Well, well, well, well.
Last week, I wrote one of my usual patented bits of insolence directed at “America’s doctor,” Dr. Mehmet Oz. What prompted my irritation was a recent episode in which Dr. Oz featured psychic scammer John Edward, the self-proclaimed “psychic” who claims to be able to speak with the dead. In actuality, Edward is nothing more than a mediocre cold reader, but he’s parlayed his skills into a lucrative career as host of his own TV show (Crossing Over With John Edward, which ran for several years back in the 1990s and early 2000s), author, and touring psychic medium. His latest triumph against reason and science was managing to convince Dr. Oz that he might actually really be able to speak to the dead.
When I wrote about it, one aspect of Edward’s appearance on Dr. Oz’s show was that he had in the audience Katherine Nordal, PhD of the American Psychological Association. During Edward’s appearance, he asked Dr. Nordal point-blank whether visiting a psychic could be a form of therapy, and her answer strongly implied, if not outright stated, that it could. I was appalled and outraged that a professional psychologist, the representative of the largest organization of psychologists, would seemingly endorse Edward’s schtick as actually being of some medical worth. At the time I wondered whether there had been some editing going on there. It turns out I was right to wonder, as Dr. Nordal has complained:
In a letter to producers of “The Dr. Oz” show Nordal said, “I provided very balanced responses to Dr. Oz’s questions during the show’s taping, however, the editing of my responses did not capture my full comments or give viewers an accurate portrayal of my professional view on John Edward’s methods. Instead, it seems that ‘The Doctor Oz’ show intentionally edited my responses in a way that gave the appearance of my endorsement of Edward’s methods as a legitimate intervention.”
Well, I guess that’s what you get for agreeing to go on The Dr. Oz Show as the token skeptic. This is how shows like that operate. Dr. Oz has apparently learned well from his mentor, Oprah Winfrey. Remember what she did to Laura McMahon when she had psychic mediums Allison DuBois and–you guessed it!–John Edward on her show. Dr. Oz is beyond redemption now, I fear.
This article also made me remember something I should have mentioned the first time I blogged about this, and that’s just how ghoulish one of the featured “readings” was:
His next victim (patient?) was a middle-aged man who rose to his feet when Edward suggested someone had lost a son. As the reading continued, Edward informed the grief-stricken parent that the car accident that claimed his son’s life was in fact a suicide.
“I’ve never known that he committed suicide for sure,” said the grieving father, “but I believe it.”
This father seemed able to cope with that information, but I’m not sure every grieving parent would take that kind of news as well. What’s particularly noteworthy is that it has no basis in fact or truth.
Think about it. You believe that Edward can speak with the dead. You’re on Dr. Oz’s show, and Edward tells you that your son, who died in a car crash, had actually committed suicide, in essence that your son had crashed his car on purpose to end his life. What would be your reaction? Many would be utterly crushed, particularly if they really believed that Edward was providing them a message from their son from beyond the grave.
Me? I’m outraged. Edward is taking advantage of a father’s grief, and then making it even more intense through his claims, none of which are based on anything other than his cold reading and his willingness to make money doing it.
And Dr. Oz let him do it. After Dr. Nordal’s complaint, one wonders how much other editing went on to make John Edward’s cold reading seem more accurate went on.