Skip to main content

Debunking Psychokinesis, Old School

I love James Randi. He's better known as The Amazing Randi for his magic act, but I've never seen him doing tricks on stage. It's his commitment to debunking psychic frauds that I truly enjoy.


As I was checking out a few crackpots and fraudsters connected to stuff like cold fusion, perpetual motion machines, and zero point energy generators, I happened to stumble on this clip of Randi making a fool of psychic shyster James Hydrick.

There are several things that make this interesting viewing. The first that occurred to me while watching this clip is just how boring television could be in the old days. It's not so surprising that the panel of scientists are awfully dull, but I would have thought experienced performers like Randi, Hydrick and Bob Barker could have punched it up just a bit for the audience.

What's more surprising is that a primitive reality show like That's My Line would take time to debunk a psychic fraud. This episode was edited down from an hour and a half  to fit the half hour TV format, and then cut even further for Youtube. Although it's still about as action packed as paint drying, watching Hydrick sweat and stall kept me on the edge of my seat.

I can't imagine any modern reality shows blowing air time doing something like this, but I would love to see a show based on exposing a different scam artist each week. 

James Randi is still debunking frauds at a well-seasoned age of 89 83. Bob finally retired from game hosting TV in 2007. Hydrick eventually admitted his fraud and is now serving time in prison for molesting children.


  1. First, the show wasn't "That's My Line," but a new show called "What's My Line," also by Goodson/Todman. Second, I'm 83, not 89... Yes, Hydrick eventually admitted his fraud and is now serving time in prison for child molestation, though it should be understood that he himself was an adopted child who was repeatedly molested, and it appears that children who are so attacked, tend to go that way, too, though I'm personally repelled by any such actions.

    James Randi.

  2. Wow, I'm honored that one of my heroes would post a comment on my blog post.

    However, I should point out that your memory is at odds with the clip of the show you were on. At 6:37 in the clip, the show's title is shown as they are about to cut to a commercial. It clearly reads "That's My Line." In addition, at 20 seconds in, Bob says, "Welcome to That's My Line." ("What's My Line", it seems, was a related show that was produced by the same people, but was hosted by John Charles Daly.)

    I did add a few years to your age though. Wikipedia agrees that you are a mere 83 years old. Sorry about that.

    Keep up the good work, James, to 89 and well beyond I hope.



Post a Comment

Popular Posts

How 4,000 Physicists Gave a Vegas Casino its Worst Week Ever

What happens when several thousand distinguished physicists, researchers, and students descend on the nation’s gambling capital for a conference? The answer is "a bad week for the casino"—but you'd never guess why.

Ask a Physicist: Phone Flash Sharpie Shock!

Lexie and Xavier, from Orlando, FL want to know: "What's going on in this video ? Our science teacher claims that the pain comes from a small electrical shock, but we believe that this is due to the absorption of light. Please help us resolve this dispute!"

The Science of Ice Cream: Part One

Even though it's been a warm couple of months already, it's officially summer. A delicious, science-filled way to beat the heat? Making homemade ice cream. (We've since updated this article to include the science behind vegan ice cream. To learn more about ice cream science, check out The Science of Ice Cream, Redux ) Image Credit: St0rmz via Flickr Over at Physics@Home there's an easy recipe for homemade ice cream. But what kind of milk should you use to make ice cream? And do you really need to chill the ice cream base before making it? Why do ice cream recipes always call for salt on ice?