Derren Brown helped out by Hatfield lecturer

ILLUSIONIST Derren Brown, below, was joined by a University of Hertfordshire lecturer for the first episode of his latest TV series

Professor Richard Wiseman, a psychology of performance tutor, was called upon for Derren Brown Investigates: The Man Who Contacts The Dead on Channel 4.

The documentary series follows Derren as he spends time with people making paranormal claims, observing their world, looking at the weight of evidence for and against.

On Monday last week he was investigating psychic medium Joe Power, from Liverpool.

Derren sat in for a few of Joe’s shows, as well as a several one-on-one meetings.


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Prof Wiseman, who is a specialist in psychology, was then required to analyse a show, with sceptical Derren, to see what techniques Joe used.

The Hatfield lecturer commented that nothing was to say Joe wasn’t genuine, however he could see several cold reading methods being used.

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These included making an instant connection with the audience (ie, shouting out a random likely name or number) and letting the audience talk more than he had too – so that they were filling in answers that he didn’t have to.

Other techniques Prof Wiseman recognised included Joe repeating information he had already been told by the person he was reading, so that it appeared he already knew.

Prof Wiseman said: “What Joe is doing I think is impressive, in the sense that he is standing on stage and getting people to say ‘yes, my goodness, you seem to be in contact with the spirit world’.

“But the question is whether he is doing that through some kind of psychological cold reading technique or is it genuine?

“You’re never going to know for certain.”

To prove his veracity, Joe was asked to complete a scientific investigation, in a test where he would have to do a medium reading for an audience he couldn’t see or talk to.

The idea was to eliminate the possibility of cold reading.

However, Joe refused saying “it was designed for failure”, because he needs communication with an audience for the spirits to come through.

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