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Science of scams

We have released 7 hoax videos which appear to demonstrate paranormal phenomena. In fact they're all based upon real scientific principles. Over the past few months this hoax footage has been posted all over the internet in an attempt to find out if people would either accept it as genuine or question it in an attempt to discover the real truth. Can you find the hoaxes before we reveal the secret science behind these scams?
Ghost on film (4:28)
Psychic Readings (13:07)
Telekinesis (2:45)
Chi energy (4:00)
Ouija board (5:17)
Brickbreaking (5:31)
Psi Wheel (3:29)
posted by Blasdelb on May 16, 2014 - 114 comments

Ms. Browne's final contact with the spirits

Sylvia Browne, famous for her claims of psychic abilities, has gone on to her reward. [more inside]
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER on Nov 22, 2013 - 94 comments

How I Learned to Stop Debunking and Love My Inner Psychic Ability

Amaze your friends! Befuddle your enemies! Impress the miserly old woman you've been crushing on! Ray Hyman's 1977 Cold Reading: How to Convince Strangers That You Know All About Them [more inside]
posted by IvoShandor on Apr 2, 2013 - 21 comments

A priest, a dominatrix and a brain surgeon walk into a bar

Fifteen people summarise their jobs
posted by hoyland on Mar 24, 2013 - 65 comments

Ex Libris Houdini

Ehrich Weisz may not have had much formal education, but he grew up to be Harry Houdini, self-educated stunt performer, escape artist, and owner of "one of the largest libraries in the world on psychic phenomena, Spiritualism, magic, witchcraft, demonology, evil spirits, etc., some of the material going back as far as 1489." Houdini bequeathed much of his collection to the Library of Congress, which received 3,988 volumes from his collection in 1927, including a number of magic books inscribed or annotated by well-known magicians. Archive.org has more of the Harry Houdini Collection online. He also put a great deal of research into his tricks, as seen in his letter to Dr. W. J. McConnell, a physiologist at the U.S. Bureau of Mines, written up after Houdini's watery grave stunt in 1926.
posted by filthy light thief on Dec 3, 2012 - 5 comments

If You Could See What You're Thinking

Ted Serios and Psychic Projections Thoughtographs-- "Psychic Projections/Photographic Impressions: Paranormal Photographs from the Jule Eisenbud Collection on Ted Serios" features a series of images produced by Theodore Judd Serios (1918-2006), a bellhop from Chicago who appeared to possess a genuinely uncanny ability. By holding a Polaroid camera and focusing on the lens very intently, he was able to produce dreamlike pictures of his thoughts on the film; he referred to these images as "thoughtographs," and many striking examples are on display in the exhibition. The Chronicle commenters aren't convinced of this guy's ability. Nile Root claims to have seen him in action.
posted by Ideefixe on Feb 24, 2011 - 38 comments

Didn't predict that...

Paul the Psychic Octopus is dead. The English-born octopus shot to fame this summer by successfully predicting the results of World Cup matches.

Tributes are flooding in.
posted by i_cola on Oct 26, 2010 - 82 comments

Your Aura is Showing

The Aura Camera was developed in the 1970s by Polaroid as a way to see auras around people as a psychic might. Though very rare, Carlo Van De Roer managed to get his hands on an AuraCam 6000 to capture a stunningly unique series of portraits [some mildly NSFW].
posted by tuck_nroll on May 14, 2010 - 49 comments

Ok, you guys are dead to me.

Life imitates art.
posted by Christ, what an asshole on May 4, 2010 - 26 comments

Where's Wiseman?

Richard Wiseman's Psychic Twitter Experiment starts today at 3pm UK time. [more inside]
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Jun 1, 2009 - 20 comments

Hearts and Minds

The US military has been putting more attention into brain science research, covering such potential applications as mind reading, mind control, cognitive enhancement and brain-machine interfaces. This is detailed in the report "Emerging Cognitive Neuroscience and Related Technologies" (also available in an abridged PDF version), authored by a National Research Council committee convened by the Department of Defense.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing on Aug 18, 2008 - 28 comments

Calling Sylvia Browne

James Randi to end the Million Dollar Challenge in 2010. Nobody's won it in 10 years, and the money would work better if it wasn't tied up waiting for the impossible. Many have tried, none have succeeded.... and just so this isn't a single link, here's Randi owning Uri Geller, and Randi owning James Hydrick (using only styrofoam!) [YouTube links].
posted by SansPoint on Jan 4, 2008 - 116 comments

Your child was sold into slavery in Japan

Jon Ronson on a cruise with controversial psychic Sylvia Browne.
posted by ClanvidHorse on Oct 28, 2007 - 38 comments

The Baby Psychic

Don't waste your hard earned money on a pet psychic. That would be foolish! Especially since your baby has so much to say.
posted by The Deej on Jun 11, 2007 - 12 comments

Amaze your (dumber) friends.

Peter answers.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on Jun 2, 2007 - 54 comments

Support your local Reptoid

Skeptoid: Critical Analysis of Pop Phenomena was born in October, 2006 to help fight the good fight against the overwhelming majority of noise in the media supporting useless alternative medicine systems, psychics preying upon the vulnerable, the erosion of science education in the classroom, xenophobia of advanced energy and food production methods, and generally anything that distracts attention and public funding from scientific advancement. Episodes feature such prominent MeFi discussion material as organic food myths, blood for oil, chiropractics, and SUVs. Links are to podcast transcripts. Full episode guide.
posted by arcticwoman on May 24, 2007 - 38 comments

Metatalk

Metatalk: "Psychic Readings, Clairvoyant Readings, Graphology & Handwriting Analysis." An errant stab in the dark unearthed this amusing conflation. A site search reveled no doubles, so... what am i thinking?
posted by mwhybark on Jul 30, 2006 - 21 comments

Future events such as these will affect you in the future!

Can you prove it didn't happen? Best known for his work on Plan 9 from Outer Space, the Amazing Criswell had quite a career outside of his rare appearances in film. The spit-curled, stentorian psychic had a penchant for bizarre predictions, was the source for music by Mae West, and inspired some damned interesting writing.
posted by Astro Zombie on Apr 11, 2006 - 13 comments

Incredible -- but true coincidences

Incredible -- but true coincidences are fascinating, and pleasing, to the psyche. I tend to agree with John Littlewood (a University of Cambridge mathematician) that "...in the course of any normal person's life, miracles happen at a rate of roughly one per month." In other words, statistically speaking, unusual coincidences are to be expected in a world teeming with billions of humans. Still, I find such coincidences stangely inspiring. More can be found here.
posted by ember on Jul 7, 2005 - 97 comments

Got psychic powers?

GotPsi online testing. Many people have had precognitive dreams and successful intuitive hunches and would like to know if they have psychic abilities.
posted by nickyskye on Jun 20, 2005 - 32 comments

SilverJade psychic

A group of psychics led by colourful 'SilverJade', based in Johannesburg South Africa, have predicted that a series of earthquakes and other natural disasters will strike the western coast of the United States on or around the 23rd of February 2005. The prediction is based on the interpretation of a series of dreams by SilverJade, and the technical analysis of earthquake patterns occuring worldwide throughout the month of January 2005. As of 11th of February 2005, they have successfully predicted a significant event, a 5.5 magnitude earthquake in south eastern Alaska, as being a first step in a series of smaller events leading up to the big bang. The next step of the prediction is set to occur at some time on or around the 13th and 15th of the month.
posted by stbalbach on Feb 13, 2005 - 43 comments

70's Psuedo Psychic

"Uri Geller [warning: pop ups] became well known for a few scientifically unexplained phenomena. They are Telepathy... Dowsing... Bending, breaking and softening metal and other solids with the power of the mind, e.g. spoons, keys etc, more rarely plastic and glass; Fixing broken watches and appliances, and using collective power, influencing the Big Ben to stop; Moving compasses with the power of thought; Erasing computer tapes and disks; and Sprouting, causing tiny seeds (mainly red radish) to grow a few centimeters in seconds." Why not thrill to a biography of this favorite pseudo psychic of the 70s? To be frank, until just now, I wasn't even aware that he was back!
posted by Joey Michaels on Mar 24, 2003 - 11 comments

How is this possible?

How is this possible? I know there must be a sensible explanation for why this 'ESP experiment' works every time, but I certainly can't figure it out. Anyone? Other 'ESP' tests and the like leave me a bit cold, but this made my brain hurt, and that can't be all bad.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken on May 3, 2002 - 30 comments

Finally, no more Miss Cleo commercials

Finally, no more Miss Cleo commercials as the Federal Trade Commission steps into to prosecute late-night TV's most popular psychic peddler. At first I thought if you dumb enough to call a psychic line, the gov't shouldn't be stepping in to block the charges, as the article notes the average call was $60, but they also note misleading "free reading" claims and crooked billing procedures. If you're making that kind of money, why resort to underhanded business practices? Even more obvious: why didn't she see this coming and change their ways?
posted by mathowie on Feb 19, 2002 - 24 comments

Sweeps! A televised seance to communicate with those lost on Sept. 11!

Sweeps! A televised seance to communicate with those lost on Sept. 11! [Drudge Report now reports that it's nixed b/c of a "public outcry." You don't say....]
posted by adrober on Oct 25, 2001 - 7 comments

Belief in Astrology up 3% to 28% and belief in ghosts up 13% to 38%. I find the new Gallup Poll on Americans' Belief in Psychic and Paranormal Phenomena depressing, but not surprising. Aren't we supposed to be headed in the other direction?
posted by quirked on Jun 8, 2001 - 93 comments

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