YANSS 266 – The psychology behind Project Alpha, the hoax and publicity stunt meant to improve scientific rigor and debunk the supernatural

We sit down with Brian Brushwood to discuss how he put together this most recent season of The World’s Greatest Con, his podcast about incredible scams. This season is all about how two boys pulled off an incredible hoax called Project Alpha, a con job and a publicity stunt meant to improve scientific rigor and methodology when it comes to studying the possibility of the existence of psychic phenomena.

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Brian Brushwood

“Cons don’t fool us because we’re stupid, they fool us because we’re human.”

In this episode, we sit down with Brushwood, a famed stage magician and infamous instructor of the school of scams whose podcast explores the world’s greatest con artists and con jobs from World War II to modern game shows. In the new season, he tells the story of how two teenagers scammed a group of scientists into believing their subjects were powerful psychics. 



The World’s Greatest Con Season Three is all about about how, in the 1970s, as teenage boys – as teenage magicians – two people worked their way into a secret psychic soldier program conducted at a hidden laboratory. Then they held a press conference about it, and things got messy.

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