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Bloviating Zeppelin: Off The Map

Bloviating Zeppelin

(in-ep-toc'-ra-cy) - a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Off The Map

This post is highly unusual for me; it has broached and addressed issues I'd either purposely not wanted to deal with, or merely treated prior with indifference.

I had occasion on Saturday to watch a number of John Edward Cross Country programs.

For those not familiar, John Edward (John Edward McGee) is a medium of sorts who happens to perform public "readings" for an audience on television. He will receive vibes or clues or signals, and then focuses in on a specific person or persons and barrages them with various questions as he narrows down the situation. He provides himself as a conduit of sorts between the living and the dead.

At first blush he appears to be a second milennium version of a cheap parlor trick, whereupon he is attempting to "outguess" or "suss out" the true circumstances of those he has targeted. In other words, he provides persons he chooses with revealing information about their loved ones who have died.

His "targets," his "marks" then release more information for him to use and/or manipulate and, with that, he manages to focus even more closely on individual or family issues. John Edward is nothing if not astoundingly intelligent, extremely sensitive with regard to persons' emotions, and possessed of a human radar for truth and fabrication second to none. I would want him, for example, as the ultimate instructor for my Interview & Interrogation classes. He is more attuned to the human mind and its workings than most anyone I've ever seen -- Good guy or Bad guy. He would put the incisive abilities of Hannibal Lecter to shame.

To say that I am extremely skeptical of such a thing in general is to be very kind. In today's environment, there are numerous technological advantages to be enjoyed by such a man as Edward, as opposed to the time of, say, Harry Houdini -- who discovered most all if not all of the secrets held by those who offered themselves as "mediums." Houdini lived to debunk the mediums of his time -- until the passing of his mother, whereupon he seemed to make a complete 180.

As an aside, an excellent book I am currently reading is "The Secret Life of HOUDINI: The Making of America's First Superhero" by William Kalush and Larry Sloman.

This is not to say that those credited with supernatural or unusual powers are not unique individuals unto themselves. Only after his passing was it realized that, for example, Harry Houdini was a remarkably physical specimen of a human being, able to twist, turn, contort, unhinge and dislocate various joints and then replace them when it suited. He had and exhibited not only a physical genius, but a mental genius as well, coupled with the ability to portray himself as a likeable character on a one-on-one and a larger scale. He was all showman and manipulator.

Is this John Edward the same kind of person, albeit circa 2007? I wonder.

He performs nothing physically, so we may eliminate that challenge. He must therefore rely upon his emotive, empathetic and likeability scale. I suggest it is no small thing that the bulk of his audience consists of women.

Like any good businessman or woman, one must know one's target audience; I would also suggest that Edward has his scope firmly and most specifically set.

And then further I would ask: who attends a John Edward show, and what is their inherent proclivity? Is his audience comprised primarily of skeptics? Or does it consist of those who wish, somehow, if but for a moment, for a connection between themselves and their loved ones who have, under a myriad of circumstances, passed this mortal plane? Of women? Whose seeming Job One is to believe, to believe him in the first place -- because they oh-so-want-to?

How much easier does that make one's "conduit" task from the get-go?

I submit: so much easier.

Penn & Teller, in their very first Showtime program entitled Penn & Teller's Bullshit, targeted Edward and others in terms of "talking to the dead," and indicated their fecundity lies in what is termed "cold reading."

Oddly enough, Edward will provide "private" readings, though only when his current list is exhausted. His website makes no mention of cost or place. I might think that a private reading would run to the five-figures. But this is apparently a well-kept secret. You pays your money, and you takes your chances.

And strangely, you can also purchase "appreciation pins," books and journals from his website. An "appreciation pin" is $7.00; a bookmark is $3.00; his Crossing Over book is $13.00. Other books are $10.00 and $29.00.

A marketer? Clearly. He seems to have most venues covered: radio, television, books and, of course, his website.

And yet, when I watched his show, he seemed all at once prescient, fallible, human, connected, insightful, concerned, in control and command, driven and, also, subject to the prairie winds of The Dead.

Who is he? What is he?

After watching, I honestly do not know. There is that kernel, that small kernel . . .



Blogger TexasFred said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Sat Oct 20, 10:30:00 PM PDT  
Blogger TexasFred said...

Is there ANY eloquent way to say 'bullshit artist'??

I have watched him, and many others like him, I have seen so-called 'faith healers' at work and seen them proven to be that 'bullshit artist' I can't quite place an eloquent definition upon...

I have seen so-called exorcists, self proclaimed of course, and again, I am less than impressed and more than skeptical...

My 1st wife's Mom and Step Dad are those kind of people and quite frankly, I think they are talented show people and I am fully convinced that they engage in a form of 'mass hypnosis' in there effort to bilk the believers, the 'mark' if you will, they prefer to call them 'parishioners'...

"There's a sucker born every minute" is a phrase often credited to P.T. Barnum (1810 – 1891), an American showman but he didn't say it, not initially anyway...

The entire quote is "There's a sucker born every minute...and two to take 'em." The source of the quote is most likely famous con-man Joseph ("Paper Collar Joe") Bessimer. Barnum's fellow circus owner and arch-rival Adam Forepaugh attributed the quote to Barnum in a newspaper interview in an attempt to discredit him. However, Barnum never denied making the quote. It is said that he thanked Forepaugh for the free publicity he had given him.

There's a sucker born every minute

Regardless of WHO said it, it's true, and there will always be mediums, faith healers, ghost busters and other assorted 'snake oil salesmen' ready and willing to take the money of the weak minded and willing in their never ending search for the paranormal, the 'crossover' and of course, God...

Sat Oct 20, 10:36:00 PM PDT  
Blogger shoprat said...

I have seen amazing things but have never seen a legitimate psychic. I am not a total skeptic but I tend to say "prove it!".

I think magazines like The Skeptical Enquirer are equally over the top as they assume is nothing more than the matter, energy, time and physics.

I have seen miracles but have never met a miracle worker.

Sun Oct 21, 08:15:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Ranando said...

Ecclesiastes 9:5 (King James Version)

For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward.

With that said, I will tell you I have seen some strange things that I can't explain.

At our home in Newport Rhode Island something really strange happened and I saw it first hand. The house was built in 1791 and sits on 25 acres. Upstairs in one of the guest rooms my wife had this massive dresser put in. This dresser is so huge that it takes 4 men to move it just a few feet. To place it upstairs we had to have the window removed and a crane had to be used, once in place it was not going anywhere.

One evening our dog, Molly was barking and we couldn't find her. Her barking seemed to be coming from upstairs. I went up stairs and found her at the guest bedroom door, which was closed barking like I've never seen her before.

I opened the guest door and Holy-Shit, that dresser was in the middle of the room, a massive room, 20 or 25 feet from where it was placed.

How did it get there? I have no idea. I do know it took 4 of us to move it back.

Sun Oct 21, 08:50:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Three Score and Ten or more said...

I'm with Penn and Teller, but he is sharp.

Sun Oct 21, 06:17:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

3S10: yes, he is sharp; but moreover he proffers likeability and innocence and maturity and a feminine side that women wish to grasp at any cost.


Sun Oct 21, 07:08:00 PM PDT  

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