Back in July, I caught wind of yet another psychic medium “reality” show in development. This one seems tailor-made for Hollywood. Or, should I say… “tyler-made”? The eight-episode hour-long series “follows 19-year-old “celebrity medium” Tyler Henry, as he balances his unique abilities with trying to be a regular teenager.” He’s 20 now. Still, wouldn’t you think you’d need to hone those skills a bit, being so young? Producers probably thought he could be the new and improved James Van Praagh.
The show, first called “Hollywood Teen Medium”, now just “Hollywood Medium” focusing on the good-looking, clean-cut kid with the nice smile, premiers on E! (Entertainment Channel) on January 24 at 10PM. And, the promotion machine is in full swing!
Tyler Henry seems to have appeared out of nowhere to wow celebs like the Kardashians (who seemed a bit too easily wowed by just shiny things). But that’s all we have from Tyler. He’s not shown the world what he says he can do. Susan Gerbic writing at Skeptical Inquirer online looked into this psychic newcomer to see what’s what. It isn’t any less icky than the usual psychic swill. It’s a good story about psychic awakening. He says he just wants to help people (don’t they all) including parents of suicides (that makes him, as Susan says “people who prey on families when they are the most desperate and vulnerable”). Some may argue that his kind of help during bereavement is actually beneficial. Others say he is just another (albeit innocent looking) “grief vampire” like the late and often mistaken Sylvia Browne or the several other psychics who get rich taking money from those who fervently believe psychics can talk to their lost loved ones.
Critical thinkers (which EVERYONE should be when it comes to such extraordinary claims) should question why Tyler is doing a TV show instead of what would seem to be a higher purpose of demonstrating his powers to scientists who could learn about life after death. There are even some mediumship researchers actively testing and certifying mediums for experiments. They would appreciate someone with genuine skills in order to demonstrate the reality of psi and further knowledge of consciousness and human potential. But, I’d bet there isn’t as much money and fame in that as with a nifty TV show and exposure to credulous celebs. Thursday, Tyler appears on the Dr. Phil show. He’s touting his appearance on his Facebook page saying it was “One of the most heartfelt readings I’ve ever done.” Yeah, well, Dr. Phil is a pushover. It’s hardly a “skill” to guess at celebrities lives and concerns and sound credible. So, how about a test where the medium is masked as to the identity of the target dead person and the intended sitter? How about the medium be blinded from sensory cueing? Or the reading scored by independent, blinded parties?  Oh I know, that is NO FUN. Science doesn’t work well for TV shows because it’s a long, careful, thoughtful process that weeds out garbage claims. That would not be good for E! They want you to believe, damn the facts that don’t support it! It’s entertainment!
Do we really need another psychic show like Hollywood Medium? No. The proliferation of craftily edited shows that convince viewers that these self-proclaimed psychics communicate with your dead relatives DOES, unfortunately, play into the fervent hopes of many people that this is genuine. It’s TV, it’s manufactured for an audience. Psychical researchers and skeptics have been pining for good evidence of psychic powers for 100 years and haven’t found any that convinces the scientific community. However, people so want so badly to believe that they just do. That’s simply not good for society, resulting in innocent but naive people getting swindled and taken for a depressing ride.
Today’s “just want to help” psychics like Tyler say that they aid people in the bereavement process, allowing them an easier acceptance and transition of their loved ones’ death. Or, do they ultimately make it harder, offering false hope and pretend messages from beyond that inhibit the natural grief and eventual acceptance process? Some people DON’T let go; they continue to attempt to speak to those they lost and suffer for it.
If these psychics REALLY want to help, they must show their claimed skills to scientists so we all might benefit some day, not just those who can pay hefty fees and grab a precious reading with you. It’s a safe bet they won’t go that noble route. Being a TV star is too good of a opportunity.
- Beischel & Zingrone (2015). “Mental Mediumship” in Parapsychology: A Handbook for the 21st Century, Edited by Cardena, et al., 301-312.