John Edward (born October 19, 1969 as John Edward MaGee, Jr. in Glen Cove, New York) is the creator and host of the television show Crossing Over with John Edward. Purporting that Edward is a medium, the show features what is said to be communication with the dead.
A typical reading by Edward on his television show begins with him coming up with the way the person he claims to be communicating with died. There is usually at least one person in the audience who believes this fits them and then he begins to talk with them about the names of people they are connected with. He'll start with a letter or a sound in someone's name who is connected to that person in some way ("I'm getting an R sound" or "I'm getting a C or a K sound...Who is it that is close to you and whose name starts with that sound?"). This usually narrows it down to one person and he will then continue asking them questions related to the signals the deceased is allegedly sending him, making many claims (some of which are right, some of which are wrong), until he comes up with a description of the deceased. He then usually follows by saying that the deceased is with him right now and that he/she sends their love.
In addition to his television show, Edward sells tickets for public readings, and has written several bestselling books on his work and how to develop psychic powers.
At the end of John Edward's show a legal disclaimer appears for 3.3 seconds. It can only easily be read using a "paused" recording. Some viewers, especially well versed conjurors, see this as deceiving.
Controversy and criticism
Skeptics call Edward's performance a scam or hoax. Believers point out that Edward was tested under controlled laboratory conditions by psychologist Gary Schwartz , who concluded his abilities were genuine. Part of the test involved "reading" the subject while knowing nothing about them and before talking to them or seeing them. Skeptics then reply that CSICOP's Ray Hyman has severely critiqued Schwartz's methods. Dr. Schwartz replies that Dr. Hyman has simply ignored many facts, and that this is not acceptable in science.
Skeptics say that Edward's techniques are identical with the technique of cold reading, one of the ways many demonstrated hoax psychics fool their clients and audiences. The show is accused by its critics of being heavily edited, with a half-hour show taking up to six hours to tape, in which failed attempts are removed. It is also alleged that Edwards' staff collect information on people before a reading takes place - a technique termed "hot reading". The show's producers deny this charge. This sort of back-and-forth is characteristic of the entire field, which arouses strong emotions.
The show has attracted many believers, as evidenced by its popularity. In defense of Edward, many believers point out unique things that he has said about dead people that they believe he could not have known unless he could in fact communicate with the deceased. This "proof of immortality" gives the grieving, teary-eyed seekers comfort.
Edward in the media
An episode of the cartoon television comedy South Park entitled "The Biggest Douche in the Universe" (#615, aired November 27, 2002) focusing primarily on Edward, it portrays him as a cynical and exploitative fraud who knowingly manipulates the bereaved. Character Stan works to expose him by mastering cold reading himself and repeatedly argues that what Edward does is wrong. In the end, aliens bring Edward to an intergalactic awards ceremony where he is honored with the Biggest Douche in the Universe Award.
Penn and Teller also called him the biggest douche in the universe on their TV show Bullshit!.
Edward also made a cameo appearance on Will & Grace.