Role of Conjurers

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If Steve, who apparently has psychic ability and succeeds in demonstrations, has his results denied even when there is videotape evidence confirming what he did, or at least making fraud unlikely, this subjects him to repetition of earlier conflictual traumas and the recycling of the process: i.e., the need for greater and more psychic feats to stabilize him and protect him from these onslaughts. Denial of the highly personal and often subjectively interpreted "unreal" reality might undermine his self-esteem and drive him further into telekinesis as a defense mechanism where the anxiety can be ameliorated by repetition and compulsion. He becomes the sorcerer's apprentice. In view of these problems it would be desirable to have sophisticated conjurers and gentlemen who, like W. E. Cox,' in addition to being a highly trained engineer is also a leading parapsychologist and expert conjurer. Consulting conjurers whose probity, ethics and claims about themselves have not been verified and have seemingly sought publicity with poorly documented sensational charges and challenges, should be avoided. If the conjurer can duplicate the alleged psychic stunts by sleight of hand, this is helpful to know, but this does not mean that Steve, for example, necessarily produced his effects in that way. Also, out of fairness to the psychic metal benders, would it not be proper for the investigators to subject the conjurer to the same experimental criteria and then see if he can (duplicate the stunt. Put up or shut up. This point is illustrated by Dunninger's recalling how, throughout his career, he was frequently perturbed by people who did not attempt his telepathic feats under the same conditions as he had, and yet they claimed that they did. They never accepted his challenge to perform the contest with him, under the exact conditions. To paraphrase him: "Have someone write a message on a piece of paper, turn it over, pin it to an oaken table with a knife and ask the challenger to write the sentence. I defy him to do it, whereas when I am turned on I will do it!"

In more modern terms and aimed specifically at psychokinesis, Richards 29 proposed that an uninvolved experimenter have a sealed test tube, containing wires and open safety pins exposed to the prestidigitation of the stage magician and to the psychic metal bender using genuine psychic ability. If neither one of them can manage the stunt, then we are no worse off than we were before. There is no way that the magician could pull a trick, if the experimenter kept his eye on the tube and the psychic metal bender could be the winner if either of them wins.

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