Monday, September 19, 2011

Clever Serbs Scam Gullible AP Reporter

Jovana Gec, an AP reporter, was scammed by a Serb family near Belgrade into believing that two children have "magnetic" properties that allow silverware to stick to their bodies.

The accompanying photos do not show a single piece of silverware attached to the body in a position parallel to the ground.

There are two possible explanations. The first, which I doubt, is that the children have swallowed powerful NdFeB (neodymium) magnets.

The second is more prosaic, but much more likely. The "sticky" items are simply being balanced on the kids' bodies, aided by a bit of sweat. Here is a video of a similar claim by another Serb family that looks completely unimpressive. It was debunked by Benjamin Radford back in February, but apparently Ms. Gec was too lazy to do a web search.

And - no surprise - my local paper, the Waterloo Region Record decided to run this article in a prominent position on page F10. That's par for the course for the Record.

Recursivity's Bad Journalism award of the month goes to Ms. Gec and her credulous editors at the AP, with honorable mention to the Record for reprinting it.


Stephen said...

Here's a video of James Randi defeating the magnetic power with talcum powder:

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Randi is great! We're going to see him next week in Toronto.

I just wish I could sentence the editors of the Record to listen to him.

Takis Konstantopoulos said...

This reminds me of another Serb with "supernatural/magical abilities": the criminal Radovan Karadžić who was a fugitive for years, disguising as a "quantum healer".

cody said...

Doesn't anyone own a compass anymore?

Alex said...

Damn. Wish I'd been paying attention to your blog more regularly - I had no idea that Randi was coming to Toronto, and it's way too late to get tickets now.