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The History Channel’s Psychic

posted by ellen leventry

John Holland is the perfect psychic for the History Channel. He eschews the usual gimmicks of media mediums, the schmaltziness of John Edward or the histrionics of “Most Haunted” and “Ghost Town”‘s Derek Acorah, and even goes so far as to say, with a slight roll of the eyes, that although he’s able to take on personality traits of people who’ve passed, he’s “not being possessed.”

Holland, a Boston born-and-bred psychic medium, is apparently well-known on the lecture and book circuits, but is looking to break into the lucrative world that is cable television with “Psychic History.

In the pilot episode John is taken to Waco, Texas, to the former site of the Branch Davidian compound, Mount Carmel. Currently, nothing occupies the site other than a small non-descript church. All signs and identifying markers were either removed or covered. Holland is not told where he’s going and arrives blindfolded. He is able to relive the events and answer some of the mysteries surrounding the 1993 siege: Yes, the Branch Davidians shot first, and yes, some of the Davidians were being held against their will. What may be most remarkable is that Holland is able to get readings off of a house in L.A. that once housed weapons used in the siege. Apparently, this information was only known by police. (The pilot episode is being re-aired July 8 at 5 p.m.)

My only quibble with the show is an incredible credulity-stretching moment when John is taken to the garage where Lee Harvey Oswald was assassinated, as a sort of warm-up to Waco. In this very non-descript parking garage, accompanied by the law enforcement officer handcuffed to Oswald that day, Holland is able to determine that they are at the site of the shooting, but then seems to say that Oswald was a generous person. While the former officer completely disagrees with this assessment, the narrator chimes in with a line about how “John may have been right after all,” as his assassin Jack Ruby was known to be a very giving man. If that isn’t trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, then what is?

The show is typical History Channel treatment, featuring one-on-ones with experts and participants, for the most part properly couching language so as to not present Holland’s readings as absolute fact and leaving room for differing viewpoints. Plus, an investigative reporter from the Dallas Morning News accompanies Holland in order to verify what he’s saying.

Whether you believe in psychic abilities or not, “Psychic History” is an interesting, remarkably balanced show for the genre.



  • Jack

    The article you wrote on Psychic History which aired on the History Channel is great and I did see this show, and I thought they were quite grounded and professional the way they did it. Thanks for the reminder of when tthe show is on again -0 I had plenty of people ask me about it. best Jack>

  • Stephen

    Yes, I watched the show too. Don’t normally watch such shows, but the whole subject and the way it was going to be unveiled caught my interest. I’ve never heard the title “psychic historian” before, but it made welcome change to all the reality dross TV. Holland did seem pretty credible to me, and it was good to see someone show his honesty in a non-studio set up. If the History Channel were to make more of this series, it could be really interesting to see this guy travel the world as a credible psychic historian. There are so many unsolved mysteries that I’d love to see what he finds. Let’s see more!!>

  • Dave

    Yes, it was a faith-building show for those willing to believe without question, but I was underwhelmed. Did anyone else notice that everything John Holland “received” were details that were broadcast continually on the news during the Waco drama? John made the comment during the show that he remembered the event but didn’t remember anything about it or even the leaders name. And we’re supposed to just take his word on that? Show me one person in this country who watched any TV at all during that time that didn’t know the name and most details of that event. Am I really supposed to believe that John never watched TV during that time when Waco was on the news constantly? Am I supposed to believe that John never talked to his friends about this event that everyone in the country was talking about? That’s absurd. Again he gave NO details that are not well documented and that most people remember without using psychic abilities. And as for the connection to the house in California – a quick internet search turned up details about the house and the women David Koresh kept there. Of course they kept weapons in the basement – I could have guessed that. And the shed out back is normally where people make weapons – not on the front lawn. No spectacular revelation there, and yet we’re supposed to be amazed the John came up with info that has been public for a long time. Here are some things to think about. Nothing John said in the whole show gave any more details than we already have. Every detail he “received” has been well documented and easily accessible for years – no new reveleation. The two “reveleations” that John made – that the Davidians were kept against their will and that shots came first from the compound – are assertions that no one can verify or disprove. No one can ever prove John wrong, so he is safe by making a guess in either direction. It doesn’t matter what he guesses because he doesn’t have to prove it. And most people would guess the same thing John did with no psychic abilities at all. One more thing to think about – John wrote a book called 101 Ways to Jump Start Your Intuition. If his intuition is so strong, why didn’t John pick up anything on September 10, 2001? Why didn’t any psychic have ANY intuition at all about what was happening? The truth is every psychic in America was just as surprised on 9/11 as the average person. That should make you question their intuitive abilities. And the next time the History Channel wants to throw away money, I will gladly go on their show and state a bunch of well-documented facts that are already known by all. Yes, John is talented – not as a psychic, but in his ability to make a lot of money off of people willing to believe without question.>

  • Jack

    I watched and felt John was real and I respect the History Channels choice and the producers who I can tell did their utmost to stay grounded with this subject. All I know is – the show felt right and I seen enough to want to turn the show on again and again. Lets see where else they take him.>

  • QuankedAngel

    To Dave — Oh ye of little faith — I am a medium, and it still takes some getting used to — picking up vibrations from a scene, and the self doubt that comes along with it. I can tell you that I have picked up details about specific crime scenes that were “well known,” but since I didn’t know of the incident prior to the reading, there would be no way for me to KNOW the details that I picked up. I was sitting at the Alamo one spring and starting feeling terrible pains all over my torso. I was only half paying attention to the person who was describing the events, and it was only then that I knew I was sitting in the area where the heaviest fighting occurred. Yes, theorehtically part of my mind knew the historical significance of the area in which I was sitting. So, you could make the argument that I had been making it up. Except for one little problem — I had no reason to make up the story (no one was paying me, I had nothing to prove), and the pains were quite real, and quite unasked for. They did not stop until I got up and moved across the street from the Alamo (for those who may not know, the Alamo is in the middle of downtown San Antonio). As for 9/11, the Tsunami, and Katrina — mediums/psychics operate much like tv sets. Most of the ones I know (myself included) don’t leave ourselves “turned on.” That road leads to insanity. Can you tell me, at any given momemt, what is on TV? I mean, if you have cable, you should be able to tell what is on The History channel, or Bravo, or MTV for that matter, at any given time of the day. What’s that, you can’t unless you go turn on your TV, or look at a channel guide? Same difference for mediums/psychics. Even when I am doing a reading, I focus only on the person/object that is directly relevant to the query at that moment. Yes I do get some overflow messages, but frequently they are targeted at a very specific person who happens to be in an immediate area. And, frankly, in deep meditation I get visions that I truly don’t fully understand. I had a vision last year concerning the expansion of violence in the Middle East, until the entire fertile crescent area was engulfed. The image even included what appeared to be missiles/rockets. I wrote it off to concern over the Iraq war (the news about Abu Grab had just broken). Now, seeing the Isralei/Lebanese conflict, I happened to look at a graphic online — and it very closely matched the vision that was presented during that particular meditation period. (Check out the NY Times article with the Hezbollah’s Arsenal graphic.) So if a medium/psychic had been presented with an image of the Twin Towers, and had realized the significance and the date, and proceeded to alert all the authorities — what do you think would have happened then? Everyone would have written off that psychic/medium as a nut job, and gone on about their merry business.>

  • Joey

    Angel- you need help. You got heartburn at the Alamo and you “new” heavy fighting took place right there. Go fly a kite. That show was a joke. FInd one person in the United States that if taken to Waco TX (or Dallas or just TX for that matter) then to that familiar field and couldn’t ascertain where they were and I’ll show you a very dim person. It’s a tv show. You have no power. Do you think he, who probably calls himself talent, was he blindfolded on the plane, in the hotel the night before, when he was in makeup?>

  • Jack

    I wish they would take John to more places. I saw him on A & E when they took him to the Triangle Fire. I believed him! He seems genuine, sincere, and from what I have researched and heard one of the most caring people in this field.>

  • Lavender

    Everyone who watches tv knows what waco looks like…!! He should have know immeadiatly where he was.!! Why don’t you send him to the house where Jon Benet was murdered..and put him to the real test?? If he is so good maybe he could solve this thing..and have it done with,,. Lavender.>

  • anon

    Who am I to say whether someone feels something or not..Belief in the fact?? Well, that’s another story. I have many beliefs but they are in a true realm..I’ll not venture to discredit that which may be so, but I reserve the right to be timid when it comes to certain things. This attitude is new found as my eyes are opening more but not necessarily in this direction….>

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