04 January 2010

Uri Geller and the Magician

The following is from pages 244-46 of The Geller Papers: Scientific Observations on the Paranormal Powers of Uri Geller, edited by Charles Panati. Leo Leslie – a professional magician from Denmark, was asked to prep the audience of a television show, being filmed in Copenhagen in 1974, before Uri Geller was to come on. He told them what tricks he thought Geller would be performing and instructed the staff how to avoid potential fraud. After the show he met with Geller backstage to investigate Geller's claims personally.

I told Geller I was still skeptical despite what I had seen him do on the television show. He asked what he could do to convince me of the genuineness of his paranormal powers. "Well," I said, "you could either bend one of my keys or attempt, if you can, to read my thoughts." Geller responded enthusiastically. "OK," he said. "Make a drawing." He asked me to sit at one end of the sofa with my back to him while he sat at the opposite end with his back to me. I decided to draw a flower. (From the psychologist who stood near Geller and observed his every move, I later learned that Geller started to draw a flower immediately, even before I set my pencil to the paper. He had finished his drawing before I had even begun mine.) "Are you finished?" Geller asked me. I told him that I was not, and that I was still concentrating on the object I had decided to draw.
    "Then we must start over again," said Uri, "Because I have already received an image and finished my drawing." He thought this attempt had failed.
    Now I drew a flower and took some time putting finishing touches on it. But apparently Geller was receiving nothing. "I don't thik I can do it," he said. "Are you having difficulty concentrating on the object?" he asked. I told him that I was, but still I asked to see whatever sketches he might have made. He turned around and said, "I can only get the image of flowers." He had drawn a crude sketch of another flower.
    My suspicions of him had begun to fade. There was no chance that he could have cheated. None of his own people was present in the room. The girl from the studio sat at Geller's end of the room and she could not possibly see my drawing. A photographer roamed around the room, but he said nothing and did nothing but take photographs. Geller could not have used accomplices or relied on secret signs to receive the drawings.
    What about the possibility that Geller relied on "sound readings," that is, the reproduction of lines from the sound impressions a pencil makes on paper. Because I am an experienced mentalist, I intentionally had distorted the sounds my pencil made while I drew the flower. In addition, I spoke constantly during the time I was drawing – partly to drown out sound from my pencil and in part actually to confuse Geller. I believe that sound-reading must be ruled out as a possible method by which Geller could have received the drawings.
   Could Geller have used a "thumb-writer"? This clever little magician's aid is a tiny metal clip, filled with lead, which is held tightly underneath the thumbnail so that the lead point sticks out slightly. With such a device, an accomplished mentalist can, in a moment, reproduce a simple drawing or a small series of numbers on a card behind his back. When the mentalist pulls the card from behind his back, it looks as if the drawing had been there all along. Being a practicing mentalist, will not go into complete detail here on exactly what else a person experienced with a thumb-writer can ahieve. The only thing that must be stated is that the psychologist at Geller's end of the sofa saw Geller draw both flowers before he said he "gave up." I have to admit that I believe Geller actually read my thoughts.
    After his demonstration of telepathy Geller tried psychokinesis. A nickle-plated, enameled key was given to Geller. He asked the journalist who was present to hold the key between two fingers. Geller then rubbed it a couple of times, very lightly, with his forefinger. "I can't do it," he suddenly said. "You have done something to this key. I cannot get in contact with the metal." I immediately suspected that Geller probably used a chemical to soften metal, and that with the coating on the key he felt defeated. I took the key from the journalist and studied it closely. But while I sat looking at the key the enamal suddenly started to crack, and a second later strips of the nickel plating curled up like small banana peels, while the key actually started to bend in my hand. I don't know who was more excited, Geller or the rest of us in the room. I only know that we were all thrilled.
   The judgment of all of us who were present for what occurred was one of total endorsement of Geller's paranormal claims: both his ability to bend metal and his talent for receiving telepathic signals. When I am asked about the strength of my own conclusions as to what I witnessed, I can answer only that while Geller was in Copenhagen I did not catch him in any deceptions. Therefore I have to continue to rely on my own judgment and experience as a mentalist; they tell me that Uri Geller is genuine.