Monday, 10 May 2010

Derren Brown Investigates - Joe Powers, psychic medium

So I just watched the Show "Derren Brown Investigates", for those of you who don't know, Derren Brown is a British illusionist and mentalist. Unlike a lot of illusionists/magicians, Derren usually reveals exactly how he does his tricks. In this show he followed Joe Powers, a self proclaimed psychic medium working in Liverpool, UK.

Firstly they went to the house of a woman named Vonda and Derren watched as Joe gave a very accurate reading concerning the woman's deceased mother and a 93 year old man whom she used to buy eggs from. Both Joe and Vonda confirmed that they had never met before the reading and it all seemed very convincing if a bit superficial - I shall paraphrase "she's telling me pea and ham soup, she's bringing that to me now", yet when Derren asked Vonda afterwards how she thought the reading went, she told him that her mother was a terrible cook. At the end of the show, Derren revealed that investigations had shown that Joe Power's sister lived in the house next door to Vonda, remember, the reading was given in Vonda's house, yet Derren implied that Joe was surprised by this information. He also at that point admitted that he had done many reading in that same street.

Next we were shown a psychic evening where Joe had an audience of 250 people. The footage showed some general 'reading' information put forward by Joe, such as the name Jean - out of a room of 250 people, only one could make a connection - her living sister JOAN who was also in the audience, yet, many of the audience seemed convinced. Joe got a few details wrong here and there but kept insisting that the audience member go and think about it rather than admit he was wrong. After the show, some of the audience members gave interviews to camera, they were all believers and had received 'accurate' readings, however, 3 groups of people admitted to having had private readings with Joe in the past.

Finally, Derren took Joe to give a private reading for another woman named Roz. He had previously asked Roz to give a false name and to have the reading in a home other than her own. She was hoping to hear from her sister whom had lost her battle with cancer and whom had promised before dying to find a way to contact her living sisters if it were at all possible. Joe never mentioned the sister, got his details about the deceased mother wrong and mentioned a James or Jimmy on the grandfather's side whom according to Roz did not exist. Joe's explanation for the poor reading? That Derren had corrupted it.

You can probably guess that I'm a sceptic, but I'm a sceptic who would love to be proven wrong. Derren posed the question, does it matter if it is real or not when people take comfort from the messages they receive from/though a medium? As for Joe Powers, I'm not saying that he's a fraud but he did fail to convince me. What's your take on it?

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