As anyone who knows me by now knows, I do love a good story of about psychic. Barely a day goes by without Google News throwing up another lovely tale of a medium, clairvoyant, tarot reader of psychic detective making yet more unprovable claims. Which is why I was struck with more than a frisson of interest by the headline ‘‘I predicted Princess Di’s death’, says her psychic‘. Lovely. This particular gem appeared in the South Yorkshire Star – god bless Google News feeds, I say.
Essentially, the medium Sally Morgan‘s claim is this: she saw the death of princess Diana a year before it happened. So far, so standard. But apparently, she misread the message as a prediction of the death of the queen, which is why she didn’t failed to warn Di. As the paper reports:
She told The Star how she revealed the royal death premonition not to Diana herself but in a reading for another woman, who she describes as being “very close” to the Princess.
“According to her I predicted Diana’s death. But it was the year before and I really didn’t think it was the Princess of Wales. It horrifies me to say this now but I thought it was the Queen,” she told The Star.
“It was before Diana had done the interview with Martin Bashir, where she spoke about being the Queen of Hearts.
The mistake arose, apparently, because this was before Diana started being called Queen of Hearts.
We’re told Sally spoke to Diana daily for four and a half years, but she revealed the royal death premonition not to Diana herself but in a reading for another woman, who she describes as being “very close” to the Princess. This strikes me as very odd, for a number of reasons:
- If Sally’s powers are so genuine, why would she confuse the queen with Diana? The ‘Queen of Hearts’ was a mere nickname, so were the mysterious powers-that-be giving Sally the message purely based on a nickname that didn’t yet exist? Beyond that one similarity – ‘Queen’ and ‘Queen of Hearts’ – the queen and Diana couldn’t have been more dissimilar as people, so it’s incredibly odd that the spirits/fairies/aliens informing Sally only mentioned the word ‘queen’ and no other distinguishing features.
- The source she revealed the death prediction to was apparently ‘close’ to Diana – but not necessarily close to the Queen. So it’s therefore a little odd that Sally assume it was the Queen’s death that was being predicted in a reading for someone who may not have even met the Queen.
- Sally says she spoke to Diana every single day, but apparently not once in that time did she think it worth mentioning that she’d had premonitions of the Queen’s death, despite the fact that the Queen was Diana’s mother-in-law. It’s strange Sally didn’t think it would be worth dropping in even once in conversation… even if the two women didn’t get on, as Diana was a believe in Sally’s prowess it’s surprising the detail didn’t seem worth mentioning.
- Princess Di died 12 years ago, but only now is Sally Morgan announcing that she saw the death coming. So, presumably, she’s sat on that information for 12 years – right up until the point she has a new book out and she’s touring. Even if we decide to take her word that she does have psychic powers, that would still make her incredibly manipulative – imagine, for example, if one of the Parisian ambulance drivers who took Diana to the hospital now, 12 years later, sold his side of the story in order to make money, what would we think of him? Why don’t we think the same of Sally?
The article also states that Sally hasn’t had messages from Diana since here death. This much I believe. In fact, I’d go further – I’d suggest Sally hasn’t had messages from anyone after their death. No psychic has ever been able to prove that what they are doing is anything other than well known magic tricks, most often cold reading.
“I don’t see any of her relatives for readings – so why would she contact me? I’m not a relative of hers. OK, she knew me, but I’m not sitting at home trying to contact famous dead people. Why should I be?”
Why indeed, especially when there are so many families of non-famous dead people willing to part with their money in the mistaken belief that anyone is in contact with the dead.
Sally said of her detractors:
“There are people who call themselves cynics and sceptics, when they are just obstructive. And there are many reasons for that – the biggest one is fear. I would say to them, ‘I prove every day that there is an afterlife – you have to prove to me that there isn’t’.”
Ah, the good old fear-based argument, which we see time and time again. Now, personally, I never understand this line of reasoning in the slightest. Skeptics are scared to believe in life after death, because (presumably) the knowledge that when it’s over that’s it, forever, and there’s no getting together with your loved ones in the eternal ever after – that’s obviously a less scary thought. Go figure. In actuality, it’s fear that psychics live and feed on (even those who don’t realise they’re not really psychic) – they exist on people’s fears about leaving things unfinished, leaving arguments unended; fears about never being able to hear their loved one’s voice or contact them again. Just because it’s a comforting thought, that doesn’t make it true. And it doesn’t make it ok to make money off it, either. It makes it very very wrong.
And Sally claims she proves the afterlife exists, and it’s up to us to prove her wrong? This, of course, is not the case – Sally merely SAYS the afterlife exists, but seems to use what appear very much recognisable psychological tricks like cold reading and basic probability in her stage shows to give the impression that she’s talking to the dead. With controls and protocol, psychic claims have been tested and disproven by scientists and skeptics, and we’ll happily do so again. I have even left an appeal to Sally on her website to get in contact and help attempt to show her powers in action. I await response with baited breath…
What gives me hope from all this, is that pretty much every comment on the news article showed that people were unimpressed by her claims and her stories, and that there’s a growing naturally-skeptic audience out there.
As it happens, Sally is coming to Liverpool in October, and at least one of our numbers will be in her midst, armed with a basic education in cold reading and a clear, rational mind. To be continued.