Watch James Van Praagh Make Shit Up

The skeptics among us know that James Van Praagh is a con and a fraud. He’s one of those people who can “talk to dead people” who have “crossed over.” Just like John Edward.

It’s hard to convince believers that it’s all a game of cold reading, though, when their TV shows are edited down to 20 minutes from hours of taping.

But perhaps this clip will help. It’s a five-minute, unedited clip of Van Praagh on an Australian talk show getting guess after guess after guess wrong when talking to people who have lost their loved ones.

Notice the following in just the first part:

At 0:40, he asks a lady if her deceased relative took medicine. (An old person taking medicine?! Never.) He follows up by asking about arthritis, back problems, and legs… common problems for the elderly. (The lady says no to everything, which is pretty amusing.)

Van Praagh then asks the (white, presumably Christian) woman if the mother was buried. As if that’s breaking news. After getting confirmation, he goes on to say, “… cause she’s talking about getting buried and about a wake or a funeral…”

*facepalm*

Right after that, he asks for a Catherine/Cathy (also common names). No luck. Another lady offers the name “Katie” and he runs with it as if that’s what he meant to say.

Those are just the first couple minutes.

How anyone could be so gullible as to be taken in by this?

Because they’re saddened by the loss of their loved ones. They missed their deceased relatives. And they’re willing to believe what a con man says.

Still, it’s dishonest and Van Praagh doesn’t give a damn that he’s making all this up and toying with the audience’s emotions. It’s all just a game for him — one in which he makes a lot of money off of his victims.

(via Cynical-C Blog)

  • http://www.oldrectoryland.com Samizdat

    Tune in to the other side? Well, actually, yes I *will*, if this is the crap your programme’s showing…

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    What these people do is nothing less than evil. I have a difficult time accepting this as “protected speech”.

  • http://criticallyskeptic.blogspot.com Kevin

    Horrible cold reading.

  • littlejohn

    I see some trees and a body of water. And a name – does it begin with a J or an M? Pain the the chest or abdominal region… Anybody could do this crap, assuming they have no conscience.

  • Mike-El

    Wow, he actually divined that a widow kept some of her husband’s possessions, that she moved some of his pictures around after his death, and that she used to share a couch with him! AMAZING!

    And he totally got the cigarettes thing from her voice.

  • Bob

    Back in the 1980′s, I belonged to the Bay Area Skeptics, and one of our members (Bob Steiner) went on a morning talk show along with several ‘psychics.’ The biggest laugh was that psychic Sylvia Browne had to cancel due to an unforseen scheduling conflict.

    Then there was the guy who practically ran the whole alphabet trying to divine a name. “I get the feeling the name begins with a D or a B, perhaps a P, T, or something that sounds like that … a G, a C maybe …”

    And the sweet old lady who didn’t realize she was providing feedback to the guy by nodding every time he got something right. (Steiner pointed it out after the guy’s cold read, and it was like the audience had neither noticed or thought it was odd).

  • Carlie

    My jaw actually dropped open when he told one woman she was married, she said no she wasn’t, and he said “I’m not surprised. You hate yourself.” Just…wow. What a jerk.

  • NoGodsNoMasters

    These people who prey on the emotions of innocents should be hung from the lamppost, if I ever met one of these evil fuckers I wouldn’t be able to hold myself back from strangling the cunt (please excuse the language, but again, these fuckers make me so angry

  • Bob

    @NoGodsNoMasters:

    Clearly, it can be argued that religion as a whole preys on the emotions of innocents.

    However, claims of the paranormal such as psychics like VanPragh and faith healers like John-of-God can be debunked – perhaps more effectively and directly than, say, believers pushing Jesus and His Magic Book.

    Do we take pains to distinguish the two? After all, we lie to our children about the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and Santa Claus. At what point do we hew to the truth and leave no room for a difference of belief?

    (IMHO, I’m with you – VanPragh and other ‘talking to the dead’ con-men need to be flogged and thrown in prison.)

  • Nitwit Nastik

    Wow !! When the cold reading fails, van pragh seems to have been offended..notice how he passes on the blame of not being able to get a correct reading onto the lady by saying …”I am not surprised. I want you to love yourself more” as if people who do not fall for his crap are self-haters !!

  • Bob

    Shorter VanPragh: “I’m sorry, your self-loathing is interfering with my ability to convince you that a departed friend is here in the room and has a message for you, but I can’t make out their name or their exact message.”

    Just another variation of the shy powers/powers won’t work in front of skeptics excuse.

  • http://onestdv.blogspot.com OneSTDV

    Sorry, I have no sympathy for these people. If you actually believe this crap, you’ve got it coming.

    [According to Sylvia Browne's ex-husband, she espouses the same opinion.]

  • Tucker

    This is just disgusting. On a more amusing note, my mother is fabulous at cold reading; she does this with our friends sometimes just for fun. She, however, has the decency to then tell them she’s just fucking with them. Unfortunately, she also truly believes that she’s been visited by ghosts and that these “psychics” are genuine, despite her own talent at performing their job with no psychic ability whatsoever.

  • fritzy

    Damn, I think I could do a better job than this shlub. If I was a sociopath with no concern for those whom I was “reading.”

  • http://skeptico.blogs.com/skeptico/ Skeptico

    You can play John Edward / James van Praagh Bingo with that clip – he hit three squares in the first three minutes.

  • Snap

    Bob

    At least Santa actually brought me REAL stuff! And I don’t think he ever took any of my money either.

    :)

  • Bob

    @Snap:

    You could argue that Santa Claus serves two important purposes – teaching children that they are accountable for their actions, even when there’s ‘no one’ looking; and, as they discover the make-believe aspects, one of their first lessons in critical thinking and being able to evaluate evidence.

    Unfortunately, a lot of kids promptly graduate from Santa Claus and move right on to Jesus Christ, wherein the lessons we learn in evaluating evidence are suddenly disallowed.

  • J. Allen

    The show Leverage had a fun episode where they exposed a ‘psychic’, though the one they exposed was even trickier and would do background checks on his audience.

  • JulietEcho

    Holy crap that was awful. And I agree that it’s a cruel, cruel trick to play on grieving people. Reminds me of the South Park episode with Jon Edwards as the “Biggest Douche In the Universe” and Stan doing cold readings to prove that anyone can do it.

  • Hermetically Sealed

    All fraud should be illegal. All. Fraud.

  • Siamang

    He gets paid to play 20 questions?

    Jeeze. I work for a living.

  • Allison

    Epic fail….
    “Are you married?”
    “No”
    “I’m not surprised”

    what a jerk!

  • Kruppshin

    Anyone else notice Van Praagh bears a striking similarity to Ron Jeremy, though not nearly as entertaining or useful to society.

    Other than that, I have a sad suspicion Van Priik’s schtick works better in the States than Oz. The Oprah crowd would be fawning no matter how incompetent his act.

  • Ben

    Tune in to the other side? Well, actually, yes I *will*, if this is the crap your programme’s showing…

    It’s Australia’s version of “The View”, which only terribly bored stay-at-home mums would bother to watch. You know the sort of show: it has 2 minutes of content then a 3 minute “infomercial” for steam mops and exercise machines, then 2½ minutes of station ads for funeral insurance etc. I doubt it has any worthwhile content.

    As for this guy, it’s not fraud if you inform your audience (by way of a waiver) that it’s just “entertainment”. I assume the truth is hidden so far down in the fine print that most people who are likely to believe this crap go in still believing it.

  • Jen

    I want that lady in the white and gold shirt to hang out with me. We can make faces at stuff.

    My aunt visited a psychic, and I was entirely irritated with the whole thing when she told me. So, he knew your father was in WWII? Well, you are almost 60. He saw his best friend die? Well, we have no real reason to think that, but I am sure he saw someone die. He was in a war. Your parents are happy and young and dancing in heaven? Well, sure, I would hope they aren’t in their 80s in the afterlife. That would be awful. All cold reading garbage. Any cruel person could say that.

  • Citizen Z

    Van Praagh then asks the (white, presumably Christian) woman if the mother was buried. As if that’s breaking news. After getting confirmation, he goes on to say, “… cause she’s talking about getting buried and about a wake or a funeral…”

    “Actually she was buried alive in an earthquake.”

  • http://philosophicalzombie.net Carl

    Unbelievable. Here’s a review I wrote of a similar show I attended a few years back in New Zealand. Same old tricks and excuses, although she was a much more pleasant person than this Van Praagh prick seems to be.

    http://clicky.me/mediumbs

  • Carol B

    When the guy was fishing to the woman whose husband had died, and said someone named Paula (her friend) had helped him when he died, or was with him, or something (desperation entering into his voice), and she was saying no, no, no …. I’m surprised the shumuck didn’t throw out something like “Well, you clearly didn’t know the whole story about them, did you?” or “Ah yes, he was thinking about her all the time, that was it.” Hurtful schmuck.

    How do you think he sleeps at night? Do you think he feels contempt for the people who believe him? Or shame/embarrassment for his behavior? Or a feeling of satisfaction for a job well done, because he actually believes his shtick, or because he doesn’t care how he treats people?

  • joe

    If this guy is actually contacting your dead relatives…they must be in hell. How else could you explain them having to play charades with these idiots all day.

  • dee

    Very surprised, i’ve seen him much better than this… there are much better mediums in the world trust me

  • Keat Elite

    I have been fortunate enough to be able to pursue higher education. Moreover, my passionate curiosity and consistent discussion and debate with other reasonable and thought provoking friends with intellectual endeavors propagated my rational mentality. These influences and others inevitably led me to the understand both how to discern and analyze information free of propaganda or conflict of observational facts. In short, be truly reasonable. I am wrong often…and when presented with evidence more in accordance to the facts, I discard my prior position and adopt the more correct explanation despite the discomfort of change or hurt ego.
    Now, it should be obvious I am an atheist. Its not personal…thats the whole point.
    Recently, my father passed suddenly. Which left my mother bewildered and mentally fragile. The only way she could cope was to begin seeking answers. She started to read more…finally.
    None other than our friend, Van praagh..and other mediums like him. Initially, the acute relieve seemed to justify the pious fraud as a practical step toward regaining quality of life. As it progressed, I innocuously injected statements of caution to her as well as primary critics everyone should utilize. Nevertheless, it slipped into slope of indoctrination… NOW she is travel considerable distance to go see this circus act, and on the day of what would of been my father’s first B-day following his death.
    The past 2 days, I have stood the ground of skeptic…simply asking questions after each completely self fulfilling, contradiction I was told. I was unsuccessful. I am truly CONCERNED. This business and show man has a degree in communhcation and broadcasting and was in the seminary. no masters. no research, no answers for those who pose questions of doubt except more convoluted statements to justify the depravity. He is the proprietor of a cult….setting up franchises. like Friedman posited…the world really is going to be flat again if this societal trend continues addressed.. hence this essay…

  • Keat Elite

    I have been fortunate enough to be able to pursue higher education. Moreover, my passionate curiosity and consistent discussion and debate with other reasonable and thought provoking friends with intellectual endeavors propagated my rational mentality. These influences and others inevitably led me to the understand both how to discern and analyze information free of propaganda or conflict of observational facts. In short, be truly reasonable. I am wrong often…and when presented with evidence more in accordance to the facts, I discard my prior position and adopt the more correct explanation despite the discomfort of change or hurt ego.
    Now, it should be obvious I am an atheist. Its not personal…thats the whole point.
    Recently, my father passed suddenly. Which left my mother bewildered and mentally fragile. The only way she could cope was to begin seeking answers. She started to read more…finally.
    None other than our friend, Van praagh..and other mediums like him. Initially, the acute relieve seemed to justify the pious fraud as a practical step toward regaining quality of life. As it progressed, I innocuously injected statements of caution to her as well as primary critics everyone should utilize. Nevertheless, it slipped into slope of indoctrination… NOW she is travel considerable distance to go see this circus act, and on the day of what would of been my father’s first B-day following his death.
    The past 2 days, I have stood the ground of skeptic…simply asking questions after each completely self fulfilling, contradiction I was told. I was unsuccessful. I am truly CONCERNED. This business and show man has a degree in communhcation and broadcasting and was in the seminary. no masters. no research, no answers for those who pose questions of doubt except more convoluted statements to justify the depravity. He is the proprietor of a cult….setting up franchises. like Friedman posited…the world really is going to be flat again if this societal trend continues addressed.. hence this essay…

  • Extremeroomdesign

    Hahahaha… Im glad I saw this my dad wanted to contact this fraud and this will be perfect to show him.

  • Jeraya619

    I think those ladies dont understand lol do they even understand english

  • cassandra trudzik

    you know with that many people sitting in a room its hard to pick on person, and different objects can mean different things, they dont see life story written in front of them when reading someone.

    plus, James has been PROVEN to be a Medium in UofC, they did multiple tests which no one knew eachother first time meeting was IN THE ROOM. he passed with flying colors, why? cause there was one person in the room not over 3.

    My cousin went to see him, and she just answered yes or no questions, giving no information. and he mentioned our whole family and it made her cry because he was right on every date, and every drug addtiction, and every death, and every ones names. she believed in him which made her mind more open to him reading her. those ladies seem like Richy snobs to me that believed no one but the LORD himself.

    you all can hate, but my cousin has the recording from there reading.
    AND ALSO if you like Theresa Caputo she adores James, and she even says NO MEDIUM IS BETTER THEN THE OTHER, THEY ALL HAVE DIFFERENT WAYS OF READING.

  • chant_du_Juste

    That proves only that he doesn’t make cold reading at all, right… This man is an absolute medium without any fraud, that includes no 100% garanties and he doesn’t pretend it (do you accuse a doctor who made mistakes that he is a con? nope, he’s not perfect that’s all), but you see what you’d like to see. Someday you will recognise the real deceivers from the honnest people with uncommon abilities.


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