This is David Marks and Richard Kammann's _The Psychology of the Psychic_ (1980, Prometheu

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This is David Marks and Richard Kammann's _The Psychology of the Psychic_ (1980, Prometheus Books). Essentially, it's an attempt by these two researchers to determine if purported psychic phenomena were real. They looked into the allegedly psychic feats of Uri Geller and the Amazing Kreskin, and also did a replication of the SRI remote viewing experiments. Contrary to Riley's claim that the book was intended from the start as a hatchet job, they were open-minded about whether the results would be positive or negative. In fact, at first, they thought that the remote viewing experiments were successful and they were quite excited about this. Also, what is muscle reading? (In the above context, it sounds like a form of subtle communication between hoaxsters.) If you ever saw any of the old Late Night with David Letterman shows that had on ``famed Russian psychic Lev Schneider'', that was an example of very clumsy muscle-reading. Essentially, in a trick that involves the use of muscle-reading, the psychic has someone who is not a confederate hide something (e.g. Kreskin would have them hide his pay check). The psychic then asks for a volunteer, also not a confederate, who knows where the Maguffin is hidden and takes him or her by the hand and proceeds to the correct location. The way this works is that the volunteer unconsciously resists, ever so slightly, going in the wrong direction, and will tend to instinctively pull the ``psychic'' in the right direction. Hence, the name ``muscle reading'': a good muscle reader can feel the slight tensing and laxing of the muscles and will move in the correct direction. There is a real continuum of skill here. The Amazing Kreskin would apparently hold onto one end of a handkerchief and have the volunteer hold onto the other when he would find his pay check, quite a feat. On the other hand, so to speak, the aforementioned Lev Schneider would firmly clasp both of his hands on the arm of the volunteer, which is pretty lame. The interesting thing about Marks and Kammann's book is that were able to figure out how most of the tricks were done and, in many cases, explicate how psychic performances make use of normal, but sometimes subtle, aspects of human behavior and psychology. It's a fun book and, given that, unlike a professional magician like Houdini or Randi, they did not know the standard tricks ahead of time, it reads a bit like a detective story, as they observe each purportedly psychic phenomenon and then try to determine how it might be done by non-psychic means.


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