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Uri Geller

Uri Geller

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Uri Geller is a self-proclaimed psychic
Psychic
A psychic is a person who professes an ability to perceive information hidden from the normal senses through extrasensory perception , or is said by others to have such abilities. It is also used to describe theatrical performers who use techniques such as prestidigitation, cold reading, and hot...

 known for his trademark television performances of spoon bending
Spoon bending
Spoon bending is the apparent deformation of objects, especially metal cutlery, either without physical force, or with less force than normally necessary...

 and other supposed psychic
Psychic
A psychic is a person who professes an ability to perceive information hidden from the normal senses through extrasensory perception , or is said by others to have such abilities. It is also used to describe theatrical performers who use techniques such as prestidigitation, cold reading, and hot...

 effects. Throughout the years, Geller has been accused of using simple conjuring tricks to achieve the effects of psychokinesis
Psychokinesis
The term psychokinesis , also referred to as telekinesis with respect to strictly describing movement of matter, sometimes abbreviated PK and TK respectively, is a term...

 and telepathy
Telepathy
Telepathy , is the induction of mental states from one mind to another. The term was coined in 1882 by the classical scholar Fredric W. H. Myers, a founder of the Society for Psychical Research, and has remained more popular than the more-correct expression thought-transference...

. Geller's career as an entertainer has spanned almost four decades, with television shows and appearances in many countries. Geller used to call his abilities "psychic," but now prefers to refer to himself as a "mystifier" and entertainer.

Early life


Born in Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv , officially Tel Aviv-Yafo , is the second most populous city in Israel, with a population of 404,400 on a land area of . The city is located on the Israeli Mediterranean coastline in west-central Israel. It is the largest and most populous city in the metropolitan area of Gush Dan, with...

, British Mandate of Palestine, to Hungarian Jewish
History of the Jews in Hungary
Hungarian Jews have existed since at least the 11th century. After struggling against discrimination throughout the Middle Ages, by the early 20th century the community grew to be 5% of Hungary's population , and were prominent in science, the arts and business...

 parents, Geller is the son of Itzhaak Geller (Gellér Izsák), a retired army sergeant major, and Manzy Freud (Freud Manci). It is claimed that Geller is a distant relative of Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud , born Sigismund Schlomo Freud , was an Austrian neurologist who founded the discipline of psychoanalysis...

 on his mother's side.

At the age of 11, Geller's family moved to Nicosia, Cyprus, where he attended a high school
High school
High school is a term used in parts of the English speaking world to describe institutions which provide all or part of secondary education. The term is often incorporated into the name of such institutions....

, The Terra Santa College and learned English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

. At the age of 18 he served as a paratrooper in the Israeli Army
Paratroopers Brigade (IDF)
The Paratroopers Brigade , also known as the 35th Brigade, is a unit of paratroopers within the Israel Defense Forces , and forms a major part of the Infantry Corps....

, and was wounded in action during the 1967 Six-Day War
Six-Day War
The Six-Day War , also known as the June War, 1967 Arab-Israeli War, or Third Arab-Israeli War, was fought between June 5 and 10, 1967, by Israel and the neighboring states of Egypt , Jordan, and Syria...

. He worked as a photographic model
Model (person)
A model , sometimes called a mannequin, is a person who is employed to display, advertise and promote commercial products or to serve as a subject of works of art....

 in 1968 and 1969; during that time, he began to perform for small audiences as a nightclub entertainer, becoming well known in Israel.

Geller first started to perform in theatres, public halls, auditoriums, military bases and universities in Israel. By the 1970s, Geller had become known in the United States and Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

. He also received attention from the scientific community
Scientific community
The scientific community consists of the total body of scientists, its relationships and interactions. It is normally divided into "sub-communities" each working on a particular field within science. Objectivity is expected to be achieved by the scientific method...

, whose members were interested in examining his reported psychic abilities. At the peak of his career in the 1970s, he worked full-time, performing for television audiences worldwide.

Career


Geller gained notice for demonstrating on television what he claimed to be psychokinesis
Psychokinesis
The term psychokinesis , also referred to as telekinesis with respect to strictly describing movement of matter, sometimes abbreviated PK and TK respectively, is a term...

, dowsing
Dowsing
Dowsing is a type of divination employed in attempts to locate ground water, buried metals or ores, gemstones, oil, gravesites, and many other objects and materials, as well as so-called currents of earth radiation , without the use of scientific apparatus...

, and telepathy
Telepathy
Telepathy , is the induction of mental states from one mind to another. The term was coined in 1882 by the classical scholar Fredric W. H. Myers, a founder of the Society for Psychical Research, and has remained more popular than the more-correct expression thought-transference...

. His performance included bending spoons
Spoon bending
Spoon bending is the apparent deformation of objects, especially metal cutlery, either without physical force, or with less force than normally necessary...

, describing hidden drawings, and making watches stop or run faster. Geller said he performs these feats through will power and the strength of his mind. Magicians have said that his performances can be duplicated using stage magic tricks.

In 1975 Geller published his first autobiography, My Story, and acknowledged that, in his early career, his manager talked him into adding a magic trick to make his performances last longer. This trick involved Geller appearing to guess audience members' license plate numbers, when in fact his manager had given them to him ahead of time. One of Geller's most prominent critics is the skeptic James Randi
James Randi
James Randi is a Canadian-American stage magician and scientific skeptic best known as a challenger of paranormal claims and pseudoscience. Randi is the founder of the James Randi Educational Foundation...

, who has accused Geller repeatedly of trying to pass off magic tricks as paranormal displays. Randi often duplicated Geller's performances using stage magic techniques.

Geller starred in the 2001 horror film Sanitarium, directed by Johannes Roberts
Johannes Roberts
Johannes Roberts is a British film director and writer best known for his feature film F .-Biography:Roberts directed the feature film F released by Optimum Releasing in the UK....

 and James Eaves. In May 2002, he appeared as a contestant on the first series of the British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 reality TV show I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!, where he finished in eighth place. In 2005, Geller starred in Uri's Haunted Cities: Venice, a XI Pictures/Lion TV production for Sky One
Sky One
Sky1 is the flagship BSkyB entertainment channel available in the United Kingdom and Ireland.The channel first launched on 26 April 1982 as Satellite Television, and is the fourth-oldest TV channel in the United Kingdom, behind BBC One , ITV and BBC Two...

, which led to a behind the scenes release in early 2008 called Cursed; both productions were directed by Jason Figgis. In early 2007, Geller hosted a reality show in Israel called The Successor , where the contestants performed magic tricks
Magic (illusion)
Magic is a performing art that entertains audiences by staging tricks or creating illusions of seemingly impossible or supernatural feats using natural means...

 and Geller was accused of "trickery." In July 2007 NBC
NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

 signed Geller and Criss Angel
Criss Angel
Christopher Nicholas Sarantakos , better known by the stage name Criss Angel, is an American illusionist, writer, director, musician, and actor...

 for Phenomenon
Phenomenon (TV series)
Phenomenon is a competition show judged by mystifier Uri Geller and illusionist Criss Angel and hosted by Tim Vincent which debuted live on Wednesday, October 24, 2007 on NBC. The show featured ten contestants competing to become the next great mentalist, to be determined by viewers voting by phone...

, to search for the next great mentalist; contestant Mike Super won the position. In January 2008, Geller began hosting the TV show The Next Uri Geller, broadcast by Pro7 in Germany.

In February 2008, Geller began a show on Dutch television called De Nieuwe Uri Geller, which shares a similar format to its German counterpart. The goal of the programme is to find the best mentalist in the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

. In March 2008, he started the same show in Hungary
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

 (A kiválasztott in Hungarian
Hungarian language
Hungarian is a Uralic language, part of the Ugric group. With some 14 million speakers, it is one of the most widely spoken non-Indo-European languages in Europe....

). During the show, Geller speaks in both Hungarian and English. Geller also performs his standard routines of allegedly making stopped watches start, spoons jump from televisions, and tables move. Geller co-produced the TV show Book of Knowledge, released in April 2008.
In October 2009, a similar show, called The Successor of Uri Geller. began on Greek television.

Personal life


Geller lives in Sonning-on-Thames, Berkshire
Berkshire
Berkshire is a historic county in the South of England. It is also often referred to as the Royal County of Berkshire because of the presence of the royal residence of Windsor Castle in the county; this usage, which dates to the 19th century at least, was recognised by the Queen in 1957, and...

 in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

. He claims to have been a vegetarian since 1976; however, he still eats fish making him a pescetarian. He is also trilingual, speaking English, Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

, and Hungarian
Hungarian language
Hungarian is a Uralic language, part of the Ugric group. With some 14 million speakers, it is one of the most widely spoken non-Indo-European languages in Europe....

. In an appearance on Esther Rantzen
Esther Rantzen
Esther Louise Rantzen CBE is an English journalist and television presenter who is best known for presenting the BBC television series That's Life!, and for her work in various charitable causes. She is founder of the child protection charity ChildLine, and also advocates the work of the Burma...

's 1996 television talk show Esther, Geller claimed to have suffered from anorexia nervosa
Anorexia nervosa
Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by refusal to maintain a healthy body weight and an obsessive fear of gaining weight. Although commonly called "anorexia", that term on its own denotes any symptomatic loss of appetite and is not strictly accurate...

 for several years. In addition, he has written 16 fiction
Fiction
Fiction is the form of any narrative or informative work that deals, in part or in whole, with information or events that are not factual, but rather, imaginary—that is, invented by the author. Although fiction describes a major branch of literary work, it may also refer to theatrical,...

 and non fiction
Non Fiction
"Non Fiction" is a single released by The Pillows on September 14, 2005. The B-side "Heart Is There" is a cover of the Nine Miles song of the same name. An alternate version of "My Girl" later appeared on the album My Foot.-Tracks:...

 books.

Geller owns a 1976 Cadillac adorned with thousands of pieces of bent tableware given to him by celebrities or otherwise having significance to him. This includes spoons from such people as John Lennon
John Lennon
John Winston Lennon, MBE was an English musician and singer-songwriter who rose to worldwide fame as one of the founding members of The Beatles, one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music...

 and the Spice Girls
Spice Girls
The Spice Girls were a British pop girl group formed in 1994. The group consisted of Victoria Beckham , Melanie Brown, Emma Bunton, Melanie Chisholm and Geri Halliwell. They were signed to Virgin Records and released their debut single, "Wannabe" in 1996, which hit number-one in more than 30...

, as well as those with which Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

 and John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

 supposedly ate.
His friend Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson
Michael Joseph Jackson was an American recording artist, entertainer, and businessman. Referred to as the King of Pop, or by his initials MJ, Jackson is recognized as the most successful entertainer of all time by Guinness World Records...

 was best man when Geller renewed his wedding vows in 2001.
Geller also claimed on a BBC Radio 5 Live
BBC Radio 5 Live
BBC Radio 5 Live is the BBC's national radio service that specialises in live BBC News, phone-ins, and sports commentaries...

 interview with Nicky Campbell
Nicky Campbell
Nicholas Andrew Argyll "Nicky" Campbell is a Scottish radio and television presenter and journalist. He is known for his time presenting on programmes such as the consumer affairs programme Watchdog...

 on the morning after Michael Jackson's death
Death of Michael Jackson
On June 25, 2009, American singer Michael Jackson died of acute propofol intoxication after he suffered a respiratory arrest at his home in the Holmby Hills neighborhood in Los Angeles. His personal physician, Conrad Murray, said he found Jackson in his room, not breathing, but with a faint pulse,...

 (25 June 2009) that Jackson had agreed to let Geller hypnotise him to help him with a problem. Geller said that he did something "highly unethical" by asking him whether he had ever "touched a child in an inappropriate way." Geller says that Jackson immediately denied it under hypnosis. Geller also negotiated the famous TV interview between Jackson with the journalist Martin Bashir
Martin Bashir
Martin Bashir is a British journalist and media personality, currently with NBC News as a contributor for its Dateline program, and an afternoon anchor for MSNBC, hosting Martin Bashir...

: Living with Michael Jackson
Living with Michael Jackson
Living with Michael Jackson is a Granada Television documentary, in which British journalist Martin Bashir interviewed Michael Jackson over a span of eight months, from May 2002 to January 2003...

.

Geller is president of International Friends of Magen David Adom, a group that lobbied the International Committee of the Red Cross
International Committee of the Red Cross
The International Committee of the Red Cross is a private humanitarian institution based in Geneva, Switzerland. States parties to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols of 1977 and 2005, have given the ICRC a mandate to protect the victims of international and...

 to recognise Magen David Adom
Magen David Adom
The Magen David Adom is Israel's national emergency medical, disaster, ambulance and blood bank service. The name means "Red Star of David"...

 ("Red Star of David") as a humanitarian relief organisation. After in 1997 trying to help Coca-Cola League One football club Exeter City
Exeter City F.C.
Exeter City Football Club is an English football club, based in Exeter, which is owned by its fans through the Exeter City Supporters Trust.The club was a member of the Football League from 1920 to 2003...

 win a crucial end of season game by placing "energy-infused" crystals behind the goals at Exeter's ground (Exeter lost the game 5–1), he was appointed co-chairman of the club in 2002. The club were relegated to the Nationwide Conference in May 2003, where they remained for five years. He has since severed formal ties with the club.

Following the death of Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson
Michael Joseph Jackson was an American recording artist, entertainer, and businessman. Referred to as the King of Pop, or by his initials MJ, Jackson is recognized as the most successful entertainer of all time by Guinness World Records...

, the British television station ITV
ITV
ITV is the major commercial public service TV network in the United Kingdom. Launched in 1955 under the auspices of the Independent Television Authority to provide competition to the BBC, it is also the oldest commercial network in the UK...

 announced plans to screen an interview with Geller regarding his relationship with Jackson, entitled My Friend Michael Jackson: Uri's Story.

Paranormal claims


Geller has claimed his feats are the result of paranormal
Paranormal
Paranormal is a general term that designates experiences that lie outside "the range of normal experience or scientific explanation" or that indicates phenomena understood to be outside of science's current ability to explain or measure...

 powers given to him by extraterrestrial
Extraterrestrial life
Extraterrestrial life is defined as life that does not originate from Earth...

s, but critics such as James Randi
James Randi
James Randi is a Canadian-American stage magician and scientific skeptic best known as a challenger of paranormal claims and pseudoscience. Randi is the founder of the James Randi Educational Foundation...

 argue and have demonstrated that Geller's tricks can be replicated with stage magic and are simply "parlour tricks".

In the early 1970s, an article in The Jerusalem Post
The Jerusalem Post
The Jerusalem Post is an Israeli daily English-language broadsheet newspaper, founded on December 1, 1932 by Gershon Agron as The Palestine Post. The daily readership numbers do not approach those of the major Hebrew newspapers....

accused Geller of being a fraud for claiming that his feats were telepathic. In addition, a 1974 article also hints at Geller's abilities being trickery. The article alleged that his manager Shipi Shtrang (whom he called his brother at the time) and Shipi's sister Hannah Shtrang secretly helped in Geller's performances. Eventually, Geller married Hannah and they had children.

In 1975, two scientists (Russell Targ
Russell Targ
Russell Targ is an American physicist and author, an ESP researcher, and pioneer in the earliest development of the laser....

 and Harold Puthoff from the Stanford Research Institute) said they were convinced that Geller's demonstrations were genuine. Since that time, however, notable scientists, various magicians, and skeptics
Scientific skepticism
Scientific skepticism is the practice of questioning the veracity of claims lacking empirical evidence or reproducibility, as part of a methodological norm pursuing "the extension of certified knowledge". For example, Robert K...

 have suggested possible ways in which Geller could have tricked the scientists using misdirection techniques. These critics, who include Richard Feynman
Richard Feynman
Richard Phillips Feynman was an American physicist known for his work in the path integral formulation of quantum mechanics, the theory of quantum electrodynamics and the physics of the superfluidity of supercooled liquid helium, as well as in particle physics...

, James Randi
James Randi
James Randi is a Canadian-American stage magician and scientific skeptic best known as a challenger of paranormal claims and pseudoscience. Randi is the founder of the James Randi Educational Foundation...

 and Martin Gardner
Martin Gardner
Martin Gardner was an American mathematics and science writer specializing in recreational mathematics, but with interests encompassing micromagic, stage magic, literature , philosophy, scientific skepticism, and religion...

, have accused him of using his demonstrations fraud
Fraud
In criminal law, a fraud is an intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual; the related adjective is fraudulent. The specific legal definition varies by legal jurisdiction. Fraud is a crime, and also a civil law violation...

ulently outside of the entertainment business. Nobel Prize
Nobel Prize in Physics
The Nobel Prize in Physics is awarded once a year by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895 and awarded since 1901; the others are the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Nobel Prize in Literature, Nobel Peace Prize, and...

-winning physicist Richard Feynman
Richard Feynman
Richard Phillips Feynman was an American physicist known for his work in the path integral formulation of quantum mechanics, the theory of quantum electrodynamics and the physics of the superfluidity of supercooled liquid helium, as well as in particle physics...

, who was an amateur magician, wrote in Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!
Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!
"Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!": Adventures of a Curious Character is an edited collection of reminiscences by the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman. The book, released in 1985, covers a variety of instances in Feynman's life...

(1985) that Geller was unable to bend a key for him and his son. Some of his claims have been described by watchmakers as restarting stopped mechanical clocks by moving them around.

Geller is well known for making predictions regarding sporting events. Skeptic James Randi and British tabloid newspaper The Sun
The Sun (newspaper)
The Sun is a daily national tabloid newspaper published in the United Kingdom and owned by News Corporation. Sister editions are published in Glasgow and Dublin...

have demonstrated the teams and players he chooses to win most often lose. John Atkinson explored "predictions" Geller made over 30 years and concluded "Uri more often than not scuppered [i.e., destroyed] the chances of sportsmen and teams he was trying to help." This was pointed out by one of Randi's readers, who called it "The Curse of Uri Geller."

During the Euro 96 football game between Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 and England at Wembley
Wembley
Wembley is an area of northwest London, England, and part of the London Borough of Brent. It is home to the famous Wembley Stadium and Wembley Arena...

, Geller, who was hovering overhead in a helicopter, claimed that he managed to move the ball from the penalty spot when Scotland's Gary McAllister
Gary McAllister
Gary McAllister MBE is a Scottish former professional footballer.McAllister played primarily as a midfielder, in a successful career spanning over nineteen years. He started his career at local side Motherwell before moving south of the border to Leicester City at the age of 20...

 was about to take a penalty kick, something that, if true, would be against the rules of Association football, as the ball would then have been "Out of Play". The player ended up missing the chance to equalise for Scotland.

In another notable instance, in 1992, Geller was asked to investigate the kidnapping of Hungarian model Helga Farkas; after he predicted she would be found alive and in good health, she was found to have been murdered by her kidnappers. Geller was a friend of Bruce Bursford
Bruce Bursford
Bruce Bursford was a British sportsman who broke the record for the fastest speed on a bicycle at 334.6 km/h in 1995....

 and helped him "train his mind" during some cycling speed record-breaking bids in the 1990s.

In 2007, skeptics observed that Geller appeared to have dropped his claims that he does not perform magic tricks. Randi highlighted a quotation from the November 2007 issue of the magazine Magische Welt (Magic World) in which Geller said: "I'll no longer say that I have supernatural powers. I am an entertainer. I want to do a good show. My entire character has changed."

In a later interview, Geller told Telepolis
Telepolis
Telepolis is the name of a German Internet magazine, published by the Heinz Heise Verlag since the beginning of 1996. It was founded by journalists Armin Medosch and Florian Rötzer and deals with privacy, science, culture, internet-related and general politics and media.Telepolis received the...

, "I said to this German magazine, so what I did say, that I changed my character, to the best of my recollection, and I no longer say that I do supernatural things. It doesn't mean that I don't have powers. It means that I don't say 'it's supernatural', I say 'I'm a mystifier!' That's what I said. And the sceptics turned it around and said, 'Uri Geller said he's a magician!' I never said that." In that interview, Geller further explained that when he is asked how he does his stunts, he tells children to "Forget the paranormal. Forget spoon bending! Instead of that, focus on school! Become a positive thinker! Believe in yourself and create a target! Go to university! Never smoke! And never touch drugs! And think of success!"

In February 2008, Geller stated in the TV show The Next Uri Geller (a German version of The Successor) that he did not have any supernatural powers, before winking to the camera.

Parallels to stage magic


Geller admits, "Sure, there are magicians who can duplicate [my performances] through trickery." He has claimed that even though his spoon bending can be repeated using trickery, he uses psychic powers to achieve his results. Skeptic James Randi
James Randi
James Randi is a Canadian-American stage magician and scientific skeptic best known as a challenger of paranormal claims and pseudoscience. Randi is the founder of the James Randi Educational Foundation...

 has stated that if Geller is truly using his mind to perform these feats, "He is doing it the hard way."

Stage magicians note several methods of creating the illusion
Illusion
An illusion is a distortion of the senses, revealing how the brain normally organizes and interprets sensory stimulation. While illusions distort reality, they are generally shared by most people....

 of a spoon spontaneously bending. Most common is the practice of misdirection, an underlying principle of many stage magic
Magic (illusion)
Magic is a performing art that entertains audiences by staging tricks or creating illusions of seemingly impossible or supernatural feats using natural means...

 tricks. There are many ways in which a bent spoon can be presented to an audience as to give the appearance it was manipulated using supernatural powers. One way is through brief moments of distraction in which a magician can physically bend a spoon unseen by the audience, before gradually revealing the bend to create the illusion that the spoon is bending before the viewers' eyes. Another way is to pre-bend the spoon, perhaps by heating it, reducing the amount of force that needed to be applied to bend it manually. It is also possible to chemically bend the spoon by applying a corrosive to one edge so that the spoon weakens and bends in a set period of time.

During telepathic drawing demonstrations, Geller claimed the ability to read the minds of subjects as they draw a picture. Although in these demonstrations he cannot see the picture being drawn, he is sometimes present in the room, and on these occasions can see the subjects as they draw. Critics argue this may allow Geller to infer common shapes from pencil movement and sound, with the power of suggestion doing the rest.

Watchmakers have noted that "many supposedly broken watches had merely been stopped by gummy oil, and simply holding them in the hand would warm the oil enough to soften it and allow watches to resume ticking."

In November 2008, Geller accepted an award during a convention of magicians, the Services to Promotion of Magic Award from the Berglas Foundation. In his acceptance speech, Geller said that if he hadn't had psychic powers then he "must be the greatest" to have been able to fool journalists, scientists and Berglas
David Berglas
David Berglas is a psychological illusionist and mentalist.-Early Life:Berglas escaped from Nazi Germany and fled to Britain at the age of 12. He later joined US Army in WWII, as an intelligence officer, after lying about his age...

 himself.

Scientific testing


Geller's performances of drawing duplication and cutlery bending usually take place under informal conditions such as television interviews. During his early career he allowed some scientists to investigate his claims. A study by Stanford Research Institute (now known as SRI International) conducted by researchers Harold E. Puthoff
Harold E. Puthoff
Harold E. Puthoff is an American physicist who, earlier in his career was involved in research on paranormal topics. In 1967, Puthoff earned a Ph.D. from Stanford University...

 and Russell Targ
Russell Targ
Russell Targ is an American physicist and author, an ESP researcher, and pioneer in the earliest development of the laser....

 concluded that he had performed successfully enough to warrant further serious study, and the "Geller-effect" was coined to refer to the particular type of abilities they felt had been demonstrated.

In An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural
An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural
An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural is a 1995 book by James Randi with a foreword by Arthur C. Clarke. It serves as a reference for various pseudoscience and paranormal subjects....

,
Randi wrote: "Hal Puthoff and Russell Targ, who studied Mr. Geller at the Stanford Research Institute were aware, in one instance at least, that they were being shown a magician's trick by Geller." Moreover, Randi explained, "Their protocols for this 'serious' investigation of the powers claimed by Geller were described by Dr. Ray Hyman, who investigated the project on behalf of the Department of Defense's Advanced Research Projects Agency, as 'sloppy and inadequate.'" Puthoff and Targ complained in a book about Hyman's procedures. They had suggested that Hyman and co. visit SRI and conduct their own experiments on Geller. This they did, and Hyman and his two colleagues spent ‘a couple of hours’ performing their own experiments on Geller. Hyman would not have observed any testing by Puthoff and Targ. Hyman's experiments were observed and video taped by Puthoff and Targ, who said that they were conducted in an ‘informal manner’ and ‘largely uncontrolled’.

Critics of this testing include psychologists
Psychology
Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Its immediate goal is to understand individuals and groups by both establishing general principles and researching specific cases. For many, the ultimate goal of psychology is to benefit society...

 Dr. David Marks
David Marks (psychologist)
David F. Marks is a psychologist who is largely concerned with four areas of psychological research - health psychology, cognitive psychology, parapsychology and IQ score variations...

 and Dr. Richard Kammann, who published a description of how Geller could have cheated in an informal test of his so-called psychic powers in 1977. Their 1978 article in Nature
Nature (journal)
Nature, first published on 4 November 1869, is ranked the world's most cited interdisciplinary scientific journal by the Science Edition of the 2010 Journal Citation Reports...

and 1980 book The Psychology of the Psychic
The Psychology of the Psychic
The Psychology of the Psychic is a work by David Marks and Dr Richard Kammann, written while both were lecturers in psychology at New Zealand's University of Otago....

(2nd ed. 2000) described how a normal explanation was possible for Geller's alleged powers of telepathy. Marks and Kammann found evidence that while at SRI Geller was allowed to peek through a hole in the laboratory wall separating Geller from the drawings he was being invited to reproduce. The drawings he was asked to reproduce were placed on a wall opposite the peep hole which the investigators Targ and Puthoff had stuffed with cotton gauze. In addition to this error, the investigators had also allowed Geller access to a two-way intercom enabling Geller to listen to the investigators' conversation during the time when they were choosing and/or displaying the target drawings. These basic errors indicate the high importance of ensuring that psychologists, magicians or other people with an in-depth knowledge of perception, who are trained in methods for blocking sensory cues, be present during the testing of psychics.

In 1974, William E. Cox organized a Society of American Magicians to 'investigate false claims of ESP'. Geller was tested by several magicians of the Society of American Magicians and impressed them by some positive test results which their scrutiny could find no fraud. For example, William E. Cox held a robust key with one finger on a table and watched as it bent with Geller in view, and noticed no trickery.

The Tonight Show failure


Geller was unable to bend any tableware during a 1973 appearance on The Tonight Show
The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson
The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson is a talk show hosted by Johnny Carson under the Tonight Show franchise from 1962 to 1992. It originally aired during late-night....

in which the spoons he was to bend had been pre-selected by Johnny Carson
Johnny Carson
John William "Johnny" Carson was an American television host and comedian, known as host of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson for 30 years . Carson received six Emmy Awards including the Governor Award and a 1985 Peabody Award; he was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1987...

. Earlier in his career, Carson had been an amateur stage magician, and he consulted James Randi for advice on how to thwart potential trickery. In 1993 Randi explained in "Secrets of the Psychics
Secrets of the Psychics
Secrets of the Psychics was a PBS NOVA episode following James Randi's work. Also appearing in stock footage are Peter Popoff, Uri Geller, and many others....

" for the NOVA
NOVA (TV series)
Nova is a popular science television series from the U.S. produced by WGBH Boston. It can be seen on the Public Broadcasting Service in the United States, and in more than 100 other countries...

television series: "I was asked to prevent any trickery. I told them to provide their own props and not to let Geller or his people anywhere near them." A clip of this incident was televised on the NBC show Phenomenon
Phenomenon (TV series)
Phenomenon is a competition show judged by mystifier Uri Geller and illusionist Criss Angel and hosted by Tim Vincent which debuted live on Wednesday, October 24, 2007 on NBC. The show featured ten contestants competing to become the next great mentalist, to be determined by viewers voting by phone...

. This two-minute clip has been widely circulated on the Internet since James Randi acquired permission to use it from NBC, and Carson paid for the videotape transfer. In his television special Secrets of the Psychics, Geller is shown failing at psychic "hand dowsing" (i.e. locating sealed vessels containing water without touching them), not metal bending.

Other Noteworthy Television Appearances


Geller visited New Zealand in the late '70s and appeared briefly for an interview on a live NZ regional TV news item. Geller's interviewer (Phillip Sherry) opened with "Mr Geller, Dr David Marks of the Department of Psychology, University of Otago [Dunedin] has stated that if you are prepared to visit his laboratory, he will be able to determine whether you have any paranormal powers...". Geller's immediate and only (non-verbal) response was to stand up, remove and drop his remote microphone into a glass of water on the table in front of him, and walk out of the TV interview room.

Controversial performances



As part of a mass demonstration, Geller’s photograph appeared on the cover of the magazine ESP with the caption “On Sept. 1, 1976 at 11pm E.D.T. THIS COVER CAN BEND YOUR KEYS." According to editor Howard Smukler, over 300 positive responses were received, many including bent objects and detailed descriptions of the surrounding circumstances including the bending of the key to the city of Providence, Rhode Island
Providence, Rhode Island
Providence is the capital and most populous city of Rhode Island and was one of the first cities established in the United States. Located in Providence County, it is the third largest city in the New England region...

.

Noel Edmonds
Noel Edmonds
Noel Ernest Edmonds, is an English broadcaster and executive, who made his name as a DJ on BBC Radio 1 in the UK. He has presented many light entertainment television programmes, including Multi-Coloured Swap Shop, Top of the Pops, The Late, Late Breakfast Show, Telly Addicts, Noel's Saturday...

 was a television prankster who often used hidden cameras to record celebrities in Candid Camera
Candid Camera
Candid Camera is a hidden camera/practical joke reality television series created and produced by Allen Funt, which initially began on radio as Candid Microphone June 28, 1947...

-like situations for his television programme Noel's House Party
Noel's House Party
Noel's House Party was a BBC television light entertainment show hosted by Noel Edmonds that was broadcast live on Saturday evenings throughout the 1990s. It was set in a large house in the fictional village of Crinkley Bottom, leading to much innuendo. The show was broadcast during the...

. In 1996, Edmonds planned a stunt in which shelves would fall from the walls of a room while Geller was in it. The cameras recorded footage of Geller from angles he was not expecting, and they showed Geller grasping a spoon firmly with both hands as he stood up to display a bend in it.

In late 2006 and early 2007, Geller starred in The Successor, an Israeli television show to find his "successor." During one segment, a compass was made to move, purportedly as a result of Geller's paranormal abilities. However, critics say slow motion footage of the episode showed Geller attaching a magnet to his thumb immediately prior to the compass's movement. Geller denied that this was sleight of hand
Sleight of hand
Sleight of hand, also known as prestidigitation or legerdemain, is the set of techniques used by a magician to manipulate objects such as cards and coins secretly....

, and said he welcomed the "mystical aura" that the publicity gave him.

Geller performed the same compass trick in 2000 on ABC TV
American Broadcasting Company
The American Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network. Created in 1943 from the former NBC Blue radio network, ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Company and is part of Disney-ABC Television Group. Its first broadcast on television was in 1948...

's The View, which was later duplicated by Randi on the same show the following week.

Litigation


Geller has litigated or threatened legal action against some of his critics with mixed success. These included libel allegations against Randi and illusionist Gérard Majax
Gérard Majax
Gérard Faier, known as Gérard Majax is one of the most famous French illusionist.He has appeared in many television programs, magic demonstrations, and movies....

.

In 1971, a mechanical engineering student called Uri Goldstein attended one of Geller's shows, and subsequently sued the show's promoters for breach of contract. The case came before the civil court in Beersheba, Geller was not present as the summons had been sent to the office of the promoter Miki Peled, who had ignored it as being trivial. As Geller nor Peled were there to defend themselves, Goldstein was awarded 27.5 lira (around $5) for breach of contract. Later, Goldstein admitted that he went to the show specifically with the intent of suing to get his money back, and he had already found a lawyer to represent him prior to attending the performance.

In the early 1990s, Geller filed suits against Prometheus Books
Prometheus Books
Prometheus Books is a publishing company founded in August 1969 by Paul Kurtz, who also founded the Council for Secular Humanism and co-founded the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. He is currently the chairman of all three organizations. Prometheus Books publishes a range of books, including many...

, Victor J. Stenger
Victor J. Stenger
Victor John Stenger is an American particle physicist, outspoken atheist, and author, now active in philosophy and popular religious skepticism....

, and Paul Kurtz
Paul Kurtz
Paul Kurtz is a prominent American skeptic and secular humanist. He has been called "the father of secular humanism." He is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the State University of New York at Buffalo, having previously also taught at Vassar, Trinity, and Union colleges, and the New School for...

 for statements in their skeptical
Scientific skepticism
Scientific skepticism is the practice of questioning the veracity of claims lacking empirical evidence or reproducibility, as part of a methodological norm pursuing "the extension of certified knowledge". For example, Robert K...

 books; Geller eventually settled, paying more than $20,000 in costs to the publisher.

In a 1989 interview with a Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

ese newspaper, Randi was quoted as saying that Geller had driven a scientist to "shoot himself in the head" after finding out that Geller had fooled him. Randi afterwards claimed it was a metaphor lost in translation. However, in a previous interview with a Canadian newspaper, Randi said essentially the same thing: "One scientist, a metallurgist, wrote a paper backing Geller's claims that he could bend metal. The scientist shot himself after I showed him how the key bending trick was done." In 1990, Geller sued Randi in a Japanese court over the statements Randi had made in the Japanese newspaper. Randi claims that he could not afford to defend himself, therefore he lost the case by default. The court declared Randi's statement an "insult" as opposed to libel, and awarded a judgment against Randi for ¥
¥
¥ is a currency sign used by the Japanese yen and the Chinese yuan currencies. The symbol resembles a Latin letter Y with a double stroke. The base unit of both currencies shared the same Chinese character pronounced yuán in Mandarin Chinese and en in Standard Japanese...

500,000 (at the time about US$4400). Randi feels that, since the charge of "insult" is not recognized by American Law, he was not required to pay, and maintains that he has "never paid even one dollar or even one cent to anyone who ever sued" him.
In 1991, Geller sued Timex Corporation and the advertising firm Fallon McElligott for millions in Geller v. Fallon McElligott over an ad showing a person bending forks and other items, but failing to stop a Timex watch. Geller was sanctioned $149,000 for filing a frivolous lawsuit.

In 1998, the Broadcasting Standards Commission in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 rejected a complaint made by Geller, saying that it "wasn't unfair to have magicians showing how they duplicate those "psychic feats'" on the UK Equinox
Equinox (television)
Equinox was a long-running Channel 4 popular science and documentary programme. The series ran from 1986 to 2001, originally aired on a weekly basis....

episode "Secrets of the Super Psychics
Secrets of the Super Psychics
Secrets of the Super Psychics was a Channel 4 documentary special in the UK, first shown in the Equinox strand in 1997, later reformatted as a shorter The Learning Channel episode in 1998: "Viewers eager to know more about the differences between science and claptrap should tune in".The 90-minute...

"
(this film, made by Open Media
Open Media
Open Media is a British television production company, best known for the discussion series After Dark, described by The Daily Mail as "the most intelligent, thought-provoking and interesting programme ever to have been on television"....

, was known on first transmission as Secrets of the Psychics but should not be confused with the earlier NOVA
NOVA (TV series)
Nova is a popular science television series from the U.S. produced by WGBH Boston. It can be seen on the Public Broadcasting Service in the United States, and in more than 100 other countries...

film of the same name). The full text of the BSC adjudication is available online here.

He also considered a suit against IKEA
IKEA
IKEA is a privately held, international home products company that designs and sells ready-to-assemble furniture such as beds and desks, appliances and home accessories. The company is the world's largest furniture retailer...

 over a furniture line featuring bent legs that was called the "Uri" line.

Copyright claims



In November 2000, Geller sued video game company Nintendo
Nintendo
is a multinational corporation located in Kyoto, Japan. Founded on September 23, 1889 by Fusajiro Yamauchi, it produced handmade hanafuda cards. By 1963, the company had tried several small niche businesses, such as a cab company and a love hotel....

 for £60 million (the equivalent of US $100 million) over the Pokémon
Pokémon
is a media franchise published and owned by the video game company Nintendo and created by Satoshi Tajiri in 1996. Originally released as a pair of interlinkable Game Boy role-playing video games developed by Game Freak, Pokémon has since become the second most successful and lucrative video...

 character "," localized in English as "Kadabra
Abra, Kadabra, and Alakazam
Abra, Kadabra, and Alakazam, known in Japan as , , and , are three Pokémon species in Nintendo and Game Freak's Pokémon franchise that are linked through evolution. Abra evolves into Kadabra after gaining enough experience in battle, and Kadabra evolves into Alakazam after being traded to another...

", which he claimed was an unauthorised appropriation of his identity. The Pokémon in question has psychic abilities and carries a bent spoon. Geller also claimed that the star on Kadabra's forehead and the lightning patterns on its abdomen are symbolisms popular with the Waffen SS of Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

. The katakana
Katakana
is a Japanese syllabary, one component of the Japanese writing system along with hiragana, kanji, and in some cases the Latin alphabet . The word katakana means "fragmentary kana", as the katakana scripts are derived from components of more complex kanji. Each kana represents one mora...

 for the character's name, ユンゲラー, is visually similar to the transliteration of Geller's own name into Japanese (ユリゲラー). He is quoted as saying: "Nintendo turned me into an evil, occult
Occult
The word occult comes from the Latin word occultus , referring to "knowledge of the hidden". In the medical sense it is used to refer to a structure or process that is hidden, e.g...

 Pokémon character. Nintendo stole my identity by using my name and my signature image." The lawsuit was thrown out of court.

In 2007, Geller issued a DMCA notice to YouTube to remove a video uploaded by Brian Sapient of the "Rational Response Squad" which was excerpted from an episode of the Nova
NOVA (TV series)
Nova is a popular science television series from the U.S. produced by WGBH Boston. It can be seen on the Public Broadcasting Service in the United States, and in more than 100 other countries...

television program titled "Secrets of the Psychics
Secrets of the Psychics
Secrets of the Psychics was a PBS NOVA episode following James Randi's work. Also appearing in stock footage are Peter Popoff, Uri Geller, and many others....

".
The video included footage of Geller failing to perform. In response, Sapient contacted the Electronic Frontier Foundation
Electronic Frontier Foundation
The Electronic Frontier Foundation is an international non-profit digital rights advocacy and legal organization based in the United States...

, issued a DMCA counter-notice, and sued Geller for misuse of the DMCA. Geller's company, Explorologist, filed a counter-suit. Both cases were settled out of court; a monetary settlement was paid (but it's not clear by and to whom) and the eight seconds of footage owned by Explorologist were licensed under a noncommercial Creative Commons
Creative Commons
Creative Commons is a non-profit organization headquartered in Mountain View, California, United States devoted to expanding the range of creative works available for others to build upon legally and to share. The organization has released several copyright-licenses known as Creative Commons...

 license.

Lamb Island, Scotland


On 11 February 2009, Geller purchased the uninhabited 100 yard-by-50 yard Lamb Island
The Lamb (island)
The Lamb, sometimes called Lamb Island or just Lamb, is a small , uninhabited island between the islands of Fidra and Craigleith in the Firth of Forth, off the south-east coast of Scotland...

 off the eastern coast of Scotland, previously known for its witch trials, and beaches that Robert Louis Stevenson
Robert Louis Stevenson
Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson was a Scottish novelist, poet, essayist and travel writer. His best-known books include Treasure Island, Kidnapped, and Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde....

 is said to have described in his novel Treasure Island
Treasure Island
Treasure Island is an adventure novel by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson, narrating a tale of "pirates and buried gold". First published as a book on May 23, 1883, it was originally serialized in the children's magazine Young Folks between 1881–82 under the title Treasure Island; or, the...

. Geller claims that buried on the island is Egyptian treasure, brought there by Scota, the half-sister of Tutankhamen 3,500 years ago and that he will find the treasure through dowsing
Dowsing
Dowsing is a type of divination employed in attempts to locate ground water, buried metals or ores, gemstones, oil, gravesites, and many other objects and materials, as well as so-called currents of earth radiation , without the use of scientific apparatus...

. Geller also claimed to have strengthened the mystical powers of the island by burying there a crystal orb once belonging to Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of general relativity, effecting a revolution in physics. For this achievement, Einstein is often regarded as the father of modern physics and one of the most prolific intellects in human history...

.

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