Thursday, 28 April 2011

To flow or not to flow?

I was just getting used to the idea of 'going with the flow'. I had started to become quite comfortable with the notion that these four words actually carried with them a quite profound philosophy of how to go about one's daily life. Going with the flow meant accepting those things in life that were outside of my control. It meant learning not to resist change, and it meant allowing events to unfold naturally rather than trying to exert unnecessary control over them. At first, this was sometimes a difficult approach to take, as we all like to do what we can to gain as much control as possible in an attempt to handle life's uncertainties.

And then I go and flick through The Rules of Life by Richard Templar. Rule 10: Only dead fish swim with the stream. He seems to suggest that, in fact, 'going with the flow' isn't all it is cracked up to be, and we shouldn't let ourselves be 'swept away', but instead that life is supposed to be a struggle.

So which is it? To flow or not to flow? That is the question.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

The Placebo Effect

This is a great little film about the placebo effect and the power of belief from Professor Funk (probably not his real name):

Praise the Lord!

Derren Brown's latest televisual feast, Miracles for Sale, shown last night on Channel 4, was an attempt to expose the methods employed by faith healers. He achieved this by training someone in the techniques and style of preaching typically adopted by these faith healers, with the aim of passing him off as the genuine article. His student was Nathan (pictured right), a scuba-diving instructor, who was only told about the nature of the planned project once he had already been picked from the hundreds of hopefuls who had applied to be 'a star of their own show'.

Nathan was an interesting choice as, apparently, he was himself a believer in God, and so DB was eager to point out that the project was not an attack on faith or religion itself. It was aimed specifically at the multi-million dollar industry that surrounds faith healing, showing how these so-called 'healers' draw upon various scams to encourage people to give large sums of money to their 'ministries' in the belief that such giving will show the strength of their faith in the Lord, and will be repaid many times over.

I'm a big fan of Mr Brown, but the real star of this show was Nathan, aka 'Pastor James Collins'. He really was thrown in at the deep end, and he seemed genuinely ill at ease with the idea of deceiving people. Some of the best bits of the programme were when he stood up to Brown and the production crew after he felt they had sprung yet another change of plan on him. It's a shame his 'revival' meeting at the end of the show drew only a small crowd.

The full show can still be watched on 4OD (at least until 25 May 2011). You might also want to check out Pastor James Collins' fictitious Gifts of the Ministry website.

Friday, 22 April 2011


When I tell folks about the 'Million Dollar Psychic' project, one person's name often gets mentioned. "You're learning to become psychic? Oh, you mean like that Derren Brown chap...?" Now, I'm not sure if this is because the people I'm speaking to think that I am wanting to learn to appear psychic. To these people, I clarify that the aim of the project is to see if I can actually discover 'genuine' psychic ability (if such a thing exists).

Alternatively, of course, it may be that they believe that Derren Brown achieves his impressive feats by using his own psychic abilities! This would be surprising, indeed, as Mr Brown is quite scathing about psychics and mediums and often presents his work as a demonstration of how a range of techniques can be used to create the effect of genuine mind-reading and so on.

It would be a touch ironic if many of his fans actually believed he might be genuinely psychic!

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Did you miss me?

Welcome, welcome, welcome (all three of you) to my new home on the web! It is now April and I realise that this is my first blog post of 2011... did you miss me? (You're allowed to lie at this point.)

I figured it was about time I returned to the blogosphere, with a new blog that combines "the diary of a spiritual junkie" blog with the "million dollar psychic" blog, which explains why you might have been forwarded from either of those.

So welcome back to old friends. And hello to new friends. Please feel free to have a browse around the new place. Just be sure to wipe your feet. We don't want to muddy the nice new carpets, do we?