What happens when you die? John Edward is man who claims to speak to the dead. A skeptic-turned-psychic who presents an incredibly entertaining television show (Crossing Over) whereby spirits are channeled from the great beyond. A 21st century look at the final frontier.

John does not claim to know where we go when we die, but that he can relay messages and validations from those who have crossed over. He has his share of critics, but presents comforting messages to those of us who don't necessarily believe in organized religion. Primarily that we don't ever really die, but exist in a different plane once our physical body expires.

John has appeared on numerous talk shows including Larry King and now has an on-going show on the Sci-Fi channel.

John Edward is former ballroom dance instructor who makes money by doing cold-, warm-, and hot-readings of self-selected believers in communication with the dead. He is frequently a target of criticism by those who think it is ghoulish and repulsive to make money by offering false hope to people in grief.

UPDATE: John Edward is the biggest douche in the universe.

Time Magazine did a skeptical story on John Edward and his Crossing Over TV show in March 2001. Time writer Leon Jaroff revealed some interesting details about Edward's show. Now most in the skeptic business have seen fakes trying to pass off a cold reading technique as psychic powers a billion times. However, Edward seemed to have a fair number of "hits", more than one expects from a straight cold reading. Jaroff's article, where he attended a taping, revealed a couple "helpers".

Before the audience is let into the taping, they're huddled together in a small holding pen. With nothing else to do but cool their heels, audience members tend to chat amongst themselves about what dead relatives Edward might talk to. Edward's production assistants freely mingle among the crowd. It's not unbelievable that the assistants are miked and are recording some details for Edward to later use.

Of course, some simple editing is used to remove a lot of the misses and keep the hits. It's much like how "street magician" David Blaine was seen to levitate on his TV special. He did a straight "Balducci Levitation" and then later him being levitated by wires in a studio was added in. Sometimes Crossing Over audience members answers are edited to follow questions so as to make Edward appear he has another remarkable hit. Another thing that gets left on the editing room floor is how Edward turns rather aggressive and dismissive with the subject after some failed hits (a tactic also used by "psychic" Sylvia Browne). This has a way of ensuring compliance and feeding Edward the answers he wants to hear. No one wants to be singled out by Edward and receive an embarrassing dressing down before others in the audience.

Since the Time expose, Edward has been unwilling to deal with any media outlet wanting to do more than a simple puff piece. ABC television tried to do a story, but when the reporter began inquiring about cold reading techniques, Edward cut the interview short and refused to let ABC film during a taping.

In an NBC Dateline interview Edward tried to impress reporter John Hockenberry with his powers. Edward started saying something about a deceased person named Anthony. It was the father of someone in the room and the person had not managed to see Anthony before he died. The cameraman stepped forward and revealed that was him. Hockenberry seemed duly impressed by this incredible hit, this message from the afterworld.

It would have been impressive if it were not for the fact the cameraman had worked with Edward on another project and the cameraman had revealed to Edward previously the details of his father and his untimely death. The NBC reporter, armed with this info that Edward was merely passing off known information as a message from a spirit, confronted Edward with this info in a follow up interview:
HOCKENBERRY: So that's not some energy coming through, that's something you knew going in. You knew his name was Tony and you knew that his dad had died and you knew that he was in the room, right? That gets you...

EDWARD: That's a whole lot of thinking you got me doing, then. Like I said, I react to what's coming through, what I see, hear and feel. I interpret what I'm seeing hearing and feeling, and I define it. He raised his hand, it made sense for him. Great.

HOCKENBERRY: But a cynic would look at that and go, 'Hey,' you know, 'He knows it's the cameraman, he knows it's DATELINE. You know, wouldn't that be impressive if he can get the cameraman to cry?'

EDWARD: Absolutely not. Absolutely not. Not at all.

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