09 January 2010

The Geller Papers: A Final Assessment

Sorry, but I've been a bit off this year and should have posted this days ago.

What can I say about the paranormal abilities of Uri Geller. Before reading this book I was, in fact, thoroughly convinced that some of the abilities manifested by Geller were genuine. I have personally had experience with ESP and metal bending, so I know they're not fake like Geller's critics claim.

At times The Geller Papers is very involved and makes scientific references to areas in which I am unfamiliar and therefore cannot assess the quality of (there were several pages I barely understood, mostly involving statistical analysis and engineering equations). This should obviously appeal to the scientists who no doubt should read this tome to spark interest in psychical research. Many scientists who wrote for this book came away concluding that science should invest more time, effort, and money (especially money, if you ask me, and I suspect if you ask them too) into psychical research involving psychic all stars like Uri Geller and other people dubbed "mini-Gellers." Don't get me wrong, all this research involving "ordinary mortals" (read: college sophmores) and their performance in Ganzfeld, telephone telepathy, micro-PK, etc., is very good and very important, but you learn far less about basketball by watching gradeschoolers play than you do by watching professionals. Some people are more talented at generating psychic effects as others, just as in every field of human endevor, and it makes a lot of sense to study these psychic super stars so we can learn the limits of these abilities and work toward developing practical technologies to utilize psychic phenomena.

From my own experiments I must concur with J. G. Taylor's findings that length of an object corresponds to the ease of bending that object, with longer objects bending more easily, and also that objects with a regular shape bend easier than others (which explains why I can bend a spoon or fork, but not a key of identical thickness). The metal becomes momentarily plastic when it is ready to bend, then deforms at a point where the least effort is required - the metal's weakest point, where a bend or break would first occurr under mechanical stress.

Uri Geller of the 1970s was phenomenal. Uri Geller of today, seems to have watered himself down. On a television appearance he made promoting his new show with Chris Angel he broke a spoon in half and said something to the effect of "some people say this is magic, others say it is psychic, but I want to leave it a mystery." This is a huge departure from thirty years ago when he went around the world claiming to be psychic and damn the opposition. In no way does this detract from past performance. He has bent metal without touching it; several magicians came away from testing him staking thier reputations that Geller was not using any form of trickery known to magic; he has performed in ESP experiments with odds against chance of a trillion to one, but perhaps in recent years Uri has gotten soft and accustom to the fame, and perhaps now he is under more pressure to perform and employs a degree of trickery to reclaim the audience he had decades ago.

Anyway, I highly recommend the book The Geller Papers: Scientific Observations on the Paranormal Powers of Uri Geller, edited by Charles Panati. This book gives a glimps at what psychical research could be if we employ modern tools and techniques to pro-psychics like Uri Geller.