Skip to main content

Episode 001 - Halloween Special 2017 - The Evil Tester Show

In this first and super spooky episode we cover Houdini, Charles Fort and GhostHunting, all related back to Software Testing

Subscribe to the show:

Show Notes

Spooky. Covering Houdini, Charles Fort and GhostHunting - all related back to Software Testing.


We are in the Uncertainty Business.

We find and investigate anomalous Phenomena

Anomalous - “deviating from what is standard, normal, or expected.”

We are part of a long tradition of Anomalous Phenomena seekers.

Charles Fort

You can find the books of Charles Fort online at Mr X’s

Quotes from Charles Fort’s “The Book of The Damned”

“A PROCESSION of the damned. By the damned, I mean the excluded. We shall have a procession of data that Science has excluded.”

“Our especial interest is in modern science as a manifestation of this one ideal or purpose or process: That it has falsely excluded, because there are no positive standards to judge by: that it has excluded things that, by its own pseudostandards, have as much right to come in as have the chosen.”

“The data of the damned. I have gone into the outer darkness of scientific and philosophical transactions and proceedings, ultra-respectable, but covered with the dust of disregard. I have descended into journalism. I have come back with the quasi-souls of lost data. They will march. "

“I think that things raised from this earth’s surface to that region have been held there until shaken down by storms– The Super-Sargasso Sea. "

Ghost Hunting

The Ghost-Busters Century 1900 illustration was used with permission from the artist

A fantastic artist who has created Dr Seuss style versions of Cthulhu, Doom, HP Lovecraft

Checkout their Twitter feed

And their Deviant Art profile -


  • Houdini - houdini seance, conan doyle,
  • skills to learn from:
    • practice
    • brother used to tie him up so he could escape
    • ice cold baths, holding his breath
    • communication - Houdini dropped his new york speech patterns and learned to communicate in a manner befitting an international showman
    • “Don’t allow yourself to go stale on your act.” from The Right Way to do wrong
    • physically fit, trained himself to have more dexterity with his toes

Sequence in The Master Mystery where he is tied up, hanging from a wall, knocks out his captor, takes off his shoes and socks, picks the pocket of hist unconcsious guard which his feet, picks up a set of keys with his feet, uses his toes to unlock a door, then walks up the door while hanging to give himself leverage to untie the rope holding him with his teeth. This is all pre- jackie chan stuff.

Later expose of spiritualists “A Magician among the spirits”

  • Houdini Seance

    • every halloween for 10 years after his Death, Houdini’s wife Beth held a seance
    • audio of the last Houdini seance you can find online on
    • this was then continued by Walter B. Gibson - professional author and magician, author of magic books and pulp novels - particularly known for writing The Shadow
  • Houdini Museum continues the tradition today and if you go off to, you can join in the seance

Books Shown or Mentioned

Courting Controversy

Before this episode even aired, I managed to stir up some controversy for myself.

I include an excerpt from the final Houdini seance - if you haven’t heard it, you can find it on (I have a link to this and all the sources mentioned in the Show Notes)

The Houdini Seance was recorded in 1936, and according to is now in the public domain.

But… YouTube automagically flagged my video as violating the copyright of a heavy metal band called Poison Garden, because their La Danse Macabre song uses the same excerpt from this Public Domain recording, but adds some music on top of it.

It took me weeks to get YouTube to recognise that my image was being used in someone else’s YouTube video, but all of 3 seconds for them to match public domain seance extracts and assign copyright to a heavy metal band.

I raised a copyright dispute with YouTube and Beyond Music quickly released the copyright claim. But this is just another example of ‘Failure Demand’ caused by overzealous Big Data or Machine Learning systems which either haven’t been coded with the ability to specify exceptions and therefore can’t cope with the Requisite Demand on their service, or have just learned the wrong thing, or been overly Big Datafied.

Failure Demand is a concept that I first read in a John Seddon book “I Want You to Cheat” and refers to “demand caused by failure to do something or do something right for the customer”. I think this is a very useful concept for testers and recommend John Seddon’s books. Probably a topic to add to a future episode of The Evil Tester Show.