An Open Letter to Dr. Phil: Get Real

Dr. Phil,

As a T.V. psychologist, your oft-repeated advice to viewers is "get real." But the content of your Jan. 10 show was anything but. Instead of taking your own advice, you gave an uncritical platform to phony 'psychics' who abuse people's emotions in order to fool them.

Self-proclaimed psychic mediums John Edward and Char Margolis have made their fortunes by using manipulative psychological tricks and other devious methods to pretend that they can communicate with people's deceased family members.

Skeptics, scientists, and professional magicians have explained over and over how phony mediums like Mr. Edward and Ms. Margolis perform their acts and take advantage of the bereaved. World-famous magician and demystifier James Randi has often been invited on such shows to help audiences understand what's really going on in these so-called 'psychic' readings. Yet on your show, you excluded the voices of reason and let deceit and superstition win the day.

The JREF has offered John Edward a prize of $1 million if he can demonstrate his claimed abilities under mutually agreed-upon scientific conditions and without cheating--but he refused. Mr. Edward has been caught cheating at his performances in the past.

Char Margolis recently appeared on WGN Morning News and "failed miserably" in the words of one anchor, clearly revealing the generic questions these 'psychic' fakes use to pry information out of their victims which they later take credit for.

When national media outlets give such a large platform to hucksters who make false promises and beguile the public, they are as much to blame for the public deception as the fake psychics themselves. I challenge you to provide your audience with more truthful information and advice in the future, and to start by inviting James Randi or another guest from our educational foundation onto your show to inform the public about the tricks used by fake 'psychics' like Mr. Edward and Ms. Margolis.

D.J. Grothe

President, James Randi Educational Foundation