"Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth. I sat at a table where were rich food and wine in abundance, an obsequious attendance, but sincerity and truth were not; and I went away hungry from the inhospitable board. The hospitality was as cold as the ices."
Walden by Henry David Thoreau
This is a response to the book, "Growing Up Psychic: My Story of Not Just Surviving but Thriving--and How Others Like Me Can, Too" by Chip Coffey.
Chip Coffey is self-proclaimed psychic medium. (I have not been able to verify what predictions he has made that have come to fruition, nor have I uncovered his accuracy rate). Coffey has appeared on three rather controversial reality shows "Paranormal State" (30 episodes), "Paranormal State: The New Class" (one episode), and "Psychic Kids: Children of the Paranormal" (16 episodes). Additional credits include "Celebrity Ghost Hunt" and a non-paranormal show entitled "Airline".
He works as a phone psychic as well as a paranormal investigator and is one of a handful of people (reportedly only 25 in the world) who are trained to operate a device known as the Telephone to the Dead. The creator, Christopher Moon, claims that people can talk to the dead and they will answer you.
Coffey has also traveled from sea to shining sea and Canada performing a one-man show called Coffey Talk. Here he spends the first part telling you his life story and his views on the paranormal and he gives the audience five-minute solutions to issues raised in pop psychology. The other part is a "gallery reading" followed by a question and answer session. For additional money, you can have your photo taken with him. If you purchase a "Super VIP" ticket then you will get the privilege of running around a room chasing ghosts. Moreover, not to let any fans of the psychic-medium down, you can buy Coffey mugs, tee shirts and learn how to book a personal reading for a few hundred dollars.
To say that I am a skeptic would be true, but I am an open-minded skeptic; one that investigates claims. If I discover they are legitimate, then I am open to endorsing said claims.
When reading Coffey's book, it occurred to me that the title should have been "GROWING UP ME: MY STORY OF NOT JUST SURVIVING BUT THRIVING--AND HOW OTHERS LIKE ME CAN, TOO". This book has less to do with being a psychic and more to do with Coffey's spin on his life and views. It seems that Coffey's book is about tooting his own horn and convincing the public to line up for readings, watch any TV shows he might be on, and attend events that he might host.
It is acceptable for Coffey to state his opinions as long as he makes it clear that they are his opinions and not fact. And it would be of help to the reader to know what the factual basis is for those opinions might be.
As to the section that deals with his years growing up, I cannot challenge any of this due to the fact that I was not there. So we have to accept at face value such claims he makes. The one and only issue that can be raised concerns his relative by the name of Minnie Sue Morrow Foster. In blogs and interviews I have looked at he claims that she was his great-grandmother, a full blood native who was a shaman/medicine woman. (It is odd this claim is made, as more often than not a person is either a shaman or a medicine person and not both.) Coffey has claimed in the past that she was well known and greatly respected. Yet if one does an Internet search on her, you will find nothing but one blog that was posted after various websites had raised their own issues concerning his allegations. A blog was posted by a fan of Chip Coffey's, claiming that he was telling the truth, yet no solid proof was offered.
Since no record of her actually exists as we get no place of birth nor do we know where she resided, other than in the Southeastern United States, we are left to contemplate her name. Is she named after Minniehaha, the wife of Hiawatha from the episodic poem, "The Song of Hiawatha" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow?
Claims of Native American blood relatives are often made by people who contend they possess psychic abilities. It is done to maintain the myth that just by being a Native American you are more spiritual than others.
Going from Minnie Sue Morrow Foster to a great-grandmother with no name in his book is puzzling. Why is this? Is it possible that more people will read this claim and began to uncover something he would prefer to keep out of the limelight?
Two books by authors Kirby Robinson and Lisa Maliga, "Investigating Paranormal State" and "Paranormal State Exposed", delve into debunking a paranormal reality television show that co-starred Coffey. The authors point out that the story concerning how Chip Coffey got his spot on "Paranormal State" has five different versions. I will not rehash them as you can read their books to learn the whole story. However, if we believe Coffey's version of the events, then the powers-that-be behind the show have been less than honest. Watch "The Name" episode of the program, as this is Coffey's first appearance on the show. Ryan Buell, the lead paranormal investigator and founder of PRS, is not mentioned by name in Coffey's book. (With the exception of being listed in the Acknowledgements section). If it was not for that show and its host, I doubt whether Coffey would have been given the opportunity to star in "Psychic Kids: Children of the Paranormal", nor would he have published his book. In the first episode, Ryan does a voiceover stating that he is bringing in psychic medium Chip Coffey, a longtime contributor/adviser, into the case. Coffey states it was just a job, so we have to ask the question: which story is true?
It also seems that Coffey's substantial ego might be driving the narrative in select sections of his book, particularly when he begins to address his role in the show "Psychic Kids: Children of the Paranormal". Let me note here that from a psychological, medical, and professional viewpoint, I will address the ego aspects later in the book. Coffey says that others were brought in to work beside him. This would mean, that in his mind, as he wrote this (personally, I get the feeling from reading this book, that it was initially spoken into a tape recorder, and subsequently transcribed onto a word processing program), that HE was the core of the show. Everyone else, even the mental health experts, was there to back him up. At this point I have to ask what type of training did Coffey have to enable him to work with psychic kids? Is the fact that he claims to be a psychic give him the ability to work with these kids?
But it does not end with Coffey's ego. Dr. Raymond Moody writes the book's foreword. For those who want to cut through his love for the new age spin, he along with others in their work in N.D.E. (Near Death Experiences), withheld any N.D.E. that dealt with going to hell or any other non-bright light experiences, in order to slant the research.
He claims that an adopted child had an experience in which he shared links to his past life. This does not make you a gifted psychic what the child was recalling was just past life memories carried over from a past life. No new research has been going on regarding this matter for some time.
We also have to take issue with the account of Elvis Presley's death (the person doing the fact checking on Coffey's book must have missed work that day), as Coffey states that Presley died from a drug overdose.
The coroner's report states that it was the following:
"Elvis's family agreed to an autopsy, and it was performed at Baptist Memorial Hospital. Dr. Jerry Francisco, the medical examiner that signed the death certificate, announced that the preliminary autopsy findings discovered cardiac arrhythmia, or an irregular and ineffective heart beat. Elvis died of natural causes, heart. He also said that, 'there was no indication of any drug abuse of any kind.'"
Furthermore, the autopsy was reopened in 1994 and the coroner, Dr. Joseph Davis, reports that Elvis's death was "a sudden, violent heart attack."
We can logically analyze his mother Carolyn's dream concerning the interaction with Elvis's mother, Gladys. But that does not prove his mother is psychic.
By 1974 it was apparent that Elvis's life was spiraling out of control, so it was common knowledge. Carolyn was a fan of Elvis and also had a son. She dreamed about the concern Elvis's mom had and her love for Elvis led her to want to save him. Not psychic at all, basic dream interpretation.
Coffey mentions an episode called "Vegas" in the first season of "Paranormal State". His presentation of events does not match what has been uncovered in the work by Robinson/Maliga. I would like to share with you their report on the events surrounding that episode as shared the book, "Paranormal State Exposed".
We meet single mother Stephanie and her 14-year-old daughter, Savannah. The teen claims she’s seeing a dead girl’s spirit and is troubled by it.
The team of PRS investigators arrive at the home.
Savannah claims she wants to know what happened to the girl, Emily, and how it happened. The picture she draws is a very nondescript drawing that could easily match many females. In addition, both mother and daughter describe “evil looking spirits” yet none of this is ever shown. Emily, the spirit girl, has brown hair which is one of the most dominant hair colors.
DVD TIMELINE 3:55 mark – Ryan's voice-over added in post production.
To our surprise, PRS finds Emily just as Emily was found by Savannah on the Internet prior to the team’s arrival. All details that Savannah gives the team were on the web, including the pregnancy issue.
When they show Savannah the photo, they don’t do it line-up style, which would have been a way to test her psychic abilities. Ryan sends Katrina down to San Antonio, TX to investigate the case there while Ryan has a parapsychologist, George Dalzell, come in and interview Savannah. When the parapsychologist asks for a reading the only thing she can bring up is California and Los Angeles. Nothing else comes from her about him. Is that a great sign of psychic ability? She almost has the type of reaction that a person has when they make a guess and it’s correct. It’s interesting that no one on the team, including the parapsychologist, ever sets up any kind of testing to see if she has a measurable gift.
Meanwhile, Katrina starts her investigation down in San Antonio. She gets a phone call from Ryan and there’s "creative" editing here: daylight, nighttime, daylight again, as she drives to meet the family of the deceased girl.
An interesting note here is when Katrina meets the family for the first time after one phone call she says: “It’s nice to finally meet you.” That’s a phrase that is used if you’ve been contacting someone for quite some time without a face-to-face meeting. Not one that you use only after just one phone call with a person, which was earlier that day.
Chip Coffey shows up and of course he ends up in Savannah’s bedroom, which is something that he does quite regularly throughout the episodes. He comes up with the statement: “The person just can’t quite get it together.” Which describes how many teenagers? Then suddenly he wants to shake the bed. How many times have you ever walked by a bunk bed and shook it a little?
Please note two things here. 1 Ryan and Chip are talking on Day 2 and Ryan says, “I think we told you she was assaulted.” Does this give one the idea that the psychics and mediums brought onto the show are informed of certain details about the case? 2 During the team regroup at 9:22 AM concerning information Savannah has about the cases, Ryan says, "But I don't know if she's given us anything that wasn't reported in the papers." Did Ryan know about the murder case prior to his arrival? Did he know who Emily was?
Then we have a special effects trick editing creepy music scene concerning Savannah – but nothing happens.
Remember as the hours tick by in this episode that Katrina is still meeting with the family down in San Antonio.
Chip confronts Savannah and asks her if she’s telling the truth. Yes, she says, so Chip and Ryan accept it to be 100 percent valid. In addition, if you notice the scenes with Chip and Ryan in the kitchen, those scenes apparently were shot at the same time due to having exactly the same lighting.
Don’t forget that it’s been about 24 hours since Katrina started her meeting with the family down in Texas.
They have the deadest Dead Time of the series by far. And Emily produces very little of any type of action only contacting, supposedly, Savannah. Emily says, “She misses mom and dad.” Nothing about the loss of the baby or the murder. Chip asks for a sign and then the phone rings. Guess what? It’s Katrina who has just left the family in San Antonio, which means that her meeting with them not only lasted for 36 hours, but the meeting broke up sometime after three in the morning.
Ready for some facts? Here's a website that featured information on the murder: http://theresayeary.tripod.com/
Both mom and daughter visited this site prior to the start of the filming. What proof? How about an email sent to the dead girl's family on January 22, 2007.
"My daughter has had a problem for a few years now that we have privately tried to handle as a family. she sees things, people that others don't see. if you knew her you would understand that it is not in her nature to tell "stories". I support her in this problem she has and try to help her make it go away. She has been in constant fear of those people that she sees but there is one girl that she sees that she is not terrified of. I told her that maybe she should try talking to her and so she did.
"She asked the girls name and age. Her name is Emily and she is 15 years old. Once she told me that she got information from this girl I told her to keep probing. I thought I could help my daughter more if I had the information to work with.
"Last night Emily answered more questions and told my daughter a little about herself. You see, about a year and a half ago my daughter was raped and she doesn't talk about it much because it is hard for people to relate to her. She shared this with Emily who said she was also raped and she knows how awful it feels. She also said she is from Texas and she really loves her Mom and Dad. She said her last name is Garcia. She said she doesn't like her Uncle. My daughter told her that she feels like a screw up sometimes. Emily said she went to Juvee. She said that she has messed up too. She has given no more information than this.
"I asked what she looks like and my daughter said she is wearing a white shirt and pants. She has long brown hair with bangs. She said the bangs are kind of separated in the middle. She also has terrible burising on her throat.
"I decided to put Emily Garcia/ Texas in Google and your site popped up. We were absolutely stunned. I know that this sounds crazy. I think it is crazy. I also think that if it were my daughter I would want to know who did such a terrible thing and that she was ok.
"I decided that I should let you know. I am sorry if my doing this causes you any pain. I want to help if I can. I told my daughter to get a notepad next time and flood her with questions. I don't know if this will work. She says Emily is a yes or no question kind of girl who has no problem letting her know she is getting on her nerves.
"If you would like to e mail me back that’s fine. I am not a quack or crazy person looking to exploit you. I will do what I can. I also have to protect my daughter as well.
"My heart goes out to you and your family.
"I will let you know if any more information about this girl Emily comes out.
So, was there was ever any mystery over the identity of the dead girl?
The library scene was not filmed in Vegas but at one of the libraries located at Penn State. The scene when Katrina first meets the family was reportedly taken from “A School House Haunting" which is episode 12.
But the most important question doesn't get asked – Who killed Emily? Wouldn't that be solid proof that the dead visit the living if we got that answer? Wouldn't it bring peace to Emily's family? Yes.
Without the imperative question being asked, we are left with the need to ask the question. So what are we left with? Another mother and daughter seeking publicity?
We see that Savannah was not getting the information from "out there" but from the Internet. In a recurring theme that crops up when it comes to murder crimes, the name of the killer is never sought. They never ask why the crime was committed. Nor do they share information with the police.
Delving further into the psychic child debate, I find it interesting that one of the success stories Coffey shares is a brother and sister team who claim to be doing well according to their mother. Yet no mention is made of their psychic gifts. What we do see are two siblings who enjoy being the center of attention. One is doing standup comedy and taking part in media studies, and the other is involved in the art of dance. So it is not a hard logical step to think their desire to be featured on the show was really a desire to develop their gifts? Or was it an avenue in garnering media exposure?
Coffey appears to have missed his calling as a child psychologist/counselor/therapist as he details his work with these kids. Incidentally, the number of children who have appeared on the shower is fewer than one hundred. This is a poor sampling to base anything on when it comes to psychological research. Even more suspect is the time period that is covered. In only three days (minus the hours allowed for sleep and breaks for the crew when not filming), that Coffey and his team (we will take a look at in a few pages) have all their issues swept away and the kids are ready to move on with their lives.
Here is Part 2 .