Uri Geller.

Uri Geller manages to capture images sent to him via a television screen or from a calculator’s memory.  The person who loads the machines does not know what the image is.  Uri manages to receive the images anyhow, although with less clarity.  This is a troubling innovation:  does it mean that he doesn’t need a human intermediary to read the image?  The experiment is pursued in this sense.  A researcher places an object inside one of the ten film containers spread out over the table.  Uri has to identify the one which contains it, without touching anything.  Whether the object is a magnet, a ball bearing, sugar or water, he designates the right container twelve times out of twelve.  Then a dice is placed in a metal classer, which someone shakes energetically.  Like the other telepathy experiments, Geller is allowed to “pass” a certain number of times.  Out of ten answers to be given, he passes twice and guesses eight times the number on the dice.  The probability of luck in this experiment:  one chance in a million.

Because the Stanford Research Institute‘s team is composed only of serious and competent people, who are laying their reputations on the line with this type of experimentation, their conclusions are more than prudent.  Apart from the absolutely uncontestable experiments in telepathy, they only talk about Uri Geller and a “chain of coincidences”.  Other men of science who have worked with the Israeli speak in the same terms about the phenomena that he declenches, because the state of Science and its language are still incapable of reporting it properly.  Targ and Puthoff repeated the experiment once more, several years after having met Geller.

One evening in 1975, when they are passing through Washington, one of their colleagues from the East Coast, asks them to drop everything and meet him.  Although they are already late, the two men accept to receive him in their hotel room.  The scholar arrives out of breath, and shows them a series of recent photographs on which Uri is trying to bend a bar of iron.  On several of these photographs, above his head, an arm in a sleeve of light material is clearly visible.

Very impressed, Russel Targ and Harold Puthoff try humour:

“That must be the famous arm which always comes, when needed, to help Uri!”

Their colleague does not at all feel like laughing.  He recounts that, a few days after having taken these photos, the photographer awoke in the middle of the night.  An arm was floating above his bed.  It appeared terribly real, this arm, dressed in a sleeve of light grey material.  And on top of that, it ended in a hook.  Puthoff jokes:

“An extra-terrestrial, perhaps, or one of Venus de Milo’s arms.”

He looks at his watch.  It is nearly midnight.  Suddenly, the three men distinctly hear the sound of a key in the lock.  The door opens and a man enters the room.  And this man, who is wearing a light grey suit, has only one arm.

In fact, he is just a client of the hotel who had previously occupied this room, and thought that his luggage was still inside.  A simple coincidence therefore, another one, which has taken a slightly poetic turn this night.  Poetry which, according to Eddington, Einstein’s friend, is particularly adapted to the comprehension of today’s physics.  Physics which seem to obey the pre-established, rational conception that we have of them a lot less now, than they do a series of chance events, which make possible today, phenomena which appear to be quite startling…

***

We don’t hear a lot about Uri Geller today.  Some people say that he was just a clever mystifier of the 1970’s.  They are completely wrong.  It is possible that his gifts one day disappeared, as quickly as they had come, notably telekinesis.  This faculty is in fact intimately connected to stages of life:  it culminates in adolescence and totally disappears at mature age.  Illnesses, a bad function of sexual or thyroid glands, can also perturb it.  In 1972, when Targ and Puthoff are testing Uri, he is twenty-five.  He impresses the two physicists so much, that they completely turn their backs on their speciality, quantum electronics, to consecrate themselves to the study of parapsychology.  At the Stanford Research Institute, nobody thinks that they are crazy.  On the contrary.  The State even gives them an important grant for their research.

***

They are right, however, to be wary of Geller’s gifts as well as of chance.  In the example of the playing cards, there could have been a manufacturing fault.  These sorts of coincidences, as improbable as they are, give enormous problems to scientists who are interested in parapsychology.  Arthur Koestler, the author of Zero et l’Infini, talks at length on it.  But for him, it is very hazardous to conclude, in the case of the damaged cards, that it was entirely due to coincidence.  For him, this incident, as modest as it is, reminds us that universal order covers all activity, and that it is only the present and temporary limits of our minds which prevent us from finding the connection between the man and the event, the pack of damaged cards and the fact that it was precisely into Uri’s hands that this strange pack of cards arrived that night…

***

Geller’s exhibitionist side is a moral problem which has nothing to do with his paranormal gifts.  All of the great paragnostics are exhibitionists, and most of them cheat as well, sometimes.  Because they impose such tension on their willpower, that the awaited phenomenon must be produced.  If it isn’t, the consequences can be dramatic for their psychism, which is already sorely tried.  As for the experiments which took place over six weeks at the S. R. I., Targ and Puthoff used the most sophisticated controlling instruments available to track Uri’s telekinetic powers, and possess kilometres of film which prove their reality.  For the moment, they have not been able to draw any scientific laws from them.  But they are convinced that these phenomena obey hidden harmonies.  It is good that the mind discovers only slowly the vertiginous gulfs that they cover.  Because reason would otherwise be swallowed up in them…

***

To be continued.

Advertisements