Another one bites the Dust

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Another one bites the Dust

From the James Randi Newsletter:



We hear that a “reality series” featuring Scottish “psychic” Derek Ogilvie, titled "Baby's Wil Is Wet" (translation from Dutch: “What Baby Wants Is Law”), begins on RTL 4 in the Netherlands this fall with 15 episodes, and the producers are talking to networks stateside about a U.S. version of the show. Ogilvie is the self-professed expert in reading the minds of infants, and author of "The Baby Mind Reader," which gives marvelous accounts of his success in exchanging thoughts with babies. He previously appeared in a UK TV series of that name. Some months ago, he was introduced to U.S. audiences with an appearance on NBC's "Today" when he visited here to be tested by the JREF for our million-dollar prize.

As I’ve written here previously, that test took place this last May. I also said that the JREF has continued to observe our agreement with the TV production company not to reveal the outcome of the tests, until they gave us permission. However, since the show won’t be broadcast until next year, for some reason, and the prize is still in place, it seems very evident now to any observer that Derek Ogilvie failed to win it, and seeing that the Netherlands series is now being launched – to the huge benefit of Mr. Ogilvie – it’s time we stated the results. It appears that Ogilvie may have somehow neglected to mention those results to RTL 4 when they were negotiating his contract…!

You should know that – as agreed to in advance by both parties – Derek Ogilvie travelled to Fort Lauderdale accompanied by an entourage, a TV crew, and complete confidence. He completed the required forms, so we have the conclusive, signed-and-witnessed statements from him in which he agreed that all the conditions for his comprehensive test with the JREF were fair, binding, and acceptable, in every respect. He offered no objections, made no complaints, and expressed no doubt about his ability to perform his wonders at that time, in that place, in those weather conditions, in his then-state of health, and in all and every way – he said – it was 100% satisfactory. Optimum. Ideal.

Ah, but Mr. Ogilvie has now decided, in his highly-perceptive hindsight, that the JREF test “can't be scientific, because Randi is an illusionist.” Umm, yes, I have been known to perform illusions, it’s true, but I’m damned if I can figure out what he means by this weird remark. If I were a dentist or a plumber, would that also apply…? The JREF test was carefully designed to be proper, evidential, and correct. Ogilvie knew this, he approved of it, and he entered the list prepared to carry off the prize.

We arranged to use a sound studio at the University of Miami, unused for that day, a soundproof set of rooms that ensured isolation of the target area, the production area, and the area in which Ogilvie was located. This arrangement met with his approval, and ours.

First, we allowed him to select, from several sets of volunteers, a set of parents-and-child about whom he felt confident. He did so, after a few rejections he initiated. The father of the selected trio said that he was not convinced of the abilities that Ogilvie claimed, while the mother accepted such powers and felt the tests would be successful. After a few changes by Ogilvie of the objects we’d offered as targets, and a few minor adjustments of the arranged protocol that he requested, we placed the principals in their respective positions, we set up the cameras, I stepped out of the area, and they began recording. The trials were done as planned, with signatures and approval being obtained at every juncture.

The results: It was abysmal, a disaster, a fiasco, and an excellent example of the proof of the laws of chance, and of permutations and combinations. Derek Ogilvie got exactly one out of twenty correct, precisely what chance – without any of his mystical powers at work – would have called for… Notified of the result, he accepted that he’d failed, and stated that he had no excuses to offer.

Of course, RTL will go right ahead with this coming TV series, because they know that they don’t have to adhere to proper controls, and can edit vigorously to be sure that the results they offer to the public – and the sponsors! – will be sanitized, and will present Ogilvie in a positive light.

The truth is that Derek Ogilvie – after much coaxing from the TV producers in the UK – finally applied for the JREF million-dollar prize, negotiated a protocol, and signed the agreement, as we also did, of course. We were all committed to going through with the test, and we did. Ogilvie failed. He then offered a silly excuse for the failure, and that alibi will be accepted by the woo-woos, believe me.

So what else is new in the field of parapsychology…? No surprises here, at all…


Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin
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