Michael Cook (and Randi "Psychic Investigator" TV show)

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Re: Michael Cook (and Randi "Psychic Investigator" TV show)

Postby Ian Pegler » Wed Nov 09, 2011 3:37 pm

A more recent YouTube comment...

I don't see why the presence of the roads, rivers, and contours on the map would be necessary for this kind of dowsing. It seems to me that if he's relying solely on his dowsing instrument they would be inconsequential. What is more likely is that he uses the geographical information to come up with areas where a historical monument is probable to exist, such as a place on top of a hill where several roads and rivers meet. This would greatly improve his chances of guessing correctly.


A slight variation on something I picked out before - and wrong for similar reasons. First, if you can see a single contour line on Randi's map then you have better eyesight than the rest of us. The hills on Randi's map are actually well to the north of Dunfirmline in any case. Also, the statistical clustering of ancient monuments has nothing to do with it because the skeptics only had to pick a single monument for the dowser to dowse, which could just as easily have been rural as urban. For example they could just as easily have picked Tintern abbey in Wales, which is in a valley, has one road going past it and is four miles from the nearest town. Third, if you removed all the roads, rivers and contour lines etc. etc. then it might just as easily be a map of somewhere else entirely. There has to be a symbolic (or other?) link of some kind between the map and the physical area to which it corresponds. I'm fairly amazed that the experiment worked because Michael was not given any idea of where the area corresponded to, nor was there a North indicator on the map. Nor was he given any specific information about the kind of ancient monument he was looking for and the grid was at an angle to the cardinal points.

As any real dowser knows, if you try to apply left-brain logic when dowsing you can be lead astray (especially by a skeptic who might anticipate your attempt at "logic"). This would not really be dowsing at all. Dowsing is about trusting your intuition, not trying to figure things out.

P.S. Tintern is the most famous abbey in Wales and well worth a visit. Its rural location is actually quite typical for Cistercian monasteries as they were instructed to build "far from the concourse of men".

Ian
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Re: Michael Cook (and Randi "Psychic Investigator" TV show)

Postby ledgehammer » Wed Nov 09, 2011 7:45 pm

Ian Pegler wrote:A more recent YouTube comment...

I don't see why the presence of the roads, rivers, and contours on the map would be necessary for this kind of dowsing. It seems to me that if he's relying solely on his dowsing instrument they would be inconsequential. What is more likely is that he uses the geographical information to come up with areas where a historical monument is probable to exist, such as a place on top of a hill where several roads and rivers meet. This would greatly improve his chances of guessing correctly.


A slight variation on something I picked out before - and wrong for similar reasons. First, if you can see a single contour line on Randi's map then you have better eyesight than the rest of us. The hills on Randi's map are actually well to the north of Dunfirmline in any case. Also, the statistical clustering of ancient monuments has nothing to do with it because the skeptics only had to pick a single monument for the dowser to dowse, which could just as easily have been rural as urban. For example they could just as easily have picked Tintern abbey in Wales, which is in a valley, has one road going past it and is four miles from the nearest town. Third, if you removed all the roads, rivers and contour lines etc. etc. then it might just as easily be a map of somewhere else entirely. There has to be a symbolic (or other?) link of some kind between the map and the physical area to which it corresponds. I'm fairly amazed that the experiment worked because Michael was not given any idea of where the area corresponded to, nor was there a North indicator on the map. Nor was he given any specific information about the kind of ancient monument he was looking for and the grid was at an angle to the cardinal points.

As any real dowser knows, if you try to apply left-brain logic when dowsing you can be lead astray (especially by a skeptic who might anticipate your attempt at "logic"). This would not really be dowsing at all. Dowsing is about trusting your intuition, not trying to figure things out.

P.S. Tintern is the most famous abbey in Wales and well worth a visit. Its rural location is actually quite typical for Cistercian monasteries as they were instructed to build "far from the concourse of men".

Ian


Ian,

This is perhaps why he had asked for these markings to be taken out, and perhaps why some in the past had got it wrong, for what its worth I agree about preconceptions and getting into "confident creative" mode, If I could dowse blindfolded it would on occasion help, the little the distraction the more successfull the results?

best wishes

Tom
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Re: Michael Cook (and Randi "Psychic Investigator" TV show)

Postby Ian Pegler » Thu Nov 10, 2011 9:25 am

ledgehammer wrote:Ian,

This is perhaps why he had asked for these markings to be taken out, and perhaps why some in the past had got it wrong, for what its worth I agree about preconceptions and getting into "confident creative" mode, If I could dowse blindfolded it would on occasion help, the little the distraction the more successfull the results?

best wishes

Tom


I interpret the YouTube comment as an attempt at a skeptical explanation as to how Michael got the correct square. That is, he's accusing the dowser of somehow reading the visual features that are still left on the map and using knowldge and experience to come up with the correct ("most likely") square, i.e. getting a result by normal rather than by "paranormal" means.

My response to this accusation is that his line of thinking doesn't work, at least not for this type of test. The location of the monument is purely a matter of which monument was chosen. It is not anything to do with the probabalistic clustering of monuments in urban areas because you can't use that to guess which monument was chosen.

Other commentators have argued along simlar lines. I've even seen a suggestion that he was a "local" (does he sound Scottish??) or that he was an expert on all archaeological sites in the U.K.. I've even seen this post on Megalithic Portal cited as evidence. This is rubbish. The post in question is actually a list of "forthcoming events" advertised in an Earth Mysteries magazine called Northern Earth.

The title of Michael's talk was "Learning to Dowse" - proof positive that Michael was an archaeology expert!!!??? What TOSH !!!!

The fact that a dowsing event gets advertised in a magazine that deals with ancient sites (actually Megalithic, i.e. Bronze Age not Mediaeval) does not mean that the speaker is an expert in archaeology or even affiliated with the producers of the journal. The BSD Conference is also listed, so apparently we're all expert archaeologists!!!??? Nonsense!!

P.S. In answer to your question, yes, I think that it is possible to overload a map with too many features for dowsing, though I don't map-dowse that often to be honest. But as you say, the less distractions the better.

Ian

Edited by I.P. 17.5.12 - corrected external link
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Re: Michael Cook (and Randi "Psychic Investigator" TV show)

Postby ledgehammer » Thu Nov 10, 2011 9:48 pm

Ian,

it is easy to invent than accept, it is easy to ignore instead of challenge, it is easy to hide instead of seek, it is easy to ignore than to ask. I say this but you get to a point when it is easy to realise that nothing is 100% correct, it then becomes easy to challenge and grow.

Unfortunatly then Skeptics seem to get to everyday folk before this process can initiate, and even when one knows the skeptics to be mis-informing then we still question, the only way forward is belief in ourselves and the drive to keep on going, even questioning ourselves, evolving and sharing...

In theory there would be a very simple counter-experiment to solve this and that would be covering the map up apart from squares, and "asking in the square that relates to this", but why waste our precious time convincing skeptics, our journey has surpassed theirs in this life, why move backwards in sympathy toward others, we may well be the skeptics in the next life?

Tom
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Re: Michael Cook (and Randi "Psychic Investigator" TV show)

Postby Ian Pegler » Fri Nov 11, 2011 9:39 am

ledgehammer wrote:our journey has surpassed theirs in this life, why move backwards in sympathy toward others, we may well be the skeptics in the next life?


We are all sceptics (with a 'c', please note) in this life right now because we all question the misinformation and grasping at straws that is labelled by some as skepticism (with a 'k') or "critical thinking".

When the BSD began way back in 1933 there was no CSICOP, no JREF. Back in 1991 when this "Psychic Investigator" show appeared on TV, hardly anybody was on the Internet, iPads etc. didn't even exist. We have benefitted from the advancement of technology but the skeptics have made better use of it as well as getting a foothold in the mainstream media and our schools. Where will dowsing be in twenty years time? One of the functions of the BSD is to protect the good name of dowsing and it therefore behoves all members, individually and collectively, to do just that, not for ourselves but for future generations of dowsers. The founders of the BSD never faced the challenges we do now.

In the old days when there were more miners and more farmers the skill was pased down though the family, father to son, grandma to grandaughter etc. but times have changed and now it's up to us as individuals and societies like ours to make sure it continues.

So I will continue to defend dowsing (N.B. on my own terms, not theirs) and try and pass it on to others who may be ready to turn the corner.

As I write, it is Armistice day. Michael Cook was a soldier as were all the founders of the BSD.

P.S. A skeptic in my next life? That would be like journeying backwards...

Ian
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Re: Michael Cook

Postby Ian Pegler » Sun Feb 19, 2012 9:45 am

Ian Pegler wrote:I found this slightly improved YouTube video of the Psychic Investigator show:

CLICK HERE for them YouTube page.

Ian


Sadly this link has now been removed. Bah, it was better quality too. :evil:

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Re: Michael Cook (and Randi "Psychic Investigator" TV show)

Postby Ian Pegler » Thu Mar 22, 2012 5:40 pm

Oh, hang on, it's back up again...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHALMaDZtmg

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Re: Michael Cook (and Randi "Psychic Investigator" TV show)

Postby Ian Pegler » Mon May 07, 2012 3:49 pm

from the Campaign for Philosophical Freedom website...

The 'Open Media' Shambles (1991)

In recent years Randi has found it increasingly hazardous to obtain television airtime, as his methods have become widely known. A couple of years ago, one prime-time British television appearance was abruptly cancelled when knowledgeable paranormal enthusiasts managed to infiltrate the audience. So childishly obvious was his duplication of metal-bending that some of them erupted on to the stage, demanding a right of reply; when this plea was rejected, they stopped the show, causing Randi to beat a humiliating retreat back across the Atlantic.

The return of Randi has been facilitated by the Open Media team, who have produced programmes about magicians recently. They were allowed to film much of the series in the Granada Television studios - what a fabulous setting in which to trap the best of British psychics! The set-up was ideal: he could claim to be the chosen investigator, designing and executing 'scientific' tests. Banking on the general level of disinterest within the psychic community about scientific investigators, he could destroy all the leading British psychics in one fell swoop! As an extra safeguard, the guest psychics would be kept in ignorance about the level of Randi's participation until the last moment: most would be invited by telephone so that no incriminating written evidence would be available - in this way even those aware of his appalling career would be lured into the lion's den.


The underlined comments are worthy of note. See also the remarks by Dr. Arthur Bailey (Dowsing Today, Sept. 2007 page 4) which says that he was contacted by phone but the name of James Randi was only mentioned after Arthur had brought it up himself:

"Oh, we had thought of asking James Randi to take part", they answered.


which is a bit of an understatement considering he was hosting the show!

And the moral is, if you are contacted by a media company contact the BSD immediately - and don't agree to anything over the phone.

Ian
Last edited by Ian Pegler on Wed Jun 24, 2015 6:09 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Michael Cook

Postby Ian Pegler » Mon May 07, 2012 4:33 pm

Ian Pegler wrote:For the record...

I just came across the IMDB entry for the show. It first aired on August 7th 1991. The film editor was some guy called Keith Aldred.

Ian


More crew are listed on THIS PAGE.

Ian
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Re: Michael Cook (and Randi "Psychic Investigator" TV show)

Postby Ian Pegler » Thu May 10, 2012 5:15 pm

According to this BFI page all six episodes were directed by John Birkin including (obviously) the one on dowsing. According to the same database all six episodes were produced by Frankie Glass.

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Re: Michael Cook (and Randi "Psychic Investigator" TV show)

Postby Ian Pegler » Wed May 16, 2012 7:17 pm

I've been looking at a copy of the Psychic Investigator book (and no I didn't buy it, before you ask) brought out by Randi in 1991.

The report here makes for interesting reading, especially since it is wildly divergent from the podcast previously mentioned.

A few short citations by way of critique:

James Randi: Psychic Investigator, p.40 wrote:The challenge for Mr. Cook was to determine with his pendulum the square in which the abbey was located


This neatly spotlights what I previously said about the dangers about agreeing things over the phone. Who knows who said what to whom? If Michael was told to dowse for an abbey, why would he dowse for an ancient monument instead? It makes no sense.

It continues...

James Randi: Psychic Investigator, p.40 wrote:A lapse in security

On the afternoon of the show, I was shocked to see one of our team standing outside the TV studio with the enlarged map, 6 feet (1.8 m) long and with a red and white removable indicator affixed which clearly showed the location of the abbey!


This description is completely at odds with what was said in the podcast:

James Randi, podcast version wrote:...they had left the whole display - it was a big big graphic display - left it out in the hall with the position marked by an indicator and of course he passed right by that when he came in and he saw where the marker was on it and he came in to the studio, I didn't know that it was out in the hallway, they couldn't store it at a more convenient spot they didn't have a place for it, it was very large and it was left out in the hallway. So it was no great mystery to me when I found out afterwards one of the prop men came over and said "oh we had that out in the hall and the answer was clearly displayed on it.


So in one version he found out before the show that something was awry, in the other he didn't find out until afterwards. In one version the action takes place outdoors (???) before the shoot, in the other the board is stashed in a hallway - i.e. indoors and they don't find out that anything is wrong until afterwards.

Skipping forward a bit...

"James Randi: Psychic Investigator, p.40" wrote:In any case, Michael Cook, after some fussing about over the map with a 'crystal' (actually glass) pendulum on a silver chain, announced that square A2 and another one contained abbeys


This is incorrect as anyone who has seen the YouTube footage will be able to verify for themselves. In fact Michael never once used the word "abbey". Randi is the first to use the word "abbey" when he opens the envelope.

"James Randi: Psychic Investigator, p.40" wrote:The other square had no ruins of any kind in it.


Again, demonstrably false.

Skipping back a bit:

"James Randi: Psychic Investigator, p.40" wrote:I want to make one thing perfectly clear: neither I nor any member of the production team imply in any way that Mr. Cook or any of his group obtained the information that was carelessly made so easily available ... As far as I am concerned, Mr Cook's performance on our programme was the result either of his skill as a map dowser, or a remarkable one-in-twenty-four coincidence.


Again contrast this with what was said in the podcast:

James Randi, podcast version wrote:... and of course he passed right by that when he came in and he saw where the marker was on it and he came in to the studio


Ian
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Re: Michael Cook (and Randi "Psychic Investigator" TV show)

Postby ledgehammer » Thu May 17, 2012 10:25 am

Ian,

When is your birthday, was thinking of getting you some cigars and a faded trenchcoat.... oh "just one more thing", great post! ;-)

best wishes

Tom
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Re: Michael Cook (and Randi "Psychic Investigator" TV show)

Postby Ian Pegler » Thu May 17, 2012 10:44 am

ledgehammer wrote:Ian,

When is your birthday, was thinking of getting you some cigars and a faded trenchcoat.... oh "just one more thing", great post! ;-)

best wishes

Tom


You're too young to remember that show !

Ian
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Re: Michael Cook (and Randi "Psychic Investigator" TV show)

Postby ledgehammer » Thu May 17, 2012 3:46 pm

Ian Pegler wrote:
ledgehammer wrote:Ian,

When is your birthday, was thinking of getting you some cigars and a faded trenchcoat.... oh "just one more thing", great post! ;-)

best wishes

Tom


You're too young to remember that show !

Ian


Ian,

I'll take that as a compliment.... of course it was re-runs ;-)

Tom
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Re: Michael Cook (and Randi "Psychic Investigator" TV show)

Postby Ian Pegler » Wed Jun 13, 2012 10:50 am

An interesting quote from the late Dan Wilson...

Dan Wilson wrote:There's not room to tell the whole very jolly story, alas - but to summarise, three of the four dowsing exercises were successful and when Bob Harris tried to suggest to Randi that Professor Hans-Dieter Betz's trials validating dowsing qualified for his (then) £100,000 reward, Randi ordered the cameras to be turned off and was barracked by the studio audience. After filming, Randi tried to have the programme cancelled, without success.


(from The Failure of Dowsing Under Test by Dan Wilson, Dowsing Today, June 2003)

This affirms what I had thought all along, namely that the footage on YouTube has been, at some point edited down (possibly for the American audience??) because I actually have in the back of my mind a vague memory of Bob Harris challenging Randi as mentioned above. It isn't in the YouTube footage though - so if you taped the dowsing episode in the U.K. please put it up on YouTube.

Thanks to the skeptical cheer-leaders on YouTube the one test which failed gets far more hits than the three which passed - a neat summary of their attitude: win at all costs.

Ian
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