In my book Stop Worrying! There Probably is an Afterlife (Amazon US/Amazon UK) I devote a chapter to the subject of mediumship, and how science should best approach investigation of this controversial area. One of the elements that I talk about is the so-called ‘dazzle shot’, where a medium hits on a single, idiosyncratic piece of information that is so specific that the sitter is convinced the reading is coming from a loved one, even if sometimes the rest of the sitting is non-evidential in tone. I feel that previous research which did not take these dazzle shots into account (by scoring readings on the total number of pieces of information that were correct) may have resulted in unnecessarily negative assessments of some mediums, and that future experiments should concentrate on comparing sittings on the overall reading, rather than tallying the number of accurate hits.
The above video of a ‘non-believer’ (Chad) receiving a reading has an excellent example of a dazzle shot, when medium Chris Stillar (at 10:45) seems a little confused by the “bizarre” and “cryptic” communication coming from the ‘deceased personality’, asking Chad quite simply “what’s pickles?” As you’ll see on the video, the sitter at this point is quite overwhelmed emotionally, and it turns out that his deceased friend was obsessed with pickles, to the point where Chad would buy him a jar every week. I’m unfamiliar with this particular experiment, and the researcher doing the work, so I can’t vouch that everything was truly anonymous and the medium was definitely ‘blind’ to the sitter – but it does make you sit up and take notice, and it certainly grabbed Chad’s attention.
Skeptics would see other things in the video that might portray things in a more negative light, such as the medium noting at another point that the sitter’s eyes seemed to be saying “yes” in response to his question – perhaps evidence that he was at least subconsciously reading and reacting to Chad’s body language and subtle cues. The two debrief videos below – the first with Chad, the other with Chris Stillar – also show that some of the information in the first video wasn’t as accurate as it seemed (such as the mode of death of Chad’s friend). But overall, I think it’s a nice group of videos to get a feel for how mediumistic sessions can be so convincing to sitters, and also for a more personal ‘chat’ with a medium, rather than the usual sensationalised presentation of celebrity mediums that is the norm on television these days.
Here’s Chad’s debrief:
And here’s the post-sitting interview with medium Chris Stillar:
Fascinating material, and well worth viewing if you’re at all interested in this topic. And of course, for more on mediumship and other areas of ‘afterlife’ research, such as NDEs and death-bed visions, make sure you grab a copy of Stop Worrying! There Probably is an Afterlife.