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The S.A.M.'s Occult Investigation Committee has a proud history going back to the tenure of Harry Houdini and his efforts to combat fraudulent mediums.


Today, the OIC is primarily a research center existing to provide those interested in alleged paranormal phenomena with connections to dependable information.


This is an exciting time for the OIC as it undergoes reorganization for the modern age. Please bear with us as we put this site together.

 

Welcome


Welcome to the Occult Investigation Committee of the Society of American Magicians. My name is Andy Dallas and I am the Chair of the O.I.C. We are an over eighty-year-old committee inspired by Houdini.


During the days that Houdini was a member and President of the S.A.M., he was actively exploring the claims of those who appeared to be in touch with the other side (and I don't mean the I.B.M.). Houdini’s activities are legendary and became the inspiration for the development of the O.I.C.


In Houdini’s pursuit of occult-related subject matter, he discovered magic principles were often used to deceive the innocent in a very unethical way, sometimes even with criminal intent. This was a very disturbing development, and could prove destructive to the character, reputations, and professions of legitimate magicians who use their knowledge of deception for entertainment, with no claims to the supernatural.


The idea in the creation of the OIC was to set up a watch-dog group of magicians under the umbrella of the S.A.M. This would publicly demonstrate our solidarity and resolve against those who could do us harm with their unscrupulous and immoral bastardizing of our craft against an uninformed public. The S.A.M. recognized this threat, and so the O.I.C. was established.


Even in Houdini’s time, there were sensitive legal issues to be addressed with this kind of activity.  When Houdini died, there were, as I understand, numerous pending law suites against him. So the object of the O.I.C. was, from the start, to explore the subject as it relates to the occult while at the same time being careful not to put the S.A.M., or its members, in harms way.


The original idea was, in my opinion, never intended to be an aggressive Investigation tool.  It was more of a banner that symbolized that magicians were aware of this blatant abuse of the principles of our craft and were disgusted, intolerant, and recognized the threat of this infringement upon their reputations.


The second problem that the O.I.C. faced was how to explain to the public that these convincing cons that employed magic principles were simple magic tricks without having to reveal the secret. The Society of American Magicians, as my son would say, “it’s all about” keeping the secrets of magic. To prove to the public that the effects by the mediums created were magic tricks and not an apparition or some unseen energy from the other side would require proof. This would mean an exposé. This exposure had to be avoided at all cost.


The theory here, as I perceive it, was to incorporate the O.I.C. into the S.A.M. to form an alliance of magicians who thought their membership would establish themselves as experts to be recognized by the scientific community, and hence the public. Through this accreditation and their ability to duplicate the occult effects while maintaining that their demonstrations were mere magician’s tricks and principals, could at least create skepticism in those the O.I.C. could reach with out violating the S.A.M.’s stand on revealing secrets.


In short, the S.A.M. mantra “Magic – Unity – Might” really taps into the commitment of the O.I.C. It’s our understanding of magic principals and the art of deception that gives us the insight into those who by design or inadvertently could do us harm. It’s our common interest in magic that has brought us together to form a recognizable unified alliance. Through our unity we have established a reputable academic source that can justify others to see us as experts. This recognition gives our observations, opinions, and insights credibility with the public, media, and all others represented in this field. This will create a “might” whose opinions are considered credible and respected.


Over time, the legal and political landscape has changed. The world has become much smaller through current technology. But the O.I.C. still has the same goal: we want to become a recognized source on the subject of the occult as it relates to magic and magicians.


The usefulness of the OIC seems to be more current today than ever. The constant story of the gullible and innocent having their life savings wiped out by con-artists passing as fortune tellers and mediums continues at an all time high. The popularity of occult-related television shows that gives credibility to ghosts, mediums, and the paranormal are some of the highest rated. Many who claim to have powers to see into the future, communicate with the dead, and work with the police to find the missing have become celebrities, and at the same time lining their pockets on the backs of the bereaved. The relentless advertising of so called “certified Psychics” who can guide you by phone at $5 and up a minute brings in millions of dollars a week, paid by many who can ill afford it.


The O.I.C. is not here to take on each individual or case that comes along. To do so would cause us to drown in a sea of deceit. We are here like a warning sign on a highway that simply begs one person to think twice before drinking Jim Jones’ Kool-aid.


I am honored to be the Chair of the O.I.C.  I believe we can, and in the future, will make a difference through our “Magic, Unity, and Might”. I now encourage you to join us in our quest to make the O.I.C. not only a benefit of membership to the S.A.M., but a powerful voice of reason.


We have nothing to do with cynicism, religious beliefs, or intellectual judgment. We simply stand as a voice of reason in a very complex human experience. As magicians, we have the benefit of being experts in the field deception, and through the O.I.C. and the S.A.M. we can encourage skeptical thought.


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