Holy Koolaid

The magician and the CIA

An adorably animated extended interview with paranormal investigator Ray Hyman:

Dr. Ray Hyman, with the Department of Defense, investigated psychic claims during the Cold War working at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) studying Uri Geller, an alleged psychic. He was later hired by the CIA to investigate psychic claims under the now declassified Project Stargate. In this interview, Dr. Hyman talks about his time with Geller and why he had reasons to be skeptical of Uri Geller's paranormal claims.

Can you bend spoons with your mind?

I have quite a few friends who bend spoons in their shows. It's an incredibly powerful feat of magic, particularly if you happen to have owned the spoon prior to its being bent. In a conversation I had years ago with famed mentalist Richard Osterlind, he mentioned that bending metal was a magic trick so strong, magicians often didn't include it in their shows. Instead it became reserved for performers who would normally specialize in mindreading. 

I came across this video on "Psychokinesis" (within the field of magic, abbreviate as PK.) If you ever wondered what was going on when you saw cutlery bend, this may be of interest. In particular, they mention scientists who were able to acquire a spoon bent by the world-renowned magician Uri Geller* and subject it to testing, which I wasn't aware of:

Cartoon James Randi

James Randi — or as he is more often publicly known The Amazing Randi — is now largely retired, but continues to talk openly and publicly about the relationship between magic, skepticism and critical thinking. In one of his more interesting interviews with the YouTube channel Holy Koolaid, he is appearing in Cartoon form. 

Randi stands apart from the majority of skeptics. He eschews the label "debunker" (odd that it appears in the video's title card) and favours "investigator". In keeping with the scientific method, if you start with the conclusion you think you should get — that the claim you are investigating is "bunk" — then you're much less likely to learn anything new. You have to set your exploration up in such a way that if there is a real phenomenon to be found, you could find it.

In that spirit, the organization he founded, the James Randi Educational Foundation, set up a well known million dollar prize to anyone who can demonstrate paranormal phenomena under controlled mutually agreed upon conditions.  

When I grow up, I hope I can show up to my interviews as a cartoon.