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Geller: Can We Have a Simple Answer? PDF Print E-mail
Latest JREF News
Written by James Randi   

Since Uri Geller first emerged from obscurity via several television appearances before naïve observers in 1973, there have always been contradictory appraisals of his claims to be the "real thing." Aided by several write-ups in scientific journals such as Nature, and by countless popular media outlets, his fervent claims of his authenticity have supported him for these last 34 years. But there’s been a little-noticed change in this picture just recently, and it seems evident that was brought about by the sudden advent of such information sources as YouTube and the influence of the whole Internet situation. It appears that the Information Age has caught up with him.

There’s obviously been a high degree of panic in the Geller camp since YouTube very effectively revealed that he was using simple sleight-of-hand during his recent television series in Israel titled, “Successor.” One example is seen at youtube.com/watch?v=BJSxsbToLeE. It looks very much as though Geller is now preparing to wriggle out of his fakery. He’s in a very peculiar situation, one in which he deserves to be, and is currently dropping heavy hints in the media that maybe he’s just been joshing about being the real thing.

Though Time magazine, back in 1974, solved the Geller "mystery" very easily, consider very recent statements that he's now making in connection with the present "Phenomenon" series that has just started on NBC. He was interviewed on the NBC "Today" show. When Matt Lauer asked him:

Do you have different mental powers than I have, or have you just learned to harness yours differently?

Rather than giving a simple answer – he has few of those – Geller quickly held up a spoon – what else? – and broke it by the standard means. Then he told Matt:

Some people think this is paranormal. Some people think that this is magic. I – want to leave it a mystery.

Matt Lauer wasn’t fooled. He turned to his co-host and said simply:

I think it’s a defective spoon

Mr. Geller should think very carefully about possibly telling the public that he was lying all these years about his magical powers – if that’s what he’s heading to, so that the pressure will go away. This “I’m a fake/I’m real” vacillation just won’t do. Perhaps he thinks he can coast along in this half-retreat mode for awhile, and that the public will treat him as an amusing scallywag. That won’t happen.

Why won’t Geller answer the simple question: “Are your powers genuinely paranormal, or not?” He won’t, until someone demands that he do so, directly, by a “yes” or a “no.” And no one asks

Forget the thousands of teeny-boppers who fawned over Geller; consider instead the academics and influential persons who were misled and assured that he had real powers. Did Geller tell US Senator Claiborne Pell that he was just playing a joke on him when in 1987 Pell took him to visit Capitol Hill and meet important political figures there and tell them of his abilities as a psychic?

Did Dr. John Hasted and Dr. Andrija Puharich – both scientists who Geller thoroughly convinced of his powers to the point that they wrote books about these wonders, and both now conveniently deceased – know that he was “just kidding”? Apparently not. Puharich wrote, re Geller:

It is up to mankind to cease and desist from persecuting these messengers from the higher powers of the universe and to learn the truth from them.

Physicist Hasted was equally convinced by Geller’s tricks, writing about the apparent “psychic” softening and breaking of an antique silver spoon that he witnessed:

…[it] was almost beyond dispute, genuine.

But not all of Geller’s academic endorsers are dead. Former NASA astronaut Edgar Mitchell, of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, is still a believer, and though UK Professor John Taylor found out about the real strength of Geller’s claims and wrote a book about it – “Science and the Supernatural” – he had previously stated:

The GELLER effect – of metal bending – is clearly not brought about by fraud. It is so exceptional that it presents a critical challenge to modern science, and could even destroy the latter if no explanation became available.

Should Geller opt to tell the world about his little joke, the cruel hoax that so disgraced a large number of academics and misinformed members of the public, I would be among the first to ask those still-living dupes, just what they now think of his sense of humor. I’d also like to hear the opinion of the family of Helga Fakas in Hungary who paid Geller to find her psychically, were then assured by Geller that she was okay, and discovered that she’d been kidnapped and murdered well before they consulted Geller…

It appears that on this second attempt at “Phenomenon” they’re inviting us to “Watch a man die and then come back to life.” This, I gotta see. If it’s the tired old ball-under-the-armpit stunt to temporarily stop the pulse in that arm, I won’t be much surprised, because that will fall right in with the quality of performance they’ve been featuring… Also, when Geller did last week’s Choose-an-ESP-Card Trick in the UK more than ten years ago, he again used the star symbol. And in November of 2006, in the Israeli “Successor” show that prompted NBC to buy this present series, exactly the same trick was pulled, with the star symbol again being chosen. I repeat: Geller, get some new material!