Friday, February 15, 2008

Psychic versus sceptic

user posted image rDanny Penman: I was trained to be a cynical hard-nosed scientist. My PhD in biochemistry taught me that logic, rationality and devotion to the truth are the most important qualities for any scientist. When I became a journalist, I kept these values close to my heart. Recently my ‘rational' view of the world was shattered. Whilst researching a story on the late Princess Diana, I interviewed the medium Sally Morgan. Sally had, apparently, been receiving messages from the Princess. After telling Diana's story, Sally offered to give me a psychic reading. I was intrigued enough to take up the offer, viewing it as a possible opportunity to expose psychics as charlatans who exploit the gullible through good guesswork. Yet, on the surface at least, Sally did not appear to be a fraudster. She was a delightfully level-headed and thoroughly charming middle-aged woman. If it wasn't for a strange look that occasionally flickered across her eyes, I would not have seen her as being special in any way. Even her tastefully furnished house appeared entirely suburban, with pastel coloured sofas, cushions and chairs.

There were no crystal balls, pentangles or occult trappings of any kind. Her reading was also thoroughly down to earth. From common expectation, I had imagined that Sally would begin with a few minutes of guttural chanting before slipping theatrically into a trance. Instead she took a sip of coffee and dropped a bombshell. "You're going to Greece," she said.

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