Is Tyler Henry Actually Speaking To The Dead On Life After Death With Tyler Henry?

The 26-year-old travels the country offering closure to families who’ve lost loved ones, but how legit is he, really?

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Tyler Henry travels the country as a medium in Netflix's 'Life After Death.'

Are mediums real, or is it all a sham? It’s a question that’s been debated for centuries, and one that Tyler Henry — known as “Hollywood’s go-to medium” — has heard before. In his new Netflix series Life After Death with Tyler Henry, the 26-year-old medium travels around the country offering closure to families who’ve lost loved ones while claiming to contact people from beyond the grave. He says he discovered his psychic abilities when he was 10 years old, but understands that a lot of people don’t buy into it. "I embrace skepticism,” he told Forbes. However, he added, “There’s a difference between skepticism and cynicism. The unknown is scary and it's easier to make a judgment about me than to assess what really is.”

Henry said that “people get to see for themselves in readings” how real his powers are, as he often brings up “inside jokes, last words said” and other “substantive” things only the person he’s channeling would know. In the show, for example, he correctly names people’s grandparents and important events that happened in their lives, like an x-ray finding of a lung abnormality. But is he actually doing these things? Let’s be honest, how real is Life After Death with Tyler Henry?

Unlike therapists or doctors, there is no government-issued license you can obtain to be legitimized as a medium. The best mediums claim they are simply transmitters for spiritual frequencies, and their validity is usually determined by their clients. But if you were to ask a neuroscientist if psychics are real, the answer would be no.


For example, SUNY professors Stephen L. Macknik and Susana Martinez-Conde attended the Sedona Psychic Fair in Arizona and went in with slightly fake personas to see if any of the psychics or mediums would be able to discern the truth. They could not. (The difference between mediums and psychics, according to a medium, is that mediums can contact the other side, while psychics give life advice.) Martinez-Conde noted that each psychic tended to change their answers based on her body language. Macknik had a similar experience, but said he understood why people seek these people out. “[The attendees] were seeking somebody who was willing to say, with authority, that everything was going to be OK ... [they were] just lonely individuals longing for reassurance and connection,” he wrote in Scientific American. “Of course, it was all an illusion.”

What Martine-Conde and Macknik experienced was a “cold reading,” which means that the psychic has no prior knowledge of the client, so they use observation about what the person is wearing and how they speak to make an educated guess. In contrast, a “hot reading” is when the psychic already has prior knowledge about the client, either because they were referred by a friend or — as some now contend — they used the internet and social media to look the client up beforehand.

Psychics also use what’s called “The Forer Effect” to convince people of their gifts. Per Thrillist, Bertram Forer was a psychologist who told his students to take a test so he could create a unique personality profile for each of them. In reality, he gave each student the exact same profile, and yet regardless of their answers on the original test, they all said their profile was accurate. Similarly, psychics tend to throw out statements so vague that they have a high chance of resonating with anyone: “I see a man in your life” or “there was a death in the family.” The statements are not inaccurate, but they’re also not a sign that the medium is actually pulling information from another plane of existence. That’s all to say: watching shows like Life After Death with Tyler Henry is fun, but approach them with a healthy dose of skepticism.

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