As professions go, it’s right up there in the popularity stakes with real estate agents, used car salesmen and journalists.
TV psychic John Edward is one of the most famous figures in the world in his particular line of work. In the process, he's also been in the firing line of numerous debunkers, scathing ridicule and perhaps, most infamously, South Park, which dedicated an entire episode to him in 2002 titled ‘‘The Biggest Douche in the Universe’’.
While on a short visit promoting his Australian tour in November, Edward says online attacks are the worst, as critics have completely free rein.
"It never really bothered me up until my son was 11," he says. "And then I realised I had to have the talk with him. Most people, when their kids get to be 11 or 12, they get to have various talks. I had to have the internet talk: 'Don’t Google Daddy’s name'."
He says his children – his son, Justin, is 12 in September and his daughter, Olivia, is seven – understand what he does and he uses his work as a platform from which to explain death and dying to them.
It’s the same principle, he says, that is the reason behind his popularity: an aim to teach people.
"There are a lot of people out there that are claiming to do this work, and I would never in a million years sit next to them on a couch and put my name next to them because I don’t think they’re coming from the same place," he says. "Their ability could be awesome but their intentions, hmm, not so much, so I think you have got to be really careful.
"Sceptism does that, it makes you discern what’s real or not real, or maybe you look behind the curtain a little bit and see this person’s really making it about them, they want to be famous. They’re using this ability to put themselves out there as opposed to this person, who’s a teacher who wants to help people."
He says while sceptism is OK, he has no tolerance for cynicism.
"What I have a problem with is that I know a lot of people who don’t believe and I’m respectful of the fact they don’t believe. I never attack somebody for being agnostic, I don’t call them names for being an atheist.
"If someone doesn’t think that there’s an afterlife or spirit works and that it’s impossible to communicate with them, I don’t call them stupid, I don’t attack their character or try to assess their motivations."
Edward was born in Long Island, New York, and says he realised he had psychic abilities when he was a teen when a medium at his grandmother’s house told him he shared the skill.
"I did have a lot of experience early on, I just didn’t know what to call it, but at 15 I kind of embraced it," he says.
He explains it as being able to tap into energy or "vibrations", and his career went from private readings to group shows, books and then his first TV show Crossing Over in 1999, followed by Cross Country in 2006.
At age 44, he says he’s still not adjusted to his high profile. "It’s still not something I’m comfortable with," he says. "I don’t like the attention. My wife says all the time, all of this is completely wasted on you."
John Edward tours Australia in November, see johnedward.net.