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Critics of Edward believe he performs the mentalist technique of cold reading. Choosing the first reading from a two hour tape of edited shows as a sample, magician and debunker James Randi found that just three of twenty three statements made by Edward were confirmed as correct by the audience member being read.
A 2001 Time article suggested that Edward used hot reading on Crossing Over. In another incident, Edward was said to have used foreknowledge to hot read in an interview on the television show Dateline. . . .
Another accusation has been that Edward's accuracy on television is inflated by the editing process. . . .
John Edward has denied ever using foreknowledge, cold or hot reading.
Shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks, Edward began filming at least one special in which he met with some relatives of the victims, with the intention of communicating with those who were killed. According to Edward's autobiography, he did not know that the producers had chosen the victims' families to appear on the show. The trade magazine Broadcasting & Cable sent a story, "'Psychic' Plans WTC Victims Show", on the daily subscription-fax sent to news media and TV-station executives on October 25, 2001. Steve Rosenberg, president of domestic television at Studios USA the company that distributes Edwards' program had tentatively scheduled the program(s) to air during the November sweeps period, but news of the taping sparked a national outcry. Both Sci Fi and the Crossing Over with John Edward production office were flooded with phone calls and e-mail, some expressing outrage at the exploitation of the national tragedy, others at what they perceived as extreme tastelessness in search of ratings. Rosenberg initially ignored the criticism, insisting the programming would go on as scheduled, but within hours terminated plans.