WHILE I WASN’T really aware of it at the time, things were building to something of a crisis after the Scandinavian and European tour. The controversy over whether what I was doing was real or fake was growing. I tried not to be on the defensive all the time, but it was sometimes hard. One of the reasons for the clamor was the long series of scientific tests I had gone through at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) beginning in 1972, one year before the tour, and continuing in August, 1973.
The institute carries on some of the most advanced research in the world for both industry and the government. Some of its work involved complex computer research for the armed forces. After the first series of tests ended, back in 1972, SRI had issued a preliminary report saying: “We have observed certain phenomena for which we have no scientific explanation. All we can say at this point is that further research is clearly warranted.”
Because SRI has such high prestige all over the world, even the preliminary announcement attracted a lot of attention. However, the results were not published in full right away, because the scientists who had conducted the tests had not yet placed their paper in a scientific journal, which I understand is a necessary step to having it fully accepted among scientists.
I had gone to SRI with Dr. Andrija Puharich, who had brought me over from Israel after testing me there, and the Astronaut Captain Edgar Mitchell. The two scientists at the institute who conducted the tests were Russell Targ, a specialist in lasers and plasma research, and Dr. Harold Puthoff, who speciaised in quantum physics. Both are extremely interested in parapsychology as well and have done much study in that area.
I will have much more to tell about this later, but both Targ and Puthoff were determined in the early spring of 1974 that the report on the tests they did on me should appear only in the best scientific journal possible. Nearly everyone agreed that this was Nature, because it is so cautious and thorough about everything it publishes. Nature would spend months or even years checking out a scientific paper before publishing it.
At this time the Stanford Research story still had not been published, although it had been sent to Nature many months before. I had learned that nearly all scientific journals have kept away from studies on the paranormal, because this field had for so long been considered unscientific. If Nature accepted the SRI paper, then, it would be a major breakthrough. It might even silence the critics who were constantly trying to discredit me. I was hoping very much that the scientific paper would appear in Nature and relieve me of some of the ugly pressure that many magicians and some of the press were constantly putting on me. Surely, I felt, if Nature, with its high scientific standards, accepted the article after months and months of deliberations, the scientific world and the press would also accept it, and I would no longer have to face the constant controversy.
Even in the countries I had just visited, where the incredible phenomena had spread out from me to others by television and were repeated in thousands of homes, the controversy was continuing. I learned that a professor from the University of Wales had said that the whole business was “rather ludicrous, and all that is needed is half an hour of properly controlled testing to unmask Geller.” What he and so many others with that attitude couldn’t know was that the controlled conditions at Stanford Research were as rigid as they could possibly be. SRI had consulted magicians in setting up the tests, and Russell Targ is an amateur magician himself. They had isolated me completely, making any kind of collusion impossible. In the tests where I was to try to duplicate drawings selected at random for me, I was put in a shielded room called a Faraday Cage, which is built of wire mesh to block out any kind of radio waves or electrical or magnetic forces.
One of the developments after the British broadcasts was a real interest on the part of some scientists in following up with people who had had strange things take place in their homes while the shows were on the air. Among these scientists was Professor John Taylor. He believed that if he could study others who had had metal bend and watches start up in their homes, and compare them with tests that he planned to do with me, he could rule out any trickery. In other words, if he could pick a group of children and adults who obviously couldn’t be masters of magic tricks, and if they succeeded in doing some of these things, it would go a long way toward showing that some new forces were being discovered.
A London newspaper had already invited ten of these people to lunch at a London hotel and asked them to try bending spoons or keys, or starting up or stopping watches. Although it was far from a scientific test, the results were amazing. In front of the reporters, two of the children were able to start up broken watches held in their hands. A seven-year-old boy named Mark Shelley concentrated on a row of forks and bent them all. “I just think about a fork bending, and it does,” he said.
In the brief breathing spell I had before the trip to Japan, I had a chance to stop and think about the power. The energies or forces were showing themselves in many different ways. Some I could control by concentrating on them. Others seemed to happen without my giving any thought or attention to them at all.
I could control the bending of keys and metals, the starting up of broken timepieces, the producing of changes in things like compasses, magnetometers, and other laboratory instruments. And yet sometimes, while performing these acts, I would get results that went beyond the areas of my concentration. Often, I would be bending a fork or spoon, when another one nearby would curl up without my touching it or concentrating on it. The remote experiments, such as the one across the Channel from France to England, were only partially under my control, because I didn’t know how many people would be affected or where they were. The same, of course, would hold true of the various things that happened during all the television broadcasts throughout Scandinavia and the rest of Europe.
Telepathy was another act I performed consciously. I could see hidden pictures clearly in my mind, and I could usually do so best in sympathetic surroundings where there wasn’t a lot of negative feeling around. In some cases, I have even come up with a response almost exactly the same size and shape as the target. I also could fire a three-digit number or picture into the mind of somebody else by having him concentrate on a number or drawing I put down on paper without his seeing it. They tell me the chances against getting a three-digit number correct are a thousand to one. But it has often worked with ordinary people who showed no signs of paranormal powers before.
These forces also seemed to provide me with the power of clairvoyance. In one of the tests at Stanford Research I was able to tell eight of ten times what number was showing at the top of a single die, which had been placed inside a metal box and shaken by one of the experimenters. Twice I didn’t get a clear picture of what number was showing, so I passed. They told me that the chances for these results were about a million to one.
The most puzzling ways the energies were showing themselves were those whereby objects materialised and dematerialised, transported themselves across a room, or dropped unexpectedly on a table or at people’s feet. These are things I don’t concentrate on. They just happen. I am as surprised as anyone else when they occur, and I can never predict them in any way. But they happen almost every day in front of many witnesses. I will have more to say about this later on.
I like to live a full, well-rounded life. I like television and films and sports, I like to date girls, to travel, and to meet people everywhere. I enjoy giving my lecture-demonstrations throughout the world. I like to play the piano, and I also like to write poetry. Poems come to me in strange ways, and I don’t think I really write them myself. It’s almost as if I’m in a trance, and I usually speak them into a tape recorder, as if the poems come through me rather than being composed by me. Sometimes I remember what I say, and sometimes I don’t. And sometimes I’m startled when I listen to the words on the tape recorder.
I began doing this shortly after I came to America. One day there was a typewriter in the room where I was staying, and, even though I had never learned to type, I just sat down and began typing some poems. They are more like lyrics, because I feel music in them. Some seem very far out; they come from outside me. This one, called “The Day,” is very much that way:
The day the dust fell
The day they opened up the skies
The day the red was coming
The day the sun stood still
The day we saw the red
The day had come the day now here
The day I knew the end
The day the lift had begun
The day the red turned yellow
The day they lay
The day they lay
The purple went on yellow
It dripped and churned
And quiet, burned
The purple turned to green
The green became so white and silver
But silver turned to gold
And gold had dripped to rainbow colors
That colored all the mist
The mist became so heavy sunken
Sunk so deep above
The colors dropped to nothing burnt
Again and sown the fields
The fields had grown these colors below
It began to sing
I was in a sort of trance when this came to me, and I dictated it on the tape recorder instead of typing it. When I first listened to it, I reaised it was far out. I analyzed it line by line. When I heard the words “the day the winds were yellow,” I remembered the storms I had seen in the desert, everything yellow with dust. It seemed to me that this described a huge catastrophe taking place, with the winds blowing all the dust from the desert, and the atmosphere colored yellow because of all the sands of the earth. And then the dust fell. It started sinking toward the earth, and to me that meant something tremendous was going to happen. And “the day they opened up the skies” seemed to mean a force opened up a hole in the sky, and it had to be an enormous power to do this.
The whole poem, with its colors and vivid images, pointed to something cosmic, something universal, so extreme that the people of the earth had to evacuate the planet. The purple seemed to reflect the infinite, and the green represented either a new evolution that had come to the earth, to start it growing again, or the discovery of a new planet. I could not understand it all, but it seemed to show that only after many evolutions could we understand, after we become part of God.
There were many other poems that came this way, some of them dealing with love or loneliness or sadness or cosmic intelligences. Some were short, some long. Here’s a short One
The bright light that will be coming from above
Try to control it by thinking towards the beam
That will be transferred to your mind
By means of evolution and understanding.
I know my poems are not polished literary gems, but I feel them deeply. When they come, a force seems to grab me. I feel it, strangely enough, in the middle of my forehead, a sort of light pressure.
When I showed some of the poems to Byron and Maria Janis, they liked them. In fact, Byron liked several so much that he composed music for them. They were also shown to Del Newman – who arranges for such leading rock singers as Paul McCartney, Elton John, Cat Stevens, and Paul Simon – and he liked many of them. Finally Yasha, Werner, and I decided that we would make an album of song-poems, recording it in both England and Germany. I speak several languages, including English, some German, Greek, Hebrew, and Hungarian, and we decided to make several versions in different languages. Byron and Del would compose the musical settings, and I would speak the lyrics. Maxine Nightingale, who had been in the show Hair, would sing those songs that Inquired complicated vocalism, with a choir backing up many of the numbers. The album would be called simply Uri Geller.
This was not out of character for me, because ever since I was a kid I had always wanted to be a movie actor and performer. In fact, as I was growing up I would always try to push my powers or energies into the background because of this desire. I was, and still am, very ordinary, except for these forces.
The desire to be a performer, to be creative, is very natural to me, although some people think it conflicts with my work in trying to understand the unusual phenomena that are happening. I don’t see it that way. I think the song-poems, especially, are all part of that picture, which is emerging so slowly. It’s like a film when it is placed in a development bath. The picture begins to emerge slowly, not all at once. You have to wait for it to show all the details and the meaning. In terms of my own human feelings and emotions, there is a past, present, and future. But once I think about the deeper things, I know that actually there is no past, present, or future as far as they are concerned. Everything is really happening at the same time. I feel that we all have two channels, a cosmic one and an ordinary one, and that we can tune into them at different times.
In one of the songs in the album – the last one, in fact – I was hoping to discover just how much the energy forces can be transferred or triggered from me to others. I call the piece “Mood,” and it goes like this:
And try with our thought powers to do something
That we never felt we could achieve
Let’s pick up something
Maybe a fork, a spoon or a key
Drift your mind into believing deeply
Want truly the phenomena to occur
Hold the fork or a key in your hands gently
And start repeating in your head and mind
“Bend . . . bend . . .”
Also run your fingers very smoothly
Up and down the object
Barely touching the metal
Stroking it tenderly
While repeating in your mind
“Bend . . . Bend . . .”
Now, if it’s bending, just be happy
And want it to continue
You are part of a fascinating effect
That is really hidden in many of us
But if it didn’t happen
Please don’t be disappointed
Because it doesn’t happen to everybody
Maybe it’s not the time
Or the Mood is not right
Sometimes it doesn’t even work for me.
It didn’t take long to find out that the song-poems really worked. We had put on the back of the record jacket: “All parties that have hitherto been involved take no responsibility for the experiments and their consequences.” This disclaimer actually was to cover contingencies both ways. If things bent as a result of a listener’s hearing the album, we naturally did not want to be responsible. But also, we didn’t want anyone to be disappointed if nothing happened. There was no way of telling.
Later, when the record did appear in Europe in 1974, it was played over the radio in Switzerland. Sure enough, the station received hundreds of phone calls from people reporting that cutlery and keys were bending in their homes, just as had happened previously with the BBC broadcasts and others. If this kind of reaction continues, it will be an important corroboration of the theory that there is a new force in the world, that it can be triggered in others, and that it should receive serious and immediate attention. That was why I had been so pleased about the news that Professor Taylor was planning a scientific study to follow up on some of those who had reported bending incidents in their homes during the BBC broadcasts. Here at least was something clear and verifiable that the critics couldn’t try to ascribe to trickery.
There was a lot to do in getting ready for the album, and in the meantime I had several TV appearances scheduled for Japan in February, as well as a repeat tour of various Scandinavian countries in March. The reaction in Japan turned out every bit as spectacular as in Europe and seemed to show that the language barrier had nothing to do with the way the energy forces worked. Again, there were unusual happenings in homes all over Japan as the television show was broadcast throughout the islands.
But again, none of this did anything to silence the critics who wanted to discredit everything I did. This was perhaps why I was waiting rather impatiently for the SRI test results to appear in Nature, because only then, I felt, would the scales tip in the other direction. But, when I returned from Japan to the United States, the attacks were increasing.
Time magazine published what I thought was a really vicious onslaught against the whole field of psychic phenomena. The article tried to put down every effort being made in the field, rather than looking at it from a balanced point of view. I was shocked that a responsible magazine would print a story like this. The writers at Time apparently had made no study of what had happened during the British and European broadcasts over the previous months – or if they had they failed to acknowledge it.
But none of this should have surprised me. Time had launched an all-out attack on me a year before, when Stanford Research Institute had told the editors that they would have to wait until the tests were presented to the scientific world. It seemed that most of Time’s position came from the faith it placed in a magician named James Randi, who claimed to be able to duplicate everything I did. Actually, he could give the illusion, by sleight of hand, of some of the things that I did, but he chose to ignore things that he couldn’t duplicate.
What struck me as strange was that Time seemed to be saying flatly that a magician was more of an authority than the scientists – and even that I was more clever than the entire Stanford Research Institute. This was very flattering, but I don’t see how anyone could buy it if they gave it any thought. Neither Randi nor Time, of course, gave any explanation of how watches and clocks that hadn’t been working for ten to fifty years started up, or how things bent miles away from where I was, or how other people had these energies triggered in them. They remained completely silent about this, as if pretending that none of it had happened, even though it had been splashed in newspaper headlines all over Europe.
But apparently some interesting things did happen as the publication day for Time‘s cover story approached. To give Time magazine credit, these events were described in the “Letter from the Publisher” section in the front of the issue. The alarm clock-radio that Time‘s science editor, Leon Jaroff, used to wake him up failed to go off three times in the week before publication, making him late for work each of those days. But more astonishing, as Time described it, both of the machines that print out Time‘s computerized copy processing system stopped working simultaneously against what Time called “astronomical odds,” just at the moment that the psychic phenomenon story was being fed into it. Right after that, the IBM computer “in effect swallowed the entire cover story: it developed a flaw in its programming that sent the copy circling endlessly through memory loops from which it could not be retrieved,” Time reported. It took thirteen hours to get the story running again.
In contrast to Time’s negative approach, the Daily Mail of London ran a poll for its readers about a week after the Time story. At that time, the paper was serializing parts of Dr. Andrija Puharich’s book about me, called Uri. On its front page, the Daily Mail ran a ballot to be marked “YES” or “NO” by its readers. In the ballot box was this explanation: “Controversy rages around the Uri Geller story seriaised this week in the Daily Mail. In America, scientists are split between those who regard Geller as simply a super-showman, and those who believe he possesses superhuman powers…. So now it’s your turn. Does Uri Geller have psychic powers? Mark your verdict YES or NO on the cutout coupon, and send it to us.”
When I heard about the poll, I was pessimistic. If I had just read about these energy forces instead of seeing or experiencing them, I probably would have voted a big, black “NO” myself. My guess was that not more than 20 or 25 per cent of the people answering would vote “YES,” although the preliminary results of the SRI tests were included in the Daily Mail story, and they were pretty convincing, even if incomplete.
On Friday, March 22, 1974, the results of the poll were published, and I have to admit I was astounded by them. The tabulation showed that 95.5 per cent of those voting believed I had genuine psychic powers, and only 4.5 per cent indicated they thought I was just using showman’s tricks. In announcing the results, the Daily Mail said: “Time and time again in the many letters sent to us, readers say that while they were skeptical at first, it was the Stanford Research Institute evidence which finally convinced them.”
But these were only incomplete, unofficial results from Stanford, and the publication in Nature still remained unannounced. The only news I could get was that the SRI paper was under consideration. It was now well over a year that this had been so, and the chances of its being accepted looked dim to me and to many others.
Meanwhile, I had completed my second Scandinavian tour and was working hard to get ready for the recording of the album, to be done in June. It was then that I learned that the Robert Stigwood Organization, the London production company that had produced both the film and the British stage version of Jesus Christ, Superstar, in addition to the film Tommy, had contracted for the film rights of my life story. I was pleased and enthusiastic about this, even though I guessed that the scientists who were studying me might think I should stick to the serious business of carrying out the scientific tests.
But I don’t see any real conflict here. I have these two sides to me, the down-to-earth side and the far-out side that involves these energy forces. I want to be involved in both of them. I believe there are good reasons for my public demonstrations, for the television, the film, the music, the poetry, the album. In just over one year’s time, I must have been viewed and heard by millions and millions of people on television and radio or in auditoriums. I think I have changed some of their thinking, opened up new horizons of the universe. You have to use energy to change something, especially the mind. I believe we all have to raise our consciousness, to look at these new cosmic things. I’m hoping the film, the record, this book, and my appearances will do more of this.
I honestly think that, if it weren’t for all the public activity, science would be likely to ignore the energy forces. The public is interested, curious. It wants to know. And that in turn will stimulate scientists, even if it bothers them at times.
I’m convinced that it was the astounding results of the BBC broadcasts that helped University of London Professor John Taylor and other scientists there to plan the new series of tests, not only for me but for the people who had been triggered by the broadcasts. In fact, in May 1974 Professor Taylor wrote an article for the BBC weekly magazine The Listener about why he felt this kind of psychic phenomena should be studied. He remarked that the results of the broadcasts “present a very serious challenge to the standard scientific understanding of the world around us.”
He continued: “Reconciling these baffling phenomena with established science is difficult. Some scientists have been so disturbed by this that they have become very hostile: others have declined to watch Geller performing, so as to avoid any chance of becoming convinced. . . . Those who hope to understand the world as rationally as possible need not be completely down-hearted at these developments. For, with the apparently well-developed powers, not only in the people I have mentioned but in others, too, it becomes possible to begin a careful analysis of how these phenomena actually occur. Once a causal explanation can be given, the rational view is saved.”
Professor Taylor knew that I planned to come to England in June to record the album there, and he wrote me a letter asking if I would be able to spend some time with him at the King’s College laboratory to do some experiments. At the same time, Dr. David Bohm and Dr. John Hasted wanted to know if I’d be willing to undergo some experiments with them. I arranged to do both, encouraged by the fact that all those involved were well respected in the scientific world.
Dr. Bohm, I learned, had been honored in the naming of the “Bohm effect” in nuclear fusion after him, and all his work in nuclear physics was highly regarded. So I knew I would be dealing with first-rate scientists who would be listened to when they announced their results.
Curious results of the earlier tour in Europe and Scandinavia kept coming to my attention. A Swedish housewife from Jonkoping, in central Sweden, had watched my broadcast there and wondered about how metal could be bent just by mental forces. She had successfully used an IUD, a copper contraceptive coil, for many years, and at the age of forty she counted on it to prevent adding any more children to the family. Just two months after my show had been on the air, her doctor told her that she was pregnant. Moreover, he reported that the copper coil was bent so much out of shape that it was useless as a contraceptive. At last report she had consulted a lawyer to see if she could sue me for damages.
Plans were moving along fast for the album and for the two series of tests at King’s College and Birkbeck College of the University of London. It was going to be a hectic schedule, with long sessions involving a large orchestra and all the complications of a full studio recording. Werner Schmid was producing the record, which involved the scoring and orchestration of the original music by Byron Janis and Del Newman. I would be doing the new series of University of London tests in between rehearsals and recording.
Brendan O’Regan, a science researcher who had followed me closely over many months, had lined up the scientific tests. I learned that the experiments were being set up with great care and that the conditions would be completely controlled so that there would be little chance of ambiguity in the results. In addition, there would be more concentration on the actual physical effect on metals and instruments. I had done some metal-bending at Stanford Research Institute, but the research there had concentrated on telepathy, and the paper submitted to Nature dealt with that part of the study.
Dr. Ted Bastin, who had followed many of the things that had happened with me and who had eagerly encouraged many British scientists to follow up on the research, felt that SRI was wrong to hold up release of the facts established in the tests. He thought that this served to increase the controversy and turned off many scientists who should be giving the energy forces serious attention. “Stanford Research Institute has let us down in being so secretive about their results,” he said.
With some scientists still voicing negative arguments in the media, there was no question that something ape preaching an all-out war was on between those who accepted the new forces and those who rejected them completely. There was a lot at stake for science, and even the critics admitted this. Time magazine’s attack on me had stated that, if what I was doing could be proved and established, “it raises serious and disturbing questions for all of modern science.” Business Week had thoughts along the same line: “To accept psychic phenomena would shake the foundations of science…. And it might even mean that man has a spiritual nature inexplicable to physicists and psychologists.”
My basic instincts told me that both scientific testing and communicating with the general public through appearances were important. I had to follow my instincts. There is no other way I can act. Maybe the trouble is that I’m a very down-to-earth person. Maybe I’m too human, and I cling too much to human needs. I love security, for instance. I would like to have a million dollars in the bank for that reason. I’m not selfish, I like to help people I’d like my parents to quit working. I like to help people who work with me in my office. I like comfort, and I like luxuries sometimes, though I don’t think I’m too concerned with them. But certainly I’d like to have a nice car and a boat and a house. Maybe this isn’t good. Maybe if I weren’t so down-to-earth, I would be operating at higher levels and would find myself in Tibet somewhere, wearing an orange robe and eating herbs up on a mountain. But I’m just not that way.
I know the importance of the science experiments, though, and the scientists lined up for my return to England in June 1974 were an impressive group.
At Birkbeck College, in addition to Dr. David Bohm, there would be Dr. John Hasted, head of the Department of Physics; A. V. Cleaver, who had been Director of the Rockets Division of Rolls Royce, Limited; Dr. Ted Bastin; and researcher Brendan O’Regan. They also had invited two important witnesses to the tests: Arthur Koestler, the famous author of Darkness at Noon, and Arthur C. Clarke, who wrote 2001 and many other science fiction books. There was no doubt that it would be an interesting group to work with.
At King’s College, Dr. John Taylor would be conducting independent tests. Taylor, as head of the Department of Mathematics, would be working with a staff of engineers and other members of the faculty.
Even though I had gotten over a lot of my edginess about scientists by this time, I was still a little nervous and always had that fear of failure. But this was something very important in history – to establish firmly the existence of a newly discovered energy force in the universe, and to resolve the warfare between the scientists who believed it existed and those who didn’t.
If these new experiments succeeded, and if Nature finally accepted the SRI results after all these long months, then we could all get together and figure out what the new force meant to the world and to mankind.
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“There is no spoon!”
“The world needs your amazing talents. I need them”
“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”