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Jonathan1000
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Can some of you shed some light on why Uri Geller, from among the entire universe of mentalists, was the one who particularly piqued the ire of James Randi?

There are plenty of mentalists out there who maintain that they have true paranormal abilities. And there are well respected performer-authors (e.g., T.A. Waters, John Riggs) who’ve argued that claiming real psychic ability is perfectly okay.

So what was it about Geller, rather than any number of others, that placed him in the crosshairs of Randi’s sights? [I realize Randi has targeted other psychics from time to time, but wouldn’t you agree his focus on Geller has been more intense and persistent?]

Was it the degree of Geller’s popularity?

Was it that Geller dared to make claims in academic circles (Targ and Puthoff)?

Was it that the public really took Geller seriously?

Or was there something else?

I see Steve Shaw contributing to these pages from time to time; So Steve, any insight you could supply would be appreciated.


Jonathan
"Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It's what separates us from the animals." -- Homer Simpson
A.G.
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I think there are many answers that will bring more questions...and so on.
I would guess that Geller was/is an opportunist. if you are presented with with the right variables time place people, amazing things can come of it. that's what real mentalism is.
at the same token Randi /Geller in some ways...are not all that different. In other ways opposite.
Kind thoughts, Andrew Gerard
jimtron
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Randi has taken many to task besides Geller. But in his heyday Geller got an extraordinary amount of media attention. I can't think of anyone else who received as much attention performing a bogus paranormal feat (I'm not counting magicians here, just people who claim to have actual supernatural powers).
francisco
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I think the amount of media attention Geller recieved was one factor, but the main factor [as he states in his book debunking Geller,] was that Geller was actually having a profound effect on peoples lives and beliefs. For example, one of Randi's friends whom Randi had known for quite a long time started to belief in 'Gellerism' etc. after Geller performed on him, and this guy 'David' couldn't be swayed after seeing Randi do exactly the same things - I remember Randi describes how when he bent a spoon for 'David' and his wife using the same method Geller had used, they said it hadnt bent in 'exactly the same place' so therefore Randi wasnt as good as Geller.

Randi also became annoyed when Geller started to publicse his 'achievements' in a 'completetely secure lab' under 'test conditions' where in fact Geller's [half?] brother, Shipi, was able to pass notes to Geller through gaps in walls etc. and to give him signals through the bars of a cage when these respected scientists werent looking.
However, when Geller was in complete controlled conditions, where the scientists had drawn 100 symbols and put them in 100 sealed, opaque envelopes, Geller passed three days and attempts in a row to try and work out the symbols. Then a few months later, Randi heard that Geller had been saying that he had managed this feat. The reputation of the scientists was ruined when it came out in the press how the 'test conditions' werent really secure, and this really annoyed Randi.

I think Randi saw Geller as a man who is not concerned for anyone else except for himself, and who spun a web of vicious lies in order to try and get to the top.

The way that Geller and his mentor [i forget his name, Putriach I think] claimed to recieve messages from aliens, but then the evidence apparently was destroyed by accident is another story...

anyway, I hope I have helped answer a few of your questions; I recently read two books on Geller, one from a journalist's viewpoint, and then Randi's one, which completely debunked Geller with a few witty comments/snipes at Geller thrown in. I think it was printed in 1974 so good luck if anyone is looking for it!!

phew - this is the longest post I've written here!

anyway,

-Francisco
'When you steal one trick, they call it plagiarism. When you steal many - they call it research.'

[Corinda, 13 steps to mentalism]
ChristopherWallace
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If you're looking for the Geller book Francisco refers to it's called: The Truth about Uri Geller and Amazon stocks it.
Chris

Oops, they only had one left... and I accidentally ordered it Smile
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doowopper
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Jonathan1000,
You may be interested in this relevant thread:
http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewt......forum=15
Richard
Thomas Rudolfo
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Hi

I have a cold at the moment and am lying in bed. So I also have divided opinion about Geller.
In German TV there is a show this evening called the great Uri Geller Show. After the Show they have one hour break filled with another show.

Then later they have a one-hour show just to let people call in to share their comments.
I'm really looking forward seeing the live experiments Uri Geller claimed to do at this show.

I will give you some review on the show tomorrow or on monday when I feel better.

Nice weekend to all of you

regards
Thomas
Think positive and you'll see, how beautiful your life can be!

www.der-mentalist.net
Bambaladam
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Put it this way, if YOUR magic career was going nowhere and you needed some publicity to feed your massive ego, wouldn't YOU go after the big fish?

Basically, Randi went after Geller to get some of the publicity for himself.

Of course, that's just a guess...

/Bamba
Dr_Stephen_Midnight
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Randi's career was not 'going nowhere;' it was quite solid before Geller appeared.
Randi's impetus may have been partly based on publicity, but anyone who knows Randi's mindset also knows he was even more inspired to take action because of his personal philosophy, which precludes belief in anything supernatural/paranormal. He felt the public was being sold a major bill of goods and wanted to give the other side of the coin. Randi definitely had an agenda, but 'publicity' was only a small part of that agenda.

Steve
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Mike: "No."
Dr. Lao: "Wise answer."
Bambaladam
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Like I said, just a guess. Of course, I probably have an agenda.

;)

/Bamba
Dr_Stephen_Midnight
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We all do, whether conscious of it or not.
I know mine runs afoul of both Randi's and Geller's.
:)
Steve
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Mike: "No."
Dr. Lao: "Wise answer."
7th_Son
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Randi is an exposer.

He broke the most fundamental of magicians oaths - to not exposing magicians secrets to laypeople.
"Here's to our wives and girlfriends...may they never meet!" - Groucho Marx
richpoyle
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I can barely remember Geller's heyday, but in retrospect the antipathy seemed to stem from Geller's refusal to acknowledge his act as magic to fellow magicians.

True, there are lots of performers out there that publicize themselves as psychic performers. But in private they will admit to fellow magicians that they are using magical techniques.

To the best of my knowledge, Geller has never done that. These days he doesn't make the huge claims about psychic ability and admits that what he does is 'entertainment' - but he's never shared his methods with anyone else.

And I think that's where Randi has his objections.
Conlaw
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7th_Son,

One could argue that Randi is not exposing magician secrets. After all, the people that Randi "expose" claim real psychic abilities and do not bill themselves as "magicians" or "mentalists". Therefore, by exposing their methods Randi has not tipped magician methods. Instead, Randi is simply warning anyone who will listen of fraudulent claims of supernatural ability.

While my point may be a technical one it is an important one. Randi is not trying to ruin hard working performers using magic principles for entertainment purposes. He is trying to foil the efforts of liars and cheats claiming to have psychic powers in an attempt to exploit people by preying on their superstitions and gullibility.

Conlaw
Dr_Stephen_Midnight
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Quote:
He broke the most fundamental of magicians oaths - to not exposing magicians secrets to laypeople.

If Randi did, so did Houdini, Maskelyne, Dunninger and many more who exposed psychic fraud or other 'scientific' or 'spiritual' hoaxes involving the misuse of illusion.
It's all a question of where your priorities lay.

As was said...everyone has an agenda...for good or ill.

Steve
Dr. Lao: "Do you know what wisdom is?"
Mike: "No."
Dr. Lao: "Wise answer."
jimtron
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Quote:
On 2004-11-14 19:21, 7th_Son wrote:
Randi is an exposer.

He broke the most fundamental of magicians oaths - to not exposing magicians secrets to laypeople.

Did Geller ever call himself a magician? I don't think he billed himself as a mentalist or magician. I think he claimed to actually have paranormal powers, and millions believed him.
7th_Son
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Quote:
On 2004-11-14 20:15, Conlaw wrote:
7th_Son,

One could argue that Randi is not exposing magician secrets. After all, the people that Randi "expose" claim real psychic abilities and do not bill themselves as "magicians" or "mentalists". Therefore, by exposing their methods Randi has not tipped magician methods. Instead, Randi is simply warning anyone who will listen of fraudulent claims of supernatural ability.

While my point may be a technical one it is an important one. Randi is not trying to ruin hard working performers using magic principles for entertainment purposes. He is trying to foil the efforts of liars and cheats claiming to have psychic powers in an attempt to exploit people by preying on their superstitions and gullibility.

Conlaw


True, but in the process of exposing individual fraudsters, Randi exposed magical techniques,eg one-ahead method, spoon bending, drawing duplication, etc. In other words, he showed lay people how these things are done!
"Here's to our wives and girlfriends...may they never meet!" - Groucho Marx
Jonathan1000
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Okay, this is a bit off topic, but I started it, so I claim the right to hijack it. Smile

I happen to like and respect Randi, but I often sense anger toward him in the magic community.

So the question: Is the anger for exposing a fellow mentalist, or for exposing secret methods?

Put another way: If he exposed mentalists only by replicating their effects, but didn't tip secrets, would that be okay with you?
"Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It's what separates us from the animals." -- Homer Simpson
jimtron
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Quote:
On 2004-11-15 01:07, 7th_Son wrote:
Quote:
On 2004-11-14 20:15, Conlaw wrote:
7th_Son,

One could argue that Randi is not exposing magician secrets. After all, the people that Randi "expose" claim real psychic abilities and do not bill themselves as "magicians" or "mentalists". Therefore, by exposing their methods Randi has not tipped magician methods. Instead, Randi is simply warning anyone who will listen of fraudulent claims of supernatural ability.

While my point may be a technical one it is an important one. Randi is not trying to ruin hard working performers using magic principles for entertainment purposes. He is trying to foil the efforts of liars and cheats claiming to have psychic powers in an attempt to exploit people by preying on their superstitions and gullibility.

Conlaw


True, but in the process of exposing individual fraudsters, Randi exposed magical techniques,eg one-ahead method, spoon bending, drawing duplication, etc. In other words, he showed lay people how these things are done!



In my opinion, that's Geller's fault, not Randi's. I believe that Randi's intentions were to reveal a fraud, not harm the careers of magicians and mentalists. I highly doubt that Randi did any damage to the art.
Bambaladam
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Quote:
On 2004-11-15 01:21, Jonathan1000 wrote:
Okay, this is a bit off topic, but I started it, so I claim the right to hijack it. Smile

I happen to like and respect Randi, but I often sense anger toward him in the magic community.

So the question: Is the anger for exposing a fellow mentalist, or for exposing secret methods?

Put another way: If he exposed mentalists only by replicating their effects, but didn't tip secrets, would that be okay with you?


Not to me. But I apparently labour under the misconstrued idea that people should have better things to do with their time than interfere with situations that have nothing to with them.

I am not so certain any claim is a bad one, and I am certain that no claim of psychic ability warrants the kind of action Randi has taken on behalf of innocent minds everywhere. He is trying to dictate reality for other people, but not in any way with objectivity in mind. There are far more important targets for his "sceptical" mindset, but for some reason scientists, religious figures and military intelligence personnel, all guilty of far more disastrous deceptions (if they lie or are mistaken, as would seem to have happened in the past) than a man who claims to be able to bend spoons, but for some reason immune to serious scrutiny at the hands of this "crusader for truth". I would like to sum my feelings up thusly:

meh.

I know Popov will be brought up in his defence, but Popov is not the Pope, and the Pope would be just as guilty in the eyes of a materialist fundamentalist truly opposed to vagaries and falsehood and not just acting to secure his own interests.

meh indeed.

/Bamba
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