Curley Confirmation + Sony Corp. and ESP, More on Theremin

James Randi --- Wizard (
Wed, 8 Jul 1998 15:43:32 -0400 (EDT)


I've just received validation of Curley's decease.

Earl Gordon Curley died suddenly, causes not stated, on Friday, June
26th, 1998, at age 51. No further information available at this time.

Curley was a Canadian, a claimed psychic with whom I had differences.
The status of lawsuits between us is presently undecided.

This notice is in response to inquiries. No further comments on
Curley at present.

More on Theremin

I spelled "Theremin" incorrectly. Sorry. One reader informed me that
"It's named after the engineer and inventor Leo Theremin." I made one
of these then-new devices when I was a kid. Used two #10 rectifier
tubes, I recall. Fun, and very exciting. I was a lousy performer
with it, but It was a challenge I enjoyed. Just body-capacity effect,
as experienced with the variations in Kirlian photography. If only
these parapsychologists h= ad a little more know-how about basic
electronics, conjuring techniques, and photography, we'd have been
spared the whole Serios/Eisenbud fiasco, much of the "Geller Effect,"
and some of the current "research."

Too much to hope for?

Good friend Brian Siano sent this me this note on Theremin....


Just for the sake of being Culturally Aware, I'd like to draw people's
attention to a wonderful documentary about Leo Theremin that was made
abo= ut three or four years ago. The man's life was amazing: a Russian
inventor who comes to the states, and in the cultural ferment of
1920's New York creates a series of electronic music instruments, of
which the Theremin is only the most famous. Theremin marries a ballet
dancer and settles in, only to be kidnapped by the NKVD and taken back
to Russia. While his friends in the States wonder what happened to the
man, he is put to work developing electronic devices for the Soviet
Union-- including a series of listening devices. Stalin himself
awarded Theremin one of the USSR's highest honors for his
work. Legends of his demise in the Gulags circulate among Theremin's
old friends.

The Theremin turns up in the scores for _The day the Earth Stood
Still_, _Spellbound_ and Brian Wilson's "Good Vibrations."

Now, here's the miracle: in the mid-1980s, some of Theremin's friends
are travelling in the USSR, when they strike up a conversation with a
musician-- who says he'd just had lunch with Theremin the previous
week. Turns out Theremin is still alive, frail, but alert, and he'd
spent the years as curator of a museum of musical instruments. The
documentary _Theremin_ ends with a reception in New York (hosted by
one of my heroes, Michael O'Donoghue) where the aged Theremin is
reunited with many of his old friends.

Absolutely wonderful documentary. "Theremin" is available on video.

I had no idea! I'm off to get that video!

Sony and ESP

On another note, correspondent Gary Posner forwarded this to me....

South China Morning Post
Internet Edition
Tuesday July 7, 1998
Sony sees sense to discontinue ESP research


Japan's Sony Corporation says it has proved extra-sensory perception
exists - but has closed down its ESP research facility because there
did not seem to be any way to turn the knowledge into marketable

Sony had a team of five researchers, who spent seven years inviting
people who claimed to have psychic powers into their laboratories for
a series of scientific tests to see if they really did have these
powers, company spokesman Masanobu Sakaguchi said.

"We found out experimentally that yes, ESP exists, but that any
practical application of this knowledge is not likely in the
foreseeable future," he said.

Mr Sakaguchi said a typical experiment involved having a qi gong
practitioner put qi, or spiritual energy, into a glass of water
and then having another practitioner detect which glass contained
the qi.

"They were right 70 per cent of the time, and if it was random
guessing they would have been right only 50 per cent of the time," he
said. The experiments were repeated so often that any chances of a
statistical fluke were ruled out, he said. Other experiments produced
similar results for things like discerning hidden objects and
detecting colours without looking, he said.

"We were unable to detect qi with any machine; it seems only people
can detect it," he said. Possibilities like packing qi gong energy in
batteries were thus too remote to justify more research, he said.

Masaru Ibuga, one of Sony's founders, set up the ESP research centre
in 1991 after he became interested in qi gong and other unexplained
aspects of Chinese medicine. His death this year may be the real
reason the research was discontinued.


Now, based upon the very sparse data given here, it seems to me that
every parapsychologist in the world would be screeching success over
70% results, when 50% is expected by chance. Since I don't hear any
more than the normal background screeching, I suspect there might have
been protocol or statistical problems with the Sony/Ibuga research....

A final note: may I remind you that the JREF conference "Magic, Myth,
& the Media" will deal with the real stuff, and is from August 6th to
9th in Fort Lauderdale. Call toll-free to 1-888-USA-JREF to make
reservations and get further information. No hyperspace, no
mythology, just hard facts. And lots of fun!

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