Derren Brown Battles with a Smart Spiritualist. + Video

Medium Craig Hamilton-Parker takes on the skeptic illusionist Derren Brown and a television interview. Craig was the first psychic medium to take on Derren Brown in the media. This is the debate they had in the Article from the Daily Express 2 June 2004

Derren Brown vs the Psychic

Psychic Craig Hamilton-Parker:

Craig Hamilton-ParkerI am sure that many scoffing skeptics loved Derren Brown’s polished use of conjuring and psychological tricks to throw Spiritualism to the dogs. But just because a carefully selected group of students fall for his mind quizzes it doesn’t mean that all Spiritualist séances are chicanery.

On Channel 4 on Monday, illusionist Brown staged a mock séance in front of a live Television audience. He showed how using psychological techniques and hypnotic suggestion. His volunteers could be tricked into believing they were seeing a paranormal event.

People like him are convinced that Spiritualists are at best delusional or at worst all scoundrels. Their great prophet was Houdini – probably the greatest illusionist of all time. He challenged Spiritualists and endeavored to expose Séances as trickery.

Brown pointed out that the Fox sisters, the first mediums, confessed to being fakes. He neglected to mention that this was retracted. Just as the wife of Houdini retracted her confession that she believed his spirit had spoken to her through a medium. In both, the confessions were claimed to have been made under duress.

If I were not a medium myself I would probably be a skeptic. There have been fakes in the past and I have seen fake mediums in action. But Spiritualists are no fools and even recently were prepared to expose cheating mediums through their publication the Psychic News.

Anyone who has met real mediums will know that most are compassionate with a high degree of integrity.

VIDEO: Craig Argues with Richard Dawkins about Derren Brown’s stance on the TV show Enemies of Reason.

About Craig’s Mediumship

I am a mental medium who uses thought to communicate with spirits, but I have witnessed physical miracles at séances that cannot possibly be explained by any of Brown’s methods. At my own circle, I have seen small tables tap out messages. Although Spiritualists rarely use Ouija boards I have witnessed one spell out specific information. For example, it wrote: “Robin will live in Rose Bank Cottage.” The next week Robin, who had been at the session, received a call to say that a house had come on the market called Rose Bank Cottage. There was no way he could have known about this in advance. He bought it.

I have seen ectoplasm appear over the face of mediums. According to some in my circle, it has occasionally transfigured over my own face during trance sessions. One of my most trusted friends, a member of Mensa and a down-to-earth person, saw her dead mother materialize at a séance with a medium. When you see these things with your own eyes a million Derren Browns will not convince you that these are tricks.

Hypnotism and Tricks

Brown’s programme was more about showing the power of hypnotism than debunking spiritualism and psychic readings. He deliberately chose suggestible students and there was evidence of direct hypnotism. He used breathing methods, word patterns and post-hypnotic commands to have the students respond when he said keywords. An innocent phrase such as “Keep your finger on the glass” may be the trigger to elicit a response from the participants. The CIA and KGB are understood to have used similar techniques when training assassins.

My job as a medium is to give proof of the survival of the personality after death. Mediums use their gift to bring comfort to the bereaved and to be of service to humanity. We are like a telephonist who makes the call then relays the information received to the person on the other end of the line. A medium must always strive for accuracy and not be satisfied with woolly “cold reading” statements that could apply to just about anyone.


I have told people very specific things about their dead loved ones such as their pet name, repeated word for word the text of a note placed in a coffin or described other specific incidents shared with the communicating spirit that would rule out the guesswork.

And since many mediums do not charge for their services I cannot see what possible benefit there would be in cheating. I have seen people who have been close to taking their own life after losing someone they cherish and then had their life turned around after seeing a medium. Many times I have had people say to me: “I feel that I can now begin again.”

Mediums often have to put up with a lot of stick. If we demonstrate on Television we are expected to have a skeptic on the show to add balance. This is why it is billed as entertainment. To most Spiritualists, this is abhorrent. But don’t believe what I say; the proof comes when you are given personal rock-solid proof that your loved one has communicated with you. A medium may tell you things about your dead loved friends and relatives. These are facts that they could not possibly uncover through research or trickery. When you get this sort of proof – and there are many thousands who have had unshakeable personal proof – then you will understand.

Derren Brown

… but I’m still a sceptic., says the master of tricks Derren Brown:

THE séance show wasn’t about ”attacking anyone’s beliefs: it was about seeing how the techniques used by fraudulent Victorian mediums would work with a modern audience. I presume no one is arguing that there weren’t plenty of fraudulent methods practiced in those days.

Personally, I have huge issues with people who dishonestly claim to be in touch with the dead yet who know very well the reality of what they’re doing. I imagine most mediums would agree with me. In areas this important to people’s lives, such a fraud should be thought about in the same way we would think of – a fraudulent doctor. It’s despicable.

I have less of an issue with people who sincerely believe in what they’re doing; though I would still be skeptical of their claims, and worry about people being encouraged to make life decisions based on what I would feel was false information.

However, I’m not interested in personal attacks or out-and-out debunking. I’d be happy, to just encourage a more questioning approach and one of intelligent open-mindedness: which is where you balance things such as false memory, suggestion, and auto-hypnosis, cold-reading, language tricks and charlatanism with the’ evidence in favor of the paranormal, in order to make a more informed decision about its veracity. I would hope that most spiritualists would agree with me there, too.

Now read about how Richard Dawkins ignored the evidence


Books about India by Craig Hamilton-Parker

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Will S Jul 13, 2014, 7:00 pm

    I visited a Spiritualist church today with an open mind and was not impressed. In fact, my “reading” was extremely cold reading format.

    Plus I find it funny that EVERY spirit seems to come through with a comforting and guiding message. Real spirits are not always friendly, and in fact, I have an issue with a not so friendly spirits which is why I was visiting the church to perhaps get some advice. Of course, all they picked up on was some Casper the friendly ghost who was there to guide me, even though the spirits description and attributes fit no one I have ever known.

    Also, I was amazed at how often they referred to “god” and a “higher being” and a better place. If I wanted to hear that, I would have went to a christian church, which isnt my cup of tea. I didnt want to hear about god, I wanted to hear about spirits!

    Also, if they believe in God, do they believe in Demons? Djinn? Evil Spirits? Poltergesists? I dont know, since every spirit that comes through seems to be some happy go lucky spirit here to help. Just once I’d LOVE to get a reading that is “dark” and based on the real stuff I have seen in my life!

    So, in conclusion, all Spiritualism is simply another form of Christianity. Hymns, sermons, collection plate, prayers, ad naseum. It is Christianity with the Bible replaced by some books by some authors, Jesus replaced with spirits, and Christian hymns replaced with some new age hymns.

    Funny thing is, they also claim in their tenants that they use science to authenticate their claims. As a biology major, I have no clue what “science” they are referring to, but it is most definitely NOT authentic science. If it was, this article’s author would be submitting a peer reviewed scientific journal and not an internet article attempting to bash skeptics.

  • Miguel May 25, 2014, 1:33 am

    Today, afterlife is NOT science fiction, no matter what skeptics want to believe or not believe, there are some studies, for instance Near Death Experiences that are being studied by some scientific like Pim Vam Lommel, Peter Fenwick, Sam Parnia, and other medics… Robert Lanza assures that the Death does not exists, is an illusion of our minds.

    Other researches like Instrumental Transcommunications has been followed by many investigators, in Italy, UK, America and Germany (a Physic Erns Senkouski), ITC is a deal meaning that we can to contact spirit through electromagnetic instruments…

    There is a medium in my country (Chile, SouthAmerica) his name is Sebastian Lia, he has a place named Intangible Lab, that works with other mediums and a psychologist from Hardvard University, he says that there is no cold/hot reading…

    I believe in this too.. because when my grandfather died, just the next day at my department begin to happen some paranormal things, things related to my grandfather… that is enough to me to believe in the afterlife…

    Nice article.

  • Katlego Serumola Apr 19, 2013, 1:42 pm

    This is the kind of debate that makes whatever GOD is giggles. It is realised that people believe in a particular belief in order attain peace of mind. If what Derren brown says or does, evokes some kind of discomfort or shakes up your mental stability. You will definitely seek a balance from the opposite side of the spectrum. In other words we are at peace if our mental scale is at balance. So Skepticism and Psychic are the building blocks that goes on opposites sides of the mental balance. Depending on the position of the pivot point of the mental scale some people need not have an equal amount of load on either side to balance their scale.

    All I’m saying is that Derren is a Skeptic and his scale is balanced so as Craig as a Psychic. They both are at peace in what they believe. So be it. We all just have to wait until were are dead and hope that all this spiritual crap accessible to the chosen few is revealed or disproved to us eventually.

  • Saby Jan 27, 2013, 8:49 pm

    I’m with you Craig, thanks for the honest responses you have given so far. You have a pure heart 🙂 I wish skeptics would leave psychics alone. I have been harassed by them and I think they should let people be, deluded or not. My intuition tells me skeptics, and I am referring to the aggressive ones, are people extremely unhappy with their current life and affairs and have financial problems, so they hate people who seem less financially tormented. What do you think?

    • Craig Hamilton-Parker Jan 29, 2013, 1:49 pm

      I think aggressive skepticism – in some cases – harbours psychological issues in the trumpeting skeptic. (I doubt financial problems play a part for in most cases psychics are poor people and could not put up challenges with prizes of $1 million dollars etc.) there’s a lot of egotism involved from what I observe.

      Real skepticism is about incredulity and the willingness to doubt the truth of something. This is healthy and should be expected for any claims made about the paranormal. Whether an answer can be given in a scientific repeatable way that will satisfy the materialistic rationalism of some skeptics is doubtful though. My argument is that the sort of proofs psych-ism gives would be better tested using the methodology as used in a Court of Law rather than the criteria used within material science. Using this method the evidence taken as a whole for the paranormal is overwhelming.

  • Blackadderatheist Jan 19, 2013, 10:25 pm

    Every response I see features “Closed Minds” but with so many closed minded people has it ever occurred to you that you’re the ones who are closed minded? I open my mind to anything and use my mind to decipher the fact from fiction, but psychics are so stuck up in their world of fantasy that they’re not open to anything else- so you’re the ones who are conceited, not us.

  • Trevor Wood Dec 19, 2012, 7:00 pm

    Derren Brown knows nothing. He doesn’t even know that God exists, regardless of the proof!

    • neil ayres Mar 26, 2013, 7:50 pm

      What Proof is that then?

  • alan armstrong Oct 28, 2012, 6:48 pm

    Totally agree with the above on closed minds! Life goes on when the physical side dies from old age related conditions or sudden unexpected situations. Eternal life is ours to inherit. That applies to all on the earth plane. We were alive before birth. We are a combination of flesh & spirit. Spirit cannot die! Genuine mediums concentrate on teaching spiritual truths and do not make a good living from gullible people who should know better!

  • Robert Park Aug 30, 2012, 1:26 am

    I admire Richard Dawkins yet I cannot accept what he writes; I have tried to read his books but feel that he underestimates the intellect of his readers; he tends to be patronising. Usually I get to around the hundredth page then cast the book aside. I would require to read another book to be able to explain this in more detail as it is some time since I attempted to read the last book of his. I feel that RD would accuse me of failing to fully understand his writings unless I were to read the full script of each book but equally I would level a similar accusation at him and suggest that unless he has experienced psychic phenomena how then can he possibly be in the position to deny it or even discuss it. It is beyond science to prove or disprove the existence of such events; all that can be said is that it has not been shown to exist but this does not deny its occurrence. For example, having seen two apparitions who is likely to believe this yet I have witnessed two apparitions but cannot conjure them at will. How then can science deny what I saw? I do, however, accept his views about religion.

  • Mollie Aug 17, 2012, 12:34 pm

    Whoa, that was quick. If you were to give me proof I would be willing to open my mind and explore this with great interest. No disrespect but nothing I have seen so far makes sense. Also, do you like Derren Brown at all?

    • Craig Hamilton-Parker Aug 17, 2012, 2:15 pm

      I was online when you posted. To get the proofs you need I suggest you visit your local Spiritualist Church a number of times for the Sunday demonstrations. You will quickly see that there is no collusion or money changing hands. The standards will vary a great deal – some mediums will be hopeless and other may hit the mark. (The standards are often poor within Spiritualism) But if you truly begin an investigation you will see that things are said that cannot possible be explained by fraud or making things fit. (Cold readings, Barnham Effect etc.) You may also get a message that defies explanation by the critics. I give regular demonstrations within Spiritualism too – you can usually see once or twice a year at Camberley Spiritualist Church in Surrey and others around the South of England. Most demonstrations are either completely free or there is a very small fee at the door.

      You have to search for Truth and experience it directly. This comes when you open the heart. The proofs will come to you when the conditions are right and there is a deep spiritual need. You will discover that this is how spirit work. The mindset of people like Derren Brown are – in my opinion – inhibited by their overt materialist rationalism. This is okay to help explain the material world and can help dispel fantasy and beliefs but the divine exploration requires a different type of consciousness.

  • Mollie Aug 17, 2012, 12:22 pm

    Craig Hamilton-Parker is obviously a fake. I would highly recommend him listening to Tim Minchin’s song Storm, as it shows the real truth about psychics. Pretending to talk to the dead is fundamentally sick.