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John Edward
Posted: 13 March 2011 02:36 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I’m sure this has been discussed before, but I can’t seem to find it.

I’m pretty skeptical of John Edward “psychic medium”, but I wonder if anyone is aware of evidence that actually discredits him?  I’ve read a lot of articles accusing him of cold reading, and while that might explain some things he does, he also makes some really specific predictions that cold reading can’t explain.  An example:

John Edward: One last validation. She says to go into the bathroom, Okay and in the bathroom there is something in an unusual spot, forward left. So when you walk into the bathroom, right to the left there, there’s something right there she wants me to acknowledge. It’s like Mickey Mouse related. It’s like Disney related.

Sitter (Mother’s older Daughter): - Oh My God!

John Edward: What is this?

Sitter (Mother’s sister): That’s where my ring is that she got me when she was in Disney World.

That’s obviously not cold-reading, and it doesn’t sound like rater bias either.  The only thing that would explain away those kinds of hits is outright fraud (either he is being fed information or the sitter is a ringer).  I’ve seen several cases like this—there was one on Youtube where he correct guessed, without obvious prompting, that the sitter put bubble-gum in her relative’s coffin.

I could easily accept that he uses hidden mics or other tricks in his own studio, but he has also done live phone-in shows on Larry King and others, where that seems less likely.  So what’s his deal?  I don’t want to presuppose a conclusion by saying he can’t be legit because mediumship is impossible.  Has no one ‘caught him in the act’ yet?

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Posted: 13 March 2011 02:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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He is so slimy, I would suspect a ringer, or confirmation bias on the part of the ‘mark’.

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Posted: 14 March 2011 01:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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He’s still at it, apparently:  http://www.tvguide.com/News/Dr-Oz-Says-1030667.aspx?rss=breakingnews

I don’t have a lot of respect for Dr. Oz, and this stinks of a ratings grab, but still.  There’s yet another example in that article of something that cold reading doesn’t explain.

Bring up John Edward in skeptical company, and you get a lot of vehement responses about how he’s a douche, or how it “must be fake”, but very little in the way of specific explanations.  If he *was* using ringers all these years, wouldn’t there be someone coming forward?

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Posted: 14 March 2011 01:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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EricP - 13 March 2011 02:36 PM

I don’t want to presuppose a conclusion by saying he can’t be legit because mediumship is impossible.  Has no one ‘caught him in the act’ yet?

I presuppose a non mediumship conclusion because there are far more likely explanations.

Perhaps I’m not as skeptical as a good skeptic should be but I don’t care, we know he’s a fraud, we know it’s a trick, we just don’t always know how the trick is done.

It would help to “catch him in the act”

Stephen

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Posted: 14 March 2011 03:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I seem to recall that Joe Nickell and James Randi have managed to thoroughly discredit this guy. Not hard to do when you realize that what John Edward is doing is nothing more then an ancient carnival mentalists trick known as cold reading.

The Skeptic’s Dictionary is a remarkably useful starting point for researching this sort of thing The entry on cold reading is at http://www.skepdic.com/coldread.html (John Edward gets a dishonourable mention here) with his name linked to the entry on mediums at http://www.skepdic.com/medium.html From the latter entry:

Edward has been described as a fraud by James Randi [Skeptic, v. 8, no. 3] and Leon Jaroff [Time, March 5, 2001] to no avail. He may be a fraud, but he is an attractive and impressive one.

Have fun with it but hold on to your wallet if you meet up with any of these people.

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Posted: 14 March 2011 03:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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He also uses hot reading.  Don’t forget.

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Posted: 14 March 2011 04:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Not hard to do when you realize that what John Edward is doing is nothing more then an ancient carnival mentalists trick known as cold reading.

Well, that’s the thing.  What he does is clearly NOT possible with just cold reading, so claiming that it’s “nothing more” looks like a brush-off.  I gave two examples in my initial post of things that are too specific and detailed to be cold reading.  I suspect that he is using “hot reading” or other kinds of fraud, but I’ve seen very little evidence of that.  Even Joe Nickel’s articles described only a mild incident where Edward apparently used information from a previous conversation to later ‘predict’ that a man’s father had passed.

However, since I doubt that people are conversing with Edward about the bubble-gum they put in their loved one’s coffin, or the ring from Disneyworld on the right-hand side of their bathroom counter, that doesn’t explain those kinds of ‘hits’.  Those would require a ridiculous level of fraud, and I’m surprised that he hasn’t been exposed for that by now.

I know some people who are quite convinced by him, and simply telling them that he “must” be a fraud doesn’t make much of an impact.

[ Edited: 14 March 2011 04:42 PM by EricP ]
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Posted: 14 March 2011 04:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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StephenLawrence - 14 March 2011 01:51 PM
EricP - 13 March 2011 02:36 PM

I don’t want to presuppose a conclusion by saying he can’t be legit because mediumship is impossible.  Has no one ‘caught him in the act’ yet?

I presuppose a non mediumship conclusion because there are far more likely explanations.

Perhaps I’m not as skeptical as a good skeptic should be but I don’t care, we know he’s a fraud, we know it’s a trick, we just don’t always know how the trick is done.

It would help to “catch him in the act”

Stephen

Sort of like when Penn & Teller do a trick, while we have no idea how they do it, we don’t jump to the ‘magic’ conclusion.  smile

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Posted: 14 March 2011 05:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Time magazine reported that Michael O’Neill, who was actually at an Edward’s taping, pointed out how the edited version of what appeared on TV was changed and much better than what actually happened in the studio.  Time (as reported in Skeptical Inquirer) also pointed out:

Now suspicious, O’Neill recalled that while the audience was waiting to be seated, Edward’s aides were scurrying about, striking up conversations and getting people to fill out cards with their name, family tree and other facts. Once inside the auditorium, where each family was directed to
preassigned seats, more than an hour passed before show time while “technical difficulties” backstage were corrected.

Source.

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Posted: 14 March 2011 07:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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What he does is clearly NOT possible with just cold reading, so claiming that it’s “nothing more” looks like a brush-off.

Sure it is. When he’s not playing the audiance, he has people fishing for information. There’s nothing any more supernatural about that then Uri Geller’s silly spoon bending tricks.

The man uses deception and misdirection, nothing more. All of them standard tools of the huckster’s trade.

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Posted: 15 March 2011 02:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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asanta - 14 March 2011 04:33 PM
StephenLawrence - 14 March 2011 01:51 PM
EricP - 13 March 2011 02:36 PM

I don’t want to presuppose a conclusion by saying he can’t be legit because mediumship is impossible.  Has no one ‘caught him in the act’ yet?

I presuppose a non mediumship conclusion because there are far more likely explanations.

Perhaps I’m not as skeptical as a good skeptic should be but I don’t care, we know he’s a fraud, we know it’s a trick, we just don’t always know how the trick is done.

It would help to “catch him in the act”

Stephen

Sort of like when Penn & Teller do a trick, while we have no idea how they do it, we don’t jump to the ‘magic’ conclusion.  smile

Yes, just like that Asanta

Stephen

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Posted: 15 March 2011 04:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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When I was nine my father brought me to a local auditorium where they had an evening of about six or eight magicians performing all their tricks.  As we left, I said to my father, “I can understand how some of those were just tricks even if I don’t know how they did it, but some of them so real, I don’t know what to think.”  He responded, “You’ve heard the old saying, ‘seeing is believing’ right?”  I said, I had, then he said,  “Well, tonight you’ve just learned that you shouldn’t necessarily believe it even if you see it.  Many people make their livings fooling others.  You should always dig deeper and try to figure why people are saying or doing what they do.” 

That bit of advice certainly got me into trouble with my teacher for the next few months. smile

Occam

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Posted: 15 March 2011 05:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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That bit of advice certainly got me into trouble with my teacher for the next few months.

Perhaps it’s the teacher who should have got in trouble! wink

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Posted: 16 March 2011 11:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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What he does is clearly NOT possible with just cold reading, so claiming that it’s “nothing more” looks like a brush-off.

Sure it is. When he’s not playing the audiance, he has people fishing for information.

Having other people fishing for information is not cold reading.

The man uses deception and misdirection, nothing more.

As I said above, just saying “he must be a huckster” doesn’t make a dent on those who think he’s genuine.  It just looks like you’ve decided “this is impossible, therefore I will dismiss any evidence that suggests it is genuine”.

I’m not suggesting that he is genuine, but I was hoping for some actual evidence I could use to show that he is not.

[ Edited: 16 March 2011 11:33 AM by EricP ]
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Posted: 16 March 2011 03:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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EricP - 16 March 2011 11:21 AM

I’m not suggesting that he is genuine, but I was hoping for some actual evidence I could use to show that he is not.

Then check out James Randi’s expose’. smile


edited to correct quotation symbol. LOL

[ Edited: 16 March 2011 05:59 PM by Occam. ]
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Posted: 16 March 2011 09:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Having other people fishing for information is not cold reading.

Quite right, it isn’t. However, it IS a large part of his bag of tricks. Cold reading is just one, having his people fishing for information is another, and having his own people in the audiance to read who are in fact ringers is another still.

And BTW, I didn’t decide he was fraudulant. The man has already been conclusively shown to be fraudulant by the very people who know how the tricks are done!

There may well be somebody out there who can read minds and communicate with the dead, but John Edward isn’t one of them.

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