John Edward & Cold Readings
Edward's Claims to Supernatural Powers are not Supported by a Scientific Consensus



John Edward & Cold Readings
Edward's Claims to Supernatural Powers are not Supported by a Scientific Consensus

Cold reading is a series of techniques used by mentalists, illusionists, fortune tellers, psychics, mediums  and con artists to determine or express details about another person, often in order to convince them that the reader knows much more about a subject than they actually do.

Without prior knowledge of a person, a practiced cold reader can still quickly obtain a great deal of information about the subject by analyzing the person's body language, age, clothing or fashion, hairstyle, gender, sexual orientation, religion, race or ethnicity, level of education, manner of speech, place of origin, etc.


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.


Edward was said to have used foreknowledge to hot read in an interview on the television show Dateline.

James Underdown of the Skeptical Inquirer attended a Crossing Over show in November 2002 and said "there were no indications of anyone I saw collecting information... none of his readings contained the kind of specific information that would raise an eyebrow of suspicion.

... John Edward was a bad cold reader.


John Edward McGee, Jr. (born October 19th, 1969) is an American television personality and psychic medium. He is best known for his TV shows: 'Crossing Over with John Edward' and 'John Edward Cross Country', both of which are premised on Edward's claims of communicating with the spirits of the audience members' deceased relatives.

Born in Glen Cove, New York, Edward says he was convinced at a young age that he could become a psychic. After writing his first book on the subject in 1998, Edward became a well-known and controversial figure in the United States through his shows broadcast on SCI FI Channel beginning in July 2000 and We TV since May 2006.


Edward's claims to supernatural powers are not supported by a scientific consensus. Gary Schwartz, a psychologist and researcher in the controversial field of parapsychology, designed and administered a series of tests for Edward and several other mediums to verify their paranormal claims and published his belief that Edward's abilities were genuine in his book The Afterlife Experiments.
 
John Edwards is considered by many to be a cold reader, someone who uses a series of techniques to get answers.




The study did not undergo scientific peer review, and Committee for Skeptical Inquiry's Ray Hyman, a psychologist and noted critic of parapsychology, wrote a detailed critique of Schwartz's methodology and conclusions in a 2003 issue of the Skeptical Inquirer. Schwartz responded to the critique, leading Hyman to write a rebuttal.

Maury - Crossing over with John Edward


Critics of Edward assert he performs the mentalist techniques of hot reading and cold reading.

Choosing the first reading from a two hour tape of edited shows as a sample, magician and skeptic James Randi found that just three of twenty three statements made by Edward were confirmed as correct by the audience member being read, and the three statements that were correct were also trivial and nondescript.

In another incident, Edward was said to have used foreknowledge to hot read in an interview on the television show Dateline. James Underdown of the Skeptical Inquirer attended a Crossing Over show in November 2002 and said "there were no indications of anyone I saw collecting information... none of his readings contained the kind of specific information that would raise an eyebrow of suspicion. ... John Edward was a bad cold reader. He, too, struggled to get hits, and in one attempt shot off nearly forty guesses before finding any significant targets."

Another criticism has been that Edward's accuracy on television is inflated by the editing process. After watching the broadcast version of the show he had attended and recorded, Underdown attributed a great deal of Edward's accuracy on television to editing and wrote, "Edward's editor fine-tuned many of the dead-ends out of a reading riddled with misses."

John Edward

In 2002, Edward said, "People are in the studio for eight hours, and we have to edit the show for time, not content. We don't try to hide the 'misses'." Edward has denied ever using foreknowledge, cold or hot reading.

Shortly after the September 11th, 2001 attacks, Edward began filming at least one special in which he met with some relatives of the victims, with the intention of communicating with those who were killed.

According to Edward's autobiography, he did not know that the producers had chosen the victims' families to appear on the show.

The trade magazine Broadcasting & Cable sent a story, "'Psychic' Plans WTC Victims Show", on the daily subscription-fax sent to news media and TV-station executives on October 25, 2001.

Steve Rosenberg, president of domestic television at Studios USA, the company that distributes Edward's program, had tentatively scheduled the program(s) to be broadcast during the November sweeps period, but news of the taping sparked a national outcry.

Both SCI FI Channel and the Crossing Over with John Edward production office were flooded with phone calls and e-mail, some expressing outrage at the exploitation of the national tragedy, others at what they perceived as extreme tastelessness in search of ratings.

Rosenberg initially ignored the criticism, insisting the programming would go on as scheduled, but within hours he terminated his plans.


On the March 24th, 2005 episode of the Fox News Channel morning show Fox & Friends, in response to a question regarding the Terri Schiavo case and whether Edward could communicate with the vegetative Schiavo, Edward said "I do believe that the soul, the consciousness, can communicate when they're in a state, whether it be a mentally incapacitated person, someone who's in a coma."

John Edward on The View

Edward states "It's a consciousness, and the soul has a living consciousness. So whether it's in a physical vehicle or not, there is still the ability to connect. But she's clear on what's going – and I can tell you that she's definitely clear on what's happening now around her."

Edward was criticized for this statement because Schiavo did not have proper brain function at the time.


Edward has appeared in many television shows, including: Entertainment Tonight, South park, Live with Regis & Kelly, The Early Show, The Crier Report, The Tony Danza Show, The View, The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch, Fox and Friends, Maury, Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Wayne Brady Show, Dateline, Oprah, ABC's 20/20), The 7pm Project and the HBO Special, Life After Life: America Undercover.

He was also parodied as the title character in the South Park episode The Biggest Douche in the Universe.