In the case of Uri Geller, who above all others at this time is treated as the master exponent of paranormal physical phenomena, we have every reason to doubt his alleged abilities. He was for many years a stage illusionist in Israel. He left Israel after his psychic claims had been exposed by other illusionists and by some of his assistants, at which point Israeli audiences lost interest in him. A full account of these events is given by H.C. Berendt, Chairman of the Israeli Parapsychology Society.
An alleged paranormal physical event reported by Geller/Puharich in 1973 deserves special mention. This event attracted the notice of G.L. Playfair, who wrote up his connection with the matter in a letter to the New Scientist. It involves a banknote.
Playfair was initially struck by a remark made by Geller in an interview given to Psychic magazine in June 1973. These are Geller's words.
One experiment I did with Andrija Puharich was when he asked me to go to Brazil out of the body. I got to this city and asked a person where I was and he told me Rio de Janerio. Then someone came up to me and pressed a brand new one-thousand cruziero note in my hand on the couch by Andrija - to prove I was there.
Mr Playfair (who lives in Sao Paulo) was impressed by this story, but not for reasons that would flatter Geller - one of them being that 1000-cruziero notes were no longer in circulation in 1973; they were withdrawn or overprinted with larger values in 1967. Mr Playfair also remarks that people in Rio do not give money to strangers, though they often relieve them of it. Still, we could perhaps accept this aspect as a part of the trance-work - we do not need to consider that all the events of the experience Geller reports objectively happened.
Replying to a letter from Mr Playfair, published in Psychic, Puharich obligingly gave the serial number of the note. Mr Playfair checked on this and found that the note in question had probably gone in to circulation in 1963 - the note was shipped to Brazil from the printers in April 1963.
Notes in circulation do not of course remain new and unhandled for very long.
Playfair wrote to Puharich, asking if he could have the note in question for finger-print testing. New notes retain finger impressions. The finger-prints of all Brazillians, as it happens, are on file. Therefore, if the note was genuinely given to Geller by a real person, it might prove possible to discover who this person actually was.
Playfair received no reply to this or subsequent letters, either from Puharich or Psychic.
As it happens, Puharich himself had visited Brazil in 1963. A 1000-cruziero note was then worth about fifty American cents. The kind of item, perhaps, one might well keep as a souvenir.
The incident of the cruziero not is not mentioned in Puharich's book on Geller. Playfair leaves us to form our own conclusions. It is not difficult to draw them.
As I suggested earlier, my opinion is that the only sensible thing to do is to strike every single one of Geller's and Puharich's claims from the record. In saying this I am not saying categorically that no single incident involving either of these men was genuinely paranormal - how could I presume to do that? What I am saying is that we have no way of knowing which events, if any, those might be.
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