Faith Healing Documentary Rapped with 2001 Bent Spoon

A documentary on faith healing that promised to scrutinise the practice demonstrated short-sightedness and has won for TopShelf Productions the 2001 Bent Spoon Award from the New Zealand Skeptics.

“We had lots of nominations for the Bent Spoon this year, but it came down to two programmes on TVNZ’s Documentary New Zealand slot, one on hauntings and one on healings. We realise that documentary makers these days are more concerned with entertaining than educating, but when they show vulnerable people being exploited spiritually, physically or economically, we think that they should do more to examine critically what’s going on,” says Skeptics Chair-entity Vicki Hyde.

The Skeptics point to common psychological effects at work, ranging from taking advantage of a strong pre-existing belief or desire for a response through to the pressure people are put under to comply with a group. Such practices have been used by everyone from the Nazi Party to stage hypnotists, and even play a role in people’s responses to conventional medical treatment.

“When you have someone talk about having the living daylights scared out of her by a faith-healer, it’s little wonder she was willing to follow his insistent commands that she walk despite her arthritic pain. Fortunately for her, it didn’t lead to any damage. When you get people talking about casting out demonic spirits, that’s when you really

have to start worrying because it can lead to deaths, as we saw in Auckland earlier this year.”

“Hallelujah Healing” said it would test such practices, but the people it concentrated on were ones who already had an involvement with prayer groups and healing sessions. It did not offer any alternative explanations, nor did it speak to any medical or psychological experts. Any faint questions it raised were overwhelmed by the very strong ‘witnessing’ by the members of such groups and by the supreme confidence of the healers themselves, say the Skeptics.

“We demand strong evidence from our medical fraternity when they want to muck around with our bodies and our minds. We should demand equally strong evidence before we let anyone else do the same.”

The quest for evidence was a feature of those winning Bravo Awards from the Skeptics this year.

“We know our documentary makers can produce well-researched thoughtful programmes, like Rob Harley’s ‘Desperate Remedies’ on Assignment last October, which looked at what drives people to seek alternative cures. It’s great to be able to acknowledge that sort of quality.”

Also acknowledged in the 2001 Bravo Awards are:

  • Susan Woods for asking the right sort of questions regarding possible evidence for the Fiordland moose, Holmes, 27 June 2001
  • Professor T W Walker, for his gardening column in the Christchurch Press which often addresses the “muck and magic” issues of various gardening approaches
  • Denise Tutaki, for her item “Calling 0900 Psychic… Okay, now tell me something I don’t know”, Horowhenua-Kapiti Chronicle Feb 28, 2001
  • Dr Pippa MacKay, for her commentaries on medical issues, particularly bogus cancer remedies

The awards will be officially announced at the Skeptics’ conference at Hamilton’s Waikato Diocesan School for Girls (September 21-23). The Bent Spoon Award is named in honour of Uri Geller, the former nightclub magician who claims he can bend metal with his bare mind. The Skeptics have their doubts.

Maxicrop, Mormons and Mediaeval Horror Stories

It wasn’t a dark and stormy night but a gaggle of skeptics got together recently to listen to ghost stories in Hamilton. Professional story teller Andrew Wright sent shivers down the groups’ skeptical spines as they listened to his rendition of one of the oldest known horror stories, Lord Fox, a BlueBeard variation.

The occasion was the Skeptics’ annual conference and I’m told founder member Bernard Howard’s opening talk the next morning on the changes seen in the Twentieth Century set the mood nicely for the material that followed. I missed this, due to being glued to the registration desk but look forward to reading it – we will run some of the addresses in coming issues. Another one I missed was John Welch talking about Gulf War Syndrome — which we have in this issue (see opposite). John also enthralled delegates with his demonstration of an antique black box Amazing Electrical Device.

An interesting session in the afternoon was held with representatives from the offices of the Commissioner for Children and the Health and Disability Commissioner. Perhaps the most disturbing aspect to come out of this was that the standard of treatment given by alternative practitioners is assessed only relative to standards set in that field. So an iridologist’s work is only compared with that of other iridologists (see Pippa MacKay’s article).

Nick Kim gave two very different presentations, one featuring his wonderful cartoons, and a more sobering piece on forensic science. He showed you can be convicted, in a British court, just for handling a banknote that has passed through the hands of a bomb maker.

Mike Clear, as well as warming the crowd up on Friday night, presented his findings on the intrusion of alternative therapies into the world of cats, dogs and chickens. Then followed two talks which, for me, were the highlights of the conference. Waikato University history lecturer Raymond Richards spoke about his experiences following a lecture he gave in 1998 and subsequent years on the Mormon church. Following complaints from the Mormon community, the university entertained charges of harassment against him. In a similar vein, former Agresearch scientist Doug Edmeades spoke of his involvement in the long-running Maxicrop case and the way in which commercial pressures impact on science.

During the conference a TV2 film crew did some filming for a documentary, Do You Believe In the Paranormal, which screened recently. “Madame Vicki” did a wonderful palm reading job and Denis Dutton (whose skeptical view of the Greenhouse Effect was another conference highlight) inserted pithy remarks at strategic moments. You can get a copy from the Skeptics video library and it’s well worth a view.

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Belief in the Paranormal on the Increase among Americans

The Gallup Organization released the results of its new poll on paranormal beliefs in June, which indicate increases in the percentage of Americans who believe in communication with the dead, ESP, ghosts, psychic healing and extraterrestrial visitation (see

“This latest Gallup Poll is disturbing”, says Paul Kurtz, chairman of The Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), “because it shows an increase in superstition in the US – particularly in regard to communicating with the dead, haunted houses, ghosts, and psychic healing.”

According to the study, the most notable increases between 1990 and 2001 are beliefs in psychic or spiritual healing (up eight per cent to 54 percent); haunted houses (up 13 per cent to 42 per cent); communication with the dead (up 10 per cent to 28 per cent); and witches (up 12 per cent to 26 per cent).

Kurtz blames the media for increased credulity. “These results may be traced directly to the mass media, especially sensationalized TV shows, films, and the tabloid press and publishers. It’s regrettable that Americans show lower scores in scientific literacy among their young people in comparison with other democratic societies. The poll also points to the urgent need, we submit, for teaching critical thinking in schools and colleges. That should have a high national priority.” The National Science Board’s 2000 Science & Engineering Indicators survey found an abysmally low understanding of the scientific method and general science knowledge among Americans (see

CSICOP Senior Research Fellow Joe Nickell feels that the poll asks the wrong questions. “The poll asks people whether they believe in a phenomenon, which amounts to asking them whether they want to believe. They’re polling the heart, not the head. If respondents had also been asked whether they have experienced these phenomena themselves, or whether they thought there was good scientific evidence supporting these beliefs, I suspect those scores would have been much lower.”

CSICOP Press Release

Ghosts, Mediums and the Argument from Omniscience

In which John Riddell reminisces about happy childhood days and reflects on the stories we tell to grown-ups

When I was just a young skeptic our family used to go to big Christmas family get-togethers at my great aunt’s homestead. There were always lots of fun things for kids to do. There was a swimming pool with water the colour of rotting leaves and a ghost room upstairs in the house. When we thought the grown ups weren’t looking, we would sneak upstairs for a peek into the room. The door was nailed closed, but the big kids knew how to bend the nail back and open the door just a bit. Every year a new group of 8- year-olds would try to scare the bewhatsits out of the 5-year-olds with tales of the ghost. There were also stories that the last kids to enter the room had not left alive through the door. Of course, this was because the room had no floorboards and they had slipped off the rafters and fallen through the ceiling to the dining room below.

I don’t remember if we believed the story of the ghost, but I do remember not wanting to slip and put a hole in the dining room ceiling. Since then the house has become an historic place and been done up to cater for wedding receptions and garden parties. The “Ghost Room” has had new floorboards installed and the nail has been replaced with a doorknob. But the stories of the ghost still continue. One of the uncles takes groups of visitors through and keeps them entertained with rumours of the ghost.

The story started as a way of keeping children from going into a dangerous room, and has continued as a means of entertaining the tourists, but with plenty of drunken wedding guests passing through, it won’t be long before we have a sighting.

There are people who believe in ghosts. Life after death and all that.

There was a scientist in the paper the other day who thought he had found evidence for life after death. He interviewed a lot of people who had nearly died on the operating table. According to doctors trying to save their lives, these people had no detectable brain function at some point.

The scientist found that they had memories that he thought were of that time when they had no detectable brain function. A lot like the fourth form.

It would be very cool if there really was good evidence of a warm and fuzzy place after death, but unhappily, this guy hasn’t found it. There are some other explanations. It might be the doctors had more important things to worry about than making sure the patient had absolutely no brain function. So maybe the brains hadn’t really stopped. Or it could be the memories of a bright light and feelings of happiness were manufactured either before or after the no-brainer. The patients didn’t die, so we don’t really know.

The world’s leading authority on Near Death Experience (NDE ) is Susan Blackmore. For more information about NDE, see I thought it was interesting that “Children who have almost died don’t see dead friends and relatives on the other side, but live ones. They haven’t lived long enough to know too many people who have died”.

However, before we give up on life everlasting, there are also mediums. They think they talk to people who really are dead. There was a bloke on Discovery Channel who sat in the middle of a circle of people and gave them messages from their dearly departed. But the messages were not very impressive.

I mean if he said something like “Now Susan, I have a message from your mother Sarah-May. She says don’t have an affair with Billy-Bob coz he has a social disease, and if ya do, that no-good husband of yours will find out and then there’ll be trouble.”

If that was the sort of message from the other side even I might get interested. Assuming of course that Billy-Bob really did have the disease, but nobody else knew. Instead of providing information that nobody in the room could know without checking, the medium always comes up with something the client/audience already knows. He says “I’m getting something about Susan”. Anyone in the audience who is called Susan, or who knows a dead Susan automatically assumes he is talking to them. “How did he know that?” Well he didn’t. You told him. The medium proceeds by throwing out a word or phrase and seeing if someone picks up on it. The medium creates an illusion that he is telling the client things that only the client could know. In fact, the client tells the medium, not the other way around.

It just isn’t good evidence. But the client thinks it is good evidence.

They use what is usually called the “Argument from Ignorance”. It goes like this. “I don’t know how he could possibly know that. There couldn’t be a natural explanation. It has to be supernatural.”

The ignorance of how “it” happened is used as evidence. I prefer to call this the “Argument from Omniscience” which goes like this.

“I am infinitely intelligent and I know everything and if I can’t think how this could have occurred naturally, then the explanation must be supernatural.” Now this would be a good argument if the speaker really was infinitely wise and all knowing. Unfortunately I don’t know anyone who is. Even so, this argument is used to explain belief in ghosts, Creationism and lots of other subjects that interest Skeptics. In the case of the medium, the client thinks “I can’t figure out how he did it, so he must be psychic.”

The same applies to people who think they see a ghost. “I know everything, and I can’t figure out what it was if it wasn’t a ghost.” People don’t normally say the bit about knowing everything. They assume it though.

The scientist who thinks that memories of a Near Death Experience (NDE) are good evidence for the afterlife is no different.

Sometimes it is better to just say, “I don’t know”.


Help at Hand for Mobile Phone Users

I would’ve thought the main hazard from mobile phones was the increased risk of accident when using one in the car. No-one seems to worry about this, however, instead many are deeply concerned that a few milliwatts of radio waves are going to fry their brains. This has opened tremendous opportunities for the enterprising.

Last issue we reported on the Personal Harmoniser, which minimised radiation effects by strengthening and protecting the body’s immune system. But new on the market is the BioChip, which attacks the root of the problem. It fits into the battery of a mobile phone, from where it emits a signal which disrupts the strong, regular electrical impulse which experts say can damage the cells of the brain. The chip raises the cost of a battery by around a third. Which sounds okay until you remember that with the connection deals now available, the batteries are often the most expensive part of the phone.
(Christchurch Press, 6 January)

Pikachu or Pikajew?

If you’ve felt vaguely uneasy about Pokemon and its possible adverse effects on children, but couldn’t quite put your finger on the precise nature of the problem, Saudi Arabia’s most senior Islamic clerics have figured it out: Pokemon is too Jewish. According to a fatwa issued by Sheik Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah al-Sheik, all Muslims should beware of this game and prevent their children from playing it so as to protect their religion and manners.

The clerics said the concept of the game’s characters appeared to be based on Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, and most of the cards figure six-pointed stars, a symbol of international Zionism and the state of Israel.
(Evening Post, 26 March)

Wedding bells for Uri

Everyone’s favourite spoon-bender renewed his vows to wife of ten years, Hanna, in March. The event probably would have been overlooked by the world’s media if it hadn’t been for his choice of Best Man-Michael Jackson!
(Dominion, 6 March)

Ghostly Goings-On

High profile sceptical parapsychologist Richard Wiseman has been a busy boy. First he was making headlines around the world with his investigations of the ghost of Henry VIII’s wife Catherine Howard, who was beheaded in 1540, but is said to still stalk the corridors of London’s Hampton Court Palace. Just bodies of cold air and some unusual draughts, he said on that occasion.

But things in Edinburgh seem, at this stage, rather more interesting. Wiseman has sent 240 volunteers into the cells of Edinburgh Castle, and cellars in the bowels of the mediaeval “Old Town”.

Nearly half the guinea pigs reported ghostly goings-on, although most were (again) no more dramatic than a sudden drop in temperature, an uncomfortable draught or a feeling of being watched. But one person reported a burning sensation on the arm, and another was nearly reduced to tears by breathing noises in the corner of the room.

Wiseman says the reports are much more extreme than expected, and, importantly, the highest number of experiences came in vaults already reputed to be haunted. But he won’t be a believer until he gets something on film. Meanwhile, local tourist guides are said to be “delighted” at the findings.
(Waikato Times, 19 April)

Rope Trick Mystery Tied Up

You probably knew this anyway, but the Indian Rope Trick is a hoax, it’s never been performed.

Peter Lamont, a former president of the Magic Circle in Edinburgh (that place again!) and now a researcher at the city’s university, found that the story was invented by the Chicago Tribune 111 years ago as part of a subscription drive. Little notice was taken of a short note the paper published four months later admitting the article had been a publicity stunt. It was assumed readers would realise it was a hoax because the story was bylined Fred S Ellmore.

Supposedly, the trick involves a boy climbing an unsupported rope and disappearing at the top. He is followed up the rope by a man with a sword who also disappears, before parts of the boy’s body fall from the sky into a basket. The man reappears and tips out the basket, revealing the boy to be in perfect health. Various attempts at explaining the trick have been made, including the involvement of twin boys, one of whom would actually be murdered.
(Evening Post, 16 April)

Another Psychic Scam

Mailboxes around the country have been bombarded with letters from a self-proclaimed “highly-regarded psychic” offering information about how to win more than $300 000. A reader has sent one in here, and a columnist at the Waikato Times received two, each talking about different amounts of money, and involving different dates. Now the Commerce Commission has released a statement urging recipients to throw the letters away.

The psychic, going under the name Antoinette de Ville (no relation of Cruella?) claims to have dreamed of the recipients winning a large amount of money, which usually varies from letter to letter. While she would normally charge $1000-2000 for such a service (her clients include many celebrities and movie stars, apparently), the dream was so powerful she felt compelled to contact the recipient directly, and would only charge a “handling fee” of $59 on this occasion for providing the information necessary to make the winnings a reality. A money back guarantee is offered.

Whangarei police Detective Senior Sergeant Marty Ruth says there was nothing police could do unless a deliberate intent to defraud could be proved. You have to wonder what level of evidence is necessary.
(Evening Post, 9 April)

Hogwarts it Isn’t

Harry Potter fans who want to enrol in a real school for witches and wizards can now do so at the Isle of Avalon Foundation, near Glastonbury Tor in the west of England. Avalon coordinator Colette Barnard says the foundation has taught 350 people Goddess skills and Wicca traditions since 1995, and currently has 185 students. Now, they are offering a part-time course on witchcraft for the 21st century.
(Evening Post, 7 April)

No Money, No Corpse

The corpse of former Nigerian soccer captain Sam “Zagallo” Opone, who died last November, is being held by a witch doctor until he has recovered money owed to him for the player’s treatment. Opone was being treated by the witch doctor who discontinued treatment claiming unpaid bills. When he died (must have been the treatments that were keeping him alive) the witch doctor refused to give up the corpse to the family until he had been paid about US$1200.
(Dominion, 17 April)

Death Takes a Holiday

Not many cruise passengers want to talk about death on their vacation, but the Intuitive Vision Network has just conducted a week-long Psychic and Spiritual Healing Cruise on the liner Norwegian Sky for those who want to combine a cruise with life-transforming experiences. Clairvoyants, channellers and “intuitives” offer the chance to speak with the departed and explore the metaphysical.

The ship sails a round trip from Miami to Nassau, San Juan, St Thomas and Great Stirrup Cay. Hmm, that’s along the southern edge of the Bermuda Triangle…
(Dominion, 27 February)

Chair-Entity Stricken

Skeptics Chair-Entity Vicki Hyde and her family were recently involved in a car accident near Timaru. While the rest of the Hydes escaped with minor scrapes and bruises, Vicki has a broken leg and has spent several days in Timaru Hospital. Opinions are divided as to whether this was an Act of God in retribution for sins unspecified, or an instance of divine protection, without which things would have been much worse. No word has yet been heard as to whether the Hyde family has been offered counselling, or, if so, whether it has been accepted.

The Christchurch Press noted the event in their Diary section (21 April), observing that a skeptical colleague was quick to spot an opportunity. Why not offer her leg as a test for people claiming to be able to heal at a distance? However, for a properly conducted scientific experiment, both of Ms Hyde’s legs would have had to be broken, to provide a control. Keen though she was to test paranormal claims, she says she had to draw the line somewhere.

Who Ya Gonna Call – The Skeptics!

What red-blooded skeptic could turn up an invitation to stay in a haunted house and meet the inhabitants — certainly not your intrepid chair-entity….

You get a lot of interesting invitations when you head the Skeptics, but this one was more interesting than the usual Rotary talk request. Film-maker Rachel Davies was touring the country putting together a documentary about the existence of ghosts, tentatively titled Adventures Beyond The Material World. Would the Skeptics be prepared to provide a representative in amongst the priests, psychics and clairvoyants? You betcha!

So that was how I found myself driving madly over the mountains through teeming rain on Holy Thursday to spend a night in a haunted house with the ghost team and a local ghost-friendly person. Sadly the latter, possibly scared off by the thought of meeting a real skeptic in the flesh, was there more in spirit than in flesh — she pulled out at the last minute.

That left the two doco people and me, knocking around in the haunted house. Actually it was a run-down journalist union holiday home in Akaroa, looking much like a rather disreputable flat I lived in during my student days. A dead seagull in the front yard was solemnly filmed (would have been more interesting if it was a raven — seabirds aren’t exactly uncommon in this harbour township…). We stomped around the old house, inspecting the saggy beds and testing the doors for creaking (they performed beautifully in this regard), and settled down for a chat.

Rachel and her off-sider seemed to have had a great time touring around the place, chatting up people in bars and casually waving around their minimal video gear (courtesy of Nayland College) in true “real TV” fashion. They had heard some “amazing” stories which “rocked”, and were very hopeful of trapping more than the local bar-prop on tape.

One “spooky” experience had been with a psychic up north who had done what sounded like a very professional cold-reading on Rachel. I made a modest attempt myself, rounding up the usual phrases, which she seemed to find equally intriguing. The thing I found intriguing was the contradiction between their hopes for their film and their acknowledgement that they were unlikely to get anything useful on tape. It didn’t seem to worry them any — these girls just wanted to have fun.

They seemed a bit disheartened by the no-show of the person who had claimed to hear “heaps” of ghosts in our Akaroa hideaway, so I did my best to cheer them up. They enthusiastically taped me unpacking my “ghosthunter’s kit” – Peter’s black leather pilot case looked nicely authoritative, and they oohed and aahed at the digital still camera, the digital video camera, the tripod, the reference texts How to Test Your Psychic Powers and Great Scams from the Beyond and, last but not least, the Elizabethan chemise I had brought along to ensure I was in the spirit of the place, so to speak.

I had intended taking along our large spotlight, imagining the line “that’s not a torch, THIS is a torch”. I had toyed briefly with secreting some dry ice in a cupboard and “discovering” it, but thought that that was really a bit too theatrical. (Besides, years of experience would suggest that the discovery would be filmed but not the explanation for the phenomenon…)

Over our fish and chips — this was a budget production after all — we had a long talk about ghosts, why they might exist, what sort of evidence one should look for and what alternative explanations abounded. I had mentioned to them early on that Skeptics tend to be a bit wary about participating in such efforts. After all, we’re well aware that, in many cases, skeptical input can end up being very brief compared to those believing in their particular phenomenon (it’s far more interesting to hear about someone’s UFO abduction than any possible reasons why it mightn’t have happened!)

The girls were interested to learn that I had been contacted the previous year regarding a poltergeist claim, and a little crestfallen when I had to add that a small amount of preliminary investigation suggested the individual concerned had a more tenuous grasp of reality than first indicated, to put it delicately.

I talked about the difficulty of actually investigating traditional ghostly phenomena. They are so subjective — “did you feel that cold patch?”, “I saw a shape” — and hence difficult to test in any sensible fashion. The human mind is such a wonderfully inventive, imaginative thing and few people credit just how strong the powers of suggestion can be. And I warned them that I had a very well-developed imagination…

We drew lots for who would sleep in which of the upstairs rooms where whatever it was supposed to be supposedly happened. (They wouldn’t tell me what the actual ghost claim was; I had suggested each participant be told a different story to see if that had any significant effect on our experiences.)

I think I made them a little nervous by cackling when I discovered the door handle on my bedroom came off. I tested it to be sure I could use it from the inside, and then carefully laid it next to the bed. I figured if anything was going to come through my door that night, it would have to materialise through the panelling. Then, with the camera set up to cover the small room, I went cheerfully to sleep.

My counterparts had a more difficult night. For film purposes they left the lights on, with a red filter over them – not particularly conducive to sleeping. Maybe after a week or two of this, sleep deprivation will provide the hallucinatory experience they are seeking!

Then the really horrific thing happened! It was dawn and there was movement in the house….

Now my experience of media people is that they are not usually early risers, but these girls were up and ready to hit the road at 7am on Easter Friday – a truly frightening thing to behold.

Why did I bother driving on a bad road in bad weather on a holiday to sleep in something not much better than a doss-house with two strangers? Well, I like to think it gave me a chance to demonstrate that the Skeptics are prepared to be thoughtful and imaginative, and demonstrate curiosity and humour when dealing with the wonders of the human condition. Take that, Casper!


Perhaps it’s a coincidence, but many experts in non-proven schemes fall on their own swords. For example, Hoxsey died of cancer, and recently a Lower Hutt clairvoyant went bankrupt (due to unforeseen circumstances). Dr Rajko Medenica, the Yugoslavian specialist whose unorthodox treatments created devoted patients and determined enemies, died at the early age of 58 (Bay Of Plenty Times December 3 1997). He practised in South Carolina and drew patients from around the world, including Muhammad Ali, the late Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi of Iran and the late Marshall Tito of Yugoslavia. He served 17 months in a Swiss prison two years ago for fraud, many saying that his unusual methods were not based on science, but that he preyed on those that had lost hope. He obviously didn’t do the three guys mentioned much good either.

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The Devil and Mrs Smith

It’s a mindbending situation, but I guess you’d have to call me a skeptical believer. Like parapsychologist Susan Blackmore, personal experience inclined me towards the idea that supernatural events really happen.

Blackmore’s approach to the problem was carefully designed ESP experiments. My approach was to go boldly forth among the space-cadets themselves, expanding my consciousness, grooving, absorbing the mind-enhancing rays of the Melchizdek Messengers and basking in the all-embracing super-soul of the Maha Vishnu.

My consciousness expanded all right. It expanded so much my brains nearly fell out.

It’s a jungle out there. If the fundamentaist super-cults don’t get you, the communist descendants of the Abominable Snowman will.

You don’t know what the third kind is until you discuss doomsday with the under-cover Pleiadean alien over a sanctified lunch in a Rama/Krishna boutique.

Ten or fifteen years later (time loses meaning in the Etheric world) I was back where I started. I still think there are grains of truth among claims of the paranormal, and from these tiny grains huge empires of hogwash are built.

If every religion on earth miraculously vanished today, they’d be springing up like toadstools again tomorrow. It is bound to happen, because underneath it all, people keep having experiences.

The hypothetical perceiver, Mrs Smith, knows she saw a ghostly entity float through her room last night, so when her scientifically trained doctor says it was just her imagination she goes away thinking, “What do these clowns know anyway?” The next time it happens she goes to a Mayan channeller and seeks advice from the lost ancestors of Mu.

To some extent “psi events” are undoubtably in the mind. Maybe it’s completely “in the mind”. Maybe. But while the wand-like utterance “hallucination” may mean something to someone, it gives me the screaming-jeebies.

Hallucinations are devilishly tricky things. It could be said that the brain mechanism behind the hallucination allows some aspect of the subconscious mind to come into play. Or, it could be said that the “mechannism” allows the mind of the perceiver access to actual external things not otherwise perceivable.

The whole problem with these damnable, luciferic happenings is that they look like real, external events. They are not inside our heads. Until I get a better idea of how this mental process works, I have to remain a little skeptical of the “all in the mind” theory.

Still, whether it’s all in the mind or not, the only way to get at it is through mind research. The paranormal itself has never given us any genuine information on the subject.

One only has to look at the conflicting literature to realise something’s rotten in Denmark.

Of course, the super-cults have an every-ready explanation for all this confusion — demon activity.