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Magicians and the Paranormal: A survey

Prof Wiseman recently conducted an online survey examining magicians' beliefs about the paranormal.

The results are described in an article on the Skepchick website here.

This page contains some additional information about the survey, and related research.

Survey details

The link to the online survey was placed on various magic-related sites and discussion groups. This resulted in 426 respondents. 26 of these contributed incomplete datasets, and were excluded from the analysis.

Due to the opportunistic nature of participant recruitment, the results may not generalise to a random sample of magicians.

Some of the survey data can be downloaded here.

Previous surveys and research

In 1979, sociologist Marcello Truzzi polled members of the Psychic Entertainers Association and found that a surprising 87% indicated that ESP ‘truly exists’. A later poll, conducted in 1993 found that this figure had fallen to 47%.
Truzzi, M. (1997). Reflections on the sociology and social psychology of conjurors and their relations with psychical research. in: S. Krippner (Ed.) Advances in Parapsychological Research 8, Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co.; 221-271.

In 1980, Lutz Muller reported that 72% of magicians polled in the German Magic Circle thought ESP was probably real.
Muller, L. (1980). Para Psi und pseudo: Parapsychologie und die Wissenschaft von der Tauschung. Berlin.

In 1981, Polly Birdsell, owner of California Magic and Novelty Company, found that 82% of Californian magicians expressed some form of belief in the paranormal.
Birdsell, P.G. (1981). How magicians relate the occult to modern magic: An investigation and study. Simi Valley, C.A.: Silver Dawn Media.

In 1990, George Hansen reviewed some of the evidence relating to magicians belief in the paranormal.
Hansen, G.P. (1990). Magicians who endorsed psychic phenomena. The Linking Ring, 70(8), 52-54. Can be downloaded from this site.

Date posted: 23rd April 2008