Van Praagh (born August 23, 1958 in Bayside, New York) practices
as a medium. Van Praagh is the author of several books dealing with
the subject of parapsychology, and he is co-Executive Producer of
the television series Ghost Whisperer on CBS. Van Praagh might be
described as a "celebrity medium", in much the same vein as John
Edward and the British medium Derek Acorah.
The validity of such psychic abilities has often been disputed,
such as in Episode 1 of Penn & Teller: Bullshit! - Where Van Praagh
and Edward were accused of using cold reading techniques and subterfuge
to garner information from studio audiences, and use this information
in supposed conversations with the dead.
Van Praagh was born in Bayside, New York, and is the youngest of
four children. An average child, he remembers having a tremendous
fascination with death. He was raised Catholic and served as an
altar boy, entering the seminary at the age of fourteen. It was
there that his interest in Catholicism ended and his sense of spirituality
began. There are no schools or training that could prepare Van Praagh
for his unusual vocation. Indeed, his ability to communicate with
the dead arose out of his ... well ... life.