I remember watching James Randi when he was a guest star on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Randi was/is famous for exposing fakers and phonies in many different lines of work. On this particular show, Randi went after a televangelist named Peter Popoff who claimed he could read the minds of his followers. Randi showed how Popoff’s “God-given ability” really worked- by wearing an earpiece and having his wife feed him the info via radio.
Yep. More people fleeced thanks to religion.
Popoff is still around, and if you visit his website, you can buy his “Miracle Mixture” to cure your ills.
So has there ever been a real honest to goodness psychic, or at least someone with paranormal abilities?
Daniel Home – was an alleged spiritualist and medium who was at the height of his fame in the 1850s and 1860s. He could purportedly talk to the dead, and his séances always delivered. Unexplained music, table levitation, and glowing, ghastly hands were a staple of his performances. Not everyone was a believer though. Harry Houdini once quipped that Home’s only mission was “fleecing by presuming on the credulity of the public”.
It was later discovered that Home was quite good with his feet.
While he held hands with the others at his séance table, he was able to levitate the table using his feet. He also used phosphorous oil (phosphorous glows in the dark) to cover his feet, which he would then slide out of his shoes and use to move objects on the table.
If anything, he was quite the contortionist.
When he died, one of the objects found amongst his belongings was a one octave mouth organ; basically a very tiny harmonica which he apparently concealed under his walrus-like moustache and used to create the eerie music.
John Edward – is currently on TV and considers himself a psychic and medium. On his current show, he gives readings to audience members and basically allows them to talk to their dearly departed relatives. Critics consider him a mentalist; a person who draws conclusions and makes general guesses based on background information and general guessing.
This theory is supported through the fact that audience members fill out questionnaires before show taping.
James Randi also did a bit of researching and found that most of the shows were edited and dubbed to make Edward’s readings appear more accurate.
Allison DuBois – a psychic and inspiration for the TV series Medium, one of my favorite shows. DuBois supposedly aids law enforcement to help track down killers and missing persons. But according to the Glendale, Arizona police department, she never provided any useful information- which kind of makes sense since if she really were as good as she claimed, every police department would have a psychic detective unit.
James Randi believes her to be very good at cold readings.
I keep mentioning James Randi because he has dedicated his life to exposing fraud and charlatans. For almost two decades he has run the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF), a nonprofit corporation whose mission includes “educating the public and the media on the dangers of accepting unproven claims, and to support research into paranormal claims in controlled scientific experimental conditions.”
JREF offers a one million dollar cash prize to anyone who can demonstrate a supernatural power or ability. The prize is still unclaimed as many psychics have either failed at the task, or simply not accepted the invitation to be tested. Both John Edward and Allison DuBois turned down invitations to prove their ability.
I’m sure there are people on this planet that can do amazing things, but you won’t find them on the radio or TV.