James Hydrick Confession
Faking Psychokinesis

James Hydrick Confession
Faking Psychokinesis

In 1981 Hydrick confessed to tricking millions of people. Hydrick: "He [the magician] would show how easy it was to trick people. Slight-of-hand, etc. Things like that impressed me."

"How close-minded a lot of people really were. It was so fascinating to see how people would miss things just like that. The obvious things they would miss."

"I was impressed by Houdini's trick of vanishing an elephant off a stage. I could figure out how it was done. I began to think, if people go crazy over that, maybe I should do something people go crazy over."

"People are looking [at the object] and waiting and so it moves, OK?"

"Actually it didn't move from psychic powers it moved from something else - physical. It moves from air currents from my mouth. But you can't tell it because it took so many years of practicing to get this down pat to where you can't see it."

By the early 1980s in Salt Lake City, Utah, Hydrick developed a cult-like following. He claimed he was able to use psychokinesis to turn the pages of books and make pencils spin around while placed on the edge of a desk, among other feats.

Hydrick had also set up martial arts classes and claimed he could pass on the gift of psychokinesis to youngsters through special training techniques. Hydrick rose to international attention through his demonstration of these skills on the American television show, That's Incredible!. 

The episode originally aired in December 1980 and was later repeated in 1981. He performed the pencil-spinning trick with the skeptical host's hand on his mouth to block possible air blowing (after the host suggested that he could hear Hydrick blowing).

However, Hydrick deliberately readjusted the pencil beforehand so that it was as precarious as possible and so would move with the slight disturbance caused by his hands.

He also caused a page from a telephone book to turn over, again, allegedly by telekinesis. James Randi awarded the program a 1980 Uri Award, later renamed the Pigasus Award, "for declaring a simple magic trick to be genuine."


In 1981, Hydrick's psychic powers were definitively exposed as being fraudulent by investigative journalist Dan Korem. Hydrick confessed his fraud to Korem and admitted that he had developed his unique talent while he was in prison, and did not learn it from a Chinese master as he had originally claimed.