Monday, January 21, 2008

Uri Geller retracts psychic claims

Uri Geller was a famous psychic in the seventies known for bending spoons. James Randi famously debunked these psychic powers, as you can see in this excellent video. These days, Uri Geller is still around, doing TV shows and stuff.

From James Randi, we have some interesting news about Uri Geller. In an interview with Magische Welt, Geller admitted to not having supernatural powers.
I’ll no longer say that I have supernatural powers. I am an entertainer. I want to do a good show. My entire character has changed.
You know, sometimes I wonder if Randi is simply a bitter old man with a magician rivalry against Uri Geller. It's like a real life version of The Prestige (anyone here seen that movie?). Sure, Uri Geller somehow still manages with the same boring routine as he did decades ago, with the spoon-bending, key-bending, and remote-viewing. But he's an entertainer, and his whole act is about his character as a psychic. Nobody actually believes this stuff, right? It's like Disneyland--no one actually believes that hitchhiking ghosts will continue to haunt you outside of the haunted mansion!

But this feeling passes. People really do believe this stuff. James Randi says it best.
Try to remember these names, Mr. Geller: Andrija Puharich, Brian Inglis, Byron Janis, Charles Panati, Claiborne Pell, Colin Wilson, Edgar Bronfman, Edgar Mitchell, Eldon Byrd, Guy Lyon Playfair, Harold Puthoff, John Hasted, John Taylor, Jonathan Margolis, Jose Lopez Portillo, Maria Janis, Moshe Dayan, Russell Targ, Ted Bastin, Val Duncan, Wernher von Braun, Wilbur Franklin, William Cox, and Yascha Katz. These are just a couple dozen of the hundreds of people you lied to, people who put money into your pocket, wrote supportive books about you, validated your claims, brought you to the attention of prominent persons, or otherwise helped you because they believed you when you told them you were the real thing, and played your tricks on them! Now you’ve admitted that it was all just a big joke?
Playing on people's suspension of disbelief is fine. But intentionally fooling people, including naive experts, separating them from their money, is just plain unethical. If Uri Geller were doing the former rather than the latter, then his response to Randi would properly be, "Don't be such a spoilsport! I'm just an entertainer." Instead, Geller is known for responding with frivolous lawsuits.

Anyways, I think it's good that Geller is retracting his claims of being psychic, provided that he stands by it. Maybe now he'll have to improve his act?

Update: I wasn't reading Randi's article carefully enough. Randi says that Geller has not stood by his answer. His interview with Magische Welt was in November 2007, and Geller has already claimed telepathic powers yet again in January 13th, 2008.

Update 2: Randi made a video about this story.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Uri Geller - a bibliography

Links to articles & opinion about Uri Geller both pro & con.