Harry Houdini, the world-famous magician and escape artist, earnestly explored the religion of spiritualism and communication with the dead after his beloved mother’s death in 1913, even as he later crusaded against those whom he believed were fraudulent mediums.
In this episode, recorded on Halloween, Joe Nickell, the world’s leading paranormal investigator and CSI’s senior research fellow, and D.J. Grothe (both of whom are former professional magicians) conduct CFI’s 11th Annual Houdini Seance. They also recount episodes in the history of Spiritualism, including details from the lives of the Fox Sisters and the Davenport Brothers, and Houdini’s involvement investigating the religion of Spiritualism and his relationship to the Davenports. They discuss Lilydale, the Spiritualist community in Western New York, and talk about some of the secret methods Houdini exposed when challenging the mediums of his day. They conclude by exploring what might be the best balance between skepticism and compassion when investigating paranormal and spiritualistic claims.