Each short episode of this promotional webseries for Houdini and Doyle showcases a different magic trick, escapology feat or exposure of spiritualistic fakery with some connection to either Harry Houdini or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Hosted by Rebecca Liddiard, who co-stars in H&D as Constable Adelaide Stratton, the webseries is a co-production between Smokebomb Entertainment, Shaw Media and the Canada Media Fund.
In the interests of education, it’s worth noting that the “demonstration of hypnosis” in Episode 10, involving Miss Liddiard standing upon a “hypnotised” subject’s body while they lie supported by two chairs, is a feat quite easily performed by any reasonably athletic person as long as it is carried out carefully; no hypnosis is required.
Written and presented by Brian Dunning, host and producer of the Skeptoid podcast and the author of the Skeptoid book series, Here Be Dragons is a great primer on critical thinking in evaluating pseudoscientific claims.
The notion of a crook playing the ghost racket for fun and profit was already a narrative cliche by 1923. The phantasmagorical powers of the fake spook go unexplained in this early Felix the Cat cartoon; sometimes it’s best to just let art flow over you.
Here’s a fascinating piece of ghostbuster history; a Movietone newsreel interview with Harry Price, who investigated numerous purportedly psychic phenomena during the early-mid 20th century. With his seemingly affected “upper class” accent and abrupt, awkward movements, HP is clearly not a natural presenter. Still, he does a good job showing off the London Council for Psychical Research’s facilities, including their impressive library, several interesting museum artefacts, a lab full of cutting-edge 1930s technology and a seance room equipped with apparatus to test claims of clairvoyance and telekinesis.