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John Edward in South Africa 2009

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Description: A forum for the discussion of John Edward's show in Johannesburg
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AcinonyxScepticus
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« on: November 20, 2009, 15:31:57 PM »

Welcome to the South African Skeptics forum.

If this is your first visit to the forum, please take a look at the forum rules (in the blue menu bar above).

We are interested to hear about your experience of attending John Edward's Johannesburg show at Gold Reef City (Friday or Saturday).  We would be interested to know if the flyer that you received (the one which came with the little note which had the URL of this discussion) helped you in understanding what John Edward does, as apposed to what he claims to do.

But this is an open discussion; you can talk about anything that you would like to when it comes to John Edward and his claims of psychic ability (there are other areas of this forum where you can discuss other psychic personalities, or any other topic that interests you).  There are a number of regular members here who would also like to enter the discussion and I hope that you find the discussion interresting and stimulating.  The idea is that this is an open debate, we would prefer it if you don't "fire and forget" - in other words; post your opinion and then never return to read how your opinion has been received or to answer questions that were directed to you.

Welcome, and enjoy the discussion.

James
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cyghost
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« Reply #1 on: November 20, 2009, 15:43:49 PM »

Nice informative flyer. Well done.

Hope we get some responses here, it would be interesting.
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mdg
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« Reply #2 on: November 20, 2009, 16:05:36 PM »

I'm only going to the Sunday evening performance, so I'm sure he'll have improved a little as far as getting names right goes, but I will be giving my opinion after the show.

I listened to his interview on 94.7 yesterday morning and have to say I was disappointed with the whole Rude Awakening team, there was not a sceptic among them. John Edward apparently "picked up someone who had been with him the whole morning" (so he claimed), and passed a message off air to Darren Simpson. Jeremy mentioned it on air, but didn't go into specifics. I thought it was quite clever of John Edward to rather do a "reading" for one of the others on the team instead of choosing Jeremy Mansfield, Jeremy would have been too much of an obvious choice.
He also mentioned doing a reading on a show once about a couple's baby girl and saying that he didn't realise that he was talking about a dog until the husband told him so, that should have been a red flag to the Rude Awakening team, but they never picked him up on it.

I also hope we get a few responses here, I'd very much like to see opinions from believers and sceptics alike.

mdg
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mdg
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« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2009, 16:34:02 PM »

From my blog......

Last night I went to watch psychic John Edward strut his stuff in front of a packed audience, each and every one of them eagerly anticipating a message from a loved one who had crossed over to the other side.

We arrived about 30 minutes before the show started and I waited in the foyer while my daughter got us something to drink and eavesdropped on a few conversations to try and gauge whether there were any other sceptics around. My daughter and I seemed to be the only ones in the area we were standing in.

About 10 minutes before the show started an entertaining young lady came out on stage to lay down the rules for audience behaviour. The show was being filmed so she set about telling people, in a light hearted and humorous way, how to behave if the camera happened to focus on them, and how and where to put the microphone if it was passed to them – apparently people can be quite stupid when they’re given a microphone. There was also a large screen behind John so that we could see who was being read and what their reactions were, we could also see John’s face clearly.

I’m not quite sure what I was expecting, but there was no fancy introduction or drum roll before John Edward strode confidently onto the stage. He went through a brief description of what to expect, and then put the audience at ease by telling us about himself. There was one interesting titbit of information he gave while he was talking about himself and his family that I focused on, and it made me watch him even more closely – but I’ll let you in on it at the end of this post.

John explained that he was going to allow the audience to ask questions and that the questioner may or may not get a reading , that  he may instead focus on people within the vicinity of the person asking the question. He then asked who’d like to ask him something and then selected ten or eleven people in various sections of the audience, only two of those questioners got a reading, the others were given answers or advice from John or his guides.

I’m not going to go into the details of the readings. Most of his guesses were “misses” and he had some “hits”. However, the “hits” he had somehow made me feel that he knew something about these people beforehand. One family in particular was related to the murder victim of a well publicised crime, although he had the way she was murdered incorrect, he quickly picked up on the complications of the case and related them to the family, but then all of the information he gave them is already in the public domain. What made me think that he may have had information beforehand, was that one of the conversations I happened to eavesdrop on in the theatre foyer, was between the person who runs the theatre and a woman who was thanking her for organising for her and her family to be there. This woman wasn’t one of the audience members who had a reading, but she could well have been one of those who were given special cards for a private reading after the show – these were handed out to a very few members of the audience, and to some of those who had been given readings during the show.

If you’re wondering how I knew the woman was speaking to the person who runs the theatre, the theatre manager was wearing a t-shirt with the theatre logo on it and her face was shown on the big screen when John Edward specifically thanked her at the end of his show.

The “misses” were memorable too. There was a woman he was reading who had lost her daughter, John said the daughter was one of three siblings, the woman denied it, saying that she only had two children. John said she must be mistaken because her daughter was insisting that she was one of three and that this woman must have had three pregnancies, miscarrying one. Again this woman said that she’d only ever had two pregnancies and two children, there never was a third. Again John insisted that this woman must be wrong; even I was beginning to get annoyed with him, surely she’d know how many pregnancies she’d had?!

He also got quite impatient and a little aggressive with people when they didn’t understand the message he was giving them, either it didn’t make sense or they were straining their memories to connect what he was saying. He bullied them into thinking that they were stupid for not understanding the message.

John Edward is slick, confident and has been doing his show long enough to come across as someone who is convincing as a psychic medium. If I had been undecided about the existence of an afterlife and if I didn’t know about the cold reading and hot reading methods that these charlatans use, I may have come away from that show as a believer.

I may be mistaken about how John Edward knew some of the stuff he got right, I’m not too clued up on the sneaky techniques psychics use to gather information, but I do know for certain that it wasn’t supernatural. How? Remember I said John Edward  was relating some stories about himself and his family? He said that all his friends and family know when he’s receiving a message from the other side because his ears go bright red. I didn’t see his ears change colour once.

BTW.....
John Edward is coming back to South Africa next year - not surprising since all five shows were sold out. I really hope that a group of us sceptics can get together and go to one of his shows, I'd love to see him answer more sceptical questions, and plus it's an education in cold reading techniques.

mdg
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cyghost
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« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2009, 18:29:36 PM »

Thanks, mdg. That was a fun read.

Should one possibly count the misses and hits in such a show to get an idea of how often or not he 'scores'?
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Mandarb
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« Reply #5 on: November 23, 2009, 18:43:20 PM »

Yes, good read. Next time I think recording devices, and maybe button hole cameras might be in order. Then you can at least count the hits and misses at your leisure, and give a percentage.

Any indication of what the NDA looks like, and how much it permits? And what happens if you break it?
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mdg
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« Reply #6 on: November 23, 2009, 20:29:16 PM »

Hi Cyghost and Mandarb,

There were no NDA's,I figure that the laws governing such things are not as stringent here in S.A. As we know, in the USA one can get sued for just about anything, but here it's much more difficult. Perhaps they were testing the water, so to speak, with these shows and we might see some form of NDA with his next visit - this is just speculation on my part.

I did start out trying to keep track of the misses and made my daughter keep track of the hits, but I found it distracting and I wanted to listen to what he said and the reactions he got.

To give a more personal slant to my post....

I had volunteered to hand out some of the envelopes that a group of skeptics handed out at Friday's show. I backed out on Friday morning because a relative had passed away on thursday. I then learned on Friday night that the deceased relative's sister was going to the same show I was going to, but we had different seats. She was sitting below the balcony area that I was in. John Edward moved towards our section and said that there were people related to each other sitting apart, and indicated our section of the audience. I felt a little uncomfortable, but my heart nearly jumped out of my chest when he suddenly asked "who's Brian?" The relative who passed away on thursday was named Brian.  Shocked A guy seated behind my family below, put his hand up and said that his name was Brian, and John proceeded to do a lengthy reading for him - this was one of the people he did an good reading for, good in the sense that he had a good number of "hits". I also tried to check if there was anyone moving around the crowd in the foyer asking questions, but I couldn't spot anyone.

I also watched out for whether he'd make a mistake with pronunciation of our South African names, he never once threw out one - they were all Anglican. The audience was predominantely white, I saw one black face and one or two Indian faces.

I also thought of trying to smuggle in a recording device, but I was worried about feedback - I try to blend in wherever I go and I can tell you I would have died if I suddenly started emitting a loud screech from feedback!  Grin
We were also warned that any camera's, cellphones or any kind of recording equipment would be taken and not returned.

I did meet up with my family afterwards for a coffee to discuss what we thought about the show and our opinions ranged between the two extremes, me, the out and out skeptic, and my sister in law the ardent believer.

The 2010 shows will be national, so skeptics in Durbs and Cape Town will also get a chance to see how Edward works.

One credit I will give John Edward though, is that he makes for a better comedian than a psychic medium, but not by much.  Grin
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Jane of the Jungle
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« Reply #7 on: November 24, 2009, 08:24:38 AM »

Hi MdG,

Thanx for the feedback, I couldn’t wait to hear from you guys!


One credit I will give John Edward though, is that he makes for a better comedian than a psychic medium, but not by much.  Grin


Laughter makes it much easier for the audience to forget and forgive those misses Wink

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cyghost
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« Reply #8 on: November 24, 2009, 13:27:50 PM »

I did meet up with my family afterwards for a coffee to discuss what we thought about the show and our opinions ranged between the two extremes, me, the out and out skeptic, and my sister in law the ardent believer.
The very first time I ever saw this dickhead and without having heard of cold reading before, I just thought to myself, "the man is guessing stuff and people are eating it up??"  Huh? I can't see how he would ever convince me and I fail to understand why others choose to believe his bullshit.
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r0n1n
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« Reply #9 on: November 24, 2009, 15:39:21 PM »

Fraud according to me.  He make use of a method called "cold reading". Cold reading is a mentalist technique used to convince another person that the reader knows much more about a subject than he actually does by carefully analyzing the person's body language, clothing or fashion, hairstyle, gender, sexual orientation, religion, race or ethnicity, level of education, manner of speech, place of origin, etc.

Strange that the dead these days mumble because he never says a person's name - rather a M or D and if he gets nothing he moves on.  And always a positive mesage from "the grave"

But he also gives people comfort and solace in a time of extreme grief ...
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Owen Swart
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« Reply #10 on: November 24, 2009, 15:53:40 PM »

Quote
But he also gives people comfort and solace in a time of extreme grief ...

Does he, though? Isn't he just preying on the bereaved when they're at their most vulnerable?

It seems to me that he's polluting their actual memories of their loved ones, by inserting himself into them. Also he fosters the delusion that their loves ones are still around, and not really gone... which may harmfully inhibit their ability to process their loss and get on with their lives.
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« Reply #11 on: November 24, 2009, 17:12:50 PM »

Quote from: r0n1n
But he also gives people comfort and solace in a time of extreme grief ...
 
 
I don't think he does that at all. First of all the things he says is so general, it could apply to anyone, and secondly, he's not shy about charging for that comfort and solace.

CaptainKlingon is right, he's preying on people when they're at their most vulnerable. Of all the woo peddlars out there, I hold a special contempt for psychic mediums and psychic healers because they make money out of people's misery.

Quote from: cyghost
I can't see how he would ever convince me and I fail to understand why others choose to believe his bullshit.

We did explain to my sister in law about how cold reading works, but she still thought John Edward was the real thing. It's like trying to convince an alcoholic that they have a problem when they don't think they have one, you're not going to get anywhere.
He just tells people what they want to hear, and that's all that matters to them, even if it's not accurate.

mdg
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r0n1n
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« Reply #12 on: November 27, 2009, 11:53:01 AM »

Quote
It seems to me that he's polluting their actual memories of their loved ones, by inserting himself into them. Also he fosters the delusion that their loves ones are still around, and not really gone... which may harmfully inhibit their ability to process their loss and get on with their lives.

Point well taken, but don't you think that certain people can not go on with their lives because they are worried if the person that died is in a "better place" and makes it easier to go on with life. (if we take the money issue out of the equation)

Make no mistake I do not believe in his bs - but I also like to look out of diffrent angles at it.  I think of him the same way that a Hipnosist is charging money for his show - and he entertains the people that paid.  Undecided
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Owen Swart
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« Reply #13 on: November 27, 2009, 12:06:40 PM »

Point well taken, but don't you think that certain people can not go on with their lives because they are worried if the person that died is in a "better place" and makes it easier to go on with life.

Yeah, you may be right. I suppose it depends on the individual situation.

If it's simply a matter of loved ones now being "in a better place", that may well provide some comfort. On the other hand, if the bereaved person believes that their dead loved one is somehow in communications range (through the intermediation of a helpful, but expensive, courier), that could have some ongoing damage. I can imagine someone visiting a medium again and again (and paying each time) to have a chat with their dead parent, sibling, spouse or child.

I wonder if it's by accident or design that Christianity (and presumably other major religions) forbids communication with the dead (other than Jesus, of course, but then he's not really dead... another discussion).
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BoogieMonster
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« Reply #14 on: November 27, 2009, 13:50:13 PM »

It's interesting that religion does "ban" these things yes. BUT:

The bible then goes on to tell the tale of the oak that could interpret dreams for the king and got his skin saved that way. He was, essentially, "fortune telling", but because it's "inspired by god", it's accepted. So, the easy get-out-of-hell-free card for a psychic is to say they're doing it with the help of god, and then the rule doesn't apply.

EDIT: Almost forgot about all the prophecies that get bandied about in the bible. Is a "prophet" then not a fortune teller?
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