Real-deal “boy next door” medium? Or Hollywood hype?

Hollywood-Medium_Tyler_Henry-221x300Back 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? [1] 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.

Tyler is keeping up with the Kardashians

Tyler is keeping up with the Kardashians

TV psychics are just about the worst. They become celebrities in their own right for playing a role that has no basis in reality.

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.

 

  1. Beischel & Zingrone (2015). “Mental Mediumship” in Parapsychology: A Handbook for the 21st Century, Edited by Cardena, et al., 301-312.

 

  43 comments for “Real-deal “boy next door” medium? Or Hollywood hype?

  1. Susan Gerbic
    January 21, 2016 at 12:56 AM

    Way to go Sharon! Well said and on the button as usual.

  2. Tom
    January 21, 2016 at 1:17 AM

    Golden boy with feet of clay…………….
    After Geller and Randi proved that fooling people (including scientists) was fairly easy, I imagine the latest batch of physic frauds having closely studied past mistakes and have honed their skills to near perfection.
    This example will never willingly allow himself to be tripped up.

  3. One Eyed Jack
    January 21, 2016 at 9:57 AM

    This is E.

    ‘Nuff said.

  4. Tony
    January 21, 2016 at 12:34 PM

    Photo caption: “Wow, Tyler, you can psychically implant collagen and botox? Where do we sign up?!!”

  5. January 21, 2016 at 2:09 PM

    I was struck by the phrase “researchers actively testing and certifying mediums for experiments,” which implies that there can even be such a thing as “certifying” a medium. So I checked the link Sharon provided and found the Windbridge site which has the trappings of a scientific enterprise, albeit with plenty of disclaimers. Looking for local Arizona mediums, I found one Debra Martin who has achieved Windbridge’s “Level 5” certification (on a scale of 1 to 5…the highest).

    A quick glance, though, reveals all the bogosity one can imagine, e.g.,

    “Direct Connect to God Healings” and

    “Debra Martin Solves A Murder”

    This latter promotional blurb is particularly obnoxious because it presents the concept that it’s not really the police or the loved ones who wish to communicate with a murdered or otherwise deceased person…it’s TV producers!

    “Television producers frequently call upon Debra for her unique ability to connect with the deceased. Sometimes the media call to consult on for a missing persons case. Other times they want a scientific demonstration of mediumship. Then there was the time Debra solved a murder. A producer had arranged a mediumship session. The only information Debra received prior to the reading was that the client, Marita, wanted to connect with her deceased aunt. The information that came fourth [sic] was startling.”

    Now, here’s the good part. We hear that startling info came forth (or “fourth”) as Debra described the murderer…but there’s no connection made between that event and the actual arrest or confession. And really…Peru?

    “The murderer Debra described was arrested and confessed to murdering Marita’s Aunt. He is now serving 20 years in the Peru jail.”

    It’s almost like the two things happened completely independently. Debra gave her description to the TV producer and the police were off doing their thing apparently without Debra’s invaluable input. It turns out you have to buy Debra’s book to find out what happened.

    By the way. How did Debra achieve the lofty Level 5 certification? It turns out that “Levels are a measure of participation in the program; they are not a measure of accuracy or ability.” So, achieving high levels just means you “participate” more.

  6. Mike C.
    January 21, 2016 at 3:00 PM

    Maybe he can contact Sylvia Browne for tips.

  7. January 21, 2016 at 5:36 PM

    That assumes that people watching it can tell what TV shows and networks are credible or not. They can’t. Too many people are of the “If it’s on TV, it must be true” crowd.

  8. January 21, 2016 at 5:39 PM

    Beschel of the Windbridge Institute is one of the premier parapsychological researchers. It seems like many of them don’t really like what I have to say about their work. link to idoubtit.wordpress.com

    OTOH, I’d MUCH MUCH rather converse with them than with TV/celebrity psychics which I find far more repulsive.

  9. January 21, 2016 at 7:08 PM

    Calling someone a premier parapsych researcher seems a bit like dubbing someone “The world’s leading expert on what aliens do when they abduct a North American female” or “the world’s foremost authority on Bigfoot hypnotism” — though I suppose that someone has to get that dubious parapsychology honor>

  10. Sean A. Elliott
    January 21, 2016 at 9:17 PM

    I can hardly wait to miss this show!

  11. January 22, 2016 at 8:28 AM

    It’s still very active. Small but active. I would not agree that it’s equivalent AT ALL to pseudosciences like UFOlogy or Bigfootology. There is a HUGE gap between amateur ghost hunters and actual PhD parapsychologists. So, while I agree it’s a dead end field, and anomalistic psychology is the path of the future, I would not call this field dubious in that sense.

  12. January 22, 2016 at 11:31 AM

    I’m now inclined to pull back on my somewhat sardonic comparison of parapsychology research to Bigfootery on the basis that one can legitimately study what might be called “anomalies” or strange, seemingly unexplainable phenomena. But the emphasis should be on “seemingly” or “yet to be explained” rather than an appeal to some kind of paranormal “explanation.”

    Based on Sharon’s comment, I’m thinking that “parapsychology” might most reasonably be considered like “alt medicine” — that is, if it really worked, it would be “medicine,” while recognizing there’s still an important role for exploring alternative modalities that have yet to be understood or exploited. So if “parapsychology” means “let’s explore this strange and hitherto unexplained phenomenon”. . . good idea. But if the idea is “this idea cannot be explained” . . . well, then all we’ve done is create a “Psychology of the Attic” where we give up all hope and consign the behavior or phenomenon to the attic of para-woo.

  13. skeptictmac57
    January 22, 2016 at 3:02 PM

    This is the thread that runs through pretty much every kind of nonsense that skeptics are fighting against.
    The inability to discern credible sources of information is like a plague on society that seems to only be getting worse in the ‘information’ age…ironically.

  14. One Eyed Jack
    January 22, 2016 at 4:10 PM

    Yes, I completely agree.

    My point was that E has been running “Keeping up with the Kardashians” for nearly a decade. Science and skepticism aren’t high priorities for their core audience.

  15. Liam McDaid
    February 2, 2016 at 7:45 PM

    There once was The Soup, however.

  16. I Wanna Believe, But...
    February 2, 2016 at 9:29 PM

    Tyler Henry’s readings appear to be instructive, in that his celebrity “revelations” can immediately be Googled and checked against publicly-reported information. Of course Henry pretends as if he doesn’t know whom he is about to read, and that may well be true; but you can be sure the show’s producers, who set up these readings and camera staff, who made the financial arrangements (does ANYONE for a moment think these celebrities aren’t also significantly compensated for their appearances?), have done their homework and, more likely than not, briefed the medium beforehand. The Monica Potter interview is a good example — she came forward in the media about her father’s undiagnosed heart condition, and her family’s failed attempts to have him seen by a doctor, a year before Tyler Henry showed up at her house to intuit everything she’d already said. Pathetic …

  17. Susan Gerbic
    February 3, 2016 at 11:30 AM

    Thank you “I wanna believe” that makes my mind tick. As he is new on the airwaves, it might be easy to find all his show and then compare them with the links to where the staff “could” have known that information. A step-by-step breakdown of how he got those answers. But I’m wary as some of the other things that look like hits could also be found by information not on the Internet, but from someone talking to the person in the green room. Or just good cold reading. I need to think about it, but thanks for helping me think a new about this.

  18. Geoff
    February 9, 2016 at 10:41 AM

    I have a prediction: This guy is going to make ridiculous coin.

  19. Ron
    March 7, 2016 at 1:57 AM

    I have watched several of his shows. Most of what he says or states can be public knowledge. Anyone researching for a biography can find this info. Some of it is cold reading in that he is looking for the persons reaction. He also asks questions, not states facts. I am fasinated by these shows in how they edit them. The other thing I notice with Tyler is his expressions, and his catch phrases. I have used mediums/ psychics in the past. I know going in to wait for them to tell me, not me blabbering stuff. One I took off my ring before. She got thru guessing that i was single, asked if i was in relationship. I broke my rule and told her .i was in long distance relation (filipina) and she right away said to not trust them/ her. Lol umm too late but she didnt tell me we already married. So i ended it as fast, declining the many tbings she was trying to sell. Seems to Tyler has a lot of backup info and I dont buy he doesnt know these clelbrities. Unless he hasnt gone to grocery stores. Today was Tracy Gold, natalie neidhart. Of course tracys health troubles came up, and nats uncle owen who died in the ring. But nothing of the other family members that have died tragic hmmm

  20. Austin
    March 7, 2016 at 9:33 PM

    Agree

  21. Susan Gerbic
    March 10, 2016 at 10:17 PM

    Terrific analysis Ron.

    I wonder how they know if Tyler knows a celeb or not without asking him if he knows that person. Its hard to believe that he is unaware of all these people considering he is called the “Hollywood” medium. I don’t know who most of them are, but I do clearly remember Boy George and would recognize him right away. Not that Tyler would but still you would think he knows show the Kardasians are, doesn’t he go grocery shopping as you said?

    They say that he walks in blind to who he is reading (yeah right) but how do they know he won’t recognize the person? Don’t they have to ask him if he has ever watched (TV show) or say “Tyler do you know who the comedian Margaret Cho is?” You don’t? Okay, cause no reason, just asking. Then Tyler excuses himself to use the bathroom and does a quick Google search and learns enough to start with. Then finishes up with some cold-reading.

    I don’t know if this is how he does it, I’m just saying that it is one way, the easy way to do it. Why go to all that trouble to talk to dead people when Google is so much easier?

  22. tom jake
    March 18, 2016 at 11:58 PM

    Sharon, It would seem that not many people could fool U, because U can spot fraud. Now, would U explain to me how Tyler does it? Unless Tom Arnold is committing a fraud; how did he know? Why would he go out in the world to do good?
    What good is getting pieces of the beyond, that U don’t believe, would help humanity?
    Aren’t U a little intrigued, that this is possibly a wonderful reading like Nostradamus?
    Tell me how he does it; give me something I can’t see.
    It is easy to say it’s crap; prove it.

  23. March 19, 2016 at 12:41 PM

    The mechanisms of crap are pretty well known these days bUt devising controlled, blinded experiments to discover each new method of perpetrating psychic fraUd takes a lot of time and is UsUally not worth the effort since psychics and their charlatan ilk appear like flies at a picnic whenever there is grief or uncertainty to be exploited. Of course the NostradamUs nonsense has long been debUnked so Using that as an example of ‘wonderfUl reading’ is at best disingenUous.

    Whether someone is peforming their magic act for profit, entertainment or “hUumanitarian” pUrposes is beside the point.

  24. March 20, 2016 at 9:54 AM

    I don’t know where you get that from – that I can spot fraud. I play the odds most of the time – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Psychics have been tested for decades. They are most often found out to be blatant frauds or they fool themselves into thinking they have intuitive powers and this convinces the sitter who hears what she wants to hear and makes her own sense of it. It’s not really that hard to understand but people would rather believe something more mysterious.

    As JVeeds says, Nostradamus was nothing special, he just had great publicity. But there are two things I’d like to point out that you should seriously take to heart, Tom Jake:
    1. This is television. It’s edited. It’s not real life, it’s totally contrived. Do NOT consider what you see on TV as genuine. NOTHING on TV is genuine. Even the news has bias and editing.
    2. Learn to present a cogent argument and spell correctly. I simply can’t take U seriously if you U write like a 12 year old.

  25. JJ Lee
    March 20, 2016 at 2:39 PM

    Wow. I know nothing on this subject and was intrigued by Tyler’s “way” of talking to dead people and telling celeb’s futures. After I saw a few of his shows, I spoke to my 17 yr old son who has been proven to be extremely smart by psychiatrists, and just his face spoke a thousand words. “It’s for Entertainment purposes only” and pretty much said it’s bull crap. He said “Why doesn’t he go to scientists that the non-believers deem credible and see what happens?” He can’t because it will be proven he is a fake, just like Houdini. I want to believe just like everyone else. My Mom just passed and I would like to believe she is still living on somewhere and I will see her again. Please, someone… Prove him legit. I don’t have a million dollars, nor am I a celebrity, so therefore, I can’t speak with my Mom? Sickening. Anyone??

  26. March 20, 2016 at 4:24 PM

    This is why some call such psychics “grief vampires”. They prey on the pain and suffering of those who have lost a loved one and are desperate to believe they can speak to them again. Thus, they pony up money. It’s pretty awful. Many people can LEARN how to do this. There are several cases of skeptics who have learned how to convincingly fake it. But it’s unethical and it feels really bad to do so they quit. For those who don’t know they are just cold reading or good at guessing, it may seem like a very powerful skill. It’s not. It’s easy to do for people who so want to believe that they are open to any mumbo-jumbo.

  27. Susan Gerbic
    March 20, 2016 at 10:30 PM

    So Tom Jake, you want Sharon to PROVE that Tyler Henry is a fake? How about this. I was talking to my mother last night, and though she is dead many years she told me that Tyler Henry is a fake. My mother would never lie, so don’t even think of calling her a liar. She knows!

    Now this is where you tell me “prove it!” And I say, “no you prove I didn’t talk to my Mom” and that is where the problem lies.

    If you are going to go down that path then anyone can make up whatever they want, and just say, “you prove me wrong”. When it comes to extraordinary claims (communicating with the dead is one of them) then the burden of proof is with the person making the claim. NOT the person who is hearing about it.

    Thank you for thinking about this before you respond.

  28. Susan Gerbic
    March 20, 2016 at 10:37 PM

    Just on the off-chance anyone is interested here is an update I wrote about Tyler Henry.

    As JJ’s son stated, if he was real then why aren’t scientists interested. Why isn’t the CIA and the Russians fighting over him. As Mark Edward often says, if he could really do this then he would be the most powerful person in the world. We would not even know of him because the Govt (which ever got to him first) would have him hooked up to wires in a basement somewhere.

    Why would the FBI be trying to force Apple to break into a iPhone when they could just use Tyler Henry? Why are there so many missing people. People whose families would pay anything to know what happened to their loved one.

    link to csicop.org

    Seriously this is basic basic logic, I’m not sure how people manage to wake up in the morning, go to work and function if they really think that the dead can communicate with us. If that were possible I would spend all day, every day just sitting and talking to them. I would love to talk to my family, and the people before them and the people before them and so on.

  29. March 21, 2016 at 9:05 PM

    Sadly, it doesn’t matter that psychics don’t really find missing children — because they simply claim they did — not unlike certain obstreperous political candidates who simply rely on MSU (making stuff up). And eventually some psychic or other is going to get a hit on something (while not counting the misses, of course) and start hyping that.

  30. March 24, 2016 at 2:01 PM

    I’ve been peppered with comments from first-time visitors to the site. They obviously did not read the commenting policy. I don’t post rude and uninformed opinions, only comments that contribute something to the discussion. But, some deserve answers, not platforms. I answer one over on my other blog regarding the oft received quip “Science doesn’t know everything”:

    link to idoubtit.wordpress.com

  31. Norman Smith
    March 28, 2016 at 10:55 AM

    Boy next door? I don’t want him anywhere near me.

  32. Linda dann
    March 29, 2016 at 4:42 PM

    I’m confused. So much my head hurts. John Edwards now this young guy. What to believe. When your dead you are dead. Surely! 😱

  33. March 30, 2016 at 1:41 PM

    Please don’t call me Shirley. :>)

  34. Tony
    April 2, 2016 at 10:48 PM

    The “E” website ran a puff piece about Mr. Henry on March 25th with the ironic headline “Tyler Henry Admits He’s ”Skeptical” of Other Psychics: Watch the Surprising Hollywood Medium Clip!”

    link to eonline.com

  35. Susan Gerbic
    April 2, 2016 at 10:59 PM

    Tony I hadn’t seen this yet. Thank you. I’m working on a new article about him, and this might be useful.

    The really funny thing is that Tyler has been endorsed by John Edward and Chip Coffey which means that when Tyler goes down, then the other two will also. Because if you are psychic you can tell if someone is not, right?

  36. skeptictmac57
    April 3, 2016 at 9:23 AM

    Hah! Susan, you should know better than that by now 😉 .
    The catchall out for all ‘psychics’ is “It doesn’t work that way”. Whatever ‘way’ we skeptics try to challenge, they simply sidestep by some ad hoc explanation that excludes whatever we reasonably object to.
    Keep up your heroic efforts Susan you’re doing important work at GSOW.

  37. Tony
    April 3, 2016 at 11:46 AM

    You’re welcome, and to answer your question, right! Looking forward to reading the article. 😉

  38. scott maples
    April 4, 2016 at 1:22 AM

    He is claiming to be a medium not physic though. He pretends to talk to the dead not pretend to see the future.

  39. April 4, 2016 at 7:28 PM

    “Psychic” encompasses all anomalous ways of knowing that appear to transcend the physical and biological senses that we know of. Talking to the dead, mediumship, is one form of claimed psychic ability. There is also telepathy and precognition.

  40. Susan Gerbic
    April 4, 2016 at 8:54 PM

    I’ve watched the show, he does tell people their future

  41. Wayne
    April 5, 2016 at 12:30 AM

    My impression is he does not know who he is about to meet with but he has been given information from hired staff on the people. I say that because it all comes too quickly and is always of information publicly available. As others have pointed out, it is important to remember that you are watching a television program that has been planned and edited, that involves cameras and microphones and lighting and staff people on site only you never seen them. When The Long Island Medium walks up to someone at a gas station pump and starts reading what you are seeing must be a reinactment because if it were real time the person walked up to would be looking at the cameras and mikes and lights and staff and asking, ‘Who are all these people.” Likewise, when she walks into at home is has to have been prepared for televising. There are true psychics and mediums but they do not make a career of it, make money from it or seek celebrity. Alas, testing them would yield nothing. The ability can’t be tested. The medium has no more idea of what he or she is getting or why than anyone else. It is not a matter of a right or wrong answer but a matter of having a meaningful answer that is specific, simple and involves detail that is exactly correct and not public.

  42. Wayne
    April 5, 2016 at 12:51 AM

    Two more points. The people he is reading clearly are prepped for the visit. When he recently started a session with one he asked if she had objects for him to hold and she produced two photos. So she must have been told beforehand to have objects ready. And another. The impression is he is meeting people at their homes but these homes are all palatial and I am not sure they are the people’s homes. Also, the homes must be set up for camerawork but there is never a sign of cameras, microphones, lighting or production people as I point out above. We are watching television, not real life.

  43. hmcrabtree
    April 11, 2016 at 2:26 PM

    Absolutely. Someone groomer and primed to meet with already overexposed celebs. Nothing real about reality TV. If the Kardashians are taken in, that says enough for me to not only question its credibility, but realize it’s crap.

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