The beginning of the controversy started back in Israel about five years ago when I did lecture-demonstrations in the Negev city of Beersheba. Several days after this appearance I read in a newspaper that somebody went to the local court demanding his money back, which was about two dollars, saying that what my posters stated was contrary to what actually happened on stage. He claimed that what he had seen was not real telepathy or psychokinesis. I personally did not take this seriously and the next thing I knew was that one of my fans sent the money to this man accompanying it with a short poem.
But as I became more popular in Israel I was surrounded by more critics. I was a perfect focal point for one sensational weekly called HAOLAM HAZE that started printing negative stories. They even featured me on the cover, titled “URI GELLER A CHEAT.” This was my first introduction to negative press. Actually all this only helped in raising people’s consciousness of me and it never affected my position and never will. As this was going on, some closed-minded Israeli scientists and professors joined in the controversy claiming that I was using tricks. Of course among those scientists was an amateur magician. That’s when I reaised that wherever I go magicians will probably be out to get me. Managers in Israel were making a lot of money from my lectures. When I left them they turned against me. One of them even threatened to blackmail me, if I didn’t pay him twenty thousand dollars. He said he would make up the dirtiest lies.
My friend Shipi has also been dragged into the controversy and has been made the target as allegedly the man who helps Uri deceive the public. Yet I have made hundreds of public appearances when he was thousands of miles away from me. He is not allowed to enter any laboratories where I am being tested. As a matter of fact, as I am writing this, I am in a plane heading for the west coast to tape the Mike Douglas Show. Shipi is in New York. Accompanying me are Frida, my secretary, and my mother who is visiting me from Israel. Will Shipi sneak me the answer of a drawing in Glenn Campbell’s head? Or will it be my secretary or my mother who will signal from the audience? It’s ridiculous.
The same Israeli weekly went on further with an unbelievable fabricated interview with Hanna Shtrang, Shipi’s sister, with headlines “THIS IS HOW WE HELPED HIM CHEAT.”
I have been tested by several professional magicians. Here is a letter from one of them:
TO: Executive Committee
Society of American Magicians, Assembly 30
FROM: Occult Investigations Committee
Society of American Magicians, Assembly 30
Artur Zorka, Chairman
SUBJECT: Investigation of URI GELLER
As chairman of the Occult Investigations Committee of this society, I hereby submit the findings of this committee regarding its investigation of Uri Geller.
On June 2, 1975, I, Artur Zorka, and several fellow magicians, witnessed a taping of a television program where Mr. Geller was interviewed as a guest. Unknown to Mr. Geller, five magicians were seated at various locations in the audience for the purpose of detecting the methods by which he claims to be able to produce his “phenomena.” Although we were impressed by his ability as an entertainer, conditions were less than ideal to make any final judgement.
Following the taping, however, Mr. Abb Dickson, a member of this committee, and I, were able to meet with Uri Geller privately for a personal interview and some controlled experiments. I underline controlled because the type of control put on by a magician is different than that of any other investigator. It is a control designed specifically to prevent fraud, by those who are trained for a profession in the art of deception.
Being a specialist in that particular area of magic which deals in the psychic, I took special care to set up tests under conditions which I believe could not produce results through trickery.
The tests took place in a room which contained no mirrors, no windows, and one door, by which we entered. The door was locked behind us. Mr. Dickson, Mr. Geller, and I sat facing each other. No one else was present or in the near vicinity of the testing area.
The first test involved Uri Geller’s attempt to bend a fork which I provided. The fork was made of forged steel, with a nylon reinforced handle. I specifically selected this fork because of its extreme resistance to physical stress. I placed the fork into Mr. Geller’s out-stretched left hand. His fingers curled around it, and in moments, without the fork leaving my sight for even an instant, it literally exploded, sending fragments of the handle across the room.
In tests for Uri Geller’s telepathic abilities, he was asked to turn his back while the committee, in turn made simple drawings. The object was for Mr. Geller to duplicate the drawings without having seen them. After a few false starts, Geller was able to make remarkably accurate facsimiles of the target drawings The target drawings were made on plain sheets of white paper, and when the drawings were finished they were covered. While the target drawings were being made, Geller was being carefully watched by the other member of the committee to make sure that there was no way for him to see the drawing. The person making the drawing was extremely careful as to what paper was used, how the pen was held, and to keep hand and arm movements to a minimum. In later tests Geller was able to duplicate on paper target designs of which I merely thought. No drawings on my part, in these later tests, were made.
In another test, I watched from a distance of no more than five feet, as a key bent beneath Geller’s touch. I was able to see, under these controlled conditions, the bending process actually taking place.
Therefore, it is the unanimous finding of this committee that although we, as magicians, can duplicate each of these test results using methods known by us, under the proper conditions . . . there is no way, based on our present collective knowledge, that any method of trickery could have been used to produce these effects under the conditions to which Uri Geller was subjected.
2685 Harrington Drive
Decatur, Georgia 30033
Of course he was condemned by the Society of American Magicians for writing this. Another professional magician wrote a positive book about me. After he tested me he concluded that what I effect is authentic phenomena.
I will state very simply that if I were cheating or using sleight of hand, chemicals, laser beams, or collaborators, by now I would have been caught red handed in the act a thousand times during my many radio shows, press interviews, in laboratories, in lecture-demonstrations in front of thousands of people or on TV appearances. To my knowledge, many times hidden cameras are filming my hands and magicians are planted in the audience to expose me. All accusations against me are allegations without basis in fact, misinterpretations and malicious charges. I have been shocked by how many times negative sources have tried to link my name with completely false circumstances (people, events, and situations that have been exaggerated or never existed). These are some of the things that are written and said to discredit me, but this is the price I apparently must pay for being a public figure and demonstrating the inexplicable. To readers who are interested in the scientific experiments that I underwent, all documents, reports and papers from various universities and institutes are gathered in a book edited by the science writer of Newsweek. [ The Geller Papers, edited by Charles Panati Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, 1976.]
Well, I have tried to sum up the debate that surrounds me. Sometimes to me it looks like a conspiracy raging. It seems as if some very prominent people are putting a lot of effort into trying to prove that what is real is merely children’s magic. I wonder are they threatened? Are they fanatics? Is there a sinister political motivation? Or is there a supernatural explanation to this controversy? hopefully one day I will know the answer. The following is a letter I wrote that was read by Tom Snyder on the “Tomorrow” show.
September 2, 1975
Dear Tom and Viewers of the “Tomorrow” Show:
Probably the two magicians who are being interviewed tonight will duplicate through magic tricks and deception the things which I cause to happen genuinely.
Many a time I have been challenged but I refuse to accept any challenge from seemingly pathetic, desperate, jealous magicians. They distort the facts, misinterpret me, call me fraud and charlatan and one of them, Mr. Randi has even used my name and Adolf Hitler’s in the same breath – and most importantly they refuse to submit themselves to scientific controlled testing – on one occasion they did so and failed – this they don’t talk about! I on the other hand gave myself to at least a dozen credible institutes and universities throughout the world such as Stanford Research Institute, UCLA., Kent State University, University of London etc., where I have passed all scientific controlled conditioned experiments In most cases the work has been published in prestigious scientific journals throughout the world.
It is also interesting that one American magician who is also a guest of the show this evening, put me under his own controlled tests where I have proved beyond a doubt that what I do is real. As a matter of fact many five and six year old children in different countries are being tested by scientists because they can also produce genuine metal bending phenomena – are they also magicians with concealed laser beams and chemicals who use sleight of hand ? ? ?
I am not a magician, never have been and I am not competing with magicians, now or ever.
Thousands of years ago Moses, with his given powers, turned his staff into a snake in front of the Pharaoh – the court magicians duplicated this with a magic trick, but then the snake of Moses devoured the magicians’ snakes. I believe the truth and the facts will devour trickery and lies.
So, to all my detractors I send love and good wishes as long as you spell my name correctly. Just keep pouring out all your duplications, angers, frustrations and lies – you are just making my name and the real phenomena a household word.
Love and Shalom
. . . Los Angeles Times, Monday July 28, 1975 . . .
“Laser physicists Russell Targ and Harold Puthoff of Menlo Park’s Stanford Research Institute admit their kind of research invites chicanery and trickery. They have taken special precautions, they said, to conduct the Stanford Research experiments under doubly strict laboratory conditions.
“Under these conditions, they said, no magician has been able to duplicate through trickery the psychic feat performed by Uri Geller and others. Some won’t even try.”
I do not include these few pages to defend myself, I don’t believe that I have to. I wrote them merely for the general knowledge of readers who may have been misled and confused by falsehood. If what is happening is worth this much opposition, then there must be something to it.
Either the people accept MY STORY or they don’t. There is no in between.
URI GELLER April 1976
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