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An ordinary man with magical powers?

For one seer from Greece the world can be split into three types of people. THEO PANAYIDES meets him but disagrees on what type he is

 

So tell me, I ask George Paschalides as we sit in the lobby of the Europa Hotel in Nicosia – where he’s due to give a lecture in a few hours – why don’t you use your gift in everyday life?

“I only use it for the things which I’ve set as my goals,” he replies in his heavy northern Greek accent, which tends to swallow the words and later has to be disentangled on my tape recorder. “A visionary doesn’t sit around all day sending his thoughts here and there.”

But, for instance, could he win the Lotto?

“Of course. Of course I could.”

So why doesn’t he?

“I’m not interested in money.”

He doesn’t have to keep it, I point out. He could give it away.

A dangerous idea, he counters. After all, money corrupts. “If you give away money, you destroy people.”

But if he just gave it to the poor…?

“There are no poor people. Only lazy people.”

Really? Even in Greece nowadays?

“Lazy people,” he repeats firmly. “And bad management. The point is to teach men how to fish, not how to eat”. That was the problem in Greece, he adds – everyone ‘ate’ without having learned how to ‘fish’, i.e. how to produce or create. Then “they didn’t give us any more [to eat], they took away what we had, and now we’re all in trouble.”

Fair enough – but we seem to be getting off the point. Could he really win the Lotto, if he wanted to?

“Of course.”

Seriously?

“I can see the numbers,” he explains. “I’ve already done it – for football pools and Lotto and everything. Just seeing the numbers, then I didn’t send in the coupon.” He shrugs, his round chubby face giving nothing away. “It doesn’t interest me, though. And at this point I’m such a well-known person that I’d spoil – though it’s not because of that – but I’d spoil the image I’ve built up… I did it at the beginning, when I was discovering my power. I tried all kinds of things, to find out the limits of my powers.”

Is he a magician? Not exactly. To quote from the press release: “George Paschalides is a Greek researcher and bestselling author who has made a novel discovery: that all humans are categorised into three distinct types”. Type A is characterised by descriptions like ‘man of action’, ‘impatient’ and ‘self-confident’; Type B is the sensitive type, evoking adjectives like ‘romantic’ and ‘emotional’ (Bs also have ‘intense maternal feelings’), while Type C is described as ‘ambitious’, ‘persistent’ and ‘organised’.

This is all quite straightforward, perhaps a bit simplistic (surely every person has some traits from all three types?). Things become more controversial when the model is applied to medicine – each ‘type’ is prone to different disorders, so for instance Type A people suffer from Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis while Type B is prone to Parkinson’s, thrombosis and stuttering – and more controversial still when George talks of the “gift” that’s allowed him to make this discovery. Anyone can accept a division of the world into three distinct types – but it’s quite another matter when George claims that doctors often call him, asking for help with cancer patients. “They call me up so I can tell them the primary site of the cancer,” he explains – and he duly ‘sees’ the location, down to the nearest millimetre, though of course he’s never met the patient, much less examined them.

How controversial are his theories? According to him, not at all. He’s been widely accepted by scientists and even educators, he tells me – it’s true he’s been invited to the World Congress on Education taking place in London from September 2-4, reading a paper called “Teaching Diverse Minds Successfully: The Paschalides Tri-Anthropo-Types Model in Education” which will also be published in the Congress proceedings – and even the media seem to have embraced him. He’s been giving wall-to-wall interviews during his short visit to Cyprus, and rushes to our meeting straight from a radio station. Has he met journalists who just don’t believe him? “No, no, no,” he chuckles. “Everybody loves me.”

Then again, if you root around on the internet you’ll find damning pieces like a posting on forums.randi.org (part of the website of James Randi, who specialises in debunking the paranormal). “I’d like to bring to your knowledge the case of a Greek charlatan called George Paschalides,” says a poster known as ‘Aggelos’, writing in May 2012, “who claims to have had a divine revelation in 2002. Since then he has gathered around himself a group of deluded people, among whom are some famous Greek actors and singers, who see him as a kind of new messiah”. There’s more in that vein – though I also found a couple of testimonials from people who claim to have been helped by George, including ‘PJ88’ on a forum for sufferers of Crohn’s Disease who describes him as “a man who would forever change my life”.

One thing’s for sure: he’s entirely unthreatening in person, a cheerful 54-year-old with silvery hair, rather opaque eyes and a thick salt-and-pepper moustache. He speaks in a low torrential monotone, punctuating his words with occasional winks like a man telling a mildly risqué story. He’s surrounded by a small entourage including a couple of assistants (“Put it on the website,” he instructs at one point) and his wife of 27 years Chrysoulla. They have “three, almost four” children, he says, which sounds a bit puzzling but in fact he’s including sons- and daughters-in-law – he and Chrysoulla only have two kids, but his daughter’s married and his son is heading that way – a rather charming, very rural thing to do.

Maybe that’s his secret, that he looks and acts like exactly what he is, or used to be – a man who owned a restaurant in Alexandria, a nondescript small town in the district of Imathia, near Thessaloniki. He’d worked abroad for a while, in Libya, then took over the restaurant from his father-in-law, just to have something to do. His own parents were farmers, and he never had much education beyond primary school – but something happened in 2002, “a change inside me, a change so great that it took me to another place… I discovered I could ‘see’, from one day to the next”.

What actually happened? This is going to seem like bad journalism, but I don’t know exactly. George’s affable manner has a brick-wall effect: no matter how you push him, everything bounces back exactly the same way. The facts seem to be that he was outside with friends, “met someone who was trying to see” and decided to try it himself. The challenge was to try and divine a hidden object on the other side of a wall – and he found himself ‘seeing’ the object correctly, again and again. “At this moment,” he explains, “wherever I decide to send my thoughts, I get a response”.

So he can see shapes?

Yes, he says, shapes.

Feelings too?

Yes, feelings too.

Can he read people’s minds?

“Everything, everything.”

He can see a house in his mind and describe its exact dimensions, even if he’s never been there. He convinced Chrysoulla and the children of his gift by closing his eyes and walking around a strange room at top speed, avoiding furniture just as if his eyes were open. It all sounds very unbelievable – not least the fact that he lived for 43 years without being aware of his powers – but his calm demeanour is unshakeable. He can also sense people’s personality types, and duly classifies me as a ‘Type C’, having first produced what looks like a golden dowsing rod. What’s that for? “Just to make sure,” he smiles – especially, perhaps, to make sure that I don’t belong in the 1% of eldest children who take after their mothers.

That, by the way, is another of his theories – that “the first, third and fifth child has a 99% chance of taking after its father” while second, fourth and sixth children resemble their mothers. Not in terms of personality, necessarily, but in terms of ‘male’ and ‘female’ attributes, so for instance men taking after their mums “have a certain introversion” whereas those influenced by their dad are more “hot-tempered” (they have more nevrikotita, in Greek). The same is true of women, “which is why we have women who exhibit male behaviour and can’t be with men. Not that they go with women; they go with men, but they find it hard to stay”. What’s more, says George, “the male is made for action, the female for administration. So a male can’t administer properly, he has nevrikotita, [whereas] a female can administer but she can’t take action”.

You know it’s not very PC to lay down differences between men and women, I point out.

“No, no, I’m not laying down differences. I’m just pointing out where each gender is happiest”.

Maybe so – but the stuff about odd- and even-numbered kids is easily the most bizarre of George Paschalides’ theories. It should also be noted that his insights don’t really ring true, once you move from the general to the particular. I can only speak for myself, but I don’t really feel like a Type C, nor do I think persistence and stubbornness are my primary traits; George insists that I take after my dad, being the elder child (most people say I’m more like my mother), and claims, when it comes to my parents and siblings, that I, my dad and mum all behave similarly whereas my younger brother is “softer” (being the second child) – a dynamic I don’t think any of us would recognise. Then again, that’s the problem with putting theories to the test. Much better to keep things vague, divide the world into ‘types’ like they do in astrology and varnish the whole shaky edifice with a sheen of science.

There’s a lot more to George Paschalides’ “discovery”. Each type (he says) corresponds to a lack of a different bio-metal, A, B and C lacking iron, magnesium and copper respectively, which is partly why they’re prone to different illnesses. He tells me of the “three parts of Man, which are energy, electricity and chemistry”. He’s teamed up with various research centres and claims to have “empirically studied” more than 20,000 people. All this gets tied together in his books and on his website, and expounded in the lectures he gives. He’s spoken at conferences, his official title at a conference in Germany being “translator of neuroscience”: “That’s to say, I translate those things which neuroscience hasn’t figured out yet. What does it mean to be a visionary? It’s someone who can pass on the details of the First Creation”.

To be honest, I remain unconvinced – but the real story here isn’t George’s veracity as a seer and healer, it’s that a restaurant owner from a village near Thessaloniki suddenly, at 43, changed his life so radically. It’s the story of a semi-literate farmer’s son who’s won awards from UNESCO and a ‘Special Award for Literature’ at the 9th International Giuseppe Sciacca Awards (presented at the Vatican). It’s the story of an ordinary man who talks like a scientist, even while claiming to possess magical powers.

His story sounds hard to believe, I say diplomatically. “Yes, but I wouldn’t have gotten these results if it was hard to believe,” he replies in his low implacable monotone. “The results are there, officially certified. Because, you know, my discovery is now in the hands of the scientific community”. Then we shake hands and he heads off – to give another interview, or just check out this week’s Lotto numbers.

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