Electric Monk

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Banachek - Mentalist and Project Alpha Member

Banachek came to the stage to demonstrate his mentalist abilities, and to discuss his participation with Randi in Project Alpha.

Banachek Gets Milk
Banachek Gets "Milk" From Julia Sweeney

He began with guessing cards selected by audience members, while describing the "tells" that he was using to determine what they chose. Banachek moved on to finding the words chosen from a book by two volunteers, one of whom was Julia Sweeney.

Banachek And Julia
Julia Assists Banachek With The Phone Directory

Julia and members of the audience then assisted Banachek in selecting a phone number from a phone directory, which he revealed to have written on a white board ahead of time.

Psi Researchers Fooled...

Following this, Banacheck described his role in Project Alpha. This was an attempt by Randi to expose how poor the safeguards were in the parapsychology research laboratories. Poor funding had been the excuse used by psi researchers when confronted with evidence of poor procedures in the past. This time, a grant of $500,000 had been made, and it was time to find out if the standards had been tightened. Randi sent two young magicians, including Banachek, in to determine if money made a difference in quality, and whether the researchers would accept the help of a trained conjuror (Randi) in setting up protocols to prevent deception.

Project Alpha Video
...Precautions Rejected

It turned out that the scientists were easy to fool, and rejected outside expert help in designing the tests. This last was attributed to a desire to believe on the part of the researchers. Banachek played video of the two scientists discussing their results, and pointed out the ways in which the cheating was accomplished. Technical problems with the projector prevented much of the video from being seen, but enough was there to make the point.

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