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Jan282012

Why I am a Skeptic

It was 1981 and I was 12 years young. Commercial TV back late 70’s and early 80’s was ripe with pseudoscience nonsense. TV shows like “In Search Of” were increasing popular with topics covering far out ideas like Bigfoot, the Bermuda Triangle, the Loch Ness Monster, alien visitations and psychic abilities. One show popular amongst my classmates was “That’s Incredible!”  

The ability to move objects using your mind is sometimes called “Telekinesis” and one episode of That’s Incredible featured a young man who not only could demonstrate it, but had a martial arts studio that could teach it to others. This man was James Hydrick. Needless to say, at my young age this all seemed very compelling, and it was the talk of the playground the day after it aired. The next time I saw James Hydrick on television, everything changed.

I will not go into details of the two clips below, but when I finally revisited them on YouTube some 25 years later, I was amazed of how well it played out exactly as I had remembered it over all these years. This was my first exposure to James Randi and his challenge (back then it was $10K written on a personal check he carried in his wallet). It was also the first time I saw the practical application of performing an experiment using controls. This really hit home for me. After that night on broadcast television, I adopted a “put up or shut up” attitude with people making extraordinary claims. It might seem hard to believe that one’s world view could be so radically changed over one crappy 80’s TV show, but because of these clips, I have been a skeptic my entire adolescent and adult life.  Enjoy.

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