Content Block

Events 01/04/2017

Event: Deception Day

From hoax hip-hop stars and haunted houses to military deception and fake news: join the London Fortean Society and Conway Hall Ethical Society for a day of unreal things

Saturday 1 April, 10am - 5.30pm, Conway Hall, London. Tickets are £20 and are available here.

Fake News

What are the consequences of fake news now being as easy to access as genuine reporting? It is pranking, propaganda or a reflection of the public's already jaundiced world view?

Little Atoms editor Padraig Reidy chairs a discussion on fake news; what it is, where is comes from, what is means for communication and informed democracy in the twenty-first century?  

The panel will include James Ball, BuzzFeed UK Special Correspondent and author of Post-Truth: How Bullshit Conquered the World and Peter Pomerantsev, author of Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia.

Ghostwatch: The scariest TV show ever made?

On Halloween in 1992, BBC1 viewers watched a chilling live transmission from a haunted house that went terribly wrong. Sarah Greene. Mike Smith and Craig Charles were terrorised. Michael Parkinson ended the program far worse than that. The drama, depicted as a documentary, was frightening, controversial and not shown for another ten years afterwards.

Ghostwatch writer Stephen Volk and director Lesley Manning show excerpts and discuss the making, impact and influence of Ghostwatch on its twenty-fifth anniversary. 

Orion: The Man Who Would Be King & The Great Hip Hop Hoax 

Jeanie Finlay is an artist and film-maker who creates intimate and personal documentary films and artworks. She will be telling the stories of, and showing excerpts from, two of her films: Orion: The Man and The Great Hip Hop Hoax.

Orion: The Man Who Would Be King tells the story of Jimmy Ellis – an unknown singer plucked from obscurity and thrust into the spotlight as part of a crazy scheme that had him masquerade as Elvis back from the grave. 

The Great Hip-Hop Hoax is about Californian hip-hop duo Silibil n’ Brains. They were going to be massive but what no-one knew was the pair were really students from Scotland, with fake American accents and made up identities.

The Hoaxes of Crass

1980s anarcho-punk band Crass were more than a shouty protest band. Their 1983 ‘Thatchergate’ tape supposedly caught Margret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan discussing Europe becoming the US’s battlefront against the USSR and the sacrifice of HMS Sheffield during the Falklands war.

The hoax was a pre-Cassetteboy prank of spliced tape that the CIA thought was by Soviet ‘produced to destroy democracy as we know it’. The hoax did not set-off World War Three.

In 1981, in the build up to the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diane, Crass convinced the magazine Loving to carry a free flexi disc of the song Our Wedding. Crass Member Penny Rimbaud described the lyrics as “frightful, banal shit about the social fantasy of marriage” that the magazine fell for “hook, line and stinker”.

Join Penny as he discusses these hoaxes.

Fake Cancer Cures and Anti-Vaccination Myths

The news and internet are forever full of fake cancer causes and cure offering simplistic solutions to a complex and terrible illness. The ‘alkaline diet’ can prevent cancer Sugar can cause cancer. A carbohydrate-free diet can throttle cancer. Homeopathy, cannabis oil and natural remedies can treat cancer. Household electromagnetic radiation causes cancer.

Vaccination has been hated and feared since at least 1867 and the formation of the Anti Vaccination League and has had a recent resurgence following the false autism scare of the MMR vaccine.

Where is the truth amongst the myth?Dr David Robert Grimes is a physicist and cancer researcher at Oxford University. He was a joint winner of the 2014 John Maddox Prize for Standing up for Science.

Magic, Deception and the Abuses of Enchantment

Mark Pilkington looks at two formerly secret documents, published six decades apart, that reveal the methodologies of psychological manipulation and deception practised by American and British intelligence services. “The Art of Deception, Training for a New Generation of Online Covert Operations”, an internal presentation for the UK’s GCHQ, was leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden earlier this year, while “The Exploitation of Superstitions for Purposes of Psychological Warfare” was published by USAF’s RAND Corporation in 1950.

The similarities between the two papers demonstrate that while the world we live in has changed dramatically in the intervening years, the human mind, and the techniques for manipulating it, have remained very much the same; both papers discuss the exploitation of belief systems and fortean phenomena.

Mark Pilkington is the author of Mirage Men (2010, now a feature documentary) and runs Strange Attractor Press.

In the particle of me that cares for this, I betrayed those little atoms with a kiss