John Edward McGee, Jr. (born October 19, 1969) is an American television personality and professional psychic medium. He is best known for his TV shows Crossing Over with John Edward and John Edward Cross Country.
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 Syfy beginning in July 2000 and We TV since May 2006.
The only son of an Irish-American policeman and an Italian-American working mother, Edward was raised Roman Catholic. Although Edward later stopped practicing that faith, he has said he never stopped feeling connected to God and is still closely connected to his Catholic roots. Edward once said, "This is something that is driven by a belief in God. It's the energy from that force that I think allows us to create this energy."
According to Edward, when he was 15 and "a huge doubter" (in psychic abilities), he was "read" by a New Jersey woman who convinced him that he could become a medium.
"She told me things that there is no way she could have known. And the first part of the reading was that this was the path that I was supposed to be on and that I was supposed to be a teacher and help people and — I thought she was nuts." Speaking of the same encounter in a 2002 interview, Edward said, "She told me I would one day become internationally known for my psychic abilities through lectures, books, radio and TV. I thought she was full of it until she started to tell me things no one in my life knew about... The details were unbelievable."
Later, Edward worked as a phlebotomist while pursuing a degree in health care administration at Long Island University. He met his wife, Sandra Coelho, when he was a student in a dance studio, and he became a ballroom dancing instructor before entering his current field of work. He and his wife had their first child, Justin Michael, on September 25, 2002, and their second child, Olivia Gabriella, on January 25, 2007.
Edward published his first book, One Last Time, in 1998. His related appearance on Larry King Live later in the year prompted enough phone calls to overload the show's switchboard. The next year, Edward had a show of his own.
Crossing Over with John EdwardEdit
From 1999 to 2004, Edward was the producer and host of the show Crossing Over with John Edward, which has been syndicated and was broadcast on SCI FI Channel in the United States and on LIVINGtv in the UK. In Crossing Over, Edward gives readings to audience members.
Readings in Crossing Over involve Edward questioning audience members with what is presented as information being communicated by their deceased friends and relatives. Edward says he receives images and clues from "the other side" which the audience must assist him in interpreting. Aside from questionnaires filled out prior to taping, the audience is not supposed to supply Edward with any prior information about themselves, their family or whom they are trying to connect with "on the other side". Audience members respond to Edward's statements and questions, adding any details they feel are appropriate. The show often employs a split screen, the view of a reading without sound on one half of the screen while on the other half the subjects of the reading are shown in a later interview as they discuss their experiences. A voiceover by Edward is also implemented at times, sharing further insights and inspirational messages.
In other instances, Edward conducted private sessions away from the studio audience. The subjects of these segments later talked in greater detail about the situation that led to their reading with Edward and the effect the reading had on their lives. Periodically, segments revisit people who have previously appeared on the show.
John Edward Cross CountryEdit
Edward's current show, John Edward Cross Country, has been broadcast on We TV, since March 2006. In this forum, the audience is not supposed to supply Edward with any prior information about themselves, their family or whom they are trying to connect with "on the other side." According to Edward, he simply "lets his guides draw him to the people that spirits are trying to connect with, and the audience should only validate the information he gives them". In each episode, after a reading Edward is filmed visiting the person or people whose reading was televised, along with their families, to see how the experience had changed their lives.
During the first season of Cross Country, Edward traveled across the US, giving readings to large audiences in public venues. In subsequent seasons, the show has been broadcast from a set similar to that used for Crossing Over.
Criticism and controversyEdit
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 investigate their paranormal claims and published his belief that Edward's abilities were genuine in his book The Afterlife Experiments. 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.
Critics of Edward assert he performs the mentalist technique of hot reading and cold reading, in which one respectively uses prior knowledge or a wide array of quick and sometimes general guesses to create the impression of psychic ability. 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 Independent Investigative Group (IIG) 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 apparent 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." 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 hot or cold reading techniques.
Shortly after the September 11 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.
The episodes based on the September 11, 2001 attacks are not included on the DVD box set for the respective series.
Appearances in the mediaEdit
Edward has appeared or been mentioned in many television shows, including: ABC's 20/20, The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch, The Crier Report, Dateline, The Early Show, Entertainment Tonight, Family Guy, Fox and Friends, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Larry King Live, the HBO Special, Life After Life: America Undercover, Live with Regis & Kelly, Maury, Oprah, Penn & Teller: Bullshit!, The 7pm Project, South Park, "The Biggest Douche in the Universe", The Tony Danza Show, The View, The Wayne Brady Show, and Will & Grace. He also has numerous radio appearances including the howard stern show.
- One Last Time: A Psychic Medium Speaks to Those We Have Loved and Lost (1998) ISBN 0-425-16908-1
- What If God Were the Sun? (2000) ISBN 1-58872-003-9
- Crossing Over: The Stories Behind the Stories (2001) ISBN 1-58872-002-0
- After Life: Answers From the Other Side (2003) ISBN 1-932128-06-9
- Final Beginnings: The Tunnel (2004) ISBN 1-932128-02-6
- Practical Praying: Using the Rosary to Enhance Your Life (2005) ISBN 1-932128-12-3
- Infinite Quest: Develop Your Psychic Intuition to Take Charge of Your Life (2010) ISBN 978-1402778933
- Developing Your Own Psychic Powers
- Understanding Your Angels and Meeting Your Guides
- Unleashing Your Psychic Potential
- John Edward Presents InfiniteQuest
- John Edward Tunes in to the Afterlife, an interview with Wendy Schuman
- Deconstructing The Dead Michael Shermer reports on Edward and an ABC-TV profile.
- "How come TV psychics seem so convincing?"
- Greatest Hits and Misses of John Edward
- Shooting Crap: Alleged psychic John Edward actually gambles on hope and basic laws of statistics
- Daily Variety review of "John Edward Cross Country"
- Talking to Heaven Through Television at the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry