Crossing Over - the other side of credibility?

Altho’ I’ve never seen the program (opp. the late news, methinks) the ads for this SciFi Channel show are hard to miss. Seems to be set in a talk-show format where the host Johnathan (John?) Edwards “communicates with the dead” relatives, or whatever, of folks in the audience.

What’s going on here? Is this all pre-arranged with shills? In the ads, there’s a lot of <gasp>-ing and <ooh>-ing at his comments. The subjects are usually crying, but with a beatific smile of “knowing” he is communicating with late Uncle Ernie. Are there out-takes somewhere of audience members saying, “You’re full of it, I don’t even HAVE an Uncle Ernie!” ? Have any skeptics/debunkers been successful in getting on? I would see this as the ‘ringer’ playing along during the taping, then coming out after the show aired. James Randi, where are you?

Being on the SciFi Channel might be a clue, but (at least in the ads) the show seems to be played straight, in that the host and guests seem to believe what’s going on.

What KILLS me is that my OWN MOTHER, who usually dismisses this kind of stuff as stupid, crap, fake, etc…believes it.


(Well, to be fair, I don’t dismiss this kind of stuff-she once said that when my grandmother was in the hospital, she saw something in the room that made her think her father’s spirit was there, looking out for my gramma. Which wouldn’t bother me. But this guy…he’s so full of shit!)

“John Edward” is the name he uses. PSICOP and other skeptical organizations haven’t had an opportunity to investigate Edward, but they figure his act is based on hoary “cold reading” con tricks- one technique is to make vague comments and let the audience fill in the specifics. We don’t get cable, so I haven’t had the chance to check out Edward’s act.

I catch part of the show every once in a while, and it’s kind of creepily uncanny. First of all, he’s really fast out of the chute throwing out stuff about the things the “deceased” are “showing” him. I’ve seen a couple of occasions where the people in the audience were shocked to tears.

Squid and I would be the first in line to poo-poo this guy, but:
[li]If these people are acting, they should be working where they can get an award and more money for it.[/li][li]If he’s investigating his audience for family secrets, he’s extremely thorough and there is a lot of money changing hands.[/li][/ul]

I still don’t really believe this is not a hoax, but it’s the best hoax I’ve seen in a loooooong time. Try to watch at least one episode and you’ll see what I mean.

James Randi has some stuff on this guy. Here’s a quote from someone who was on the show featured at Randi’s site:

I’m having no luck with an online cite (still looking), but I heard an interview with Penn (of Penn and Teller) where he discussed Mr. Edward.

I have seldom heard such vitriol, disgust, anger, and sheer personal loathing from one person about another! ( and I’m divorced!!!) Penn basically said this waste of space was the lowest form of con man he had ever encountered, playing on the emotions of people devastated by loss. My opinion of Penn went up considerably to hear him methodically tear apart this guys “act” with concrete examples of how and when he would “read” his “mark”

I agree pretty much completely. I have seen this show and it makes me ill. Peoples’ losses and their attempts to deal with the emotional heartache of losing a loved one is NOT a good basis for an entertainment program.

What will be next? “America’s Funniest ER Docs Giving Bad News”? I am saddened by it all and it makes me sick.

I thought I’d never see the day when “psychic” con-artists would get their own show. And on a channel somehow supposed to promote Science Fiction. God only knows what will happen if we ever get those 500 cable channels.

Poor James Randi must feel like he’s fighting an uphill battle. This guy should be on a street corner doing card tricks.

CSICOP (That’s Committee fo the Scientific Investigation of the Paranormal, not “PSICOP”) has some old information on John Edward. This article mentions Edward’s performance on Larry King Live:

If you want my Humble Opinion, well, I don’t have the words to express my disgust with John Edward. It’s always a shame to see the gullible deluded by a charlatan, but in this case he’s exploiting people’s grief for his own personal gain. That’s beyond reprehensible. Maybe he’s deluded himself into thinking that he’s helping people out. After all, he never tells anyone “Your dead grandfather is very, very disappointed in you.” It’s all happy, happy, joy, joy. But that’s even sicker. He’s claiming to speak for people who cannot set the record straight.

I did. Try, I mean. I was nauseated by how obvious his cold reading was, and how people were swallowing it whole and begging for more. He packs a room with people who want desperately to beleive him and then says, “I’m getting someone named Mary.” Instant hit. Duh. Even when he’s wrong, he’s not wrong! On the episode I saw, he was talking to this woman about her dead friend, and he says, “She’s giving me something about cigarettes,” and the woman says, “Oh, that’s my neighbor. She always teased me about smoking.” “Has she passed?” “Yes.” Oooooh, the audience gasps. The woman is in tears. Give me a freaking break. He can’t frigging tell that all of a sudden he’s talking to an entirely different person? It was too infuriating to watch.

The comments from Randi’s site cannot be substantiated; the person who made them was kept anonymous. However, in the episode I saw, it was obvious that the tape had been edited, and it seems like it would be very easy to plant some people in the crowd and eavesdrop on people jabbering excitedly about who they want to contact. Next time you watch, Nancyfish, pay close attention to how much information the audience is giving him in response to the vague questions he asks and the vagues statements he makes, and keep in mind that they almost certainly edit out a lot of his “misses.”

If anyone is interested in a testimoninal to the power placed in the hands of a person who claims they can communicate with dead relatives, please read this account from an accidental psychic:

I could believe this type of crap only if the medium could actually tell me some concrete details about the deceased, like: what date did they 'cross over"
-or, if they could actually contact some historic person (say former president Nixon).
What a waste!

I saw part of this show once and was kind of appalled at the way this guy intimidated his audience. The exchange I remember went something like this:

JE: You had a relative whose name was the same as someone famous.
Audience Member: No, not that I know of.
JE: Yes you do, think hard.
Audience Member: I can’t think of anybody.
JE: Keep trying, is there a Marie Antionette, or a Ben Franklin, or an Andrew Johnson.
Audience Member: I had an Aunt Marie, but her last name wasn’t Antionette.
JE: Did she pass?
Audience Member: Yes
JE: That’s who it is! See, you did know.

I always would have suspected that someone beyond the grave who found a way to communicate with the living would be a little more verbose and clear when sending messages back.


And John doesn’t have any words filed in his brain? Hmm.

By all means, read the document. Intended to be a ringing endorsement of Edward’s abilities, it might as well be called “How to do cold reading.”

You guys are getting this, right?

science FICTION?


I was disappointed with Sci-Fi, also. The major point of our problems with it are that this is not science fiction. There has to be some attempt at making it at least vaguely coincide with a scientific worldview. And the show isn’t passed off as fiction, but as an audiovisual Psychic Friends. Yes, there may be small print somewhere that says that it’s only for entertainment purposes, but Edward isn’t in the least bit interested in being a “stage magician”. He claims to be a true psychic, and the majority of the people in his audience believe (or are willing to be led to believe) that he’s a true psychic.

This isn’t the first crack in Sci-Fi’s “sci” foundation. There was a point where it seemed like about 1/3 of their sponsors were psychic 900-number lines. I don’t know how often that happens anymore since the only thing I watch on Sci-Fi at the moment is MST3K.

At least he’s not taking business away from the real psychics.

Farscape, man! You must watch Farscape! If it weren’t for that show, I’d boycott Sci Fi entirely.

[Baltimore accent joke coming in for a landing]:

“Farscape, man! You must watch Farscape! If it weren’t for that show, I’d boycott Sci Fi entirely.”

Farscape? Ah gots one a dase autsoide mah winder—in case der’s a far!

I watch so little TV in any case that it would take a major overhaul of my habits to start watching this. I understand it’s pretty good, but I balance out missing a good show like Farscape by missing an abysmal-looking show like Lexx, too. Kind of a cosmic cable scales of justice.

Who gives a shit? Who gives a shit? Who gives a shit? Why does this guy bother anyone? His predictions are no more off the wall, immoral or nauseating than some intellectually nerdy beancounter economist attempting to forcast the economy six months down the road on Hardball.

I watched the 20/20 (or one of those nighttime newie thing) profile on him a few months ago. They asked him about his “tactics” and he looked like a deer caught in headlights. But they also showed him at some college where they study so called psychics and as it turns out they’ve known about him for quite awhile and he is as legit or whatever you call one of these guys as anyway. In other words out of all the folks they tested he’s right up there in the top few with having some kind of mysterious cognative ability.

Why be outraged by him anyway? It’s silly, he isn’t selling anything that a normal person with half a brain couldn’t decide they didn’t want to buy. I also don’t buy into that exploiting people’s grief shit. If you want to get outraged about someone exploiting someone’s grief, take a look at the funeral business. Now that’s exploitation, hell that’s highway robbery!


I just saw this show for the very first time last night. And was looking up info on him today to see what his deal was. You guys must all be PSYCHIC! How did you know to post it today?!

OK… First of all, I never count out anything. Even though all proof seems to debunk the fact that something doesn’t exist, that still doesn’t meant that that doesn’t. All things are based on one guy who didn’t listen to the skepticism.

That being said, I also look at guys like this with a grain of salt. I know that most likely he’s just a fraud. The wierd thing is, I think a lot of psychics REALLY believe that they’re psychic.

Obviously there are many who just study cold readings and such. But I think others do it without necessarily realizing what they’re doing. They pop out with something almost randomly and the other person fills in the rest. Its enough to convince somebody, after awhile they know how to do “read” people

There are two reasons I started to go along with this guy.

1- His “misses” he would usually insist that he was still right instead of moving on. (Most con artists misses they move through.) Last night he had this one women… and he was like, “It’s definately you! It’s definately this!”

2- Every so often he would come out of left field with something totally off the wall and totally right on.

I did notice A LOT of really general statements… (There’s something about the number 5, it was the fifth month or the fifth of a month or maybe the fifth monday on the fifth month) But he never really goes into anything… Just “I have to acknowledge the 5”

Plus whats the deal with the University study his show talks about? Is there any documentation of this anywhere? I only find stuff like you guys showed above when I search for his name.

Who knows