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The Truth About Uri Geller

by

James Randi


Prometheus Books, 1982 - ISBN 0879751991


Quotes & Notes



  • Page 13

    “…the subsequent tests at SRI and failed to function clairvoyantly, with their one hundred sealed envelopes (the tests were discontinued when the psychologists suspected foul play)…”

    Remarks

    In Randi’s response to point 15 of the “Fact Sheet”, referring to the event that led the psychologists to suspect Uri of switching envelopes, Randi states:

    “There is no way that anyone could identify the 100-envelope test reported in Nature with the Rebert/Otis test. T and P say in Nature, …The episode on the third day took place after the test was officially terminated and involved a special set of envelopes not in the original target pool.”

    The experiment with the one hundred envelopes was not abandoned due to any suspicions, Uri failed, apparently “passing” on every envelope. Here, Randi does exactly what he accuses T&P of doing, deliberately confusing these two tests.

  • Page 46

    Referring to the SRI/Nature experiments; trial No. 3, target "devil", Randi says:

    "...on this occasion the performer could have emerged from the sealed room clutching the three pages of responses he'd made - pen or pencil still in hand - and looking up at the target posted in full view, could have hastily added the tridents to the third page."In the next paragraph Randi adds: "My conclusion has to be that Geller emerged from the room, saw the complex target, seized upon the one "theme" that he could quickly sketch in (the trident), and did so, then looking at the result, he tried again for a better version."

    Remarks

    What Randi is implying is that the target was in the room next door to Uri's, however for this trial the table that accompanied the Nature paper states that the target was in an office 475 metres from the room that Uri was in.

  • Page 82

    “He asked a woman to write a foreign capital on the blackboard, and she wrote “Denver?” The whole audience was annoyed at her for not following instructions. At one point, you could just see every head in the audience turn to glare at her, and right then old Uri just shot a glance at the blackboard. It’s that simple.” And when he broke a zodiac ring at the end, he said “let’s try two rings at once.” What he did was click off his microphone for an instant, wedge one ring into the other, and give a hard squeeze so that the zodiac ring broke where the setting was joined.” (In Andrew Weil’s Search for the True Uri Geller)

    “Since the account above appeared, I’ve had a few doubts about this as a solution for the “foreign capital” stunt. Though I was accompanied that evening by several magicians, including Stanley Palm, Milbourne Christopher, Charles Reynolds, and the late Felix Greenfield (who was very instrumental in laying Geller’s ghost on behalf of the magicians, before his untimely death), and we all gasped when we saw the blatant methods used by the Israeli, it is possible – indeed, probable – that he usually depends upon a confederate in the front row to give him hand signals on this one. Or, as we will see later, he might well be using a sub miniature radio device for the same purpose. But I’ve gotten to know Uri pretty well. I know he would rather use the Chutzpah Method.”

    Remarks

    The following account of the same performance is from Milbourne Christopher’s book, Mediums, Mystics & the Occult:

    "He needed several volunteers. No men! Women were more open-minded than men. He would start with simple things, “Not tricks, not magic.” Uri invited those who wished to participate to raise their hands. Perhaps sixty pairs of hands shot up in the air. He pointed, “You, you, you,” until six were chosen. One woman he led to the blackboard; the other five sat in chairs to the audience’s right. Standing at the front of the stage, holding a portable microphone in his right hand, Uri asked the woman at the blackboard behind him to write a color. She wrote rose. He did not get it. She wrote down another color – green. “Green,” he called out confidently, and the audience applauded heartily. I wondered where Shipi, who was still travelling with Uri, was sitting. Geller sat down in a chair on one side of the stage; grasping the microphone and holding an opaque shield to cut off his view of the blackboard, he asked that the name of a capital city, “Not Rome, not Paris,” be written. The woman wrote Denver. He hesitated, wrinkled his brow, looked strained. “It’s a city in America.” He asked the audience to repeat the name of the city silently in their minds. “Denver!” Tumultuous applause. He also asked the woman to draw a simple object, “Not a house, not a flower.” She drew a round face with lines for eyes and mouth. On his board Uri drew a circle. Again a warm response from out front. One woman selected a color and wrote the word on the blackboard; another stood by his side at the front of the stage and tried to get the mental impression Uri said he would receive from the color and convey to her. This took some time, but eventually she said purple. Purple it was."

    In Christopher's account there is no mention of any “peek”, no gasps at Uri's boldness, only speculation as to where Shipi Shtrang was during part of the demonstration.

    Randi doesn't say what made him change his mind about this method. Nor is it clear how he could have concluded that Uri's main method was a "peek" as he and the other magicians present watched Uri repeat this demonstration and only seem to have caught this "peek" once. Others have claimed that Uri peeks during some phases of his stage routine but Randi strongly implies that this is "The" method used by Uri in these demonstrations.


  • Page 92

    “And I’m damn sure Geller would never have consented to appear before two magician-observers. He never had before, and hasn’t since, if he’s known conjurers were present who were competent enough to solve his tricks.”

    Remarks

    How would Uri know who was “competent” and who was not?

  • p. 172-3

    "After the show, I called the prop man at NBC-TV.  He told me of how they were in stitches watching Geller during the commercials.  At that time, the band plays for the benefit of those stations across the country that merely put up slides with ads on them.  The guests and Carson are not shown, and they are not "miked," so cannot be heard.  Geller was literally stomping with all his might on the floor in time with the music, and it was obvious that he was trying to jostle the aluminum film cans.  Such jarring can make the one with the substance (water, in this case) stand out from the others."

    Remarks

    The video ( link here) of Geller's appearance on The Tonight Show with Carson contains some circumstantial evidence to support Randi's theory that Uri attemts to jostle or bump the table on which the film cannisters rest.  At approximately 6:58 on the clip the table is shown in close-up and a pocket watch can clearly be seen to wobble and shake as if the table had been bumped or knocked.  Uri was the only person in a position to have done this (possibly with his left knee or shin) and, as would have been evident had he been watching a studio monitor, his legs would have been almost entirely out of camera shot when this occured.  The "move" (if it wasn't accidental) coincides with Uri sitting back in his seat, just after his hand was shown in close-up moving above the cannisters.  Psychologically, this would be an ideal moment to attempt such a "move" since it occured on the "off-beat" when the close attention on the cannisters had just relaxed and Uri was moving away from them.  Carson's view of Geller's leg might also have been obscured by his own desk, preventing him from spotting it.

    [Credit for noticing that the watch wobbles goes to Ben Barrera]

  • Page 221

    Referring to the SRI/Nature experiments: "The "experiments" with Geller were done largely over weekends, when SRI was deserted."

    Remarks

    The dates given table that accompanied the Nature paper show that only four out of the thirteen trials reported took place at the weekend and the remainder over the course of the week. Randi repeats this claim on page 345 of "A Skeptics Handbook of Parapsychology" in his essay "The Role of Conjurers in Psi Research"


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