Squaring the Strange Archives: Stiffed Waitresses and John Edward

by | Apr 25, 2018 | Benjamin Radford, Media Appearances, Psychics, Psychology, Skepticism, Squaring the Strange | 1 comment

In the latest in a series highlighting past episodes and archives of Squaring the Strange, here’s a look back at a show you might have missed:

While Pascual tends to his offspring, Ben and Celestia discuss a recent story about a waitress being allegedly stiffed due to her pride tattoo. They go through numerous similar stories, some hoaxed, and discuss whether this is becoming a modern-day folk tale. Faked stories undercut and blur real issues, and writing a story around a mere Facebook post has become a recurring journalistic failure. Pascual steps back in for our main topic, a lively discussion on “alleged psychic” John Edward, as Ben and Celestia recount what they observed at a live performance. We go through cold reading and pivoting techniques Edward used as well as how the audience eagerly does much of the work for him, making connections and turning obvious misses into hits. There are many layers to the topic: the psychology of why people are motivated to believe, what possible benefits and harms come along with this type of ad-hoc spiritualistic life coaching, and even the sense of power a psychic feels as they sway a person or a room. Celestia confesses to a moment in college where she pretended to have psychic powers, and what she learned from that.

You can hear it HERE. 


You can find more on me and my work with a search for “Benjamin Radford” (not “Ben Radford”) on Vimeo, and please check out my podcast Squaring the Strange! 

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