A famous psychic is taken to task by a group of zombies. Image: Ganma Man/Flickr/CC BY

James Van Praagh says he is a professional psychic. He has made millions by claiming he has a direct line of communication with those who have passed on. However, when asked to prove his abilities to a crowd of skeptical zombies, Van Praagh came up short.

Zombies with signs

The group of zombies, who all happened to be members of the James Randi Educational Foundation, showed up at Van Praagh’s $100-a-person “spirit circle” to pick his brains — figuratively. The group showed up, not only in costume, but carrying signs with slogans like “Talk to us, we won’t bite,” and “Psychics do not talk to the dead.” The JREF is an organization dedicated to debunking paranormal scammers.

‘Taking advantage’

D. J. Grothe, president of the organization, told the Huffington Post:

“We’re not rabble rousing. This is a guy who is taking advantage of people’s grief. He’s not performing for entertainment, he’s claiming he’s giving messages from dead relatives. He gets people when they are at their lowest and sees them as his target market.”

The group has previously offered Van Praagh $1 million to prove his abilities under scientific conditions. The group’s latest coup was staged to corner the so-called psychic after he dodged their offer.

Shown the door

The video of their party-crashing has just been released to the public. In the video, the zombies at first find Van Praagh’s people receptive, then they are sent packing. Sadie Crabtree, JREF’s Communications Director, said:

“Van Praagh’s people seemed to know who we were. They told us they’d get someone to come talk to us, but then they just had us removed by security, so we didn’t get any face time with Van Praagh.”

A successful psychic

Van Praagh’s website shows an array of books, DVDs, audio CDs, international tours, online courses and a whole cadre of media from the clairvoyant one. None of these come cheap, and they are all hawked by the same smiling studio portrait of Van Praagh. Clearly, this is a man who has built a considerable financial empire on either his gift or his hokum.

‘Ethical deception?’

Grothe says that what separates Van Praagh from stage magicians is his claim that what he does is real; what Grothe calls “ethical deception.” By playing on human beings suffering real loss, Grothe says, Van Praagh keeps them from experiencing the natural stages of grief necessary to heal emotionally.

It doesn’t take Kreskin to predict that Van Praagh’s people have declined to comment.


Van Praagh on TV

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