On November 3, 1987, James Randi, the well-known magician, skeptic, and debunker of paranormal claims, appeared on The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson. He introduced Randi as the best investigator of psychic and miraculous claims.
The duo starts a discussion about a dangerous act that Randi was supposed to perform on the show Houdini. However, he ended up in the hospital hours before the show (reason not given). This leads to Dean Gunderson training himself to perform the stunt in less than an hour and a half, thus saving the show.
Randi also shared a story with Carson about the tricks that yogis have been doing for years, claiming that it must be accurate as it was published in the National Enquirer. He wanted to demonstrate the procedure and asked two nurses, Pam and Joan, to join him onstage to measure his pulse. He then asks the drummers Ed and Pete to play the drums in sync with the pulse beats.
After Randi demonstrated the stunt, Carson asked him how he almost stopped his pulse. Randi explained this was an old stunt that yogis have been doing for years. The vibration seems to change in one hand and not in the other, as if the heart were beating differently in the left and right arm.
He adds that it is a psychological stunt where one just needs to get the arms in precisely the right way, then press the hands together and stop the circulation, making it seem as if the pulse slows down.
Carson commented that this shows how people are easily deceived. Randi jokes that he even tried this trick on one of the new nurses, causing her to be shocked and worried that she would lose him. They also discussed people claiming to channel souls through them. Randi stated that it is mainly based on belief, and people are paying $300 for these sessions.
Carson and Randi believed these claims were invalid and people had been misled. The humorous conversation about these soul channelers’ backgrounds was about some being insurance salesmen while another ran a dating service. They ended the discussion with a subtle message not to believe these people who are misleading them.