Original article: "My Normal and Paranormal Adventures in Kazakhstan" by Edip Yuksel, 2009
The Extraordinary Deeds of Psychokinetic, Telekinetic or Pyrokinetic Energy!
Besides Hadith and Sunna, there was another hoax I had to deal with. I was hearing from my hosts about a Russian guy with paranormal powers. According to many eye-witness testimonies, he was burning holes in things with sheer mental concentration. As a rational monotheist, as a critical thinker, I did not hesitate to reject the claims to be 99.9 percent a hoax. They laughed at me. They had in the past taken extreme skeptics who did not give even a 0.1 percent chance. One of their recent guests was a philosophy professor from Moscow University, who had become a total believer in pyrokinesis. They wanted to take me to a session so that I could witness the paranormal event. I could not pass up the offer.
During the nine days in Almaty, I met three Kazaks who shared the name Serik (from Arabic Sherik, that is Partner or Friend). This Serik was educated in the United States and was a successful businessman and financial advisor. He was in his early thirties. He had two Mercedes cars, one driven by his private driver. He enjoyed trying to scare me by accelerating his new Mercedes G Wagon in Almaty's narrow streets. The Russian guy lived on the fifth floor of a dilapidated apartment building. The door had multiple locks on it. Upon our entry, he gave an envelope to the Russian who called himself Alexander. Later, I learned that he had popped-up 2,000 dollars for the half-an-hour session. Alexander was a skinny man in his forties. He had a very serious demeanor and all-business attitude. I noticed that before leading me to a chair across from him, he rushed to sit at a chair in front of a little desk with a circular top. He started talking in Russian about his talents of collecting energy from nature and focusing on things he wanted to burn. Serik was a fluent translator and experienced disciple. Alexander was claiming connections with Russian military.
Alexander then produced an inflated little balloon and put it between my right hand and his left hand. I was expecting some kind of laser hidden somewhere, but nothing appeared suspicious; he wore a simple shirt with short sleeves. He was talking about the special energy he had that would not pop the balloon. The balloon stayed suspended between his palm and my palm for about thirty seconds. He was making low humming noises. I started feeling warmth in the middle of my palm. Then the heat increased and I felt as if there was a ball of fire in my palm. I had to let the balloon fall. It was a very unusual experience. I had in the past studied hypnosis and participated in hypnotic sessions, but this had nothing to do with it. I was not even informed beforehand that I would feel heat inside my palm. But, I was open to every scientific and "normal" explanation before believing that all my lost socks were indeed stolen by Martian visitors. Unfortunately, I knew that for many people Martian thieves were the first explanation for the disappearing socks phenomenon!
I was not paying much attention to what was he telling me through Serik. I was carefully watching like James Randi who had exposed Uri Geller, the notorious Israeli fraudster. Alexander moved to his second show. He opened his hand and let me feel it. It was colder than usual. He then pressed against my right hand palm and started doing the same thing: concentrating and humming. I heard a puff sound and felt a burning pain in the back of my hand between my thumb and index finger. I tried not to overreact. I wanted to take the picture of him, but I respected his wish not to be photographed.
Then, Alexander showed me several plastic cups and placed them on the floor next to my feet. He went all the way into another room which was connected to his office. He sat on a chair about 20 feet away. He started humming and I noticed the plastic cup starting to melt from the side facing him. Within a few seconds he carved a hole in the plastic cup. He did a few similar burnings and poking holes in plastic. Noticing that he was burning and poking holes on the same straight line, I grabbed a cup and put it on the floor at another location and asked him to burn it there. He grabbed it and located it somewhere else in an animated fashion and rapid talking. He made me sit on another chair and from behind started concentrating on the cup. He excitedly claimed that he burned it by sending his energy through my eyeglasses or eyes. I then took a dollar bill from my wallet and put it on his desk and asked him to burn a hole in it. He put it inside his palm and pointed his right hand's index finger accompanied with exaggerated concentration and bragging words about his powers. He did poke a little whole in the American dollar that had already been turned to doughnut by the "robber banks", Wall Street and corporate thieves who stole billions of taxpayers dollars during their recent heist in American history.
I asked Alexander a few questions about the source of his powers. He talked about his veins, about a special diet of 400 gram of vegetables and 40 gram of nuts, about earth, water, fire, air and ether. Long live Empedocles! I had already witnessed so many red flags that when he started to diagnose my potential health problems and missing the ones I already had, I tried my best to endure his insults to my intelligence. I also wondered about his knowledge about the Randy Foundation, which has been offering 1 million dollars for anyone that could prove paranormal powers. I asked him to go there and claim the money. He made up an excuse: he had a contract with the military for four more months and he would not be able to go out during this period. When I left his office, I was impressed by his talents and showmanship, yet I was sure that he was using some devices to create the burning effect. I suspected two things: laser engravers and chemicals that could have delayed the burning effect.
The following day I asked Serik to take me there so that I expose the hoax. I recorded my encounter with the fraudster. To make my job easy, Serik arranged this session with Alexander for Aidar, the journalist. At the door, I entered his office with a camcorder. I demanded him to apologize for three things: for insulting my intelligence, for burning my hand and for defrauding thousands of dollars from my friends. I added that he had to give back all the money he received from them. He appeared to be composed and cool. Serik was doing very well in translating our conversation. At a point, I grabbed a plastic cup and put it by the entrance door and challenged him to perform his powers there. He accepted with a condition: he would do it only with the presence of Aidar, the new "recruit." I had no choice but to accept since I had no clear idea what his trick was about and the two of my friends were not sure about my allegations. Serik and I got out and he locked the door behind us. Taking advantage of this period, I decided to climb to the attic from the opening. I climbed the metal stairs on the wall and pushed the square door all the way pulling myself to the attic. It was dark and dirty. I looked for wires and vertically installed laser engravers in the ceiling of his office room. I was disappointed, nothing was there. I came down and asked Serik to call Aidar and learn what was going on. We had to wait a few more minutes. When the door opened I entered, Aidar put his arms on my shoulder with his head down, "Let's get out of here; he is real. I am hundred percent sure, he is genuine." I could not believe my eyes and ears. Aidar appeared pale and shaken. He was very scared. There was big hole on his nylon windbreaker on the right side of his chest. He had not responded to my challenge by poking hole in the cup by the door. Instead, he had chosen to have a new recruit. He had chosen offence. I asked him whether he was injected with some kind of medication. I could not explain his betrayal of me through normal circumstances.
Alexander was now working on Serik, perhaps his best disciple. I had to interrupt. I searched under the desk. I saw sticky stuff under it. I thought they were the secret chemicals he was using; but they were most likely gum pieces as he claimed. Then, I opened the little door under the desk. There I noticed a pedal, exactly as a I had predicted. When Serik and Aidar saw it, they were shocked. But, this would not last long. Alexander pointed at a little camera on the corner of the wall and claimed that the pedal is for the camera; he was recording the sessions secretly. I did not buy his explanation. I immediately jumped over the seat by the wall and pulled off the device that looked like a small camera. I suspected it to be a laser, disguised inside a camera cover. But, after a brief inspection I was disappointed in myself. I was wrong in my accusation; indeed it was a camera. But, I was still not convinced that the pedal was for the camera. I suspected a clever cover up. If someone discovered the pedal, then Alexander has a convincing explanation for it. I felt the urge to discover the devises he was using. I had promised Aslbek and others that I would surely expose the hoax and now I was nowhere near close to it. The attic had not produced any clue, nor the pedal hidden under his desk.
I sat down on the chair and held the balloon in my hand and challenged him to do his trick there. He appeared to accept my challenge. But after a brief moment of concentration, he started telling Serik that he had accumulated too much energy and could blow my hand off. I did not swallow his bluff. I challenged him to blow my hand off and while at it he should also blow my head off. I started timing him, using my watch. I told him that he had only five minutes to unveil his tricks and apologize for his three crimes; otherwise I would call the American embassy and ask them to send police here to ransack his office. He was not giving up. He was trying to influence Serik to ask me to give up. I would not. I informed him about the few minutes left for him to avoid the police.
When the five minutes finished I asked Serik to call the US embassy. I was going to tell them that a Russian crook had defrauded me, an American citizen, and I needed police to come to the address. Serik did not respond to me. Losing my patience, I decided to use some force. I charged the desk which was attached to the floor, and kicked it hard, breaking the jar and spreading some knickknacks to the floor. From the bottom of the table, a bundle of white cables were exposed. They were curving back to the room in the back. Following the lead of the wires, I went to the other room where he had his bed. At that point I heard Serik telling me that he confessed his trick. He was using chemicals. I knew that he was still trying to hide his real trick. So, I continued my search. Behind the bed there was a section covered with blankets. When I removed the blankets an electronic devise comprising of two big boxes was exposed. My friends were in shock. They never expected such a professional set up. The devices, according to Alexander, were generating microwaves. He also mentioned using chemicals in combination. I did not pay much attention to his explanations, since I never trusted him. I am not yet sure exactly how it worked, but either he was filling the room with microwaves which would activate the chemical that he would secretly attach to things. Most likely, he was sticking the chemical to the back of our hands with his thump when he was shaking our hands. In fact, the location where he burned our hands was exactly corresponding to where the tip of his thump would land. It would be difficult to explain why he was not able to produce the same effect when I challenged him in different locations. Perhaps, he would not have chance to obtain extra chemicals and attach it under scrutiny. I am not sure. Considering all the locations that he performed his tricks, they were on a straight line across his bed room. Regardless of the details, it was now clear that he was using a high tech device to create the burning effect on his subjects.
I recorded his apology. He apologized for insulting the intelligence of a philosopher, for burning my hand and for defrauding my friends. Later I felt compassion for him and gave him a heart-to-heart advice. I kept my word and did not call police on him. Serik took the envelope containing several thousand dollars. Then, he asked for all the money previously given to him by him and his friends. He told him that he was stashing his money somewhere else. Serik's chauffeur took them; he retrieved about ten thousands dollars.
Two days later, Aslbek wanted Abu Eesa to experience the same show. He was curious about his reaction. I went with Abu Eesa pretending being there for the first time. We recorded his experience and reaction. He was acting like a scientist, but a very gullible one. He appeared to be trusting every word of explanation given by Alexander. Alexander was using natural terminology to explain his powers, but he was also mixing the word spirit with them. Abu Eesa was eager to explain his powers with Jinnies or ghosts. So, he was trying to hear more about the spirit part. I asked Abu Eesa a few short questions so that he could elaborate on his jinnies theories. I reminded him about the paintings containing Christian figures and symbols. He was convinced that it was jinny power. Before leaving Abu Eesa invited Alexander to read the Quran. It was refreshing to hear Abu Eesa promoting the Quran. I could not stop myself interjecting: "Brother Abu Eesa, you are peddling Bukhari to us, but I see that you are advising the Quran to outsiders. Why don't you ask him to read Bukhari?" I am sure; Abu Eesa knew that no sound person would accept Islam by starting from Bukhari. None would have any respect or sympathy for the fictional Muhammad depicted by Bukhari. For converts, Bukhari would be inserted into the scene afterwards to distort the message of the Quran!