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  1. tbp1 says

    You gotta wonder: did they tell him in advance he was going to be interviewed by The Spoon Council? I would think the name alone should have given the game away and led him to turn down the request. Not to mention that their website is obviously a parody. He should have smelled an Ali G-like interview a mile away.

  2. Sastra says

    Yes indeed. Uri started with spoon-bending, sure — but once psychokenesis was established in the scientific and technical fields it became one of the most significant and productive changes ever! How could it not be? With the mind alone, we can move every sort of object and this ability has transformed everything we do!!!

    Oh, wait. Nothing has changed. All we really have is a guy who claims he can bend spoons with his mind alone.

    The world has not been ready for a long time. Right. We know how reluctant we all are to embrace amazing new breakthrough abilities. Especially the young people and the technologically inclined.

    *Snort* That video was awesome.

  3. says

    I’m going to try to defend Geller here. (My god I can be foolhardy sometimes).

    This is nearly impossible for me to say without being badly misunderstood, so please try to follow along without jumping to the wrong conclusions about my motives. I don’t have any axe to grind here and I am as big a fan of anyone of science, reason, logic and evidence.

    Geller is a magician, an illusionist. He’s a very, very good one. Like all illusionists, he tries to create a realistic scenario in which to place his ‘trick’. The scenario he presents, the purpose of which is to get us interested in the performance, is to claim that what he is doing is a demo of telekenesis.

    He doesn’t believe it for a second. He doesn’t even expect all of his audience to believe it. It’s just ‘setting the scene’, the backdrop to the performance as it were.

    People who claim Geller isn’t REALLY telekenetic are like an annoying man in the audience standing up and pointing at the magician and shouting “there’s a trick in it, he didn’t really do that, oh look, the coin is in the turnup of his trouser leg, etc, etc”. If you were in the audience at such a performance, who would you be upset at? The magician or that annoying man?

    Of course there’s a fucking trick in it. Durrh. What would you have him do? Come out and tell everyone that there’s no magic involved and that the act he has spent 40 years carefully building is just a tawdry illusion? If you were a magician, would you do that?

    Anyone over the age of 8 knows enough science to know that you can’t bend spoons with your mind. Geller of course knows this too. So does anyone with half a mind. The fact that some credulous people actually believe it’s something other than a trick is a testament to the illusion Geller has spent a lifetime building.

    Can we all stop bahving like the annoying man in the audience please? Maybe we should shine the spotlight of reason on more deserving subjects, like the religious con-artists and the political fraudsters. Geller on the other hand, he’s in show-business for gawd’s sake. Wrong target.

  4. PocketWocket says

    He accepted an interview request from the Spoon Council, and didn’t want to talk about spoons? …

  5. escuerd says

    tommccann @ 7

    Right. Since you can see that it’s obviously fake, it must be equally obvious to everyone else (well, everyone important anyway). No point in trying to educate anyone who might not find it immediately obvious. The SRI physicists who Geller famously fooled were clearly morons lacking even an eighth grade level education. Smart people can never be fooled, after all.

    To be frank, your post reminds me of the people who say “Oh, no one actually believes that there’s a God out there commanding us to do this and that and judging us. Atheists should stop being such literalists.”

    But just like fundies, people who believe in paranormal claims of Geller and others like him are not a negligible fringe group, nor are they all stupid (though admittedly stupidity makes it easier to ascribe to such stupid ideas).

    What would you have him do? Come out and tell everyone that there’s no magic involved and that the act he has spent 40 years carefully building is just a tawdry illusion? If you were a magician, would you do that?

    Well, yeah.

    Ever heard of Houdini? Derren Brown? Banachek? James Randi? Criss Angel? There is such a thing as context, and while all of their acts may make a pretense of magic, they leave their performance at the door and don’t seriously claim to possess paranormal abilities. Magicians can, in fact, be both honest and successful.

    I don’t really care if Geller wouldn’t have made as much money by being honest, though. Doing it for financial (or otherwise personal) success doesn’t make his behavior any better ethically. What’s more, I don’t think that saying “Anyone who believes this must be stupid/gullible/whatever,” is a good justification for ongoing deception either.

    Can we all stop bahving like the annoying man in the audience please?

    No, lol.

    The analogy was a poor one to begin with. Again, context matters. No one here is interrupting someone’s staged performance to point out the obvious (punking people, as was done for this video is a whole ‘nother issue). They’re writing about it on the internet and in books. You may find it banal and obnoxious, but it isn’t all about you.

    Much of what the skeptic community does is try to educate people, and that includes putting information about prominent charlatans out there for others to see. Now that’s not really what this post is about directly, but it seemed to be the sort of thing that you were addressing.

    This post was just an amusing moment at the expense of someone lots of us find detestable.

  6. escuerd says

    More briefly, a magician has a reasonable expectation for audience members to play along during a staged performance.

    But all the world’s not a stage, and there’s no reasonable expectation that people never say anything at all.

  7. Moggie says

    tommccann:

    People who claim Geller isn’t REALLY telekenetic are like an annoying man in the audience standing up and pointing at the magician and shouting “there’s a trick in it, he didn’t really do that, oh look, the coin is in the turnup of his trouser leg, etc, etc”. If you were in the audience at such a performance, who would you be upset at? The magician or that annoying man?

    A regular magician doesn’t sue people who point out that what s/he does is just trickery.

  8. John Hinkle says

    Why didn’t Uri “I have a powerful mind” Geller simply use telekenesis to switch off the camera?

    Also, I don’t know how the interviewer could keep a straight face. That accomplishment alone is remarkable.

  9. Sastra says

    tommccann #7 wrote:

    Anyone over the age of 8 knows enough science to know that you can’t bend spoons with your mind. Geller of course knows this too. So does anyone with half a mind.

    Not true. About a third of the population believes in it; if you add in people who believe in a God which moves matter around directly with mind power you’ve got over 90%. Since the mechanism for moving our own body parts is hidden from us, pk feels intuitive and familiar to us.

    What the general public knows about science is that it’s “always changing.” And they also heartily endorse the basic rule “anything is possible.”

    Geller lies. There’s no wink-wink-nod-nod pretense of pretending in his ‘act.’ Mentalists and magicians look down on performers who deceive the public. My father’s life was changed back in the late 60’s when he saw The Amazing Kreskin in person and thought he had had his mind read. He became a full-blown believer in the paranormal. Like Geller, Kreskin also kept telling the audience “I don’t know how I do this. It just happens.”

  10. pacal says

    tommccann says:

    Geller is a magician, an illusionist. He’s a very, very good one.

    Not really if you read The Magic of Uri Geller by James Randi yopu will find out he wasn’t all that good.

    Then you say:

    Like all illusionists, he tries to create a realistic scenario in which to place his ‘trick’. The scenario he presents, the purpose of which is to get us interested in the performance, is to claim that what he is doing is a demo of telekenesis.

    He doesn’t believe it for a second. He doesn’t even expect all of his audience to believe it. It’s just ‘setting the scene’, the backdrop to the performance as it were.

    I remember Uri Geller in the seventies and then he most definetely was claiming again and again psychic powers. What with Scientists writing up studies of his abilities and people writing books about him touting his psychic powers etc. Also remember that before Randi published his book he sent a letter to Uri telling him he would be publishing the book and suggesting that Uri come clean and say he, Uri, did it to show how easily Scientists and others can be fooled. Uri did not respond.

    People who claim Geller isn’t REALLY telekenetic are like an annoying man in the audience standing up and pointing at the magician and shouting “there’s a trick in it, he didn’t really do that, oh look, the coin is in the turnup of his trouser leg, etc, etc”. If you were in the audience at such a performance, who would you be upset at? The magician or that annoying man?

    I remember Uri on the Barbara Walter’s show claiming over and over again thart his powers were real and no trick was involved. He did the same thing on show after show in the seventies. He didn’t say he wouldn’t tell how it was done he claimed it was psychic. Has mentioned above he sued CISCOP and James Randi for saying he was a fraud and a trickster in the late 1980’s. He let himself be tested by Scientists at SRI and other places claiming again and again psychic powers. He let these people publish books about his his psychic powers like

    The Geller Effect

    and so forth. So sorry the evidence is overwhelming that Uri Geller was claiming psychic powers and was deliberately trying to decieve people and this is quite different from what a Magician does. So the people who pointed out that there was a trick involved were not spoiling an act they were spoiling a con job.

    Of course there’s a fucking trick in it. Durrh. What would you have him do? Come out and tell everyone that there’s no magic involved and that the act he has spent 40 years carefully building is just a tawdry illusion? If you were a magician, would you do that?

    Yep I would have him say it was an illusion and trick after all Magicians say that sort of stuff all the time. I would also have him apologize to the Scientists at SRI and other places that he deliberately sought to deceive with his tricks. I would also like him to appologize to CISCOP and Randi for suing them and to people like Barbara Walters who he intentionally deceived into thinking he had genuine psychic powers.

    Anyone over the age of 8 knows enough science to know that you can’t bend spoons with your mind. Geller of course knows this too. So does anyone with half a mind. The fact that some credulous people actually believe it’s something other than a trick is a testament to the illusion Geller has spent a lifetime building.

    Can we all stop bahving like the annoying man in the audience please? Maybe we should shine the spotlight of reason on more deserving subjects, like the religious con-artists and the political fraudsters. Geller on the other hand, he’s in show-business for gawd’s sake. Wrong target.

    As mentioned above vast numbers of peole over the age of eight believe in such things including large numbers of very intelligent people, not just people with “half a mind”. As for “somecredulous people”, well since Uri Geller spent a great deal of time trying to convince people that his powers were genuine and did this “act” not just on stage but off stage and in frot odf Scientists etc., he was again deliberately trying to make people think his act was the “real” thing.

    As for being in show business how many show magicians go to the trouble of being examined by Scientists and tested and then sue people who say they are magicians. Sorry Uri Geller was a deliberate fraud who tried via tricks to convince people he had genuine psychic powers.

  11. says

    That video feels fake to me. It felt scripted. Even Uri’s performance looked and felt like just that – a performance.

    Although I gotta love the one line about identifying with a “shallow and depressed” utensil.

  12. says

    Yes indeed. Uri started with spoon-bending, sure — but once psychokenesis was established in the scientific and technical fields it became one of the most significant and productive changes ever! How could it not be? With the mind alone, we can move every sort of object and this ability has transformed everything we do!!!

    Oh, wait. Nothing has changed. All we really have is a guy who claims he can bend spoons with his mind alone.

    I’m reminded of an old favorite post by one of my blogfathers: “Pretty Soon…

    Oh, and yeah, context is everything. Real magicians, when they’re on stage, are playing a character, like actors who do their own special effects. It’s a performance and understood to be trickery. Once they get off the stage, they acknowledge that it’s trickery.

    Geller, however, keeps telling the world he is the character, not a performer playing a part. A lot of people believe him, even after the exposure. He gets whiny and litigious when people point out that he’s using simple parlor tricks.

  13. ewanmacdonald says

    Pretty sure this was all staged. It was still really funny though. The interviewer was superb with his mannerisms and how quickly he asked the questions.

  14. says

    That video feels fake to me. It felt scripted. Even Uri’s performance looked and felt like just that – a performance.

    I dunno, Geller takes himself way too seriously to be willing play the dupe in a stunt like that. He is also known to be an extremely prickly interviewee when he senses he’s being mocked or the interviewer is being too skeptical.

  15. observer says

    This is great! A comment thread on a subject I actually know something about.

    Let me preface this by saying that I have made my living as a mentalist for nearly 25 years. I’m not a household name, but I’m pretty well known in the community of professional mentalists. I count among my friends in the field some who are significant within the skeptical community and some who play it ‘for real,’ and some who actually think they are real.

    With all that put away, in my professional opinion, ethics aside, I think Uri Geller is in fact a brilliant magician. First, he almost single handedly created a new genre of magic performance. Second, he is an absolute master at creating the right mood and sense of anticipation to make his material ‘believable.’ Although I admire Randi, I think his assessment of Geller’s professional skill is overly colored by his hostility toward the man. Of course I wouldn’t expect Randi to be able to remain detatched.

    I also would like to address Sastra’s comment that “mentalists and magicians look down on performers who deceive the public.” In fact, the consensus on this issue is not nearly as strong as you might think. A very few mentalists could be numbered in the skeptic/debunker camp, but most see shades of gray that readers here might either not see or simply not agree with, and a few I know think deceiving the public both onstage and off is the highest artistic ideal.

    Tacitus said he thinks Geller takes himself too seriously to be part of a spoof. I disagree. I’ve met the man and even had a spoon bent by him. Tacitus’s description might fit the Uri of many years ago, but he seems to have lightened up quite a bit in the last few years, and sometimes all but admits his chicanery. I don’t think he’ll ever get that far, though.

    I am what most here would consider an “honest” kind of mentalist, in that I don’t try to play the role off stage, and I’m also not trying to defend Geller’s ethics. I just thought people here might be interested in getting an insider’s perspective.

  16. tbp1 says

    @14 & 16: What you guys said. Geller was very definitely claiming real paranormal powers. As far as I know, he still does. Don’t lots of performers, including Randi, use the term “illusionist” rather than “magician” to acknowledge that they are doing tricks? Sometimes amazing, complicated tricks that I certainly could never figure out, let alone replicate, but tricks nonetheless.

    @20: Love mentalists acts, although I’ve only seen a couple live, including an absolutely astonishing one in, of all places, an Argentine restaurant in Mexico City decades ago. I couldn’t believe the detail of information the guy in the audience was able to communicate to his blindfolded partner on stage with the code language (at least I think that was how it was done).

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