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Legends and Mysteries:
Psychic Powers

Talking to the Dead?

John Edward

One Last Time What if God were the Sun?

John Edward has written two popular books. One Last Time made the best sellers list. John Edward claims he can talk to the dead. Those who claim to talk to the dead are phony. They are good at the art of cold reading. 

Cold Reading

Cold reading is telling something about a person by just looking at them, and gathering information from their response to questions. Most are very general statements that are true of most people. It is like a guessing game. If you see a ring on their left hand, it is a good guess that they are married. You fish for facts.

Dan Korem in his book Powers: Testing the Psychic & Supernatural, gives 6 principles of an effective cold reader.

  1. The Barnum Effect: Start with general statements that can apply to anyone.

  2. Identify their Personality Type. Are they an extrovert or introvert? Then add more  statements that are true about their personality type.

  3. Observe closely for micro-expressions. Palm readers touching you hand can feel muscle twitches in response to their questions. Small facial gestures can give clues. If the subject's eyes narrow, you are probably guessing wrong. If the eye lids open a little wider, you are probably right. Clothes and body posture also reveal information.

  4. Finding specific information: Eavesdropping is done. Some may talk to the audience before hand, or get someone to mingle with the crowd to find out information to use later. Simple research can be helpful.

  5. Loading the Language: This refers to statements that can be taken in more than one way. One example is "You're not worried about a medical condition, are you? Most people do know someone with medical problems.

  6. Educated guessing: For example, an outgoing wife is probably married to an introvert (opposites attract). Play the percentages.

John Edward uses these techniques to gain information about a person, or the dead person they are concerned about. Faith healers do this. Peter Popoff had his wife go out into the audience before hand to gather information, then tell him the information with a little radio receiver in his ear. People think God is giving him the information. Word of Knowledge is also very similar to this. 

John Edward: Hustling the Bereaved.

E-mail Response 10/6/2002

Dear friend,  

Being a Christian, I have always steered clear of psychics.  I did find myself getting into the John Edward's show and wondering just how he did it.  When my best friend came to visit me from California, I turned on the show and told her that I was getting into it.  She totally shocked me when she told me that her actor boyfriend was hired to do the show.  He brought in pictures of his Grandfather, who was still living at the time.  It was all staged and fake.  John connected him to his supposedly dead grand dad and ooh everyone believed it.  I was so shocked that Mr. Edward's would blatantly hire actors.  How could he live with himself?  Anything for money?  Even his soul?  What a let down.  Though, in all truth, I was glad to know that my dead loved ones were not just hanging around me.  After all,  that doesn't sound like heaven to me.  Surely, they have better things to do.  My friend told me that some people were real but to make the show run smoothly he hired actors.  I hope that others will read this and realize that John is just a money hungry fake, preying on those who are grieving.  

I have faith in God and don't believe that our dearly departed are just hanging around watching our every moves.  That ain't heaven, sounds more like hell.

Shellee, Fl.

Uri Geller

Many have claimed to have psychic powers, but it is just trickery. Uri Geller claims to bent spoons with his mind, but this is just slight of hand trickery. He bends the spoons ahead of time so he can just bend it with his finger. Some spoons are broken ahead of time, but are assumed to be whole. James Randi can do the same thing without psychic powers.

Psychic Surgery

There are psychic surgeons that claim to heal with no surgical scares, but this is also trickery. They squeeze real blood from chicken parts to make you think the surgery is real. See psychic "surgery".

Key Books

Powers - Testing the Psychic & Supernatural How to Think About Weird Things
Powers: Testing the Psychic & Supernatural by Dan Korem, IVP, 1988. How To Think About Weird Things by Schick and Vaughn, Mayfield,1995.
An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural Flim-Flam!
An encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural by James Randi, 1995. Flim-Flam! by James Randi,1986.