In their initial post, "How Dumb was Houdini?", they point out that his oft-quoted, "My brain is the key that sets my mind free" is pretty dumb and makes no sense. But they correctly point out this is NOT what Houdini said. What Houdini actually said was, "My brain is the key that sets me free." That is much less dumb.
They also point out that people are selling merchandise online featuring the incorrect quote. This inspired The Jerx to launch their very own Dumb Houdini Store. That isn't a joke. Well, it is a joke, but the merchandise is real. At least I think it's real?
Speaking of quotes...
I did a little research and found a page at Goodreads that attributes the quote to Houdini's A Magician Among The Spirits. I figured it came from one of his books, so that tracks. However, when I did a keyword search of my PDF of the book, I turned up nothing.
I then searched Miracle Mongers and Their Methods, Houdini's Paper Magic, The Right Way to Do Wrong, The Unmasking of Robert-Houdin, the Margery pamphlet, even Elliott's Last Legacy. Still nothing. The closest I came was the quote, "Has your brain deceived your eyes, or your eyes your brain?" (Unmasking p 308).
I then plugged the quote into newspapers.com and the earliest hit that came up was from 2008 when a Durham Academy valedictorian named it as his favorite quotation. A search of Ask Alexander turned up a single mention in a 2015 Genii. So not only can I not find this quotation during Houdini's lifetime, I can't even find it before the 21st century!
Then I found this clip from the 2001 film Swordfish.
So there's the quote. At the moment, this is the earliest utterance that I've been able to find. But is it even a quote? It's not all that clear if John Travolta's character is actually quoting Houdini or if this is his own definition of misdirection. But even if he is quoting Houdini here, this is a movie, which is under no obligation to be factual. So it's possible these words are entirely the creation of the screenwriter.
I'm still holding out hope that Houdini did say this. There is still a lot of his written material that I haven't searched. Like I said, it's a good quote and it sounds like something he might say. I really don't want to believe that we've been quoting John Travolta all this time. Because as The Jerx might say, that would be really dumb.