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James Randi Educational Foundation

An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural

Introduction | "R" Reading | Curse of the Pharaoh | End-of-the-World Prophecies

Index | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z

Hurkos, Peter (Pieter Van der Hurk, 1911-1988) A Dutch psychic who claimed that at age thirty he fell three stories from a ladder onto his head while painting. Miraculously, he not only lived through the fall, but he also found that it had made him psychic.
      Discovered by parapsychologist Dr. Andrija Puharich and wealthy patron-of-psychics Henry Belk, he was brought to the United States, where he began performing before live audiences and on television with great success.
      Many reputable parapsychologists requested that Hurkos submit to controlled tests, but he adamantly refused all such overtures, except for that of Dr. Charles Tart of the University of California at Davis. Dr. Tart's tests were negative.
      When the famous Stone of Scone was stolen from Westminster Abbey in 1951 just at the height of Hurkos' fame as a psychic, the French press gave very detailed accounts of how he had been called in by Scotland Yard to apply his powers to their investigation, had enabled them to find the object, had provided the names of the guilty persons, and in turn had received his expenses for the visit. A simple inquiry resulted in an official statement from a police spokesman that Hurkos  

      came to [England] at his own expense and was given the chance to exercise his powers in discovering the Stone; but his efforts produced nothing that could help the police.

      The Home Secretary, Mr. Chuter Edge, commenting on Hurkos's claims in the matter, said:  

      The gentleman in question whose activities have been publicized (though not by the police) was among a number of persons authorized to come to Westminster Abbey to examine the scene of the crime. He was not invited by the police, his expenses have not been refunded by the Government, and he did not obtain any result whatsoever.

      Hurkos's methods, when he appeared to have any success at all, were essentially cold reading, which see. At one point, during an investigation of a murder case, he was stopped in his car and a number of pieces of false identification were found, indicating that he was obtaining information by that means when he posed as a police psychic, so that Hurkos obviously had recourse to “hot” reading techniques as well.

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