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Research in Parapsychology - 1973


Russell Targ and Harold Puthoff

During the past several months we have been doing a series of experiments with the gifted subject Uri Geller. Mr. Geller is a twenty-six-year-old Israeli army veteran. We found him a cheery and outgoing subject, willing to take part in any experiment we designed for him. These experiments fell into two general categories. First, there were perception (ESP) experiments, in which Uri was asked to identify and draw the contents of sealed envelopes. Further work of this type involved his endeavoring to find an object hidden in one of ten identical film cans, or to identify the upward face of a die in a box. In the second group of experiments (PK), we investigated his apparent ability to in­ teract with laboratory equipment by perturbing the experi­ mental apparatus without physical contact. The perception experiments will be described in this paper, and the PK studies in the paper "PK Experiments with Uri Geller and Ingo Swann, " which H. P. will present later [see page 125]. The perception experiments comprised two phases. The first, exploratory phase was undertaken for the purpose of determining the existence and extent of Geller's paranormal perceptual abilities, and is described in a motion picture film which you will see now. The film summarizes the re­ sults obtained in approximately six weeks of experiments with Geller. It is not a summary of all work performed with Geller during this period, nor is it a definitive report on the experimental protocols that were followed. The second phase of the perceptual experimentation consisted of more tightly controlled drawing studies, and will be described later in this paper.

I. Preliminary Work (Summary of Film)

  • (A) Dice Box: a double-blind experiment was performed in which a single die was placed in a small metal box. The box was then vigorously shaken by one of the experimenters and placed on a table. The orientation of the die within the box was unknown to the experimenters at that time. Geller would then look at the box without touching it and call out his perception as to which die face was uppermost. This experiment was performed eight times, with Geller giving the correct answer each time. The probability of this oc­curring by chance is approximately one in a million (one- sixth to the eighth power). This experiment was actually performed ten times, but on two occasions Geller said his perception was not clear and he did not wish to guess.
  • (B) Hidden Object Experiment: this experiment was also done with a double-blind protocol most of the time. Ten identical aluminum film cans were placed in a row. An outside assistant not associated with the research would randomize the cans with regard to position and then put the target object into one of them. The assistant would then put the caps on all cans and leave the experimental area, notifying the experimenters that the experiment was ready. The experimenters would then enter the room with Geller, who would either pass his hand over the row of cans or simply look at them. He would then go through an elimination procedure in which he would call out the position of all empty cans until there were only two or three cans remaining. He would then announce which can he thought contained the target object. This task was performed correctly twelve times (P = 10~l 2). On two occasions he declined to guess. On one of these occasions the target was a paper- wrapped metal ball bearing. The other object he declined to locate was a sugar cube. He readily located water, steel ball bearings, and small magnets.
  • (C) Picture Drawing Experiment: in this experiment simple pictures were drawn on three-by-five-inch file cards. The pictures were put into double-sealed envelopes. During the experiment, an envelope would be selected by the experimenter from a locked container. He would open it to identify the picture and then proceed to the experimental room with the (again sealed) envelope. Geller made seven excellent reproductions of the target pictures. No errors were made. In addition this experiment was performed, on a casual basis, numerous times with visitors and many other staff members of this laboratory. We are aware that all these preliminary picture drawing experiments are in principle subject to sensory leakage since the experimenter and subject were in the same room.

  • II. Later Work (Picture Drawing Experiments)

    In July 1973 we conducted a further series of perception experiments to try and get a more detailed understanding of the kind of perception that Geller does, and to do experiments under increasingly difficult circumstances, and under quite a variety of different shielding and distance conditions. In this series of experiments we had Geller closeted in an electrically-shielded, acoustically-shielded Faraday cage. It has an inner door and an outer door, both of which seal, making a soundproof, light-tight enclosure with solid steel sides. On an average day Geller would attempt to draw two or three targets. Before the target was selected for a given trial, he was locked inside the shielded room. The target was chosen by opening a large college dictionary at random, and then drawing the first thing that we felt was a usable target on that page. We then posted our drawing on the wall outside Geller's shielded room. Geller did extremely well under these conditions. One example is a trial in which a drawing of a bunch of 24 grapes was the target. Geller did not name what he drew, but he drew a recognizable bunch of grapes, and said he saw drops coming out of the picture. He claimed he saw purple circles and then drew exactly 24 of them. On one occasion R. T. drew the target picture while he was inside the shielded room, and Geller reproduced it excellently from outside. Another procedural variation consisted of having a computer graphics program produce the target picture, then store it in bit form in memory, so that when Geller attempted to guess it there was no actual picture for him to "see." In three trials using this procedure he also showed success. We feel that, as a result of this series of very well-controlled experiments in which Geller was almost always separated from the target material by shielding, we can safely say that it is evident that Geller does have paranormal perceptual abilities.


    Harold Puthofft and Russell Targ (Stanford Research Institute)

    Earlier in this convention, we presented several ESP experiments with Uri Geller [see page 57]. In this paper we would like to describe some PK work with Geller and also with Ingo Swann, a gifted subject who is in addition a painter. First, we would like to show the second half of the film we made of the preliminary work with Geller, which describes the PK experiments.

    I. Uri Geller (Summary of Film)

    Two experiments to measure physical perturbation of laboratory apparatus were carried out. One of these involved Geller apparently exerting a force on a laboratory balance, and the other was the generation of an apparent magnetic field recorded by a magnetometer. Both of these experiments were performed several times and the results improved with repetition, showing apparent evidence of learning taking place.

  • (A) Balance Experiment:

    a precision laboratory balance measuring weights from one milligram to 50 grams was placed under a bell jar. This balance (made by Scientech Corporation of Boulder, Colorado) generates an electrical output voltage in proportion to the force applied to it. The balance had a one-gram mass placed on its pan before it was covered with the bell jar. A chart recorder then continuously monitored the force applied to the pan of the balance. On several occasions Geller caused the balance to respond as though a force were applied to the pan. This was evidenced by a corresponding displacement shown by the chart recorder. The displacements represented forces from one to one and one-half grams. These displacements were ten to a hundred times larger than could be produced by striking the bell jar or the table or jumping on the floor. It should also be noted that in some instances the displacements were in a direction opposite to the gravitational force on the balance.

  • (B) Magnetometer Experiment:

    a Bell gaussmeter was used to determine whether Geller could perturb an instrument sensitive to magnetic fields. The instrument was set to a full scale sensitivity of 0. 3 gauss. Geller would move his empty hands near the instrument in an effort to cause a deflection of the chart recorder monitoring the magnetometer output. In carefully filmed experiments Geller was able to perturb the magnetometer with an apparent field of up to 0.3 gauss. He did not touch the measuring head of the instrument, and the deflections of the meter were not in general correlated with his hand motions.

    ©Journal of Parapsychology

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