The 12th Annual CFI Houdini Seance

October 31, 2008

Harry Houdini, the world-famous magician and skeptic, sincerely explored the religion of spiritualism and communication with the dead after his beloved mother’s death in 1913.

In this episode for Halloween 2008, Joe Nickell, the world’s leading paranormal investigator and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry’s senior research fellow, and D.J. Grothe (both of whom are former professional magicians) conduct the Center for Inquiry’s 12th Annual Houdini Seance, using artifacts of the magician’s art to entice Houdini’s spirit to appear. They recount the history of the original Houdini Seance, and explore Houdini’s views on the spirit world, and to what extent he was a “debunker,” as opposed to an investigator. They talk about his skeptical methods, such as going undercover, and how he used his background in magic to aid his investigations. And as commemoration, Joe Nickell reads from Houdini’s famous book on skeptical investigations, A Magician Among the Spirits.