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Uri Geller

Let's just get one thing clear from the get-go. Bending spoons is not a useful life skill.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, there's so much more to Uri Geller than just bending spoons.

For instance, there's the close soul-friendship with Michael Jackson. There's the Uri Geller brand bendable bicycle. There's the lifelong support of the arts, like Uri's adoption of a waifish blonde painter whose only source of inspiration is Michael Jackson and his family. There's the appearance on B-list celebrity game show "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here." There's the claim that Jesus Christ was born on September 11.

Uh... Maybe he shoulda stuck with the spoons.

Uri Geller falls into a very small career profile group called "professional psychic." Not "fortune teller," which is a dime a dozen. Geller doesn't especially tell fortunes.

No, Uri is simply a psychic. We're supposed to be so awed by his powers that we send him money.

You're not expected let him impregnate your prepubescent daughters or molest your teenage sons. You're not giving him the money because God says so. He doesn't want you to commit mass suicide. He's not trying to create a super-race of freaks to take over the world.

He just wants your money, and he's even willing to give you something vaguely resembling a product in exchange. I suppose you should be grateful.

Geller hit the scene in the 1970s, when he became a minor media sensation over a claim that he could bend spoons using the power of his mind. Geller, who claims to be related to Sigmund Freud, claims he has the following amazing powers:

  • Telepathy
  • Dowsing
  • Bending spoons
  • Fixing broken watches
  • Making compass needles move through means other than shaking the compass with his hand
  • Erasing magnetic media
  • Making seeds grow a wee little bit
Geller claimed his powers originated when he was four, on the occasion of a close encounter with a ball of light, possibly extraterrestrial in origin. His abilities were mostly along the lines of parlor tricks with which he amused his friends — i.e., spoon-bending, which apparently just came to him naturally.

After brief stints as a male model and a paratrooper, Geller realized that spoon-bending was his destiny. He began by making appearances in his native Israel, where a nation full of people living in daily fear for their lives were immediately entranced by his whimsical telekinetic feats.

Rather than use his super-powers of telekinesis and clairvoyance to assist his homeland in decades of war, struggle and slaughter, Geller decided that vaudville was a more appropriate life vocation. Unsatisfied with executing a series of David Copperfield-style stunts, Geller believed his manifest destiny included a specific mission to prove the scientific validity of ESP and other paranormal phenomena, such as the millennia-long tradition of spoon-bending.

Like a Mexican wrestling movie hero, Geller is a man of many diverse talents. When he's not busy bending spoons and befriending Jacko, Geller likes to try his hand at inventions, all of which seem to have slightly crackpot-ish sound to them. His inventions include the "Moneytron" counterfeit bill detector, the aforementioned bendable bike and a home earthquake detector (useful if you were wondering why your roof is collapsing). Other side businesses for Geller include litigiousness and painting.

Naturally, any superhero with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men must necessarily have an archenemy, as surely as night follows day. Geller's nemesis is known to the world as "The Amazing Randi" (his secret identity is "James Randi").

Randi would surely argue that he's the hero and Geller is the villain. Frankly, neither of them comes off particularly well to the dispassionate observer (i.e., those whose life priorities do not include plumbing the depths of bendy spoons). (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

An apparently joyless man, Randi has spent a considerable amount of time and energy debunking Geller's various and sundry claims about having superpowers. He's written books on the subject; his Web site is considerably devoted to the topic. He gets very cranky with those who deign to disagree with him. The fact that Randi raises some excellent points really doesn't make him any more likeable.

Geller likes to rattle off a list of "scientific" research to support his claims, but most of it is inconclusive. Randi, on the other hand, has a lot of science on his side but faces the inherent difficulty of proving a negative. The bottom line: Both men are zealots, locked into a mortal death grip of competitive narcissism, each so deeply in love with his world view that he cannot for a moment allow himself to stop talking about it.

What it all basically boils down to is the following sad fact: There's no real basis to think that Geller's claims have any scientific merit but it's not completely outside the realm of possibility.

Stranger things have happened, but that doesn't mean that every strange thing has a claim to credibility.

Perhaps the most difficult and far-fetched claim Geller has made is that Michael Jackson isn't a pedophile. According to Geller, who numbers hypnosis among his many talents, he has hypnotized Jackson and asked him about the allegations.

In a name-dropping column penned for a British newspaper, Geller wrote in confessional style that he had been treating Jackson hypnotically for some other undisclosed-but-most-assuredly-not-related-to-pedophilia craving, when he took it on himself, psychic vigilante-style, to rip open Jackson's mind and discover whether he molested little boys or not.

"I am not proud of any of this," Geller wrote. "It gives me no pleasure to say I betrayed a friend's trust by probing his psyche. But I am glad I did it, and I would do it again. Because I know I do not merely hope and trust in Michael Jackson's innocence, but I know. Because I have looked into his mind."

Kind of makes the whole spoon-bending controversy look silly, doesn't it?


20 Dec 1946 Uri Geller born.
Dec 1972 Russell Targ and Hal Puthoff test Uri Geller in the famous picture-drawing experiments at the Stanford Research Institute.
21 Oct 1998 Uri Geller Computer Active Weekly "This BO Thing Stinks."

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