In March 1930, Syracuse University professor Wesley R. Wells contributed an article to Popular Science defending hypnotism as a scientifically reputable field. A couple of months later, famed American magician Harry Blackstone fired back, insisting that the practice was little more than clever hocus-pocus, a psychological placebo.
In his article, Professor Wells claimed he could induce amnesia and heightened memory in his subjects. Blackstone pointed out you could achieve the same results in ordinary circumstances. For instance, Wells would stroke the faces of his subjects to make them feel calm and drowsy, which would lull them into remembering forgotten events. What's so special about that? Barbers do the same thing while shaving your face, Blackstone said, yet no one calls a barber a hypnotist.
Blackstone's smackdown didn't stop with that burn: Wells said that his subjects would write in an unconscious state, but Blackstone noted that this action is merely an exaggerated version of doodling while daydreaming. While performing, a professional hypnotist would tell his subject to stutter, and he would stutter. Blackstone called this a "case of clever suggestion," arguing that a performer's test subjects would nervously stutter due to stage fright anyway.
Read the full story in "Hypnotism Fake, Says Magician"