-Quick programming note: The weekly magic updates/loose ends have been phased out due to miniscule traffic numbers. People don’t really care about obscure magic trivia. That said, brilliant magic finds and info WILL continue to be posted here regularly.
Follow me on Twitter for the cool day-to-day magic: @vladkraven
Dr. Takeshi Yamada is a mad scientist that has had almost every mythical, magical creature you can imagine in his possession. Dr. Yamada is a taxidermist, and his collection of creatures includes dragons, serpents, death worms, mermaids and even the chupacabra.
Dr. Takeshi Yamada's Chupacabra
While the good doctor may not be a magician or performer, he is a master of illusion. He is a gaff-maker. The creatures are all his creations, made by mixing the bones and hides of different animals to create these most impressive mythological beasts.
Dr. Takeshi Yamada's Sea Serpent
He is not a taxidermist in the traditional sense, where he makes mounts out of existing animals; Dr. Yamada takes existing animals and combines them to make fantastical creatures.
Dr. Takeshi Yamada's Deathworm
To some his creatures are creepy, to others they’re pure art. Whatever you think of his work, it is illusion in the purest sense: his creations capture the imagination by making the impossible appear real.
Dr. Takeshi Yamada's Dragon
In the world of Dr. Yamada, dragons and mermaids do exist. His work is frequently on display in Coney Island and throughout Brooklyn, NY. The video below provides a close look at his collection.
So what do you think, creepy, cool or something in between?
Deception with Keith Barry aired earlier this week on the Discovery Channel, and one of the most frequent questions I get is, are those really psychological impossibilities, or simple tricks? How does Keith Barry do that? Is Mr. Barry able to, as he claims (and the programs ‘experts’ confirm), reprogram people’s minds and read peoples intimate thoughts using advanced psychological principles?
Absolutely not. Well, maybe a little.
That’s not a very satisfactory answer, but it isn’t a simple question. Let’s pull back the layers a little bit to get to the
Keith Barry the Magician
bottom of this. First and foremost, who is Keith Barry? He has attempted to re-brand himself as a psychological prodigy, capable of rearranging or “hacking” the minds of perfect strangers, but that’s far from the truth. First and foremost, Keith Barry is a magician. A trickster.
Before this program, he has made a comfortable living openly deceiving people for their entertainment. Like any good magician, he specializes in creating the illusion of having a power or ability that isn’t necessarily there.
Take the concept of magic and the clever tricks involved with it, apply it to the mind, and you have mental magic, also known as mentalism. Mentalism, and art born out of magician’s attempting to imitate psychic feats, is little more than trickery of the mind. Up until recently, the overwhelming majority of mentalism was cleverly applying magical methods to give the illusion of mindreading.
Cue Derren Brown. In the early 2000′s, Derren Brown, a British mentalist, began making waves around Europe by presenting his mental magic with a psychological twist. He incorporated hypnotism and some legitimate psychological ploys with his mentalism to give the illusion of complete psychological control. But even Mr. Brown would start his shows with the disclaimer stating that his “show fuses magic, suggestion, misdirection, psychology and showmanship.” In other words, some psychology is in use, but it’s still just a well-dressed magic act.
Keith Barry, undoubtedly seeing the effectiveness of this presentation style, has tried to emulate that with his Deception program. There are two problems with this approach.
First, he comes across as a less eloquent, less humble and less skilled Derren Brown to anyone that has seen both men in action. In fact, not only is Keith Barry’s delivery similar to Derren Brown, even his choice of material significantly emulates the Brit. To prove that you simply need to watch the following two clips:
Keith Barry mind trick
Derren Brown mind trick
But there is a more troubling point to all of this. Keith Barry, appearing on the Discovery Channel with commentary from experts in the field of psychology, tries to sell his magic as science (or at least the producers of the show do). While maybe 10% of his material may contain legitimate psychological principles, the other 90% is showmanship and chicanery. It’s simply misleading and borderline unethical to make the level of claims that he does.
I would not go as far as to call Keith Barry a fraud, but I would say that assuming that he can implant or read impossible thoughts using only psychology is untrue as well. If anything, Discovery made a poor judgment call selling the show as something scientifically valid, instead of magical entertainment.
How about you, do you think that Keith Barry is a mental marvel or magical miscreant?
Let’s step away from the topic of magic and look at another passion of mine: Zombies!!! Earlier today the CDC (Center for Disease Controls and Prevention) issued a zombie preparedness guide on their blog, informing citizens on how to be ready for the rise of the undead. And I completely agree with that!
Having a Graduate degree in Emergency Management, for several years I have been telling professionals in the field that the best way to engage stakeholders (especially the general population) is by capturing their imagination. And there are few things more captivating than zombies! People love survival horror.
It seems that this CDC Campaign is working, since the website has been down most of the day due to traffic overload. For anyone having trouble accessing the article, titled “Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse”, I have quoted it below.
Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse
May 16th, 2011 11:48 am ET – Ali S. Khan
There are all kinds of emergencies out there that we can prepare for. Take a zombie apocalypse for example. That’s right, I said z-o-m-b-i-e a-p-o-c-a-l-y-p-s-e. You may laugh now, but when it happens you’ll be happy you read this, and hey, maybe you’ll even learn a thing or two about how to prepare for a real emergency.
A Brief History of Zombies
We’ve all seen at least one movie about flesh-eating zombies taking over (my personal favorite is Resident EvilExternal), but where do zombies come from and why do they love eating brains so much? The word zombie comes from Haitian and New Orleans voodoo origins. Although its meaning has changed slightly over the years, it refers to a human corpse mysteriously reanimated to serve the undead. Through ancient voodoo and folk-lore traditions, shows like the Walking Dead were born.
In movies, shows, and literature, zombies are often depicted as being created by an infectious virus, which is passed on via bites and contact with bodily fluids. Harvard psychiatrist Steven Schoolman wrote a (fictional) medical paper on the zombies presented in Night of the Living Dead and refers to the condition as Ataxic Neurodegenerative Satiety Deficiency Syndrome caused by an infectious agent. The Zombie Survival Guide identifies the cause of zombies as a virus called solanum. Other zombie origins shown in films include radiation from a destroyed NASA Venus probe (as in Night of the Living Dead), as well as mutations of existing conditions such as prions, mad-cow disease, measles and rabies.
The rise of zombies in pop culture has given credence to the idea that a zombie apocalypse could happen. In such a scenario zombies would take over entire countries, roaming city streets eating anything living that got in their way. The proliferation of this idea has led many people to wonder “How do I prepare for a zombie apocalypse?”
Well, we’re here to answer that question for you, and hopefully share a few tips about preparing for real emergencies too!
Better Safe than Sorry
So what do you need to do before zombies…or hurricanes or pandemics for example, actually happen? First of all, you should have an emergency kit in your house. This includes things like water, food, and other supplies to get you through the first couple of days before you can locate a zombie-free refugee camp (or in the event of a natural disaster, it will buy you some time until you are able to make your way to an evacuation shelter or utility lines are restored). Below are a few items you should include in your kit, for a full list visit the CDC Emergency page.
Water (1 gallon per person per day)
Food (stock up on non-perishable items that you eat regularly)
Medications (this includes prescription and non-prescription meds)
Tools and Supplies (utility knife, duct tape, battery powered radio, etc.)
Sanitation and Hygiene (household bleach, soap, towels, etc.)
Clothing and Bedding (a change of clothes for each family member and blankets)
Important documents (copies of your driver’s license, passport, and birth certificate to name a few)
First Aid supplies (although you’re a goner if a zombie bites you, you can use these supplies to treat basic cuts and lacerations that you might get during a tornado or hurricane)
Once you’ve made your emergency kit, you should sit down with your family and come up with an emergency plan. This includes where you would go and who you would call if zombies started appearing outside your door step. You can also implement this plan if there is a flood, earthquake, or other emergency.
Identify the types of emergencies that are possible in your area. Besides a zombie apocalypse, this may include floods, tornadoes, or earthquakes. If you are unsure contact your local Red Cross chapter for more information.
Pick a meeting place for your family to regroup in case zombies invade your home…or your town evacuates because of a hurricane. Pick one place right outside your home for sudden emergencies and one place outside of your neighborhood in case you are unable to return home right away.
Identify your emergency contacts. Make a list of local contacts like the police, fire department, and your local zombie response team. Also identify an out-of-state contact that you can call during an emergency to let the rest of your family know you are ok.
Plan your evacuation route. When zombies are hungry they won’t stop until they get food (i.e., brains), which means you need to get out of town fast! Plan where you would go and multiple routes you would take ahead of time so that the flesh eaters don’t have a chance! This is also helpful when natural disasters strike and you have to take shelter fast.
If zombies did start roaming the streets, CDC would conduct an investigation much like any other disease outbreak. CDC would provide technical assistance to cities, states, or international partners dealing with a zombie infestation. This assistance might include consultation, lab testing and analysis, patient management and care, tracking of contacts, and infection control (including isolation and quarantine). It’s likely that an investigation of this scenario would seek to accomplish several goals: determine the cause of the illness, the source of the infection/virus/toxin, learn how it is transmitted and how readily it is spread, how to break the cycle of transmission and thus prevent further cases, and how patients can best be treated. Not only would scientists be working to identify the cause and cure of the zombie outbreak, but CDC and other federal agencies would send medical teams and first responders to help those in affected areas (I will be volunteering the young nameless disease detectives for the field work).
To learn more about what CDC does to prepare for and respond to emergencies of all kinds, visit:
To learn more about how you can prepare for and stay safe during an emergency visit:
The only thing that they forgot to add to the list? A shotgun.