Uri Geller - a bibliography - homepage


A Skeptic's Handbook of Parapsychology

edited by Paul Kurtz

Prometheus Books 1985 - ISBN 0879753005

Quotes & Notes

  • Page 212

    On the SRI Nature tests:

    "Skeptics have criticized the test for lacking stringent controls. They have pointed out that the pictures drawn by Geller did not match what they were supposed to correspond to but appeared, rather, to be responses to verbal cues."

    Remarks

    It is not possible to tell by looking at the drawings whether or not any kind of code system was used.

  • Page 215

    "Taylor had observed Geller perform on a television program. He was so baffled that he became convinced of his paranormal gifts. He was apparently unaware of conjuring techniques at that time."

    Remarks

    Knowledge of conjuring techniques per-se would have been of no use to John Taylor here as what Uri did on this occasion, assuming that he did cheat, is not to be found in conjuring books or purchased over the counter at a magic shop. James Randi himself wrote in an open letter in 1974:

    "A word of caution: do not assume that Geller uses standard conjuring methods to accomplish his chicanery. I have been able to solve his methods only by careful study of videotapes, interviews of persons personally involved, and by rejecting all involved physical explanations."

  • Page 215

    "James Randi once visited Taylor incognito at his office, and he was able to perform psychokinetic feats that Taylor could not explain."

    Remarks

    James Randi did not perform any psychokinetic feats for John Taylor that required explaining. Randi was posing as a journalist and at one point, when Taylor was getting a book from his bookcase, Randi removed a metal “test strip” from the table. During the remainder of the “interview”, Randi bent the strip whilst “fussing with my camera, meter, lenses, and such.” Randi added two more bends when Taylor next went to the bookcase, and scratched “Bent by Randi – July/75” on to the test strip whilst pretending to make notes (presumably hidden from Taylor’s view by Randi’s notebook). With Taylor at the other side of the office Randi photographed some “psychic” paperclip sculptures, placing them on the window sill to do so, placing the strip he had bent among them (Randi may also have been between Taylor and the window sill, blocking his view). Finally, as Randi placed his briefcase on the back of one of two leather chairs which were against the wall he slipped the metal strip between the chairs. Taylor had no reason to watch Randi at all, and Randi was able to make his moves at his leisure knowing that he was unsuspected. This incident says nothing about Taylor’s powers of observation. However it does show that his sealed tubes might not have been as secure as he believed.

    "Randi found that he could easily break open the seal of the plastic tube, bend the aluminum rod, and return it apparently undetected"

    Remarks

    Randi did not remove or bend the rod; he discovered that one of the rubber stoppers was relatively loose when it came out in his hand. Randi pushed the stopper back in and returned the tube to Taylor. Randi only bent the loose test strip he removed from the table. Marks and Kammann repeat this mistake in The Psychology of the Psychic p. 147 where they state:

    “ Taylor showed Randi some “cheat-proof” apparatus consisting of a test tube containing a metal strip sealed with wax. Randi, in Taylor’s presence and without detection, was able to open the tube, take out the metal strip, bend the metal out of shape, photograph it, and reseal the tube. Even though his manifest and proven inability to notice trickery was pointed out to Taylor by Randi and others, he continued his involvement into the physics of metal bending for several years.”

  • Page 216

    "Martin Gardner (1981), however, has refuted these claims. He attempted to replicate Byrd’s experiments, and much to his surprise he got the same effect, but by normal means. He bent the wire using pliers. Then bending it back into shape, he caused a bump in it by pressing it with his thumb nail. He then placed the wire into a bowl and poured boiling water on it. Lo and behold! The wire took on the form of an angle, similar to that described by Byrd. It was entirely possible, said Gardner, that Uri had done what Gardner did when Byrd was not watching, or had even come with a prepared wire, whose properties were incidentally well known to magicians."

    Remarks

    Magicians only knew that nitinol was a “memory metal” which rapidly assumed its preformed shape when heated with a flame. Even this much was only known by those who had purchased a trick in which the name of a chosen playing card is written on a piece of paper which is then folded and held together with a paperclip. The paper is burnt and the paperclip is found to have changed shape and now resembles the figure four, the value of the chosen card. The same playing card must be “forced” each time the trick is done as the alloy has only one original shape to which it returns. Magicians did not know how to effect a “permanent” change in nitinol. Nor could the nitinol supplied with this trick have been substituted for any of the pieces supplied by Byrd. The nitinol supplied with the trick was the size and shape of a paperclip whilst Byrd’s wires were approximately four inches long for the first test, five inches in the second, and 0.5mm in diameter. In addition, the wire brought by Byrd is described as being 55% nickel, 45% titanium; any wire brought by Uri would need to match this composition. However, wire of exactly this type was available to the public. (see: "Geller, Gulls and Nitinol")

  • Page 346

    James Randi on the SRI film:

    There is an episode at the very beginning of that film that would any observant conjurer a fit of giggles. In that sequence, where the two SRI researchers are shown beaming at the Israeli psychics act, the inexperienced observer will see Geller write something (not shown) on a pad of paper. Geller then asks the SRI publicity director to "think of a number" and to write it on his own pad. Crossing the room, Geller then shows that he has written the very same number! This is a perfectly standard, recognized routine of the conjuring trade. As seen by the layman - and, obviously, by these scientists - it becomes a miracle that is impossible to explain by anything short of paranormal powers. As seen by the conjurer, it is quite well understood as a trick.

    Remarks

    The demeanour of the experimenters is sober rather than beaming.

    Uri is not seen writing anything in this clip; we do not see the piece of paper on which Uri had written until the end of the demonstration.

    The person attempting to receive and write down the number that Uri was sending is Don Scheuch, Vice President for research at SRI and not the Publicity director, Ron Deutch, who was not present at the time.

    Uri does not cross the room but stands up and holds out his arm, showing the piece of paper he's holding to Don Scheuch.

    This clip can be viewed here


    Please send any comments tosteveknightspost@hotmail.com


    Uri Geller - a bibliography - homepage