Psychics versus the Scientists
Renowned psychic and bender of spoons, Uri Geller, believes many ‘experts’ refuse to accept what they can’t understand
Though I’m not myself a scientist, as a psychic tested by researchers around the world, I have had many conversations with physicists and other scientists interested in the frontiers of human knowledge. Some are highly eminent in their fields, and I have learned much from them. This includes some things about the negative as well as the positive aspects of science.
Most scientists see science as a method of inquiry, but many substitute it for religion, replacing proper science with what their critics call scientism. The father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, was right when he wrote: “It is a mistake to believe that a science consists in nothing but conclusively proved propositions, and it is unjust to demand that it should. It is a demand only made by those who feel a craving for authority in some form, and a need to replace the religious catechism by something else, even if it be a scientific one.”
Most of us were taught that science is limited to making statements about the empirical world. But scientism either denies that non-empirical knowledge exists, or tries to sneak non-empirical notions (like ethics and values, as well as other metaphysical matters) into science. This simply will not do. Science can only provide clues about the way the world is. It cannot possibly become a map of all reality.
Unfortunately, science can be used for good or evil – where modern medicine saves lives, the “scientific” design of
Nazi gas ovens aided genocide – and while science may help save our world, it cannot do so alone. Indeed some scientists, like those employed by tobacco companies or those who help develop chemical weapons, may be part of the problem rather than its solution.
Philosopher Paul Feyerabend (author of the “anarchist” philosophy of science tome, Against Method) was right in saying that science is simply too important to be left exclusively to scientists.
Even scientists who avoid extending their study into non-empirical realms may still practise a version of scientism.
They do not view science as presenting us with a useful, but incomplete, mental blueprint that only approximates to reality. Instead, they take it as a complete map to be taught as dogma. For them, scientific laws are not mere generalisations that attempt to explain past observations. Instead, scientists use these laws as obstacles to new understanding. Indeed, scientists often use them to deny things that may actually be possible like, for example, extra- sensory perception.
Real science must remain open to new information from nature; dogmatic denial, a firm favourite of the determinedly sceptical, serves only to close the door to genuine progress. As the mathematical biologist, J B S Haldane, correctly stated: “The universe is not only queerer than we imagine, it’s queerer than we can imagine.” Science may tell us that something is highly improbable, but it cannot tell us something is absolutely impossible. The truly great scientists have approached the universe with a sense of wonder and humility, not arrogance. The great American scientist Thomas Edison asserted: “We do not know one-millionth of one per-cent about anything.”
As I have dealt with scientists, both friends and critics, I have been impressed by the fact that science remains very
much a human enterprise. Though I began my career by co-operating with the scientists who tested and challenged me, I soon learned that the evidence they produced failed to convince many of their colleagues. As the molecular geneticist Gunther Stent observed: “The good scientist is seen as an unprejudiced man with an open mind who is ready to embrace any new idea supported by the facts. The history of science shows, however, that its practitioners do not appear to act according to that popular view.”
Sadly, I have been forced to agree. Max Planck, one of the very greatest physicists, shared my feelings. “A new scientific view does not triumph,” he said, “by convincing its opponents and making them see the light but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”
Uri Geller’s Mindpower Kit is published by Virgin this month. For more details, check out his website at https://www.urigeller.com/
Focus; February 1997
Telekinesis: the movers and the shakers
Teleknesis is the ability to alter the state of objects or cause them to physically move by the power of the mind alone. Millionaire self-publicist (and sometime Focus contributor) Uri Geller astonished the world in the early Seventies by ‘miraculously’ bending spoons. He also mended broken watches by sheer willpower – and even caused metal objects sealed inside glass tubes to twist without touching them. Spooky.
Less hyped but equally remarkable was the case of Ah Foo Tim, a Singaporean waiter who, in 1960, stunned diners by moving a table tennis ball around a billiard table merely by staring at it. Apparently, he could do this even when the ball was hidden under a glass. Remarkable, don’t you think? Well, maybe, but when put to the test he was totally unable to shift a golf ball. Hmm…
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