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Why did Psychic Sally lose her powers in September 2011?

January 27, 2012

Yesterday, Psychic Sally (aka Sally Morgan) announced that she is suing the Daily Mail for libel. She is taking action against two an articles published in the Daily Mail last year in the wake of allegations made in September that Sally uses an earpiece to receive information on stage in order to help her perform apparent acts of mediumship. Sally Morgan has strongly denied these allegations.

 

You can find out more about the allegations and subsequent controversy in an article by Chris French, and in some blogs by me here, here, here, here and here.

 

With September’s earpiecegate in mind, I went to see Psychic Sally in three shows late last year. Before discussing the content of the shows, I should point out that Psychic Sally was not wearing an earpiece when I saw her. On each occasion her hair was tucked behind her ears. She has admitted to wearing an earpiece in the past (for stage direction only), but even this was not being used when I attended her shows.

 

I found her performances to be very disappointing. Apart from the ethical issues and some distasteful readings (in my opinion), she had very few direct hits and spent much of the evenings struggling to give convincing readings (in my opinion).

  

Her national tour has been a major success with 1,000-seat venues sold out night after night (tickets £20- £25), so I wondered why she was so popular in light of the lacklustre performances that I had witnessed.. Perhaps her current popularity was based on previous success. Maybe her performances had been more impressive earlier in the year. How could I find out if the shows that I had seen were a pale shadow of the sort of mediumship Sally had been capable of in the past?

 

Fortunately, Ticketmaster allows people to post reviews of Sally’s shows (and other shows) on its website. Reviewers can also award up to five stars. So, yesterday morning I looked at all of the reviews for 2011 and worked out the average star rating for each month. Before I reveal the data, I should point out a couple of things.

 

  1. This was a rush job, so it does need to be checked. I have tried to be accurate, but there were lots  of shows and reviews to wade through.
  2. There are some gaps in the data. This might be because Sally was on holiday and there were no shows, or because shows not sold via Ticketmaster are not reviewed on its site.

This is what I found:


 

January            81 reviews        4.5 stars

February          85                    4.6

March            130                    4.3

April                11                    4.2

May                  7                    4.6

June                29                    4.4

July                  –                       –

August             –                        –          

Sept                12                    2.3

October           90                    2.5

November       100                    2.9

December        –                       –

 

Technically, I probably should not present this data in a bar chart, but I have already drawn it and this is what the data set looks like. As you can see, fans were much less impressed by her shows at the end of the year. I have shown September as a half-width bar, as all the reviewed show
in September took place in the second half of the month, after the allegations about the earpiece.

Bar_chart_2

So why bother with this exercise? First, those thinking about going to see Sally might be interested to know that she is much less popular than she used to be in terms of her reviews. Second, does it throw any light on Sally’s supposed psychic powers?

 

There are many reasons why Sally’s performances might have suffered from autumn onwards. For example,

 

  1. Sally might have been nervous and anxious after the allegations.
  2. Critics might have posted fake negative reviews in late 2011 – perhaps encouraged by the publicity.
  3. Sally’s powers may have genuinely waned and may continue to wane. Maybe she has lost the knack.

 

Perhaps you can think of other reasons why Sally’s performance suffered from September onwards.

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39 Comments
  1. Dave Cross permalink

    One theory…Earpiecegate has scared Morgan, so she has stopped using the earpiece. She has therefore fallen back onto standard cold reading with a consequent fall in the quality of her performance.

  2. Anonymous permalink

    Here’s one:I saw Simon Singh deliver a lecture in 2006/7 (I forget which) in Scotland where he played Stairway to Heaven backward and we all just heard garbled junk. We listened to it a second time after he had primed us with the information that some people believe it contains a hidden "satanic" message. You guessed it, the second time around we all heard the message. The point is, once people have been primed to look for something they will usually find it! If you believe that Sally’s audiences are typically impressionable (for whatever reasons) and the possibility that Sally appeared to be hoodwinking her audiences becoming front page news will have either let the scales fall from the eyes of her audiences or left them with a more critical perception of her abilities.

  3. SheddyIan permalink

    Perhaps the spirits are having a hard time identifying which one is Sally? I imagine they used to look for her earpiece, so they could tell her apart from members of the public. Now that is gone, how do they know who to talk to?Perhaps she could adopt a special hat that makes her stand out a bit more.

  4. Unity_MoT permalink

    "Perhaps she could adopt a special hat that makes her stand out a bit more."A nice pointy one with the word ‘Wizzard" embroidered on to it, perhaps.The obvious explanation for the decline in Psychic Sally’s review is that the publicity surrounding the cheating allegations has also caused reviewers to become more aware of the usual tricks of the trade, i.e. cold reading/fishing, making it much more obvious when she’s relying on those techniques to work the audience.Like an stage magic, its much less impressive when you know how its done and what to look for.

  5. Paul Zenon permalink

    It is perhaps worth noting that Morgan only admitted ever using an earpiece after I revealed footage existed of her wearing one, which I did on ‘This Morning’. During the period between the Dublin allegations and then, her statements both on her site and on stage were very clearly designed to give the impression that she didn’t use an earpiece, without ever saying so explicitly.

  6. rakesh_patel permalink

    Increased solar flare activity has obviously shorted circuited sally’s psychic connection. This is no doubt a sign from the horsemen of the Apocalypse.

  7. No2BS permalink

    – OK not a totally scientific analysis, but then Sally could prove everything scientifically once & for all by taking the JREF $1million challenge. However she won’t take it, because she says she doesn’t do shows to earn money. – So why hasn’t she been making the tickets for shows free instead of raking in an enormous revenue ?

  8. Acleron1 permalink

    It’s obvious what happened. Spirits ride in on neutrinos, when they went faster in September, they started overshooting her.

  9. Vince Graff permalink

    Simon. You are brilliant.

  10. lleolyons permalink

    Personally I am more intrigued – and impressed – that someone in the western world is still drawing bar charts – with pens and rulers – and not using Excel

  11. ChrisP permalink

    I couldn’t love that lined-page bar chart any more. Its a thing of beauty.

  12. Shawn permalink

    Should the baseline for your bar graph not be 1? It isn’t possible to give a 0 star review thus the range is simply 1-5. Leaving 0 as the baseline gives the false impression that the difference in reviews is not as great as it actually is. Subtracting the base (1) from each of the averages would give:3.63.33.23.63.4….1.31.51.9The differences are much greater than they appear without correcting for the reality that 0 is not an option.

  13. john permalink

    My g/mother was a medium a turn of 18001900 when it was fashionable. I only knew her later in life and she did seem to have second sight or some such. She never discussed how she saw things but did say that belief in her ability was necessary.

  14. Charles Oppenheim permalink

    There seems to me to be an inverse correlation between the scores and the ambient outside temperature. I feel this correlation should be properly investigated, with Sally performing her powers in a room over a series of sessions with different temperature settings.

  15. roger_lfc permalink

    Presumably she knows the outcome of this court case because she’s psychic … 😉

  16. SiobhanMcS permalink

    Surely it’s a simple case of the spirits hibernating for winter?

  17. Adam permalink

    @ Charles Oppenheim. A potentially valid point, although unlikely. It would require further study over a few years to determine if there was a correlation. Would it not simply be that her audience were aware of the alleged parlour trickery, and so were being highly analytical towards her performance?Belief plays a key role in these types of scenarios. Without the doubt, the audience members would be making her suggestions fit. With doubt, they are less likely to do so.

  18. Triactol permalink

    I have never heard of a Psychic losing there powers before. Maybe it’s commons but they just pretend to have their powers still! That’ll be ??30 please! LOL

  19. Will permalink

    Is there also a correlation with location? Maybe she can only talk to spirits near the sea?

  20. Bob permalink

    Maybe the earpiece wire was acting as an aerial which happened to resonate at paranormal frequencies thus improving reception ?

  21. Anonymous permalink

    I suspect it’s all down to how many Daily Mail readers are in the audience. Dailymail.co.uk is after all the best website in the world for scientic analysis (not) and also a massive source of cynical bastards. It could also be related to the audience member’s fear of being left out of the regularly scheduled raptures.The fact that the witch Sally is, allegedly, a fraud and charlatan doesn’t, of course, enter into it.

  22. Un1v3rs4L permalink

    some once told me this story…..About the lady who believes in ghosts ?who thinks the dead haunt us she told it interily though this antidote So if your under the age of 50 you might want to hide away from this terrifying tail of terror see it has terror in it twice that???s how terrifying this is basically she went to her grandmother house and stayed the nightduring the night some plates fell over on drain-inboardthats it; that was her ghost story: some plates falling-overby that she was convinced that dead come back to hassle usbesidesAs far as I understand it you have more chance of spectral activity if your extremely gullible 😉

  23. No2BS permalink

    hey John Wood, coincidence ! My g/mother was a medium at the turn of 0870 18001900 (calls cost ??1.33/min & you you maybe put on hold for absurd amounts of time)

  24. JonMcA permalink

    Is Sally related to Piers? Please say yes.

  25. Tony Mann permalink

    All the publicity might have encouraged sceptics to go to the shows and therefore the audiences might contain large numbers of people likely to rate the shows negatively.

  26. stevenbryson permalink

    What a superbly worded article. I couldn’t dream of achieving such subtly! 🙂

  27. PeterInDevon permalink

    Maybe dead people don’t like this woman! If you were dead and you could speak to anyone would you chose a cabaret act?

  28. National Spirit World Union permalink

    There were contractual issues in September and many of my members refused to connect with Sally until these were resolved. I am pleased to say that these are now resolved. However, many of the spirits have now moved on to the more lucrative contract haunting with it’s attractive tax breaks and better ‘wow’ factor.

  29. Amadan permalink

    Simon,Have you investigated changes in the prevalence of pirates over the reference period? If, as has been suggested, Sally’s abilities (or audience reactions) are temperature-related, varying pirato-climatic conditions could be an explanation.

  30. nbrado permalink

    Cartman would sort these idiots out..http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22Tj_l4PcPs

  31. Marcus Hill permalink

    It’s also possible that the audiences for the later shows, even if they were previously "true believers" who had purchased tickets before the bad publicity, simply went to the show having seen this publicity. They may well have viewed a level of accuracy which was objectively unchanged from the pre-September shows, but having the notion that Sally is no psychic already planted in their minds allowed them to overcome the confirmation bias that audiences pre-September used to filter the memories of all the "misses" from their minds.

  32. Psychic Medium permalink

    It’s a really very shocking news for Sally. But even though, I don???t think she is a fraud..

  33. nbrado permalink

    oh really Psychic Medium? I thought someone like you could predict such outcomes with a name like that! Of course you wouldn’t think shes a fraud! that would be bad for business eh?Quite frankly my dear she is a FRAUD like all the so called Psychics.. She was caught bang to rights with her little radio ear-piece and the audience to back it up hearing the staff who were sending her those otherworldly messages. Its not a NEW trick and its was done before by POPOFF and exposed by the great James Randi. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7BQKu0YP8YWatch it yourself there!I firmly point the finger at anyone who claims to be Psychic that they are a FRAUD and if they want to prove me wrong then take the Randi Foundation test, claim the 1 million bucks and sue the ass off me!.

  34. nbrado permalink

    wow you do alright for yourself eh Psychic Medium..SPECIAL PROMOTION:Single Readings ??45 (was ??75) Full Readings ??72 (was ??125).Promotion valid for a limited time only. Wow makes me feel so special that you would only charge 72 quid for something that you say is worth 125! Personally I wouldn’t pay you 20p and again say to you that if you want to be a millionaire, come take that Randi test and show to the world you are REALLY physic as you claim. But I doubt you will, I expect you will say you don’t need the money! Bloody right at 75 quid a poxy pop.

  35. nbrado permalink

    oh and finally lets have a look at your legal disclaimer Meryem…For reasons of legality, all psychic readings are deemed as for ‘entertainment purposes only’. Meryem makes no guarantees, expressed or implied, with respect to the accuracy, relevancy, or quality of information. Meryem will not assume and hereby disclaims any liability to any person or entity for any loss or damages (including, without limitation, physical, mental, special, indirect, incidental or consequential) loss or damages caused in regard to any information and/or any suggestion(s) or advice provided to you by her reading regardless of whether resulting from negligence, accident, or any other cause whatsoever. No one is ever 100% accurate. The client agrees to indemnify Meryem against all claims and costs where they have misrepresented the information that they have provided to her.ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY?!?!?need I say more!

  36. Stimpy permalink

    If you ever see a psychic with a smile or in an obvious moment of cheerfulness then you must punch them.You must ALWAYS strike a happy medium.

  37. Anonymous permalink

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  38. online psychic permalink

    The matter is getting complicated now the fight is into the legal way, only court can decide this.

  39. nbrado permalink

    Wow! one would have thought you could predict the outcome online psychic! I guess your powers cannot see so well into the future to make legal predictions.Why? because you and all psychics are full of crap and you are just lame ass entertainers who give false hope to vulnerable people. To call you a parasite would be doing great injustice to insects everywhere.

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