Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Weird or What? The Scole Experiments

Mark Edward, Brian Dunning and I were hired by the Discovery Channel to film a recreation of the Scole Seance experiences.  I have told a few people about the events of that day, but not released everything as the show just premiered in Canada Sept 16, 2011.  Now that it was released they sent us a DVD of the show.  I assume it will show in America eventually.

Here is some of the backstory with pictures.  I must say that I was really nervous about messing up, but in the end it was some of the best fun I have every had.

It all started with this Skeptoid episode from November 10, 2007. The Discovery Channel found it and decided it would be a great part of the show they were filming about life after death.  

Mark Edward was hired to do the seance as that is one of his many talents.  See his website and Wikipedia page for more info.  Mark wanted to do a "dark seance" which means that there is no light at all, can't see your hand in front of your face kind of dark.  But when he found out that the camera crew would be using infra-red cameras, Mark was concerned about revealing magician tricks on camera.  He has had some bad experiences with TV producers promising one thing but doing something else. Originally he planed on having his hands tied down to the chair and then using one of many magician tricks to remove the rope/chain so that he could preform the tricks happening around the table.  He decided to use me all in black instead.

I had never done this kind of thing before (but now I'm hooked, it was such a rush!) He made me dress all in black (the infra-red shows me in white) and I only had little pin holes to look through in the mask.  It was impossible to see for the sitters but for me even less so.  We put little glow in the dark bugs (that was all the producer could find) on the backs of the chairs and on the legs on the floor.  Mark's chair was much bigger than the other chairs and we knew they would not be looking on the back of his chair so we glued a bunch of bugs on the back of his.  This was important because I needed to know where I was when I enter the area.

I would approach off camera once he blew out the candle and lean on his chair.  I tapped his shoulder so he would know that I was in position to begin.  Mark first set the mood by telling a story.  See it in detail here.  He also has some old props that he uses for seances, including an oil that smells like a graveyard (I'm not kidding).  Mark explains that this is a really important part of the seance, the mood.  He also requested that the three sitters would be "skeptic", "unsure" and "believer" which makes for a real mix.  We did two seances that day (over 10 hours we were there in that cold warehouse in East L.A.) the show only shows the people from the second sitting.  They interviewed each group afterward and the woman was the total believer, she said that things happen around her, and was terrified when the seance was over.  The other two men by the time they interviewed them were settled down and the last man interviewed (on Mark's right) was starting to see things more clearly and was thinking that there might have been someone in the room with them.

 Mark had it all choreographed according to the story he was telling.  (see the above video).  I first come in the room and give a quick spray of roses.  One of the people in the story has a rose garden and eventually someone will mention that they smell roses (which happened at both seances) very subtle.  They are all holding hands at this point and Mark reminds them many times that they can not release their hands as harm might happen to the medium.  (actually they might start moving around an find me, remember I can't see anything but some very small glow in the dark bugs).

I first find Mark and lean on the back of his chair.  I reach over his right shoulder and grab the bell and give it a really good ring.  Then drop it on the table.  Then over his left shoulder I pick up the tambourine, clank it around and then throw it against the cloth wall, where it makes a lot of noise as it falls.  I have a little LED wispy light in my pocket and pull it out and quickly leave "fairy lights".  Only one person noticed it but it was quite effective.

The tube I have hidden under the wall of curtains so I have to leave the area to go find it.  Then carefully lift it over everyones head and breath heavily and say things.  The voice appears to be floating about their heads and was really cool.  While this is all going on during the first seance I was thinking "how hoaky, just like Disneyland" but then I tapped someone (by accident or on purpose?) and Mark says "what's wrong?" to one of the sitters.  She said "someone touched me" and Mark said "don't let go of my hand, but relax a little of the pressure as I think my hand is turning blue".  Thats when I knew we were effective.

I then crawled around on all fours and got under the table (really heavy table) and found a leg (remember I had to be really careful to not bump into anyone, and hope they didn't have their feet spread out.  I got on my belly and grabbed the table leg and shook it like crazy.  Mark had just been telling them that his "friendly" spirit guide Francine (yes this is Sylvia Browne's spirit guide) had left them and he felt that someone evil had entered the room and he wanted them to leave.  They stayed holding hands the entire time the table is shaking.

During the second seance Mark tried something else, he slowly stood up, pulling the arms of the people up.  He said that he was being possessed and was floating upwards.  He yelled at them "DON'T LET GO! PULL ME DOWN!" and the people were screaming and trying to pull his arms back down to the table.  I couldn't see anything and was busy getting the last prop away from the table.  I heard about this later, but it didn't get in the show.  That must have been amazing to experience!

Then at the end Mark starts telling them that he wants another sign, and I take the French Horn and raise it way up and drop it on the table with a thud.

Then Mark passes out and the film crew turns on some of the lights.  Everyone is looking at him to see if he is okay, he slowly comes out of it and sees the French Horn.  Then he says "I'm gone" and leaves the table.  The other sitters just sit there not knowing what to do, no one talks to them.  They were really scared and some of the things they experienced that we didn't intend to happen were the best.

The second sitting apparently a spider came down to the table and they noticed it when the lights came on.  The woman said that she has dreams about spiders and they haunt her.  Just perfect!

The first sitting noticed some straw that was in the box that Mark had brought the props in, they announced that the straw had materialized during the seance as Mark talked about a field of grass.  That group also saw the face of the evil person he brought back in some candle wax that had split over when I dropped the French Horn.

The woman in the second sitting (in the pictures on Mark's left) was so frightened that when they were leaving Mark went over to her and talked to her quietly.  I think she was going to go home and have her family pray over her.

After everyone left they brought Brian Dunning (who had only seen the very end of everything) in and interviewed him.  He was really knowledgeable and I'm sad to say that they cut out most of what he said.  He talked about the Scole Experiments and how the locked box on the table that contained the unexposed film was actually in a magician's box that could be opened.  (that didn't make it on the show). He was really knowledgeable and Mark Edward was really impressed with all he knew about the history of seances (which Mark is an expert).

All the pictures are located on my Facebook page with captions.  Also on picasa without captions.     


Bill Beaty said...

I'm also on the show, on an episode about "electric people" and streetlight interference. I don't know which one will have it, possibly "Freaks of Nature."

I wonder if the DVDs will appear for sale in their online store.

- bill beaty,

Bill Beaty said...

Oh yeah, also: half of black clothing shows up as white in the near-IR, half shows up as black. If you walk around in a clothing store with IR night-vision goggles, you can see which is which. It's because carbon-based colors are black in broadband, so they look black in IR video. But apparently many organic black dyes are narrowband colors (perhaps a type of very dark blue?) Humans see them as black, but IR cams don't. This holds pranking opportunity: wear one of these "IR white" black t-shirts with nasty comments written in black Sharpie marker. It's invisible black-on-black, especially if run through the laundry a couple of times. Sharpie ink is carbon based, so the black lettering will show up on IR video.

Janes G Nash said...

Sorry debunkers. But this is nothing close to the results of the scole experiments. They are seriously passing this joke off as scientific skepticism. This is just a typical fake seance. Where are the controls we saw in scole? Where are the friggin results? These guys just made a bunch of noise and lights, even got busted on the LED, produced almost NONE of the phenomena recorded at scole, and then patted themselves on the back like a bunch of fools. How is this scientific in any way? It's worse, it's blatant dishonesty. They failed miserably to ANYONE who knows ANYTHING about SEG.

Anonymous said...

"Where are the controls we saw in Scole?" ... what controls would those be then? Not one of the controls in the Scole affair was set up by an impartial source. They were ALL set up by the mediums (you know .. the 2 mediums who thought up the whole thing and like to sell books and dvds about it) so therefore no actual real scientific control was in place.

Can anyone provide real hard scientific evidence of the afterlife or spirit world? Nope. Not a jot, nothing.

If the guys who set up Scole could do it in broad daylight, filmed uncut from multiple angles simultaneously, in a properly controlled environment (for example NOT the basement of their own house!!) then I'll be happy to believe. But they wont because they can't.

There are many many people out there who can PROVE with solid evidence and without doubt that mediums are fake.... such as this article. Shows you from start to finish how the mediums tricks are accomplished and yet still some people argue against it....

John Wallace said...

My brother in law's father told us when he was a boy, during and after WWII, that he and his brother were employed by a famous medium in Edinburgh, Scotland to do all the above tricks and more. Sometimes there were three or four 'actors', for want of a better word, in the room at the same time. There would be also times when another trickster would be sat at the table too, pretending they were a client. He and his brother were employed because they were small for their age. Although he was in on the act the medium would use tricks, which he only realised in adulthood, to put the fear of death into himself and his brother so as to keep them quiet about what went on.

Anonymous said...

Isnt it beautifully ironic, that the so called skeptics and scientists resort to hoaxing in order to do their debunking.

Casbah said...

The Scole experiment is 100% hoax! When people insist on a controlled and dark environment, that is a sign if trickery. Why did this event had to take place in someone's cellar or basement? Why lights were not allowed? If ghost or paranormal orbs can go through solid objects, why the need for film or historical images?
This is nothing more than a magic trick with clever participants!

Holly Bell said...

I don't know if the Scoles are faking it or not. What I do know is that my paranormal group has some of the best evidence out there so I don't understand why anyone feels the need to fake this stuff. I use a scientific approach and I am not psychic, you just have to know where to look and keep an open mind while all along debunking the hell out of everything you find because the truth is the only thing we chase....I just don't get the fakers. All they are doing is making it harder for the real paranormal researchers....