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ABC News,Pt II

by Mark Edward, May 15 2010

Well, what did we as skeptics expect with the Saturday Good Morning America segment? It’s only a morning show sandwiched in between soap flake commercials. We have a long way to go to have something substantial to be proud of. Still, I was pleasantly surprised that the tone and tempo held a healthy measure of humor and that no outward bias was shown toward the woo. I was given more time than I expected to set the record straight.

I think the point was made crystal clear that if you are looking for truth, spiritual enlightenment or the real thing; buyer beware. Given that 900 psychics are passe and only the tip of the woo iceberg, the subject was shown for all it’s folly and reported as well as could be expected if you buy into the whole “balanced news” artifice.  After watching Suzie’s story, anybody with half a brain would ultimately make up their minds to steer clear of psychic bullcrap and throwing away good money by talking to a 900 voice when deciding on which shoes to buy.  On the other hand it’s clear that if you have plenty of money and can afford to toss it off on someone to talk to, the ABC message said go ahead. Not many people can afford that luxury in today’s economy. As one old fraud once told me: when you go to a hooker, you don’t expect to fall in love. The wrongness of the broader subject of psychics was evaded rather obliquely. Maybe next time?

Jeremy Hubbard

I found it interesting that the reporter Jeremy Hubbard, used lines verbatim from what I had told the producer during a phone interview. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised and to his credit, Jeremy did  mention me for having the answers in an area he was clearly not very well versed in or comfortable with. There was even a brief screen scroll of “…Mark Edward, author of “Psychic Blues.” Unfortunately, that title made it sound like it’s already published. Well, it is self published in limited quantities. I really wanted to get the word out that I was looking for a mainstream publisher. Ah well, …one day it may yet happen. There were plenty of “tricks of the trade” I gave out for ABC to choose from and I think they did a good job with explaning those that fit into their limited time frame. The darker side of my voyage into woo was left for another favorable circumstance. Maybe a mini-series?

Of course, there was a ton of other material we taped that never made it to the screen and was left on the cutting room floor. Most notably several asides I made while I was listening in the the reading Jeremey received from Suzie’s favorite psychic. There were lots of ridiculous generalities that had me and the crew laughing out loud during those exchanges. It’s amazing that people can get any comfort at all from a person who takes such great pride in telling you only what you want to hear. The flattery was unbelievable, especially when the psychic knew that she was talking to “Good Morning America’s Jeremy Hubbard.” Boy did she lay it on thick after she heard that! I warned the producer that they shouldn’t mention any specific names or give the psychic ANY information, but again Jeremy was just being himself – a morning news anchor.  It would have been even clearer that she was woefully inadequate as a seer had that little detail been paid attention to.  But these brief critical moments are baby steps along the way to busting open a real skeptical program. I’m ready to think like a criminal to help catch criminals.

Another missed opportunity came when Jeremy talked to the first 900 psychic, (who didn’t know he was with ABC) and she insisted that he call her back at the same time the next day, promising to “meditate for him” and take away “the evil” that she felt was around him. This was classic “get a hook in your victim” psychic strategy that speaks volumes about how these blood-sucking slime work to secure the most time/money from their prey.

Ever Wonder Where it All Started? Dan Aykroyd in 1978 as "Ray" the Telepsychic: Someone Was Watching...

I wasn’t too thrilled with the fact that I was once again referred to as a mere “ex-employee” of 900 lines much like when Penn referred to me as a “reformed con artist” in the “Bullshit” episode I did. Hey guys, I’m not just some disgruntled new-ager! It would have been nice for ABC to mention that I have done (and will continue to do) far more for critical thinking than just the negative associations people will be left with through quick glossed-over segments like this one. I suppose that’s the cross I have to bear. I’m waiting for the day when news makers like ABC, Penn, Randi and others in the greater skeptic community cut me some slack and see what really happened in my past and that I’m here to stay. I may not have a Ph.D., but the school of hard knocks I attended left me with an important story to tell. A quick perusal of my website would have yielded ABC’s writers information about the fact that when I was busy infilitrating psychic rackets, I was also passing along inside information on their techniques. Taped lectures I did at Cal Tech for Michael Shermer, skeptical and science television programming and working to promote critcal thinking while on the Editorial Board of “Skeptic” magazine since its inception were all available. I didn’t just fall off the skeptic truck.

So what’s next? I hope that the news producer and reporters who I worked with will keep me in mind for other assignments and eventually what starts as filler segments like this one grow in popularity to become featured parts of what goes on at ABC as real hard line investigative news.

It’s a long-shot, but the only pitches you really miss are the ones you don’t swing at.

A Sign of the Times... (answer to this puzzle next week)

7 Responses to “ABC News,Pt II”

  1. Susan Gerbic says:

    I loved the segment. You were given a lot more time than I thought, and the woo came out with egg on it’s face. Too bad they didn’t do something more contempary like psychic dicks.

  2. Alleracsum says:

    Of ALL the “victims” they could have put on the show they pick some vapid real estate agent for whom the ability to throw thousands of dollars away is just one more twisted status symbol. “Look at me folks. I’ve got so much money I can come on your program and laugh at myself.” The decision to use that person to represent the “victimized public” guaranteed that the piece would lack impact.

  3. gwen says:

    I did not see the piece, but I hope they make you a regular go-to guy, sort of like the Neil DeGrasse Tyson of psychic woo!

  4. MadScientist says:

    I guess Dan didn’t like sitting in front of a telephone all day and now sells Crystal Head Vodka instead. Any bets that Sylvia Browne will come up with imbibable spirits? Well, at least notionally imbibable – people tell me Crystal Head is nasty stuff.

    • Robo Sapien says:

      Sylvia is liable to croak at any time, her son Chris Dufresne will inherit her legacy, he has been well trained in dark woo arts by his evil mother. I’m guessing it will be psychic energy drinks.