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For the 1970s TV detective series, see Banacek.
Banachek at The Amaz!ng Meeting 8, Las Vegas, 2010.
Born Steven Shaw
(1960-11-20) November 20, 1960 (age 56)
Middlesex, England, UK
Nationality American
Occupation Mentalist, magician, writer, skeptic

Steven Shaw (born 30 November 1960), known professionally as Banachek, is a mentalist.[1] He has written books on mentalism and has invented various magic and mentalism effects, including the Penn & Teller bullet catch and the original "buried alive"[citation needed] stunt. He is the Director of the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge.[2]


Born in England and raised in South Africa and Australia, Banachek has been performing since his arrival in the United States in 1976.[3]

Banachek is often sought out by top entertainers and magic TV shows around the world as a consultant. His clients include Penn & Teller, David Blaine, Lance Burton, James Randi and Criss Angel.[4][5]

During the early-1980s Project Alpha hoax,[6][7] Banachek fooled scientists at Washington University into believing that his supposed psychic abilities were genuine. Even though "they had agreed should they ever be asked: Are you faking it?... that they would immediately admit the truth... They were never once asked.", as D. J. Grothe explains.[8] With James Randi, he took part in an investigation of alleged faith healer Peter Popoff's activities, which ultimately exposed Popoff's false claims.[9]

Banachek has appeared on several television programs, including CNN Live,[3] Mindfreak[5] and Unscrewed with Martin Sargent.[10] During Nightline's Beyond Belief program, reporter JuJu Chang described him as a "crusader".

In 2008, Banachek toured as part of the stage show Hoodwinked with Bob Arno, Todd Robbins and Richard Turner.[11][12]

On July 12, 2009, Banachek conducted a preliminary test of Connie Sonne's dowsing ability for the JREF One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge that was witnessed by hundreds in person and hundreds more via live webcast.[13][14]

Mentalist Steve Shaw (Banachek) with confederate at the 1983 CSICOP Conference in Buffalo, NY.

Opinion on psychics[edit]

As Director of the JREF Million Dollar Challenge, Banachek has stated that psychics like James Van Praagh have crossed the line when they claim to talk to the dead. He believes that claims to be talking to a person's dead relatives to "make [that person] feel better" prevent them from grieving: "I think these [psychics] are scum.... Grieving is a part of death." He has stated that there is no scientific evidence for psychic phenomena: "it's not science; it never has been science".[citation needed] According to him, the treatment of the children on A&E's show Psychic Kids "borders on child abuse".[15]


  • Psychic Entertainers Association Dave Lederman Memorial Award (for Creativity in Mentalism), 1997.[16]
  • APCA (Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities) Entertainer of the Year 1998, 1999.[17]
  • APCA College Campus Novelty Act of the Year, 2000.[citation needed]
  • Psychic Entertainers Association Dan Blackwood Memorial Award (for Outstanding Contribution to the Art of Mentalism), 2006.[16]
  • Psychic Entertainers Association Dunninger Memorial Award (for Distinguished Professionalism in the Performance of Mentalism), 2007.[16]
  • His book Psychological Subtleties 2 won the first place in The Magic Woods Awards for Best Book in 2007.[citation needed]
  • Awarded Honorary Lifetime Membership at PSYCRETS (British Society of Mystery Entertainers) Tabula Mentis VII in April 2010.[18]

Books and videos[edit]

  • Atmore, Joseph; Dunninger, Joseph; Banachek; Palmer, Bill (2001). Dunninger's Brain Busters. Humble, TX: H&R Magic Books. p. 111. OCLC 65215584. 
  • Banachek; Burlingame, Hardin J.; Wells, Scott R.; Gillett, S. Christopher (2002). Psychophysiological Thought Reading, or, Muscle Reading and the Ideomotor Response Revealed. Houston, Texas: Magic Inspirations. p. 73. ISBN 978-0-9706438-1-0. OCLC 60349209. 
  • Banachek; Dyment, Doug; Wells, Scott R. (2007). Psychological Subtleties 2. Houston, Texas: Magic Inspirations. p. 206. ISBN 978-0-9706438-2-7. OCLC 310366497. 
  • Banachek (Featured Performer) (2004). Banachek's Psi Series (Motion picture). United States: L&L Publishing. 
  • Banachek (Featured Performer) (2016). Houdini & Doyle's World of Wonders (Motion picture). Canada: 



  1. ^ Randi, James (1992). Conjuring. New York City, NY: St. Martin's Press. p. 229. ISBN 0-312-09771-9. 
  2. ^ "Randi Challenges Top "Psychics" After Nightline Episode". August 18, 2011. Retrieved 2011-09-08. 
  3. ^ a b Crement, Kelly (October 9, 2006). "Mentalist showcases his 'sixth sense'". The Daily Eastern News. Retrieved July 31, 2009. 
  4. ^ Nickell, Joe (July 30, 2009). "Thought-Reader Banachek". Amherst, NY: Center for Inquiry. Retrieved July 30, 2009. 
  5. ^ a b Banachek at the Internet Movie Database
  6. ^ Randi, James (Summer 1983). "Project Alpha Experiment: Part I, The First Two Years". Skeptical Inquirer. 7 (4). Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. pp. 24–33. ISSN 0194-6730. 
  7. ^ Randi, James (Fall 1983). "Project Alpha Experiment:Part 2, Beyond the Laboratory". Skeptical Inquirer. 8 (1). Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. pp. 36–45. ISSN 0194-6730. 
  8. ^ Grothe, D. J. "Paranormal Bias". The Travel Channel. Retrieved 15 June 2014. 
  9. ^ Randi, James (1989). The Faith Healers. Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books. p. 141. ISBN 0-87975-535-0. 
  10. ^ Bernhard, Brendan (August 14, 2003). "YOUR FUTURE, 24/7: The dystopian delights of TechTV". LA Weekly. Retrieved July 31, 2009. 
  11. ^ Greenaway, K (July 10, 2008). "If it weren't onstage, it'd be illegal". The Montreal Gazette. Retrieved July 31, 2009. 
  12. ^ Smith, Alison (November 25, 2008). "Woo in Review: HOODWINKED". SWIFT. James Randi Educational Foundation. Retrieved July 31, 2009. 
  13. ^ Smith, Alison (July 17, 2009). "Connie Sonne Preliminary Challenge Test at TAM 7". SWIFT. James Randi Educational Foundation. Retrieved July 30, 2009. 
  14. ^ "Connie Sonne Paranormal Challenge Videos". James Randi Educational Foundation. July 22, 2009. Retrieved July 30, 2009. 
  15. ^ "Primetime Nightline: Beyond Belief Psychic Power". ABC Nightline. August 17, 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-19. 
  16. ^ a b c "Awards". Psychic Entertainers Association. Retrieved July 30, 2009. 
  17. ^ Brinck, Chad (October 8, 2001). "Steve Banachek- Mentalist of the Millennium-performed Friday". Clarkson Integrator. Clarkson University. Retrieved July 31, 2009. 
  18. ^ "PSYCRETS Honorary Awards & Lifetime Members". Psycrets. Archived from the original on December 30, 2013. 

External links[edit]