THE NORWEGIAN NEWSPAPERS the next morning were filled with headlines about the strange events that had occurred all over the country while the TV show was on the air.
This kind of phenomenon, at long distance, which had begun with a small incident in Texas and mushroomed in England, was still new to me and seemed so much bigger than anything that had gone on before that I was more baffled than ever. Try to imagine how you would feel if such things were happening to you. You reach a point where you are both stunned and intrigued.
I had gotten used to the simple things: Keys bending and watches starting, because that had been happening ever since my earliest school days. But with the power being transferred across the airwaves to thousands of other people, either by television or by radio, I couldn’t help being as surprised as everyone else. It increased my desire to find out more about the scientific reasons behind the phenomena and to make it a point not to let the magicians and others who tried to explain it away as a trick upset me.
No one could accuse the thousands of people who were reporting things in their homes of being liars or fakers, and the newspapers were full of photographs of them holding up bent keys and forks and spoons in every part of Norway and England. I guess a few of them might have offered their reports just to get attention and publicity, but surely not thousands of people spread so wide apart.
Also, what had happened could not be attributed to psychological factors or some kind of hypnosis or mass hysteria. The evidence was right there for everybody to see. But I reaise that anything as strange as this has to be looked at from every angle. A reasonable kind of skepticism is a good thing. It is only when people refuse to believe what is right in front of their eyes that I am disturbed.
I didn’t have much time during the day to think about the note from the Norwegian Minister of Defense, but I did wonder about it a couple of times. When a big black Mercedes arrived at the hotel later that afternoon to pick me up, my curiosity increased. It was an important-looking limousine with a place for an official flag, but there was no flag in it. Even though the short note on the back of the card had mentioned that the Defense Minister wanted to talk with me on a personal matter, I still wondered whether it wasn’t something to do with the Defense Ministry, just as security questions had come up both in England and with regard to the Stanford Research Institute computers.
I have no way of being certain about this, but I started asking myself questions when we reached a long, gray government building with a high iron fence around it. It was late afternoon and just getting dark, and I could see quite a few antennas of various shapes and sizes. The chauffeur mentioned that it was a military headquarters building of some kind, but I couldn’t get straight what it was exactly. What made me wonder was that he slowed down almost to a crawl and pulled over to the side of the road very close to the iron fence. There seemed no need to go so slowly – less than 5 miles an hour – because he had been driving much faster on roads that were in worse condition.
I couldn’t help thinking that, if there were computers in the building, or radar apparatus, he might have been driving slowly to test for any effect on the electronic instruments. So many strange things had been happening, I had to be careful not to let my imagination run wild. My only guess was that something had happened to the electronics at the headquarters when I was broadcasting, and they wanted to check it further. But I never learned anything more definite.
When I arrived at the Minister’s House, he asked me if I did psychic healing. He hoped, he said, that I could help his two sons, who were hemophiliacs. I said what I always say: that not enough is known about the powers to try healing. But he and his wife were so nice and so hopeful that I saw the boys. I was sorry to learn later that they had not been cured.
Back at the hotel, Gunner Moe of the Norwegian magazine Now interviewed me. He was extremely interested in the strange “Geller Effect,” but as in all interviews I had trouble defining it myself. He had brought with him a fifteen-year-old watch which he said had not run for four years. I held my fist over it and concentrated hard, and within a minute it was running. I gave it a few more moments of concentration just to make sure it would keep running. When we looked at the watch again, the minute hand had curled back on itself and doubled over, even though there was not enough room between the face of the watch and the crystal to allow this to happen. Later, the reporter wrote about a clock that started up some time after our interview.
I get many reports about such delayed effects. One time I bent a key for some friends in Connecticut – Don Blinn, a commercial jet pilot, and his wife, Sally. They were soon going to leave for their summer house in Maine, and somehow I had the feeling that when they arrived there a few days later they would find that something had happened. I learned later that when they went into the house they found their extra door key – which they kept hanging on the wall – had clearly bent and curled since they had last seen it. No one had touched it since the previous summer.
After the first interview in the Oslo hotel, another Norwegian reporter talked with me. He was asking me about the various happenings, and I told him that I couldn’t figure out why energies were sometimes very weak and sometimes quite strong. We were sitting by the window in the hotel room, which looked out over a large area of Oslo. There were a lot of street and theater lights outside, and many illuminated signs.
I said to him: “You know, sometimes these energies are so strong that lights can go out.”
I had no sooner finished saying my sentence than we looked out the window and noticed a big area of Oslo that had been brilliantly lit up had suddenly blacked out. The lights were still working in the hotel, and the reporter rushed to the phone and called his office to see what had happened. A report came back that a big section of Oslo was blacked out, and they were trying to restore service immediately.
It was a strange coincidence, and the reporter was excited about it. However, I am skeptical myself, and I have learned that I have to be careful not to jump to conclusions. For instance, in the United States I have heard many stories about people who plugged in electric razors or turned on kitchen lights or took out a single fuse at the exact moment the big blackout on the East Coast happened. There are many coincidences like this, and it is easy to jump to conclusions that are just silly. It does become interesting, though, when a series of these things happen one after the other, over a -long period of time. But I always try to look for an ordinary reason first. If that has to be completely ruled out, then I have to accept the explanation that the energies are working through me. There is no other conclusion to make.
Some incidents are on the borderline. One occurred when two of my closest friends, Byron and Maria Janis, invited me to accompany them on a cruise from Bordeaux to Italy on the liner Renaissance. Byron is the internationally known concert pianist, and his wife, Maria, who is Gary Cooper’s daughter, is a wonderful artist. It was a musical cruise. Byron was performing at the piano, and on board were the members of the Hungarian String Quartet.
After a stopover in Spain, we were sailing toward Italy when I got to joking with the orchestra members, who challenged me to do something big, like stopping the ship in the middle of its course. Quite a few people were on deck that day, and everyone was in a holiday mood. I was caught up by their spirit and said: “All right. Let’s all concentrate on stopping the ship.”
Everyone was silent for several moments. Then, to my complete surprise, the ship began slowing down. It got slower and slower and then came to a full stop. We were all really startled. In fact, some of the orchestra members were quite scared. We found a ship’s officer and asked him what was wrong, and he told us he didn’t know. This was one of those things that caught me by surprise but didn’t really catch me by surprise. In other words, I half-expected it but couldn’t quite believe it.
After a wait of an hour or so, the ship’s engines started up again. Then the ship began moving, slowly accelerating back to normal speed. The crew finally told us what had happened. The main fuel pipe had suddenly bent and had choked off the fuel going to one of the engines. They had stopped the ship to make the repairs, which were not too difficult. Nothing like this had ever happened before, and they had no way of explaining how it had happened.
None of us dared speak of what we had done. And, in fact, it might have been just a coincidence. But this time my inner feeling was that we had carried the experiment a little too far. Thinking about it later, I couldn’t help feeling that this was too much of a coincidence to be a coincidence, especially since it involved the bending of metal and the collected thought of a bunch of people concentrating with me at the same time. But you can see how puzzling and confusing this can be to me, because it happens so many times and in so many different ways.
To get back to Oslo, the electrical blackout that night was of course startling, but it didn’t have quite the direct relationship that the incident on the ship did. I never did find out what really happened in the Oslo blackout, but it left the Now reporter baffled, as well as me.
I feel that all these things are just revealing themselves slowly, and someday they might add up to a big picture that will be more understandable than just a series of things that sometimes just look like jokes. There has got to be more to it than just what lies on the sure face. I have other things to talk about later that will explain what I mean by this, at least partly. It’s all still very fantastic.
After packing up in Oslo, I was off to Germany. Would the same strange mass phenomenon happen again? After two countries in a row, my inner feeling was that it probably would. But I had learned that I could be surprised by anything, one way or the other.
The television tour had been lined up by my associate, Werner Schmid, so that, when I returned to give a series of lecture-demonstrations later in the year, more people in these countries would know about me and more people would come to see the demonstrations in person. I know that a lot of people think I should concentrate on the scientific tests alone and not give these lectures, because they seem so commercial.
They are commercial, but I do not agree that I should not do them. The more people know about the powers, the more quickly scientists will lose some of their understandable suspicion and look into them more seriously. In fact, it appears that the public has already stimulated science; Nature itself pointed it out when its editorial of December 7, 1973, said that the public sees some of these things on TV and, as a result, “is bound to ask searching questions about conventional scientific wisdom.” If these energies were not being seen by so many people, scientists might understandably be cautious about looking into them.
Then of course there is the fact that I still must make a living, and I don’t feel I need to apologize about that.
I didn’t have to wait long to find out that my television appearance in Germany would bring results as dramatic as in Norway and England. The switchboard was again flooded with phone calls reporting the same things happening in homes all over the country, and the headlines were bigger than ever, one of them reading, “URI MAKES GERMANY CRAZY.” One German housewife, Barbara Scheid, interviewed by the German paper Main Post the next day, was photographed showing fifty-three pieces of silver that had been carefully wrapped in cloth and stored in a drawer; every piece had been bent when the program went on the air. The family actually called the police to come and look at the silver. The newspaper Bild-Zeitung in Frankfurt had a front-page headline that read: “ALREADY 7,000 BILD READERS REPORT SUCCESS.” The paper had asked its readers to place a spoon on a newspaper at the time the broadcast went on the air.
After I had left the country to continue to Austria, Switzerland, Holland, Finland, and Sweden, two popular German magazines took up the negative side, something that often happened. Both Stern and Der Spiegel said that I had used magic tricks and repeated the theory that I used chemicals of some kind to soften the metal. But they ignored what had happened in homes all over Germany, things I couldn’t have done no matter how good a magician } was, and they failed to explain why my fingers had not burned off by now. The same events were repeated without fail in Austria and Switzerland. I now would have been surprised if the countrywide phenomena did not happen. But they did, with practically no change in the pattern: the flooding of the switchboards with reports of viewers who found metal bending and old, broken clocks starting up; the big headlines the next morning; and the press interviews to follow up.
Of course, there was an enormous amount of publicity, and of course it was commercial, but as far as I was concerned it did not take away from the serious side, which these energies seemed to be displaying in a very light-hearted way. I wasn’t thinking in terms of a circus or a side show, but with a sense of wonder and real excitement about the universe and these powers. I also knew enough to keep my feet on the ground and not let this kind of thing go to my head, because I knew I was just a channel, that others could share in this when they were triggered.
The TV program in Sweden was to be taped in Goteborg and would be shown after my visit to that country ended. By now, my confidence was strong enough so that I would joke with the producers and engineers: “Wait and see what happens!” Since I wasn’t going to be in Sweden when the show went on the air, I too would have to wait and see. It would be an interesting test to see whether a delayed TV broadcast would produce the results on as large a scale as the live broadcasts had. If it did, it would add another mystery to the picture, a mystery that was growing stronger not only for me, but for the people in every country I visited.
While I waited to hear what might happen in Sweden, I went on to Finland, where the results were as amazing as ever. The phone company reported that all phone lines to newspapers and TV stations were tied up for hours in many places.
When I finally learned about the results of the delayed broadcast of the Swedish videotape, which went on the air about a month later, I found that the effect of it on the homes in the country was stronger than ever-in spite of the fact that it was not broadcast live. It was as if these energies could be put into a deep freeze and taken out later. How could this possibly be? I wish I knew the full answer, or at least something beyond the hints that I’ve received.
But it was in Denmark that I was to get my biggest shock on this tour. It is still hard to sift through the experience there and make sense out of it.
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“There is no spoon!”
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“Uri Geller gave an absolutely resonating talk on his life and career. He had every single magician in the room on the edge of their seats trying to digest as much information as they could. Uri emphasized that the path to frame is through uniqueness and charisma and that professional entertainers must be creative in their pursuits of success and never shy away from publicity.”
Tannens Magic Blog
“The man is a natural magician. He does everything with great care, meticulous misdirection and flawless instinct. The nails are real, the keys are really borrowed, the envelopes are actually sealed, there are no stooges, there are no secret radio devices and there are no props from the magic catalogues.”
James Randi (In an open letter to Abracadabra Magazine)
Sir Elton John
“Eternity is down the hall And you sit there bending spoons In your mind, in your mind”
“I Have watched Uri Geller… I have seen that so I am a believer. It was my house key and the only way I would be able to use it is get a hammer and beat it out back flat again.”
“Better than watching Geller bending silver spoons, better than witnessing new born nebulae’s in bloom”