At the end of last year, The Huffington Post was one of a number of outlets to carry articles on an experiment conducted by Michael Marshall from the Merseyside Skeptics Society that looked into the world of psychics.
It was the most recent in a long line of similar experiments set up which are destined - no pun intended - to see psychics fail before they've even begun.
What many skeptics seem happy to ignore is the fact that Spiritualism is a religion and not a science - it is a belief system based on faith and personal experience. Trying to 'test' it under scientific criteria is like trying to mix oil with water.
The experiment itself was flawed on many levels. Two mediums were asked to give a reading to five women, between the ages of 18-30, who were placed behind a screen. If the women were able to match themselves to their reading the experiment would be deemed a success. Why the mediums agreed to take part is beyond me but I can only comment on my experiences with the spirit world.
Energy is the center of it all - the energy of those in the spirit world, my energy and the energy of those I am reading. There needs to be a connection between the three energies to get an accurate reading.
Having to read someone behind a screen and without hearing their voice is almost impossible. A lot of the energy comes from sound vibrations so even to be able to hear their voice would have improved the connection dramatically.
This is where skeptics clear their throats, "Ahh, but then you are able to cold-read," they say with a knowing look. It is without doubt that countless medium cold-read.
They pick up visual clues and ask leading questions from broad, general statements. They use their finely tuned intuition and sometimes are very accurate.
It's a shame that genuine mediums also need a visual or audio connection, our job would be a lot easier otherwise. But we do, and after all, our job is not to convince the world we are genuine.
While voice vibrations are important, words aren't. A genuine medium will only ask for 'yes' or 'no' answers for confirmation. They will never ask open or leading questions to fish for information.
But if they had a bad connection, why didn't they say so? When asked how well they thought they had done, both mediums reported they felt confident with their readings.
It would be foolish of me to try to explain their actions and unfair of me to say they aren't genuine, but perhaps they played it safe with the statements they made. To say that a woman between the ages of 18-30 wants children is just about as sure a bet as you can get. But sometimes the information we get is vague and believe me, it's more frustrating for us than anyone.
It goes back to the energies I mentioned earlier. Those in the spirit world move so fast it's hard for us to catch everything they're trying to give us. If I could give everyone full names, cause of death and knickers size I would.
Sometimes I can and those moments are a joy. That person goes away knowing, without a shadow of a doubt in their mind, that their loved ones are safe and happy.
The idea of proof is a difficult one. As a former cancer nurse I come from a scientific background so I appreciate the need for objectivity. A cynic would be closed and almost impossible to read, creating a negative energy by scoffing at any hint of vagueness.
A person who already holds a strong belief will be inclined to make things fit that shouldn't. In the absence of someone completely neutral to the idea of an after-life (I don't believe there is such a person) a skeptic is fine. There's nothing I like more then converting a skeptic, and I have done on many occasions. A healthy doubt in something you've never seen proof of is about objective as we can hope for.
I absolutely would have declined taking the test, I don't think I would have done very well at it and I think it would have proven nothing. But the reason I resigned from my job in the NHS to become a full-time medium was because I was given a reading so bad I felt it was my duty not to keep my gift to myself.
So I think regulations should be put in place to regulate the profession, as with any other. As a nurse I had a strict code of conduct to follow. I had to operate with integrity, honesty and confidentiality - values I take with me into mediumship.
I don't know the answer to a definitive test but a governing body is a good idea. There's too much money to be made on the back of it and too many people to be exploited by fakes.
Faith of any kind cannot be proven, quantified or tested. If there comes a day when all religions have to prove their gods, we'll take the same test.