An Evening Of Clairvoyance? I Call Shenanigans!

Acclaimed television psychic Tony Stockwell is coming to UCH, Limerick on Sunday 16th May. Tony is of course a master manipulator and a complete fraud. So why am I advertising his show?

Well here is a video of Tony in action. He's good, he's got genuine talent. I haven't seen such calm, professional cold reading techniques in years. He plays the persona of the medium very well and is much less of an amped-up alpha-male, and thus far more likeable,  than John Edward.

Watch the first six minutes of this video and come back for my analysis. I picked this clip practically at random, but more specifically because it's a long unedited read.

Did you count the questions/assertions? Well I did, there were twenty-seven. Wow! Twenty-seven distinct messages from the spirit world. I wonder how many of these were accurate and how many might have been educated guesses?

Well, my educated guess is that when he walked out onto the studio floor he had one scenario in mind: male/killed in an accident. And with approximately one hundred bereaved people in a room, his odds of striking gold were excellent.

Here are the psychic messages Tony received from the dead Subject:

  1. "A man. But it's a much younger man." What could that even mean? His very first statement turns out to be utterly vague to the point of incomprehensibility.
  2. "Very handsome looking fellah, a good looking boy." He's still not certain whether this is a child or a man. But all tragic dead people are probably such good looking boys/men to their families.
  3. "Dimple on his chin, mark upon his chin." Psychics often really on common scar areas to give weight to their guesses, but this one goes unacknowledged and is never mentioned again. So much for its being "reasonably significant." Fail.
  4. "Whichever way he passed he damaged or there was something wrong with the left hand or arm or something here to the shoulder all across here…some degree of impact where he would have fallen against it or been hit somewhere on the left side of his body." This is part of his 'accident' assumption. Surely someone knows a man/boy killed in an accident? Notice the vague progression of this 'impact' from hand, to arm, to shoulder, to the entire left side of the body. At this point he gets a lukewarm admission of recognition from an audience member: the Target. But based on what information exactly? A deceased but handsome man/boy with a dimple who damaged some area on the left of his body. But as we mentioned, the dimple is insignificant and never mentioned again, later we discover that the Subject had pain 'all over,' rather than just on the left side. So, essentially: a dead male. Gee, I know one too.
  5. "Something significant about his eyebrows." No sense of recognition from the Target, a stony reception in fact, and so this is quickly passed over. Fail.
  6. "Hasn't passed recently." Tony estimates that, going by the Target's age (fifty-ish?), this tragedy is a little further in the past. He quickly adds the qualifier 'years' to see the reaction, and is well-rewarded. It's about time he got somewhere!
  7. Subject is "Similar age/generation" to Target. This is a wedge point where Tony takes a calculated leap and guesses that the Subject is the Target's late brother, or less likely a school friend.
  8. "Known you from when you were a little kid, or from day one." This just confirms the childhood connection and Tony is on the home stretch now.
  9. "When he passed he broke his mother's heart. And she was never ever the same." Need we even comment on this one?
  10. "Just before he passed he was so excited…he'd just achieved something…" No reaction. Fail.
  11. "…or he was looking forward to a major thing that happened in his life." No reaction. Fail.
  12. "Something to do with a significant birthday or a significant birthday…twenty-one or something…" No reaction. Fail. Tony was hoping for a win with this one. It's part of the narrative of death that the mourners will say something like '…and he was going to be 18 in another month or so,' Or '…and his sister's birthday was only the week before.' It's always somebody's birthday. Although, his jamming in a hurried reference to 'twenty-one' reeks of desperation. Fail.
  13. "…or the people he connected to. Come on!" This finally elicits a grudging but unconvincing 'possibly' from the Target. Fail.
  14. "…sense of this impact or being squashed. Feeling of damage in his body, it wasn't pretty." This is from Tony's original accident scenario. He had been hoping for a car crash death, but this doesn't seem to be forthcoming. He returns to the 'left side' theory, but is proven wrong on this again–the pain was 'all over.' But to be fair, he scores well on the 'impact or being squashed' suggestion. Then again, if someone is killed in an accident it'll probably cause them significant physical damage.
  15. "Your father knows him." A reasonable guess. The Target's father would know his own sons and/or their friends. However, if you watch carefully, he seems very confused about whose father it is. The Target or the woman to his right. Are they husband and wife? Probably, but Tony was clearly hoping for a brother/sister relationship here.
  16. "He's seen him after he died." Going out on a limb, Tony guesses that the father went to identify the remains of the Subject. He is rewarded with a Gold Star for this one.
  17. "The trauma haunted him…dreams where he could see the body." He harps on about this a little too much with no real reaction from the Target, but my guess is that the woman (out of frame) was giving many more clues than the stoic Target.
  18. "He's apologetic." So the Subject is sorry for dying? This is unverifiable to say the least.
  19. "He looks like you..very similar." Tony is trying to get an admission that this is a brother, or at least someone in the family, perhaps a cousin.
  20. "He's waited a long time to come and speak to you." Really?
  21. "Your mother is alive…" This is correct, but he follows this statement with a very odd trailing qualifier: "…in the world." It seems like a strange thing to say, but if you imagine that Tony was in fact ready to add the weasel phrase '…in the spirit world,' then you can see how this slipped out.
  22. Subject wants "to pick her up and heal her or care for her." Funny, I've also heard that old people often have trouble walking and may even have medical conditions. This isn't exactly brain surgery.
  23. "She doesn't feel brilliant…unwell? Under the weather, tired?" Ditto. I don't mean to be insensitive but he was surely hoping for some form of cancer here.
  24. "Five photographs of him out on show in the lounge." No reaction. Fail. Let's try the other rooms?
  25. "Five photographs of him in the home?" No? Very disappointing reaction here too. In fact, the Target clearly says "I know she hasn't got that many." Oh dear. Fail.
  26. "Lively, jumping up and down…a pillock…happy, dozy." A lively child? Some agreement here. Well done, Tony.
  27. "Your grandmum stands next to him in the spirit world." Shameless.

Well, I've just saved you €35. Although, it's probably worth it to see the real stars of the show–the gullible public–as they lap up this tripe without a moment's reflection.

You may think I'm being too hard on the grieving parents, spouses and siblings who go to these exhibitions hoping for one last connection with their loved ones. But, I'm not the one lying to them and taking their money. It takes a special breed of callous, thieving psychopath to do that, Tony Stockwell.

In addition, I am truly disappointed that UCH is housing this charlatan's circus act. It's worth remembering that it's called the UNIVERSITY Concert Hall for a reason: it's embedded in the centre of Limerick's most prestigious seat of learning, where scientific method, intellect, and rational thought are supposed to hold sway, and perhaps even count for something.

I can forgive them hosting Crystal Swing, but Tony Stockwell? For shame, UCH, for shame.