Archive for category Joe Power
(I’d just like to point out that this story is sponsored by Schadenfreude – for all your laughing-at-people-who’ve-gotten-their-comeuppance needs)
This is actually a story that’s been covered in many other places, including by Steve Novella, and I wasn’t going to add to that… but then I saw a few people on Twitter actively saying they were looking forward to what I had to say about it, so how could I disappoint?
So, three guesses which lovable Liverpudlian fraud I’m going to talk about now? That’s right – Joe ‘just popping to your toilet‘ Power. And, to be clear, I can say fraud, as Joe’s served time in the past for fraud. Oh, and ABH, of course. Nice, friendly Joe Power. I’m not saying any of his act involves fraud at all. But then again, I don’t need to, given the fact that Joe Power’s career is going to pieces so fast that people are getting hit by the bullshit shrapnel. Read the rest of this entry »
From time to time in the world of skepticism, something happens which you really don’t see coming – something totally unexpected. Often, these are positive things – like the media interest in our 10:23 Campaign, or the random discovery that comedy-legend Ed Byrne knows who you are. From time to time, they’re somewhat negative things – like discovering childhood-hero Johnny Ball thinks farting spiders are responsible for the high CO2 levels in the world. And then there are the things that are just utterly unpredictable, out of the left-field, and hard to wrap your head around.
On Friday of last week, I got a phone call. From Ormskirk police. The polite and friendly officer assured me there was nothing to worry about, but that he was looking into alleged threats of violence coming from people on Facebook. Specifically, within the group page of the Merseyside Skeptics Society. And aimed at non-psychic non-detective Joe ‘I’ll just pop to your toilet‘ Power.
This was news to me. It was also utterly untrue.
As I explained to the officer, we at the Merseyside Skeptics Society have never made threats to anyone, ever, and nor would we; further, we’d NEVER condone physical or personal threats made by anyone else. Aside from a complete and utter aversion to violence – which for one thing has been shown by many people in history to be a truly terrible way to get a point across – making personal threats would go completely against the whole point of what the MSS is about: examining the evidence, and pointing out where the claim (and subsequently the claimant) is lacking. In fact, when I met Joe over a year ago, I went to great lengths to remain calm and even-tempered while he continually insulted me in increasingly bizarre and surreal ways. Paedophile? OK Joe, go for it. Homosexual? Sure, if you like. Atheist? Absolutely (well one out of three isn’t bad, for the Man Who Talks To Dead People. Or at least 1/3rd of dead people, presumably).
Fortunately, having spoken to me for a good five minutes, the officer was able to assure me that he was quite confident no wrong-doing nor anything malicious had taken place. After I’d explained Joe’s full history with the MSS, our polite insistence that Joe at some point, some time, in some way – any way at all – shows some evidence that he can indeed contact the dead, and the fact that when I met Joe a year ago I ended the conversation by wishing him well – after I’d explained all of this, the officer concluded that I’ve almost certainly not gone beyond practising freedom of speech, which is true.
He also asked whether I’d mind clarifying my lack of violent or threatening intent to Joe – which I’m more than happy to do: I’ve never, in anyway, suggested or advocated anything threatening in the direction of Joe or his family.
You can probably imagine my surprise – and, indeed, deep disappointment – to now hear from Joe via the police, with tales of his wife being ‘unable to sleep’ due to worrying about threats made against him. It’s a shame, but not really that much of a surprise, that Joe decided to go direct to the police with these unfounded allegations of threats, rather than email me – I am, after all, easily reachable and more than amiable. I’m sure it’s nothing more than a simple misunderstanding, which I’m happy to clear up. Because, were it that Joe was creating spurious reports of threats in order to use the police to silence entirely reasonable criticism of the magical claims he makes, that would represent a serious waste of police time, which is in itself not a laughing matter. Still, Joe’s not one for wasting police time, really, so I’m sure it’s just a misunderstanding. Read the rest of this entry »
In the wake of Derren Brown’s stinging exposé on ‘Psychic’ Joe Power, I thought it worth sharing with the world a conversation I had with Joe back in June 2009, when the MSS was still young, and I was but a naive, innocent skeptic with a dream, and an application form for Randi’s $1million Challenge…
Cool drizzle fell onto the grey Saturday streets of Liverpool, a light breeze tumble-weeded a sweet wrapper down the road in a clichéd fashion, and I was becoming increasingly aware that this would be the strangest conversation of my life. And I didn’t need psychic powers for that. For I was in the company of ‘Psychic’ Joe Power, fresh from his latest in-store book-signing (signed copies of which, I add, are still on the shelves of Waterstones – supply quite exceeded demand it seems), and things were getting weird.
“The thing about you sceptics,” he said, standing on the step of a plus-size lingerie shop to raise himself to my eye-level, “is that you sit there, festering in front of your computers at 3am, thinking up ways to get at people. What if I were to sit in front of your house and tell people you’re a paedophile?”
“Well,” I say, “that’s for you to decide to do if you want to but it’s not really the same thing – I’m raising questions over what you do and the service you claim to provide; insinuating I was a paedophile would be just a personal attack, and wildly baseless. It’s not really the same thing. At all.”
“Oh I think they’re very similar,” he answers, “because you’re there festering, at 3am, plotting to get at me, in the same way that paedophiles fester and plot to interfere with children – you both have to be sick in the head to do what you do.”
With Herculean effort to suspend my natural what-the-fuck? reaction, and with a curt politeness that in retrospect now seems other-worldly, I manage a swift retort: ”Sorry, can I just clarify – are you comparing sceptics to paedophiles? Could you explain that? I mean, are you saying that paedophiles also ask questions of you, or what exactly?”
Joe: ”I think most sceptics probably are paedophiles. I mean you’re sat around at 3am, plotting, aren’t you? Do you deny that?”
An-incredulous-Marsh: “Do I deny what? That I ask questions? That I’m sometimes awake at 3am? Or that I am a paedophile? Could you please be clear what you’re asking me, Joe?”
It’s not often that you’re 5 minutes into a conversation with someone you’ve never met before and they’ve already played the paedophile card. I had a feeling it was going to be one of those days.
Sometimes, just sometimes, I could almost be convinced that there’s someone up there listening. Not all the time, of course, and only half-heartedly – I’m not about to go all Goddy on you guys – but who could blame me, when things like this happen:
Derren Brown – beardy mind-meddler and generally top fella – investigates those who claim to have psychic powers… starting with my old mate Joe Power. I’ll come to Joe in a moment (we’ve a bit of a history), but first I’d like to say well done to Derren. I remember after his ‘Messiah’ show, it looked like he was heading into a more publicly skeptical position. While that hasn’t happened quite as far as we’d have liked (the lottery show for example), this latest show, coupled with his role in ‘Science of Scams’ suggests that skepticism is something Derren’s focusing on a little more. If that’s the case, this is excellent news – where Randi has been a major figurehead for decades (possibly even centuries, he seems to always have existed), he needs somebody to help shoulder the weight and take up the slack. With his public persona, showmanship, reputation and expertise, I really think Derren can play that role, should he desire to.
One person who certainly can’t play that role, is Mr Joe Power. For those of you not aware, Joe and the Merseyside Skeptics Society (and myself in particular) have something of a past – in fact, long before the 10:23 Campaign, taking on Joe Power was one of the first pieces of skeptical activism I got involved in. Having criticised his appearance in a local paper, blindly promoting him as ‘The Man Who Sees Dead People’, I decided to meet Joe Power at his Liverpool book signing, and invited him to take the million dollar challenge. What I got wasn’t polite declination, but bizarre insults – with Joe genuinely comparing all skeptics to paedophiles. You can read the whole account here, and I recommend you do, to really get a feel for the kind of man Joe Power is. It was during this conversation that I heard Joe had been investigated for a prominent TV show, and at the time I put two and two together and predicted it was Derren Brown who he was referring to.
I can’t wait to see the show on May 10th.
Last week I wrote about the Dyfed-Powys Police force and their investigation into the death of Carlos Assaf – an investigation which saw them spend £20k following up supposed tips from a so-called psychic. The affair, as well as causing outrage throughout the country, sparked something of a debate on the use of psychics within police investigations, which then played out across the various news outlets after the BBC’s Donal McIntyre investigated the claims of one particular medium – psychic detective (although not psychic and not a detective) Joe Power.
Regular readers, and regular listeners of me on various podcasts or just ranting tipsily in a pub in fact, will be familiar with Joe Power – he was the Liverpudlian supposed-psychic I met at a book signing way back in June. The meeting, as I’ve spoken about before, was somewhat surreal in it’s content – especially when Joe decided to go on a random and pretty vehement rant whereby he likened skeptics (and specifically my good self) to paedophiles. He’s wrong of course, which I guess shows in that particular case his psychic powers were proven to be bullshit. It was actually that very conversation that led to my becoming a host of a podcast, so I suppose I should thank Joe for that. Cheers, Joe. If anyone wants to read a full account of the encounter, they can check it out elsewhere on the blog – or simply Google Joe Power’s name followed by the word ‘skeptic’ or ‘paedophile’ (I’ll let you guys choose which, but I know which I’d prefer. There’s something satisfying about the idea of a load of people typing ‘Joe Power Paedophile’ into Google. A GoogleBomb, I think it’s called…) Indeed typing ‘Joe Power’ into Google is a pretty popular way of finding this site – looking at the key words for accessing it, Joe-related phrases come in both 3rd and 5th. So again, cheers Joe.
So, with Joe proving himself to be a distasteful, angry and pretty disgusting man on a personal level (ask him anything about his powers and you’ll see what I mean), it’s a real surprise and a real shame the BBC and other news outlets took him fully at his word on his ability to solve crimes. Read the rest of this entry »
I love a psychic story. It’s like catnip to me. Give me a local reporter shamelessly pandering to the nonsense of a purported sage or mystic, and I’m instantly all fired-up with lovely apoplectic ire. ‘Talks to the dead, does he?’ ‘See the future, can he?’ The irritation caused by yet another credulous, fact-free, pseudoscientific puff-piece just feeds me. Which is why I was delighted to find a report in local paper Wigan Today reported this week on the psychic pieman. ‘Oooh’, I thought, ‘Here we go’. So, who or what is the psychic pie-man? Well, apparently, Wigan-based baker Kevin Warrilow has put aside the pastry knife and taken to the crystal ball after undergoing an ‘unexplainable’ transformation in his life. The paper explains:
“Things changed dramatically after the pie shops hit financial problems and he began to be guided by the spirit of a beautiful Afro-Carribean (sic) woman called Lisa, whose face would materialise in curtains, doors or tables to tell him of the new direction his life must take”
I think the key phrase there is ‘financial problems’ – after converting his pie shop into a Love and Light Spirituality Centre and flogging crystal, tarot readings, Angel Cars and incense, I think it’s safe to say his income is somewhat flourishing. Read the rest of this entry »