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Banachek’s Brain: Episode 2

Posted in: Podcast ♦ Sunday, August 19th, 2018, 12:00 pm ♦ Comments Off on Banachek’s Brain: Episode 2

On this episode of Banachek’s Brain we learn about the Televangelist Peter Popoff and how Banachek helped expose him as a charlatan.

Banachek’s Brain: Episode 1

Posted in: Podcast ♦ Sunday, August 12th, 2018, 12:00 pm ♦ Comments Off on Banachek’s Brain: Episode 1

This is the pilot to Banachek’s new podcast where he discusses magic, miracles, cons, and skepticism.

The death of mankind due to population growth?

Posted in: Uncategorized ♦ Wednesday, March 1st, 2017, 8:12 pm ♦ Comments Off on The death of mankind due to population growth?

Have you ever wondered about the ever growing population when it comes to Exponential growth?

So let’s break it down with some simple ideas.

There is the story of a queen who asked what she could do for a subject? Could she give him food? Instead, he asked her to place one grain of rice on the first square of a chess board, double it on the second square on the second day, double that amount on the third day on the third square and keep going in this manner until all squares had been accounted for. Seems like a simple request right? Only if you do this he ends up with 18,446,744,073,709,551,615 grains of rice.  For those math minded, the equation is 2^64 – 1, since there are 64 squares on a chessboard.  By the way in words that is:

eighteen Quintilian ,
four hundred forty six quadrillion ,
seven hundred forty four trillion ,
seventy three billion ,
seven hundred nine million ,
five hundred fifty one thousand ,
six hundred fifteen

Another example involved pennies and the month. Take 31 days, one penny the first day, double that the second day and so till you have reached 31 days. This equals to $10,737,418.23. That’s almost eleven million dollars!

Or take a sheet of paper, fold it in half, fold it in half again. At 7 foldings it is as thick as a notebook. At 12 foldings you will find you can’t fold it anymore but let’s pretend you can.  At 20 foldings you have passed the height of Mount Everest. Do this 42 times and you now have a sheet of paper that will reach the moon. Do it just 8 times more and now you have reached  the sun.  Amazing huh?

But very scary when you think about this in terms of the human race and population increase and the limited amount of area and resources we have on this earth.  However, there is more to this when you start to dig deeper.

Let’s start at the beginning. It took the human race from the dawn of man till about 500 BC to reach the 100 million people mark.

Around 500 A.D to A.D. 600 the population had doubled to 200 million.

By 1250 it had doubled again to 400 million. Shortly after this, we had wars and sickness and that took its toll.

Then in 1805 or 1887, we reached the one billion people mark (we do not know for sure when exactly).  Now think about this, it had taken us thousands of years to reach this point. But within 100 years, we doubled that number to 2 billion people. This happened around 1927 or so.

In 1959, the year before I was born, we hit 3 billion. The year of the baby boomer.  We progress from there to:

1974 – 4 billion people

1987 – 5 billion people

1999 – 6 billion people

2011 – 7 billion people

And as I write this today on Feb 28th at One O’Clock in Playa De Carmen in Mexico, the population clock says we have 7,487,607,851 With 218 thousand births and 90 thousand deaths.

World Meter

The deaths are important because that does slow our growth rate, as we will see later in this blog.

It is believed that if we keep growing as we have, we will reach 9.5 billion people on our planet by 2050

The largest growth rate numbers that appear in the Sub-Sahara African nation area, and it is at an alarming rate where the population is expected to double by 2050 and to quadruple by 2100. Right now the world is adding 81 million people a year. This is equal to the size of Egypt or Germany.

So what does this mean for world population? This a much more complex question than it seems at face value.

It also opens us to many more questions.

  1. At what point is growth and population too much? Mankind has already become an ecological force in this universe, much as weather, fire and the like. We affect the earth as much as any of these.
  2. When will we exceed the sustainable point for man to survive, re food and water?
  3. How many doublings can we take before there simply is no room for mankind to exist?
  4. What can we do about this and should we do anything?
  5. Will the humans constantwill to survive be their demise in the end?

And so on the questions get asked. Everyone has an answer, and everyone has more questions than answers.

Now here is the thing, population growth does not grow exponentially, people die and it takes two children to replace two parents. But despite motality rates, plagues and disease, our population does indeed still keep growing as you can see by the numbers earlier.

A Malthusian Catastrophe on the horizon?

This is the situation where a society finds itself returning to a subsistence level of existence as a result of overtaxing its available agricultural resources. The theory was first put out by Thomas Malthus in 1779

Many say we have surpassed our sustainable point. That there is not enough food in the world, however, this is not quite true.  A study at McGill University in 2012 said that we already grow enough food for 10 billion people. They also told us that the past two decades prior to 2012, the rate of global food production had increased faster than the rate of global population growth. This is a good thing. The problem is getting the food to the people.

The human body needs about 2,100 calories. In 1996 the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimated that the world was producing enough food to provide every man, woman and child with 2,700 calories a day. That’s 600 calories more per person than we to need to exist.

The problem of hunger is not the amount of food we are producing. It is poverty. And this is only going to get worse if we do not produce more food. The more scarce food is, the more expensive it gets. At some point, if the world growth keeps growing unstopped, we will not be able to sustain it.

Now here is the interesting thing. Before we all start to freak the hell out. The growth rate has slowed. It is moving down dramatically. It is in a freefall right now.

In 1968, we reached the relative peak in global population growth rate. We added 73.2 million to a world population of 3.54 billion. The world grew at a record 2.09 percent it was between 1966 and 1972 that the world was in a historical peak and the only time in recorded history when the world’s population grew above two percent.
In 1988 the world gained 93 million people, this year we will gain 81 million or so and it is projected that by 2020 we will be at a 1 percent growth rate adding about 76 million people a year and by 2050 we will be down to a 0.5 percent growth rate bringing us to 17th and 18th century numbers that were at about 46 million people.
The good thing here is we have slowed down our growth but have not stopped the growth.  An estimated billion people every 15 years is still a lot of people.  Though there is a belief by some that at the year 2045 our population growth will halt at around 8 billion people. The U.N. believes we will peak at 9 billion people.
So why the slowdown? Our wars are bigger, more people alive, so more people die of disease, there are more people living in cities who have smaller families, price of raising a family limits the amount of family members in non-poverty families, the longer people live, procreating is not the center of a families world, and a myriad of other causes.
I believe that just because we see an end to the growth it does not mean that we should not be aware of it, be aware of our effect on this earth and try to leave it in a better place for our next generations. To not destroy it. Because I believe as we destroy it, we destroy ourselves, our very way of life and all the things we enjoy about our world. No one really knows the answers but we should think about consequences. Nobody wants to talk about limiting the amount of babies people can have. Nobody wants to talk about other solutions. We should talk about them, what is fair, what is not, what is humane what is not?To discuss these options early and not wait till it is too late,this is not to say we should act,  however, we can talk about them now and doing so will allow us to brainstorm, to find real solutions or decide  if we need to do nothing.
The world has been paying attention, in secret usually.  Atrocities have been inflicted. Dictatorial ideas have been put in place. But can we learn from them? Good or bad?
In 1979 China imposed a one child family plan. It allowed some exemptions, for instance, ethnic minorities were exempt, however with these exemptions by 2015, 36% of China’s population was subject to this one-child policy. And 53% were allowed to have a second child if the first was a girl. Fines were imposed and they even went as far as to force the policy with implanted contraceptives or sterilization.  This affected over 400 million Chinese. China claimed that over 400 babies were prevented. This number has been disputed by pointing out that 3/4 of the decline in the fertility rate was already being reached before 1970, nine years prior to the implementation of the one-child policy, and they point out much of it was due to the decline in economic growth. Ironically although many see this as a horrific policy, they say over 76 percent of Chinese supported the policy. This policy was phased out in 2015.  Jan 2016, China went to a two-child policy.
Vietnam has used “m?t ho?c hai con, which means “one or two children” policy or the choice of a payment of government subsidies only to the first two children.
An interesting note on this, Vietnam has reduced its fertility rate to 1.8 percent (Births per women) which is lower than the replacement fertility rate of 2.1. The amount that it takes for a population to replace itself from one generation to the next. Looking at that it seems like a great idea until you realize the consequences. Families are fined, this affects the poor. And even more sadly, abortion rates rise, Rich people are exempt, and there is a host of other complications that arise.
In the 1970’s in Hong Kong, people were encouraged through the campaign, “Two Is Enough” to have only two children or less. They did not enforce but highly encouraged it through education and a pride in responsibility. Currently. the birth rate in Hong Kong is 1.4 percent, one of the lowest in the world.
From 1990’s till late 2006 the Iranian Government stated that “Islam favored families with only two children.” In 2012 the Ayatollah Khamenei declared that the policy made sense 20 years ago, but it’s continuation in years later was just wrong.”
In July 2012. a think tank in the United Kingdom recommended what the Daily Mail labeled “a two-child policy”. They claimed that Britain’s high birth rate was a major contributing factor to climate change.
There are a host of extreme suggestions that people do not like to discuss. Many of them are difficult, horrific, defy human rights and just cruel. But again, to learn we should discuss them. Here are a few.
  1. Right to die or forced age limits
  2. Sterilizations
  3. Eugenics

The fact that soon, by the middle of this century the average age of life will be 88, and by the end of the century living to a 100 may become the norm is definitely a concern for man and for the global population growth problem.

The right to die:

Four years ago, Taro Aso, the Japanese finance minister state that the elderly should be allowed to “hurry up and die.” He referred to them as “tube people.”

Dr. James Beattie, a top Cardiologist in England believes that doctors resuscitate too many older people because society does not see enough death, leaving many people unwilling to accept mortality.  Now neither is suggesting that we let them die to enable population growth but it has been suggested by others and in serious terms and their arguments are used to support these claims.

Some claim assisted Euthanasia would help in a minor way with our population growth numbers. They argue that it is humane for those with debilitating painful disease and those faced with a horrible death. I agree with the latter but not sure I agree with the population growth association.


India instituted sterilization camps in 1975. For 21 months mass sterilization was implemented. Women were persuaded to voluntarily go through this procedure with cash incentives.  Those that did not were forced to undertake it. It was reported that in one camp at an abandoned hospital in a rural part of India a doctor with unsterilized equipment sterilized 83 women in 5 hrs. Many women died as a result of this practice.

Other penalties were put in place, like not being able to hold an office appointment if you have a large family or owning a gun. Many of these women are so poor that the money they get is a huge incentive.  More recently India is finally looking at injected contraceptives. But again, poverty is an issue.

Uzbekistan is said to have secretly sterilized women at doctors offices without their knowledge after their second child. It is reported it was a policy starting in 2009.

And if you think that forced serialization was only in third world countries consider this. In Canada, yes Canada, two Canadian provinces, Alberta and British Columbia, performed compulsory sterilization programs in the 20th century with an eugenic agenda. The ”Sexual Sterilization Act” of Alberta was enacted in 1928 and repealed in 1972. The Alberta government apologized for the forced sterilization of over 2,800 people. Approximately 850 Albertans who were sterilized under the Sexual Sterilization Act and were awarded $142 million in Canadian dollars for damages. If you have read so far you have an even bigger surprise coming up about a practice in the U.S.A.

China, Japan, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Israel (on Ethiopian Jewish emigrants), Peru, Russia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland and even the U.S. have all been associated with secret sterilizations, forced, or encouraged sterilization of women.  Some for Eugenic reasons, some for racial and some for population growth.


Then there is another horrific belief still held by some today, “Eugenics.” The word was first coined in the 1890’s by Sir Francis Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin, and quickly gained support then. Galton, and others, believed that “eugenics should develop from a science to a policy and finally into a religion.” There is that word; “Religion”, used to make something the law of the people.

Eugenicists believed that those genetically defective members of society were human “weeds” who must be prevented from passing on their “deleterious” genes.

And do not think for a minute that our good old U.S.A had it’s hands clean in this.  In fact during the Progressive era, ca. 1890 to 1920, the USA was the first country to undertake compulsory sterilization programs for the purpose of eugenics. See the map of states that held this legislation.

Eugenicists helped Hitler’s rise to power and gave him their support.  They were driven underground after the second world war. But they emerged intact under another name, Crypto-eugenics.  (And many do not know this but Planned Parenthood started in their offices.)  They also believe that the aging are a burden to society.  More recently we see them on right to die cases.  The right to die is certainly a hot topic and has merits but Eugenicists have their own agenda, do not be fooled.
Many right-to-die advocates point out that World population will stop growing when the birth rate equals the death rate. Remember, It takes two children to replace two dead parents. Giving a person the right to choose if they want to die or not due to sickness is a humane thing to do and helps with population growth and food and medical supplies in the world. I believe they have a point. I certainly do not want to die in pain, hooked up to machines keeping me alive for what? To put money in the doctor’s pockets, to make family members feel like they are doing something,  when the prognosis is a few months extra to live and the behavior will leave a family with debt and a memory of my long demise.  At this stage, I don’t think I am going to affect the population growth in any way at all.
More human ways to control birth rate control but also are touchy to speak about are:
Banning divorce (people have more children with other partners)
Birth control
Pride in responsibility for your family and population.
For more on these look them up yourself.
Unseen Consequences of growth rate in a country. What do you do when your country is not making enough babies to support your country?

Funny aside to all this gloom and doom, in 2014 Denmark had a .4 population growth rate, a 1.73 children per women (less than the two needed for growth). They were headed to a population decline and a possible labor replacement crises. (see there are other factors to look at.)  The Danish travel agency Spies Rejser was worried they would not have people to book travel and would lose business sooo… they put started an add campaign aimed towards adults with the slogan, “JUST DO IT!”  The Commercial started with a voice saying, “Can sex save Denmark’s future?”  then a sad elderly couple came upon the screen. Denmark’s population issue was described. Next, a young adult girl visits a hotel where she was conceived.  You then saw her try on lingerie and visiting Paris with her boyfriend. The Danes were then encouraged to take a trip by being told that they have 46 percent more sex when on Vacation. Even an ovulation discount was offered when booked through them and if you could prove you conceived while on vacation with them, you received three years of baby supplies

Singapore, when faced with declining population took up with the candy maker Mentos for an add that said, “Get your night on.”

When Romania was faced with the same issue they took it a step further. Their population growth was around zero in the 1960’s (I was born 1960). So Romania banned abortion and contraceptives, they made divorce almost impossible and imposed taxes on childless families. If you were over 25 and did not have kids you were subject to up to a 20 percent tax increase. Have a kid and you received tax incentive breaks. Have three kids and you had a 30 percent cut in your taxes.

In Russia from 1944 till 1986, if you had more than 10 children and raised them you were awarded the “Mother  Heroine”.  It was a way for them to increase their workforce under the guise of “looking out for the health of mother and child”. These women also received added retirement benefits, food and payment of public utilities. 430,000 women were awarded this title.
When South Korea reached the low 1.2 point they gave employees every third Wednesday “early closing time” for “family time.” Read into that, “go home and get your groove on.”
But hold on a minute, maybe we do need to “Freak out” for our future generations instead of getting “our groove on” as a world. Think about this.:
Even if growth slows down, technology is allowing us to live longer and this means less people dying. Less birth mortality, means more babies living. At some point, logically, the population growth rate will start climbing again and we are back with the problem we were all concerned about when I started this. Maybe we need to all be educated from a young age to be responsible in our family growth as a unit. Do we really need more than two children each, can we afford it? And if we can afford it should we? Do we want to lose the right to make this choice for ourselves? What is the family unit, what is healthy? And…. I certainly do not have the answers. But it is something we need to really think about before it is too late.


As Bill Gates points out, we are due for some big catastrophe; a disease, meteorite or comet crash, climate issue, a super solar flare (unlikely), a man-made catastrophe (more likely), or something that will kill large amounts of our population. Mother Gaia always seems to find a way to take care of herself, to rid itself of any pestilence, of which we have become one. Maybe Mother nature will take this problem into her own hands to take protect herself. Maybe? Or maybe we should check ourselves before this happens? Do something nice for the earth for a change.

The slow death of magic as we know it or just another change in art?

Posted in: Uncategorized ♦ Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016, 8:08 pm ♦ Comments Off on The slow death of magic as we know it or just another change in art?

On another board I belong to there was a topic that bemoaned the fact that magic has changed. Believing that it has changed for the worse.  Many were aghast at the fact that mentalism is now mixed with magic.  Years ago that was a no-no. You simply did not mix the two as it made mentalism look like magic.  It took away from the mystery and “cheapened the grown up art form of magic” called mentalism.  David Blaine and Criss Angel are often pointed to as the cause. Sometimes I and others, as consultants are also lumped in as culprits.  I have always liked to say that if we are entertaining then we are doing our job. We are not here to change religion or personal beliefs but to get smiles and standing ovations and take people away from their lives if only for a small bit of time. It is our job to entertain and if we have done so we have done our job. But again I digress as I usually do.
The argument on that board bemoaned that art needs rules. One poster said, and I quote;

“Art cannot survive without limits. That sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s true, for it is exactly those boundaries, i.e. standards, that heat the crucible of creativity.”
There is truth to the end of that statement indeed. The fact that those standards, those rules; “Heat the Crucible of creativity,” but I disagree with the statement that art cannot survive without limits.

We do need a rule base, but the base is really the small starting point in art.  A brush, some technique and a canvas and you are off to painting, maybe not a good one but a painting non-the-less. A musical instrument and an understanding how to play it and your off to being a musician and so on.

I believe that art progresses due to breaking the rules. But I disagree with the statement as a whole.

I believe that new art is found, created and progresses by breaking boundaries.

If were not the case then we would not have Dali or Renoir. Each broke the rules of their times.

 We would not have Dali or Frida Kahlo (who is all over Playa de Carmen where I am currently writing this) if it was not for the surrealist movement which is traced back to 1924 when the Manifestos Of Surrealism was written by André Breton in which he explained the revolutionary ideas behind this artistic movement. He explained that this group of artists:

“We’re seeking total freedom to depict the subconscious without being concerned with logic, rationalism, aesthetics, morality or self-censorship”

Surrealism broke the rules of the times.
And yes I know Frida did not like to be called a surrealist and in fact said of the Paris surrealists; “This bunch of coocoo lunatic sons of bitches” in a private letter. But much to her chagrin, there is no escaping that her art has a tinge of surrealism painted all over it.

By the way, one of my small tangents I am known for: Did you know Dali was fascinated with Hitler and even dreamed Hitler was a woman? Weird.  See that painting by Dali above.  Well just look what’s for dinner!

Both Matisse and Picasso broke rules with dual perspective paintings. Many painters chose to break the rules of their times, rules of perspective, content, narration and composition were all broken. Without these rebels, we would not have such wonderful eclectic art pieces today.  At the time these detours from the norm were shocking to other artists and purists of the art and seen as blasphemy.
If it was not for breaking rules we would not have Ernest Hemingway nor Beethoven or Elvis (gasp).
Rules of what Christian music can and should be have changed a few times and more recently with TobyMac, who has attracted a whole generation to the church. Who would have thunk you would have hip hop in church?
If it was not for breaking rules  then the old style of writing about reality only, (and yes that was a rule), we would not have Science Fiction or Fantasy Fiction.  That’s right, Frankenstein and the Hobbit were rule breakers at the time.
We would not have some of Charles Dickens’ great writings like this run on sentence of his:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…” from A Tale of Two Cities
Oh yeah, did I forget Shakespeare who re-wrote how you write a sonnet and who created words out of thin air! Yes, Shakespeare was a major rule breaker
Even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle broke rules when he wrote in the passive voice which he did often in is Sherlock Holmes series of books.
Probably some of your favorite movies would not have made it to the screen had cinematography rules of the time been kept:

Script size: Social Network was 167 pages. The page average acceptable count is around 110 even now.  Keeping in mind that the rule is one page of script is equal to give or take one minute. But that is Allen Sorkin for you, breaking the rules.

Intent: Shrek: changed children animated movies content.

Who you keep alive: Psycho: Hitchcock killed off a main character, Vivian Leigh, in the first act.

Dialogue: Pulp fiction: has pages and pages of dialogue, too much by the normal standards and rules of what is acceptable movie dialogue.

Race/violence: Night Of The Living Dead: put a black man in a lead role when it was seen as a big no-no at the time and if that was not enough …oh my, the violence, the inhumanity. Variety calling the movie “Pornography of violence.”

Yes, rules are made to be broken, and now due to these movies, we have so many other great movies. And should we forget Look Who is Coming to Dinner, which came out when interracial relationships were still illegal in 17 states?  Speaking of  violence, Texas Chainsaw Massacre completely changed the way we look at horror movies and speaking of banned it was banned in several countries from showing. Also, the film was advertised as based upon a real story. It was based upon the real life crimes of  Ed Gain, however it was far from real the real story. The Director Tobe Hooper said that he felt it okay to lie to the people since the U.S. Government had lied about Vietnam war. This movie opened roads for films to create social commentary. Something not done prior. Toby Hooper  also said;

The “lack of sentimentality and the brutality of things” that Hooper noticed while watching the local news, whose graphic coverage was epitomized by showing brains spilled all over the road”, led to his belief that“man was the real monster here, just wearing a different face, so I put a literal mask on the monster in my film”

I believe that art rules can be broken but only when done with a purpose. Was that a  rule I just stated? On the other hand  haphazardness is not art, is it?.

I think art survives because there are no limits, only what came before to build upon, to re-mold and break free and become relevant. Change in any art is a huge hard pill to swallow for those close to any art, but things do change like it or not. Our grandparents hated the Beatles when they came out. Yes, I am quite aware some still do, but my point is they were not accepted by the older generation who were used to certain types of music. Nothing has changed in that way, many hate the music of today. In the future, Two or three generations from now, I guarantee that today’s generations won’t get the music or art presented them and many will be annoyed by it.

 The Dali Lama has been credited with saying.

“Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.” 

A line very close to it is credited to Pablo Picasso.

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”
And if that does not say artists can break rules I am not sure what does.

If it was not for breaking rules mentalism probably would not be performed as Dunninger and Kreskin performed it. Or the way I perform it. In fact with giving disclaimers there were many who said, “There is no place for a fake mentalist.”  When pointed out to them that I had taken Entertainer of the College circuit two years in a row at APCA the new mantra was, “Banachek is the exception.”  If I could do it, others could and have since.

The magician Doug Henning broke the traditional magician tux and tails rule when he showed up dressed as a hippy and performed what many called a spiritual type of magic. David Copperfield took it further with his GQ look, David Blaine broke rules in the way we see magic on TV, and Criss Angel broke all those rules with his goth look and the way large illusions were seen on the street for the first time.

Now don’t get me wrong, I personally only perform pure mentalism. But my rule should not hold for all.


Posted in: Uncategorized ♦ Saturday, October 15th, 2016, 8:03 am ♦ Comments Off on http://gallery.calvin.edu/Banachek

When time stood still

Posted in: Uncategorized ♦ Friday, June 24th, 2016, 8:06 pm ♦ Comments Off on When time stood still
The year was 1972. The place was Port Elizabeth, South Africa. The destination was the drive-in movie theater close to Marist Brothers where I would go to school for a year (Marist Brothers that is, not the drive-in theater) and play Rugby and water polo.   Two sports I was not that great at. Soccer was to be my thing, By the way the school is no longer there but I digress.
Marist brothers
My stepfather Tom Martin was driving (yes that  means my name was Steve Martin back before the name became famous with a comedian/actor who also does magic).  I was in the passenger seat. My younger brothers David and Barry were in the back seat.
Now Tom had a huge car, it was basically a tank and I am going to guess that most Americans have not heard of the make let alone the model, it was a gray Wolseley. Wolseley was a British Motor Vehicle company that was founded in 1901 by the Vickers armaments. The company was bought by William Morris and became part of that Empire.
Now I am not really sure which Wolseley we owned but I suspect that it was the Wolseley 6/110 also known as the Wolsely 300 in Denmark, as seen below:
What I do know is that my stepfather once wrecked it into a tree further down the same road as the one in this story at the section where main street intersects the road in this story. He ran head on into a stone wall, backed by dirt and a huge tree. The stone wall was destroyed even though it was backed by dirt and the Wolesley had nary a scratch. At that time there was a farmhouse in the background and the wall was made out of large boulders. Now it appears to be a parking lot. The big trees are still there as can be seen in the picture, plus a nice new yet lower lying brick wall.
The Wolesely was considered as the finest “area car” ever employed by the London Metropolitan Police Force. This car had a top speed of 97.6 miles per hour and 0 to 60 in 14.4 seconds. I mention this speed and the fact it was fitted with drum breaks at the rear and vacuum servo assistance as a side note due to the fact I remember the first week we arrived in Port Elizabeth, after a long train ride from Johannesburg, my stepfather was refitting the Lockheed fitted drum bakes, when he was done he drove it head on towards me at a wall and hit the breaks. To show me “they worked.”  Yes I was between the wall and the car and I was scared shitless. But I digress. Let’s get back to; “This vehicle was a tank.”
We made the right off Cape road and headed down what is now known as the William Motley Expressway. Now the Motley Expressway is quite steep as you come down the hill from Newton Park area. As you get further down, it evens out more somewhere between Lily street and Main street. And it is what happened there that I remember and will remember till the day I die.
I can still see it quite plainly. A black man was on the side of the road to the right ahead of us. He looked and started to step on to the road. My stepfather slowed down a bit, the man stepped back on the curb, we sped back up to our regular speed then he just for no reason jumped out in to the middle of the road. It was at that moment that time stood still, or slowed to a very small speed for me. The man hit the front of the car, I could see him slide up the front of the car and fly slow motion up into the air. Our car spun for what seemed like many minutes and we slid to a bumpy stop. I could see him land due to the fact the car had swung 180 degrees around. My youngest brother Barry was in the back seat screaming, “Daddy hit a native, Daddy hit a native.” Keep in mind the context of apartheid at the time. Native was a very nice description of a black man compared to the horrible labels white Afrikana’s gave the black man then. Apartheid was horrific. And at some future time I might write of my experiences of being an English boy in South Africa and not understanding why white Afrikana’s treated black people the way they did. But again, that is a story for another time. This story is about time, and to tell it I need to finish the story.
Time stood still, even opening the door took time. Looking down I thought I was covered in oil, but it was blood looking dark under the amber street light. Slowly I turned, the man was in the road, his leg was hanging off. I remember some neighbors coming over, wrapping his leg in newspapers till the ambulance came. Slowly things started to speed up to the passage of time as we know it. But time had surely almost stopped. Even now I can see his shoe flying over the car as if it hung in the air levitating in slow motion. Time had slowed to a halt during this and time had crept up to its regular speed after we stopped. Now this was not the first time this had happened to me, but it is the one I remember because indeed it was the one time that time as I knew it slowed down the most. And the one time a man may have died. The other times it slowed, but not so I could see every single thing and detail as if one minute was an hour.
To end this story I should say that the man was taken to the hospital. A few weeks later when the police came to the apartment in Kabega Park, we asked about him. It appeared that they had lost track of him. How does that happen? Well during apartheid it tragically happened all the time. Black lives simply did not matter to the white Africana.
This brings me to last week. Last week in Vegas I was driving down a back street called Shelbourne. I stopped at a stop sign. There was a wall to my right and the stop was way too far back from the end of the wall. I could only see a small part down the road. I proceeded to cross Placid Street, because I had been looking mostly to my right I looked to my left, when I looked back to my right there was a blue Pathfinder just yards from me heading at my car full speed.
Again time slowed, not as much as that first time but enough for my brain to go into overdrive. I knew at that speed he was going to hit the front of my vehicle, and if he did I was going to probably die. So instead of hitting the breaks I hit the gas. He slammed into the side panel between the front passenger and rear passenger doors. The strongest part of my car. Had I not reacted the way I did I would probably not be typing this right now. The pictures do not do justice to the damage on my vehicle. That side was pushed in at least a foot. But here is the interesting thing (other than both of us walking away from the wreck that is), I remember each and every thought that came to me as if it was happening in very slow time, I remember each and every detail, seeing his horrified face as he knew the inevitable was about to happen, seeing his licence plate coming at me and thinking about all those things and seeing him come towards me at first fast then in slow motion, enough to react that fast and make changes that saved my life. In this case, once the collision took place everything immediately went back to regular speed.
Now I am not the only one who has had this experience, in fact in 1892 in the Yearbook of the Alpine Club geologist Albert Von St Gallen Heim wrote about this in reference to climbers. He stated that 95 percent of climbers who had an accidental fall reported experiences that included,
“A dominant mental quickness and sense of surety. Mental activity became enormous, rising to a 100 fold velocity or intensity. The relationships of events and their probable outcomes were over-viewed with objective clarity. No confusion entered at all. Time became greatly expanded. The individual acted with lightning-quickness in accord with accurate judgment of his situation. (Noyes and Kletti, 1972, pp. 46–47)
Now a hundred fold might seem to be a bit of exaggeration but in my South African experience it certainly did not seem to be out of the realm of possibility.
There seems to be the following phenomena in these moments of extreme immediate danger:
1. A slowing down and expanding of time
2. Acute focusing on a subject
3. An incredible reaction time from the data retrieved from that focusing
4. Increased vision and hearing
5. Dominant mental quickness.
So what causes this and is it a true phenomena? Some recent studies have tried to recreate this phenomena and only succeed to the point that the participants watching others fall at high rates of speed think their time falling was longer. As a result these studies pointed to the passage of time not slowing down but rather there is a perceived overestimation of time, in the one study done by Chess Stetson in 2007 he concluded; “we speculate that the involvement of the amygdala in emotional memory may lead to dilated duration judgments retrospectively, due to a richer, and perhaps secondary encoding of the memories. Upon later readout, such highly salient events may be erroneously interpreted to have spanned a greater period of time. (Stetson et al.
Still other studies ran numbers slightly faster than was tracked by the human eye. In theory the people should have been able to see the numbers if time slowed down. They did not. The experimenters again concluded that time did not stand still for them or slow for them.
I find issues with most of these studies. In each study, the people knew they were not in any real danger such as during a free fall, and therefor the flight or fight temporal distortion really would not have been stimulated. Maybe, just maybe the human mind is smart enough to know when it should jump ship or not. The scientists should not be so quick to put this phenomena down to “memory effects.”
So what would explain it? Well Valtteri Arstila wrote in his paper the following from (Berridge and Waterhouse, 2003
“To begin with, the mechanism that could account for our experiences during the sudden life-threatening situations needs to fulfill at minimum the following requirements: the mechanism needs to become active in such situations, it needs to activate fast, and it must have wide-ranging effects. The neuronal mechanism that fulfills these requirements is the locus coeruleus norepinephrine system, the main source of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine. The first thing to note about it is that it is (in addition to other things) part of a fight-or-flight response that humans and other primates have been postulated to exhibit. This response is triggered by a perception of a fearful and threatening situation, not threatening situations per se, and hence it is likely to play a role in the situations under discussion. Second, the phasic response (brief and high levels of discharge) of locus coeruleus norepinephrine system to highly salient as well as task-relevant stimuli occurs with a short latency of 100–150 ms and actually precedes behavior (Aston-Jones et al., 1994, 1997). Thus such activation is in accord with the fact that many accidents, like car accidents, last only a few seconds during which the effects could occur. Finally, given that noradrenergic neurons originating from locus coeruleus project exceptionally widely in the brain, the entire cerebral cortex for instance receives input from it, and that norepinephrine is one of the main neurotransmitters, it is unsurprising that the effects of released norepinephrine can be dramatic and wide-ranging. ”
All I know is that it is indeed a real phenomenon, perceived or not. I also realized that the older I get the less time stands still. Now we do know the reason for this, or at least they say they do. It seems that as we get older we lay down less memory tracks since we have “been there and done that”so many times there is no reason for our brains and memory to lay down a new track. When one is laying down new tracks, time slows. Time often seems expanded when we focus upon certain tasks. Look at a clock and watch he second hand, it will appear that time has slowed if you concentrate on each and every second movement compared to just sitting back and letting a minute tick by.
A series of perceptions slows time down for us. Yes this is perceived time and that is what most of thetime we deal with in our lives especially as we get older. But those special moments, those moments where time stands still, wereact fast, we think fast and we are superhuman.. Well maybe it is just real magic and certainly the superpower I would want every day if I could have a superpower.. The power to make time stand still. watch this video to see why 🙂

Hit Mrs

Posted in: Latest News ♦ Sunday, March 27th, 2016, 7:03 pm ♦ Comments Off on Hit Mrs

A book you will not want to miss

“A f*king brilliant and riveting look into the journey of deception and how we psychologically accept deceit. A story that will keep you on edge of your seat yet educate you in the process. I want more and so will you.”

– Banachek, the world’s leading mindreader Not just because Banachek is one of the main characters in the book but what you will learn about fake Psychics like James Van Praagh, John Edwards and their ilk.

BUY IT NOW on Itunes This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. or Amazon or hardcover on Create a Space.

https://www.createspace.com/6080413 for hardcover

http://goo.gl/TkbENn for Kindle

Hits & Mrs.

Karen Stollznow



We all need a little magic in our lives but can we tell the difference between magic and lies?
Gil Godsend is the world’s greatest psychic medium.
Claudia Cox thinks he’s the world’s biggest fraud. 

Once a professional skeptic, Claudia spent many years trying to expose Gil, but no one believed that the charismatic and handsome psychic could be a con artist. They would rather believe that Claudia has sour grapes because she and Gil were once lovers. Unable to reveal him to be a fraud, she moves on with her life and founds Suspicious Minds, a detective agency that catches cheating spouses. Years later, a few of Gil’s disgruntled female clients come out of the woodwork with shocking stories to tell. They beg for Claudia’s help. She convinces these grieving widows that Gil is using magic tricks to give the appearance that he’s a psychic medium and that he can’t really talk to the dead. They want revenge. With the help of famous

mentalist Banachek, Claudia masterminds plans to catch Gil in the act of cheating but each sting fails dismally. Gil comes out smelling

like roses while Claudia looks like a fool.

Will Claudia ever expose Gil as a charlatan? Maybe he really is psychic. Or is something more sinister going on behind the scenes?


What does the word mentalist mean?

Posted in: Uncategorized ♦ Friday, August 7th, 2015, 8:04 pm ♦ Comments Off on What does the word mentalist mean?
As with anything there are those who want to play semantics with words and some will misinterpret the word mentalist to mean what they want it to mean
The word “mentalist”  has been used to describe “psychics” and in the U.K., has become a tongue and cheek insult for someone who is behaving strangely or is crazy mostly thanks to the T.V. series “Alan Partridge” and “The Office.”  But what does it mean to us as psychic entertainers and magicians?

The word mentalist originally was used in the context for one “whose tastes are from mental rather than material pleasures”, in a book published in 1790 by C.M. Graham.  In 1874 it became known to be associated in context of a mental action due to  H. Maudsley. Then in 1978 again it was popularized in the context of the medical profession for someone who behaves strangely in a book called “On Our Own” by Judi Chamberlin.

But in the context we tend to think of today, the context of the famous NBC TV show and of what we do as an entertainers, it simply means someone who takes his known senses to create the illusion of reading minds or being a psychic.  The line, “I take my five known senses to create the illusion of a sixth” first introduced by Ned Rutledge. who gave me permission to use and promote in my books.

The first documented printed use of this word in newspapers I can find was in the Trenton Evening Times in 1909. The earliest I have found for the term being used in reference to entertainers who “read minds,” was in the 1870’s.

Dunninger, who is thought of by many as being the modern father of mentalists who use tricks on stage, claimed he coined the word from the book  Kybalion (Hermetic Philosophy), published in  1908 where it states that;  “The Principle of Mentalism embodies the truth that “All is Mind.””

So thinking about it, we may never know who actually coined the term in reference to demonstrations of Stage Mind Reading as I perform it.
Update to this article:
Found online in my research:  Here is a 1902 book, The Law of Mentalism referenced below  https://archive.org/…age/n5/mode/2up
Also found:
Discourse on Method by Descartes in 1637 establishes rules of effective thinking both in situations of certainty or uncertainty. Mentalism, however, while using rigorous methods, goes beyond focusing on knowledge of all aspects of the human mind.
Henry Sidgwick uses the word mentalism to oppose materialism. In 1874 he established the rules of thought based on clarity, coherence, consensus, which transpose to the systematic mind that tends to operate against material objects.
Irish Bishop George Berkeley in 1710 advocates immaterialism, George Berkeley introduced an idea called mentalism.  This theory stated that the mental function of knowledge was directly associated with the perception and the experiences of the individual.  This theory directly stemmed from Descartes theory of the body influencing the mind.  This theory of mentalism still directly affects the ideas of mental processes in modern psychology.  According to this doctrine, an adequate explanation of human behavior is not possible without reference to mental phenomena. The mentalists are of the opinion that the subject matter of psychology should be the mind, using introspection as the research tool.
His basic idea is that we create our own realities.
In 1902, A. Victor Segno publishes The Law of Mentalism which obtains a global success. It addresses the power on and of the mental faculties in all its forms including hypnotism, telepathy, etc.

A really nice podcast interview by D.J. Grothe with Banachek. Not new but worth revisiting.

Posted in: Latest News ♦ Sunday, May 25th, 2014, 1:30 am ♦ Comments Off on A really nice podcast interview by D.J. Grothe with Banachek. Not new but worth revisiting.

Banachek – Mentalism and Skepticism

November 13, 2009


Banachek is an American mentalist and skeptic. He has written numerous books and invented various magic and mentalism effects, and is often sought out by top entertainers such as David Blaine, Lance Burton, James Randi and Criss Angel. He has been the recipient of a number of awards and recognitions, including the Dave Lederman Memorial Award (Awarded for Creativity in Mentalism) and the Dunninger Memorial Award (Awarded for Distinguished Professionalism in the Performance of Mentalism), both awarded by the Psychic Entertainers Association, as well as the College Campus Novelty Act of the Year,  and the Entertainer of the Year on two occasions, all awarded by the Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities. He is renowned for fooling scientists at Washington University into believing that his supposed psychic abilities were genuine during the Project Alpha hoax in the early 1980s. In 2009, he conducted a preliminary test of psychic claimant Connie Sonne’s dowsing ability for the James Randi Educational Foundation’s Million Dollar Challenge that was witnessed by hundreds in person at The Amazing Meeting 7 in Las Vegas, NV.

In this conversation with D.J. Grothe, Banachek recounts his origins as a mentalist in South Africa, including how James Randi’s books influenced the development of his worldview. He talks about his involvement helping develop Penn and Teller’s bullet catch, the current finale to their Las Vegas show. He describes his role in Project Alpha, and explores to what extent he thinks the researchers involved were aware of his and his colleague’s deceptions. He details the role that magicians and mentalists may play in informing the public about psychic and other paranormal claims, and describes the virtues of being an open-minded skeptic as opposed to a “debunker.” He talks about his role n the James Randi Educational Foundation’s Million Dollar Challenge, and recounts his preliminary testing of Connie Sonne’s dowsing ability in front of a live audience at The Amazing Meeting 7, in Las Vegas in 2009.

To listen click Here


Posted in: Latest News ♦ Tuesday, April 8th, 2014, 6:47 pm ♦ Comments Off on

Banachek will be touring in Spain this fall. September through October.

Locations include:

Sept: 13, Lisboa 14, Badajoz 15, SEI Madrid 16, La Varita, Madrid 17, As de Magia, Madrid 18, CIMAPS, Madrid 19, Jerez de la Frontera 22, CIVAC, Valencia 23, Espai Secca, (parlor/close up show), Barcelona 23, AMIC, Lecture right after the show, Barcelona 24, Mags Magic, Barcelona 25, SEI, Barcelona 26, House of Illusions, Salou afternoon 26, Reus, night 27, Pamplona 28, Santander 29, Oviedo 30, Bilbao

OCT  1, Valladolid 2, Zaragoza 3, Teatro Encantado, Madrid (close-up show) 4, Cordoba 5, Semicirculo Elche 6, La Varita, Valencia 7, Gandia 8, Almussafes 9, Mallorca

Some changes may follow.
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