Uri in COMPUTERWORLD.

COMPUTERWORLD

Uri Geller puts his mind to computers

By John Desmond CW Staff

Uri Geller, the world’s most famous practitioner of psychokinesis, is known for such show business stunts as bending forks and spoons with his mind.

But he has also applied his powers to microelectronics with some surprising results.

Geller’s most recent experience with computers occurred last year in Tokyo, where he was taping a television special. The special showed Geller, during two days with Tokai University scientists, trying to erase a tape and trying to halt a Hewlett- Packard Co. graphics system that was displaying continuous aerial images of Tokyo Bay.

A videotape of the TV special, a copy of which Geller sent to Computerworld, shows Geller holding his clenched fist over a hard disk as if trying to physically rip out the stored information. It also shows him standing before the graphics system with two clenched fists raised, deep in concentration.

For four or five hours on the first day, Geller tried to erase the tape and to stop the graphics system’s image. “Nothing happened,” he said, and he didn’t know why.

On the second day, he concentrated for three or four hours and again, nothing happened. Then, giving it one last try, perhaps trying harder than before, Geller shouted, “Stop!” The computer’s image “stopped suddenly and never came back,” Geller said. The videotape does show the image freezing.

When the Tokai University scientists tried to run the tape again, Geller said, it always stopped at the same point on the tape where Geller had stopped it. The scientist who conducted the experiment was shocked at the results, Geller reported.

Geller’s first experience with computers had occurred during experiments at Stanford Research Institute International (SRI International) in 1974, with scientists Russell Targ and Hal Puthoff. In a recent interview, Geller said he was in a room trying to concentrate on bending some metal when he heard an alarm system go off. It turned out tapes on a computer that was located in a sealed basement room were erased. Geller, who was unaware of the computer, said the alarm went off at the precise moment he was upstairs concentrating.

Coincidence? “I believe that my powers caused that to happen. It was the first time I ever discovered that my powers could affect computers.”

But Targ said that the experiments at SRI International in 1974 “never confirmed Geller’s alleged ability to do psychokinesis in a lab.” He attributed the incident to coincidence: “Computers crash all the time.”

But Targ and Puthoff did report in the British scientific journal Nature that during their experiments with Geller, they observed “certain phenomena for which we have no scientific explanation.” (In the SRI experiments, Geller was not allowed to touch metal objects before attempting to bend or break them, as he usually does when he is demonstrating his powers.)

Soviets attempting psychokinesis

The 37-year-old Geller believes psychokinetic ability can be developed in others, and he thinks the Soviets are working on it. “I definitely believe that in the future, there will be people who will be able to do such things – erase tapes from 10,000 miles away.”

Or even closer. Geller said it may be more practical for the Soviets to put a group of trained people in a submarine outside territorial waters to try to affect computers on the mainland. He suggested it would take a group of people, not just one.

Asked why he believes such things, Geller said he has heard many rumors from Soviet dissidents now living in Israel, his native country. “Many stories are coming out that the Russians are training people like me,” Geller said. He acknowledges that he has chosen the “show business side” of demonstrating his powers and added that he does not really care if people believe him because he may be safer if they don’t.

Other than erasing tapes or stopping computers, Geller said he is not sure whether he could affect data processing equipment by changing programming or in other ways. “I do what I am told to do,” he said of his experiments. When he was in Tokyo, he was given a floppy disk to erase. He concentrated, “over and over in [his] mind saying ‘erase, erase,’ ” but could not do it.

University research into unexplained occurrences they call them “engineering anomalies” – does encompass the effect of psychokinesis on microelectronics. One university researcher, who asked not to be identified, said scientists are split into three camps on psychic research – those who think the whole idea is a fraud practised by magicians; serious scientist who reject such ideas without data to rely on; and serious scientists with a physics background (not only psychologists) who believe the area deserves more investigation.

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