Anti-Science

Newsflash: Ghosts talk just like us!

I’m so excited. This year, Halloween is going to be scary-iffic. I mean, totally scarifying. Forget vampires and werewolves; hell, forget zombies, even. This year, we’re getting treated to the scariest thing of all — a brand new TV psychic!

Lifetime TV is television for women, so of course they focus on the things that are important to me (a woman), like movies-of-the-week starring Meredith Baxter Birney and Tori Spelling as a mother and daughter who bond over their respective kidnapping and rape. The network is branching out to include Lisa Williams, who appears to be a straight-talking Brit with punky hair and a fresh attitude, delivering you messages from your dear old dead Gram!

According to the preview on the Lifetime site, Williams answers the question we all want to know: what do the dead sound like? She says they sound just like you and me. How refreshing! Because other TV psy-pricks have led us to believe that the dead sound like a drunken frat kid with ADHD. Here’s a transcript from when John Edward appeared on Larry King Live back in 2003. I’ve added in my best guess as to what the person on “the other side” is saying.

CALLER: Yes. I’d like to make contact with my dad that passed away two years ago from cancer.

EDWARD: OK, stop right there. I can try to make that — you know, I’ll try to make a connection with you, but the first thing I have to say for everybody that’s watching, whenever you go see a psychic or a medium, the most important thing is not to divulge too much information because the more information that — the more information you provide, then what happens is, it’s less that the medium can actually use because now I know your dad’s passed and now I know he passed from cancer and I know he passed two years ago. So if he comes through, I could basically say to you, Oh, yes, your dad’s OK, and you’ll probably be very, very happy. But I really didn’t validate for you that your dad is there. So the first thing I’m going to tell you is I — I’m not connecting with your dad.

SPIRIT #1: I’VE HAD KIDS BEFORE, I’M A WOMAN, I HAVE ORGANS IN MY CHEST, AND MAYBE I DIED OF HEART FAILURE, WOOOO!

EDWARD: However, I don’t know if you have your mom who’s passed or if there’s another parental figure, like an older female who had crossed, who had congestive heart failure or who had problems with her chest. Do you know who that is?

CALLER: It could be my gran. My gran.

SPIRIT #1: I might be related to her dad, but maybe not!

EDWARD: Would that be on your dad’s side of the family, as well?

CALLER: I have two grans that have passed away, both mom and dad’s side.

SPIRIT #1: Let’s go with Dad, why not?

EDWARD: OK. I think I’m connected to the one that would be on your dad’s side of the family. And your dad would have…

CALLER: Yes, she passed away from a heart attack.

SPIRIT #1: Just like heart failure, whatever, ha ha! Hey, this is very important: my son’s brother is here. Paul!

SPIRIT #2: Hey.

EDWARD: OK. Your dad would be with also another male.

SPIRIT #1: I’m not the dad, I’m the grandmother, I thought. Wait, am I the dad now? Is dad like, the same as a grandmother? I forget.

EDWARD: So I don’t know if he has a brother figure, as well. Where’s the name Paul come in?

CALLER: We don’t have a Paul in the family, as far as I know.

SPIRIT #1: Shit, hold on . . . who is this guy, then?

SPIRIT #2: I told you, it’s Paul. Paaaauuuul. Wait . . . Pat. Yeah, Pat. No! Sorry, it’s actually Phil. Phil? That doesn’t sound right.

EDWARD: OK, well, I want you to remember this, OK? Connected to your dad’s side of the family — I could be off by the name, but I’m not going to be off by the initial. There’s a P name, like Paul. So there’s something…

CALLER: Peter.

SPIRIT #2: PETER! Sorry, sorry, that’s right. Oh, also I might not be his brother. Sorry.

EDWARD: Is that connected to your dad’s side of the family?

CALLER: Yes.

SPIRIT #2: See, I was close. Sorry about that, man, I just OH GOD, THE BOMBS, THE BOMBS! IT’S CHARLIE! Quick, hide in the mess tent!

EDWARD: OK, that’s their way of just validating to you that I’m on the right side. And also, there’s…

SPIRIT #2: Oh god, he stepped on a mine! MEDIC! MEDIC!

KING: What are they telling?

SPIRIT #2: (singing) Fighting soldiers from the sky, fearless men who jump and die, men who mean just what they say, The brave men of the Green Beret!

EDWARDS: Well — hold on. There’s also some type of reference — I don’t know if somebody had a military accident or if somebody had, like, an incident in the army. I don’t know what this is, but there’s, like — they were scarred for life or they had some type of event, something they had to live with as a result of something in the army. Is that your dad?

CALLER: It could be my dad. He lived through the Nazi era, and as did my grandfather. They were both German.

EDWARD: OK. And the…

SPIRITS #1 and #2: (goosestepping)

EDWARD: . . .

CALLER: Could that be relevant?

EDWARD: Absolutely because it would be their way . . .

SPIRITS #1 and #2: Death to the inferior races!

EDWARD: . . . just know your family is together. And most importantly, like I said, this is really tough. It’s a really, you know, quick type of session. But just know that they are together and they are OK.

SPIRIT #1: Thank you John, for allowing us to communicate the most important sentiments to our dearly lov…

SPIRIT #2: I LIKE BEER, woooooo hoo!

KING: Mt. Sterling — that was amazing. Mt. Sterling, Kentucky. Hello.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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7 Comments

  1. Oh no! I like beer too. Maybe I'm actually dead and just don't know it, like Bruce Willis. I can still remember my name though.

    Another possiblity is that none of the spirits are actually related to anybody, and they just like screwing around with people. Imagine, if you will, a goofy scieno-ish band of free ranging spirits (let's call them 'iotans') that are just basically bored teen-agers making prank phone calls … FROM BEYOND!

  2. I really felt like reading a script for a Saturday Night Life sketch… Even before adding the spirits comedy…

    And thinking that people will follow him no matter what….depressing…

  3. Hilarious, Rebecca. If only Edwards himself were as funny, I'd almost find him tolerable. I have two good friends, extremely intelligent people, who think he's really doing what he claims. I've learned not to argue with them about it, because their minds are made up.

  4. Baby boomers with parents or aunts/uncles or other relatives affected by WW-II – well I never. It's a pretty wide net to cast.

    Once he'd established the age of the callers. He did that rather deftly by asking about the grandmothers, when he realised they were both dead it's a reasonable assumption that the person speaking is in their late forties to fifties. Given the reputation of partying soldiers, the age range of the caller, his major problem was wrongly guessing the nationality of the parents. No doubt she had a surname that didn't suggest she was of German heritage, which threw him. Deduction repacked as the dead. There should be a law against it.

    (This post is intended for entertainment purposes only).

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