2 July 2022

Was I too Harsh On Spiritualist Churches?

A couple of weeks ago I replied to a lengthy comment left somewhere on the site. You can read that at http://www.badpsychics.com/2022/06/a-public-reply-to-private.html if you so choose.

Well I enjoyed writing that reply and despite the site being without regular updates these days, it got a moderate amount of views. So I thought I would do it again, purely to pass ten minutes of my times.

As before, I will reply in RED BOLD lettering, since that asserts my dominance over the internet stranger.

He or she replied to an article exposing the secrets behind Spiritualist Churches that I wrote some time ago.



I only came to post one comment.

Just one? That's a shame.

Your site should be called bad sceptic (which is a shame, given such great work you have done!).

There is a compliment in there somewhere. Did you know that a site once called BadSceptics was indeed set up, with the sole intention of attacking me and "debunking" my work. And would you like to know who created it? It was none other than Gwen Johnson, the wife of Derek Acorah. Yep it's true, go ask her. Of course the site flopped because well, you cant take me on and win, that is just impossible.

Now, do I doubt that there are fraudulent psychics and mediums out there? Oh, absolutely not. There are fraudulent everything's out there basically. I am grateful, having perused this site for many years for the articles that do contain evidence. I remove this publishers self indulgence and congratulatory tones for doing so because the facts you are left with are indeed helpful to help identify those simply who knowingly, or indeed unknowingly - with heartfelt good intent - are not performing feats that they believe to be.

Ok this is a good start. Although I would hardly call the UK's greatest and most knowledgeable Skeptic (me) self indulgent and self congratulatory. That doesn't sound like the great Jon Donnis at all, in fact Jon Donnis is known for how humble he is, in fact he is probably the greatest at being humble. You should also hear the way he says "Chyna".

I am a sceptic, I hold doubt, and enjoy the research and find my belief switching to various degrees! This is a field it is very wise indeed to retain one's sense of proportion during deeply emotional times.

Sceptic, using that spelling, I really associate with climate sceptics, I don't know why, I always just preferred the spelling with a K. That hard K just feels better. Although if you are a sceptic or skeptic, your "belief" should never change, for being a skeptic should have little to do with beliefs, and everything to do with facts and logic.

I have been to churches, and had quite remarkable experiences, with never having been there before. I have heard recordings of readings that were utterly extraordinary. I have seen obvious fakes exposed, and not so obvious - some by this website itself.

I have also been to Spiritualist Churches as has been documented on this site, I have personally received around 300 face to face readings over 2 decades, and analysed north of 3000 readings given to others. I have also seen and heard readings that you would describe as "utterly extraordinary", the difference between me and you however is that when faced with something utterly extraordinary, I didn't just accept it at face value, instead I delved deeper, I discovered the secrets to how it was done, and much like any trick, when you know how it is done, it stops appearing to be magic.

This article however was like reading a conspiracy website. There is, inevitably, some extreme version of truth in certain circumstances. And I applaud work you have done in exposing genuine fakery.

Just a quick reminder that his comment was a reply to an article exposing the secrets used in Spiritualist Churches.

I am unsure how revealing secrets can be conflated with a conspiracy theory. As a skeptic, when presented by two options, the first being based on logic and critical thinking, and the second being one of magic and leaps of faith, to choose anything but the first one, makes you the conspiracy theorist.

I am reminded of Occam's razor

"a scientific and philosophical rule that entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily which is interpreted as requiring that the simplest of competing theories be preferred to the more complex or that explanations of unknown phenomena be sought first in terms of known quantities."

What is more likely? A spiritualist medium is gaining their information from non psychic means, that are clear to see, or that they are breaking the laws of physics to pass on a message from the dead?

But to tarnish an entire element of spiritual connection that people have had long before you were around, and will be long long after this broadly bitter article is left to the confines of a web time machine, speaks of an arrogance only befitting of someone who is not open to potential - and is a closed minded so as they minds to be welded shut.

I do not tarnish the believers, for they have been fooled, they are the victims, I tarnish those behind the scam, the ones that collect the information and pass it to the spiritualist medium, and then take donations from the victims, or allow them to book private readings. 

To truly be a skeptic you must be open minded by definition, to be closed minded means your mind has been made up and wont be changed. I often hear the line "he told me something he had no way of knowing, and nothing you say will change my belief". Those are the words of someone closed minded.

For me to ask questions, and be prepared to investigate and find out the truth, regardless of where that may lead me, is the definition of being open minded.

This is a common mistake of the believer, as they project their own closed mindedness on to those who dare question their fantastical claims.

There stories myriad, nurses who have seen people visiting patients before they pass. The inner knowings of things and acting upon them.

(Googles the meaning of the world myriad)

Yes there are plenty of stories that are incredible, that does not make them true.

1 million people could line up side by side on a beach, in the dead of a clear night, look up to the full moon, and every single one would describe a moon that appeared bigger than usual. And every single one of them would be wrong, and a simple experiment would prove it. (Get your phone out, and take a photo of the moon, quickly goes back to normal size) This is the moon illusion, and yes even when you understand why and how it happens, you will still see the illusion. Plentyful stories do not have to equate to reality, but instead can relate to just a common mistake, delusion, or misconception.

What a cold world yours must be, bereft of any richness of genuine connection.

My world is being surrounded by friends and family, my world is enjoying myself, travelling abroad and meeting new people. I have looked into the eyes of loved ones, and said goodbye knowing they would soon die. Those memories are some of the strongest I have, there is no coldness to those memories.

And, I am not writing this for you.

Oh now you tell me. Cheers mate.

I am writing it for those who are seeking to find truth and may stop at such writings as this, and I would say continue your own journey. Take with you the knowledge of fakery that this person has donated kindly to the world (with genuine thanks), but balance this with the knowledge that the likelihood of a richness of human experience to be known at this point, compared to that we may come to know, is an adventure in true human spirit.

All I ever ask people is to make up their own minds, to be in ownership of as much knowledge as possible. Never to just take my word for something, but to listen and then find out for themselves.

I have no interest in people treating me like an infallible person, I want to be challenged, I want to be questioned, and I hope that people use the type of skepticism I promote, to be skeptical of what I say, for I am just a stranger on the internet. This is what I stand for. 

Let me see this man debunk the placebo affect, for example. Of course, something is much easier to reference but until when was this truly testable?

Why would I debunk the placebo effect? I believe the placebo effect is a strong and real thing. In fact scientific studies have proven that even if you tell someone they are on a placebo, if you give them twice the dosage of the placebo, it will work better than a single dosage of the placebo. The human mind is an amazing thing, and the placebo effect actually explains much of how alternative medicine can have an effect on people, and why people believe in it.

There may come a time when we look back at the frauds and debunkers with equal disgruntlement, or perhaps even humour, and wonder how we allowed ourselves to be taken in so greatly by either.

Or, perhaps, we will simply celebrate our progress as we gain further understanding of the true depths of what it means to be human.

And, after seeing and experiencing much strangeness, and using scepticism and debunking (in its truest sense) to be left with things that do indeed appear quite peculiar, I feel it may become a little bit "Project Blue Book".

I agree.

Where the huge majority of things can be explained away by unusual weather, or perhaps website, phenomena - but there will remain a few cases for which those true inquisitors of the nature of what it is to truly be, will seek out with interest.

There will always remain phenomena that we cant explain, that is the very nature of science. Science does not have all the answers and never will, not to mention the politicisation of science, and how scientists get paid, means that we often need to be as skeptical of scientific claims, as we are of paranormal and supernatural ones. 

And, in defiance of this absolutist article - if you should receive such an instinct as to call someone for no good reason, don't let articles like this stop you.

I would also be willing, should I be a gambler which I am not, to opine that whilst seeking to rightly discredit fakes, he has used his own "instinct" to gain the information needed to publish this website.

Now, wouldn't that be the most intriguing of ironies.

I have no problem with people seeking out psychics etc, my issue is solely with payment, do not pay a psychic a penny. Do not give them anything. If you find yourself in a weak moment, and you pay one for a reading, then damn sure fight to get a refund.

As for instincts, I have very strong instincts, I go with my "gut feeling" all the time, but understand that my instincts are based on decades of experience and knowledge, which means things that might be hard to understand for a newbie, come second nature to me, watching a psychic perform, and knowing within minutes if not seconds the techniques they are using to fool people, I understand the cadence of how they speak, the vocabulary they use, the hand movements, the eye movements, everything. I am so familiar with the tricks, that my instincts tend to be spot on when it comes to such people.

I would look forward to him responding say he has never once followed a hunch he had...

My hunches are based on experience and knowledge, that are now second nature to me. It is nothing magical. Think of it like a mechanic who can just listen to a car engine, and will instantly know it is a problem with the alternator. Just from a slight tone change in the noise of the engine. He is not a psychic, he cant even really tell you how he knows, he just does, because he has spent 20 years fixing cars.

Whatever brought you to this website, particularly if it was through pain, I do hope you find peace.

And that is what I try to do, because seeking out psychics and mediums, in that desperate need for "one final message" is the last thing you need to do to find peace, and in fact creates a dependency that not only extends the grieving process, in some cases makes it never ending.

From someone who used to eating people for breakfast, who claim to eat people for breakfast. ;)

Thank you for your comments, I hope you appreciate my reply, and perhaps I will make you think about things a little different.

Jon Donnis