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Is Ivan Stoiljkovic, Croatia's Magnet Boy, A Hoax?

First Posted: 05/24/11 09:19 AM ET Updated: 11/16/11 05:59 AM ET

Magnetboy
Ivan Stoiljkovic is a 6-year-old boy from Croatia who allegedly is magnetic. However, the fact that his body is able to attract non-magnetic metals like copper and only seems magnetic when his shirt is off is attracting skepticism.

Ivan Stoiljkovic, a 6-year-old Croatian boy, has become world renowned as a "human magnet." Metallic objects -- from spoons to heavy frying pans -- are said to stick to his body.

But Stoiljkovic isn't the first person said to be magnetic, and skeptics call him a big hoax.

Not only is Ivan the Magnet Boy supposedly able to stick up to 55 pounds of metal stuck to his torso, but his family also claims that his hands can emit heat and his mysterious ability has also given him healing powers. His abilities have been recounted in outlets from BoingBoing to Britain's Daily Telegraph.

Little Ivan reportedly used his healing hands to alleviate his grandfather's stomach pains and take away the pain of a neighbour who hurt his leg in a tractor accident.

Although Reuters has reported that "medical checkups so far have reaped inconclusive results," skeptics like James Randi challenge such conclusions.

Randi, founded the James Randi Educational Foundation, an organization that works to expose paranormal and pseudoscientific frauds and hold media organizations accountable for promoting dangerous nonsense.

After looking at the media reports of Magnet Boy, Randi came to the conclusion that Ivan attracted attention better than metal.

"The fact that aluminum pots –- as well as copper and silver coins -- stick to this kid, rather shows that his touted 'magnetism' -- unless it has been drastically improved to pick up normally non-magnetic materials –- is simply due to sticky skin," Randi wrote in a blog post.

Apparently, Magnet Boy is very similar to a Chinese man Randi investigated a few years back.

"[He] even stuck a porcelain toilet-lid to his own son’s chest to prove how magnetic his whole family was," Randi said. "I dusted father and son with talcum powder, and their powers evaporated."

Randi suspects the same thing might happen with Magnet Boy, especially since none of the photos he's posed for show him wearing a shirt."

But where Randi sees a hoax, others see the next best thing: A Facebook page.

A group of Ivan's fellow countrymen, skeptical of his magnetic personality, created "We Are All Magneto Boy/ Girl," a page that allows members to post their own photos of magnetic objects sticking to their own skin.

"[We] now know it's the greasiness of the skin that makes the objects stick, and it's confirmation bias and suggestibility which leaves the impression that our little boy heals," the page's anti-magnetic manifesto reads in part. "But we all knew that before. It is unimaginable that the parents and the journalist are unaware of this."

"But, why the deceit and the lies?" It goes on. "Why is a clearly obese kid not being helped but paraded about like a circus monster? Do parents want to make easy cash from their sick child, and, if so, why are the journalist not scorning, but supporting this lunacy?"

But while many stick it to the idea that a person can be magnetic, some, like Sonya Marshall, who writes a blog for C. Marshall Fabrication Machinery, a Simi Valley, Calif.-based company specializing in selling top quality metal working and fabrication machinery, stick by him.

"Until I figure out a way to stick a fork to my face that doesn’t actually involve stabbing myself with it, he will continue to have my vote," she said.

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Filed by David Moye  |