Now paranormal becomes the norm

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The Independent Online
More men believe in the paranormal than in God, and two thirds of people give credence to psychic powers. Kathy Marks looks for some answers.

Nigel Briscoe is an intelligent, articulate man who earns his living as a deep sea diver in the offshore oil industry. Fifteen years ago, he visited Rita Rogers, the medium who was later consulted by Diana, Princess of Wales.

"It started out as a bit of a joke, but Rita blew my socks off," he said. "She said that she didn't know what my job was, but she could see me surrounded by water. She didn't know me from Adam, but she knew everything about me."

Mr Briscoe found her predictions unerringly accurate. "I saw Rita once after I had been on a diving course in Falmouth," he said. "She said to me: `You've just met a girl called Jean.' She was absolutely right."

He is among a growing number of Britons who are throwing incredulity to the winds and turning to people who would once have been dismissed as cranks: mediums, spiritualists, faith healers and fortune tellers.

The conclusions of the survey, conducted for the Daily Mail, are startling. Sixty-three per cent of people said that they believe in the paranormal - phenomena that cannot be explained by science. Sixty-four cent said they believe in pyschic powers; 38 per cent in ghosts; 34 per cent in poltergeists; 29 per cent in alien visitations.

There are whole rafts of theories about this explosion of interest in the inexplicable - pre-millennium angst, the Age of Aquarius, Princess Diana's visits to Ms Rogers, programmes such as The X-Files.

Mediums are divided about what draws them to the profession. "Everyone is pyschic; you just have to learn how to use your powers," said Lucinda June, a ghost-hunter. "You're either born with the gift, or you're not," said Barbara King, who is also Rita Rogers' sister.

It is easy to scoff, but both Ms June and Ms King have been called in by police on murder investigations. And the church need not despair. Nigel Briscoe, through his experiences with mediums, has become a born- again Christian.