Although this was the first article Brandon ever wrote for his Demon Haunted Times column in Skeptic, it was never published.
Skeptic Challenges Food Psychic
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL—Skeptic Ray Jambi has challenged Juan Shepherd, food psychic and host of the popular show Passed Through, to a controlled demonstration of his psychic abilities. Shepherd, as he states at the beginning of every show, claims to have the ability to "reunite people with food that they have eaten in the past. Meals which have been digested and passed through."
Jambi, a professional magician, has gained notoriety by offering free Alice Cooper concert tickets to anyone able to demonstrate paranormal abilities. Shepherd has refused by saying that he has nothing to prove.
"I've actually been tested already," said Shepherd. "I participated in a scientific study when I was in Arizona for a Tooth Fairy convention. They proved that I channel food." Shepherd says that his ability to connect with food on "the other side" was not revealed to him until he got a reading from a psychic when he was 15.
"She was giving me a regular reading," recalled Shepherd. "Then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, I just blurted out, 'garlic'. She was startled. Then she confided to me that earlier she had eaten garlic. I knew I was on to something. Something that needed to be shared."
Soon after that encounter, Shepherd became locally known when he helped police find a missing doughnut. In his early twenties, Juan landed a job as a telephone psychic. But it did not last long.
"The callers weren't very impressed with me," admitted Shepherd. "They were calling to find out about their future or to talk to relatives who had passed away. Meanwhile, I was telling them what they had eaten for breakfast."
After other failed jobs, Shepherd started his own show on a cable access channel. He eventually parlayed his ability into a nationally syndicated television show. Passed Through has been a ratings smash for the Food Network.
However, some people are not impressed. Jambi, author of Shim Sham! And Other Cool Names for Unicorns, says that what Shepherd does is nothing more than guessing.
"He always starts off by saying he sees a clear liquid," said Jambi. "Well, who doesn't drink water? Then he'll throw out colors like red or green. Who can't find something red or green on their dinner plate?" Not only does Jambi accuse Shepherd of guessing, but he also claims that Shepherd cheats.
"We talked to an audience member who told us that he observed Shepherd's people scouring the trash cans and bathrooms on the set," revealed Jambi. "I'd like to see Shepherd demonstrate his abilities under controlled conditions. He should have no contact at all with the person he is reading. That way we can be sure that he can't smell the person's breath, spot crumbs around their mouth, or see stains on their shirt."
Shepherd, who at the end of each show always urges his viewers to masticate, validate, and appreciate their meals as they eat them, says he doesn't trust Jambi.
"He'd probably try to set me up by having me read someone who's anorexic or bulimic," said Shepherd.
But Jambi disagreed: "There's no reason for me to try and trick him. Juan Shepherd is clearly in contact with one thing that has 'passed through' and come out the 'other side.' Because I think he's full of it."