Thursday, June 28, 2012

Channeling: The Carlos Hoax.

"Carlos" was the name of a 2,000-year-old spirit allegedly channeled by José Alvarez when he toured Australia in 1988.  Channeling was all the rage in Australia and an Australian television program contacted James Randi about finding someone who might show Australians that channeling was something doubtful. Randi approached Alvarez, a performance artist and friend who had long toyed with the idea of creating such a character. The rest, as they say, is history.
"We like to be deceived." - Blaise Pascal
James Randi Speaks: The Carlos Hoax
James Randi (born Randall James Hamilton Zwinge; August 7, 1928) is a Canadian-American stage magician and scientific skeptic best known as a challenger of paranormal claims and pseudoscience. Randi is the founder of the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF).
In 1988, Randi tested the gullibility of the media by perpetrating a hoax of his own. By teaming up with Australia's 60 Minutes program and by releasing a fake press package, he built up publicity for a spirit channeler named Carlos who was actually artist Jose Alvarez, a friend of Randi's. Randi would tell him what to say through sophisticated radio equipment. The media and the public were taken in, as no reporter bothered to check Carlos's credentials and history, which were all fabricated. The hoax was exposed on 60 Minutes; Carlos and Randi explained how they pulled it off. (see wiki
If you see something that's not there and it talks to you your nuts. If you see something that's not there and it doesn't talk to you  that's okay but if you hear something from something that's not there I don't want to hear about it.
Back then there was no Internet, Wiki or YouTube in 1988. Just New Age bookstores with various books dedicated to New Age stuff. I remember seeing someone channel in Toronto in the 80's Even though a book I read said never to drink coffee or smoke before you channel he did. I really began to have doubts about New Age stuff when I noticed the inconsistency of the information. Of course reading Thomas Troward warning about the power of suggestion around 1900 really hit home. Another thing was not the DVD "The Secret" itself but a book that criticized it. It wasn't what was in the video that was important but what was left out of the video. The video could portray things in the light it wanted will taking what had been said out of context. With this in mind think of the television shows of psychics. A one hour television show is actually taped for 2 hours or so and edited down to fit the one hour time slot, say 45 minutes allowing for commercials. I remember seeing one episode that was actually  about 25 minutes long the rest was commercials. Since only the hits are shown on television and not the misses that gives some indication of the accuracy. 
Some people probably still believe the Mayan calendar runs out Dec 21 2012 and the world ends.

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