Arthur Conan Doyle became interested in Spiritualism as early as 1886, inspired by the writing of the US High Courts Judge John Worth Edmonds, and confessing his belief in the supernatural in various publications, including The Coming of the Fairies, "a collection of facts" about the Cottingley Fairies, published a year after the start of an odd friendship. In 1920, Doyle received the book The Unmasking of Robert-Houdin from none other than Harry Houdini, the renowned magician turned resolute skeptic, yet the two became friends, discussing spiritualism in terms of faith and frauds, respectively. [more inside]
"A wonderful brain interprets something differently from what it actually is, but it doesn't mean it's made a mistake. It took the information it had and did it's best job." Those are but two tricks from Jerry Andrus (1918-2007), self-taught magician and illusionist, and one of great renown amongst other magicians. But he was more than a slight-of-hand man: he was also a poet, philosopher, inventor, humanist, agnostic, and skeptic. There are an impressive number of videos of him online, these are but a few to get you started down the rabbit hole: Jerry Andrus is visual poetry (Google video / YT, 28 minutes) :: Jerry Andrus at the Magic Castle (G.vid, 49 min), Jerry Andrus at 83 his Optical Illusions (G.vid, 41 min) :: Jerry Andrus and Ray Hyman on Uri Geller (YT, 26 min) :: James Randi on Jerry Andrus (YT, 5 min) :: James Randi - who was Jerry Andrus? :: James Randi describes Jerry Andrus. The last two clips are from Rex Young, a young illusionist who has recreated many of Andrus' illusions on his YouTube channel, and made some of his own.
As part of making documents available following Freedom of Information Act requests, the FBI has set up The Vault, including documents on unexplained phenomenon. One document in particular, the Guy Hottel memo, had some proclaiming "these are the real life X-Files." Except it's not - the document is real, but the report was based on a hoax that is known by many UFO debunkers.
This article, about differences between male and female brains, is doing the rounds on various blogs. (I found it via reddit.) Meanwhile, debunkers are doing their best to rip the author a new asshole.
Yet another buzzword for the dustbin. Tipping Point. Exploitable phenomenon or total load of crap. [more inside]
Watch as the jet blast from a 747 tosses cars as if they are toys! Would Flight 77 Have Really Thrown Cars & People Off The Highway? Perhaps.
The house in Amityville with the fan-shaped windows making an inhuman face is the Godzilla of haunted house movies. The town and current owner of the house where the DeFeo family was murdered try to downplay (registration required) its signficance. The trademark windows in the original have been replaced to disguise its identity, and lawsuits force studios to use a house-double. Although latest remake claims the status of "true story," the case has been widely dismissed as a hoax and the 2005 film has even rased the ire of George Lutz for how he is portrayed as the haunted father-figure. Other people involved in the case including convicted murder DeFeo are unhappy with the new attention. Still, the story has its true believers and psychics who argue the debunkers have their own agenda. Then again, Texas Chainsaw Massacre was also claimed by the same production company to be "inspired by a true story."
Mind control revealed. Derren Brown, magician turned hypnotist, performs amazing feats of mind control and then gives away the basic psychological tricks he uses. The link is to the video clips from England's Channel 4, an article is here. Via boingboing.
I attacked and took over two countries... Friday Debunking Fun! It's been popping up all over in the past month. The problem is, none of its claims are referenced. I challenge my fellow MeFites to come up with the links to debunk or support the charges filed in the Presidential Confession. What's true? What isn't? What's relevant to the election?