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John Edward has brought a fresh, honest and thought provoking attitude to the world of psychic phenomena. As a psychic medium, author and lecturer, he has, over the last fifteen years, helped thousands with his uncanny ability to predict future events and communicate with those who have crossed over to the Other Side. John embarked on developing his own abilities after an encounter with famed psychic Lydia Clar. Lydia made him aware of his abilities and directed him to use them to assist others. Since then, his clientele has ranged from young to old, student to professor, people of the clergy, law enforcement agencies and people from everyday life. . . His clients wait over a year to sit with him for private sessions, and although John is anxious to share his ability with those that need him, he is unwilling to compromise the quality of his work for the quantity that seek him out. His long awaited book, One Last Time, was released in November of 1998 and has received wide acclaim from reviewers and clients alike. In November of 1999, it hit #1 on the Los Angeles Times Bestsellers list. John was featured in the HBO Documentary, Life Afterlife, that debuted in October 1999 where he established a connection to the Human Energy Systems Laboratory in Tucson, Arizona. Professor Gary Schwartz and his partner in science and life, Professor Linda Russek, head up the laboratory, and are dedicated scientists that are studying the science of mediumship and the evidence of survival of consciousness. I personally applaud their efforts, tenacity, and dedication in seeking to explore this realm in a scientific manner. More information on this to come. . .
John has also appeared on Larry King Live, Leeza, Roseanne, Maury, Sally, Entertainment Tonight, The Crier Report, Charles Grodin and HBO. He recently released a series of new audio tapes that are key elements in raising awareness about psychic energy and mediumship. John is excited to host the new television show Crossing Over with John Edward on the Sci Fi Cable Network beginning in June 2000.
Born and raised on Long Island, NY, John exhibited psychic abilities from an extremely early age, and was deemed "special" by many in his family. The fact that he would uncannily know family history and events that took place prior to his birth solidified that fact. Because no fuss was made over these early experiences, he maintained as normal a childhood as possible. Since psychic phenomena was so accepted by his family, it was easy for his abilities to flourish. John graduated college with a degree in Public Administration and Health Care Administration. He maintained a management position in a leading health care facility in the Northeast, and always continued his research, lecturing, teaching, readings, and writing in the field of parapsychology. Due to the large demand for his time and ability, John now devotes his time to pursuing his psychic work full time.
John resides in Long Island, New York, with his wife Sandra their one year old son Justin
and their two Bichon Frises, Jolie and Roxie.
John Edward crosses over
TV's most famous medium John Edward did not talk to his father - that is, until after he passed away. These days, they are getting to know each other all over again
As the world's best-known psychic and medium, John Edward is used to reassuring people that death does not have to mean an end to relationships.
But he has only just discovered that death can actually also mean the beginning of one.
"I've always been very, very private about my relationship, or should I say lack of relationship, with my father," says the host of Crossing Over, who spends his working life not just passing on messages from the dead to living believers but also urging the living to cherish their loved ones in life.
"And while he was alive I felt kind of hypocritical about the whole (mantra of) communicate, appreciate and validate stuff when I didn't have a relationship with my own dad.
"Well, not that I felt hypocritical - I think I was concerned more that people would perceive me as being hypocritical," says the New Yorker, whose parents divorced when he was young and who by the time his alcoholic father died in late 2002, had barely spoken to him in years.
"But because I didn't have a good relationship with my dad, I didn't feel the need to communicate, appreciate and validate with him. It was a very conditional relationship in life so I had to remove myself from that."
The 35-year-old had even removed himself from his father's name of McGee, instead taking his middle name as a surname.
But becoming a father himself for the first time to Justin, now aged two and a half, allowed Edward to think more empathetically about his own father for the first time. And just this month, that led to the moment that has proved to Edward that a relationship can truly begin after death.
"I knew that one day I would work on being a son by being a father and that's exactly what's happening now," he says.
"I'm trying to understand maybe what he was feeling at 35 and having a son, and understand maybe why he made the choices and decisions he did.
"So I feel like I'm trying to understand my father differently, now that I have the tools. And I can offer that up to him saying 'I know you're helping to guide me to understand this, so we can heal this relationship, so I can be the best father to your grandson'."
Then just this month, he finally received what he believes is a message back from Jack McGee, known to all as Jacky.
"My Aunt Theresa (his mother's sister) came to pick up my son, because my wife had to go run errands, and as she came in my son walked over to her with a drawing and said 'TT' - that's what he calls her - 'TT, this is a letter for you from Jacky'.
"And my aunt looked at him and looked at my wife and said, 'really, what does Jacky want me to know?'. He said, 'he just wants you and the family to know he's thinking of you'. It was like this one little flash moment.
"And my wife called me up right away and she's like 'oh my gosh you're not going to believe this'." Edward was floored.
"I just think it's awesome. I really feel it's the start of something."
Such deep identification with the issues of loss, and the comfort and hope he clearly gets from his belief in being able to maintain contact with loved ones after their death, is what he suspects makes him able to do his kind of work.
While he discovered his psychic abilities at the age of 15, the interest in developing them and using them to help others did not occur until the death of his mother from cancer when he was 19.
"I can tell you this much, if I didn't lose my mother when I lost my mother I don't think that I would be doing the work in the way that I'm doing it at all," says the medium, who will visit Sydney next month for a special performance to raise funds for the Sydney Children's Hospital in Randwick.
"I think I would be working in a healthcare capacity . . . after I got my degree (in healthcare administration) I thought, 'mmm, I'd rather be doing something with the patients, with the people'.
"But during that course of evaluation my mom died and it became very, very personal and I needed to know on a human level, 'OK, where is she, what's going on with her?'"
Even for people who do not believe he really is communicating with the dead, Edward says his show, books and live appearances answer a need in modern culture.
"I'm just trying to get people to deal with grief and love, and starting that dialogue about death. "Just saying it's OK to talk about, and that there's nothing to be fearful of."
"Gifted" Psychic Showman John Edward
John Edward speaks to dead people, or so he claims. According to the official bio on Edward's Web site, "John exhibited psychic abilities from an extremely early age, and was deemed `special' by many in his family." Born and raised in Long Island, apparently no one in Edward's family made a "fuss" over his abilities, as Edward took up the habit of divining family history or events that took place before his birth. After college, Edward worked in the health care industry, and as a dance instructor, but according to his bio "due to the large demand for his time and ability, John now devotes his time to pursuing his psychic work full time."
For Edward, "full time psychic work" translates into lectures and seminars across the country, and appearances on various afternoon television talk shows where he promotes his books including One Last Time, a "non-fiction" treatise on his abilities, and his new novel What if God Were the Sun?, an "account of a family that weathers tragedy, bonds together, and passes on healing messages of love from generation to generation."
In July 2000, The Sci Fi Channel premiered Crossing Over with John Edward. The typical format for the half-hour program features fast-talking Edward in a darkened amphitheater, surrounded by risers packed with audience members. As various investigators have observed, Edward walks around the enclosure, pointing his attention to different sections of 20 or so audience members at a time, throwing out fast successions of general and random statements like "I'm getting something about a George over here. I don't know what this means. George could be someone who passed over, he could be someone here, he could be someone that you know," and then turning to focus on individuals that respond to Edward's guesswork by nodding their heads, breaking out in tears, or raising their hands in excitement (Shermer 2001).
Edward's psychic shtick is nothing new. He is the latest in a century-and-a-half lineage of full-time flamboyants that have laid claim to spirit communication, ranging from the nineteenth-century rappings of the Fox sisters to present-day media celebrities Rosemary Altea, Sylvia Browne, and James Van Praagh. But what is unique about Edward is that he has emerged as the right kind of psychic, in the right place, at the right time.
Part of Edward's current success may be attributable to an apparent increase in public fascination with spirit communication over the past several years. A Gallup survey conducted in 1996 indicated that 20% of Americans believe that it is possible to communicate with the dead, while another 23% are unsure about the possibility. There is a significant gender difference on the topic, with 24% of women indicating belief in comparison to 16% of men. There are also differences across religious affiliations, as 27% of Catholics believe in spirit communication in comparison to 16% of Protestants and 9% of Jews (Gallup 1996).
"Without a doubt, visiting spirit mediums is becoming amazingly popular," author Cathy Cash Spellman told the New York Times last October (La Ferla 2000). Spellman's novel Bless the Child, about a girl with psychic abilities, was released as a film with the same title by Paramount this past fall. Panned by critics, the film grossed a disappointing $30 million. Bless the Child, however, was the second major film featuring psychic mediums over the past two years. Walt Disney's Sixth Sense, starring Bruce Willis as a child psychologist who administers to a boy traumatized by visions of dead people, grossed an extraordinary $300 million in 1999.
Spellman attributes spirit medium popularity to a growing public embrace of the New Age. "We live in a world where many people have an acupuncturist, understand that there is energy, and practice the martial arts. People are so much more open minded about the unseen" (La Ferla 2000).
While a trend among the general American public is difficult to assess because of an absence of relevant polling data gathered since 1996, some observe that spirit mediumship has captured the fascination of the trendy urban elite. "Quite a lot of people in the fashion world are paying visits to people they have lost," Nadine Johnson, a New York publicist, told the New York Times. " I wouldn't call it booming, but it's harder to get appointments with mediums these days, so you know the business has increased tremendously. To hear it from the people I know, mediums are a hotter commodity than the Prada bowling bag" (La Ferla 2000).
So what is it about Edward that allows him to capitalize on a possible growing public appetite for his claimed abilities over other more established psychic mediums? For one, Edward as television show host holds certain personality and stylistic traits that lend advantages over contemporaries Van Praagh and Browne. Edward exhibits greater personal and physical charisma than the rotund and twitchy Van Praagh. He also doesn't attempt the arcane mysticism that typifies Browne. Instead, Edward offers audiences a brand of psychic "street smarts." To get a sense of his appeal, imagine a Brooklyn taxi cab driver who can channel your dead relatives. Or as one journalist observed of Edward's Crossing Over routine, "He's like a psychic short-order cook, barking out personal messages then moving on to the next person" (Browne 2001).
In terms of technique differences between Edward and Van Praagh, one critic estimates Van Praagh's hit rate at between 20 to 30 percent, while Edward only scores 10 to 20 percent of the time. What Edward lacks in accuracy, however, he makes up for in sheer volume of guesses. After a recent analysis conducted in conjunction with ABC News, the consulting skeptic wrote in an e-mail commentary that "the advantage Edward has over Van Praagh is his verbal alacrity. Van Praagh is Ferrari fast, but Edward is driving an Indy-500 racer. In the opening minute of the first reading captured on film by the ABC camera, I counted over one statement per second (ABC was allowed to film in the control room under the guise of filming the hardworking staff, and instead filmed Edward on the monitor in the raw). Think about that--in one minute Edward riffles through 60 names, dates, colors, diseases, conditions, situations, relatives, and the like" (Shermer 2001).
Appearing five days a week, the Sci Fi Channel's Crossing Over follows on the success of the television talk-show format that includes programs like Oprah, Leeza, Sally, and Montel, all of which have packaged and sold New Age self-help. Crossing Over also mimics the more recent success of unscripted television programs like MTV's The Real World and CBS' Survivor. For the producers of Crossing Over, the situation is ideal. Edward is the only actor on the payroll, the producers don't have to worry about employing writers, and they don't have to hassle with booking guests.
Since its premiere, Crossing Over has increased Sci Fi Channel ratings 33% over the same time period for the previous year, to a daily average of 533,000 households. The program is also attracting more female viewers to the network's traditionally male-dominated audience. While women generally make up 45% of the network's audience, Crossing Over's audience is comprised of 60% women (Brown 2001).
The popularity of Crossing Over, combined with Edwards' well-oiled publicity machine, and the corresponding media attention across entertainment and news media outlets have made Edward's One Last Time a national best-seller. In order to measure a possible correlation between media coverage of Edward and sales of his book, I ran the keywords "John Edward" and "psychic or medium" through the Lexis-Nexis Universe database. My search identified for the past year the population of articles featuring Edward that appeared in major U.S. newspapers, and the population of relevant transcripts from major national television news programs, talk shows, or large media market local newscasts. The results provide an indicator of the amount of media attention to Edward across time. I also tallied the average position for each month that Edward's One Last Time appeared on the New York Times' weekly paperback non-fiction bestseller list, providing a less precise, indirect measure of book sales.
Figure 1 indicates that a spike in Edward's media profile over the past year precedes each of One Last Time's sales jumps. For example, after an increase in both print and television attention in July 2000, One Last Time appeared on the New York Times bestseller list for the first time. Later, after a major media blitz during the month of November, including appearances by Edward on NBC's Today Show, CBS' This Morning, and NBC Dateline, One Last Time jumped for the month of December to its highest best-seller position to date. The pattern of increased media attention preceding a jump on the best-seller list occurred again for the months January to February 2001
John Edward is TV's hottest psychic phenomenon
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, John Edward, TV's hottest psychic phenomenon. He says he knows what happens after life. Can he contact someone you love who's crossed over to the other side? John Edward is here for the hour. He takes your phone calls. He's next on LARRY KING LIVE.
He is the internationally known psychic medium, the host of the very successful syndicated series "Crossing Over With John Edwards," and his new book, "After Life: Answers From the Other Side" -- there you see its cover -- debuted at no. 4 on "The New York Times" best- seller list.
John Edward -- just a quick note -- asked me to write the foreword to this book. I don't know why, but he did, and he said, Write anything you want. I'll just read something quickly from the beginning of it. I said, "John Edward certainly is one of the most extraordinary people I've ever known or interviewed. He's appeared on my show many, many times, and to say the least, provides fascinating TV. I'm a pure agnostic. That is, I don't know if there's a God or not. I don't know if there are other universes or not. And I certainly don't know if there's some sort of life after death. I'll admit John often provides insights into the departed that are not explainable. I don't know if he's seeing or hearing from the departed or if he's tuning into the viewer's vision of the departed. I'm not even sure if there is such a thing as psychic phenomena. However, I cannot deny that John Edward often amazes me."
What are you tuning into?
JOHN EDWARD, WORKS AS PSYCHIC MEDIUM: I'm tuning to the frequencies and the energies of loved ones who have crossed -- family members, friends, people that have made a transition from the physical body to the other side -- some might call it heaven, how ever you want to define that -- and providing people, hopefully, with some type of closure or healing or validations to let them know that their loved ones are still with them.
KING: And "After Life" is billed as "Answers From the Other Side." The book takes us on the tour through Australia.
EDWARDS: It does. You know, it's funny because I want to be really clear. When I wrote the book, I was intentionally sitting down to answer all the top questions that are often asked of me around the world. You know, every city, it doesn't really matter which country I'm in, it's the same questions. People are people, and they want to know about their own experiences. And I thought, Well, this'll be a great place to do that. And that was my intention. And then I sat down and this book happened. And like anything else, I feel like everything happens for a reason. And for me, I felt like it was important to take people on my personal and professional journey. And it's an intertwining life lesson that's learned, and I hope that the answers from the other side, basically, that they're my answers that I've gleaned from doing this work.
KING: You started as a psychic, right?
EDWARDS: I started as a psychic, basically...
KING: In which you would tell people how they're going to do in life and what things you saw. What switched to this "Crossing Over"?
EDWARDS: My uncle died in 1987. I unfortunately -- I saw it happen before it happened, which was really, really hard because I was 16 years old and I thought, like, Well, I'm seeing this. I'm supposed to stop this. And I couldn't. It was something that was way out of my control. And I saw what death did -- because she was the first person to pass in my family in such a really long time. And I saw what death does to a family, and it was very emotional. Well, a year- and-a-half later, death came knocking on my door. And it was my mom who had passed. And I was devastated. And it was this work for me that kind of cast out a net and kind of, I say, saved my butt. It really did. It let me know that there is something else and...
KING: You tuned into your own mother?
EDWARDS: No. That's the thing. I did not tune in to my own mother. She came through to me in different ways, signs and symbols and dreams, but it wasn't enough. I needed -- I need -- I'm like everybody else. At that time, I needed more. And what happened was, through the clients, by working with someone and connecting with their mother or their father and having that person say, Let my daughter know I was at her wedding -- I don't know this woman and I didn't know her father. But if that can happen for this girl, then I'm thinking, Well, that's good enough for me. I'll take it.
KING: From your TV show -- and you got famous appearing on shows like this, right?
EDWARDS: Yes. This show...
EDWARDS: This show was a major stepping board.
KING: Springboard. OK.
KING: But before that, before your own TV show, before books, how did you make a living? I mean, you charged people to do readings?
EDWARDS: I did. Actually, my background was in health care. I used to work in a hospital, in a laboratory doing phlebotomy. I was a vampire. You know, I worked in the -- you know, out of the lab going -- I was the person that you did not want to see walk into your room because I was going to be sticking you with needles, drawing your blood, simultaneously working on my degree in health care administration. And then I met my wife through being a student at a dance studio. Loved it so much that I turned professional and I did that, as well, so...
EDWARDS: Dancing. I was a...
KING: Ballroom dancing?
EDWARDS: Ballroom dancing.
KING: And you charged people for readings and...
EDWARDS: And I would do that, like, you know, when I had -- when I had time, I would do readings.
KING: Do you still do personal readings?
EDWARDS: I still do personal readings. I think it's really important to do that one-on-one work.
KING: How do you do this? People contact you and they...
EDWARDS: Well, I have a waiting list right now which is a little under three years and...
KING: Do you meet them in an office, in a room, in a...
EDWARDS: I used to meet this them in an office, and because of security reasons, I have had to now -- I have to change locations. I will go in different places, sometimes different, believe it or not, like, hotels, hotel-like, you know, venues and...
KING: Honestly, don't most people want to believe you?
EDWARD: You know, I think it really -- it varies. I think people would like to -- would like to...
KING: Know that there's something else?
EDWARD: ... know that there's something else. But you know, I recently did a group reading of -- it was a -- just a -- it was a favor for somebody who had lost somebody in September 11. And it was a group of people that just belonged to that unfortunate grouping of people. And you know, halfway through that, I just thought, like, God, where are all the cynics right now that, you know, say that you people are so grieving and desperate to hang on, you know, every word that, you know, I'm saying. It's so not the case, you know, especially when you're dealing with somebody who you want to hear from. You don't want to hear from, you know, Aunt Tillie or your neighbor's dog or your father-in-law's brother. You don't want to hear -- you want to hear just want you want to hear. Like people tonight. They're going to call up and they're going to be hoping to hear from one specific person. As a medium, I can't control who comes through. I can bring through -- especially, like, on a live show like this, where we have a small amount of time to be able to do a reading, or a radio show -- you know, to me, doing a regular reading is like watching a negative in a black room kind of come to life and see it and then see different aspects of it.
Doing a show like this or a live radio show, it's like taking that negative and holding it up to the light really quickly and trying to get what that story is about. So sometimes, they want to hear something different than what I'm actually able to get or I -- in a quick -- in a show like this, sometimes I can't connect with the person.
KING: What's hard to fathom is with all the millions of people who have lived on this planet who are departed, and you're saying they're all circulating around somewhere, all of them. The guy on the street and Abraham Lincoln, they're all circulating, right? They're all circulating around.
KING: And they focus in to you when someone calls in. I mean, that's...
EDWARD: They're not focusing -- they're not focusing in to me. They're focusing in with the person that you're reading. You know, so whether it be the person that's calling or the person that, you know, you're doing the -- you know, if I'm doing "Crossing Over," the person that's in the gallery. They're not there to talk to me. They're there with the person that's there.
KING: And you can't explain how they come to you.
EDWARDS: Because they're coming with -- so, for example, if I was going to be reading you, what would happen is, your family members and friends are around you. And then...
KING: I see.
EDWARDS: ... enter me into the equation, then I can actually...
KING: They're around the person all the time.
EDWARD: Right. They're not around me. What do they -- they don't want me.
KING: And these people always -- you always are encouraging. How come you don't tune in to an uncle who says, You know, Phil, I didn't like you, and I still don't like you. You're a bum, and you're still a bum.
EDWARD: Well, you know, I've had references that have been like that. But they're not -- not as harsh. There would be references of what the relationship was like when the two people were together. But you know, I have to say, when somebody makes a transition on the other side, they are not the same energy. So people who hated each other in life, you know, have come through together, which people find mind- boggling.
I remember once doing a session, I think it was on "Crossing Over," where I was talking about this woman's, you know, mother and father. And I said, you know, They just want you to know that they're very happy together, you know, the way they were in life. They're -- you know, they're happy on the other side.
And she looked at me, like, You cannot be talking to my mother and father. They were not happy in life and, you know, everything you're saying is accurate but that one statement. I don't know. You might be talking to somebody else because I can't even imagine my mother would want to even, like, spend half a second of eternity with him. And I had to explain to her, they're not the same energies.
KING: Do you like having this ability?
EDWARD: I do, actually. I do. I like...
KING: You do?
EDWARD: I like (UNINTELLIGIBLE) When somebody comes up to you and says, Thank you for doing what you do, or you know, You've helped my family, or You're helping a lot of people, that means they're truly getting the work. And to me, it's not about the medium. It's not about me. I'm just the vehicle. I'm just kind of putting out the message. And to me, nothing makes me happier than when somebody says, You know, I don't need to see you, but thank you for doing what you do.
KING: The book is "After Life: Answers From the Other Side." It's no. 4 on "The New York Times" best-seller list. John Edward asked me to write the foreword and didn't tell me what to do, and I wrote exactly what I felt.
Crossing over one last time to expose medium John Edward
History is not just one damn thing after another, it is also the same damn thing over and over--time's arrow and time's cycle. Fads come and go, in clothing, cars, and psychics. In the 1970s it was Uri Geller, in the 1980s it was Shirley MacLaine, in the 1990s it was James Van Praagh, and to kick off the new millennium it is John Edward. Edward's star is rising rapidly with a hit daily television series "Crossing Over" on the Sci Fi network and a New York Times bestselling book "One Last Time." He has appeared, unopposed, on Larry King Live and has been featured on Dateline, Entertainment Tonight, and an HBO special. He is so hot that his television show is about to make the jump to network television, as he is soon to go opposite Oprah in CBS's afternoon lineup.
Last month Skeptic magazine was the first national publication to run an expose of John Edward in James " The Amazing" Randi's column (in Vol. 8, #3, now on newsstands and bookstores or at www.skeptic.com ), a story that was picked up this week by Time magazine, who featured a full-page article on what is rapidly becoming the Edward phenomenon. There is, in reality, nothing new here. Same story, different names. In watching Edward I'm amazed at how blatant he is in stealing lines from medium James Van Praagh. It reminds me of entertainers, commedians, and magicians who go to each others' shows to glean new ideas.
Time's reporter Leon Jaroff, quoting from the Skeptic article, wrote a skeptical piece in which he reported the experiences of an audience member from an Edward taping. His name is Michael O'Neill, a New York City marketing manager, who reported his experiences as follows (quoting from the Skeptic article):
"I was on the John Edward show. He even had a multiple guess "hit" on me that was featured on the show. However, it was edited so that my answer to another question was edited in after one of his questions. In other words, his question and my answer were deliberately mismatched. Only a fraction of what went on in the studio was actually seen in the final 30 minute show. He was wrong about a lot and was very aggressive when somebody failed to acknowledge something he said. Also, his "production assistants" were always around while we waited to get into the studio. They told us to keep very quiet, and they overheard a lot. I think that the whole place is bugged somehow. Also, once in the studio we had to wait around for almost two hours before the show began. Throughout that time everybody was talking about what dead relative of theirs might pop up. Remember that all this occurred under microphones and with cameras already set up. My guess is that he was backstage listening and looking at us all and noting certain readings. When he finally appeared, he looked at the audience as if he were trying to spot people he recognized. He also had ringers in the audience. I can tell because about fifteen people arrived in a chartered van, and once inside they did not sit together."
Last week an ABC television producer flew out from New York to film me for an investigation of Edward they are conducting. The segment began as a "puff piece" (as she called it), but a chance encounter in the ABC cafeteria with 20/20 correspondent Bill Ritter, with whom I worked on an expose of medium James Van Praagh a few years ago, tipped her off that Edward was, in fact, a Van Praagh clone and that his talking to the dead was nothing more than the old magicians' cold reading trick. After waching the 20/20 piece the producer immediately realized what was really going on inside Edward's studio. She began to ask a few probing questions and was promptly cut off by Edward and his producers. ABC was told they would not be allowed to film inside the studio and that they, the Sci Fi network, would provide edited clips that ABC could use. The ABC producer became suspicious, and then skeptical. She has been trying to get an interview with Edward to confront him with my critiques, but they continue to put her off. In fact, she just phoned to tell me that Edward's publicist just left a message on her voice mail (with a date and time) stating that Edward was not available for an interview because he is out of state, yet the producer just caught him on television live in studio on CBS New York! Something fishy is going on here and I know what it is.
The video clips I was shown make it obvious why Edward does not want raw footage going out to the public--he's not all that good at doing cold readings. Where I estimated Van Praagh's hit rate at between 20-30 percent, Edward's hit rate at between 10-20 percent (the error-range in the estimates is created by the fuzziness of what constitutes a "hit"--more on this in a moment). The advantage Edward has over Van Praagh is his verbal alacrity. Van Praagh is Ferrari fast, but Edward is driving an Indy-500 racer. In the opening minute of the first reading captured on film by the ABC camera, I counted over one statement per second (ABC was allowed to film in the control room under the guise of filming the hardworking staff, and instead filmed Edward on the monitor in the raw). Think about that--in one minute Edward riffles through 60 names, dates, colors, diseases, conditions, situations, relatives, and the like. It goes so fast that you have to stop tape, rewind, and go back to catch them all. When he does come up for air the studio audience members to whom he is speaking look like deer in the headlights. In the edited tape provided by Edward we caught a number of editing mistakes, where he appears to be starting a reading on someone but makes reference to something they said "earlier." Oops!
Edward begins by selecting a section of the studio audience of about 20 people, saying things like "I'm getting a George over here. I don't know what this means. George could be someone who passed over, he could be someone here, he could be someone that you know," etc. Of course such generalizations lead to a "hit" where someone indeed knows a George, or is related to a George, or is a George. Now that he's targeted his mark, the real reading begins in which Edward employs cold reading, warm reading, and hot reading techniques.
1. Cold Reading. The first thing to know is that John Edward, like all other psychic mediums, does not do the reading--his subjects do. He asks them questions and they give him answers. "I'm getting a P name. Who is this please?" "He's showing me something red. What is this please?" And so on. This is what is known in the mentalism trade as cold reading, where you literally "read" someone "cold," knowing nothing about them. You ask lots of questions and make numerous statements, some general and some specific, and sees what sticks. Most of the time Edward is wrong. If the subjects have time they visibly nod their heads "no." But Edward is so fast that they usually only have the time or impetus to acknowledge the hits. And Edward only needs an occasional strike to convince his clientele he is genuine.
2. Warm Reading. This is utilizing known principles of psychology that apply to nearly everyone. For example, most grieving people will wear a piece of jewelry that has a connection to their loved one. Katie Couric on The Today Show, for example, after her husband died, wore his ring on a necklace when she returned to the show. Edward knows this about mourning people and will say something like "do you have a ring or a piece of jewelry on you, please?" His subject cannot believe her ears and nods enthusiastically in the affirmative. He says "thank you," and moves on as if he had just divined this from heaven. Most people also keep a photograph of their loved one either on them or near their bed, and Edward will take credit for this specific hit that actually applies to most people.
Edward is facile at determining the cause of death by focusing either on the chest or head areas, and then exploring whether it was a slow or sudden end. He works his way down through these possibilities as if he were following a computer flow chart and then fills in the blanks. "I'm feeling a pain in the chest." If he gets a positive nod, he continues. "Did he have cancer, please? Because I'm seeing a slow death here." If he gets the nod, he takes the hit. If the subject hesitates at all, he will quickly shift to heart attack. If it is the head, he goes for stroke or head injury from an automobile accident or fall. Statistically speaking there are only half a dozen ways most of us die, so with just a little probing, and the verbal and nonverbal cues of his subject, he can appear to get far more hits than he is really getting.
3. Hot Reading. Sometimes psychic mediums cheat by obtaining information on a subject ahead of time. I do not know if Edward does research or uses shills in the audience to get information on people, or even plants in the audience on which to do readings, but in my investigation of James Van Praagh I discovered from numerous television producers that he consciously and deliberately pumps them for information about his subjects ahead of time, then uses that information to deceive the viewing public that he got it from heaven.
The ABC producer also asked me to do a reading on her. "You know absolutely nothing about me so let's see how well this works." After reviewing the Edward tapes I did a ten minute reading on her. She sat there dropped jawed and wide eyed, counting my hits. She proclaimed that I was unbelievably accurate. How did I do it? Let's just say I utilized all three of the above techniques. After the show airs on ABC New York this week (Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday I'm told) I'll reveal the details in another posting.
Most of the time, however, mediums do not need to cheat. The reason has to do with the psychology of belief. This stuff works because the people who go to mediums want it to work (remember, they do the readings, not the mediums).
The simplest explanation for how mediums can get away with such an outrageous claim as the ability to talk to the dead is that they are dealing with a subject the likes of which it would be hard to top for tragedy and finality--death. Sooner or later we all will face this inevitability, starting, in the normal course of events, with the loss of our parents, then siblings and friends, and eventually ourselves. It is a grim outcome under the best of circumstances, made all the worse when death comes early or accidentally to those whose "time was not up." As those who traffic in the business of loss, death, and grief know all too well, we are often at our most vulnerable at such times. Giving deep thought to this reality can cause the most controlled and rational among us to succumb to our emotions.
The reason John Edward, James Van Praagh, and the other so-called mediums are unethical and dangerous is that they are not helping anyone in what they are doing. They are simply preying on the emotions of grieving people. As all loss, death, and grief counselors know, the best way to deal with death is to face it head on. Death is a part of life, and pretending that the dead are gathering in a television studio in New York to talk twaddle with a former ballroom-dance instructor is an insult to the intelligence and humanity of the living.
Dead Man Are Talking to John Edward
Whether you are a true believer, a complete sceptic, or something in between between, there's a new TV program that you will want to watch, at least once. And I predict that once will not be enough. Crossing Over with John Edward made its debut this week on the Sci-Fi channel. That sounds like a strange channel for a talk show, but somehow it feels right for this program. USA Cable introduced this new half-hour nightly series by broadcasting a one-hour special called Messages from the Dead: The John Edward Story on Sunday night.
John recognizes the skepticism of the general public, but his accuracy and integrity have managed to convince even avowed non-believers that life doesn’t end when we pass over.
The average accuracy rate was over 83% from readings of various mediums, including Edward, over a several month study. And from what I have seen, John Edward is the one that brought that average number up. His accuracy is phenomenal.
I was lucky enough to experience the power of John Edward when I attended a taping of his show last month. The audience is kept to a minimum to give a more intimate feeling to the encounters. There were about 75 in the gallery on the day I attended. While John did not have a message for me personally, he did connect with at least eight, or maybe nine members of the gallery. John moved so quickly through the gallery, that it was hard to keep track of just how many people he actually passed messages to in that half-hour session. I had heard some people in the waiting room caution others to pay very close attention. They said that John spoke very fast, and you might miss something if you didn't listen closely. That turned out to be the best advice they could have given me. I'm originally from the southern states, and I guess I just don't listen as fast as that Long Island native can speak.
After attending a live taping of John's show, and viewing that one-hour special on John's life, I have to agree with Catherine Crier. When John Edward appeared on her show, Crier Today, Catherine was very impressed with his power. She said that she had started out in the middle of the road, but after witnessing a few sessions with John Edward, she was definitely leaning to that other side. I think you will have the same experience. After you watch Crossing Over with John Edward, you will be on one side or the other, but I don't think you will stay in the middle of the road for long.