Whoa! This is news to me.
Barry Sonnenfeld has signed on to direct a film based on James “The Amazing” Randi’s Project Alpha, a real-life hoax that is explored in the documentary feature An Honest Liar.
Project Alpha was a hoax orchestrated by Randi and two fake psychics, Steve Shaw (now known as Banachek) and Michael Edwards. Banachek and Edwards participated in a paranormal research project led by researchers who believed that the pair had legitimate psychic powers and had no idea that they were being duped. The project, which began in 1979, lasted over two years until the hoax was revealed publicly in Discover magazine.
I just met Mike Edwards this past weekend at a Skeptical Classroom event. Both he and Banachek are super nice guys and I’ll be interested to see how this movie plays out. I can guarantee that the small remaining parapsychological community will not be happy about this. Randi had alerted the psychic researchers from the McDonnell Laboratory for Psychical Research to watch out for fraud. They ignored him and were duped. This highlighted the poor controls on such experiments. When stricter controls are used in psi experiments, the abilities diminish or stop completely. Surprise.
The kids who successfully pulled one over on the researchers became a Phoenix businessman who still promotes the value of skepticism (Mike), and one of the world’s greatest magicians, Banachek, who develops stage magic for the likes of Criss Angel and Penn and Teller. He remains part of the James Randi Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge team.
Make sure you catch An Honest Liar in theaters NOW.
Tip: Mrs. Doctor Atlantis