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Philadelphia Inquirer - May 12 1974

Seperating Magicians Using Sharp Eyesight

Joel Shurkin



 URI GELLER is a 26 year old Israeli who either does or does not do remarkable things with his mind
 He claims to have strong extrasensory perception (ESP)and be able to affect physical objects with the power of his mind. He can bend keys and he can get himself photographed in cameras with their lens caps taped on. ...

 In another incident two professional magicians, magazine staffer Charles Reynolds (who is also a memeber of the psychic Investigation Committee of the American Society of Magicians)< and New York magician "The Amazing Randi" posed as newsmen. They decided to watch Geller's hands no matter what else happened in the rooom. ...

... Very mysterious. Geller also claims to have walked into a flying saucer in the Negev desert once and toi have bent Werhner von Braun's wedding ring. Really mysterious.
 The Stanford Research Institute (SRI) among others, tried to trip him up.
 No one, however, was able to catch Geller tinkering with the demonstrations. Until now.
 Popular Photography Magazine, which seems to make debunking mystics something of a hobby, caught Geller cheating in three of his most famous stunts.
 The first involved "psychic photography." The magazine called in famed photograher Yael Joel (one of the former senior lensmen at Life magazine) to photograph Geller during a demonstration.
 Geller volunteered to perform the "psychic photography" and asked Joel to put film in his camera and tape on the lens cap. Joel did, with a 35mm Pentax.
 Geller pointed the lense at his forehead and snapped some pictures with the cap still on. The demonstrattion went on to other things and at one point Joel and his son Seth were out of the room leaving Geller alone for a few moments with the Pentax.
 When Joel developed the film he found one picture and sure enough there was Geller. Unfortunately for Geller it also showed the lense cap being removed by Geller's fingers.
 Joel had accidentally used a camera with a fisheye lense which is capable of clearly picturing objects very close to the lense. With a normal lense the cap and fingers would have been indistinguishable - just a blurry mysterious blob and everyone would have been properly amazed. ...

 Most of magic involves the magician distracting the audience - usually very cleverly - while he manually sets up the trick.
 Geller's technique is to place the key in the hand of a volunteer and gently rub his hands over it. When the volunteer picks up the key, sure enough it is bent.
 Randi and Reynolds saw Geller bend the key against a desk before handing to a volunteer. The same thing happened with a fork during a later demonstration. You have to know where to look. The key was bent before the volunteer took it.
 Reynolds says his objection to people like Geller is that they claim to be something they are not. Instead of admitting they are entertainers they claim scientific and mysterious powers.
 Magicians do not object to someone like the "Amazing Kreskin" because Kreskin never claims to be anything but a magician and his mind reading tricks are performed with great skill and showmanship, they are nothing new to magicians.
 How did the scientists get fooled?
 Magicians always have an easy time with scientists Reynolds says. Scientists automatically accept certain things as being true. They do not have real skepticism in the normal sense of the word.
 While SRI scientists were busy watching their instruments and Geller's moveable objects, they were not watching his hands.
 And there is reason to believe that Geller may be a genuine "sensitive" possesing certain extrasendory powers.
 But anythime someone volunteers to bend your key for you, watch his hands. The hand really is quicker than the eye.



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