How FOIA Brought Hypnosis Back to Amtrak - Atlas Obscura
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How FOIA Brought Hypnosis Back to Amtrak

The agency rescinded a ban on a hypnosis website after a records request.

(Photo: Kim/CC BY-SA 2.0)

A version of this story originally appeared on

In response to reports by baffled Amtrak riders of news and movie streaming websites blocked on the rail line’s WiFi, Michael Morisy requested for a list of blacklisted websites. Surprisingly, included on that list among YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu was a social network for amateur hypnotists.

Though an accompanying cover letter explained that the agency relies upon a third-party for their block list, there was no indication as to why - described as the online headquarters of the Recreational Hypnosis Community, and the only .org on the list - had been singled out for the cut.

In response to a later inquiry, Amtrak admitted that the site had been blocked in error, and the site had been since removed from the blacklist.

So next time you’re riding our nation’s railways and feel the urge to get the latest on the Recreational Hypnosis Community, you can thank the power of public records for making that possible.

Read the full block list here.