LOS ANGELES—The James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF), a non-profit organization that provides the public with reliable, scientific information about paranormal claims, criticized Anderson Cooper’s new daytime talk show ‘Anderson’ for yesterday’s episode promoting self-proclaimed psychic medium John Edward.

John Edward has made his fortune by using manipulative psychological tricks and other devious methods to pretend that he can communicate with people’s deceased family members, often for huge sums of money. Yesterday’s ‘Anderson’ show promoted Mr. Edward uncritically, talking up his ‘surprisingly accurate’ readings of Anderson Cooper and his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt. Surprisingly absent were the voices of skeptics, scientists and professional magicians who have explained over and over how Mr. Edward performs his act and takes advantage of the bereaved.

“It shouldn’t be surprising to anyone that so-called ‘psychic’ performers like John Edward can come up with accurate facts about the lives of well-known public figures,” said D.J. Grothe, president of the JREF. “You don’t have to be psychic to find interviews on the internet, read Gloria Vanderbilt’s memoir, or find public records on a famous family. And it’s alarming that a show named after a journalist of Anderson Cooper’s stature would promote such harmful nonsense. When national media outlets give such a large platform to hucksters who make false promises and beguile the public, they are as much to blame for the public deception as the fake psychics themselves.”

In the past, the JREF has offered Mr. Edward a prize of $1 million if he can demonstrate his claimed abilities under mutually agreed-upon scientific conditions and without cheating. Mr. Edwards refused. He has been caught cheating at his performances in the past.1

“Performers like John Edward are nothing but fakes who perform deceptive tricks for personal gain, and it’s unbelievable how successful they are at using media personalities to promote their business,” Grothe said. “‘Anderson’ did a huge disservice to the public by helping John Edward promote his scam to an audience of millions. The media should instead investigate the harm that is caused to so many people by belief in unfounded supernatural claims.”

1 John Edward: Hustling the Bereaved. Skeptical Inquirer, Nov./Dec. 2001. http://www.csicop.org/si/show/john_edward_hustling_the_bereaved/

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