April 30, 2004

Bad Choice, Another Perceptive Psychic Statement, Geniuses Due, and Boring Boring Boring….

Table of Contents:


A Scottish psychic named Gordon Smith recently offered a reading on his website for a woman who wrote him with details of the death of her son, Scott. She told him that he was "killed last June in a motorbike accident," at age 24, that his death had been very quick, and several other general facts about him — as people are wont to do in such circumstances, to the delight of the one doing the reading. She went on about how very much everyone missed him, and wanted to have a message from him, adding, "The worst part is not saying goodbye."

Now, we all know the standard "he's still with you, watching over you, and he loves you" gimmick, as well as the suggesting of likely objects or situations that the bereaved are offered to "accept" and develop to re-enforce the reading — but I'm amazed at just how obvious and "formula" this response is that Smith has chosen to post on his page as an example of his powers. Divided into individual statements, we read — actual word-for-word quotations:

  1. Scott wants you to know that he loves you.
  2. He mentions a gold chain that is important to him.
  3. He knows that you always think of him. . .
  4. . . . as he can hear your thoughts and is constantly around you.
  5. He likes the picture of him you've chosen as it shows him as he really was.
  6. He mentions a memorial that his friends have planned . . .
  7. . . . and he would like them to know he still looks in on them.
  8. He also sends thanks for a rose and the sentiment behind it.
  9. He laughs as he wants me to tell you that he is letting his hair grow.
  10. He will always be your precious son.

Numbers 1, 3, 4, 7, and 10 are so obvious, banal, and "formula," that they're embarrassing — and they're 50% of the entire reading! Note that number 2 doesn't even hint at whether the suggested chain belonged to him, to her, or to any other relative or friend, or whether she ever even knew about the item; the victim is allowed to assign this comment wherever a connection can be thought of. Number 5 has to be a hit; mothers always select out a suitable photograph and put it either on display or in a special place. In number 6, we — and the mother — have no way of knowing whether such a "memorial" has been planned or merely mentioned, and it might be a marker of some sort, a meeting, a dedication, a newspaper posting, etc. — hardly unlikely, and almost certain to hit some correspondence with fact. The reference to "a rose" in number 8 is vague, and is not assigned anywhere; it can apply to any flowers that could have been at the funeral, or could be identified with a garden activity or plant, easily — Scott's garden, the mother's, or that of any acquaintance. Number 9 is brilliant. Consider: if Scott was bald, it's a good joke, so he's laughing. If he had his hair cut short at the time of his death, it's still a laugh. If he was once a longhair but changed to suit Mom or community habits, it fits right in, too. It cannot miss!

This is a weak, ineffective, reading for anyone to choose as proof of his abilities, don't you think? True, this is just one example, but I chose it because Smith himself posted it. I'm told that this psychic has "worked with Professor Archie Roy, Emeritus Professor of Astronomy at Glasgow University and Tricia Robertson of the Scottish Society for Psychical Research [SSPR]." Ten days ago I wrote to both of them asking for a brief opinion of Smith's powers. Ms. Robertson promptly responded, saying that in her opinion, Mr. Smith "is quite exceptional. [He] is able to transmit information to recipients — information that he could not possibly know — even under triple blind conditions." I have not yet heard back from Professor Roy.

Though I get my copy of the JSPR rather late, I understand that the SSPR has published an extensive article there on tests of a number of psychics, one of which is Smith. It can be found in the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, January 2004 issue, under "The Robertson/Roy MIA Experiments." For information on the Society go to: www.spr.ac.uk


Reader "Andre" informs us:

Thought you might want to share this story with the members of the newsletter. I stumbled across South Africa's very own Sylvia Browne, Mariëtta Theunissen, and her TV show "Die Anderkant," translated, "The Other Side." Here is a short transcript of part of a reading:

Audience Member: My brother shot his daughter, then himself, he also set the house on fire. I would like to know if he was already dead before he set the house alight.

Mariëtta: I am feeling your brothers presence, he is a angry man, I can inform you that he was alive when he set the house alight.

I don't know of many dead people who can make fires, but then it also seems that intelligence is not a requirement when speaking to the dead, or joining in as an audience member.

You have to wonder….


Reader Sérgio G. Taboada of Brazil announces his joy at a revelation from an adept….

Good News! Gilson Chveid Oen, master in "scientific numerology and dimensional engineering" — whatever this is — claims that on May twelfth our planet will pass by a "strong dimensional transformation" that will provoke a wave of special child births. These children will have new genetic patterns and will possess "energies for goodness." They will initiate a giant values revolution, a new ethics that will clean the Earth in ten years or less.

But all this does not come for free. According to the master, in order to facilitate the power of the children, each one of us should emit the sound of é (as in the word air) for six seconds, followed by a silence of six seconds, repeated 15 times. This must be done by 300,003 people at 03.00AM, 03.00PM and 09.00PM on May twelfth. It is not clear if this time is local time, Zulu time or Brasília time. Neither is it clear what will happen if more or less than 300,003 persons emit the sound. I guess this could cut the power of the children and the master will have an alibi for the failure of his predictions.

I assured the writer:

Sérgio! Yes, I agree! This is excellent news! I've been worried about not having enough "special children" around…. With your obvious scientific skill, you have zeroed in on serious flaws here, which must be addressed, or mankind is obviously doomed.

I needn't tell you that there will be thousands of people lapping this up and preparing to chant at the specified hours on May 12th. And then there's a rather long period of waiting around, for either about 15 years, or about 15 years plus nine months — that's unclear. Even then, the wrong number of persons chanting, or improper or poorly-timed chanting, can all affect the outcome. Creating super-kids is a difficult task, obviously.


This week, I have to devote the rest of this update to one rather boring discussion. You'll remember that Dr. Harold Puthoff stated that I had once admitted to him that I was wrong on all the 24 points he and Russell Targ had come up with and published in rebuttal to my book, The Magic of Uri Geller — now titled The Truth About Uri Geller. The only way to show just how far that Puthoff statement is from the truth, is to publish — for all to see — the facts about the "points." Remember, as you read the discussion, Puthoff said I was "wrong on all the points." Read this, if you can get through it without dozing off, and decide for yourselves….

Last week I referred to the fact that just as that webpage was going up on the Internet, I received a response from Dr. Puthoff in reference to my letter I'd sent him and referred to on that page. Here, as promised, is his full response, with the exception of a brief note asking that the response be co-posted, which was not possible to do at that time. Puthoff wrote:

I remember very well the tape-recorded event to which you refer. We met at a Parapsychology conference in the mid-to-late '70s, and I recall that the meeting and conversation between us were very cordial on a personal level. Since this was our only formal meeting, the event is indelibly imprinted in my memory.

The event itself was based on the fact that we had noted several significant errors in your description of our SRI work with Geller in your book The Magic of Uri Geller (New York, Ballantine, 1975), and wished to go over them with you in person. In our discussion (taped by at least two people, and attended by well over a dozen interested observers) we carefully went through what we call our "24-Errors Fact Sheet." In this exchange we cited page numbers in your book and, in support of our rebuttals, provided affidavits, referenced publications, etc. You may recall that this Fact Sheet was later published as a Letter to the Editor in Psychoenergetic Systems, Vol. 2, pp. 173-176 (1977). You referred to the Fact Sheet in a letter to Curtis Fuller of FATE magazine in which you stated:

"I will give $1,000 to any named charity, should Targ and/or Puthoff be able to substantiate any of the 24 'facts' they allege concerning statements made about their Geller research fiasco in my book, The Magic of Uri Geller. There is one exception, where I admit I am in error; Deutsch, the P.R. man at S.R.I, did not quit. I had been informed otherwise by a person at S.R.I"

What is most significant about our exchange at the conference, however, was that as we went through the points in person, providing the backup material to clarify the issues, you conceded that several points were in error (perhaps justifiably so, given your lack of access to primary sources) and that they would not be repeated in further publications (e.g., later printings, future publications, etc.). As time went on, however, it was the tape-recorded documentation of this promise, not kept, that we considered the most significant outcome of the meeting.

Although this event was ~30 years ago, I will endeavor to the best of my ability to locate a copy of the tape in what few archives I have of those years, and, if [one is] located, will be glad to provide you a copy.

That latter assurance is indeed heartening to know. And here is my response to his claims. My original statements, as selected by Puthoff, are numbered 1-24 and indented, then each is followed by T&P's contentions about them, and my responses. These are little changed from the originals as they appear in my book, so there are some anachronisms. But note that above, Puthoff says that "several points were in error," not as he previously claimed, that I'd "admitted [I] was wrong on all the points." He makes no distinction between "several" and "all"?

Shortly after The Magic of Uri Geller was released in 1975, the parapsychology journal Psychoenergetic Systems published a lengthy attempt at rebuttal by Russell Targ and Hal Puthoff of what they considered to be the major errors I had committed. Upon publication of this T&P blast, I immediately prepared a response which I submitted to Fate magazine and to Psychoenergetic Systemsnow defunct — but it was refused. It never saw print, in either publication.

Following are the 24 points I make in this book that T&P disputed and the "facts" as they contend, together with my comments, which have heretofore been denied publication.

1. Randi: Foreword by Jaroff (p. 7): Geller convinced executives and researchers at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) . . . that he could (among other things) distort solid metallic objects.

T&P contend: SRI's position on Geller's putative metal-bending ability is clearly stated in the researcher's Nature publication: "It has been widely reported that Geller has demonstrated the ability to bend metal by paranormal means. Although metal bending by Geller has been observed in our laboratory, we have not been able to combine such observations with adequately controlled experiments to obtain data sufficient to support the paranormal hypothesis."

My Response: Leon Jaroff penned that comment, not I. However, both he and I had good reason to believe that T&P were referring to metal-bending in their glowing December 1972 letter to Scientific American magazine. They had already told Professor Ray Hyman, sent by the Department of Defense to SRI to evaluate T&P's claims about Geller and others, that Geller could bend metal paranormally without touching it. However, in denying that their comment to Scientific American referred to Geller, T&P got into even deeper trouble. They reveal that they were writing about the infamous Magnetometer Experiment with Ingo Swann! This was probably the most messed-up pseudo-experiment that they ever did — incorrectly reported, badly run, loosely (if at all) controlled, and a general catastrophe. The fact that these scientists eventually reversed their opinions of Geller's ability to bend metal — by any "psychic" means — does not excuse their wild claims about the "extraordinary" powers they said they had "carefully verified and well documented" from their "highly gifted subjects."

2. Randi (p. 13): Few of the Geller experiments, especially the famous tests at SRI in which Geller performed apparent miracles of ESP, include in their reports the fact that one Shipi Shtrang, once claimed by Geller as his cousin and on another occasion as his brother, was present.

T&P contend: During the SRI experimentation, neither Shipi nor any other potential confederate was permitted in the target area, a pre-condition for experimentation adopted on the basis of advice by project consulting magicians.

My response: I stand by that statement. No reports mentioned Shtrang. It matters little whether he was "in the target area." I never said he was! He was still there, and able to assist Geller. Verbal soft-shoe will not work.

3. Randi (p. l4): But scientists are loath to consult magicians.

T&P contend: At SRI one of the two responsible investigators is an amateur magician with over twenty years experience, a Bay Area magician who specializes in exposing fraudulent poltergeist cases is a continuing consultant from the beginning of the project, and Milbourne Christopher, a world-renowned magician and critic of psychic phenomena, was brought to critique videotape and film of the Geller work, and to suggest protocols for further experimentation.

My Response: Arthur Hastings, the part-time magician referred to but not named here, told me personally that he gave T&P some rules to follow. They ignored them, and Geller insisted that Hastings not be allowed to witness the experiments. That demand was met by T&P. Christopher, far from being asked to witness the tests, saw only selected film and tape at SRI months after Geller had left! He said to me that there was not enough detail in the record for him to tell anything about how the tricks might have been done. Certainly none of his suggestions were later followed by T&P, who seemed willing to listen — after the event — and then chose to ignore all advice.

4. Randi (p. l4): Even while the Stanford Research Institute was involved in testing the Israeli Wonder, I wrote offering my services and never received the courtesy of a reply.

T&P contend: Randi's letter, dated September 6,1973, was months after completion of the SRI work with Geller.

My Response: There was more than one letter. None of them were answered.

5. Randi (p. 18): Then, too, there seems to be developing a public belief that science approves the trend toward parapsychological research and that most people believe in psychic marvels. It's a fact that the vast majority of scientists today have no interest, nor belief, in these things.

T&P contend: According to a recent survey reported by Chris Evans in New Scientist, pp. 209, January 25, 1973, "Parapsychology — What the Questionnaire Revealed," 67 percent of nearly 1500 responding (the majority of whom are working scientists and technologists) considered ESP to be an established fact or a likely possibility, and 88 percent held the investigation of ESP to be a legitimate scientific undertaking.

My Response: I stand by this statement. Chris Evans' test was not all that it might have been, and he admitted it. He failed to take into account that (a) New Scientist is a popularized UK science magazine, read mostly by the informed layman, not full-time scientists, and (b) those who answer such polls tend to be believers, who are thus more heavily represented in the results. Other surveys have failed to support the New Scientist inquiry.

[Personally, I have always held "the investigation of ESP to be a legitimate scientific undertaking," and that if enough responsible, careful, work were to be done by independent investigators, it could be determined whether or not there is a case to be made for acceptance of paranormal claims. However, such projects would be useless if conducted in the manner that — for example — T & P had in place for the Geller "experiments."]

6. Randi (p 31): Puthoff reprinted the Nature article without the page-and-a-half introduction!

T&P contend: Reprint of article to which Randi refers is the standard Nature reprint sent to authors. The so-called Introduction Randi claims is deleted refers to an editorial at the front of the magazine, several pages earlier. Nature reprints standardly do not carry editorials, letters to the editor, etc.

My Response: T&P had a responsibility to mention that editorial. It was an integral part, not of the scientific paper, but of the total picture Nature presented to its readers. Technically, T&P have a valid point; ethically, they do not. My statement is still true: Puthoff did not publish the embarrassing editorial.

LONG INSERT: [In the original text as printed in my book, Puthoff chose not to include the Nature introduction. I will not hesitate to do so. Here it is, edited slightly because of length, so that you can see how damning that material is to the seeming validity of the T&P paper:]

. . . The claim is made that information can be transferred by some channel whose characteristics appear to fall "outside the range of known perceptual modalities." Or, more bluntly, some people can read thoughts or see things remotely. . . .

A general indication of the three referees' comments . . . Of the three, one believed we should not publish, one did not feel strongly either way and the third was guardedly in favor of publication. We first summarize the arguments against the paper.

1. There was agreement that the paper was weak in design and presentation, to the extent that details given as to the precise way in which the experiment was carried out were disconcertingly vague. The referees felt that insufficient account had been taken of the established methodology of experimental psychology and that in the form originally submitted the paper would be unlikely to be accepted for publication in a psychological journal on those grounds alone. Two referees also felt that the authors had not taken into account the lessons learned in the past by parapsychologists researching this tricky and complicated area.

2. The three referees were particularly critical of the method of target selection used, pointing out that the choice of a target by "opening a dictionary at random" is a naïve, vague and unnecessarily controversial approach to randomization. Parapsychologists have long rejected such methods of target selection and, as one referee put it, weaknesses of this kind reveal "a lack of skill in their experiments, which might have caused them to make some other mistake which is less evident from their writing."

3. All the referees felt that the details given of various safeguards and precautions introduced against the possibility of conscious or unconscious fraud on the part of one or other of the subjects were "uncomfortably vague" (to use one phrase). This in itself might be sufficient to raise doubt that the experiments have demonstrated the existence of a new channel of communication which does not involve the use of the senses.

4. Two of the referees felt that it was a pity that the paper, instead of concentrating in detail and with meticulous care on one particular approach to extra-sensory phenomena, produced a mixture of different experiments, using different subjects in unconnected circumstances and with only a tenuous overall theme. At the best these were more "a series of pilot studies . . . than a report of a completed experiment."

On their own these highly critical comments could be grounds for rejection of the paper, but it was felt that other points needed to be taken into account before a final decision could be made. Despite its shortcomings, the paper is presented as a scientific document by two qualified scientists, writing from a major research establishment apparently with the unqualified backing of the research institute itself . . .

Very considerable advance publicity — it is fair to say not generated by the authors or their institute — has preceded the presentation of this report. As a result many scientists and very large numbers of non-scientists believe, as the result of anecdote and hearsay, that the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) was engaged in a major research programme into parapsychological matters and had even been the scene of a remarkable breakthrough in this field. The publication of this paper, with its muted claims, suggestions of a limited research programme, and modest data, is, we believe, likely to put the whole matter in more reasonable perspective.

The claims that have been made by, or on behalf of, one of the subjects, Mr. Uri Geller, have been hailed publicly as indicating total acceptance by the SRI of allegedly sensational powers and may also perhaps now be seen in true perspective. It must he a matter of interest to scientists to note that, contrary to very widespread rumour, the paper does not present any evidence whatsoever for Geller's alleged abilities to bend metal rods by stroking them, influence magnets at a distance, make watches stop or start by some psychokinetic force and so on. The publication of the paper would be justified on the grounds of allowing scientists the opportunity to discriminate between the cautious, limited and still highly debatable experimental data, and extravagant rumour, fed in recent days by inaccurate attempts in some newspapers at precognition of the contents of the paper.

Two of the referees also felt that the paper should be published because it would allow parapsychologists, and all other scientists interested in researching this arguable field, to gauge the quality of the Stanford research and assess how much it is contributing to parapsychology.

Nature, although seen by some as one of the world's most respected journals cannot afford to live on respectability. We believe that our readers expect us to be a home for the occasional 'high-risk' type of paper. This is hardly to assert that we regularly fly in the face of referees' recommendations (we always consider the possibility of publishing as in this case, a summary of their objections). It is to say that the unusual must now and then be allowed a toe-hold in the literature, sometimes to flourish, more often to be forgotten within a year or two.

[The above phrase "we [Nature] always consider the possibility of publishing as in this case, a summary of their objections" lends support for my opinion that the editorial here quoted was indeed an intrinsic part of the paper, and should have been distributed as part of the media and particularly the academic release of the paper.]

The critical comments above were sent to the authors who have modified their manuscript in response to them. We have also corresponded informally with the authors on one or two issues such as whether the targets could have been forced by standard magical tricks, and are convinced that this is not the case. As a result of these exchanges and the above considerations we have decided to publish in the belief that, however flawed the experimental procedure and however difficult the process of distilling the essence of a complex series of events into a scientific manuscript, it was on balance preferable to publish and maybe stimulate and advance the controversy rather than keep it out of circulation for a further period. . . .

[The mention of "whether the targets could have been forced by standard magical tricks" does not apply, since that was not, and would not have been, part of any tricks performed to counterfeit psychic powers, in this instance. I agree that this was not the case. There are many other possibilities.]

Perhaps the most important issue raised by the circumstances surrounding the publication of this paper is whether science has yet developed the competence to confront claims of the paranormal. Supposedly paranormal events frequently cannot be investigated in the calm, controlled and meticulous way that scientists are expected to work, and so there is always a danger that the investigator, swept up in the confusion that surrounds many experiments, abandons his initial intentions in order to go along with his subject's desires. It may be that all experiments of this sort should be exactly prescribed beforehand by one group, done by another unassociated group and evaluated in terms of performance by the first group. Only by increasing austerity of approach by scientists will there be any major progress in this field.

That, essentially, is the editorial that Nature published as preamble to the T&P article. I call your attention to these phrases: "the paper was weak in design and presentation," "disconcertingly vague," "highly debatable experimental data," "the authors had not taken into account the lessons learned in the past by parapsychologists researching this tricky and complicated area," "a naïve, vague and unnecessarily controversial approach to randomization," "weaknesses of this kind reveal 'a lack of skill in their experiments,'" "uncomfortably vague," "however flawed the experimental procedure," and "[these experiments] were more "a series of pilot studies . . . than a report of a completed experiment."

I think it is evident why T&P carefully avoided including this material in their widely-distributed copies of this report. Notice that I've not hesitated to do so. Moving along….

7. Randi (p 34): After reprinting the Nature editorial Randi claims that he must give his own version of SRI paper, as SRI did not make paper available to him.

T&P contend: SRI paper to which he refers was in same magazine as the editorial he reprinted, a few pages later ... a document in the public domain, available in any technical library, permission for the use of which is obtained from the magazine as was done for the editorial.

My Response: I was not aware the paper was "public domain." I would rather have published the original. It was damning. I asked permission of SRI, but was never answered. That says something, I think.

8. Randi (p. 37): There was no way that I could get to see the SRI film. Only the elite of the world of science and journalism were invited (to the Columbia symposium).

T&P contend: The Columbia symposium was widely known to be an open symposium to which any interested individual could come and for which no invitations were required.

My Response: Hearing of the film, I tried to contact Dr. Gerald Feinberg, at Columbia, who sponsored the showing. I was unable to do so, and was unaware that it was an open showing. In any case, I certainly was not invited, in spite of my widely known interest.

9. Randi (p 37): Randi would have the reader believe that the compass sequence and spoon-bending sequence of the SRI film "Experiments with Uri Geller" are examples of where SRI scientists were taken in by magic tricks.

T&P contend: With regard to the compass sequence the film narration states: "The following is an experiment which in retrospect we consider unsatisfactory as it didn't meet our protocol standards. Here the task is to deflect the compass needle . . . However, according to our protocol, if we could in any way debunk the experiment and produce the effects by any other means, then that experiment was considered null and void even if there were no indications that anything untoward happened. In this case, we found later that these types of deflections could be produced by a small piece of metal, so small in fact that they could not be detected by the magnetometer. Therefore, even though we had no evidence of this, we still considered the experiment inconclusive and an unsatisfactory type of experiment altogether."

With regard to the spoon-bending sequence, the film states: One of Geller's main attributes that had been reported to us was that he was able to bend metal. . . In the laboratory we did not find him able to do so. . . [It] becomes clear in watching this film that simple photo interpretation is insufficient to determine whether the metal is bent by normal or paranormal means . . . It is not clear whether the spoon is being bent because he has extraordinarily strong fingers and good control of micro-manipulatory movements, or whether, in fact, the spoon 'turns to plastic' in his hands, as he claims."

My Response: Yes, the film contains a disclaimer. Then why, gentlemen, were these "inconclusive and . . . unsatisfactory" sequences included in a "scientific" film at a leading university in this official unveiling of the wonders of the "Psychic World" discovered at Stanford Research Institute, a leading center of scientific endeavor? To add glamour and to fluff up a very poor effort, obviously. The film belongs with the Mack Sennett epics.

10. Randi (p. 48): Shipi [Shtrang] was there, according to Hanlon, "constantly underfoot" during the tests.

T&P contend: Neither Shipi nor any other potential confederate was permitted in the target area during the tests. Hanlon's allegations to the contrary were refuted in Letters to the Editor, New Scientist, p. 443, November 1974.

My Response: Again, I never said Shipi was "in the target area." But he was there, underfoot, and so was his sister — a proven confederate, as is Shipi — throughout the tests. Why? Simply because Geller wanted it that way. The mouse was running the tests — again.

11. Randi (pp. 40-50): If you made an excuse to leave the room — and could have gotten just one quick glance at Shipi Shtrang, and he was trying to signal . . . A quick glance at this target might have given Shipi an impression of a horse . . . Such a response could result from a hand signal . . . This shape, which could have been transmitted by simple hand gestures or by a verbal clue . . . They might even have been watching Shipi by now . . . etc.

T&P contend: As indicated above, neither Shipi nor any other potential confederate was permitted in the target area, and Geller was never permitted to change his position (i.e., enter or leave experimental room) while an experiment was in progress.

My Response: Not so. The "experiments" with Geller were done largely over weekends, when SRI was deserted. Soft-drink and beer cans, food wrappers and scraps, incense sticks and general debris were evident after these sessions. I have been told that Geller did leave the "sealed room" during tests, and in the Faraday cage series he could see Shipi/Hannah clearly through the mesh walls.

12. Randi (p. 47): Captain Edgar Mitchell has said "I was there virtually all the time. I am a co-investigator on all that work . . . they were so eager to keep him (Geller) around that they worked themselves into a box by meeting his every whim . . ."

T&P contend: Captain Mitchell was not at SRI for any of the experimentation reported in Nature, but rather only during early efforts to find whether it was possible to introduce strict protocols as was finally done successfully.

My Response: Mitchell was there during the filming, but he was such a stickler for protocol that Geller preferred he leave during other sessions. Remember, these tests were done Geller's way or they were not done at all, or else they were done but not reported because they failed. Mitchell's comment is not less interesting just because he was subsequently shut out.

13. Randi (p. 49): Only in the tests where there was no possibility of transmission of data from a confederate did Geller refuse to try the test or just fail it. (Referring to Experiments 5-7)

T&P contend: Two of the three experiments (6 and 7) were carried out under the same conditions as all of the others — no potential confederates in the target area. The third experiment (Exp. 5) was a special clairvoyance experiment — again with no potential confederate in the target area.

My Response: So what? When there was no way of doing the trick (and it was most often done through a confederate) Geller "passed" — or as in the "devil" episode, resorted to tried-and-true desperation measures and succeeded. Remember, there were many "experiments" with Geller — and others at SRI — that failed and were never reported.

14. Randi (p. 49): [With regard to the Faraday cage experiments] He could even reach his arm out of the cage. What is to prevent Shipi from signaling these three [targets] to Geller? Nothing.

T&P contend: The Faraday cage is entirely sealed and guarded. Only by opening the door can one reach out. With regard to Shipi acting as a confederate to signal to Geller, again, as in all experiments, neither Shipi nor any other potential confederate was permitted into the target area or knew of the target, a precaution insisted upon and followed as a result ot advice from consulting magicians.

My Response: I was told that the large mesh of the "cage" allowed one to reach out. I was never able to see the cage, or a photo of it, though opening the screen door is obviously not difficult. Hannah Shtrang was in the target area this time and was a general "gopher," thus being provided with an excellent opportunity to act as a confederate. Many people wandering by asked to see the target and were shown it. The control on this test was ridiculous.

[2004 addition: I admit that back in 1982, when I wrote this for my book, I missed a very important point that I should've mentioned. Just above, you will see T&P stating clearly that "in all experiments, neither Shipi nor any other potential confederate was permitted into the target area or knew of the target." From information provided to me from others who were in the "experimental" area during the Geller reign, Hannah — Shipi's sister, now Geller's wife and mother of his children — was there in the target area constantly, running errands and doing who-knows what else.]

15. Randi (p. 52): And is it not curious that this Geller test series was never reprinted or mentioned by any of his SRI disciples? [Referring to the 100-envelope double-blind clairvoyance test that Geller failed.]

T&P contend: This test, with its negative results, is also in the Nature paper, fourth paragraph from the end of the section on Geller.

My Response: There is no way that anyone could identify the 100-envelope test reported in Nature with the Rebert/Otis tests. T&P say in Nature, "On each day he made approximately 12 recognizable drawings, which he felt were associated with the entire target pool of 100. On each of the three days, two of his drawings could reasonably be associated with two of the 20 daily targets. On the third day, two of his drawings were very close replications of two of that day's target pictures." FACT: There was never any provision for "associating drawings with the entire pool." He was to tell the contents of one envelope at a time. T&P are attempting to salvage something from these failed tests, which they had to report since they were designed by others at SRI. FACT: The episode on the third day took place after the test was officially terminated and involved a special set of six envelopes not in the original target pool. Geller left the room several times during the tests and scored direct hits on two envelopes. Rebert solved that one; anyone could.

16. Randi (p. 59): In previous tests in Israel, a psychologist agreed to examine Geller's claims, with the agreement that if the results were not positive, no report would be issued . . . Did Geller have the same arrangement with the boys at SRI before he agreed to be tested there? I'll bet he did!

T&P contend: Negative results on compass deflection and metal bending are reported in the SRI film "Experiments with Uri Geller," Columbia Physics Colloquium, March 6, 1973, and negative results on metal bending and 100-envelope clairvoyance test are reported in Nature, October, 1974.

My Response: Notice that T&P refuse to answer direct questions! Here they skirt the implication, never saying that they did not have any such arrangement with Geller. To have no negative tests — a 100 percent success — would be too good. (I'll still bet that Geller had the boys over a barrel with such an arrangement!)

17. Randi (p. 82): Now, SRI, in its great wisdom, has called in a magician briefly as consultant. Not before Geller's tests, mind you, but after. With them, the alarm system is installed after the robbery. It is interesting to note that when Geller did a subsequent series of tests there (p. 52), he failed. Any connection?

T&P contend: SRI called in a magician as consultant before any of the tests with Geller, not after. (A magician who specializes in exposing poltergeist cases as frauds.) If Randi is referring only to Milbourne Christopher, no tests, including those of page 52, were done after Christopher's consultancy, all work with Geller having been completed before Christopher's arrival.

My Response: See my response to point 3.

18. Randi (p. 95): And the SRI public relations man (who has since quit the organization) called Wilhelm of Time to see what could be done about the story.

T&P contend: SRI's public relations man, Ron Deutsch, did not quit the organization over this or any other issue, and is still there.

My Response: Fellows, I never said that Ron Deutsch quit "over this . . . issue"! I merely reported what I had been told, that he had left SRI. T&P are partly correct. Deutsch, at the time T&P wrote, was still at SRI; he left shortly afterward.

19. Ray Hyman quoted by Randi (p. 111): "So I asked them [Puthoff and Targ] if he could bend them [metal rings] without touching them. They told me he could do it either way. I asked Puthoff if he or anyone else at SRI had seen Uri do it without touching the ring. They never did answer me. They simply assured me that he could do it either way."

T&P contend: The above is false reporting. It is well known that Puthoff and Targ of SRI have been agnostic on the subject of metal bending since the beginning, and reported thus both in the SRI film and in the Nature paper.

My Response: Here we either accept Hyman's word, or call him a liar. He is a reputable investigator, with no reason at all to fabricate his story. He prepared a report in writing, for Washington, immediately upon his return from SRI. His visit predated the Nature paper by almost two years, well before T&P had abandoned all efforts to get metal-bending evidence from Geller and were forced to fall back on their poorly controlled "ESP" tests to submit as a report on what they'd done with the money.

20. Randi (p. 117): First of all, [Professor John] Taylor's statement about the magician is not true. Where he got that idea, I cannot tell. There was no magician present.

T&P contend: Taylor's statement is true; he got it from SRI researchers. A magician was present.

My Response: Taylor's actual words, reported in the book (page 117) are, "Some . . . experiments were scrutinized by a magician on television monitors. . . " The account implies strongly that the magician (Milbourne Christopher) watched the experiments in progress, not months afterwards! There was no magician present there watching those experiments. Hastings had been forbidden to watch, remember? (See my response to point 3.)

21. Randi (p. 128): You might recall, professor, that your counterparts in America — Targ and Puthoff — obtained single-sided pulses when Uri tried to hex a sensitive weighing device. And no one thought to try testing the chart recorder then, either.

T&P contend: As is apparent from the SRI film: (a) the chart recorder was remote from Geller in the experiment, and (b) the chart recorder was continuously monitored by film and videotape, specifically as a guard against chicanery.

My Response: T&P make my point for me! The recorder was remote from Geller, and they were watching Geller. The recorder could not have been monitored while Geller was monitored! Q.E.D.

22. Randi (p. l40): And, finally, as if there were not enough doubts about the procedure used to conduct this "test," Time's Wilhelm reported that the set of tries with the die actually consisted of many hundreds of throws, the object being to get a run of consecutive wins.

T&P contend: There was no selection of a good run out of "hundreds of throws." There were ten throws only, as reported in the Nature paper, eight of which were correctly guessed by Geller, two of which were passed. All the throws were reported.

My Response: The throws were made, a few at a time, over a period of days. This is not "an experiment." It is a series of sporadic demonstrations. There were die tests made before and after the SRI "official" tests. Tests were also made at Psychic magazine. (P&T recently admitted these, and excepted them from the "real" tests.) The tests were done at irregular times, when Geller felt "inspired" to do them; as usual, he was running the tests. Pressman, the SRI photographer, reported to a scientist there that the successful tests were not done while he was present but were reported to him by Puthoff the next day. If that is the case, the filmed tests were re-enactments, in direct contradiction to the official text of the SRI film. Pressman now denies that he told anyone that. See my book Flim-Flam! for details.

23. Randi (p. l40): An elaborate hypothesis is put forward as to how Geller might have handled the dice box and cheated.

T&P contend: Film and videotape show otherwise, and magicians examining this material have failed to detect a conjuring trick.

My Response: "Film and videotape show otherwise"? I have asked to see this evidence, and have been denied. The only film we may see is of a pass! Why, if there is other film and videotape available that proves their point, did T&P choose to show a pass?

24. Randi (p. 211): Targ and Puthoff say, in a letter to Communications Society magazine, that, "In lengthy consultation with professional magicians, no viable conjuring explanation for these or other experiments reported in Nature has emerged." What magicians? If these gentlemen have examined this book carefully, they may now have another conclusion.

T&P contend: Having examined this book carefully, we find that in every instance Randi, in his efforts to fault the SRI experiments, was driven to hypothesize the existence of a loophole condition that did not, in fact, exist. If Randi believes that the conditions he hypothesized were responsible for the results of those SRI experiments with Geller that were successful, then, by their negation, Randi has provided further evidence for the genuineness of the phenomena as observed and reported.

My Response: I am pleased to see that whatever was presented in The Magic of Uri Geller as speculation has been validated in the years since. In this "Fact Sheet" Russell Targ and Harold Puthoff not only failed to rebut my book; they got themselves in deeper than ever before. All the semantic trickery and verbal obfuscation employed by T&P (and I admit they are fairly good at it) will not serve to excuse their attempt to jam the Geller "phenomenon" down the unwilling throats of science and the public. There are those who will continue to believe that in the 1970s science validated the powers of an Israeli psychic; those who read this book and Flim-Flam! will know otherwise. The public can be deceived for a while, but truth is annoyingly persistent.

Well, there it is, warts and all…. Next week, we'll lighten up again — a bit — and provide a little more variety. I had to publish this, because I'd agreed to do so. I hope you're still with me….