Technological Quest for the Supernatural / Houdini & Magic

Hosted byGeorge Noory

Technological Quest for the Supernatural / Houdini & Magic

About the show

Peter Bebergal studied religion at Brandeis University and Harvard Divinity School and frequently writes on the intersection of popular culture, religion, and science. In the first half, he discussed how people have used technology over the ages to complement—or in some cases awaken—our supernatural imagination, including famous inventors, engineers, seekers, and seers. Magicians, mediums, and others became "spiritual hackers" re-purposing devices in order to communicate with spirits or for other occult practices. He cited the example of 'Frank's Box,' created by Frank Sumption, who hacked an FM radio to continuously sweep across the band yielding voices and sounds that arise out of the noise. Some believe the output contains spiritual messages akin to EVPs.

One of the first attempts at spiritual technology, said Bebergal, was the Golem, a being from Jewish legend said to be magically created from inorganic matter. In the lore, the Golem was thought to be a demonstration of the mystical capabilities of the Rabbi, yet would sometimes grow out-of-control. Technologies were also connected to the history of spiritualism, he added, such as with the staging of spirit cabinets, which helped foster certain states of consciousness in the audience. More recently, he studied Mitch Altman's 'Brain Machine' which uses a pair of goggles that flash lights, and audio of binaural beats to induce meditative brainwave states. The inventor told him that "a device like this can only show you what's possible, but eventually you have to do the regular meditation yourself."


A paranormal researcher for the majority of his life, Professor Slim King, has designed mental illusions for dozens of professional magicians including David Copperfield and has written about the tarot, pendulums, dreams, and omens. In the latter half, he spoke about the life of Harry Houdini and the alleged return of Houdini's spirit in 1929. During his investigation of the well-known medium Margery (Mina Crandon), Houdini was issued an angry death curse by 'Walter" a spirit guide speaking through Margery (Houdini, King revealed, often employed fraudulent practices to expose mediums who themselves were operating hoaxes). Within two years of the incident, the robust Houdini was dead.

Years earlier, he'd made a pact with his wife Bess that if he died he would try to communicate with her from the afterlife, and they set-up an elaborate code to prove that it was him. The medium Arthur Ford correctly conveyed the code to Bess, and in a séance that took place on January 8th, 1929, Ford relayed further messages from Houdini to his wife. The magician Dorothy Dietrich continues to conduct a séance to contact Houdini every Halloween at the Houdini Museum in Scranton, PA, King reported. He also talked about such magicians as David Copperfield, David Blaine, and Criss Angel, and conducted a live magic experiment with a "hoodoo bag" of small objects.

News segment guests: Catherine Austin Fitts, Mike Bara

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