January 23, 2017
Uri Geller is back in the news, which will please him. His name stands out in the CIA’s mass online release of classified documents last week, relating to the testing of him by Russell Targ and Hal Puthoff at Stanford Research Institute in 1972-3, and I’m interested to see how the media is reacting.
In fact there's nothing particularly new here. The documents themselves were declassified some time ago – it’s just that they’ve been placed online where they can be seen without having to go to a library. As for the Geller ESP tests, they were described in Targ and Puthoff’s Mind-Reach (1977), and in any number of other books since. The significance is that we can now see the original drawings, which in a few cases show how exactly Geller was able to reproduce images that had been drawn by the experimenters at a distance. The Daily Mail shows several of these.
What struck me especially is that the headlines are all about Geller, and (on the assumption that he’s a faker) the remarkable – and allegedly hitherto unknown fact – that the hardboiled CIA itself was convinced he was genuinely psychic. The Stargate programme is mentioned here and there, but the impression given is that Geller was the original ‘psychic warrior’, as some of the reports describe him. This is quite wrong. The positive tests may have played some role in the initial assessment by the US military intelligence, and encouraged it to give serious funding. But the long-term remote viewing at SRI was carried out by people like Ingo Swann, Pat Price, Hella Hammid and Joe McMoneagle, some of whom are said on many occasions to have provided actionable intelligence. Their collective contribution is far more significant in this field than Geller’s and yet, not being world famous, they’re hardly ever mentioned.
The sense I’m left with is how extremely primitive the public understanding of these matters is. None of the articles I’ve seen so far seem to have any sense of context. Some are overtly hostile –a particularly dinosaurish piece in yesterday’s Sunday Times stated, among many other untruths, that the psychics ‘never provided US intelligence with a single useful piece of information’. If that’s the case, why did it spend so much money for so many years? There must have been some reason why the viewers’ ‘customers’ in the intelligence community kept coming back for more.
A lot of this prejudice and misinformation, I’m afraid, has to do with Geller himself. When he came on the scene in the late 1960s it doubtless helped popularise ESP research. But because he’s always seen himself first and foremost as a celebrity entertainer – aiming to fascinate and mystify – he’s regarded by many people as an especially talented conjurer with a twist, one who (unlike other conjurers) claims that what he does is real. So of course they’re puzzled to discover that supposedly tough military types were taken in.
I had some dealings with Geller a few years ago (a writing job for a friend of his, nothing to do with him or psychic stuff), and found him to be charming and empathetic. I think he takes the whole celebrity thing way too seriously, but OK, that’s how he makes his living. What’s so frustrating is the way his notoriety casts a shadow over psi research. Whenever I discuss it with people who know little or nothing about it – which is not often, being a somewhat unrewarding business – it’s always Geller they mention, and since he’s been so heavily targeted by the sceptic community, never in a good sense. People seem to think that those like myself who believe psi is real have been ‘taken in by Uri Geller’, as if he was the sole and single reason for taking it seriously.
The chapter in James Randi’s Flim-Flam! that purports to debunk Geller’s SRI tests is something that all sceptics know about, as will doubtless be confirmed later in the comments thread. I expect also we’ll hear a lot about the ‘peep-hole’ in the isolation booth that according to Randi could have enabled Geller to see the target drawings, had they also been placed in the line of sight. It may indeed be that the experimenters’ methods were less than completely secure, but I’ve always been sceptical that highly-intelligent physicists could not have spotted something so basic (yes, I know, scientists are supposed not to know about magic tricks, but there’s nothing especially magical about a peep-hole).
And why would there be a hole in an isolation booth? I can think of one reason, to carry audio cables, but that’s normally done at floor level. So it’s no surprise to learn from David Scott Rogo, who took the trouble to visit Stanford to check up on Randi’s claim, that that’s indeed where the hole is, which means Geller could only have benefited from it if he’d been tasked with divining the colour of the experimenters’ socks - if it hadn't also been covered by a metal plate.
Another ‘explanation ‘of the SRI results, aired in a 1974 New Scientist article is that Geller had implanted a miniature communication device in a tooth, that enabled him to get the details of the drawings from a confederate. But I don’t know how much we’ll hear about that, as it never really took off.
None of this is to defend Geller, who can look after himself, or the probity of his SRI tests, which could be proved to have been entirely faked without in the least affecting the results of the far greater and multi-faceted remote viewing projects that followed over decades. The Psi Encyclopedia has yet to include a piece on the Stargate project (although one is being written now). But at the weekend, by coincidence, I uploaded a general survey of remote viewing by Stephan Schwarz, one of its most dedicated pioneers. He gives details of projects carried out at his Mobius lab, which included some very striking archaeological finds by a team of viewers that at various time included Ingo Swann, Hella Hammid, and the novelist Michael Crichton.
The piece also includes the unequivocal statement by statistician Jessica Utts:
Using the standards applied to any other area of science, it is concluded that psychic functioning has been well established. The statistical results of the studies examined are far beyond what is expected by chance. Arguments that these results could be due to methodological flaws in the experiments are soundly refuted. Effects of similar magnitude have been replicated at a number of laboratories across the world. Such consistency cannot be readily explained by claims of flaws or fraud.
Surely that’s the real story here – it’s just not one that’s likely to feature in the mainstream press.
Why shouldn't Geller make a living out of his talents? If tricksters such as Randi exploit their scientific ignorance to make a living then why shouldn't Geller make an honest living from his apparently very real talents?
I liken these professional/pseudo-sceptics to Trump: They're all wind and trousers. Why do you pay them such heed in your blog postings, Robert?
Posted by: Julie Baxter | January 23, 2017 at 02:58 PM
This is off-topic but I saw something fairly upsetting recently that's related to general topics here, and I want input. There was a quote on a blogging site marvelling at how high the odds of specific individuals forming are, which is fine, but it scolded the reader for considering "something better afterwards". I can't help but feel there's a lot of the "starving children in the world so eat your vegetables" attitude there, and I think the quoted person is confusing wondrous with wonderful. Sure, great if your life is actually a pleasant one, but many aren't, and something being unlikely doesn't make it good.
Posted by: chel | January 23, 2017 at 08:10 PM
Not sure what you mean chel, but perhaps you could link to the appropriate site?
Posted by: Ian Wardell | January 23, 2017 at 09:59 PM
As I said, that's all very well if your life is pleasant.
Posted by: chel | January 23, 2017 at 10:27 PM
Jonathan Margolis's first book on Geller (Uri Geller: Magician or Mystic) is very good. He provides a few additional details in the more recent (but more inferior) The Secret Life of Uri Geller: CIA Masterspy, which largely rehashes the first book. Margolis managed to track down people who knew Geller as a child in Isreal and Cyprus who confirm that yes, strange things happened around him all the time, even when he was a school boy. He also speaks to scientists who worked with him who seem decidedly free of woo-woo susceptibility.
Of course, some will claim that Margolis and Guy Playfair (author of the very good Geller Effect) are either in on it or duped. If you make the a priori assumption that it all must be fact so therefore it is fact, you save yourself a lot of time. It makes it easy to dismiss the books and any testimony that doesn't conform to what you wish to be the case. Geller makes it easy by being crassly interested in fame and fortunate, and involving himself in schemes that are suspect at best.
Geller is not particularity important to the volume of evidence about remote viewing, Stargate, even spoon bending, all of which can be persuasively defended without invoking his name. But Geller is used to bludgeon anyone interested in exploring psi. Greater accessibility to evidence that he did have abilities should help to make that a more difficult task. As Margolis recounts in his first book, his research began when he set out to prove to his teenage son that Geller was a proven fact. Sadly, he actually looked at evidence, and he was undone.
Posted by: Tony M | January 24, 2017 at 12:21 AM
The rather lengthy and detailed documentary film made at SRI of the Geller experiments is very impressive though not intended as entertainment. Russell Targ told me that to this day no conventional explanation has ever been found for Geller's results in the SRI experiments.
Posted by: pinball | January 24, 2017 at 12:34 AM
You said: "What’s so frustrating is the way his notoriety casts a shadow over psi research." Consider the difficulty people seriously trying to study survival-related phenomena have laboring under the shadow cast by parapsychologists.
What goes around comes around!
Posted by: Tom Butler | January 24, 2017 at 05:44 PM
I figure Uri Geller is caught up in the same trap as other professional genuine mediums, psychics, seers and any performer who relies on the paranormal to make a full time living. The paranormal notoriously refuses to be controlled on demand, otherwise, there would be no need for this blog.
Professional psychics and mediums are forced to fill in the blanks with generalities, cold readings (sometimes consciously, sometimes subconsciously), wild guesses, and in the case of especially unscrupulous practitioners - hot readings. Often, professional mediums confuse their own internal issues with the sitters.
Psi ability doesn't seem to depend on the practitioners scruples, although non-professional seers who charge little or nothing do seem to produce better results. Perhaps this is because they feel minimal pressure, and always have the option to tell a hostile sitter to go pound dirt.
Also, the pressure to produce results may have a deleterious effect on the quality of the outcome. I suspect this is what happened to Leonora Piper in her, as William James would say, "bosh" days.
Point being, when you're in a nightclub, it's a whole new world; not exactly the most intimate setting for embracing empathy.
As an aside, one of my personal theories is that the lack of psi ability has an evolutionary advantage. Other animals seem to share a collective consciousness (starling murmations are my favorite), and to a great extent, us humans do as well. Now imagine if we could all read our co-workers, family members, and passing strangers every thought. Life would be untenable. We would likely kill each other. :-)
For one of the finest starling murmation videos ever put online, try this. Only two minutes long, but the originally scored music (beginning at the 00:25 mark) matches perfectly. Best when viewed on a PC in full screen mode with decent speakers or headphones.
Having a bad day? I swear, this will change it for the better:
Posted by: Rabbitdawg | January 24, 2017 at 09:19 PM
I had the opportunity to interview Uri Geller for an NBC Europe entertainment programme, "The Ticket", in 1999. Within the confines of our TV recording studio, he asked me to draw (on a piece of paper) a picture that he couldn't see - he was in another room when I did so. Then, during the course of the interview, he claimed to read my mind by asking me to project an image of that drawing to him. He then reproduced that exact same image - a sunflower - on another piece of paper. Besides the obvious possible 'tricks' that could have been employed to get me to choose that particular picture (suggestion, hypnosis, etc), what struck me most was not so much that he had recreated the image so accurately; with the same number of petals and leaves but that the SIZING of both drawings was also virtually identical - to within a millimetre or two in all aspects. I can't for the life of me imagine how you can fake that...
Posted by: Jason Roberts | January 25, 2017 at 12:09 AM
Geller didn't fake it. And I ask what could he possibly do to convince a pathologically sceptic audience? I'm glad he made money out of his talent. Otherwise he would die a bitter man. Who with an ounce of intelligence would waste their life on trying to convince the inconvincible?
Posted by: Julie Baxter | January 25, 2017 at 01:21 AM
Ps. (And this is not aimed at you, Robert) I almost joined the SPR today, then I didn't bother. I didn't bother for the same reason that I haven't bothered to in the past: I reached the point in the application form where it asks that I state any titles or letters after my name. It felt like joining a snooty little club so, again, I decided not to bother.
Posted by: Julie Baxter | January 25, 2017 at 01:27 AM
Julie, I think all the redundant titles are standard with the old form, and we scrapped most of them when we redesigned the site last year. I checked just now, and they seem to have come back, so something went wrong - I'm getting it fixed.
I believe it's normal to state Mr, Mrs Ms - and academics like to be known by their titles, ie. Dr or Prof. So that shouldn't be an issue.
Benefits to membership include getting the quarterly Journal and Paranormal Review magazine, which since Leo Ruickbie took over the editorship has become rather good. You also get access to the full archive, which is great if you're interested in the original reports.
Posted by: Robert McLuhan | January 25, 2017 at 11:00 AM
Great to hear you're getting it fixed, Robert. It really does need a fresh and more up-to-date image. If the genuinely interested can be attracted, ditto the honest sceptic, to the SPR then perhaps there would be no need for the gladiatorial combat that permeates so much of this material online.
Julie Baxter (BSc Psychology - Hons)
Posted by: Julie Baxter | January 25, 2017 at 04:38 PM
Ps. 'Mrs'. :)
Posted by: Julie Baxter | January 25, 2017 at 05:17 PM
I found a really good description of trolls on both sides of the issue, spoken by an acquaintance on a blog: "people who make no sense will periodically respond to carefully reasoned arguments with “that’s not even an argument, you’re just stringing words together”. They don’t know what an argument is, but they do know that when someone says that to them, everyone agrees that person won, so they figure if they say it first, they’ll win!"
Posted by: chel | January 25, 2017 at 06:07 PM
"that’s not even an argument, you’re just stringing words together." They don’t know what an argument is, but they do know that when someone says that to them, everyone agrees that person won, so they figure if they say it first, they’ll win!"
Hence the futility of entering into any attempt at reasoned debate with these people. But why do I keep repeating myself? That is the question. :/
Posted by: Julie Baxter | January 25, 2017 at 08:07 PM
Geller has been detected in trickery and the experiments performed with Puthoff and Targ were not properly scientifically controlled and were never replicated.
I will show you academic and skeptic sources on this subject that demonstrate this.
"Skeptics have criticized the test for lacking stringent controls. They have pointed out that the pictures drawn by Geller did not match what they were supposed to correspond to but appeared, rather, to be responses to verbal cues. What constituted a “hit” is open to dispute. The conditions under which the experiments were conducted were extremely loose, even chaotic at times. The sealed room in which Uri was placed had an aperture from which he could have peeked out, and his confederate Shipi was in and about the laboratory and could have conveyed signals to him. The same was true in another test of clairvoyance, where Geller passed twice but surprisingly guessed eight out of ten times the top face of a die that was placed in a closed metal box. The probability of this happening by chance alone was, we are told, one in a million. Critics maintained that the protocol of this experiment was, again, poorly designed, that Geller could have peeked into the box, and that dozens of other tests from which there were no positive results were not reported."
Kurtz, Paul. (1985). A Skeptic's Handbook of Parapsychology. Prometheus Books. p. 213.
"Skeptics point out that Geller is a former magician, that magicians can duplicate his effects by clever tricks, and that he refuses to perform when magicians are observing-apparently afraid they might discover his trickery. In fact Geller has actually been caught cheating. In one instance, although he pretended to cover his eyes while a secretary made a simple drawing, Geller actually peeked, thus enabling him to appear to read her mind and produce the drawing. Again, instead of bending a key "by concentration" as he pretended, Geller bent the key against a table when he thought no one was looking."
Nickell, Joe. (2005). Camera Clues: A Handbook for Photographic Investigation. University Press of Kentucky. pp. 198-200.
"The secret of [Geller']s ability to ascertain "psychically" what audience members were writing on a blackboard behind his back was exposed by his former girl friend, Hannah Shtrang. In the Israeli weekly paper, Ha'Olam Hazeh, 20 February 1974 she disclosed how Geller had taught her brother Shipi (who generally traveled with the magician) and herself how, while seated quietly in the hall at every show, to convey the writing information to him with surreptitious signals."
Booth, John. (1986). Psychic Paradoxes. Prometheus Books. p. 55.
"The observers were more appalled, however, than impressed. The SRI staffers (physicists Russell Targ and Harold Puthoff, who specialized in lasers) “already believed in E. S. P., and therefore their goal was to make Geller as comfortable as possible in order to make him produce it” said one of the independent experts, Ray Hyman. Hyman, a University of Oregon psychologist (and amateur magician), added that the think tank’s work was “incredibly sloppy”. Geller was not psychic but a very gifted conjurer, Hyman concluded, employing classic mentalist’s tricks that would and should have been exposed by more objective methods. Over the course of his six-week stint at SRI (for which he was paid 100$ a day and all expenses), Geller had not even been searched for magnets, something that any good researcher would have known to do to instantly identify a fake. A magnet taped to one’s leg could make a Geiger counter click wildly, this a feat Geller had performed before researchers at the University of London who had been hoodwinked by the man."
Samuel, Lawrence R. (2011). Supernatural America: A Cultural History. Praeger. p. 101.
At a minimum psychic believers on this blog would have to admit Geller was caught cheating on occasion. This weakens the case for any genuine psychic ability. Occam's razor is no friend of the psychic believer here. The rational conclusion is that all his feats were performed by trickery.
Magicians have replicated everything that Geller has done, by natural means just search up the correct literature. There really is no mystery.
Posted by: Paul | January 26, 2017 at 04:37 AM
I was also surprised by the amount of excitement generated, especially when these papers were declassified about a decade ago have been free to view online for some time now. I recently heard an interview with Geller (on the podcast The Big Seance) held after this news broke and Geller played along with the interviewer's amazement that all these documents had suddenly been released. Surely he knew that the Stargate Archive had been available for years.
He also says in this interview that skeptics' criticism was useful as a cover for his work with government agencies. If people thought he was a charlatan they wouldn't take him seriously. He even says he instigated some of these stories himself. Now, this is either a clever explanation or a convenient excuse, depending on your point of view.
Several news outlets have said that the CIA were convinced by Geller's psychic powers using this quote: “[Geller has] demonstrated his paranormal perceptual ability in a convincing and unambiguous manner.” But this was written by Russell Targ, not a representative of the CIA.
Posted by: ersby | January 26, 2017 at 06:47 AM
Paul, these blogs HAVE brought up how various psychics have been caught cheating and compared it to times when those same psychics did things that can't be explained by the same method, and please go bend a key against a table and tell me how easy it is.
Posted by: chel | January 26, 2017 at 11:25 AM
Paul... when I interviewed Geller, he did not have an associate present and he was in a separate room when I did my drawing. I can state with a high degree of certainty that he would not have been able to see it either during my scribbling or afterwards, as I folded it up and put it in my jacket inside pocket, removing it only when asked to compare it against that which Geller had drawn.
You may be sceptical. I'm not...
Posted by: Jason Roberts | January 26, 2017 at 03:13 PM
I have such mixed feelings about Geller. Everything about his persona screams fraud...principally, for me, his endless gasps of amazement, disbelief and "oh my god!" every time he does something he's supposedly been doing at will for 50 years (a trait he shares with Sally Morgan). If he has always been making spoons bend, he can't possibly be amazed when a spoon bends...yet he acts like he can't believe his own eyes. So everything about him says "stage illusionist".
And yet...and yet... time and again these bits of evidence or testimony emerge which make me question that assumption. On several occassions to my recollection he's been interviewed on live tv when a studio light has popped. Once you could put down to coincidence, twice to a joke by the crew...but its happened enough times to think "hmm". A number of years ago the local and national press picked up an incident when at a banquet attended by Liverpool's Lord Mayor, the mayoral chain buckled and fell apart around the mayor's neck without geller touching it.
I've just looked it up to prove I'm not misremembering. This from the Telegraph in 2000.
"A BANQUET in Manchester to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Jewish Telegraph may prove to have a costly aftermath. Perhaps, on reflection, it wasn't sensible to have introduced the Lord Mayor of Liverpool - in full ceremonial fig - to Uri Geller.
Minutes after the spoonbender shook hands with the poobah, the lord mayor - who had since returned to his table - let out a mighty yelp. His solid gold chain of office - 150 years old, studded with diamonds and thought to be worth £200,000 - had buckled beyond all recognition and then fallen to bits.
"He didn't even touch the chain," says Lord Mayor Eddie Clein. "I have just come back from the jeweller and he said he has never seen anything like it. He just couldn't believe it. I believe that the insurance covers the chain for acts of God. I very much hope they pay for it."
"I think what might have happened is that I triggered off a reaction in the lord mayor's body," Geller speculates. "This is the second most bizarre thing ever to happen to me. The first was when I was sued by a woman who claimed that she became pregnant because she watched me on television and I bent her contraceptive coil."
Posted by: Lawrence B | January 27, 2017 at 10:31 AM
More detail from the Daily Mail:
"Later, during dinner, Geller was bending a spoon for Greater Manchester Chief Constable David Wilmot when there was a shriek from the Lord Mayor’s table.
Mr Clein said: I was just leaning forward to reach for the pepper when I heard a tinny rattle and found the back of the jewel hanging off. Someone called Geller over and there was general consternation.
‘My attendant David Ramsay, who was looked after the jewel for more than 20 years, said he could not believe it had disintegrated because it has been as solid as granite when he
put it around my neck.
‘I know some people say Geller is a phoney but I don’t. I accept that he has psychic powers.’
The jewel, which bears Liverpool’s coat of arms, has now been sent for repair.
Jeweller John Pyke examined the piece yesterday and said he could understand one of the six rivets lengthening and loosening, ‘but for all six to have failed at the same time is very strange’.
Posted by: Lawrence B | January 27, 2017 at 10:37 AM
Any sources which aren't a tabloid? The Daily Mail's sensationalist at the best of times.
Posted by: chel | January 28, 2017 at 06:54 PM
The Telegraph, as Lawrence stated in his first posting on the subject?
Posted by: Julie Baxter | January 28, 2017 at 07:22 PM
Amos Oliver Doyle are you still claiming the Bangs sisters were genuine? They have been debunked on Wikipedia with many sources.
Posted by: Paul C. Anagnostopoulos | January 29, 2017 at 02:37 AM
"Please go bend a key against a table and tell me how easy it is."
Any experienced magician can do it, it is very easy with practice. It is demonstrated here by James Randi:
Randi bends the key against the table, see around 4 minutes in. No offense Chel but you have never read a magic book and you have no experience in magic trickery. You are arguing from a discipline you have never studied.
Posted by: Paul C. Anagnostopoulos | January 29, 2017 at 02:42 AM
"But this was written by Russell Targ, not a representative of the CIA."
"A 1988 report by the United States National Research Council (NRC) concluded: "There should remain little doubt that the Targ-Puthoff studies are fatally flawed."
Posted by: Paul C. Anagnostopoulos | January 29, 2017 at 02:45 AM
If you could ready bend keys or spoons or any other object with your mind why do you need to be touching it at anytime? There is no solid evidence psychokinesis exists.
Btw Caroline Watt in her latest introduction book on parapsychology (published 2016), wrote that "most" parapsychologists no longer believe in macro-psychokinesis (PK).
Does anyone know of any modern examples of macro PK? Daniel Dunglas Home, Nina Kulagina etc were all old examples caught in fraud.
There is over 7.5 billion people on the planet but not a single modern person can demonstrate it. Funny that.
Posted by: Jon | January 29, 2017 at 03:06 AM
There is evidence that psychokinesis exists, for example:
"The Limits of Influence: Psychokinesis and the Philosophy of Science", by Braude and "If "This Be Magic: The Forgotten Power of Hypnotism", by Playfair.
"There is over 7.5 billion people on the planet but not a single modern person can demonstrate it."
That it does not occur in a repeatable manner does not imply that it does not occur.
Posted by: Juan | January 29, 2017 at 08:04 AM
By that standard, something powered by electricity shouldn't need to be plugged in because electricity being there across the room is enough.
Is Geller not a "modern person"? Are the numerous spoon-bending parties somehow time travelling?
Posted by: chel | January 29, 2017 at 12:07 PM
"Is Geller not a "modern person"? Are the numerous spoon-bending parties somehow time travelling?"
Are you saying spoon bending parties are the result of psychokinesis? Surely you are joking. It is nothing more than magic trickery.
Bending a spoon has nothing to do with psychokinesis.
Posted by: steve001 | January 29, 2017 at 09:07 PM
"The Limits of Influence: Psychokinesis and the Philosophy of Science", by Braude and "If "This Be Magic: The Forgotten Power of Hypnotism", by Playfair."
Neither Guy Lyon Playfair a writer on paranormal topics, or Stephen E. Braude a philosopher are magicians.
"The magician Ben Harris author of the book Gellerism Revealed: The Psychology and Methodology Behind the Geller Effect revealed step-by-step photographs and text showing how to bend keys and cutlery by trick methods. Harris reviewed Playfair and Geller's book which concluded Playfair was not experienced in sleight of hand and was fooled by Geller's tricks. According to Harris "Mr Playfair turns out to be a weak observer due to his own misplaced confidence in his abilities as an observer... [he] rushes along crucifying the skeptics, the magicians and almost anyone who has questioned the Geller myth."
And just because Playfair has written a book, does not mean something is real. How about you present some scientific evidence for your belief in psychokinesis? At least you admit it is not repeatable.
Posted by: steve001 | January 29, 2017 at 09:13 PM
"Any experienced magician can do it, it is very easy with practice. It is demonstrated here by James Randi"
You are wasting your time Paul. These commenters like Juan, Chel etc they may mean well but they have never studied magic or read a book on the subject. It is like talking to a brick wall. Why even waste time commenting here. Has a believer ever agreed with a skeptic on anything?
Just waiting for these woos to start claiming Nina Kulagina was genuine.
Posted by: steve001 | January 29, 2017 at 09:17 PM
"It is like talking to a brick wall. Why even waste time commenting here."
I quite agree! So why don't you two lovely chaps toddle off back to Wikipedia 'La-La-La-La-La-La' land.
Off you go. :)
Posted by: Julie Baxter | January 29, 2017 at 09:26 PM
Whether it's real or not, the point was there are people who are demonstrating what they claim to be it. Since you think all old cases are fake too, you should class them all under the same heading; therefore, you can't claim nobody does it now. Also, all those tricks require a pre-prepared spoon, which is usually claimed not to be the case. Can you demonstrate that it isn't?
Posted by: chel | January 29, 2017 at 10:02 PM
Wasn't Guy Lyon Playfair the guy who embarrassed himself by claiming the Enfield poltergeist was real? Yet others investigated and found it was nothing more than the kid pulling silly pranks.
Posted by: Max_B | January 29, 2017 at 11:49 PM
I actually like the back and forth between the sceptics and psi proponents here in the comment section. It's what this blog and the SPR is all about. I wish the snarkiness would tone down a bit, but otherwise, it's a good thing. In this day and age especially, we all need to have our echo chamber shaken on a regular basis.
So sceptics please, come in and present your best, most succinct arguments. Hopefully, the proponents will respond in kind. Just keep in mind, this is not a cage match.
Posted by: Rabbitdawg | January 30, 2017 at 02:33 AM
"Wasn't Guy Lyon Playfair the guy who embarrassed himself by claiming the Enfield poltergeist was real? Yet others investigated and found it was nothing more than the kid pulling silly pranks."
Ahem, excuse me?...... I think you will find that I'm very real, thank you.
Posted by: Stuart Certain | January 30, 2017 at 02:56 AM
There are a number of issues, as I see it, with the SRI work with Geller. In order to do this quickly, I’m first going to do a brief timeline of the experiments that Targ and Puthoff did with Uri.
1 Dec 72 – 15 Jan 73
Within this period Geller visits SRI for nine days for some preliminary tests. This is the work that is contained in the SRI film on Geller. This work is quite informal and not strictly controlled and was intended only as a demonstration that Geller had something worth investigating. In reposnse to the film, a CIA representative wrote in a memo in February 73: “... we [the CIA] can ill afford to ignore the powers which he [Geller] allegedly has.”
Geller was scheduled to come in, but there are no details about any work done in this time, so I assume it was cancelled.
4-11 August 73
These are the experiments written up and published in Nature in October 1974.
Geller comes in for more testing. There is only one source that says this took place, and no details exist elsewhere. However, it’s probable that the experiment with cards that got chance results and is mentioned in the Nature paper were carried out at this time. This, by the way, was the protocol that the CIA devised for testing back in April.
With regards to the August work published in Nature, there are several problems, as I see it.
In the first four sessions, the method of choosing a target is not random: a dictionary is opened at random and “the first word that could reasonably be drawn” is chosen.
Apart from the fact that books can be primed to open at certain pages, this allows a potential trick to be used: Geller tells the sender (the person chosing and drawing the word) what he is going to draw and then the sender draws something similar, no matter what word is chosen.
Another issue is with the report of the experiment. Comparing the two versions of events (the original paper written for the CIA and the paper published in Nature) the description of the target changes.
In the CIA paper, the first two targets are “Fuse” and “Bunch” but in the Nature paper they are reported as “Firecracker” and “Grapes”. Similarly, in the CIA paper, the words for the third and fourth targets are never specified, but they are in the Nature paper, such that “an outline of a man” (target three) in the CIA paper becomes the more specific “Devil” in Nature. What’s more, the drawing of the Devil “evolved over time” according to the CIA paper, indicating that the sender was allowed some leeway in how they interpreted the target word.
Also, the trials that Geller passed on were counted as “hits” by Targ and Puthoff if they thought they were similar enough, abut not counted as “misses” if they weren’t. Geller did drawings for every target according to the CIA paper, but in Nature T&P maintain that Geller submitted no drawings for targets five, six and seven.
Finally, the chance results of the much stricter experiment are only given a short mention in Nature at the very end of the section about Geller. This brief mention of 100 trials in preference to the earlier 13 trials is very telling, I think.
Posted by: ersby | January 30, 2017 at 06:34 AM
The Devil was drawn by Jean Millay. According to her Targ told her to draw a farmer with a pitchfork - she did, then she "spontaneously added the horns and tail without thinking and wrote 'DEVIL' on the top" Millay mentions this in Multidimensional Mind p. 62. She has also written about the SRI studies of Geller in Eight Martinis issue 5, freely available online.
I was surprised that McLuhan did not remind the readers of the spanner incident:
Posted by: NCM | January 30, 2017 at 09:01 AM
"So sceptics please, come in and present your best, most succinct arguments. Hopefully, the proponents will respond in kind. Just keep in mind, this is not a cage match. " - Rabbitdawg
Then I look forward to learning from your method of dealing with the trolls. Clearly you are considerably more able to suffer fools gladly than am I.
I take my hat off to you. :)
Posted by: Julie Baxter | January 30, 2017 at 04:03 PM
"How about you present some scientific evidence for your belief in psychokinesis?"
The books I mentioned show scientific evidence of psychokinesis, even if it is according to the soft sciences and not according to the hard sciences. And that these writers are not magicians does not invalidate all the cases presented.
Posted by: Juan | January 30, 2017 at 05:53 PM
NCM wrote: "The Devil was drawn by Jean Millay."
Thanks for drawing my attention to this. I checked on Google Books for her book and read #5 of Eight Martinis, and they threw up some interesting new information. I was unaware that Targ chose the target and instructed the sender as to what to say. Also, Millay's book confirms that work took place with Geller at SRI on December 1973. Thanks again.
Posted by: ersby | January 30, 2017 at 06:17 PM
"Instructed the sender as to what to draw"
it should've been. :/
Posted by: ersby | January 30, 2017 at 06:22 PM
Uri Geller was nothing more than a show-man. Look up Zé Arigó he was a fraudulent ''psychic'' surgeon yet Guy Lyon Playfair claims he was genuine.
Posted by: bsanch123 | January 30, 2017 at 08:34 PM
I don't like the term 'believer' or 'skeptic' - that suggests this debate has nothing to do with Science. We basically have a group of people who accept the scientific evidence for psi, which meets the normal standards for science, and a bunch of deniers with a certain worldview. That's what's really going on, a true skeptic would question themselves, Wikipedia, Randi et al as much as they question Gellar.
I do think those who accept the evidence for psi should steer clear of controversial people like Uri Gellar, the Ganzfeld, dream ESP, remote viewing and micro PK research is enough evidence itself and much less controversial.
Also someone is pretending to be Paul C. Aganostopoulos - I'm not sure why though.
Posted by: Roberta | January 31, 2017 at 07:44 AM
"Then I look forward to learning from your method of dealing with the trolls. Clearly you are considerably more able to suffer fools gladly than am I."
- Julie Baxter
No biggie. What little trolling I see here is lightweight, trust me.
I live in the land of Trump. The real trolls have crawled out from under their bridge to help Our Dear Leader Make America Great Again® by Building A Great Big Beautiful Wall® while we kick innocent people out of the country, beat weaker nations into submission, and scare the ever lovin' hell out of our allies.
And it's not even two weeks into a four year nightmare yet.
Heck, we're so gaslit, we can't even tell rain from sunshine anymore. :-)
Posted by: Rabbitdawg | January 31, 2017 at 07:54 AM
"Heck, we're so gaslit, we can't even tell rain from sunshine anymore. :-)"
LOL! Sorry to laugh, because I know full-well that nothing about Trump is funny - except for his orange appearance and crass stupidity. I'm not overly impressed with Theresa May either, but she has at least the appearance of intelligence. Anyway, she managed to sort him out on the NATO and water-boarding issues. Is that 'pussy power'? ;)
Posted by: Julie Baxter | January 31, 2017 at 10:07 AM
The young left-wing mostly-minority-of-some-sort crowd I run with have taken to calling him, among other things, President Chump.
Posted by: chel | January 31, 2017 at 12:19 PM
President Trump is the razor in the monkey's hand.
Posted by: Julie Baxter | January 31, 2017 at 02:10 PM
Geller is an interesting subject, and there's quite a bit written about him from people who have worked with him on various projects. I'd like to suggest that only a fool will form an opinion based on one biased source, especially one that isn't a witness, where there is so much available from first-hand sources.
Posted by: Michael | January 31, 2017 at 02:15 PM
Uri Geller was nothing more than an entertainer. It is very silly how anyone could believe he had psychic powers! The gullibility of some people!
Posted by: Arouet | January 31, 2017 at 02:36 PM
If you want Trump out? Then people not use their psychic powers? Send him telepathic thoughts and make him resign.
Oh wait... psychic powers do not exist in reality :)
Posted by: Arouet | January 31, 2017 at 02:37 PM
Michael may I suggest the book "Gellerism Revealed: The Psychology and Methodology Behind the Geller Effect" by magician Ben Harris.
Posted by: Arouet | January 31, 2017 at 02:41 PM
Oi, Rabbitdawg! Care to come and deal with this latest troll? :)
Posted by: Julie Baxter | January 31, 2017 at 03:30 PM
Nobody's ever claimed any hypothetical psychic powers can do literally everything, Arouet. That amounts to "Running electricity through people doesn't give them superpowers, therefore there is no such thing as electricity."
Posted by: chel | January 31, 2017 at 04:21 PM
"Oi, Rabbitdawg! Care to come and deal with this latest troll? :)"
- Julie Baxter
Nah Julie, all I can come up with is some bad limerick-style poetry...
Defining 'troll' is a point of perspective
The word itself is a flaming invective
To acknowledge them taxes the soul
Never succumb to feeding the troll
Posted by: Rabbitdawg | January 31, 2017 at 07:33 PM
"Never succumb to feeding the troll"
So rather than enjoying the presence of these most tedious people you advise simply ignoring them?
Either the genuine truth seekers fall into their endless, tedious, time wasting, nit-picking trap by engaging with them, or they ignore them and accept that the discussion will never move in a positive tone or direction while they are present?
Please show us the way, oh wise one. :)
Posted by: Julie Baxter | January 31, 2017 at 07:56 PM
I dunno Julie, I'd say that the gist of my rant about President Chump was to underscore that there are more important things in life to worry about than internet trolls, the definition of which is a matter of perspective. Where you stand depends on where you sit, so to speak.
IMHO, true trolls try to dominate a discussion and muddy the waters by veering wildly off topic, or flooding the comment section with their views.
How we react sometimes says more about us than the person we're responding to. Before I reply to a comment, (or for that matter, get offended by an ad hominem attack), I have to have respect for the original commenters point of view to begin with, even if I disagree with them. Acknowledging a troll gives their words much more credibility than they deserve.
Now, because I am so infinitely wise, I know it's best for me to offer you the last word on this. :D
Posted by: Rabbitdawg | January 31, 2017 at 08:32 PM
Aruet, it appears that the book you suggest does not tell how Geller did what he did; it suggests methods to do the same thing. I know this is a subtle difference, but important. Apologies for my skepticism, but I used to work for a meathead who every time something went wrong would tell me "You did [this] and that is why [this] happened," and he was wrong everytime about what I had done. Magicians doing magic has no scientific bearing on anything here. Please don't try to confuse the issue with could-have-done ideas; such possibilities have no bearing on descibing what happened, and such a device could be used to debunk anything you could name, fraudulent or not.
Posted by: Michael | January 31, 2017 at 08:55 PM
" Magicians doing magic has no scientific bearing on anything here."
Never have truer words been spoken, Michael. But I suspect they are cast like pearls before swine.
Well said, all the same. :)
Posted by: Julie Baxter | January 31, 2017 at 10:10 PM
I have to say I'm not convinced spoon bending is magic/telekinesis/whatever because for all I know there's a perfectly logical physics- or biology-related reason, but I am pretty convinced it's A Thing That Happens. I want to try it but I'm also fairly convinced that I actively block these sorts of things so I won't be able to make it work. Has anyone here ever done it? My only experiences with spoons bending have been in conjunction with pushing them against something. (In related news, I'm also fairly sure Soft Scoop is some serious false advertising. I'm told that's because it melts slightly on the way home from the shop and then refreezes harder, but for whatever reason it's frustrating.)
Posted by: chel | January 31, 2017 at 11:20 PM
chel ; "Has anyone here ever done it?"
Just a guess; Soft Scoop is probably pumped with oxygen to make it softer and increase its volume. Melting of such would allow the oxygen to disperse and refreezing would result in a solid lump. A serious matter, indeed.
On the issue of metal-bending, I haven't tried this myself; but am willing to give it a go.
I had a copper bracelet that mysteriously warped into a pear shape after wearing it for some time. It brought comments from people that saw it. They wanted to know what had happened to it. To this day, I have no explanation. As an aside, I was unable to wear a wind-up watch for the reason that they would inexplicably stop (despite being wound) and sometimes would actually go backwards for a while; the second hand seemingly coming up against an invisible buffer, before going in the other direction.
My grandfather had the same problem. I now wear a digital watch and have no problems. Any thoughts?
Posted by: Stuart Certain | February 01, 2017 at 01:10 AM
Now somebody is pretending to be Arouet.
Robert - is the person posting as Paul C aganapolous and Arouet got the same IP? Are you able to tell?
Posted by: Roberta | February 01, 2017 at 07:50 AM
"Now somebody is pretending to be Arouet"
Right. There are perhaps millions of people with that name. How is anyone pretending to be anyone? Psi believers and their conspiracy theories.
Posted by: Waller Joel | February 01, 2017 at 10:53 AM
In regard to the Geller spanner incident. Is that on camera anywhere? Is there a tape we can watch of that? Otherwise it is nothing more than hearsay.
Posted by: Waller Joel MU | February 01, 2017 at 10:54 AM
Rabbitdawg are you the person with Greg Taylor who claims the fraudulent medium Leonora Piper was genuine? What do you think of Joseph Rinn's debunking of Piper?
Posted by: Waller Joel | February 01, 2017 at 10:57 AM
Chel here's a good video on spoon bending trickery
Posted by: Waller Joel | February 01, 2017 at 10:58 AM
Probably because every one of you writes identically and quotes the same sources we've been over a thousand times before? And I'm talking about cases without pre-prepared spoons.
Posted by: chel | February 01, 2017 at 11:30 AM
"Probably because every one of you writes identically and quotes the same sources we've been over a thousand times before?" - chel
I can never decide whether they're slow learners or quick forgetters. :)
Posted by: Julie Baxter | February 01, 2017 at 12:20 PM
Walker Joel - Hahaha yes Arouet is a super common name. Anyway I contacted Arouet and it's not the person in question, and someone impersonating Arouet has happened before.
Since you're being so defensive, I'm gonna assume it's you. Go do something productive with your life!
Posted by: Roberta | February 01, 2017 at 01:33 PM
"Rabbitdawg are you the person with Greg Taylor who claims the fraudulent medium Leonora Piper was genuine? What do you think of Joseph Rinn's debunking of Piper?"
- Waller Joel
Joseph Rinn's "debunking" of Leonora Piper was denounced as a fraud in its own right by several prominent members of the SPR back in the day. Rinn was accused of never meeting Mrs. Piper, but then, what do I know? I wasn't there.
Working on the assumption that Rinn did meet with Piper, and the reading was as "nonsensical" as Rinn describes it, I wouldn't be surprised. The paranormal isn't something you can turn on and off like a light switch. If it were that easy, we wouldn't be on this blog debating its validity.
My own experience with an excellent medium involved uncanny, specific, impossible-to-google or cold read information. Interspersed among the dazzling parts were mundane ramblings that could apply to anyone. I took this as the medium buying time because, after all, she was being paid by the hour.
Two things ultimately nailed her down as legit for me:
The way she took on the personality of the discarnate; it was if they were actually in the room speaking to me again. The colloquial phrasing, tone of voice and attitude was exactly like the living person I knew.
And tangentially, a third party double cinched the deal - her ex husband. shortly after my reading, this medium and her husband went through a rather acrimonious divorce. She gained custody of the children, and the former husband / Father was inconsolably bitter about it, and openly expressed his thoughts online. He even created a blog of about half a dozen posts for his children to read when they got older. It explained his side of the story and repeatedly underscored his love for them. He preserved it online and on Facebook in the event of his death before they became adults.
Gut wrenching stuff, but mediums and their loved ones are fully human after all.
The clincher was that despite all of his trashing of his ex wife's sanity and ethics, his unashamed pleading for visitation, he strongly attested to her paranormal ability. He wrote of lights in the house turning on and off by themselves, and objects moving around the room before she gave a scheduled reading. His deceased Father would sometimes come through to him while she was talking in her sleep. It blew his mind, but he loved her and accepted her. This coming from someone who had everything to gain by outing his ex wife as a fraud if indeed, that were the case.
I could provide links, but this is too much airing of personal dirty laundry already. You know, damned paranormal, always elusive. :D
What does all that have to do with debunking Leonora Piper and Uri Geller? It's simple. As I pointed out earlier, the paranormal can't be turned on and off like a water faucet. This means that when you're doing it for a living, you're gonna have to wing it at some point. Even William James grew frustrated by Leonora's "bosh". Likely she was caught up in a trace of her own making at the time, and not in touch with Spirit. Sh*t happens, ya know.
Posted by: Rabbitdawg | February 01, 2017 at 02:09 PM
Rabbitdawg: that is pretty weird. My first thought was he must have been a strong believer in paranormal abilities in general, but even if that was the case, he'd gain by insisting she was faking it even if he still said other people weren't.
Posted by: chel | February 01, 2017 at 03:47 PM
"Rabbitdawg: that is pretty weird. My first thought was he must have been a strong believer in paranormal abilities in general, but even if that was the case, he'd gain by insisting she was faking it even if he still said other people weren't." - chel
Some people are simply honest by nature. Strange but true.
Posted by: Julie Baxter | February 01, 2017 at 04:00 PM
Rabbitdawg - Can I ask who this medium is?
Posted by: Roberta | February 01, 2017 at 11:31 PM
Leonora Piper was nothing more than a fraud, she was caught three times with cheesecloth ectoplasms. I have never come across a genuine mediums it is nothing more than fraud.
Posted by: Sciborg_S_Patel | February 02, 2017 at 01:09 PM
Philosopher and physicist Mario Bunge has written that "psychokinesis, or PK, violates the principle that mind cannot act directly on matter. (If it did, no experimenter could trust his readings of measuring instruments.) It also violates the principles of conservation of energy and momentum. The claim that quantum mechanics allows for the possibility of mental power influencing randomizers — an alleged case of micro-PK — is ludicrous since that theory respects the said conservation principles, and it deals exclusively with physical things."
Psychokinesis does not exist. It contradicts the laws of physics. Science has debunked those psychokinesis woo.
Posted by: Sciborg_S_Patel | February 02, 2017 at 01:12 PM
Now somebody is pretending to be Sciborg.
Robert - Are you able to block these guys and delete these comments? They're impersonating other reputable knowledgable users and just trolling this blog basically.
Posted by: Roberta | February 02, 2017 at 03:02 PM
Please give some references providing documentation that Leonora Piper produced ectoplasm. I am very interested. - AOD
Posted by: Amos Oliver Doyle | February 02, 2017 at 03:23 PM
Sciborg is not a real name. It is not 'impersonation' to use a random screen name Roberta.
Posted by: Steve001 skeptic | February 02, 2017 at 03:34 PM
"Please give some references providing documentation that Leonora Piper produced ectoplasm. I am very interested."
Yep he is wrong. Piper never did the ectoplasm. There was a letter from William James that stated she may have dabbled in slate-writing, but this was controversial and never proven.
Posted by: Steve001 skeptic | February 02, 2017 at 03:36 PM
Amos have you seen the new Wikipedia page on the Bangs sisters that is well referenced?
Do you accept the charges of fraud? You still think they were genuine?
Posted by: Steve001 skeptic | February 02, 2017 at 03:38 PM
Rabbitdawg are you Greg Taylor himself? Or is he an associate of yours?
Posted by: Steve001 skeptic | February 02, 2017 at 03:41 PM
Interesting that the user 'Sciborg' has deleted their comments and 'Steve001 skeptic' is now commenting and referencing Wikipedia.
I know you're the same dude as Waller Joel, and the other two users you've impersonated. Seriously you must have something better to do?
Posted by: Roberta | February 02, 2017 at 03:55 PM
"Rabbitdawg: that is pretty weird. My first thought was he must have been a strong believer in paranormal abilities in general, but even if that was the case, he'd gain by insisting she was faking it even if he still said other people weren't."
I guess you had to see the whole thing in context. The bulk of what he posted had to do with the anguish of divorce and losing custody of his children. It was assumed the children would be fully aware of their Mother's talent, and the validation of his ex-wife's mediumship was a relatively tiny portion of his writing.
But ultimately Chel, the only thing that will convince you (or anybody else for that matter) is personal experience. No number of typed words on a computer will convince anyone. A healthy dose of scepticism is necessary for validation, but an open mind and heart is critical as well. Heck, paranormal / spiritual experience or not, an open mind and heart is a great way to live anyway.
"Rabbitdawg - Can I ask who this medium is?"
If both parties had gone online with this, I would have few reservations about linking to sources, but these folks aren't famous enough to warrant such exposure. The ex-husband went public, not his wife, and we all know the fear of having too much personal information about ourselves being placed online by third parties. It's one of the many humiliating risks of living in our 21st Century digital world.
I am sympathetic with your interest though. However, assuming you live in the U.K., I'm also downright envious of you. Here in Nashville, the paranormal scene is credulous and amateurish at best, and our idea of an historic building is something built in the late 1800's. In the U.K., that would qualify as recent construction. The American SPR dissolved into a probate court money laundering scheme, and now we have President Tr...sorry, I just can't bring myself to say it or type it out, but you get the idea.
You have options in a diverse and widespread Spiritualist community, a near two thousand year old preserved history, and direct access to the real SPR. If I were you, I would dive right into those sources. You're sitting on a psychic goldmine. I would love to hear about what YOU discover.
Posted by: Rabbitdawg | February 02, 2017 at 03:59 PM
"But ultimately Chel, the only thing that will convince you (or anybody else for that matter) is personal experience. No number of typed words on a computer will convince anyone. A healthy dose of scepticism is necessary for validation, but an open mind and heart is critical as well. Heck, paranormal / spiritual experience or not, an open mind and heart is a great way to live anyway.
One of the most inspiring comments I've ever read here, Rabbitdawg!
And that's the crux of the problem. These rampant 'no-life' sceptics really do take the pleasure out of discussing matters psi related. I really can't understand why they don't just go and find a topic that stimulates them in a more positive way. They remind me of cockroaches scurrying around a kitchen floor. One would rather not step on them, but the instinct is to do so since they're so ugly and invasive.
Posted by: Julie Baxter | February 02, 2017 at 04:25 PM
Thanks Julie, and as far as hard core pseudo-sceptics are concerned, compassion is best for the soul. Seriously, focusing on them can be as destructive on a healthy spirituality as credulously blind belief.
I honestly think obsessive debunker's are in the minority. Most folks have paranormal experiences to tell, but they're afraid to talk about them. Our job is to get people to loosen up and take ownership of what they know is true without doubting their sanity. At the end of the day, I think that's what pseudo-sceptics are most afraid of - losing their mind. Funny thing is, if they opened up, maybe they would find their real mind for the very first time.
It's happening, trust me. Maybe one funeral at a time, but it's happening.
Posted by: Rabbitdawg | February 02, 2017 at 05:29 PM
Roberta, the guy Waller Joel is a well known internet trickster. He has also pretended to be a physical medium.
Here is a thread on Waller and some of his internet activities. This was the same person behind the MU trolling on Michael Prescott's blog.
A lot of people say that "Waller Joel" is Jon Donnis the guys who attacks psychic mediums on of badpsychics fame. I do not know if that is true or not but Donnis has written a lot of Wikipedia articles behind different online aliases.
Posted by: Immaterialist philosopher | February 02, 2017 at 05:35 PM
From the book "A Concise Introduction to Logic"
"In fact Geller was just a clever trickster who duped his audiences. Geller's trickery was exposed in large measure by the magician James Randi. After watching videotapes of Geller's performances, Randi discovered how Geller performed his tricks, and in no time he was able to perform every one of them himself. Sometimes Geller would prepare a spoon or key beforehand by bending it back and forth several times to the point where it was nearly ready to break. Later, by merely stroking it gently, he could cause it to double over. On other occasions Geller, or his accomplices, would use sleight-of-hand maneuvers to substitute bent objects in the place of straight ones."
No doubt in my mind Geller is fake!
Posted by: Malf | February 02, 2017 at 06:02 PM
Research methods in parapsychology have improved, but when we take a close look at studies we still see a lot of red flags. Sample size/power is a big one. Manner in which the methodology is set out in studies. Risks of internal selective reporting (ie: not determining which tests will be run in advance, doing multiple tests but not reporting all results). Not to mention the trickiest one, which is that it is exceptionally difficult to design an experiment that isolates psi as a control (in other words, we have to be careful that comparison to chance at best demonstrates that non-chance elements were involved, isolating what those elements are is very difficult). There are others.
Posted by: Arouet debunker | February 02, 2017 at 06:19 PM
I see that you believe that Sciborg is wrong about Leonora Piper producing ectoplasm but I would still like to hear from Sciborg. (If he does not respond I will assume that Sciborg is you.) Perhaps he does have a source documenting that Mrs. Piper produced ectoplasm. That's a pretty important piece of information I think and I would like to know from Sciborg his source. - AOD
Posted by: Amos Oliver Doyle | February 02, 2017 at 07:25 PM
I can't help but think of the scene in the cartoon Hetalia: One guy says "If you want to get into the magic club, bend this spoon with your mind." Second guy is big and scary and just squeezes the spoon into snapping.
Posted by: chel | February 02, 2017 at 09:42 PM
Amos it was just a joke. Course she wasn't caught with fake ectoplasm lol. Helen Duncn was, but Leonora Piper was a mental medum. She didn't do any of that blatant fakery.
Posted by: Sciborg | February 03, 2017 at 07:24 AM
Muscle reading explains a bit of Piper's mediumship, not all just a little bit.
Posted by: Sciborg | February 03, 2017 at 07:25 AM
"I do think those who accept the evidence for psi should steer clear of controversial people like Uri Gellar, the Ganzfeld, dream ESP, remote viewing and micro PK research is enough evidence itself and much less controversial."
"Philosopher and physicist Mario Bunge has written that "psychokinesis, or PK, violates the principle that mind cannot act directly on matter. (If it did, no experimenter could trust his readings of measuring instruments.) "
There is evidence that PK exists, although it is too erratic so that scientists do not trust their measurements.
"The claim that quantum mechanics allows for the possibility of mental power influencing randomizers — an alleged case of micro-PK — is ludicrous since that theory respects the said conservation principles, and it deals exclusively with physical things."
It is not ridiculous because the uncertainty principle is compatible with PK.
Posted by: Juan | February 03, 2017 at 07:56 AM
Since the topic is about Uri Geller, a man who gets to have Pokémon be named after him (Kadabra or Yungerer in Japanese), I suppose I should weigh my thoughts. Instead of focusing on whether or not he's legit, I'm going to focus on the man himself.
After a nice enlightenment from the US protests against the Muslim ban, I decided to take a look at Geller on Facebook and Twitter account. It seems that Geller has a very positive spirit even to this day, as if anger and rage are almost alien to him. No wonder Randi feels so bitter against Geller. He could never break Geller's spirit despite his attempts to debunk him. Parts of me wonder why Geller would choose a psychic route if he was mere a magician. Just having spoon bending abilities would be more than enough fame, but Geller has attracted the attention of the CIA and even went for other psychic abilities such as mind reading or probing. And it made considerable success with the test limits imposed, though it's debatable how tight the control variables are.
Speaking of which, I think that is a problem when it comes to doing psychic tests on these kinds of individuals. Consider a mobile phone or radio. It can send and receive messages wirelessly and would have been considered magic 200 years. But it also has its limits. If the mobile device is covered with a lead can or taken deep underground, the signal is lost and the device is rendered useless. And thus a medieval skeptic would say that this proof that radio waves don't exist.
With folks like Geller, how much restrictions can you place on and how much freedom can you allow them to try out? And how much can you trust in the subject or the experiment if you have paranoia that they'll find a way to slip through regulations? he problem with skepticism is that humans always assume the worst, even if it's implausible. It's like trying to curb down on any possible voter fraud even though the regular system works perfectly with only a tiny margin of error.
Posted by: Shadao | February 03, 2017 at 08:20 AM
"It seems that Geller has a very positive spirit even to this day, as if anger and rage are almost alien to him. No wonder Randi feels so bitter against Geller. He could never break Geller's spirit despite his attempts to debunk him."
Yes, I've noticed that about Geller and I too rather admire him for it. I suspect the bitter party is Randi and his hapless followers. Still, bless their little cotton socks for trying.
Everything in life is a matter of perspective. And one wonders how much publicity Randi's (rather futile) attempts to discredit Geller simply added to his fame and notoriety.
I think I'd be smiling all the way to the bank too. :)
Posted by: Julie Baxter | February 03, 2017 at 12:03 PM
Psychic powers do not exist. If human really did possess faculties like telepathy and clairvoyance or psychokinesis, it seems to me that after more than a century of research and experimentation we’d all know it by now. Mainstream science would have embraced it by now if these alleged powers really existed. It should be abundantly clear in everyday life but there is no evidence this happens.
Posted by: politicaljunkie | February 03, 2017 at 02:40 PM
"And one wonders how much publicity Randi's (rather futile) attempts to discredit Geller"
Not futile. Randi has discredited Geller. He has replicated all of his feats by trickery.
According to James Alcock: "It was through the diligent efforts of conjurer James ("The Amazing") Randi that Geller was finally, at least in most people's eyes, exposed. Randi demonstrated that he could by ordinary conjuring means duplicate Geller's feats. His perseverance in investigating and unveiling the circumstances of many of Geller's more spectacular performances (including the discovery of confederates who aided Geller when necessary) made it very difficult for anyone with any degree of critical thought to continue to accept Geller's claims."
Posted by: politicaljunkie | February 03, 2017 at 02:43 PM
"Not futile. Randi has discredited Geller. He has replicated all of his feats by trickery."
No he hasn't. Please keep up at the back. :)
Anyway, there's nothing at all amazing about Queen Randi - other than his endless, slippery dishonesty.
Perhaps it's time to get your tablets changed, 'politicaljunkie' ? ;)
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Posted by: Julie Baxter | February 03, 2017 at 03:05 PM