Alleee and Franc's
INSOLITOLOGY

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So, you wanna be a psychic ?
part 2


Let's now examine how John Edward, the renowned TV psychic, uses the techniques we have seen in part 1. This is from the Crossing Over episode that aired on July 5, 2002. This extract is from "Demystifying John Edward of Crossing Over", linked later on this article.

He asks the audience, "Are you ready? Ok. I'm over here," as he walks to a particular section of the Gallery.
John Edward: They're either trying to tell me someone has a name like Celine [no reaction from the audience] ... or they want me to acknowledge a name like Celina... but they're telling me to say Celine [as he motions the letter "C" with his index finger].
Female Guest: I have an Aunt Zia Lina. [An Aunt Zia Lina's name is volunteered by a female guest who appears to be in her 40's, attractive with auburn hair, wide open brown eyes, and dressed conservatively.]
[Perhaps the weirdest hit in history. How she got from Celina to Zia Lina, I have no idea. But no matter, someone took the bait, and it's time to establish something]
John Edward: Ok. Has she passed?
Female Guest: Yeah.
[Another hit, but an obvious one, I'm afraid. Being in her forties, it is probable that at least one of her parents is dead]
John Edward: Ok. We're going to start there. [with lightning speed] They're telling me to acknowledge November or the 11th of the month having some type of meaning because there's some kind of connection. They're making me feel like there's some type of mom vibration that's has passed because there's an older female coming through and I feel like [pause] ... is it your mom that's passed?
Female Guest: Yeah.
[Edward throws a lot of stuff here, but drops the November connection immediately (note how vague it is). Rather, he re-feeds her the "mom" answer she gave earlier, dressing it up with "older female" to make it look genuine. A dumb hit.]
John Edward: Ok. She's making me feel like ... She's telling me to say "R" ... there's an "R" connection so I don't know who the "R" is. I think it's like on dad's side of the family ...
[Edward pretends he talks to the dead. But if he really does, and all he can get is "R", we have to question his talking-to-the-dead abilities...]
Female Guest: [The female guest is seen thinking hard, then appearing dumbfounded she finally shrugs her shoulders to signal John that she hasn't a clue what he's talking about].
[A miss. No Rs around. He should have chosen a better letter.]
John Edward: ... and I actually think it's a name like Reginald ... Regina ... there's like an "RG" sound or a last name "RG." I don't know what this means but they're telling me "R" and it sounds like with a "G" connected to it ... like Reg ... Raj [pause] ... sounds like Reg ...
Female Guest: [The guest just shrugs her shoulders to show a negative response].
[He tries to prod her to think about last names too, without success. Another lame miss.]
John Edward: ... Reggie ... Roger ... there's an "R" sound ... Regina ... but there's something about ... like the name Regina they want me to acknowledge.
Female Guest: Virginia?
John Edward: Who is this?
Female Guest: My father's aunt who passed on.
[Another freakish hit - who is this woman and how does she jump from "Regina" to "Virginia" ? She might have been a plant...]


Tally of this reading : 0 hits, 5 lame pseudo-hits and 2 misses.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to obtain Crossing Over transcripts. However, John Edward was on Larry King Live on a number of occasions. On these shows, he gives readings to callers. I have sifted thru the transcript of June 19, 1998, to find you the best one to analyse here, to give Edward his best shot. The reading here was by far the best.

CALLER: Hello.
KING: Go ahead.
CALLER: Yes, my mother passed away, quite a while ago, and I'd like to get in touch with her.
KING: What's your name?
CALLER: My name is Karen.
EDWARD: OK, Karen, the first thing that's coming through is not your mother, but I want to tell you that there's another female figure who is older than you, who's making you feel like she either helped raise you, or was around when you were growing up -- is coming through. And she tells me she either passed from breast cancer or lung cancer. I see blackness in the chest area, but I don't think that this is related to you. I think that this might be either a friend's mother or a mother-in-law -- I don't feel like there's a blood connection here.
CALLER: My stepmother.
[A hit. Edward shotgun his way thru it, but basically he stated 1. the presence of a person without blood connection who helped raise her or saw her grow up who 2. had "blackness" in the chest area. That is exceedingly vague]
EDWARD: OK, because I don't feel like there's a blood connection -- is she passed?
CALLER: She just passed away recently.
[Another hit, but this is merely recycling, as he stated before that "she either passed..."]
KING: From what?
CALLER: Lung cancer.
EDWARD: OK. Please, you need to -- this is important. I feel like somebody is questioning the medical care that this woman received, and they're saying that there was nothing wrong here. OK, this is what's being shown to me. Now, is there a Ganette or a Janet --
CALLER: Janet.
[A hit, he got "Janet". More precise than the usual letter combos, but still vague - Janet is the 45th most common first name for women]
EDWARD: Who's this?
CALLER: That's my step-sister.
EDWARD: OK. She's living, though?
CALLER: Yes, she is.
EDWARD: She's out of your state?
CALLER: She's out-of-state.
[Two lame hits. Except for old age, our siblings tend to be alive. Furthermore, as a step-sister, it is probable that they have less attachment, and do not stay in the same state]
EDWARD: Can you please let her know that mom came through? I feel like there is a lot of tears and a lot of crying over -- either missing seeing her before she passed, or not getting a chance to say good-bye, which is very, very important. But I think what we need to do here is clean the slate for her; and there is an issue about relationships, or about being involved with the wrong person, or not liking her husband or something like that.
I don't know what this is, but I feel like you need to let go of all this stuff, and let her know that she's OK; and that she's got Maggie or Margie, or some sort of M-G-sounding name, who's with her, and know that she's OK.
CALLER: OK, I'm not sure about the MG.
EDWARD: Remember what I said -- it's an M-G-sounding name -- not just Mary -- it's like Margie or Maggie.
CALLER: OK.
[Here Edward misses, but tries to give himself an "out" by stating that the M-G just must be there. Also note the very lame "lots of tears" and "crying", and all the things related to a death - they are universal, and no guesses at all. To his credit, Edward used them in shotgun, not as a point to confirm]
EDWARD: All rightie. Thanks for calling.
KING: Maybe she liked monosodium glutanate.
(LAUGHTER)


Result : 1 good hit, 4 lame hits and 1 miss. Especially note how Edward "fills the air" with shotgunning, and how he leaves himself "outs" while doing this. In the first shotgunning above, his sentence "I think that this might be either a friend's mother or a mother-in-law -- I don't feel like there's a blood connection here" comes true whenever the person is a friend's mother or mother-in-law, or just not related. Likewise, "And she tells me she either passed from breast cancer or lung cancer. I see blackness in the chest area" comes true whenever or not the chest problem is really in the breasts or lungs. This way, he can take credit for more precise hits, but still retain a hit for the more vague phrase.

Note also, in all these readings, the technique of asking questions to use in shotgunning. Once Edward knew the mother had cancer, he used this in his shotgunning to talk about medical complaints.

He did get one real, good hit during the hour : saying that a man was buried with cigarettes, and they were the wrong brand (unfortunately, the accent of the person is not specified - some other religions do bury cherished objects, and this may have influenced Edward). But one real hit out of an hour is a pretty sucky average. Joe Nickell, of CSICOP, evaluated the entire transcript and gave his tally as : 18 readings, 125 statements or questions, 40 unverified or moot statements, 41 misses, 42 hits. 34 of these were weak hits, leaving 8 good hits out of 125 statements - not a good average. You should do better than that, with good training.


-Crossing Over with John Edwards

A transcript of the SNL parody of Crossing Over. "Who's got a woman with a J? [ no response ] Maybe K? K or J? A woman with a K or J. [ no response ] Or.. R?"


-NEW RESPECT FOR JAMES VAN PRAAGH

Michael Shermer is pressured, at the drop of a hat, to perform as well as James Van Praagh, under adverse conditions... and succeeds ! Good to read if you're ever in a tight spot.


-Demystifying John Edward of Crossing Over

Many links and two extracts, including the first reading on this page.


As you may have already surmised, probabilities are important in becoming a "psychic". Readings are a crap shoot, so putting probabilities on your side is important. There is an element on your side : most people don't have a grasp on probabilities.

Even exceptional events can happen to a number of people every day. If an event has one chance out of a million of happening to someone, it will still happen to 280 people in the United States every day.

This multiplication of probabilities is exemplified by the famous "same birthdays" distribution. In a group of 23 people, the probability that two share a birth date is 50%. Most people would estimate this percentage far lower. See the image to the left for the probabilities of various groups.

Likewise, people routinely overestimate the differences between themselves and others. We tend to dwell on our differences and become accustomed to our similarities, thus making us "blind". Astrology is one pseudo-science that lives entirely on this phenomenon.

Here is a series of statements. Check those which you think are true for you in a general way :

Very sociable, you enjoy being with others and definitely prefer not be alone.
Warm and affectionate, you go out of your way to make others like you.
You despise ugliness, for you being surrounded by beauty and harmony is a necessity of life.
You prefer fine clothing, an attractive home and pleasant surroundings wherever you are. Your refined tastes apply to music and to art as well.
At times, you are very indecisive you waver and falter when forced to make a choice because you have the ability to see both sides of any question.

Most of these correspond to your personality ? These statements were all part of my astrological chart, done at Astrolabe. Surprise, surprise. Yet many people would be convinced that such a series of statement is a personal assessment of their own personality, and none other. Our blindness to universal statements about our nature is called the Forer Effect, named after the psychologist who discovered and experimented on this principle.

To indicate how general these statements are, consider their opposites :

* You are anti-social and prefer to be alone instead of with others.
* You are cold and do not desire that others like you.
* You prefer ugliness, and you do not consider beauty and harmony to be necessary.
* You prefer coarse clothing, an ugly home and repulsive surroundings wherever you are.
* You are always clear-cut and never falter while making any choice. Your mind only sees one side of every question.

How many people would identify with these statements, let alone agree with them ?

In some cases, meaning can be ambiguous. For example, take the statement "you are foolhardy". Foolhardy in what ? Our temper can depend on a number of factors, including the general context in which we act. One may be foolhardy in love but prudent in business, and vice-versa. Because the number of facets to being is great, a statement can fit everyone who wishes it to be true.

Now you know how to be a psychic and use probabilities to your advantage. Have fun in your new career and remember, when you buy that new Cadillac, don't forget your debt to my genius, and send me some money this way willya ?

Continue to part 3



review written by Franc, 07/2002.
last updated 12/2003.

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