28 February 1959 |
New Ellenton, South Carolina, USA
|Residence||Wasco State Prison, California, USA|
|Occupation||Martial arts performer, self-proclaimed psychic|
James Alan Hydrick (born February 28, 1959 in New Ellenton, South Carolina ) is a former American performer and self-described psychic. Hydrick claimed to be able to perform acts of telekinesis, such as his trademark trick involving the movement of a pencil resting at the edge of a table. Following a nationally televised demonstration of his abilities on That's Incredible!, he was unable to prove his supernatural abilities on a subsequent show called That's My Line, and Hydrick subsequently confessed the fraud to an investigative reporter.
Rise to fame 
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."
Fraud exposed 
Magician and paranormal skeptic James Randi demonstrated the pencil trick on the television program That's My Line, hosted by Bob Barker. In a follow-up episode, Randi and Hydrick both appeared. When Randi performed the simple control of placing small pieces of expanded polystyrene on the table around the phone book (to show if Hydrick was actually turning the pages by blowing on them), Hydrick's "powers" suddenly failed him. Hydrick attempted to explain that when the foam was heated by the stage lights they developed a static electric charge which, when added to the weight of the page, required more force than he was able to generate to turn the page. Randi and the judges, though, declared that this hypothesis had no scientific basis.
After an hour and a half of Hydrick staring at the pages (the show was edited for time) without any results, and claiming that his powers were real, he finally admitted being unable to complete the challenge. The judging panel, which included a parapsychologist, stated that, in their opinion, no supernatural phenomenon had taken place. The failed stunt resulted in the television show That's Incredible receiving a Pigasus Award, and effectively ended Hydrick's television career (following Hydrick's concession, Randi himself performed the same trick using the techniques that Hydrick perfected).
In 1981, Hydrick's psychic powers were definitively exposed as being fraudulent by investigative journalist Dan Korem who was also a magician. Hydrick confessed his fraud to Korem and admitted that he had developed his trick while he was in prison and that he did not learn it from a Chinese master as he had originally claimed. 
Present day 
In 1989, James Hydrick received a 17-year sentence for molesting 5 boys. He is currently incarcerated at a California prison (California Men's Colony CDCR# G03069, as of 2-11-2013) for sexual assault.
- Rivera, Carla (1989-01-07). "Suspect With Many Images : Man Denies Guilt in Molestations". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-10-38.
- Randi, James (September 22, 2006). "A Look At The Past". James Randi Educational Foundation. Retrieved 2006-11-18.
- http://www.unexplainable.net/artman/publish/article_167.shtml Psychic powers, Confessions, and Power Contests
- Korem, Dan (1983). Psychic Confession. (also transcript)
- Los Angeles Times (August 19, 1989). 
- California Department of Justice (2009).