Skeptics call it a scam or a hoax. A typical "reading" begins with John coming up with a letter or a sound in someone's name that he is communicating with ("I'm getting a C or a K sound...did anyone have someone pass away with that sound in their name?"). Someone will then raise their hand and he will continue with leading questions, making many guesses (some of which are wrong), until he finally comes up with a description of the deceased. He then says that the deceased is with him right now and he/she sends their love.
Such techniques are identical with the technique of cold reading, one of the ways many demonstrated hoax psychics fool their clients and audiences. The show is also heavily edited, with a half-hour show taking up to six hours to tape, in which failed attempts are removed. Finally, it is also alleged that Edwards' staff collect information on people before a reading takes place - a technique termed "hot reading".
The show has attracted many believers, as evidenced by its popularity. In defense of John Edward, many believers point out unique things that he has said about dead people that they believe he could not have known unless he could in fact communicate with the deceased.
As well as his television show, Edward sells tickets for public readings, and has written several bestselling books on his work and how to develop "psychic" powers.
The television comedy '\'South Park'' devoted an episode to satirizing Edward.