The Museum of Hoaxes
hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive
   
Hoaxes Throughout History
Middle AgesEarly Modern1700s1800-1840s1850-1890s
1900s1910s1920s1930s1940s1950s1960s1970s1980s1990s21st Century2014
The Baby Mind Reader
Status: Psychic mumbo-jumbo
This week Channel Five in the UK will begin airing a documentary about Derek Ogilvie, a guy who claims to be a "Baby Mind Reader." That's right, he can read the minds of infants and tell desperate parents why their little darlings won't sleep, or why they're fussy about eating, or why they cry all the time, etc., etc. The Scotsman has a pretty sympathetic article about him, describing him as a "respected Scottish medium." The Sunday Times, however, rakes him over the coals much more, pointing out that:
He used to drive a Rolls Royce and own three of Glasgow’s most fashionable bars until a nightclub venture failed six years ago and he was declared bankrupt. Now he has reinvented himself as a psychic who claims to be able to communicate telepathically with babies.
Ogilvie says that he understands people are skeptical of his claims, but that he's willing to submit himself to rigorous scientific scrutiny to prove his abilities. Yeah, I've heard that before. Psychics and other charlatans say this all the time, but if they ever actually submit themselves to any tests and then fail them (as they inevitably do) they're full of all kinds of excuses: "The negative energy of the researcher blocked my powers," etc.

BadPsychics.co.uk has examined some tapes of Ogilvie in action and concludes that he's simply cold reading (i.e. throwing out random guesses in the hope that some of them will strike gold). They write that: "It is bad enough to take advantage of grieving people for your own gain, but to take advantage of children and a Mothers love for her children, both dead and alive, is a whole new level of evil." (Thanks to Kathy for the heads up about Ogilvie.)
Birth/BabiesParanormal
Posted by The Curator on Tue Jun 20, 2006


dunce!
Posted by Richard  on  Tue Jun 20, 2006  at  02:44 AM
Thanks for the link to my site.

We have been watching Derek Ogilvie for some time now, and after last nights TV show I am glad we did.
It was exploitation of the highest degree.

I am not sure who I am more angry at, Derek Ogilvie for peddling this nonsense, or the Production company for making the program.
Posted by Jon Donnis  in  UK  on  Tue Jun 20, 2006  at  04:12 AM
What's left? Experts who can interpret the dreams of neurotic alien ghost pets?

No, really, you have to wonder about parents who, confronted with a crying baby, turn immediately to a self-proclaimed "mind-reader" instead of a health professional. Guess they weren't paying attention during that particular pre-natal class...
Posted by Nightbringer  in  Perth, Western Australia  on  Tue Jun 20, 2006  at  08:33 AM
I didn't take any pre-natal classes...and still don't take my child to a psychic when she cries.

Then again...Jocelynn never cried unless she was hurt as an infant. (Rashes, teething, etc.)
Posted by Maegan  in  Tampa, FL - USA  on  Tue Jun 20, 2006  at  08:56 AM
This looks like a job for.... S U P E R Randi !!! It shouldn't be too long before this shows up on his weekly commentary.

Gotta go now. I have to check out the Free Psychic Reading Google ads at the top of this page.
Posted by Captain Al  in  Vancouver Island, Canada  on  Tue Jun 20, 2006  at  10:13 AM
If you ever need to provide an example of a contradiction in terms, "respected ... medium" ranks right up there with "military intelligence."
Posted by Big Gary  in  Marfa, Texas  on  Tue Jun 20, 2006  at  06:25 PM
Sometimes, I have to wonder if recognizing a silly claim is worthwhile. That occurred to me when I first heard of Ogilvie. Of course, the fact that he's been given a TV series means only that a production company recognized that there was money in the man. It's now apparent that there is no limit to the public's bad taste and naivety...
Posted by James Randi  in  Florida, USA  on  Tue Jun 20, 2006  at  08:40 PM
Are you the REAL James Randi? I'm skeptical but you can prove it by mentioning your post here on the Museum of Hoaxes in your next weekly commentary.
Posted by Captain Al  in  Vancouver Island, Canada  on  Wed Jun 21, 2006  at  10:39 AM
He's the 'real' James Randi. He replied via email to the notification of a new comment. (I think that many people who receive those email notifications think that if they reply by email, their replies will show up on the site. Instead they just go directly to me. Usually I ignore them, but for James Randi I'll make an exception. And I guess I should add a line to those email notifications to make it clearer that people should respond on the site, not by email.)

Anyway, Randi's response was to Captain Al was:

"I don't go out of my way to prove myself, nor do I use my web page for frivolous puposes..."

Very Randi-esque. (I'm also wondering if James Randi thought that 'Captain Al' was me.)
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Wed Jun 21, 2006  at  11:51 AM
Thanks for the confirmation Alex. I asked if it was him because obviously anyone can use any name when posting here so I wondered if it was just someone trying to fool us. After all, this is a site about hoaxes and pranks and I could really be Sylvia Browne or Uri Geller.

The other reason was to get you some well-deserved and free publicity. I don't think mentioning the Museum of Hoaxes in Randi's weekly commentary would be frivolous.
Posted by Captain Al  in  Vancouver Island, Canada  on  Wed Jun 21, 2006  at  01:21 PM
I can't believe James Randi replied to MY comment, even if he possibly mistook me for Alex who is slightly more famous. And just a few weeks ago Phil Plait, the Bad Astronomer, replied to my comments on his blog! Even though he didn't agree with me I still feel honored. Move over Cranky Media Guy!
Posted by Captain Al  in  Vancouver Island, Canada  on  Thu Jun 22, 2006  at  11:07 AM
Oh dear, now Captain Al will start thinking he's all better than the rest of us. Before you know it he'll be wearin' pants.
Posted by Charybdis  in  Hell  on  Thu Jun 22, 2006  at  11:31 AM
Jealous???
Posted by Captain Al  in  Vancouver Island, Canada  on  Thu Jun 22, 2006  at  08:31 PM
Hell yes! mad
Posted by Charybdis  in  Hell  on  Fri Jun 23, 2006  at  10:58 AM
Having just now seen two of these C5 programmes I would say that Ogilvie is at the very least, an extremely astute judge of character and interpreter of human interactions.
Unless C5 has actually depicted events in ways which simply did not occur, on both occasions the effect of the "diagnosis" and "remedy" was materially positive. AND this all allegedly after the respective couples had exhausted help from social services and other conventional forms of support.

OK, so maybe his business failures have forced him to exercise his "innate financial genius" a la "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" and he chanced upon this ability. Given the positive outcomes, is that such a bad thing? OK, the end may not justify the means, but I haven't observed in these programmes anything that remotely suggests the means themselves were not perfectly reasonable. Both the family situations depicted in the programmes I saw were already dysfunctional - it just took someone with enough perception and courage of conviction (even if born out of the need to make a living!) to analyse the situation and apply the necessary corrective measures. Maybe the professional support agencies' failure was due to their inability to diagnose the underlying problem in the family relationships and/or to enforce a fix. (And yes, no doubt having your dirty linen exposed on prime-ish time TV helps to motivate for a solution)...
Posted by bobcat  in  London  on  Mon Jun 26, 2006  at  05:06 PM
There's some great analysis week by week over at

http://www.theskepticexpress.com/index.php

Just goes to show seeing is not necessarily believing.
Posted by Phaedra  in  U.K  on  Wed Jun 28, 2006  at  12:59 PM
For those of you out there that think Derek Ogilvie is a fake then we should respect your opinion. However for those of us who have met him and had one to one readings with him, in our own homes, The "cold reading" as it's been refered to. Explain to me how Derek had the ability to name people in my family who had died 20 years before I even met him? Explain to me how he knew very personal things about me when I had never met him before? Derek Ogilvie is one of the nicest people I have ever met, he is a very genuine person, he never takes any money for any of his personal readings. "The Money Man" refuses to take money from people when it is offered. Unless you have met someone it is not very nice to judge them. Derek Ogilvie is a good person and does not deserve to be slated in this way. I'm sure if you met him you opinion would change rapidly.
Posted by Laura  in  Glasgow  on  Mon Sep 11, 2006  at  11:50 AM
Firstly check out my articles on him
http://badpsychics.com/thefraudfiles/search.php?query=ogilvie&mid=2&action=showall&andor=AND

Now to understand cold reading.

Well cold reading is the very art of making people believe that you know things that you have no way of knowing, sound familiar?
Well it should

Derek Ogilvie uses this technique.

And if you do not understand how it works then you simply cannot dismiss it as a possibility.

We PROVED as fact that Derek lied on GMTV about prior knowledge of someone.

We have shown as fact that he gleans info from the people he reads for.

I am sure he is a nice man, he has to be to trick people.

It must be hard for anyone to accept something they believe in deerly as fake, and sometimes people will ignore the mistakes, and just accept the correct info given.

Look at all the evidence about him, and then ask yourself what is more likely?

He is using KNOWN psychological techniques to convince people he is psychic.

or

He is breaking all the laws of physics and is on a par with Jesus when it comes to his abilities.

What do you think?
Posted by Jon Donnis  in  uk  on  Mon Sep 11, 2006  at  12:35 PM
Well Jon, what do I think?

I think there maybe somethings that can't be explained. I think that "breaking all the laws of physics" is a very rash statement - remember when the world was flat?

Maybe he gets it wrong sometimes. Does that mean all weathermen are fakes because the also get it wrong a lot of the time?

Why is he on a par with Jesus? Don't remember Jesus doing the sort of things Derek is doing...or did I miss that bit in the Bible?

I did read through your "articles" on him - and I have also read through a lot of other articles on him. I have to say they didn't convince me either way. I have to admit I am still a bit sceptical about Mr Ogilvie however I am far more sceptical about your level of "expertise".

As a father (you do have children don't you Jon?) I can sympathise with the parents that were on the programmes. You will do anything to make your child happy and if nothing else has worked - including the professionals - you will do anything that might. As Derek had such a good effect on ALL the familes, why do you not start up a site called BadSocialWorkers.com?

Just a thought :o)
Posted by Richard  in  UK  on  Tue Dec 26, 2006  at  08:58 AM
I receive some 120 to 140 messages a day, and I respond to every one I get. Whether I posted those attributed to me above, I can't say, but if so I'm surprised that I didn't mention the fact that I personally tested Derek Ogilvie back in late 2008 here in Florida at a lab at the University of Florida. Mr. Ogilvie actually came to Florida for this test. After some fussing with the tight protocol we designed, he agreed - in a signed, witnessed, document - that everything was acceptable to him. He chose his preferred subjects from among several parents-and-child groups that we found by running advertisements in a local newspaper. They said that they believed in his claimed powers. Mr. Ogilvie even agreed that he "would only fail if he did NOT have the powers he claimed." Everything was air-tight, agreed-to, approved, and every phase, from the second that we entered the lab, was recorded on video. I refer readers to http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/swift-blog/224-swift-october-3-2008.html#i1 where a complete account appears. I'll add that immediately upon his return home, Mr. Ogilvie denied that the test was fairly carried out - a response we've come to expect from these people. It's hardly a surprise that the media have recognized that there's money in the public's naive acceptance of such nonsense. and that Mr. Ogilvie now has a TV series. We at the JREF stand prepared to repeat the Ogilvie test any time he wants to do it. Will he agree? I don't think so...
Posted by James Randi  in  Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA  on  Wed Aug 25, 2010  at  08:15 AM
Commenting is no longer available in this channel entry.
All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.