Talking to the Most Famous Psychic in the World
|Spoon Bender and extraordinary showman, Uri Geller|
Do you believe a man can bend a metal spoon with the power of his mind? Most of the people I spoke to for this week's cover story about James Randi and the skeptic community do not.
But Uri Geller, the Israeli self-proclaimed psychic, has been bending spoons for decades--and has been an arch rival of Randi's since the late '60s. Randi's first book, published in 1975, was called The Magic of Uri Geller (later re-titled The Truth About Uri Geller). His work has made Geller, perhaps, the most well-known psychic in history. (Some people suggest that honor belongs to Jesus Christ.)
In reporting the story, I spoke to Geller on the phone from his home in London, and not all of what he said made the final product. When I asked him if he has psychic powers, he explained - as I wrote - that he believes everyone, including Randi, has psychic abilities, but some people haven't harnessed them."Go back into your life and think about how many times you thought of someone and they called you that day," he said. "Or how many times you went to a place that you've never been before that looks familiar. Or how many times you thought of a song, then suddenly it's on the radio." (Skeptics might suggest you think about all the times you thought about someone and they didn't call, or all those moments when you searched and searched but couldn't find a good song on the radio dial to save your life.)
James Randi disagrees completely, obviously. He offers $1 million to anyone who can prove their paranormal abilities in a testable setting. While Geller makes the argument that most people in the world believe in something supernatural ("Seven billion people can't be wrong," he told me), Randi is the leader of the disbelievers.
Religion sets the mind to accept silly, outlandish claims without evidence, Randi says. "I'm an atheist of the second kind," he told me, "Webster's has two definitions of it. The first one is: 'atheist - one who denies the existence of a god.' I can't do that. I don't know there is no god. I suspect there is no such thing as a blue unicorn as well--only highly suspect it.
"The second definition is: 'one who does not accept the existence of a god.' I don't. I accept things based only on evidence. I accept other things - a mother's love, hamburgers - with a certain amount of faith because you can do that. But the right answer, the true answer is: 'I don't know.'"
My favorite part of the conversation with Mr. Geller came at the very end. I had been trying to get a hold of him for weeks, emailing his web site and his agents. He finally emailed me himself, suggesting I read all the information of his own site (I did) and then call him.
When I called, he asked that I call back in about an hour. I did that too. After we discussed psychics, Randi, Randi's Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge, and the skeptic community, out of the blue he asked if I still had a beard. He told me he liked it. "You look very cool," he said with the grace of a lifelong showman.
That's right, the most famous psychic in the world told me he liked my beard...over the phone! (If you google image search my name, the first picture shows me with a beard.)
Below is a video of what the skeptics say is one of Randi and Geller's great battles.