Discover Magazine‘s Phil Plait worked with Justin Robert Young, Andrew Mayne and the folks at the James Randi Educational Foundation attempted to communicate with Harry Houdini during the foundation’s Halloween Seance.
Poor Houdini. He works hard his whole life, from circus worker, to neck-tie cutter, to sideshow freak, to dime-museum magi, and finally world’s greatest escape artist and spiritualist debunker. He cannot even rest in peace where ever his soul may now exist or not exist.
His work as an escape artist had him dangled from tall buildings, shoved into tight quarters with little air, submerged in frozen lakes and rivers, and a combination of all of the stunts in his Water Torture Escape.
To prepare for the exhibitions, he had to stay in top physical shape (without steroids or personal trainers), secret picks about and within his body, work the publicity machine around the world without the internets or even a fax machine.
Now, as he looks forward to an eternity of repose with his beloved, we magician types harass him to prove essentially that he will not answer.
We are just as skeptical as the next person — of course no one sits near us because we are constantly making comparisons to them — but wonder if there might be a better target for seance debunking.
Why not go for the spirit of some chatterbox? Alexander Graham Bell might be someone to pick on. He loved to talk. How about Martha Raye, Oscar Wilde, or Woody Woodpecker? Any politician might serve as a better test subject than someone who had already suffered so much attention and demands on his time like Houdini.
The seance debunking team were unable to raise Houdini via ghost-link. In the event that they were able to link up with the great magician, the group solicited test words from Penn and Teller, David Copperfield, and others.
The spirit divined one or two of the words during the short seance.
Check out the full video of the seance as it was broadcast live this weekend over on the Discover Magazine site.