Anderson Cooper posts a stupid poll

Why Anderson Cooper gave any airtime to that fraud John Edward is a mystery (oh, wait: gullibility sells!), but the poll is even further insult. Send him a message.

Do You Believe in Mediums?

Anderson, unlike his mother Gloria Vanderbilt, admits that he is a “skeptic” of John Edward’s abilities as a medium.

Our cameraman, George, admits that he, too, was a skeptic of channeling spirits. John Edward changed his mind, however, after a spontaneous — and surprisingly accurate — reading during a taping.

How about you? Do you believe mediums have the power to channel those who have passed?

No 72.9%

Yes 27.1%


  1. Qwerty says

    Mediums only have the power to channel the money of gullible people into their wallets or bank accounts.

  2. says

    I think John Edward needs to prove his claims, or face restitution to everyone he’s stolen money from, and lots a jail time.

  3. Randomfactor says

    A dwarf spiritualist escaped from prison. Headlines read “Small Medium at Large.”

  4. Aquaria says

    When they do this bullshit, they should have Derren Brown or other debunkers on at the same time. Always.

    Uri Geller was just about ruined after Johnny Carson got through with him.

  5. Beatrice, anormalement indécente says

    How the hell did I manage to read that question as Do you believe in Muslims?

  6. d cwilson says

    Cooper should have played that clip from South Park where they crowned Edward the “Biggest Douche in the Universe”.

  7. Blondin says

    Then there was the ironic tale of the clairvoyant who specialized in predicting disasters but failed to foresee his own death in a forest fire. The headline read: “Rare Medium Well-done”.

  8. Moggie says

    I have to restrain my inner pedant from insisting (wrongly) that it should be “media”.

  9. carolw says

    I signed up for the giveaway to win a reading from John Edward. If I win, I’m going to videotape it and [try to] debunk the shit out of him! Woo hoo!

  10. Kieran says

    @13 Don’t forget to poison the well, get friends to write lots of random false things about you and get them published as articles on the internet. Document everything, then look up everything on cold reading to screw with him.

  11. Matthew says

    “Are we still so stunned by circus tricks that we think the dead would want to talk to pricks like John Edward?”
    -Tim Minchin, ‘Storm’

    Apparently, yes, we are.

  12. tbp1 says

    John Edward is still alive? I hadn’t heard anything about him in years.

    And one thing I’ve never quite gotten: most of the best-known “psychics” have all the personal appeal and warmth of a bowl of week-old oatmeal (Edward, Sylvia Brown, van Praagh, etc.). You would think a con artist would have to have at least a bit of charm and personality, but apparently not.

  13. Louis says

    I knew you were going to make this post, PZ. My spirit guide told me.

    Also, bet on “Shelia’s Boy” for the 3:30 at Kempton Park. Each way if you’re feeling cowardly.


  14. says

    The basics of cold reading should be taught in elementary school, along with a pro (skeptic) demonstrating it. A good cold read can be pretty freaky — hence Cooper’s previously-skeptical cameraman being taken in by it — and really the only fullproof protection is to inoculate people against it before they see it claimed as something real, so that they understand what it is before they become emotionally invested in the claims.

  15. Nentuaby says

    ‘This skeptic was convinced! Are you too?’

    You know, even in the context of self-selected internet polls being total crap to start with… Leading the question that blatantly is feckin’ stupid.

  16. AussieMike says

    Another poll smashed

    Total Votes: 1625
    No – 1475 (90.8%)
    Yes – 150 (9.2%)

    I LOVE Poll day!

  17. Primewonk says

    Why did the guy slap the laughing fortune teller?

    His mom always told him to strike a happy medium.

  18. Nick Johnson says

    Lets stop catering to the gullible and start doing what they REALLY want us to do. Tell them what to think on critical issues.
    And here it is. Psychics, mediums, people who claim they hear the dead, etc; none of these are real.

  19. Sastra says

    Nentuaby #20 wrote:

    ‘This skeptic was convinced! Are you too?’

    Yeah — pretty blatant leading. And when noting the biased slant of the question, don’t forget to mention the “scare quotes” around “skeptic” — carefully placed so that folks know that Anderson Cooper isn’t really skeptical of Edwards abilities, he’s only “skeptical.” Plus, they offer an arbitrary positive role model of a believer: a famous mom. Cushions all around placed where you can fall on them.

    Some atheists complain that belief in God gets a special treatment from the media which you just don’t see with other supernatural or paranormal claims — beliefs which are obviously silly and open to general ridicule. Not so, from what I can tell. I think our culture tends to tiptoe delicately around any belief which is seen as “spiritual” and/or “heart-felt.” If they offer skepticism, they usually temper it with some extra sop to the believers, as if there was some special nobility, sensitivity, or credit to be given to accepting flimsy but comforting evidence.

  20. says

    There’s an annoying tendency lately to mistakenly think ” ” designates emphasis and not allegedness or the like. I wonder if that’s what they’re doing.

  21. George Martin says


    … we already knew that John Edwards ….

    Right. John Edwards is a douche of a politician. John Edward is the medium who is a douche. A nice coincidence in names, huh?

    George Martin

  22. otrame says

    Where was the “Not Only No but Hell No button?

    Cooper, you should be ashamed of yourself.

  23. fred says

    You need to update the poll results; at the moment of this typing, it’s 92.4% NO and 7.6% YES.

  24. jacobfromlost says

    People have a tendency to forget that an individual human (like themselves) has certain things in common that are on a VERY short list of possibilities. We also have a notoriously bad sense of probabilities, and a desire to see patterns even where there is no pattern (the “pattern” of the model we have in our minds of dead loved ones is still in our minds, and when someone suggests we connect that rather large pattern to random questions…voila! The dead speak).

    Does anyone think it is magical that someone who is skillful at “20 questions” can guess what you are thinking very accurately, often with far fewer than 20 questions? All the information is coming from YOU (you are answering “yes” or “no” either explicitly or implicitly), not the “psychic medium”, and that’s assuming the reading is indeed “cold” and information wasn’t gathered a priori. I seem to remember reports that staff people on Edward’s show would gather info on certain people in the audience before the show–asking to look at driver’s licenses and such, and many people who came to these things WANTING to believe they could contact dead loved ones simply ignore these things (I’m sure some excuse was giving, like “security reasons”), and the tv audience never knows about it so it looks really impressive… especially when the “I want to believe” person starts crying and declaring how accurate it is).

    Also, you leave people waiting in line to hear from dead relatives… maybe you put a few hidden cameras and a few hidden listening devices… what’s the chance that ANY of them may say something useful to reveal in a “reading”? Or useful to use in an internet search? I’d say it’s guaranteed.

  25. MacDuff says

    No: 92.3%
    Yes: 7.7%

    Also, the word the pollster is looking for at the end of the question is “died.” George Carlin once noted with some relief that he wouldn’t have to die, he’d “pass away.” And don’t get me started on how there’s nowhere to “pass on” to. My biggest fear is that some kid will call his parents and say “I passed” after a driver’s test, and one of them will be racked with worry that he was in a fatal crash and was only being reached because of “medium” superpowers.

  26. Suezboo says

    Oh yes, this con artist is still alive and kicking. He just had a big tour of SAfrica with packed out concert halls etc which we are now getting to see on TV.
    I don’t like the way the interviewer uses the Snake Oil guy’s framings “passed” “channel””medium” for a bunch of stupid parlour tricks.He deserves to be sued but the TV stations give him great, respectful coverage, including this interview.
    I voted.

  27. Louis says

    Pfff all you sceptics! I knew this poll would be reversed the minute I saw it posted here. I’d consulted the entrails of a chicken.

    Also, the 3:30 at Kempton Park paid off. I am now suggesting “Lucky Jim” for the 2:00 at Yeovil.


    P.S. This mediuming is easy. Although I’m more of a large.

  28. tushcloots says

    Andrew Bowers says:
    17 October 2011 at 5:40 pm

    Everyone should sign up to win a free reading with this idiot. I think it would be hilarious to pretend he’s gotten some hits with his bullshit, act like you’ve been moved, and then start laughing in his face.

    I want to become overwhelmingly despondent and run away crying that I’m going to kill myself. Or sit there and keep asking, “Are you sure? Are you sure? I’m think I’m really going to kill myself, are you sure?”

    Or put a piece of paper in your pocket/purse, get him to ‘read’ it, then open it up and it says ‘What a fucking douche’

  29. Lyra says

    I firsts misread the poll title as “Do you believe in Muslims?” and was terribly confused.

  30. Ray Fowler says

    Pretty nifty how the question put the word ‘skeptic’ in scare quotes.

    Are you a “skeptic”, too?

  31. Herr Mann says

    I found out that if you click really quickly on the ‘VOTE’ button before the results load it counts the vote multiple votes, one each click. This is one easy poll to shift.

  32. andyo says

    Oh, Great Silver Fox, I am disappoint.


    When they do this bullshit, they should have Derren Brown or other debunkers on at the same time. Always.

    Uri Geller was just about ruined after Johnny Carson got through with him.

    But what happens when Uri Geller goes on TV alongside some British snarky comedians (and Tim Minchin)?

  33. Timothy (TRiG) says

    andyo, that video is blocked in Ireland. I expect it’s blocked everywhere outside the UK. I’ve heard of what happened, and I’d love to see it.


  34. says

    Just watched the gloria vanderbilt portion of this show, bastard actually had the balls to claim to channel Marilyn Monroe.

  35. andyo says

    I’m in the US and I can see it. Maybe it is blocked in Ireland and the UK, since they are the ones who get the show? If so, they usually have it on their website, but don’t know if you could find that particular video. Unfortunately youtube does some skynet recognition magic with the videos, and they can’t be uploaded by another account without the same copyright restrictions.

  36. skepacabra says

    shouldn’t we see the show before judging it. If Anderson is publicly calling himself a skeptic after filming the show, there’s a possibility he will smack him down like he did Andrew Wakefield, I’m just saying let’s give him a chance before assuming it will be a John Edward love fest that paints him in a positive light.

  37. Chris says

    My comment: “Sure I believe in mediums: paint, watercolours, papier-mache’, etc. Psychic frauds…not so much…well, not at ALL.

  38. says

    watched most of the show now, Anderson lobs a few softballs at Edwards which he bats away pretty easily, does heavily edited, prerecorded readings with Anderson and Gloria Vanderbilt, using well researched info on both of them, followed by an interview with john and Gloria where she gushes over Edwards for 20 minutes, then the rest of the show is readings for a completely unskeptical audience. There’s a small sprinkling of skepticism over it, but they spend far more time letting Edwards spew his bullshit.

  39. Birger Johansson says

    I believe mediums have the ability to channel stuff that passes through them… and the result is bad-smelling.

    — — — — — — — —

    Beatrice, anormalement indécente : I made the very same error!

  40. Otranreg says

    Anderson Cooper and John Edward.

    What an odd name distribution between the two. If it were up to me, I wouldn’t go for anything other than Anderson John and Cooper Edward.

  41. peterh says

    I’m confused by the time-stamp on some posts above: I’m looking at (not quite) 6 pm Eastern Time, and some with poll percentages different from what I just saw stamped 8 pm. When I voted, the results were 93% no, 7% yes.

  42. andyo says

    I can never tell what time it is in Pharynguland. I just look at the timestamps relative to each other.

  43. lofty says

    andyo says:

    I can never tell what time it is in Pharynguland. I just look at the timestamps relative to each other.

    Greenwich Mean Time or Universal Time.

  44. Slammo says

    And that douche Cooper’s website has no poll tracking. Just refresh and you can vote over and over.

    no- 12209
    yes- 700

  45. philby says

    From comments after the poll. Indeed why would we.

    I for one will continue to believe. While we as a race may not be able to agree on the name of the great power or entity that exists beyond us, we certainly must believe – otherwise, why would be attending mosque, temple, or chuch? We hope.

  46. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    Total Votes: 14446
    No – 13521 (93.6%)
    Yes – 925 (6.4%)

    The poll is well and truly pharyngulated.

  47. Jett Perrobone says

    Do you believe mediums have the power to channel those who have passed gas?

    John Edward: *closes eyes and rubs temples* “I’m getting a reading. Someone here in this elevator is thinking ‘I did it.’

    Cameraman George: *raises hand* “You got me.”

  48. Anat says

    I had a look at some of the comments over there. Apparently we such meanies and bullies for saying we don’t believe in the powers of Mr Edward. Why are we spoiling the fun with our skepticism?

  49. says

    Actually the problem is pre-pharyngulation…

    The poll still meant that roughly 1 out of 4 people think Edwards can talk to the dead and that the dead have nothing better to do than discuss utterly banal things.

    My most important questions are…

    How come he never comes up with someone called Kumar? Or Ponnuswamy? Or Lateesha? What about Ming? Mohammed? What? Is the afterlife filled with people with only christian names. I mean there are like two billion indians and chinese people… How come not one of them wants to talk to this guy?

  50. Timothy (TRiG) says

    Thanks, andyo. That seems to work. Can’t watch more than a couple of seconds right now, as I’m in work. But I’ll get to it later.


  51. says

    I’ve worked as a ‘Medium’ (tarot card readings) before. It’s amazing how easy it is to give an ‘accurate’ reading that will wow the client just by paying attention to what the client says both verbally and non-verbally. There are a couple people out there still convinced I am psychic even after I explained to them what I was actually doing.

    Which is why, in spite of it being decent money and occasionally entertaining, I quit doing it. The folks who knew it was all in good fun were alright, but the folks who genuinely believed and were throwing themselves into a hole because of it were making me lose my faith in humanity.

    And then there were the ones most actively prey on…

    I have sympathy for those who can’t process their grief and were desperate for anything regarding a beloved deceased, and I couldn’t live with myself bilking them.

  52. DLC says

    I only ever watched one John Edward scam session.
    It was all I could stand. He starts out by asking if anyone here knows anyone named John. (or Mike, or “begins with M” )
    It’s like asking if anyone ever wrote a sentence with the word “the” in it.
    He’s been debunked several times before, by people who’ve shown exactly how he does it, but yet he still keeps on scamming people.

    As for Uri Gellar : Johnny Carson and James Randi combined to debunk Gellar on national TV. I remember it, as I watched it happen live. It was one of my “gateway substances” that lead to Atheism.