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The Perceptive Lintgen

Summary #

In 1982, Arthur Lintgen demonstrated conclusively that he is able to identify many classical phonograph records, by simply looking at them.

Spinning vinyl

(Photo: Shannon on Flickr)

Commentary #

Lintgen never claimed to have any kind of supernatural powers or that he can read individual notes off of records; he just used his vast knowledge of classical music and phonograph construction to determine, for example, out how many movements there are and their relative duration and loudness. His skills are limited to orchestral music from Beethoven onwards.

Meta #

When I have told this story in the past (as recently as 12 days ago), I made two errors:

  1. I was told that he used his fingernail to play the record very quietly and identified it aurally, rather than visually. This was not the case.

  2. I was told that he was going to be paid the JREF award, but, out of a moral sense, confessed to his true methods. This, too, was not the case; he never claimed to have any paranormal abilities; just abnormal abilities.

Acknowledgements #

Two thanks to reader Matthew Garland: once, for knowing the correct version of the story; and again, for making me to look it up so that I could discover my mistakes. Thanks and thanks!

See Also #