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"Modern Spiritualism", dark room seances, tin trumpets, and mediums
November 23, 2001 7:58 PM   Subscribe

"Modern Spiritualism", dark room seances, tin trumpets, and mediums While the Taliban are off hijacking Islam, John Edward and Crossing Over conduct the injustice at home, hijacking time-honored "Modern Spiritualism" so he and his clan can personally profit from his cruel form of emotional abduction. Thankfully, his attempt to deliver the 9-11 victims on national television was cancelled.
posted by Voyageman (13 comments total)

 
While the Taliban are off hijacking Islam, John Edward and Crossing Over conduct the injustice at home,

Oh give it up. Its a TV show, comparing it to a inhumane regime is ridiculous. If you want to play arch-skeptic at least try to convince with facts not appeal to emotions like, oh say, a medium would.
posted by skallas at 8:52 PM on November 23, 2001


This has been talked about before here.
posted by UrbanFigaro at 9:13 PM on November 23, 2001


Thanks. Should have linked.
I have nostalgic respect for the 1800's seance of 5 people holding hands around a table with the lights dimmed coping with death, versus todays televised circus, with ticket hotlines, best selling books and tapes, fan clubs, celebrity readings and Madison Square Garden tours. He must be doing something right."...As it stands right now, the waiting list for an appointment is approximately 3 years...."
posted by Voyageman at 9:40 PM on November 23, 2001


Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.
posted by rushmc at 10:08 PM on November 23, 2001


Randi dissed him. However, that's the crux of the dilemma regarding spiritualism. It's impossible to irrevocably prove either positive or negative. Similar to alien abductions or elaborate conspiracy theories. Circumstantial evidence brings rise to uncertainty, but even the things that simply can't be explained could be that way simply because we don't understand the laws of physics well enough to understand the Unknown.

Personally I enjoy John Edward's show. It's ...amusing. I like to believe in the possibility, but a medium with such obvious guesswork as Edward is simply not proof positive. One has to suspend disbelief, kinda like watching a Doctor Who episode. Maybe someday we'll find a way to know once and for all whether or not there's a life after death. I doubt it will happen in my lifetime. Until then, charlatans like Edward will still have a job. And who knows? Maybe I'm just too much of a pessimist. Maybe there is something to John Edward's "abilities."

And maybe I'll win the lottery too. Or get struck by lightning. Or get married again. Heck, anything's possible. =)
posted by ZachsMind at 5:36 AM on November 24, 2001


I have nostalgic respect for the 1800's seance of 5 people holding hands around a table with the lights dimmed coping with death, versus todays televised circus

I don't see how you can assume past spiritualists weren't media-savvy and exploiters. There are numerous cases of outright fraud that would make Edwards look like a saint. Here's a very telling photo of an almost humorous ectoplasm projection. [link]

Lighting, dramatics, voice changes, puppets, etc that's showmanship not "coping." Edwards' show takes on the bland talk-show format and drops all the religious sacraments and cheap gags. I would easily argue that Edwards is the least showman-like popular medium around.


I really don't want to dig up the history of spiritualism (you can do that on your own), but I can tell you that CSICOP is hardly an informed or non-prejudiced group. There's too much invested there in keeping with the scientific materialist party line and their history is practically embarrassing. [link pdf] Heh, don't even ask about their first and only scientific investigation into the paranormal. Look up "starbaby" on google some time. Sadly, there are frauds and liars on both sides of the fence.

Abstractly, Edwards is a spectacle. The audience is pretty much in control and choose to attend or watch his show. The spectacle has to deliver and the truth of the situation doesn't apply (like zacksmind wrote about suspension of belief). You could go the moral route, but at the same time you would be taking the high-horse position by telling everyone that they are idiots or you're infinitely more informed than they are.

Personally, I take the agnostic position and defend the right of the audience to spend their time and money as they see fit. I think there's a difference between being conned (pyramid scheme) and voluntarily exploring anomalous phenomenon (mediumship). The former is a victim and the latter is inquisitive and healthy behavior. I'm not saying that the Edwards experience is necessarily going to do anything for you, but people who watch and attend should be given a little more credit for exploration and *gasp* critical thinking instead of being called ignorant, sheep, or "stupid" as one poster put it.
posted by skallas at 6:16 AM on November 24, 2001


However, that's the crux of the dilemma regarding spiritualism. It's impossible to irrevocably prove either positive or negative.

It helps to have a basic understanding of human psychology.
posted by rushmc at 9:03 AM on November 24, 2001


I'm not saying that the Edwards experience is necessarily going to do anything for you, but people who watch and attend should be given a little more credit for exploration and *gasp* critical thinking instead of being called ignorant, sheep, or "stupid" as one poster put it.

Yeah, and P. T. Barnum helped a lot of people explore the world and learn a lot about reality, too.

The only thing one can learn from a con man is a) caution or b) technique.
posted by rushmc at 9:05 AM on November 24, 2001


all I can think of is the Witch of Endor......be careful what you ask for.
You might just get it.
posted by bunnyfire at 12:11 PM on November 24, 2001


I think there's a difference between being conned (pyramid scheme) and voluntarily exploring anomalous phenomenon (mediumship). The former is a victim and the latter is inquisitive and healthy behavior.

Right, because all of the people who seek out mediums (Edwards or otherwise) are simply engaging in inquisitive, healthy behaviour. Non of them are seeking answers for inexplicable pain and loss that they have experienced in their lives - they're certainly not vulnerable. I can see no possibility for exploitation or manipulation whatsoever. The real victims are the ones who innocently believe that they can create wealth without effort. Thanks for the clarification.

Dear Mr. Edwards,
Please < !-- even if --> see < !-- you are not --> if < !-- conning people out of --> you < !-- actual money or property, --> can < !-- i find taking advantage--> divine < !-- of the bereaved --> what < !-- and the deperate --> I'm < !-- to be completely --> thinking < !-- immoral. --> now.< !-- fucker. -->
Love,
CUJoe
posted by CrazyUncleJoe at 12:25 PM on November 24, 2001


......be careful what you ask for.
You might just get it.


Bring it on.
posted by rushmc at 1:07 PM on November 24, 2001


Right, because all of the people who seek out mediums (Edwards or otherwise) are simply engaging in inquisitive, healthy behaviour. Non of them are seeking answers for inexplicable pain and loss that they have experienced in their lives - they're certainly not vulnerable.

Im sure it differs from person to person. The issues I'm most concerned with is the right to do as you please and premature calls to fraud. Why hasn't there been criminal charges or even civil lawsuits again someone who you claim is clearly a con man?

I can see no possibility for exploitation or manipulation whatsoever.

I'm not validating what he does, but I think the hate certain people have against him make them sound as irrational as the credulous they criticize. Considering getting on the show is free I don't see much room for "exploitation and manupulation." This isn't exactly the Manchurian Candidate. If anyone is being taken for a ride from his show, its the advertisers.
posted by skallas at 2:42 PM on November 24, 2001


Hey, I'm with you Skallas. I've devoted all of my energies to the stupid ignorant sheep over at FundAmerica.

I say, more power to Edwards - after all, he's just an entertainer. Sure, he uses communication with deceased loved ones for his material, but who doesn't? Plus I get a huge kick out of the fact that those advertisers have been taken - with nothing to show for their investment but huge audiences of potential customers. Fools!
posted by CrazyUncleJoe at 3:05 PM on November 24, 2001


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