Category Archives: Magic

Houdini among the Spirits

Harry Houdini died on 31 October 1926, and he is still a ‘household name’ almost one hundred years after his death. In the minds of today’s public, his name is synonymous with escapes, but Walter Gibson, in Houdini on Magic (1953, p.xiv) comments that “… in the final analysis, Houdini’s great claim to permanent fame lay in his crusade against fraudulent mediums and other charlatans who preyed on the public.”

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Goats and Sheep

In a classic study, Dr Gertrude Schmeidler (Schmeidler & McConnell, 1958) found that, on average, subjects who believed in the possibility of ESP (the “sheep”) scored better in ESP tests than those who did not (the “goats”). Magicians who have investigated the paranormal fall into both categories, although, unsurprisingly, the goats tend to be more vociferous and therefore their conclusions more prominent. This is probably the reason for George P Hansen’s (1990) comment that many are under the impression that magicians are total sceptics; he demonstrates, however, that this is not the case.

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