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CNN Larry King Live

Are Psychics for Real?

Aired December 28, 2005 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, can we really talk to the dead? Psychics versus skeptics who do you believe? With us some of America's best known psychics, James Van Praagh, who says he's clairvoyant that he feels and sees the emotions of the deceased; Sylvia Browne, she calls herself a psychic on a mission for God.
Char Margolis describes herself as a spiritual intuitive; and, in the skeptics corner, best-selling rabbi and author Shmuley Boteach and Dr. Bryan Farha who has written articles questioning whether Sylvia Browne's a quack. They're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening. Before we hear from our skeptics and get into it, we will include phone calls later. Let's go around with our psychics. Char, what is a psychic? What do you do that other people don't do?

CHAR MARGOLIS, CALLS HERSELF A SPIRITUAL INTUITIVE: Well, there's different ways of using your psychic ability. One way is to communicate with the spirit world and interpret the messages to their loved ones on the earth plane to prove that love never dies and that love is a bridge that connects us to the other side.

Then, the other way that I do this and I know they do this as well is that we go to that highest level of consciousness where there's a knowledge, an all knowing and we tap into it because there are answers and it's really not about predicting the future. It's about the choices we make along the way in life.

KING: What do you do James?

JAMES VAN PRAAGH, CLAIRSENTIENT: I'm known as a spiritual medium which means I'm someone who is sensitive to energies outside this dimension and I'm a survival evidence medium which means that I'm able to bring through evidential details such as names, places, events, information that only a spirit would know and the person that I've been reading with would know.

KING: So you have to believe there are spirits?

VAN PRAAGH: Oh, there are definitely spirits more than the physical body, Larry.

KING: Is this provable?

VAN PRAAGH: I think with a person having experience it's provable.

KING: But it's not provable scientifically. You couldn't go in a lab somewhere and prove it.

VAN PRAAGH: To a certain degree and it has been tested there are certain percentages of it that have been proven to a certain degree in percentage certainly but there are certain scientific methods which also have not been invented yet or come up with a method that they can actually measure something like this.

KING: Sylvia, what do you do?

SYLVIA BROWNE: I feel that I channel most of what I get from God. I really do believe that. I don't think anybody can ever discredit the fact that we are tubes. I just happen to be born with it.

KING: Why you?

BROWNE: I don't know. It's the same thing as...

KING: When you get this channeling what do you do? What do you mean by channeling?

BROWNE: Channeling means that I just am like an open tube. What goes on with Sylvia is entirely different from what I get. I mean Sylvia can have her own problems but there's a side of me that's like a tube in which it just comes through.

KING: In which you see things about people?

BROWNE: See things about and I'm like with the rest of them, I'm much more into the whole idea of God's goodness and the survival of the soul after death.

KING: But when you tell someone like who is Herbie and they tell you Herbie is my brother they already know that.


MARGOLIS: Can I tell you something?

KING: So what do you...

BROWNE: Yes, but if there's only...


BROWNE: But there's only one thing, you see. How would I know who Herbie was?

KING: I know but let's say you do but then I could say so what?

BROWNE: Yes, well the fact that...

KING: I know who Herbie is too.

BROWNE: That's right but how would I know? In other words -- in other words, I'm getting hold of Herbie.

KING: Obviously.

BROWNE: You know I'm getting a hold of Herbie.

MARGOLIS: It's really interesting you say that because that was my father's name and out of all the names in the world why would you bring that up? See to me...

KING: Because one of my best friends is named Herbie.

MARGOLIS: OK but he...

KING: It had nothing to do -- I didn't get a feeling.

MARGOLIS: But to me -- but to me that's a sign.

BROWNE: It's called synchronicity, yes.

MARGOLIS: That's a sign.

BROWNE: Yes. Yes.

MARGOLIS: And my goal in life is to teach people to listen to their own intuition and even though you think it's a coincidence I think it's more.

KING: Let's take our skeptics, Dr. Shmuley Boteach, best-selling author, his books include "The Psychic and the Rabbi." He'll be hosting a series "Shalom at Home" on the Learning Channel in 2006. All right, rabbi, what do you make of this?

RABBI SHMULEY BOTEACH, BEST-SELLING AUTHOR, SKEPTICAL ON PSYCHICS: You know, Larry, every single psychic medium who I have conversed with always offers the information along the lines of your grandfather forgives you for accidentally mowing him down with your Hummer. Well, that's nice but it's always the same.

I have yet to find a single psychic medium who can offer any information of any public utility or real personal usefulness. For example, where's Osama bin Laden? Why can't anyone on our panel tell us where Osama bin Laden is? I mean this guy killed 3,000 Americans. If they have the power to see and speak to the dead who are all knowing and omniscient, then it's almost criminal for them to withhold that information.

When is the next roadside bomb going to go off in Iraq and kill our soldiers? Tell us now because these are fathers and husbands and we don't want them to die. James, can you please tell us, share some of that information on this show right now where is Osama bin Laden?

VAN PRAAGH: Hasn't God told you yet? You're a man of God. So, I assume that you're in touch with God because you're a rabbi. Therefore, I'd assume you're in touch also and you get inspiration from God.

KING: You're answering him with a question. (INAUDIBLE) where is he?

BOTEACH: Do you know what rabbi means, James, James?

VAN PRAAGH: Well where is he? So, I can say to you I'm not given that information necessarily. Some people are. There are people -- and first I'm going to clarify something. A psychic medium it's not the same thing, a medium is a medium. A psychic is a psychic.

BROWNE: That's right.

VAN PRAAGH: A psychic medium, you know, it's the same thing.

KING: All right, it's redundant?

VAN PRAAGH: It's redundant in other words.

KING: Char, how would you answer it if you know where things are?


KING: Hold on a second doctor -- Char.


MARGOLIS: First of all, no one's asked me to try to help find him, so I don't know if I could.

KING: Well, I'm asking you.

MARGOLIS: You're asking me to -- well then if I were to do this I'd have to work with the United States government. I'd have to have people following through on these things.

KING: But you can tell people on the phone what they know about themselves. You can't (INAUDIBLE)?

MARGOLIS: But I need to, excuse me, connect with people connected to him so I can tune in to his energy.

KING: So if we got someone here...

MARGOLIS: You know what when I found...

KING: ...who is a relative of his you could...

MARGOLIS: When I found Dean Martin's son I didn't do it by myself. I picked up on things in the United States Air Force, followed through on it and between all of our minds together...

KING: You found out where the body was.

MARGOLIS: ...I found where the body was right.

KING: All right, Dr. Farha what's your complaint? I know you took on Sylvia in an article but what's your complaint about the overall concept here? FARHA: Well, first of all, let's put this in perspective here. Last year on the Montel Williams Show, Sylvia predicted that Osama bin Laden is dead. I don't know if Sylvia still thinks that or not but I'd sure like to know.

BROWNE: Yes, I do.

FARHA: My whole take on this is -- OK, very good, well we'll find out sometime Sylvia. We'll find out. Carl Sagan used to say that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. We've seen plenty of extraordinary claims but we haven't seen extraordinary evidence. That's my problem with (INAUDIBLE).

BROWNE: Well, I also predicted...

KING: Hold on, let him finish. Go ahead, do you want to finish Dr. Farha and then I'll have her respond?

FARHA: Well, I mean the evidence against Sylvia's evidence is really not good. Speaking of Montel Williams she predicted, I followed and tracked all of her predictions on Montel for 2005 and I'm finding her at about a 25 to 30 percent accuracy rate. Now, you might say that's not such a terrible accuracy rate for predictions. That may be true in the absence of a comparison group but I have a comparison group.

I happened to take the same predictive measures. I gave them to my niece's fourth grade class at Heritage Hall Elementary School in Oklahoma City, Ms. Warner's (ph) class and the fourth graders had a 50 percent accuracy rate and a group of working adults had an 80 percent accuracy on the same predictive measures, Larry.

KING: How logically, Sylvia, could anyone know, anyone know what's going to happen tomorrow? Logically, how could anyone know that?

BROWNE: Well, I don't think anybody really cares what's going to necessarily happen tomorrow.

KING: Oh, I do.

BROWNE: Unless they are afraid that something is going to happen tomorrow. I think what...

KING: But you do predict. How can you predict anything?

BROWNE: Well it's because if you ask me a question then I would know, do you see what I'm saying? If you said to me, for instance, tomorrow you get up or whatever but now if I saw that something was going to go wrong with your car or one of your children or something, you better believe...

KING: But how would you see that?

BROWNE: I don't know, Larry.

VAN PRAAGH: It's really an interesting point of view because we have to understand when we go into this we're talking about different dimensions here. We're talking about different laws and different dimensions. How can we apply three-dimensional laws to information that's a fourth or fifth dimension?

KING: But you can't prove -- you can't prove the dimension.

VAN PRAAGH: Well, let me just say to you we all know what the sense of knowing is. We all know that. Even skeptics have to say there is a sense of knowing they get. Sometimes they've had experiences. Two- thirds of Americans have had experiences where, telepathic experiences where they thought about someone. Five minutes later the phone rings and it's that person. This is a sense that every single person has experienced. Then they cannot negate that and they (INAUDIBLE).

KING: That's just a founding of a (INAUDIBLE).

VAN PRAAGH: But what is that? What is knowingness?

KING: I knew the founder of ESP, extra sensory perception.


KING: And I interviewed him. All he ever did was play with cards. He held up cards. He held them in front of them, asked the person to tell him what card.

BROWNE: Duke University, yes.

KING: Duke University. He had some people who got 50 out of 52 cards. It was in its infancy. It had not advanced beyond that. There were some people who could tell him what card he was holding, the simplest thing of all. Read my mind. Here's the card, right? That was as far as it got.

BROWNE: Larry, I would like to respond to what he said about my predictions. He hasn't seen my Friday show and he is absolutely wrong. I had gotten 50, I think 58 percent, so he's absolutely wrong.

KING: Let's get back -- I'll get back in a minute.

FARHA: Larry...

KING: Hold on, I'll come back in a minute. I don't want anyone to dominate but we are three against two and I'm trying to balance it. We'll be right back, your calls later, don't go away.


KING: By the way, the founder of ESP at Duke University was Dr. J.B. Rhine (ph). I had the honor of interviewing him on a few occasions. Now, Dr. Boteach, by the way Dr. Boteach's new book is "Face Your Fear," have you ever sat down with a psychic and had a reading?

BOTEACH: I've never had a reading, Larry, because you know as you say my book is called "Face Your Fear." I really believe that psychics are unfortunately preying on the most primal of all human fears.

KING: So but why not do a reading and see how they read you?

BOTEACH: Well, I'll tell you, the real question is who am I? Why would I care about a reading? I'm insignificant. A year ago this week...

KING: But what if someone sat down with you and told you the name of your cousin, told you the name of a guy that died last week, who your stepson was, what you think about this philosophy, who you voted for, told you 20 different things, wouldn't you be a little say there might be something here?

BOTEACH: Well...

KING: Rather than not doing it.

BOTEACH: Well, the first point is that they can do that right now on this show. I mean I challenge any of our psychics to give me any of that information, even the name of my grandfather would impress me at this point, unless you can Google me on the show.

But let me just tell you, Larry, that I mean I'm pretty insignificant. A year ago this week, Larry, 300,000 people were killed in a tsunami. Dr. James Van Praagh says to us that he feels energies. Do you realize how much energy it took to move trillions of gallons of water but not a single psychic felt that?

Hurricane Katrina, we didn't know if it was going to hit New Orleans, it was going to turn left or right or Hurricane Wilma. Do you know how much energy that is and not a single psychic felt it?

Why is it that only the smallest blips on the screen, the mother who died with a bit of a -- she was upset at you because you didn't visit her on her deathbed they can channel that but not something of real public usefulness. James Van Praagh says...

KING: That's a fair question (INAUDIBLE).

VAN PRAAGH: Let me correct him by saying first I'm not a doctor but thank you. I appreciate you calling me a doctor or referred to me as that.


VAN PRAAGH: Just because things cannot be proven scientifically in the scientific method or the way you choose it to be in your paradigm, your way of thinking, it doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

BROWNE: Exactly.

VAN PRAAGH: If that was the way it is germs, bacteria they wouldn't have existed if we didn't find them and prove them. Look at the planet Pluto. Pluto, we would not have known it existed until we discovered it. That does not mean it does not exist.

KING: What about his point about the tsunami? Why didn't you feel it? BROWNE: But I -- but I did predict a terrible, terrible hurricane and everything else that was going to hit.

BOTEACH: You know, Larry...

BROWNE: And in India and that is documented. If the other gentleman would have looked up my -- I said it was going to be.

VAN PRAAGH: (INAUDIBLE) I also said it's a way of thinking. It's a way of living. It's a way of knowing this. It's another language. So you can't again, he's applying three-dimensional laws, third dimensional laws into energy which is different.

KING: You're saying you're in a dimension that he doesn't know about?

BROWNE: That's right.

VAN PRAAGH: That we cannot apply three-dimensional laws to.

MARGOLIS: You know I agree with James. Just because you can't prove something it doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

BROWNE: You can't prove air.

MARGOLIS: But, rabbi, first of all Happy Hanukah.

BOTEACH: Happy Hanukah, Char.

MARGOLIS: Thank you. And, you know, it's interesting because I'm a Jewish woman and I believe and so -- all three of us are actually but he's a man and it's interesting because even in the Jewish faith just because you can't prove it...

BROWNE: There is mysticism.

MARGOLIS: doesn't mean it doesn't exist. You know how do you know that God exists? Now, I believe that during Passover the Angel of Death came and protected the Jewish boys from being slaughtered. Do you believe that? Do you believe there was a real angel?

BOTEACH: (INAUDIBLE). What you're really raising, Char, is a very legitimate question as to what separates a religious state from psychic power and here's the difference. You know James Van Praagh said before Shmuley, you're a rabbi. You could tell us what God says.

Religion doesn't claim to know anything about what God said unless it was given by a legitimate prophet, usually thousands of years ago. All a rabbi needs is someone who's committed to (INAUDIBLE).

MARGOLIS: OK, all right, OK.

BOTEACH: A rabbi is someone -- one second, one second. A rabbi is someone who is committed to leading a moral life. That's all. You don't need me to get to God but I need James Van Praagh to speak to my grandfather. You have to go through him. He's the only channel.

VAN PRAAGH: No but let me say -- let me just -- what we're saying to you, moral, you're moral but here you are sitting in judgment.


VAN PRAAGH: And you're a man of religion, so I find that a bit hypocritical and, you know, I don't understand why you're here judging us when you're a rabbi.

KING: All right.

BOTEACH: I'm not judging you. I'm not judging you. I'm judging your actions.

VAN PRAAGH: Certainly you are.

BOTEACH: I'm judging your actions.

KING: Dr. Farha why...

FARHA: Yes, Larry.

BOTEACH: James, James, you're telling people that they can only speak to their dead grandparents through you. That's quite a claim.

VAN PRAAGH: No I have never said that (INAUDIBLE).

KING: Dr. Farha, why aren't you open to the possibility of a dimension you don't know?

FARHA: Are you talking to me, Larry?

KING: Yes.

FARHA: I am open to that dimension. I'm open to the possibility. I'm not open to the idea that these people have proven it. They are backing away from the word proof, yet Sylvia on your program, said she has proven an afterlife. James' website says he has proven an afterlife. And, Char, in your opening today said she used the word prove. And so I'm having trouble with this, Larry.

But I got to ask you a question, Larry. Back to your friend Herbie, was your friend Herbie between age 15 and 19, say were you friends with him during that period?

KING: Sure, yes.

FARHA: You were, OK, because that's what I'm seeing. That's what I -- I have psychic impressions every now and then and that's what I'm seeing so I just want you to know I can do that a little bit myself.


BROWNE: If you have the psychic impressions then...

MARGOLIS: This is what I'm talking about.

BROWNE: Yes, that Char's been talking about. MARGOLIS: I believe everybody has intuition. Now, or did you go -- did you Google this and find out?


MARGOLIS: I mean are you being honest or are you just playing with us?

KING: I've never been (INAUDIBLE).

FARHA: Char, I'm being an honest as I can.


MARGOLIS: OK, OK but you know what it's not about predicting the future.

FARHA: What.

MARGOLIS: It's about the choices we make along the way in life and we all get instincts. We all get impressions. We're all guided in some way. We get -- wasn't there a time in your life where you really wanted something that looked great, maybe it was a business deal or a love affair but you had this gut feeling not to do it but on paper it looked so good you went and did it and it proved to be an upsetting situation?

FARHA: Sometimes it is about the future, Char, because Sylvia is going to go on Montel and predict for the whole year of 2006 so sometimes it is about predicting the future.

MARGOLIS: But that's OK. But you know what...

BROWNE: Can I please just say something Char?

MARGOLIS: She's able to...


MARGOLIS: things like that.

BROWNE: Why is it you have such a, pardon the expression, hard on for me? I mean what is it with you and I when we're both Jewish people and you know in...

FARHA: Sylvia here's what it is. You asked me. You lied to me on May 16th of 2003 on Larry's show and when I was a caller. I asked you why you keep promising to be tested by the James Randy Educational Foundation for...

BROWNE: Because it's -- no.

FARHA: ...your alleged psychic -- wait a minute, Sylvia. Sylvia, stop.

BROWNE: That's not (INAUDIBLE). FARHA: Sylvia, Sylvia you interrupted me three times that night on the program and I'd like to finish, please. I asked you why you did -- why you've been avoiding his test. You said Randy can't verify that he has the money. Randy and I both -- you said if I send you or Randy sends you verification of the money that you would take the test. You said that on Larry's show on May 16th.

KING: Yes, you did.

BROWNE: Yes, I did.

FARHA: Yes, you did Sylvia. Wait a minute, Sylvia, I'm not finished. So the next week Randy and I both sent you...

KING: You will be in a minute. I got to break doctor. What did you send her?

FARHA: We sent you, we sent you verification of the money, Sylvia and you refused the mail and returned it to sender, so I thought I'd show it to you tonight so that you can't avoid that any longer.

BROWNE: Oh, that's good.


FARHA: Did you see that Sylvia?

KING: Let me take a break.

FARHA: There's $1 million.

KING: OK, why wouldn't you...

FARHA: There's $1 million Sylvia.

KING: ...take him up on that offer? We'll tell him. We'll take a...


KING: OK, let's get a break and we'll come back. Calmness prevails. I see -- I see commercials. We'll be right back.


KING: OK, Sylvia Browne, in March of 2001, James Randy on this program offered you $1 million if you passed his psychic challenge, why not do it?

BROWNE: OK. Well first of all I agree with the whole fact of what Arbach (ph) says that there's a no win situation.

KING: Why?

BROWNE: You see. Well because you're not going to ever convince anyone. It's the same thing as what he did...

KING: But why didn't you take the test?

BROWNE: OK, let me tell you something about what Randy did. He ran away from the whole experiment in Bali when they actually knocked all these people down and he backtracked. It's all over the web. The other thing he did was when they really tried to do the German guy that came over, you know who it is, Zerbrowski (ph), no he said it was -- no, they changed everything.

KING: OK. What if...

BROWNE: So, why would I put myself in that situation?

KING: What if we did it on this show?

VAN PRAAGH: Larry, can I just jump in here for a second?

KING: What if we did it on this show with $1 million check sitting, you pass it, it's over?

VAN PRAAGH: Let me just say something. The skeptics (INAUDIBLE) use this thing about taking a test and proving it, the emphasis should be on them to prove it to us this is not real and I would say they always raise the bar.

KING: Oh, no, I don't think that. Why?

VAN PRAAGH: Oh, I think so. They got to change their tactics.

KING: You're making the claim. They're not making the claim. You're making the claim.

VAN PRAAGH: Prove that we're wrong though. Prove that we are wrong. The things we get people understand.

KING: You can't prove a negative.


MARGOLIS: You know what, you know what...

VAN PRAAGH: But we have evidential detail that come through for people.

MARGOLIS: to Sylvia's clients for the last...

VAN PRAAGH: That's right.

MARGOLIS: ...40 years. Talk to his clients.


MARGOLIS: Talk to my clients for the last 25 years.

VAN PRAAGH: Wait, excuse me, Char.

MARGOLIS: See the closure and the healing that goes on in this. (CROSSTALK)

BROWNE: Better yet spirituality.

VAN PRAAGH: Sit with us in a room objectively and have a reading with us and then you can...

MARGOLIS: And you know what with all due respect these skeptics would not be able to be on Larry King if we didn't exist.

VAN PRAAGH: That's right.

MARGOLIS: What would they do with their lives? How would their names be known?


FARHA: That's right, Char and I hope we go away. Larry, Larry...

MARGOLIS: No but you know what...

BROWNE: So do I.

KING: All right, let me get this, they're out of (INAUDIBLE) they're not here so it's not fair.


KING: Who wanted to talk, Dr. Farha was it you?

FARHA: Well, let me just say...


KING: Oh, both of you OK.

BOTEACH: Well, when James Van Praagh, well thank you Char, you said I wouldn't have a life without the Larry King show. I love you Larry but I got seven kids. I'm pretty busy.

You know what my problem with the psychics, James you asked me why I'm judging you, first of all I'm judging your actions. I have nothing against you personally.

VAN PRAAGH: You don't know me though. You don't know me.

BOTEACH: I invite you out to dinner at a nice kosher restaurant in New York the next time you're here. Let me just tell you...

VAN PRAAGH: You don't know me.

BOTEACH: My problem is, Larry, I feel that these psychics with all due respect are preying on people's vulnerability. You know you lose a loved one and you want to connect with them and the real message that I think a religious person would give to you is, look, your father's lost but instead of trying to speak to his spirit you can perpetuate his good deeds on this earth. You could make him immortal by living according to his values. I think that's a beautiful, moral and life affirming message.


BOTEACH: Wait, wait, one second, one second, James. Just one moment please. But the message, Larry that, you know, forget the fact that your father lived and stood for something and his life encapsulated some great ideal that you can perpetuate as his offspring, no, sit with me and only I can talk to you about what he's thinking in the afterlife. There's no way of proving it but only I can speak to you.

I feel it's the wrong message, Larry. We should not be interested in the world of the dead. This world has 24,000 kids who starve to death every single day. This world have people who have cancer, who have AIDS. We should be interested in this world. Psychics...

KING: He's got a point. Why do you care about your late grandfather?

VAN PRAAGH: Well, number one, if we can listen to them, number one it proves life after death. If that grandfather comes back and talks about how you should live a better life, what you need to do to make a better life, to get to heaven, sorry you may not believe in this but part of the work I do is to bring through evidential details and much of that is forgiveness. I have (INAUDIBLE) forgive someone.

I really take, you know, offense to him saying that I'm not helping people and it's hurting people because he's never met anybody that has helped me that's come to my book signing and said, "James, I was going to kill myself but I read your book and it changed me around. I've gotten to a spiritual -- I've become very spiritual."

KING: But do you think...

VAN PRAAGH: I want to say God but, Larry, wait let me just say this. God, I've seen God when I was a little boy. I saw whatever God is, whatever that loving energy is and for me not to use that work that God gives me, this gift, let's say it's a gift, how wrong would that be? Wouldn't that be a sin?

BROWNE: Well that would be the same that the rabbi is doing.

KING: How come, how come the departed...

VAN PRAAGH: Exactly.

KING: How come the departed are never critical?

VAN PRAAGH: They are critical.

BROWNE: They are.

VAN PRAAGH: They are critical.

KING: I never heard them say you were a bum when I knew you and you're still a bum. MARGOLIS: I want to say...

BROWNE: I have never found the people that have passed over on the other side in heaven that are critical. I've never found that to be true. I found them to be very loving, forgiving and what I take a problem with...


KING: So a man who was shot by someone would come back and visit the person who shot him?

MARGOLIS: No, there's different...

BROWNE: No, no, there's different layers. There's different layers of wrongdoing, yes.

MARGOLIS: (INAUDIBLE) but let me say something. What I do is not a religion and I...

BROWNE: What I do is.

MARGOLIS: But this is to me it's a spirituality and it's open to every religion to people -- some people...

KING: But it's not provable.

MARGOLIS: When they die they believe they see Christ. Some see...


MARGOLIS: Some see Allah. Some see Christ. Some see, you know, Buddha, whoever it is.

KING: And some see nothing.

MARGOLIS: Whatever it is.

BROWNE: I believe in all of them.

MARGOLIS: But why, rabbi, in the Jewish religion doesn't the soul live on?

BOTEACH: Of course it does, Char, but you and I don't have the...

MARGOLIS: Then where does it live?

BOTEACH: Let me just tell you the world of the souls is utterly immaterial for you and me. We have to -- we have to feed the hungry, clothe the naked. We have to cure disease.

MARGOLIS: Wait a minute.

BOTEACH: Why would I be interested in the slightest? My grandparents who lived they stood for something. They kept a tradition. They believed in hospitality. I can do all those things here. I don't need your message.

MARGOLIS: But do you know why we name people after each other in the Jewish religion?

BOTEACH: To give them immortal life on this earth, which is much holier than heaven.

BROWNE: That's right.

BOTEACH: Char, this is much more important than heaven. It's perfect. This world is flawed.


KING: All right, let me...


MARGOLIS: You know what I -- I, now wait a minute.

KING: I got to get a break. Hold it. It's my turn.


KING: I got to get a break. We'll come back and we'll get Dr. Farha to get a word in. We'll also include your phone calls. I'll reintroduce the panel. Don't go away.



KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. We'll go to your phone calls in a moment. Let's re-introduce the panel. In Los Angeles, Sylvia Browne, she describes herself as a psychic on a mission for God. No. 1 "New York Times" best-selling author, her newest is "Phenomenon: Everything you need to know about the paranormal."

James Van Praagh describes himself as a clairvoyant and a clairsentient. He says he clearly feels and sees the emotions and personalities of the deceased, the No. 1 "New York Times" best-selling author, co-executive producer of "The Ghost Whisperer."

Char Margolis describes herself as a spiritual intuitive. Author of "Life: a spiritual intuitive's collection of inspirational thoughts." In New York is Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, best-selling author. His books include "The psychic and the rabbi," a remarkable correspondence. And his newest book is "Face your fear." He'll be hosting a series, "Shalom at Home" on the "Learning Channel," TLC in 2006.

And in Oklahoma City is Dr. Bryan Farha, professor at Oklahoma City University, teaches a course titled "Science and Pseudoscience." He's a scientific and technical consultant to the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal. And among his many articles "Sylvia Browne: Psychic guru or quack?" I want to get Dr. Farha to get in a statement in before I go to the calls, because he was supposed to come on at the end. Dr. Farha, you want to add something?

FARHA: Yes, well, back to this thing about -- verifying this thing about communicating with the dead: that's my concern is how they verify it. Now I've heard Sylvia and some of the others say things like, "The lights are flickering on in your house. That's your dead grandfather trying to tell you that he loves you and that kind of thing."

Well that is a ridiculous kind of proof. I mean everybody's lights flicker in their house, practically. My lights flicker in my house over my dining room table, anyway. I guess that maybe it means one of my fat or obese relatives is trying to communicate to me.

KING: All right, you've made your point. Now, how do you respond to that?

BROWNE: OK, but what you're seeing is just maybe when I'm on Montel. But you're not on the phone with me when I'm doing a reading, when I can get more done. On T.V., as you well know, it's a fast fix. But when I'm on the phone with a person or sitting across from them, I go into much more detail.

VAN PRAAGH: Can I just say that a tactic of skeptics, which is evident right here, is that they will use one example like that, very general. What about the other examples? Like I did a reading for Florence Henderson the other day on "E.T. Insider" and her brother Joe came through and said she has a prayer card in her purse. And that was there since 1958. Does that mean -- yes, is that general? I don't think so.

FARHA: Well, Sylvia asked me...

KING: ... well, that's pretty amazing, isn't it?

BROWNE: You're not going to answer that?

FARHA: I'm sorry?

BROWNE: Go ahead.

KING: That's pretty amazing, isn't it? You got the prayer thing in the purse?

FARHA: But Larry, of what public utility, of what personal usefulness is that fact? The answer is, it's absolutely useless. All it does is establish his credentials.

KING: Rabbi, if I say to you right now, you are thinking of six elephants and that's true, let's say. You say, "You're right, I am thinking of six elephants." It has no relevance, except it is interesting. It is interesting. BOTEACH: Yes, but James Van Praagh doesn't claim to be an entertainer. He claims to be almost a therapist. He said he was helping people. And I accord him that respect. I take him seriously when he says that.

Of what usefulness is it to hear that he can tell me which credit cards are in my wallet? I mean, who cares? The fact is, Larry, we lose two or three American soldiers almost every day in Iraq. Can James tell us please when the next bomb is going to go off so that something really useful can be achieved? And these men can come home to their children?

VAN PRAAGH: I'd like to answer the question. He's layering on things. No. 1, it proves that the consciousness moves now. The consciousness is not limited to the physical body. That's a big proof. That we move on after death, that we're not limited to this physical body.

KING: All right, that's nice to know. Now what about Iraq?

VAN PRAAGH: But that's very important, because it doesn't account...

KING: ... but it's not more important than Iraq.

VAN PRAAGH: Well, if you can prove that there's life after death and what happens when you pass over, that there's accountability that we have for every one of our actions, that's a pretty big thing. And it will change your entire life, how you behave to other people, how you treat other people because you'll see, there's an accountability.

KING: Let me get to calls. Farmington Hills, Michigan, hello.

CALLER: Hello.


MARGOLIS: Hello Michigan.

CALLER: Hi there. I first of all want to thank James, Sylvia and Char for your courage in bringing forth this information. I believe your work speaks for itself and needs no defending.

And with that, James, I have a question for you. I take care of my mother who suffers with Alzheimer's. And there's no doubt in my mind that her spirit is definitely checking out at times. And what are your thoughts as to what is happening spiritually with this disease?

VAN PRAAGH: Well, very interesting with Alzheimer's. My dad also suffered part from that and dementia as well. And I found that the consciousness -- I was just talking about this. The consciousness of the soul is outside the body.

And in that situation, the spirit or the soul will go in and out of the body very often. And she can hear you. She can hear you all the time. So you can send her thoughts. Thoughts are real things, by the way. Thought is energy. So she can receive your thoughts.

KING: How do you know that medically?

VAN PRAAGH: I think it's been tested, Larry, that thoughts are real things. That thought is energy.

KING: That Alzheimer's people hear what you're saying? Do you believe that?

VAN PRAAGH: Oh, I've done thousands of readings and I write about it in my book.

KING: People in a coma?

BROWNE: Oh, absolutely.

VAN PRAAGH: My dad said it me. My dead was on a death bed and he spoke to me that no one knew about. That he had another brother he didn't know about.

KING: Rabbi, that should make you feel good, shouldn't it? Rabbi?

BOTEACH: Well, Larry, wait a second. My answer to that question would be that you have a moral obligation as a daughter to love your mother, to honor her, not to see her as someone who is mentally absent.

But who is spiritually present because she was -- she was the one who clothed when it was cold and fed you when she was hungry. I mean -- the whole question of what is your soul doing has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that she is still with you.

And I find it's almost an immoral question to ask -- we're treating her like she's half dead already and she's not. People who suffer from Alzheimer's are fully alive, they're fully human. They as human as you and me, Larry. Because our humanity does not depend on our I.Q. quotient. Our humanity de[ends on our ability to still accept love and receive love and give love. Her mother can still do that.

VAN PRAAGH: I agree.

KING: Char and Sylvia.

MARGOLIS: I agree with you, Rabbi. And to answer way back, I do believe life is a school and we're here to learn. And it is about living this life to the fullest and doing the best we can so that when we do pass over, we judge ourselves in God's eyes.

And so that we live the fullest best life so we live with a clear conscience. And that's what it's about. Life is a school, we're here to learn. And we keep learning when we go to the other side.

KING: How do you know?

BROWNE: Wait a minute, Char.

MARGOLIS: Can I just say one thing? Thoughts have power. Thoughts create reality.

BROWNE: You know, Rabbi, I don't see what you're doing any different than what we're doing. You give, hopefully you give hope, you give help, hopefully do you this. If I were coming to you in a state of distress, would you not counsel me?

BOTEACH: Well...

BROWNE: ... would you not counsel me?

BOTEACH: Of course I would, Sylvia.

BROWNE: Well then are you taking advantage of me?

BOTEACH: No, because I'm not claiming to any power that I don't have. And secondly...

BROWNE: But you're a rabbi. You have religious beliefs.

BOTEACH: Sylvia, let me answer your question.

BROWNE: Don't keep talking over me, Rabbi because that's not kind, that's not even kind to a woman. Why would you not think that we cannot give solace and proof and all of this goodness from God that you're doing? What is so different about that? Just because we have a little bit of a dimensional thing in which we say that we can talk to someone? Why is that any different?

BOTEACH: First of all, if I spoke over you, I apologize. I happen to like you very much. You once did my radio show. I think all three of you are extremely special people. I just disagree with the things you do.

BROWNE: No, but you don't seem to be that way. You're very confrontational.

BOTEACH: Sylvia, let me ask you. Well I apologize for that, I'm sorry. Let me make one point absolutely clear, Sylvia. The problem I have with what you do is if you came to me for counseling and you said, "My marriage is falling apart." I claim to be a relationship expert, I would try to counsel you how to be married.

If you told me my kids are on drugs, I would counsel you how to get them off drugs. What I would not tell you is that because you injured your grandfather while he was still alive, karma has come full circle and now it's afflicting you. I would teach you, I would empower you -- one second, Sylvia. I would empower you to master your life here on earth.

I would not pull you into the spiritual realm, which is of no consequence to you. I believe like James does that the spirit is eternal. I believe in life after death. That has nothing to do with my moral responsibilities here on earth. The counseling that I would give you would be logical and it would be empowering.

BROWNE: Let me answer him.

KING: All right, quickly.

BROWNE: All right, but have you read any of my books? All my books are not just about talking to the other side. My books are about relationships. My books are about mysteries of the world. My books are about how to get along with getting rid of some of the deep- seeded angers in your soul. Not everything that I do is that. Do you read anything about me.

FARHA: I don't have any books.

KING: We'll get a break.

FARHA: I don't have any books.

KING: Dr. Farha doesn't have books. We'll come back without...

FARHA: ... I'm making a living the hard way.

KING: We'll be right back.


byline: Anderson Cooper

KING: We're back with psychics versus skeptics. We go to Houma, Louisiana. Hello.

CALLER: I have a question for Char.

CHAR: Yes, sure.

CALLER: I have a father who has been missing for over 14 years. He went to work one day and came home that evening, did some yard work, then he had a meeting that night. After that night, we haven't seen our dad. So I was wondering how do you feel? Do you feel like he's dead and if so, what happened to him? Where could he be found? I know it's real short notice. Where could he be found? Or if you have any names that could help us or anything?

MARGOLIS: Why don't you give the producer your name and I will call you this next week. And I will work on this with you. Okay? Because this is something that's going to take a little bit of time.

KING: You guys work with criminal cases?

BROWNE: Yes, I do. All the time.

I have 50 right now.

VAN PRAAGH: I also did it privately. I don't do it publicly, I do private cases.

KING: Who is talking? Rabbi or --

BOTEACH: Can I just say, here is perfect example Larry. Here is a woman in distress. Her father is missing. She really needs real information or she needs closure.

The last thing she needs to hear is, I'll sit in a room and I'll see how I feel about it. This is something that the FBI should be involved in, local police. She should -- one second.


MARGOLIS: The reason she's speaking to a psychic is because they didn't help her.

BOTEACH: On the contrary, by you giving her false hope, it will diminish her efforts through real channels to find her father.

VAN PRAAGH: Don't say that.

MARGOLIS: Rabbi, rabbi --

BROWNE: Solving the case on Montreal if the other gentlemen hadn't seen --

MARGOLIS: How do you know that it's false hope? Why do you say that?

BOTEACH: With all due respect, that's a good question. Let me answer it.

MARGOLIS: You have no idea --

KING: One at a time.

MARGOLIS: -- where I come from. You have no idea what conscience I have. And the only thing I can tell you is that the thousands and thousands of people that I read for through the years can confirm that I've done some pretty special things.

And you know what? And you know what? If I can give this woman hope, if I can give her something, some evidence that can help bring closure to her so her family can know where her father is, isn't that a blessing, Rabbi?

BOTEACH: No, the only blessing, Char, the only blessing is the truth. It's not enough to comfort her. She has to know the truth. The only thing that brings real closure is the truth.

KING: One at a time. Hold on Rabbi.

VAN PRAAGH: I just want to say that coming from you, Rabbi, that's very hypocritical for you. For this woman to offer this woman her time and her services for free. That's not very compassionate of you and you're a person of compassion. How dare you say to this lady and you're a Rabbi, how dare you?

KING: Dr. Farha, what do you want to say?

FARHA: The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the FBI both state that a psychic has never helped them solve one case or find one missing child. You know, conjecture. They make dozens and dozens of psychic detective readings, if you will, and some of them hit, but that doesn't mean it's because of psychic ability.

It could be because they're doing extra detective work. Detectives solve crimes, too.

KING: This is still my show. Let me check in with Anderson Cooper. He's back. He's going to host "NEWSNIGHT" at the top of the hour. There he is getting ready for New Year's Eve.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm back, but your panel saw it coming. They knew it.

KING: Two out of three said Anderson's back.

COOPER: Thanks very much.

KING: What's up tonight?

COOPER: Coming up at the top of the hour ON "360", you don't need see a psychic to see it, a deadly mix of fire and water across the country tonight. The West Coast hammered by winter storms. While in the Midwest freak wildfires flair up, destroying nearly 100 homes and claiming at least four lives. We'll show you what's coming next.

And a midair nightmare. A plane 26,000 feet in the air suddenly loses cabin pressure begins to plunge. Oxygen masks fall. Ears pop, cold air rushes in. One flyer actually pulls out a video camera and captures it all on tape. We'll talk to him about what it was like, Larry?

KING: I can't imagine pulling out a video camera in a plane falling out of the sky. That guy's a journalist.

COOPER: At heart, I think so.

KING: That's an Anderson Cooper move. We'll be right back with more of our panel. Anderson will be with you at the top of the hour. Don't go away.


KING: Santa Fe, New Mexico. Hello.

CALLER: Hi. First of all, I just wanted to say Sylvia, that I love you with all of my heart.

BROWNE: I love you, too.

CALLER: You're amazing. I first saw you when you solved, her name was Tiffany Sessions in Hollywood, Florida. I used to live right near there. That's how I found you and I knew that you were real. My question for you, Sylvia, is my mother died when I was young and I had a brand new daughter. I wanted to know if my husband and I will live to see her get married?

BROWNE: Absolutely.

KING: How do you know that?

BROWNE: Because I'm psychic.

CALLER: That's right. She is.

KING: They could get hit by a truck tomorrow.

BROWNE: They're not going to get hit by a truck. I would say don't go out on the freeway because there's a red truck. A psychic also, a spiritual, also tries to protect people.

BROWNE: ... way. You know, because there's a red truck. I would -- see, a psychic also, a spiritual, also tries to protect people.

KING: But you wouldn't say to her. You wouldn't say to her, you're not going to make it to your daughter's wedding. I know you, Sylvia, you wouldn't say that.

BROWNE: Oh, yes, I have said it. I have said it on Montel.

VAN PRAAGH: Yes, she would.

BROWNE: Yes, I have.

KING: Dr. Farha, how do you respond to that?

FARHA: Yes, she will. Oh, she would say that, Larry. She would say that. I've heard her tell people that their relatives are dead, giving them all kinds of bad news. But in the lack of evidence, I don't see how she can do it.

Now I want to respond to something else. Sylvia asked me at the beginning why I had it in for her. A big reason I have it in for her, if you want to call it that, is the misinformation effect when she does health readings, which I consider to be potentially very dangerous.

She told a caller on your program who is looking for information on her dead husband that -- she says, "Oh, I see a clot." The lady on the phone says, "Yes, he had a massive hemorrhage. It looked like a bull's eye, Larry." Randy was on your program that night.

You thought it was a bull's eye. It wasn't a bull's-eye, though, because the medical establishment contacted Randy soon after and said, "Do you realize that a clot is the actual opposite of a hemorrhage?" It's the opposite of a hemorrhage, Larry. She missed it big time, but your viewers don't know that. She also said to one of your callers that they were going to need surgery in her anal canal. I consider this very irresponsible and a lack of evidence. And she told another one of your callers that she recommends a bilirubin test. A bilirubin test, Larry. You asked her, "What's bilirubin?" and she said, "It's a liver enzyme."

Now, I've got to tell you something. I'm not a medical doctor, so you check this out on your own after the show. Bilirubin is not a liver enzyme.

BROWNE: Oh yes it is.

FARHA: It is a degradation product of human hemoglobin.

BROWNE: Oh yes it is, yes it is.

FARHA: And it can be found in the bile, Sylvia, but it is not.

BROWNE: I know, beacuse I've worked with 300 doctors. Do you want their names and addresses and telephone numbers?

KING: But you're not a doctor.

BROWNE: No, I've never claimed to be, but I also...

VAN PRAAGH: ... but she's also a medical intuitive.


VAN PRAAGH: Which means she reads people's energy of the body.

BROWNE: That's right.

VAN PRAAGH: If there's a blockage in the energy in a certain part of the body, she'll intuit that. She'll see that and she'll give out what she sees.

BROWNE: But a clot to me is something that...

KING: ... it is unexplainable, right?

FARHA: She is disseminating inaccurate information.

BROWNE: I'm sure that he hates (inaudible) too, because apparently he hates everybody.

KING: Long Valley, New Jersey.

BROWNE: What a miserable life you must have.

KING: Hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry, great show. I had the opportunity to get a reading by another famous psychic, John Edwards, who frequents your show. I am a firm believer, because I was picked out by a large crowd and the stuff that he read to me or told me that nobody in the world would ever know. I was just wondering if one of your psychics could give me a reading tonight?

KING: Anyone want to tackle this?

VAN PRAAGH: Not in this forum I wouldn't. Privately, sure.

BOTEACH: Well, can I?

VAN PRAAGH: Sure, go ahead.

BOTEACH: You know, clearly, you're a man who -- well, let me just tell you, from your question I can tell immediately you're a man who has a lot of self-doubts. I think that your parents probably did not get along well when you were a child.

CALLER: Incorrect. They were married 45 years, very happily.

BOTEACH: Did they ever fight?

CALLER: Never.

BOTEACH: They never fought in 45 years?

CALLER: Well, all marriages do, but they had a very happy marriage.

BOTEACH: Oh, so they did fight. So I was wrong. I also think that you have a penchant for superstition, that people can give you things that -- of course, I mean, if you're going to call people through the television screen and ask them to tell you about your life and think that just through the audio medium alone they're going to search into your soul, they're not even sitting with you. So here's my question to you.

CALLER: Excuse me, Rabbi, let's see how accurate your psychics are then.

BOTEACH: Well, let them try. Let them try it, fine. But the point is, from your questions I can deduce some things about you.

CALLER: Larry, Larry, the reading I got from John Edwards was from my father-in-law who I never met, came through. And the stuff that he told me nobody in the world could ever have known.

KING: All right, let Char try it. OK, Char.


KING: You want to try?

MARGOLIS: Yes, sure, why not? But no matter what I say or do they're going to say, "Oh, I can give a letter, I can do this, I can do that." And it's really kind of a waste to do this.

KING: I've got a time limit here.

MARGOLIS: It is kind of a waste to do this. KING: Do a waste.

MARGOLIS: OK, but I work in a certain way. And this nice gentleman has to work with me, OK? Just say yes or no. Don't tell me anybody's name. But you need to tell me whether there's someone living or deceased, OK?


MARGOLIS: First I need to know if there's someone with an "M" or a "J" initial around you.


MARGOLIS: Anyone deceased?


MARGOLIS: Is that a female?


MARGOLIS: Is it spelled M-A...

CALLER: ... yes.

MARGOLIS: R, like Mary or Margaret.

CALLER: Margaret.

MARGOLIS: Is this your mom or your grandma?

CALLER: It was my mom's sister.

MARGOLIS: Your mom's sister, OK. I have a feeling her spirit's with you. And what are you -- are you changing your home or thinking about changing your home?

CALLER: We were. We just did a bunch of remodeling.

MARGOLIS: You just redid your home? Because she's -- the feeling I get from this is that she liked what you did to your house, or what you changed with your house.

KING: All right, I'm sorry I've got to cut this, we've got to take a break. But that seemed pretty good. All we'll be right back, don't go away.

MARGOLIS: Thank you.


KING: One more quick call. Escondido, California, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry. I love your psychic panel. The critics just don't understand. KING: What's the question?

CALLER: My question is to Sylvia Browne.

KING: Go ahead.

CALLER: What is your prediction regarding the earthquakes on the West Coast within the next 20 years?

BROWNE: Yes, well, we're going to have small once. We're going to have about four or five small ones, especially in L.A. and up around Vallejo. But we're not going to have anything really major until about 19, maybe 20 years.

KING: How do you know that?

BROWNE: I just know it, Larry, or else I'd move.

KING: All right, can she know it, Dr. Farha?

FARHA: It's possible she could know it. But the evidence doesn't bear that out.

BROWNE: What evidence?

FARHA: The whole world is waiting to hear where Natalee Holloway is. And if any of the panel wants to tell us, I'd love to hear it, because they don't usually do high-profile cases and there's a reason for that.

BROWNE: Oh yes, we do. I did it on Paula Zahn, yes I did.

MARGOLIS: When you...

BROWNE: ... you don't read up on any of this, do you?

MARGOLIS: When you use logic, common sense and intuition, we get our best answers.

BROWNE: Why don't you get some homework done?

MARGOLIS: And you need to work as a team. You need to work as a team. You need the authorities to work with the psychics.

BROWNE: You haven't done any homework on any of us.

BOTEACH: Char, you just told us on national T.V...

FARHA: I've done plenty of homework on you, Sylvia.

BOTEACH: ... Char, you just told us on national T.V. that a man's great aunt came back to tell him that she likes the furniture? You mean that's what spirits come back for? She had nothing more useful to share?

MARGOLIS: Rabbi, with all due respect, what does bashert mean? BOTEACH: Bashert means that something is pre-ordained.

MARGOLIS: Pre-ordained. Oh, there you go. So you believe in predicting the future.

KING: No, you asked him what the word means.

BOTEACH: But Char you're saying that...

KING: You don't have to believe in the word.

BOTEACH: ... Char, my problem -- Larry.

MARGOLIS: Have you ever used that word? Rabbi? Do you ever use that word?

KING: Guys. We are out of time. We promised another hour like this.

BOTEACH: God bless you, Char, I do use it.

MARGOLIS: God bless you, too.

KING: Let's hope that next time we have them all on set at the same time and then we can say.

VAN PRAAGH: Ignorance is bliss.

KING: And see who hits whom. We're out of time. Tomorrow night, forensic medicine. Three top forensic pathologists and a top attorney, Mark Geragos, and a top former prosecutor. All tomorrow night, we look at forensic evidence. Right now, forensic evidence into the news. That little segue. Anderson Cooper and NewsNight is next. Anderson?