensuing thoughts the words ‘comfort’ (as in that which some may derive from the offerings of Sally & her ilk) and ‘exploitation’ (as in the remarkably lucrative business she seems to have conjured out of it) jiggle about together awkwardly. A little more thought may be required to resolve this conflict.

October 31, 2011 at 11:40 am
Jammy says:

Sally Morgan always seems to get very defensive whenever anyone quesions her abilities, e.g. I remember reading a newspaper article once where she complained about people at parties trying to put her to the test when they found out she works as a medium & said she tries to embarass them by revealing personal details (such as them receiving an intimate medical examination recently). And yet surely anyone who offers a service for money should not only accept but expect to have to offer some kind of proof of their abilities. No one made her charge for her alleged services. Sadly, believers seem to fall back on the same few excuses: it’s not possible to test mediums, it’s just a matter of belief, what’s the harm if they bring comfort etc. Meanwhile, the Sally Morgans continue to make money.

October 31, 2011 at 12:03 pm
Steve Page says:

@Derinda: If you are confident of your ability, surely you’ll find the money somehow. The cost would represent less than 0.1% of your potential winnings.

October 31, 2011 at 12:41 pm
Rory says:

Great article. I think it’s true, they are fake – mostly because they’re making show and get money from people and that they think they have this ability.

Those people are frauds to me.On the other hand – I’m catholic and I believe that some people can “heal”, because God give them like this persmission to do so. But even though, if they are true – then they would never ask for money or claim they have this ability in them. People like these that I’ve seen in m life are very humble, don’t really want to be public. They say aways that God is healing not they. The fact that they don’t want nothing in return is relevant to me, but it doesn’t have to be for sceptics and I can understand it. People who were healed stay healed to this day and they got medical documents for it. Works for me.

October 31, 2011 at 1:36 pm
Anne says:

Fraac says


To what end? Well not “people getting it wrong and having to be corrected”. Its about fighting for evidence to matter. That leads to societies where science is valued and can help make you live longer and keep your friends/family safe and well. There is a link. If you had a friend who was being exploited for some kind of gain by another, would you not try to tell them? Does honesty not matter in any of these realities, your or mine?

October 31, 2011 at 3:11 pm
Bozley says:

Hi Derren,
Great post and I hope you find some juicy footage. Loved the stuff with Joe Powers.
I’ve put my own thoughts on Sally and the test up at my website, see:

October 31, 2011 at 4:39 pm
roz says:

ideally any psychic would have agreed to do a test involving the dead on this day, halloween, when the wall between the worlds is at its thinnest.


LH&S, roz

October 31, 2011 at 6:11 pm
Stephen says:

“I am now regarded as one of the most accurate psychics in the world.”

That sounds very relative to me. Is that like being the most practical chocolate teapot?

October 31, 2011 at 6:33 pm
Francis says:

Agree with Stevie (31/10 9:20AM), I don’t think I could reserve my personal judgement of people like Sally Morgan quite as well as Derren has done here. And quite rightly so, it would be unfair for a public figure to jump into the fray and start denouncing her as a fraudulent leech who rips off the vulnerable for her own twisted financial gain… which by the way, is my own personal opinion until proven otherwise.

A well balanced post showing an impressive amount of restraint!

October 31, 2011 at 6:59 pm
Greig says:

A very fair and balanced article. It’s not a witch hunt, rather an unbiased seeking of the truth. This is the basis upon which all of James Randi’s tests have been based upon. A very good account Derren.

October 31, 2011 at 7:47 pm

Thoroughly enjoyed reading this article! Even the bits straight from your book 😉

Also thought you would like to know that my Halloween costume was one of the audience members from The Gameshow; more frightened children I have never seen!

It would be amazing if she were proven to be genuine, but personally I don’t think it likely.

Honor x

October 31, 2011 at 8:19 pm
Phillip says:

I do understand why Derren brown cant says that she is a fake or a fraud, but I can…she is a Fake and a fraud.

i dont have any money for her to sue me for 🙂

October 31, 2011 at 9:40 pm
pvandck says:

Of all the billions of dead humans… really, don’t be ridiculous. There are only two kinds of psychic – dishonest and deluded.

As the great Nobel Prize winning physicist said, the easiest person to fool is oneself. Meaning, we should take steps to differentiate what we want to believe from what really is. And we do that by critical thinking and demands for unequivocal evidence. Not by appeals to emotion and popularity polls. You see, it doesn’t matter if 6 billion people believe the Earth is flat, that homeopathy is medicine or there are such people as psychics. Irrespective of the honesty of the opinion holder all three assertions are manifestly false, even though each in its time has been a popular delusion

October 31, 2011 at 10:34 pm
Jeannie Harris says:

@Rory You say mediums are fake yet you believe in the ‘miracles’ of your ancient Catholic religion. Throughout history there have been fake holy men who use tricks to increase their flock. True they don’t always ask for money but mostly people do feel obliged to give a ‘tip’ especially if (by chance) some miracle occurs . Some people make these claims just to feel important or special. We all know what an ego boost feels like when you fool a group of friends with a magic trick at a party and everyone hassles you for the secret.
I once did a ‘spoof’ tarot reading to a friend who was totally convinced I was psychic and I was really tempted to play along when she recommended me to some of her friends.
Oh, and please, don’t say perhaps I really am chosen by God.

October 31, 2011 at 11:20 pm
Scott says:

After reading the immense Trick of the Mind, science and religion has never been so captivating. The way in which “mediums” and “psychics” connect with their subject has in no way the same showmanship that Derren possesses. For some strange reason or another, Firefox has presented a red, squiggly line underneath Derren’s name, yet God appears fine, probably an upheaval crescendo of Sally retaliating to the test.
Personally, I feel she is too busy playing with a Ouija board with our new friend “Toby” from Paranormal Activity 3. Besides all this nonsense, I think Derren should be applauded as not only one of the greatest entertainers of our times, but as a great writer. Blogs like these thrive upon the comments of loyal fans and glory hunting haters and most of all, the scrutinizing press.

November 1, 2011 at 12:01 am
Beth says:

I’m so pleased you are outing these fake mediums ..I was a theatre reviewer for 15 yrs and had the misfortune to have to cover Derek Acorah etc and was bombarded with vile emails from idiots who were happy to pay a huge amount of money for absolutely random statements on stage and some quite obviously gleamed from the deaths columns in local papers ..when will people wake up to these fakes..

November 1, 2011 at 9:20 am
Me says:

I recommend people seek out the Penn and Teller B*llsh*t episode about mediums (or is media the correct plural?), I think it was the first episode in the series. They show all the tricks that fake psychics use to con their audience. Come back Houdini, the world needs you more than ever!!

November 1, 2011 at 12:33 pm
Svlad Cjelli says:

“Maybe it’s the implied idea that there’s an objective reality and some people are ‘getting it wrong’ and have to be corrected.”

No matter what reality is like, of course it’s there. Saying that there isn’t an objective reality contradicts itself.

November 1, 2011 at 12:46 pm
Al Kinley says:

Great comment Derren. As always (except when you make fun of vegans!) you’re diplomatic, frank and fair all at once.

I have one question though. In Svengali you claim that participants’ failure to blindly organise numbered cubes into the desired arrangement is proof that psychic powers don’t exist. You do this knowing full well that the cubes are truly ordered not by the participants but by you (I won’t reveal how). Is this any better than the frauds who claim that psychic powers *do* exist based on similar trickery? You’re both providing falsified evidence.

November 1, 2011 at 12:49 pm
Paul says:

The thing I liked about Derren’s shows is that they are conjuring/psychological tricks brought up to date with a great presentation (and interesting angle for misdirection). I find this debate about fake psychics and mediums all very old fashioned and tedious. I hope constantly bringing up a tired subject that for many people has no interest or relevance to them does not cause Derren to end up like a lot of old style magicians. The darker material Derren does is good and his new shows are great (although the Assassin had a little too much similarity to The Heist for my liking) but keep it modern, fresh and cutting edge and maybe try to avoid old fashioned stereotypical subjects or perhaps people will turn off and end up watching Dynamo ! 🙂

November 1, 2011 at 1:33 pm
matt johnston says:

The last person I knew who used a high pitched voice when performing,
to cover up how bad they were was Joe Pasquale.

Nuff said I think

P.S. I don’t believe in any Psychics anymore due to the opinon of the mighty Derren.

November 1, 2011 at 2:04 pm
Shaun Banks says:

They should test the idiots that go to see these kind of people.

It is a serious lack of imagination to think that the next life will be just like this one and that the dead who inhabit it have nothing better to do than to sit round blogging with mediums living in this one. Although if the spelling and gramma of many bloggers (including me) and my crappy internet connection are anything to go by, it might explain the very cryptic messages been recieved from the dead.

I personally believe that life is eternal as energy never dies it just changes form and in the next life I will be pebble and have nothing to do and all day, every day, to do it in. (If not a pebble then maybe a free floating mass of energey the size of a walnut with the capacity of 3 solar systems – help I am loosing it)

November 1, 2011 at 2:33 pm
boer dery says:

Sally knew she would be exposed

November 1, 2011 at 3:29 pm
Berber Anna says:

Derinda: If you’re interested in the JREF test, you don’t need to head off to the US quite yet. If you’ve passed the media presence requirement and have an affidavit from an expert convinced of your powers, you can contact the JREF and they’ll arrange a preliminary test by a skeptics’ society in your own country. Only if you pass that test (and as far as I know, nobody has so far) will you need to go to the JREF headquarters in the US for the actual test.

November 1, 2011 at 7:41 pm
Teresa says:

Derren what an interresting read. I come from a family that use to have hush hush talks (mainly older females) about psychics, mediums & secrect seances in thier homes streaching back atlest 50 + years to my grandparents & their parents.As a child given strange rings to wear & tarot cards (1st ever reading strangly true!!) given to me. So I guess you could say it’s sort of in my blood. I have my self have had many experiances of seeing spirits or ghost very close up (2 feet away!) both in my homes, out & about & at work places. Do that make me a Psychic? No, im a sceptic I don’t beleave anything to I see it! I even have problems watching your shows & you admit to what you do(i shout at u)! I don’t watch Sally’s show as i think it’s a load of rubbish & people like her such as Derreck Accora

November 1, 2011 at 7:47 pm
Teresa says:

I think Sally, Derreck Accora and other so called Psychics like them should all be tested, but we know thats never going to happen because they will never do it & cos they will lose face & more importantly money when their are proven wrong!

November 1, 2011 at 8:01 pm
Peter Robinson says:

What an excellent and elegant diseection of the issues. No more than we have come to expect from Derren of course! Marvellous fellow!

However, I must take against part of the thesis. I believe it is perfectly proper and correct to despise these people. We must be beyond the stage where we truly expect any of these people to genuinely back up their claims. Further, when we know that Popoff used an earpiece, and Morgan even admitted to this when found out, and we know Colin Fry has two hearing aids, then we know that this lot are definitely frauds, even if the final evidence is not in. The proof is in the fact thay will not subject themselves to anything even vaguely approaching a real test.

November 1, 2011 at 8:04 pm
Peter Robinson says:

Following on from last comment. I do hate the showbiz frauds like Acorah, Morgan, Fry, Edwards etc etc etc etc, who rip off old grannies and vulnerable people, knowingly! What’s wrong with a bit of hatred of the fraudsters?

So, Derren, keep up the good work, but a skeptic can have passion too, and not be just a cynic for hating the scumbags.

November 1, 2011 at 9:34 pm

If it’s all done by listening in to people in the lobby and getting people to write stuff down before hand, why not get 10 actor couples of various ages and demographics to turn up to a show, or a series of different psychics shows, “in character” and see if any of them get a false reading based on the false info… Easier to arrange if you have the backing of a major TV network and an army of loyal fans willing to go undercover, of course.

I would like to believe there are true mediums and psychics out there, but really do not think any of the stage hacks would walk the walk in a test environment.

November 1, 2011 at 9:48 pm
Oliver says:

Derren, can I say the following words from your blog really struck a chord with me; “In fact I sometimes wonder if the main reason why people would rather believe a psychic is genuine might be because the implications of it being a lie – of that person, for reasons of ego and renumeration, happily getting up on stage and trampling over the lives of people who know no better – is so ugly that it’s preferable to give them the benefit of the doubt”.

I grew up with a narcissistic bully as a father. I’m now fine and loving life but I noticed this “benefit of the doubt” being given to my father by others growing up. I still notice it if I ever talk about his abuse now. I take heart from the fact most people can’t imagine such ugliness but I’m amazed at our capacity to ignore unpaletable truths.

November 1, 2011 at 10:59 pm

Thanks for linking to the phone call, very interesting!

I’m collating information on “Psychic” Sally, and her internet-tough-guy lawyer, Graham Atkins. Please, if you have something to share, let me know.

November 2, 2011 at 10:35 am
Oliver says:

Also… I wonder why, when evidence is there to support an idea or truth…many of us have the potential to still ignore this. If you ever played ‘join the dots’ as a kid to see what picture emerges at the end, it seems strange not to ‘join the dots’ in a social sense and in terms of scientific scrutiny of behaviour as adults when the stakes are higher. Stranger still, to have all the dots (evidence) in place and yet ignore or change the picture that emerges at the end to suit one’s sensibilities or bias.

The truth will out in this case but I suspect an honest practitioner in any field would be itching to prove their real capabilities and wouldn’t be hiding from those that wish to see this magnificent talent in action. Fantastic and engaging blog.

November 2, 2011 at 10:57 am
Secret Santa says:

I work in a theatre that sally’s show has been to twice in the last year. The first time around she made claims about a murder that meant the police were asking for footage of what she said. I don’t know the outcome of this claim but I am presuming since I didn’t get interviewed by the police it was unfounded. I personally found what she said was shocking and unacceptable as did several of my colleagues. I am also aware that she has separate communication systems between her staff and the in house techs, and also 90% certain she has an earpiece as when we had a problem at the theatre she was informed about it from someone backstage while she was on stage. I wouldn’t say that this proves anything however I know that I would not buy tickets to her show other than for “entertainment purposes”

November 2, 2011 at 12:05 pm
andrew says:

The difficulty with the Halloween challenge is that reading the details of the actual test, it didn’t really seem like the fair test on Sally’s part. I don’t think she has ever claimed to be a dead-body-identification-expert. Surely there must be a better test, an impartial one that would actually look at what someone like her would claim to be able to do – more like in her shows. For example – would she be able to do the same thing in a controlled environment, with no technicians, no ear-pieces or radios, no other way that she could possibly obtain the information.

November 2, 2011 at 5:47 pm
Beth says:

Thank you Derren….the P&T Bu**sh*t was very interesting…..!

November 3, 2011 at 1:30 am
David says:

I think if you get it wrong ONCE, you’re out. You can’t swing and miss til your psychic.
Thankyou Derren for being honest about your talents, you’ve opened eyes I know, and seem to be making MORE money out of the truth! Thank God! – You have to watch this!

November 3, 2011 at 4:30 pm
John Stone says:

Oops, corrected link:

November 3, 2011 at 9:12 pm
BlokeyMan says:

Some people in this thread mentioned they have tickets for forthcoming Morgan shows. If you have the money or equipment, please consider taking along a pocket radio scanner and a recording device attached to the scanner. I’m assuming that Morgan’s people might be reading this blog, so if you are considering it, maybe don’t announce it here ahead of your visit.

November 4, 2011 at 10:03 pm
Shaun Banks says:

I see dead people – most mornings in the bathroom mirror

November 5, 2011 at 11:33 am
alan says:

Could it be that a psychic has something in common with a placebo?
As Stephen Fry said on QI recently, nobody knows how placebos work (in regard to the human psyche) but they do. Even when a subject is appraised of the facts. Seems that humans, as guinea pigs, still have a lot of secrets to surrender.

November 5, 2011 at 6:11 pm
Toby says:

On this note Derren, have you seen this?

Let’s get involved peeps!

November 6, 2011 at 5:53 am
StevieBob says:

Just thought I’d mention The One, the search for Australias top psychic, don’t know if anyone else is aware of this but its a reality TV series in which a dozen or so of Oz’s top psychics are put through these scientific tests. As a skeptic myself it has proved to be some very interesting viewing which only back up what I already thought. There has been the odd ‘fluke’ but nothing which in my eyes verifies genuine psychic ability.

November 7, 2011 at 12:29 am
Chris Redmond says:

I’d love to dismiss all ‘psychics’ as cold reading fraudsters who rely on gullible punters, but would like to recount an experience I had years ago which I’m sure most reading this will dismiss without a second thought.
It involved a ‘Psychic’ guy being interviewed on a local TV station who stated he was going send out an image to viewers. Long story short, my Mum was listening in the kitchen but wasn’t actually watching.
However, she immediately described the image (a ship with the sun above) and said she saw a red outline of it clear as day. I laughed, she was puzzled, but it turned out to be the correct image which was spooky to say the least.
Now I take it for granted that very basic telepathy is possible, but there are too many ways to replicate the effect to convince others.

November 7, 2011 at 2:18 pm
Tony Sandy says:

Darren, have you heard of Norman Don’s study on alien abductee claimants? To me it is an interesting work because it shows that ‘genuine’ claimants are able to change their brain wave patterns, whereas others in the experiment couldn’t (13 of the first group and 100 controls, claiming trance and mediumistic abilities). Google: topografia cerebral de pessoas abduzidas (Portuguese site but the study is in English).

November 7, 2011 at 2:29 pm
Tony Sandy says:

Could it be that genuine psychics don’t do well in hostile situations for the same reason that plants left to their own devices grow well but those stomped over with hobnail boots die?

As for placebos working – surely this is mind over matter and proving that self-hypnosis ensures matter follows belief? Not so much a miracle as control. Look at how some people are house proud and keep their residences immaculate (healthy) while others turn them into filthy and untidy cesspits (fail to look after their dwellings / own lives). Likewise think of Voodoo, where people are told they are going to die and do so. Also there was a case of somebody accidentally given the results for somebody terminally ill – they died and the other person survived.

November 7, 2011 at 3:06 pm
Berber Anna says:

Tony: I fail to see how the performance anxiety of a ‘psychic’ is comparable to physical damage killing a plant. Obviously, if you mortally injure an organism (i.e. damage it to the point where repair is impossible and function is impaired severely), it will die. But nobody is suggesting these ‘psychics’ are mutilated before they’re tested.

Similarly, I fail to see how tidiness vs. untidiness ties into the placebo (or nocebo) effect. Mindset has a proven effect on the immune system, but what does that have to do with how tidy one chooses to keep their home?

November 7, 2011 at 4:46 pm
Sarah says:

Like religion, it seems that these shows draw their audiences in by making them believe and have faith in the psychic’s abilities. Faith requires no proof if the payout is good enough. The comparison to that debunked faith healer is an interesting one though. How much does Sally earn from her devotees? Although these performances provide great comfort, it makes me ill to think that she may be making millions from other people’s naivety.
Chris: That’s pretty interesting, it sounds similar to one of “the events” episodes a couple of years ago (I think it’s on 4oD…) Even if it is seemingly unexplainable though, doesn’t necessarily mean that the outcome is the result of psychic powers or anything paranormal.

November 7, 2011 at 4:52 pm
Sarah says:

Tony: I see what you’re saying – a lot of students taking driving tests fail repeatedly simply due to pressure. However, what could be more stressful than performing in front of a room full of strangers, relying only on your “psychic” ability that you know does not hold up under pressure (thus the unwillingness to take a test)? It seems possible, but all too convenient for a psychic that’s under scrutiny to put their failure down to performance anxiety.

November 8, 2011 at 11:26 am

I have to say I love your blog, and I like where you are coming from, I am a psychic and a medium, I have been since I was born. I have always questioned what I do and am my own skeptic, I feel that is why I have not been in theater for the simple reason I don’t feel that this sort of work can comfort people and help people if you are turning it into a show.
Some mediums see it as showcasing their talent, their abilities so as to provide proof that life goes on, so in fact what we end up with is the psychic or medium on stage becoming an ego fueled person. I don’t think it’s their fault at first but when the snow ball turns into an avalanche they must be pressured into continually becoming better and better. I would love to do a scientific test as i think it might help people in some way.

November 9, 2011 at 12:59 pm
Berber Anna says:

Darren: What are your abilities? You say you’re a medium, I don’t think that includes remote viewing, does it? Because that’s the easiest ability to test (I write something on a piece of paper, put that on my cupboard, you tell me what it says). I’d advise you to contact a local skeptics’ association, they’re often happy to help test psychic abilities.

November 10, 2011 at 11:52 am
Beverley says:

sorry, I know this is unrelated but how can I get a permanent sign in with a picture? Thanks.

Msg from Abeo: To get your picture next to your blog comments across the internet you sign up for gravatar at It will then display you image alongside any blog comments you use that email address for.

November 10, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Berber Anna,
I have more abilities than I even know, its all about understanding how to use them and control them.
As for the easiest test I think remote viewing isnt the easiest LOL, I have described peoples houses to them and talked to spirits that stand with them, when I have been on the other end of the phone. Even down to what colour and feel the curtains are to how many trees they have in the garden, I think the funniest was I told someone there was a brick in their garden at the bottom, and it had a certain date on it. The went down and bingo it was right. As for your note, I could tell you and you could change what was on there to make me look silly :-). But I am up for a test where it is fair. 🙂 bless you Berber Anna

November 10, 2011 at 2:38 pm
Berber Anna says:

Darren: I’d never change a note that’s used to test someone. As someone with autism, I can’t stand untruths, which is what that would be. But if you’re not up for notes, then sure, describe something for me. Let’s see… I have two display plates standing on my clothing cupboard. Tell me what picture is on the left one (as seen from the room). Do you need my address?

November 10, 2011 at 4:02 pm
Dan T. C. says:

Just read this, and have to say, an amazing read.
I really have to agree on the conclusion that open mindedness is a term many people embrace too deeply.
I once read an amazing manga (alright. i’m a bit of a geek 🙂 called Liar Game, in which you follow a con artist / mentalist, and without getting too much into the story itself, I read a very interesting quote about the very issue of trust and doubt.

“People SHOULD be doubted. Many people misunderstand this concept. Doubting people is simply a part of getting to know them. What many people call “trust” is actually giving up on trying to understand others. Rather than “trust”, it is actually APATHY.”
similarly, once you trust someone without questioning them or analyzing your relationship with them, they take up less space in your mind.

November 12, 2011 at 12:01 am
Stuart says:

Inviting her to tough the lucky dog… you sly old…. dog.

November 12, 2011 at 11:57 am
Beverley says:

Thanks Abeo!

November 15, 2011 at 1:43 pm
Tony Sandy says:

Berber Anna, sorry you don’t see what I mean. You’re obviously not looking at the fact that some people are more sensitive than others. The point I was trying to make is that the insensitive destroy things without realizing it – hence hobnail boot damage. You for instance are less obviously aware than those who understood this point and didn’t comment.

As for the placebo effect – sick people don’t look after themselves and well people do. This is a reflection of their mental state: The inner reflects the outer – tidy house, tidy mind. It shows our emotional state of optimism leads to effort, to change our physical state – likewise with pessimism. Optimists do everything – pessimists do nothing because they believe nothing will work. Ask Stephen Fry about being bi-polar (up/down)

November 15, 2011 at 1:48 pm
Tony Sandy says:

I think people who are introverted, get frightened of noise outside their heads, until they trace the sounds to their source in the world around them. If they don’t do this, they continue to think of the sounds as supernatural, instead of just natural. I noticed this with me when thinking and hearing sounds, leading me to question myself ‘What was that?’ Turning my attention outwards into the world and tracing the source of the noise, clarifies this.

November 22, 2011 at 12:17 pm
marion says:

Hm..i was suppose to comment and tell about this craazy dream i had, starring Derren Brown. But after reading all the “political correct” comments i changed my mind:)
But want to say that i love your shows! And keep up the mind-bothering work:)
Much love from Norway

November 22, 2011 at 8:22 pm
Berber Anna says:

Tony, the fact that people didn’t respond to your comment does not mean that they understood your metaphor — it may simply mean that they didn’t find it worth the effort of a response. And your metaphor still seems to imply that testing a psychic somehow harms or destroys them, which is a strange premise. Obviously, test conditions will need to rule out conscious or unconscious cheating, but other than that, efforts could be taken to make the psychic as comfortable as possible.

The placebo effect does not have to do with how well one looks after oneself. It is a measurable effect on the immune system and pain centres by the application of a ‘fake’ medication.

By the way, my house is pleasantly untidy, and I’m neither an optimist nor a pessimist. I consider myself a realist.

November 23, 2011 at 3:35 pm
Cian says:

This is my favourite psychic fail ever.

November 23, 2011 at 6:42 pm
@LadyGauci says:

“There’s being open-minded and there’s being so open minded that your brain falls out.” 🙂 Made me chuckle!

November 24, 2011 at 8:32 am
Tony Sandy says:

As an experiment, why doesn’t Daring Derren, take (wired up / monitored ) subjects to a sleep centre and attempt to wake them or alter their brain wave patterns, through pure will ( No touching, no sounds). It could also be broken up into light and heavy sleepers, for more interest.

November 24, 2011 at 8:35 am
Tony Sandy says:

Derren a shaman? Yes, even they use tricks to create the right atmosphere for inducing magic, in the same way that doctors create right conditions for healing.

December 13, 2011 at 1:14 pm
Hannah says:

a very interesting read 🙂

December 16, 2011 at 8:29 pm
Paul says:

Willing to be tested

February 23, 2012 at 5:13 pm
Clare Ledger says:

My step mother is into psychic stuff (along with a lot of other unproven stuff) and she actually thinks Derren Brown is pyschic, as he knows so much and reads people so well. Ironic!

February 29, 2012 at 3:21 pm
Marie says:

Brilliant article Derren, I agree with you about the whole show thing and paid “apparant pyshics” going round doing this to people to be sketchy to say the least! However, I have had personal experiences with things, that i have forseen, which have never involved money, cold reading or hot reading, and in many of these experiences it would be totally inpossible for that to have occured anyway. I only wish there was a way to prove unexplained things of this nature. The problem I find, is these “apparant Psychics” that do all this and ask for money for it and faud people get on my wick even more so because I know the real stuff I have experienced and it makes it even more frustrating for someone like myself.

February 29, 2012 at 3:25 pm
Marie says:

One thing I had forseen years ago saved my own life at the time, which is a prime example of A: How no money would be involved B: How there would be no cold reading or hot reading either. I know some things happen that are unexaplainable yes, but I have had quite a few experiences throughout my life of different things of this nature, which cannot be explained, and when you have “Apparant Psychics” like this that go around frauding people it makes a person even more annoyed. I know the phrase open-minded is totally overused, I totally get what you are saying, still, I am just that, I don’t ignore science and I dont ignore facts presented and evidence shown, I am not delusional, and if anything wish there to be some kind of test to show its real, but as I myself

February 29, 2012 at 3:27 pm
Marie says:

know, these things come whenever they do, there is no set time nor knowing if you will get another one again, or even if indeed it is “Psyhich ability” it might well be something else that just has not name for all I know. But, still, how can you try to test something you don’t know may never occur again in your life? I understand what you are saying though and very much agree with your viewpoint.

February 29, 2012 at 3:36 pm
Marie says:

I’ve just read the article about her suing her critics!!!!!!!! Oh my God!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If I was walking around claiming to do what she can do and getting money off people like that I would be like OK test me!!! Test me NOW!!!!!!!!! And after all the money she will have made out of people, and now she’s suing people?!?!!? Oh my days, it never ends!!! Outrageous!!

June 24, 2012 at 3:06 pm
paul mason says:

hi i will have read this today and would like to offer myself for any psychic test on the condition i don’t have publicity or money ,i was contacted by sally’s people about having a reading on tv when she found out who i was she cancelled , even though i am nobody any different its just i can use my psychic gift to help others that are mislead by all the fakes and money takers . give me a photo and ill tell you there name where thay are who took the picture etc and seal it in a box etc
basically i would like to take any test offerd to help understand that there are some real psychic out there but
uncanny as it is i dont know where to start looking for the right person or company to test me without me paying a arm and a leg
i wish to help not get paid thanks Paul