Dan Aykroyd and His Conan Doyle Problem PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Ian Morris   

On May 28, 2009, The New York Times published an article on the new Ghostbusters video game. It looks fun: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/31/arts/31schi.html?th&emc=th.  However, this esteemed journalistic entity felt the need to spend its first few paragraphs discussing Dan Aykroyd’s “family’s supernatural bona fides” before moving along to the game itself.  As Alison Smith wrote a few months ago in SWIFT, Aykroyd is so devoted to woo-woo that he advertised a vodka based on the “thirteen crystal skulls” supposedly created in Atlantis (http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/swift-blog/368-woo-in-review-crystal-head-vodka.html).  His passion for woo-woo may be exacerbated by the fact that he has what I call a Conan Doyle problem.

 

Massimo Polidoro wrote a book a few years ago outlining the “Strange Friendship Between Houdini and Conan Doyle.”  Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, became devoted to woo-woo at the height of popularity of séances which came at the same time that he – and many others – lost someone dear in World War One.  Conan Doyle desperately wanted to talk with his son who had died as a result of war injuries, and this otherwise rational man fell for fakers ready to take his money.  Houdini tried to explain to his friend that these “séances” were conjuring tricks that he – Houdini – had used early in his career.  However, Conan Doyle believed that Houdini possessed genuine woo-woo ability to perform his act, and that he only pretended it was all trickery.

Dan Aykroyd lost his best friend John Belushi to a drug overdose.  Aykroyd’s interest in woo-woo increased so rapidly after that, that the movie Ghostbusters was released only two years after Belushi’s death.  The author of The New York Times article writes that Ghostbusters was Aykroyd’s “dearest creation” in cinema, even over The Blues Brothers, in which he and Belushi were “on a mission from God” to deliver music.  The article also states that Aykroyd created Ghostbusters in the hope that movie audiences would react favorably to a topic on the paranormal.  Pardon me for being as skeptical as Venkman, but Aykroyd may have been trying to convince audiences of the 'reality' of woo-woo just so he could convince himself.