Guy Lyon Playfair

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Guy Lyon Playfair
It's fun to pretend
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Fails from the crypt
Playfair has made a career of first being fooled by tricksters, and then fooling others. It isn’t much of a legacy, but it does serve as a model of how not to approach paranormal claims.
Joe Nickell.[1]

Guy Lyon Playfair (1935-2018) was a British author and parapsychologist.[2] He was fan of Uri Geller, "greatly impressed" by psychic mediums like Chico Xavier (a Brazilian author who allegedly "channeled" new works by other, dead, Brazilian authors), feels that psychic surgeons have been capable of mysterious healing, and even claimed that British psychic healer Matthew Manning cured him of a slipped disc.[3]


Playfair's mother was a member of the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) and he fondly recalls reading the SPR Journal as a child, which explains a lot. He believes that Uri Geller can perform psychokinesis[4] and that "a lot of the opposition to him is just based on jealousy." He's also known for his rather gullible investigation of the Enfield Poltergeist, believing he'd found genuine evidence of a poltergeist where others saw only the mischievous pranks of attention-seeking adolescents.[5] He feels that mediums such as Eusapia Palladino and Chico Xavier were genuine. And he's convinced that Carmine Mirabelli,Wikipedia a medium who was caught passing off a retouched photo as evidence of his powers of levitation has some genuine paranormal ability.[6] Go figure.


Playfair's The Flying Cow mostly expressed his admiration for Chico Xavier. New Scientist magazine reviewed it and quipped, "Many books misuse science to gull the reader (and, perhaps the author as well, and the flying Cow is just one more)".[7]

The Cycles of Heaven: Cosmic Forces and What They are Doing to You was also negatively reviewed in the New Scientist for offering "irrational explanations" for alleged "Cosmic forces" and cyclic influences. According to the reviewer Judith Mirzoeff, Playfair prefers only favorable evidence and rejects certain research on biorhythms, the most popular explanation for random variations in well-being.[8]

Playfair has co-authored the book The Geller Effect (1986) with Uri Geller. The book received a negative review from the psychical researcher Michael Goss who came to the conclusion "Playfair provides little evidence to support the existence of paranormal powers. His main theory boils down to the fact that, because so many people imitate spoonbending, someone with real paranormal abilities must have started it off."[9]

The magician Ben Harris (1985) had previously published the book Gellerism Revealed: The Psychology and Methodology Behind the Geller Effect which revealed step-by-step photos and text showing how to bend keys and cutlery by trick methods. Harris has reviewed Playfair's book and has written Playfair was not experienced in sleight of hand and was fooled by Geller's tricks. According to Harris "Mr Playfair turns out to be a weak observer due to his own misplaced confidence in his abilities as an observer… [he] rushes along crucifying the skeptics, the magicians and almost anyone who has questioned the Geller myth."[10] Science writer Martin Gardner has criticized Playfair's endorsement of Geller and described him as a "hack writer on the occult".[11]

Some of his books have been re-published by White Crow Books, a spiritualist company co-run by the author Michael E. Tymn.[12]


  • The Unknown Power (1977) (aka The Flying Cow)
  • The Indefinite Boundary (1977)
  • The Cycles of Heaven: Cosmic Forces and What They Are Doing to You (1978)
  • This House is Haunted : The Investigation of the Enfield Poltergeist (1980)
  • If This Be Magic (1985)
  • Twin Telepathy: The Psychic Connection (2002)
  • New Clothes for Old Souls : World Wide Evidence for Reincarnation (2006)
  • Chico Xavier, Medium of the Century (2010)