Two professional mediums have spectacularly failed in an experiment designed to prove the existence of psychic abilities.
Patricia Putt and Kim Whitton were invited to show off their skills in a test which required them to deduce information about people they had never met and could not see nor hear.
The test was organised by the Merseyside Skeptics Society and designed by Professor Chris French, Head of the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit at Goldsmiths University of London.
The team explained:
The experiment - which both mediums agreed was a fair and unbiased test of their abilities - saw the volunteer psychics sat before five female sitters, who were required to remain silent and hidden behind a screen. The psychics were asked to write notes relating to the individual sitters.
In order to evaluate the accuracy of the psychics' information, each of the five sitters was then asked to distinguish their own reading from the four other readings. The psychics would have passed the test if all five sitters spotted their own reading. Four out of five sitters correctly identifying their own reading would have been considered scientifically interesting, while three or fewer constituted a failure of the test.
Upon analysing the results, neither Kim nor Patricia scored more than one hit from the five readings.
Of their astonishing failure, Professor French said: "Kim and Patricia felt they'd have no trouble in passing this test. Despite expressing confidence throughout the experiment, neither were able to gain more than a single correct reading, a result entirely consistent with the operation of chance alone."
Patricia said: "I am sorry that I appear to have failed but not really surprised. What I would like to point out is that the work I do is always done face to face so working 'blind' is extremely daunting for the medium."
Patricia, who advertises her services under the name Ankhara (in accordance with her previous incarnation in ancient Egypt), provides private and group readings at £25 per session.
Kim said: "I felt very comfortable about the test. I know what I do is very real, it's easy for me...Sceptics need to realise you cannot see, hear, feel everything as solid matter with the human eye, ear, and body.
Michael Marshall, Vice President of the Merseyside Skeptics Society, said: "While the result of our experiment doesn't disprove psychic ability, the fact that our mediums couldn't pass what they felt was a very fair and simple test does seem to suggest claims that these abilities exist aren't based in reality."
Speaking to The Guardian, Professor French revealed high-earning celebrity psychics Sally Morgan, Colin Fry, Gordon Smith, TJ Higgs and Derek Acorah all declined to take part in the challenge.
He added: "The fact that Kim and Pat have both been successful professional psychics for many years, and no doubt have many satisfied clients, appears at odds with the results of our test.
"It is possible that they really do have psychic powers but that the particular conditions of our test were such that they could not operate on the day."