Psychology of Ownership / The Magic Castle

Hosted byGeorge Noory

Psychology of Ownership / The Magic Castle

About the show

In the first half, Professor Michael Heller of Columbia Law School, and James Salzman, Professor of Environmental Law at UCLA, revealed the hidden set of rules that explain how things become "mine"—the favorite word of every two-year-old, which applies to everything from airplane seats to digital privacy. Salzman talked about how ownership disagreements could be viewed as a kind of storytelling battle, such as between "I had it first" versus "I'm holding on to it now." These type of conflicts, he added, date all the way back to the Bible's account of the Garden of Eden, in which God told Adam & Eve not to take his fruit from the tree. He outlined how fights over reclining seats on airlines are a kind of ownership conflict. Airlines have shrunk the area between seats in economy, and fights are breaking out over the scarce space. But in a sort of "deliberate ambiguity," the airlines are essentially selling the same space twice, he said, and pitting the passengers against each other, rather than taking responsibility.

Heller pointed out that the law doesn't cover many ownership dilemmas, such as how family heirlooms are to be divided up if it's not specified in a will. In some instances, he continued, we have a powerful sense of possession even though an item may not be legally ours, like how we could be enraged if someone took an item out of our shopping cart. He also discussed how ownership is really up for grabs nowadays, as items like music, books, and movies exist on a cloud or streaming platforms that we rent rather than own. "Imagine a world," Heller cautioned, "where you lease your wedding ring or rent your dog," and how we might lose touch with what's important to us as individuals. For more, check out videos featuring elements from their book.


In the latter half, C2C's investigative reporter Cheryll Jones presented her interview with magician Brandon Scott, focusing on the world-famous Magic Castle in Hollywood. Scott provided his unique perspective on this historical mansion and its inner workings, including the famed Houdini Room. Known as the "Ambassador of Fun," Scott has a long history of performing at the Castle, and shared recollections of his magic shows. The Castle was developed by Milt Larson and his family as an exclusive clubhouse devoted to magicians and the study of magic. There are a number of performance venues inside the Castle, Scott noted, such as the Parlor of Prestidigitation, and the Music Room, which houses a piano played by a "ghost" named Irma.

The Houdini Room, located in the upper part of the Castle, features a large round table where seances are held, in the spirit of what Houdini was exploring in his last years. Artifacts from Houdini's various magical tricks and stunts, such as his straitjacket, are housed there. Interestingly, Cheryll noted that there was a fire in 2011 at the Magic Castle on the night a Halloween party was scheduled, and the Houdini Room was the only spot that didn't get damaged. It was the 85th anniversary of Houdini's death, and famously the magician had promised he would try to send a message back from the afterlife. Was this Houdini's message? Cheryll pondered.

News segment guests: Dr. Peter Breggin, Kevin Randle

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