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Guy Lyon Playfair

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Guy Lyon Playfair

Guy Lyon Playfair
Born India
Occupation Parapsychologist, author
Nationality British
Period Contemporary
Genre non-fiction, biography
Subject Parapsychology

Guy Lyon Playfair (born 5 April 1935) is a freelance writer and translator best known for his books about parapsychology.[1][2]


Additionally, Playfair has worked for several US, British and Brazilian magazines, newspapers and publishing houses. From 1967 to 1971 he worked in the press section of the US Agency for International Development in Rio de Janeiro. Widely travelled, he has lived in Brazil for several years. His books have been translated into about 15 languages. He has also written numerous articles for magazines in several countries, and has worked as researcher and consultant on numerous radio and television programmes.

For two years, Guy Playfair worked with IBPP, Brazil's first and only serious psychical research organisation. He has been a member of the British Society for Psychical Research since 1973 and was elected to its Council in 2004. He has contributed several articles and book reviews to its journal and newsletter.

In his first book, The Unknown Power (first published as The Flying Cow by Souvenir Press Ltd., UK 1975) he brings a wide reading in the literature of psychical research to bear on Brazilian paranormal phenomena, including those events connected with Francisco Candido 'Chico' Xavier, Zé Arigó and others. In The Indefinite Boundary (first published by Souvenir Press Ltd., UK 1976), Guy Playfair reviews evidence for the existence of psychic phenomena.

He wrote a study of time cycles in connection with paranormal phenomena in The Cycles of Heaven (1978). With Maurice Grosse he investigated the Enfield Poltergeist over one year, as recorded in This House is Haunted (1980). If This Be Magic, an inquiry into hypnotism (both 1985). He then collaborated with Uri Geller on The Geller Effect (1986).


Playfair's book The Flying Cow expressed his admiration for the Brazilian medium Chico Xavier. A review in the New Scientist wrote "Many books misuse science to gull the reader (and, perhaps the author as well, and The Flying Cow is just one more)".[3] The magician Bob Couttie described Playfair as "devoted believer in Uri Geller" and the "author of an assortment of credulous books on paranormal subjects."[4] The science writer Martin Gardner criticised Playfair's endorsement of Geller and described him as a "hack writer on the occult".[5]

The magician Ben Harris author of the book Gellerism Revealed: The Psychology and Methodology Behind the Geller Effect revealed step-by-step photographs and text showing how to bend keys and cutlery by trick methods. Harris reviewed Playfair and Geller's book which concluded 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."[6]

In a review for The Geller Effect the parapsychologist Michael Goss wrote "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."[7] Richard Whittington-Egan in a review for Playfair's book This House is Haunted wrote "a shade credulous in some areas, but its value as a most capable scrutiny of a classic modern haunting makes it an indispensable addition to the relatively sparse literature of full-scale poltergeist investigation in the field."[8]

Playfair is most famous for his endorsement of the Enfield Poltergeist. The sceptical investigator Joe Nickell has written "As a magician experienced in the dynamics of trickery, I have carefully ex­amined Playfair's lengthy account of the disturbances at Enfield and have concluded that they are best explained as children's pranks."[9] Playfair's belief that poltergeists are disembodied, mischievous spirits influenced the paranormal research of Colin Wilson.[10]

Selected bibliography

  • The Unknown Power. Panther Books, St. Albans 1977, ISBN 0-586-04235-0
  • The Indefinite Boundary. Panther Books, 1977, ISBN 0-586-04638-0
  • with Scott Hill: The Cycles of Heaven : Cosmic Forces and What They Are Doing to You. St. Martin’s Press, New York 1978
  • This House is Haunted : The Investigation of the Enfield Poltergeist. Stein & Day, 1980, ISBN 0-8128-2732-5
  • The Haunted Pub Guide. 1985, ISBN 0-245-54255-8
  • If This be Magic. Jonathan Cape, 1985, ISBN 0-224-02338-1 and ISBN 978-0-224-02338-2
  • with Uri Geller: The Geller Effect. Grafton, Jonathan Cape, Hunter Publishing, ISBN 0-586-07430-9 ISBN 978-0586074305
  • Twin Telepathy. Vega, 2002, ISBN 1-84333-686-3
  • New Clothes for Old Souls : World Wide Evidence for Reincarnation. Druze Heritage Foundation, 2006, ISBN 1-904850-09-X and ISBN 978-1-904850-09-0
  • Chico Xavier, Medium of the Century. Roundtable Publishing, 2010, ISBN 0-9564493-1-X


  1. ^ Creeping Flesh: The Horror Fantasy Film Book David Kerekes – 2003 – Page 61
  2. ^ Encyclopedia of occultism & parapsychology Leslie Shepard, Lewis Spence, Nandor Fodor – 1991 – 2008 – Page 655
  3. ^ Hanlon, Joseph. The Flying Cow by Guy Lyon Playfair. New Scientist 3 April 1975.
  4. ^ Couttie, Bob. Forbidden Knowledge: The Paranormal Paradox. Lutterworth Press. 1988. p. 62.
  5. ^ Gardner, Martin. Order and Surprise. Prometheus Books. 1983. p. 362.
  6. ^ Harris, Ben. Book Review The Geller Effect. The Skeptic. Volume 7 number 1. 1987.
  7. ^ Goss, Michael. After the spoonbending. New Scientist 6 November 1986.
  8. ^ Whittington-Egan, Richard. This House is Haunted. The Contemporary Review. Volume 237. 1980. p. 166.
  9. ^ Nickell, Joe. Enfield Poltergeist. Skeptical Inquirer. Volume 36. August 2012.
  10. ^ Dossor, Howard. Colin Wilson: The Man and His Mind. Element. 1990. p. 206.

External links

  • Ghostwatch, article by Stephen Volk in Fortean Times, January 2003
  • Guy Lyon Playfair
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