Uri Geller - a bibliography - homepage

The Unexplained

by

Jenny Randles


Index, 1994 - ISBN 1854701789



1973  Bend bend bend


 The most dramatic new phenomenon of the early 1970's was undoubtedly the appearance of the Israeli psychic Uri Geller. Although he had been using what he claimed were great powers to perform in his native land for several years, it was in 1973 that he came to the world's attention.
 Several researchers in California, including Dr Jacques Vallee, tested his reputed abilities by conducting experiments at the Stanford Institute. They used ESP and newly developed "remote viewing" techniques, whereby Geller was asked to draw a sketch that an out of view "sitter" had produced, or to detect information about a remote location by tuning in and mentally seeing through the eyes of the person who had gone there.
  After these tests in the USA|, Geller came to Britain and became an instant TV celebrity thanks to one of his "party tricks ", which was never his main claim to fame. This was his apparent ability to cause metal objects such as spoons and keys to warp in front of the eyes of an audience, expert scientists such as Dr Lyall Watson and even TV cameras beaming the effect to millions. As a result of his focusing hard, sometimes repeating words such as "Bend!", and stroking it lightly with his fingers, the spoon did indeed seem to do exactly that.
 Geller was a smash hit, but immediately enraged the sceptics - who enlisted great support from professional magicians. They argued that this was a simple trick and demonstrated several methods by which it could be done. They spoke of using an acid to weaken the stem of the spoon (although tests showed this was not employed by Geller) or how by sleight of hand he could distract the watching millions, give a malleable spoon a quick jerk and then release it from his palms apparently as if bent by magic. When Geller succeeded with objects such as heavy keys that could only be twisted within a vice, he was accused of pre-bending replicas. They would not accept that he could be genuine.
 Clearly the magicians felt he was cheating their profession by winning undeserved fame through an evidently spurious claim to be psychic. They waged a long and bitter war that never abated. In 1992 Geller and James "the Amazing" Randi (an American magician and fervent psychic debunker) even fought it out in the courtroom. Randi quit his position with CSICOP (Committee Investigating Claims of the Paranormal), formed during the 1970's to defend science against mysticism, in the event they were brought into the matter. Geller one initial legal rounds, but at the time of writing the cases are ongoing and the debate seems certain to continue.
 Whatever the truth about this undoubtedly amiable showman, his spoon bending created a wave of imitators in the 1970's, particularly among British children. Suddenly everyone was doing it! The scientific experiments that were set up to test these wonder kids had the beneficial effect of arousing the interest of physical scientists who had begun to write off parapsychology as difficult to test and more properly the province of soft sciences such as psychology and sociology.
 Sadly, Geller did himself few favours within the community of serious paranormal research, where he had received wide support, by resorting to some odd byways. These included taking photographs of bloblike UFO's through an aircraft window and associating with a group that claimed contact with a group of ethereal beings known as "The Nine ", led by a force called "Hoova".
 Nevertheless, Uri Geller had the last laugh on everyone. Between the late 1970's and late 1980's he "disappeared", to emerge a very wealthy man. He boasted that he had used the talents disputed by so many sceptics to help big corporations locate rich mineral deposits.
 Spoon-bending, with which he is still closely associated, was never more than a sideshow to his real talents.




©Jenny Randles/Colins & Brown Publishers:   Reproduced with the author's permission



Uri Geller - a bibliography - homepage