So a friend of mine (who is a good friend, that I care about) is going to see John Edwards this week. She knows I'm atheist and don't believe in the afterlife. She had told me about this several months ago when she got the tickets, and I did that lip twist thing that showed my displeasure, but I didn't say anything other than "well that should be interesting" or some such nonsense. Today she reminded me that she's going and that she's excited and I wanted to warn her about cold reading and what to watch for, but I kept my mouth shut because I didn't want it to come out wrong. And to be honest, she's not the sort of person who shoves her beliefs down people's throat and she respects the beliefs that I hold (or don't hold, I suppose), and I really don't care how she spends her money or what entertainment she gets out of this. What I do care about is her getting her hopes up that she's going to get to speak to her dead relatives. She's had a lot of death in her life the past couple of years and I know she's incredibly vulnerable right now. I don't want to patronize her or make her feel worse. So what can I say to her (in a non confrontational and gentle sort of way) that will alert her to the possibility that he might not be what he wants everyone to think he is?
It seems to me like the best way is just to be 100% honest. "Hey, I know that you're going to see John Edwards, and you're really excited about it. I just am afraid that you're going to be hurt. You know he might not be 100% legitimate, right? It's not that I want to spoil your fun. It's just that I care about you and want to know you're going in with both eyes open."
This is kinda my thought on it after reflection. I'm more of a "live and let live" person, so being confrontational with her isn't really something I'm comfortable with. If she were calling up psychic hot lines on a daily basis, I think I'd be a bit more in her face, but as it is, I think I'll just ask her how it was afterwards and then move on with life.
If you can find the old South Park episode where John Edwards was awarded the "Biggest Douche in the Universe" prize, Stan explains in pretty good detail what a cold reading is. Then, there's Penn Jillette's comments about him (not one kind word), and how he (Jillette) predicted that after 9/11, Edwards would try and do a show where he talked to the dead of the twin towers. Penn Jillette was right, and the networks cancelled the show due to how incredibly base, tasteless, and tacky it would be. The guy's a con and a shill of the worst order, preying on those who are grieving for fun and profit.
I'd forgotten about the South Park episode! I'll have to dig it up and rewatch!