Today’s featured website is a new addition to the skeptical community: Project Barnum. Founded by UK skeptic Hayley Stevens, the Project Barnum website is designed to be a repository of useful information on how to spot psychic cheats.
Stevens, a writer and “ghost hunter that doesn’t hunt for ghosts”, brings a skeptical approach to paranormal investigations and psychic phenomena. She founded the Project Barnum website to educate people about tricks of the psychic trade and to prevent people from being misled.
Why “Barnum”? From their website:
P.T. Barnum was a showman, businessman, scam artist and entertainer; often referred to as the “Prince of Humbugs,” Barnum saw nothing wrong in entertainers or vendors using hype in promotional material, as long as the public was getting value for money. However, he was contemptuous of those who made money through fraudulent deceptions, especially the spiritualist mediums popular in his day, testifying against noted “spirit photographer” William H. Mumler in his trial for fraud. Prefiguring illusionists Harry Houdini and James Randi, Barnum exposed “the tricks of the trade” used by mediums to cheat the bereaved. In The Humbugs of the World, he offered $500 to any medium who could prove power to communicate with the dead.