How an Israeli psychic convinced the CIA he could read minds

 

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Recently declassified documents from the CIA show that Uri Geller succeeded in convincing the intelligence agency of his psychic abilities.

In a small-scale operation, later given the code name “Stargate Project,” US intelligence organizations looked for potential for psychic phenomena in military and domestic intelligence applications. The group’s week-long study of Geller’s mind-reading abilities was part of 13 million pages of documents declassified and released by the CIA this week.

The experimenters concluded that, “as a result of Geller’s success in this experimental period, we consider that he has demonstrated his paranormal perceptual ability in a convincing and unambiguous manner.”

The experiments involved a series of tests where Geller was isolated in a room and asked to copy a picture drawn by a person or computer that he could not see. Although he failed in the task most times, he did manage on a couple of occasions to draw a fairly accurate copy of the image, and in other cases agents found enough similarities to consider his efforts valid.

In one case Geller, in a shielded room, managed to accurately draw a bunch of grapes, which been randomly drawn by an agent and taped to the outside of the room.

In another experiment an agent, located half a mile away, drew a picture of the devil. Geller spent almost half an hour attempting to draw it before passing. He drew the Ten Commandments, a worm in an apple and a composite image including a trident.

The CIA concluded that “one is led to speculate that the Biblical representation in these three drawings is perhaps associational material triggered by the target. The inability on Geller’s part to draw the devil may be culturally induced.”

The investigators concluded that “good results were obtained on the four days when there was no openly skeptical observer” present.

Geller told Britain’s Daily Telegraph that “I’m mind-blown they’ve released this because there are still remote viewing programs active; many intelligence agencies use them.”

He also said that “I did many things for the CIA. They wanted me to stand outside the Russian Embassy in Mexico and erase floppy discs being flown out by Russian agents. I had to get near someone signing a nuclear deal and bombard him with ‘Sign, sign, sign.’”

The US ran the 20-year program training psychic operatives, as depicted in Jon Ronson’s book (and subsequent 2009 George Clooney movie adaptation) “The Men Who Stare at Goats.”

Researchers Michael Mumford, Andrew Rose and David Goslin were asked by the CIA to review the findings of Stargate. They concluded that “remote viewings have never provided an adequate basis for ‘actionable’ intelligence operations — that is, information sufficiently valuable or compelling so that action was taken as a result.” They also criticized the methodology and accuracy of the findings. “A large amount of irrelevant, erroneous information is provided and little agreement is observed among viewers’ reports,” they wrote.

The researchers also claimed that “there was reason to suspect that its project managers had changed the reports so they would fit background cues.” This led to the entire project being closed down in 1995.

Geller, who was born in Tel Aviv, made a career from TV appearances worldwide where he has performed tricks such as bending spoons, making clocks stop, and describing hidden drawings.

In 2013, documentary filmmaker Vikram Jayanti released his film “The Secret Life of Uri Geller – Psychic Spy?” in which he claimed that Geller was a secret agent for the CIA, and possibly for the Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency.

“Uri has a controversial reputation,” Jayanti told The Independent. “A lot of people think he is a fraud, a lot of people think he is a trickster and makes things up, but at the same time he has a huge following and a history of doing things that nobody can explain.”

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