# John Edwards a fake or the real deal?

He says he can speak to the...DEAD! (scary music interlude).

People in his audience bursts into tears as he receives the messages on his hit show Crossing Over.

Now, now...don't get me wrong. I do believe in conscious survival after death, but is John Edwards the real deal, a man with an unusual gif, or a fake?

## Answers and Replies

Science Advisor
I'm afraid I have no evidence to back this up, but I just can't shake the hunch that this guy is more than just an ordinary fake. I think he is the necromancer's answer (which just happens to be a heck of a lot of fun to say) to "The Amazing Randi". I've seen his act, and whenever I look at him I get the feeling that he's going to keep stringing people along for just a few more years, and then anounce his own humbugery. I hope I'm wrong about that, cause this would be a bit more cruel than anything Randi ever did.

Lurch,

I am with you on this one. It would be a terribley cruel joke on his followers. And mabye, just mabye he is the real deal?

I just don't want to be so quick to swallow the bait, that's all.

Mentor
He is the real deal: a real, highly gifted, successful FRAUD.

Originally posted by LURCH
I'm afraid I have no evidence to back this up, but I just can't shake the hunch that this guy is more than just an ordinary fake. I think he is the necromancer's answer (which just happens to be a heck of a lot of fun to say) to "The Amazing Randi". I've seen his act, and whenever I look at him I get the feeling that he's going to keep stringing people along for just a few more years, and then anounce his own humbugery. I hope I'm wrong about that, cause this would be a bit more cruel than anything Randi ever did.
Yeah, that cruel Randi, shining the light of truth on a bunch o con artists...shame on him!

All the TV psychics are frauds.

…but is John Edwards the real deal, a man with an unusual gif, or a fake?

John Edwards is a real unusual man with the gift of a fake deal.

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
Check for the article by M. Shermer (about half-way down the page)...
http://www.skeptic.com/

Quite the scam Mr. Edwards (Mr. E?) has going.

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
Here are my views as previously stated:
I tend to mostly agree with Russ and others. Though without the showmanship, I could duplicate at least some of what Edwards does. I have watched Edwards for many hours to discern the truly striking "hits" and their number, as opposed to the misses. [I also study his techniques for deception.] His record is pretty lousy. His techniques are classic; you work from the specific to the general. For example: I feel something coming from this side of the audience. I am feeling a father figure who has passed in a violent death...I am feeling a head injury. Am I here? Your father is passed? Oh, your uncle...this is a father figure. Did he die from a blow to the head? Oh an aneurism. OK. I'm with you. Whenever it is a thing with the head they show me my childhood teddy bear whose head was cut off.

I have watched him claim dozens of successes with scenarios just like this one. We start with specific information; then we seek generalities that support the specific and false statements made. But the audience thinks that he has actually done something.

Edit #2: And here is my favorite part: John can tell you that your mother wants you to forgive yourself for not being more understanding about her problems...BUT EDWARDS CAN ONLY GUESS AT THE LETTERS OF HER NAME! "I am getting a mother figure whose name begins with an S". Please...People! This should be all that you need to see.

See a previous debunking:
https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=4476

And a related argument within the social sciences context:
https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=6151

Science Advisor
Originally posted by Zero
Yeah, that cruel Randi, shining the light of truth on a bunch o con artists...shame on him!

All the TV psychics are frauds.

Yeah, you see what I'm sayin'. Randi exposed the fakery of a bunch of frauds, who had it coming, and the gullability of a bunch of researchers, who may not have "deserved" it, but certainly needed it. Anyway, if you're going to engage in science of any sort, let alone parapsychology, you have to get used to being proven wrong alot.

But if and when Edwards pops up and says "haha, fooled ya!", he's going to do real emotional injury to a lot of people. He has made grieving, vulnerable people think that they have made contact with their lost loved-ones. Finding out you were suckered into that is a lot more damaging than finding out your research technique lacks sufficiant rigor.

PsYcHo_FiSh
Well, I saw a video of this guy

http://www.marcsalem.com/

in action and he's way more impressive than John Edwards. The thing is, he says he's not psychic. Ya see! He just knows how to read people like a book and place suggestions in them subtely (but I have a keen eye and armed with skepticism). Which is impressive yet not beyond my beliefs. The human mind is, after all, very impressionable indeed. Social manipulation is one of my more fortean interests (ie being able to make people see things that aren't there for kicks).

Anyways, I used to be into John Edwards. I thought 'oh wow, he's got psychic powers'. However, I have a little skeptic deep down in the cockles of my heart and it just told me to investigate him (no not his politican counter part :D). So, I did some research on the internet and it opened my mind. It told me he was a fraud because of 'this and that'. Anyways, I tuned into a show of his and looked for his fraudery. Well, I saw him dive to deep then back up and people bought it. Who says there is no such thing as mediocrity? I guess they are just seeking answers, I can't blame them at all for that.

But, I 've heard of better emotive individuals. Like that British lady who claims she can understand what animals are feeling through some psychic power. She basically makes it look like she can talk to animals.

I'm a spiritual person and I respect John Edward's abilities. Its always fun to watch him screw up. To the objective eye (bah, I don't have one of those) you can see him slip up and that's when I get a kick (thats why I'm not objective :p )

My mother says he's just helping people and he's very emotive. Well, this is true. He does help people but whether or not the way he does it is acceptable or ethical is another question. I mean, people are responsible for what they do (ie believing this spiritual leader) and I don't know if he's commiting any crime. Its just, is he commiting something worse than crime and going against some deeply valued ethics? Like, not betraying peoples trust even though it isn't illegal to do so.

That's what this thread should morph into being about. Anyways I know this is

Fact:

John Edwards:

He's intelligent, observant and emotive

He helps people reconcile their emotions

He makes a profit off of it

His followers:

They're gullible

Emotionally needy

What it does:

Helps people find comfort

Lines Johnny boy's wallet

---

Um, wait. Hold the phone! That sounds like a therapist. Rofl.

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krausekl
I bought a few of his books, and watched his show. I liked the themes and sincerity - how he tried to answer some of lifes hard questions with readings and answers from loved ones from the other side. Then I went to his website and checked out the price of his tickets for ONE person attending one show. $175! For two hours, and NO guaranteed reading. He's definitely NOT out to help the poor. Just do the math - multiply$175 by 5000 (his average sold out crowd) and then multiply that by about 50 (the approximate number of shows he might do in 2010 - he currently has 43 scheduled). Let's see, that's about $43,750,000! He's into this job for more than just the good feeling he gets from helping people, do you think? Maybe he gives all of it except a million to the poor. I don't know, but I think I spent my money in the wrong place when I bought those books... Pattonias I think this was debunked by South Park "The Biggest Douche in the Universe" episode gabrielh He is the real deal: a real, highly gifted, successful FRAUD. Well said. BigFairy Fake.. krausekl It seems like you could easily show that John was a fake by attending one of his shows and creating a "fake" dead family member. If he really has people planted in his audience (as some comments on other websites suggest) you could plant your own group throughout the audience and then have them drop information about the fake spirit. Have one or more of your members respond to his attempt to find a hit and lead him along. Then reveal that you just made it all up. I'm surprised it hasn't happened already - of course who wants to pay$175 just to prove he's a fake!

pallidin
It seems like you could easily show that John was a fake by attending one of his shows and creating a "fake" dead family member. If he really has people planted in his audience (as some comments on other websites suggest) you could plant your own group throughout the audience and then have them drop information about the fake spirit. Have one or more of your members respond to his attempt to find a hit and lead him along. Then reveal that you just made it all up. I'm surprised it hasn't happened already - of course who wants to pay \$175 just to prove he's a fake!

That sounds good, doesn't it? The problem with it is that scammer's have an "answer" for everything when they are confronted with a mistake.

Audience: Your lying! His grandfather is not dead. Your a fake!

FraudPsychic: Listen, sometimes I get psychic impressions of the future, not the past.

...An example of an answer for everything.

krausekl
Don't know how they would come up with an answer to "there is no grandpa Joe. I just made him up!"

pallidin
Don't know how they would come up with an answer to "there is no grandpa Joe. I just made him up!"

Yeah, I hear you!
So, as a FakePsychic, this might be a response:

"I see. Sometimes when I listen to my spirit quides I get confused with the past, present, future. What they are telling me now is "You have no grandpa Joe now, but there will be one in the future."

The Fake Psychic is always "right" no matter what you say.

squasher
First of all before I say if I think he is real or not I must tell you that I used to live for many years in a haunted house so I KNOW that spirits are real whether they come from dead people or not I am not sure.
With regards to John Edward, I really don't think that most of you who have commented below have actually watched his shows. He does not just give a letter for a name, he also gives the sound of the name and, as a mathematician, I can tell you that the chances of picking a very similar sounding name starting with the correct letter from a small area of the audience time and again is absolutely minute. Also to put people in the audience week after week would DEFINITELY be found out and spread all over the papers, so I think we can dismiss that as well. He also OFTEN tells people that the info. they are giving him is wrong and he gives them specific names and information that they have to go away and check up later. No other 'psychic does this.
As for the great Randi. He debunks but strangely enough with for example Yuri Geller, Randi can NEVER actually duplicate any of Geller's 'tricks' the same way that he does it which is why Geller has offered him 100,000 dollars if he can actually do any of his 'tricks' the same way that Geller actually does.
So, is John Edward the real thing? IF it is possible to contact the dead then he is the real thing. If not then he does not use any of the tricks mentioned below.

gnurf
He says he can speak to the...DEAD!
As someone a lot wittier than me once said; speaking to the dead isn't difficult---the challenge is to get the dead to speak back to you. Now, why on Earth someone would believe that dead people speak is beyond me, and frankly is pretty sad.

Gold Member
...and frankly is pretty sad.

Well, you are seeing this as a foregone conclusion. Hardly fair to call something "sad" before you have even proven it is false. This thread is an attempt to explore the truth or falsehood.

(Kind of like the old pre-judging the guy on trial for murder: "I bet he did it. Just look at him; he's depraved. He killed the guy after all, right?")

Carla Hilgert
gnurf
Well, you are seeing this as a foregone conclusion. Hardly fair to call something "sad" before you have even proven it is false. This thread is an attempt to explore the truth or falsehood.
What? Are you asking me to prove that this pretend-psychic can NOT speak with the dead? Really?? I can't "prove" that Santa doesn't exist---does that make him real? How about having no good reason whatsoever to reject the null hypothesis? How about the natural explanations for how this pretend-psychic achieves his "results"; cold-reading, vague guesswork, victims accepting misses as hits, etc etc. I don't care if he hears voices or whatever it is that's going on in his head/imagination, but he's not talking to dead people until there's some extraordinary evidence that this is the case. What other reasonable position might one take here do you think?
Kind of like the old pre-judging the guy on trial for murder: "I bet he did it. Just look at him; he's depraved. He killed the guy after all, right?"
No. Not kind of like that at all. More like: "I bet he did not do it. Just look at him; everything he does can be explained without all this non-sense about "psychic" abilities. There's no good reason to believe otherwise so why the hell should I?".

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
The point is to debunk the claim, not to make social comments.

Science Advisor
Gold Member
John Edwards has always claimed anyone can do what he does - but, goes on with the show. His 'believers' are self deluded. Unlike most 'psychics', he freely submits to scientific tests. No tests to date have demonstrated he has any 'unnatural' powers. But, John Edwards has never claimed any special 'powers' - he has always insisted he is merely an entertainer. That, imo, is intellectually honest.

Carla Hilgert
Science Advisor
Gold Member
Someone in this room was born in October . . . 8 percent of the audience raise their hands . . . Amazing.

Mentor
John Edwards has always claimed anyone can do what he does - but, goes on with the show. His 'believers' are self deluded. Unlike most 'psychics', he freely submits to scientific tests. No tests to date have demonstrated he has any 'unnatural' powers. But, John Edwards has never claimed any special 'powers' - he has always insisted he is merely an entertainer. That, imo, is intellectually honest.
I was not aware of this. Do you have some reference where he admits he's just faking? Edwards makes a living by having people believe he really can talk to the dead. He's a con artist.

Science Advisor
Gold Member
The thing is that he may well believe in himself and in the rubbish he is peddling. Sounds a bit like a charismatic politician who feels he is in touch with God. Take Tony Blair, for instance. I think, in many ways, that he was sincere too - just misguided - and making loadsamoney now. grrrrr

Gold Member
The thing is that he may well believe in himself and in the rubbish he is peddling.

<opinion>

This could be true of many "normal" psychics, but John Edwards is a very carefully practiced cold reader. Cold reading, when done well, is not something that happens by accident.

</opinion>

Science Advisor
Gold Member
Faith and hard work are not mutually exclusive, though.

Gold Member
Faith and hard work are not mutually exclusive, though.

True, but "cold reading to talk to the dead" is a bit like:
• a politician practicing lying
• a middle school teacher wearing condoms to class each day
• a driving instructor passing on the right
• or a professional DJ only listening to Britney Spears in the car.

Though these acts don't specifically mean that the person is actually lying about his or her job performance, it certainly should cause that person to question their own credibility.

Likewise, even if John Edwards uses cold reading to accomplish a "real act of faith" (in his mind), he should kind of question why he has to use cold reading to do it.

(Note: you could argue that I'm using circular logic here, but I don't think John Edwards claims he DOESN'T use cold reading, and it still seems to be the simplest explanation for what he does.)

JaredJames
a middle school teacher wearing condoms to class each day
Think I missed the point of this one, sounds rather creepy.
a driving instructor passing on the right
What's wrong with that? (I'm British)
or a professional DJ only listening to Britney Spears in the car.
You obviously ain't been to Oceana (nightclub chain in the UK, they have a 'cheese room' + dj for things like Britney).

Science Advisor
Gold Member
I just wonder if cold reading needs to be a conscious act.
It's a narrow line between doing it by inspiration and doing it in a calculated way.
I am not in favour of this guy, btw. It's all bollocks afaic.
Yeah - I guess you're right. He's just a conman.

JaredJames
I just wonder if cold reading needs to be a conscious act.
It's a narrow line between doing it by inspiration and doing it in a calculated way.
I am not in favour of this guy, btw. It's all bollocks afaic.
Yeah - I guess you're right. He's just a conman.

Cold reading has to be actively done by the performer.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cold_reading
Cold readers commonly employ high probability guesses about the subject, quickly picking up on signals from their subjects as to whether their guesses are in the right direction or not, and then emphasizing and reinforcing any chance connections the subjects acknowledge while quickly moving on from missed guesses.

Although I agree you could pick up certain signals sub-consciously, the fact you have to change your approach based on reactions rules out a performer simply doing it without realising it.

The article goes on to subconscious discussion.
Former New Age practitioner Karla McLaren said, "I didn't understand that I had long used a form of cold reading in my own work! I was never taught cold reading and I never intended to defraud anyone; I simply picked up the technique through cultural osmosis." McLaren has further stated that since she was always very perceptive, she could easily figure out many of the issues her "readees" brought into sessions with them. In order to reduce the appearance of unusual expertise that might have created a power differential, she posed her observations as questions rather than facts. This attempt to be polite, she realized, actually invited the reader to, as McLaren has said, "lean into the reading" and give her more pertinent information.

Even in this article though, the performer is still actively doing something to work on the client. Even if not in the usual direct approach. She may not have realized it was cold reading, but that doesn't change what she was doing.

Notice how it says "I didn't understand that I had long used a form of cold reading in my own work". She didn't realize what she was doing. Not that she was doing it sub-consciously.

For years I worked with VBA in Access database projects. I didn't know it was simple programming, but that doesn't mean I was doing it sub-consciously. I just didn't understand what I was doing (or the name for it).

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Gold Member
Think I missed the point of this one, sounds rather creepy.

Strictly speaking, it's better than the alternative. However, it indicates a very serious problem somewhere.