Ray Hyman, Magician, Psychic Debunker, Professor of Psychology

At 80+ years, Ray is definitely a fixture at our magic club. In fact, he was one of its founders. And he runs the mailing list for the Mysticians. He’s also the inventor of a trick that I routinely perform.

Finally, he’s the man who taught me my first magic trick…

I was seven years old, and my family was going to Rome, Italy to spend the year. We decided to take a ship to get to our destination. There were several professors traveling, including Professor Ray Hyman.

Note: My father and Ray both earned their PhDs from Harvard, my father in Classics (Latin and Ancient Greek), and Ray in Psychology.

Well, mid voyage, we hit some rough weather. Actually, we passed through the tail end of a hurricane.

At first, most got seasick from the pounding, ship-swaying weather. Not many of us seemed to have sea legs. I was one of the few who was ushered into a lounge to spend time with others who weren’t sick.

Ten minutes later, I thought I was going to succumb to the roller-coaster feeling of the ship. And I announced that I was going to be sick.

The man next to me said, “Watch this!”

He grabbed my drink stirrer in my 7-Up and made the writing on the stick vanish. Then it came back. Then it was gone from both sides. Then it appeared on both sides.

I was amazed.

As he taught me the trick, I forgot completely about puking my guts out. Seasickness cured. The man who taught me the trick was Ray Hyman.

That night, the crew strapped everyone into their beds, and I lay there … practicing my new trick.

The next month, we went to England to pick up our new car. In London, I went to the magic shop across from the British Museum, and bought my first Cups and Balls from Patrick Page.

That year in Italy, I performed the vanishing writing off the stick, Cups and Balls, pulling my thumb off my hand, and a few card tricks.

And to think, Ray Hyman started it all.