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Talcum Powder Cures Magnetism! PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

Ivan-Stoiljkovic-magnetic-boy-150x150To all those SWIFT readers – and others – who have excitedly posted me the hot news release about the Croatian boy who is said to have a “magnetic body,” I simply ask you to go to this link first and read the “Same old magnetic flummery” article, then come back here…

The fact that aluminum pots – as well as copper and silver coins – stick to this kid, rather shows that his touted “magnetism” – unless it has been drastically improved to pick up normally non-magnetic materials – is simply due to sticky skin.  One of the substances normally present on human skin, a naturally-generated protective oil, is sebum, a waxy and particularly adhesive chemical that washes off easily. So, if you want to be clean, take a bath. Of course you'll have to give up your chosen profession of going about with junk stuck to your body, but you’ll do a lot better on the social level.

As you might have seen on a video clip from one of the programs I did on Seoul Broadcasting a few years ago, I defeated the similar claims of a Chinese gentleman who even stuck a porcelain toilet-lid to his own son’s chest to prove how magnetic his whole family was. I dusted father and son with talcum powder, and their powers evaporated…

When are the media going to actually going to investigate these ridiculous claims, rather than accepting them for cheap news items? Surely a reputable news agency wouldn’t do that, would they? Oh, my! Apparently it's the Reuters News Agency who haven’t heard about that radical idea of looking at the evidence…!

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Righto
written by DrMatt, May 17, 2011
I pointed this out to Reuters 4/13, referring them to your "Same old magnetic flummery", and yesterday, they replied:

------------
[Reuters Online Support] Re: Bogus story
Your request (#5443) has been deemed solved.
...Leo Lazaro Vera II, May-16 11:44 (EDT):...
Your comments have been passed on to our editorial team....
-----------

As of yesterday, I posted my observations on this matter to my Facebook profile, and somebody suggested that they should stick on the kid's chest the power tractor he was seen driving around the lawn. Since then, Reuters has added subtitles to the video, elaborated the accompanying text to include more unconfirmed claims (healing powers!), and edited out the part of the home video that shows the kid playing with the tractor. The link at which I originally stumbled across this was http://www.reuters.com/video/2...=210783313 and it may still be up.
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written by george152, May 17, 2011
What amused me was all the spoons were ladle end up.
So all it was is a dirty kid and a scamming family..
Who'd have thunk ?
Thanks for the explanation.. smilies/cheesy.gif
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written by alirix, May 17, 2011
thanks for the explanation !!
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HAHAHA I Do That To
written by Ingram_Mac, May 17, 2011
I can do this to

1. i need is to be dirty, achieved by not taking a shower for a week or so.

2. Sweaty also, this one is important, this one makes it seem as if you are magnetized, and seen in the video or picture, that kid is not in the best shape of his life so it seems as if he sweats profusely (accomplished by riding his little atv) getting his skin all sticky by not wiping off his sweat for awhile.

3. Be Bent at the perfect angle so nothing slides (and did anyone notice that coins and aluminum are very light, not to mention non-magnetic, so that defeats the name "Magnetic Boy" or having a magnetic body)

4. You have to be very stupid, bored, and not care what people think of you.

WOW KID, JUST WOW

He is going to feel very stupid when he grows up looking back on this and saying to himself "what the hell was i thinking."
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written by ianmacm, May 17, 2011
Is it any wonder that sceptics are wary of the mainstream/reliable media? Some basic fact checking would have shown that this is a rehash of a very old and discredited claim. The need for a story often outweighs other considerations. smilies/cry.gif
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written by Ivan B., May 17, 2011
I come from Croatia, and I must say, the first time a saw this on TV, firs that came to my mind was "Oh if only Randi saw this..." Wall Mr. Randi, I am very glad you did!
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written by ConspicuousCarl, May 18, 2011
I submitted an inquiry to Reuters earlier this year about another subject, and got no real answer. They had an article which was really just a completely non-critical love fest for the Pope. The article declared that "some atheists" think they can prove that god doesn't exist, setting up a perfectly easy straw man to debunk with a pope assertion.

I asked Reuters to provide an example of atheists saying that they can prove god doesn't exist, as they appeared to be presenting that as a fact (not as a quote) and I have never actually heard any atheist say that. I got the same response as DrMatt. The issue was sent to the editors and then "deemed solved" with no answer.

The author, Philip Pullella, is a special pope fan boy for Reuters. It looks like that rump-kisser gets his information about atheism from the pope without seeking any other sources, and Reuters doesn't care.
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Anyone know..
written by Ricsuth, May 18, 2011
A friend recently got very excited at the story of the magnetic kid, as well as one on the sonar boy. He told me there was a series on Quest called something like Stanleys Superheroes.

As soon as I heard the magnetic boy story I remembered something form Swift before, but did not recall the talcum powder test. I did suggest that this scam had been around a long time and that I recalled it was more to do with sweat, but he was adamant that the case was proven.

I told my friend I was extremely sceptical of both these tales, and sure enough , seems the specialist who looks after Sonar Boy says he would rather he used a cane or stick as he still bumps into objects and things. Also seems it is not some miracle but a quite well known effect we could all develop to a greater or lesser degree by practice.

Since Quest does a show called Mythbusters which, when I have seen it looks quite good, I was surprised at the report my friend gave me that these claimed superabilities were all wholly endorsed by 'scientists'

I would like to get a ref on the series and help my friend understand that not every apparent magical claim is true, and not every 'scientist' is equal.

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@Ricsuth
written by udabac, May 18, 2011
The "superheroes" show is actually "Stan Lee's Superheroes". Mr. Lee is one of the originators of comic book superheroes such as Spiderman, the Fantastic Four, etc. I've ony seen that show briefly but it largely centers around people with unusual abilities or characteristics- the episode I saw didn't seem to be promoting pseudoscience, only highlighting people who can doin things that most people can't, but it wouldn't surprise me if they were validating this nonsense in the name of better entertainment.

Mythbusters is a much more skeptical show, yes, and looks at things from a much more controlled, evidence-based perspective. I would just point out, though, that just because they value science and the scientific method doesn't make them scientists- people such as the Mythbusters who experiment for entertainment can still be vulnerable to confirmation bias or mistaken perceptions. I still can't watch the episode in which they concluded that a polygraph works as a lie detector and cannot be beat (funny, why aren't they allowed in court testemony then?) But overall, they still do a better job than most.
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Alternatives
written by DrMatt, May 18, 2011
I guess if I want reliable international news, I should stick with Al-Jazeera(?).
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written by Caller X, May 18, 2011
As someone who doesn't travel with talcum powder on the off chance I might need to sprinkle it on a small boy, I would have used a piece of the local newspaper.

The kid on Roseanne got some 12 year old trim from a female classmate because he could stick a spoon on his nose.

To debunk this feat is to debase oneself. The eagle does not hunt flies.
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@caller x
written by Bruno, May 20, 2011
>To debunk this feat is to debase oneself. The eagle does not hunt flies.

The point is not that people make such claims. Of course ridicule suffices there. The problem is that reputable news media report the story as true. At that point we're no longer hunting flies.
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written by SeavyCarr, May 20, 2011
According to my Guinness Book of World Records, the world record holder for attaching metal objects to human skin is Hungarian Laszlo Harasztosi. I just looked him up on Wikipedia - apparently he's also psychic and heals people with focussed cosmic energy, so this sweaty Croatian kid probably has a great career ahead of him.

Oh wait, no he won't! I forgot, the world ends tomorrow. The Rapture, the Rapture...
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written by Baloney, May 20, 2011
Is it just me, or are photos of chubby, shirtless kids balancing free-weights and frying pans on their bellies not ridiculously hilarious?
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written by Caller X, May 20, 2011
written by Baloney, May 20, 2011
Is it just me, or are photos of chubby, shirtless kids balancing free-weights and frying pans on their bellies not ridiculously hilarious?


Some people find them a turn-on. In some cases that's why they post them.
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written by Ll, May 26, 2011
Did anyone notice that the remote control they stuck on him was plastic?
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