I've always found it intriguing how, prior to the egotistic antics of a certain old Canadian the majority of magic buffs were blown away by Gellar, and later the two or three other flash in the pan types and finally Mr. Edward. Of course, the swill pit of magic (a.k.a. The Magic Cafe) went through and "edited" much of what was there prior to the PEOPLE article... I'll assume this was done so that some jerk like me couldn't point out all those posts there, at the Shadow Digest, the old MoMM, and numerous other sites... where all these present day "experts" couldn't figure it out.
Once the sales presentation was put forth by Mr. R & Co. everyone suddenly lit up and claimed to know and to have known the "truth" all this time.
The other side of the coin is that the majority of "magicians" don't understand that there is a huge chasm of difference between Cold Reading and being a Reader... if you want to get a "taste" of what that is, work with only Millard Longman's PSYCHIC SKILLS WORKSHOP material and the formulas shared in Knepper's MIND READING... toss all that Barnum and Forer CRAP in the round file (where it belongs) and pick up a divination tool or concept you're comfortable with and go for it!
I've had a couple of phone conversations with John Edward prior to the Randi smear campaign... I can assure you, what he shared with me about me and my life wasn't as readily explained as most would like to claim... and "coincidence" (the cynic's favorite cop-out... explanation) isn't even accepted by legitimate science, so let's not go there... nor should we say that I'm just not "educated enough" about how it all works for reasons that more than a few members here can explain to those that haven't a clue as to my specialty within the Mentalism world. ;)
I offer this point of contrast on this issue for a couple of reasons, the biggest of which centers on the fact that anyone wanting to learn how to be a solid Reader, especially from the stage, should watch John Edward religiously... he's one of the best I've ever seen within this kind of setting. By contrast however, Sylvia Brown and James VanPraagh are awesome examples of what not to do with the "Pet Psychic" leading the pack as one of the worse Readers on the planet.
The other reason I have offered this voice of challenge is a bit more "down to earth"... John Edward is not a "Predator" when it comes to his work and thus, not criminal as say Ms. Cleo was. The public places value in what he does... obviously more value than they would seeing something like... Oh... a magician that openly admits that he is acting like a psychic... let's face it, the so-called moral oriented and ethical one is typically pushing his luck asking for $10.00 a seat while Mr. Edward gets between $75.00 and $500.00 a seat... selling out most of the facilities his events are held in.
This man has a hell of a lot to teach us all if we'd just set our prejudices and arrogance off to the side and recognize a few very simple truths; starting with the fact that what he offers does not create "Victims"... it is non-predatory and though there is a spiritual theme running through it, it is sold as an entertainment and as a "Psychic Entertainer" he's proven to be far more successful than most of the experts standing on this side of the proverbial fence... hasn't he?
Shortly after the People magazine article came out John took the time to offer a rebuttal... it was quite interesting in that he revealed the things most of Randi & Company's "explanations" gloss over... starting with the fact that to do and use even half the methods some have theorized he's using, he'd have a staff of at least several hundred if not thousands and a surveillance network that would rival that of most nations. In other words, the methods don't stand up if you look at them from a logical point of view.
I'm one of the few people in this business that admits to being a "believer" of sorts... I'm one of the few that will stand up for the rights of other people to believe, even if it is something I do not personally support or patronize, such as most aspects of organized religion.
When I wrote the two articles for VISIONS eZine about the big mouths and bullies in today's magic world (when it comes to this sort of issue) I received more mail; letters of thanks and appreciation, than I've ever seen in all the years I've been with that publication. The reason is very simple; many are sick and tired of the evangelic spirit found in magic now days that is supportive of a strong atheist view... the negation of faith or belief at any level... even I am guilty of making a pun or two when it comes to certain religious ideas but I am not venomous about such things and I do not allow a person's beliefs (well, other than certain in-humanitarian ideas and racism) get in the way of what I do or how I interact with them.
I don't want this to turn into a typical "jump on the gullible fool" routine, which is so common when I or anyone speaks up in this manner. I just wanted to put some points of view on the table for all to consider -- quietly if possible and free of childish banter.