Uri Geller's science fan club came out two weeks ago to help him promote his record (Uri Geller, Polydor). John Taylor, the professor who told a national TV audience that science had no explanation for Geller's ability to bend a fork (which later proved to have been left unguarded in his dressing room), even had his photograph on the record jacket.
Also reproduced on the record jacket is a letter from Taylor, on King's College notepaper, that declares "I have tested Uri Geller in my laboratory at King's College [and] the Geller effect - of metal bending - is clearly not brought about by fraud." Taylor notes that he has tested "dozens of people" who have the ability, and that some "only can do this when they hear Geller or see him on TV."
Professor John Hasted, who claims to be able to keep Geller under close scrutiny for 50 minutes, told the record launch press conference: "I think it is time to stand up and be counted. In my laboratory he wasn't a phoney. he softend the metal in a spoon by holding it for just two or three seconds."
Commenting on the New Scientist article, Geller recalled the old statement "no matter what they will write about me, if they spell my name right, it's good."
But a cape Town physics professor who said of Geller, "We're baffled, there is no explanation for his metal bending powers" (Argus, 31 July), has now changed his view.
Professor J.W. Juritz was one of two scientists on a panel set up by a newspaper, the Cape Town Argus, to test Geller. In the test Uri apparently bent a key under running water, started and stopped watches, reproduced an unseen drawing, and deflected a compass needle by about 30 degrees. These are similar to the tests done for Hasted.
But two weeks later Juritz concluded: "We were a very bad team of observers." Reconsideration has shown that "every experiment failed the first time it was attempted, and only succeeded some time later after attention had in the interim been diverted to other activities." For example, "Uri was left alone with the key" while running water was found, Uri walked around the table with the watch and then "hurriedly wound it up in order to demonstrate that it had been unwound.", and when he failed to receive a drawing Uri shifted his chair so he would have a better view of the person doing the drawing. With the aid of a concealed magnet, Juritz was able to swing a compass needle convincingly (Argus, 13 August).
Juritz also noted in retrospect that "none of the alledged bendings etc was actually seen to happen, but only to have happened."
The conclusion is obvious - Uri relies upon the age-old conjuror's trick of diverting attention." The Argus was flooded with pro-Geller letters. But in a final reply, Juritz declared: "No self-respecting physicist can accept the claims of Geller and continue to teach physics."
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