Skeptic Michael Shermer Shows You How to Bend Spoons with Your Mind

in Philosophy, Random | November 15th, 2012

Ever want to know how to bend spoons like Uri Geller? There are quite a few ways, apparently. But according to Geller’s arch-nemesis, skeptic and magician James Randi, “if Geller bends spoons with divine powers, then he’s doing it the hard way.” In the video above, editor-in-chief of Skeptic magazine, Michael Shermer, shows us how to do it the easy way, and still make it look like magic. While “psychics” like Geller have dined out on their supposed powers for as long as there have been people willing to pick up the tab, skeptics like Randi and Shermer have probably been around as long, using logic and a healthy dose of disbelief. Randi’s exposure of Geller on the Johnny Carson show is the stuff of legend. For a lesser-known debunking, check out the video below from Thames Television. Geller, like so many self-proclaimed psychics, can be persuasive, but most phenomena are better explained by science than by magical thinking.

Josh Jones is a doctoral candidate in English at Fordham University and a co-founder and former managing editor of Guernica / A Magazine of Arts and Politics.

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Comments (21)

  1. James Kelly says . . .
    November 15, 2012 / 5:25 pm

    interesting videos yet I find the tone of your polemic outdated and preserving a dichotomy pervading western knowledge that finds scientific and magical explanations of phenomenon to have relative and comparable values. There is no magic is the sense that everything can be explanained through physics or any other science of energy. Yet ‘magical’ explanations of the same phenomenon by shamans or even made for tv phsyics can be the result of a profound intuitive understanding of energy, which conceptualized sciencitific knowledge does not tap into. The point im making is not that scientists can’t understand energy and movement outside of their padadigms of generalizations and abstractions (math language experimentation), but that ‘magical’ explanations can reveal the profound contradictions of the general structure of language for phenomenology, and that there need be no affirmation of one mode of thinking and explaning at the expense of the value of the other. To each his own, but it would be better if it went something like ‘to all everything’ and we didnt try to establish ‘hard’ sciences that ‘validy’ measure ‘truth’ at the expense of ancient and sometimes not rational wisdom. Thanks for the post and do give me an explanation if I have misread your intentions (would be very suprised if I read your intentions correctly but your post did seem to contain a certain amount of polemical emotionality to me, which is easy to misread in written text). Cheers fellow traveler :)

  2. beevster says . . .
    November 16, 2012 / 4:42 am

    Shermer’s demo is unmitigated baloney. Only fakers bend spoons as he demonstrates. The point is not to work the spoon back and forth or use physical force to weaken it, that is fraudulent. Those techniques are only easy to apply on silverware that is cheap and thin anyway. Nobody wiggles the spoon back and forth like he’s doing except for amateur magicians and pseudoskeptics. In spoonbending only a tiny amount of continuous, certainly not rhythmic, force is applied to the spoon only for the purpose of noticing the brief window when it weakens. (It is not weakening from the force applied to it, otherwise spoons would droop when you try to use them!) Then you have a few moments when it becomes pliable. Better to read Rupert Sheldrake, Dean Radin and Russell Targ than to waste time with Randi and his ilk.

  3. Josh Jones says . . .
    November 16, 2012 / 6:36 am

    By no means do I think that the hard sciences have settled every metaphysical question, or banished metaphysics–or that physics will ever provide satisfying accounts of ethics or aesthetics or subjectivity. I very much respect the critique of many “pseudoskeptics” as narrow positivists. If my tone is polemical above, I’d chalk it up to a pretty firm conviction that TV faith healers and psychics like Uri Geller are simply frauds, or perhaps self-deceived. I find the notion of an “intuitive understanding of energy” a superfluous mystification.

  4. James Kelly says . . .
    November 16, 2012 / 9:01 am

    Fair enough perhaps I use intuitive understnding of energy only to should the potential experiential awareness a scientist and shaman a child could share, trying my best to seperate that concept from epistimes. Helpful you pointing that out. I wonder not how you think science better explains phenomenon than magical thinking (I can imagine multiple justified angles there) but why these are your binaries? It seems to easy to me, following the intellectual current dominating western culture that posits sanity/insanity body/soul medicine/placebo selfless/selfish etc. Why and how do you see magic and science as the best limit points for you to work within? Food for thought in return for your kind sharing

  5. James Kelly says . . .
    November 16, 2012 / 9:02 am

    only to ‘show’*

  6. hewy doherty says . . .
    November 3, 2014 / 6:25 am

    Watch and find out the things you probably didn’t know about the “psychic” Uri Geller:

  7. phuct says . . .
    February 5, 2015 / 11:17 am

    Is Michael Shermer a moron? So he’s basically saying that he believes you can bend stuff with telekinesis but shows you how to fake it?

    If he’s ever really done it or seen someone really do it with telekinesis(or whatever it is, I don’t know exactly how it’s done, but it does seem to be the mind), you can see the obvious difference between people faking it.

    A friend of my son’s in high school could do it, I got one of our own forks and what he did to it was mind blowing, the individual Fork tines were corkscrewed. You couldn’t have done it with a pair of pliers even, and he did it right in front of everyone. It was way more impressive than this ridiculous attempt.

    How is this a skeptic video? He says you can do it with telekinesis but this is the easy way?WTF? This isn’t debunking it, he saying it can be done but can show you how to fake it? Stupid video.

  8. Spirillum says . . .
    July 24, 2015 / 2:07 pm

    Why hasn’t your son’s friend collected James Randi’s million dollar prize?

    The terms are simple: demonstrate any psychic ability under controlled conditions, collect prize.

    It’s the answer to the debate of whether or not spoon bending is a magician’s illusion or whether it is some as yet unexplained paranormal phenomenon. If your son’s friend suggests an excuse of the “I don’t need the money”, perhaps there’s a charity that could use it? I can think of a few.

    PS, I’ll put up my hand to defend that Michael Shermer is not a moron.

  9. Nick says . . .
    September 20, 2015 / 2:41 pm

    He was being sarcastic.

  10. Nick says . . .
    September 20, 2015 / 2:54 pm

    Do you mean by ‘understanding’ and ‘explanation’, how both are perceived are by the audience/onlooker?

    One can be entertained by the ‘psychic’, and find explanation in the ‘de-bunker’. But the process they relate to is one and the same.

    Maybe I have misunderstood, your wordiness limits clarity.

  11. Noel says . . .
    September 24, 2015 / 2:02 pm

    It frightens me, really frightens me that there are so many gullible idiots in this day and age.

  12. Cari says . . .
    October 21, 2015 / 6:26 am

    If he is a skeptic it would have been useful to tell people that he was simply spinning that bar that was already bent. But none of this explains how a I saw a little girl bend and break a spoon without hardy touching it in a matter of seconds. Saying telekinesis is the hard way is ridiculous. Doing it that way is the whole point. Anyone can do stupid magic tricks. Skeptics are far more annoying than people that believe something is possible. Believing in telekinesis is not as stupid as going to see a guy do tricks knowing it is a trick. Deception is not my thing.

  13. Les says . . .
    March 15, 2016 / 4:26 pm

    I agree with you Noel. I just hope that the fools who believe this type of trash (that one can bend spoons with the mind), are not in a job, where their decisions can have affect me!
    Because the bloke in the video used too much pressure, the believers are now saying ‘see, it is true, Uri really bends spoons with his mind. I notice not a one of them, has made a comment on the programme I saw today, where the Amazing Randi, bent spoons, in exactly the same way that Uri the
    fraudster does it. I would like to know what they have to say about that! They will probably start with the old mantra ‘you’ve got to believe in it, for it to work’!

  14. Joe says . . .
    March 17, 2016 / 12:43 am

    I am an electrician and wired up a show in Hawaii where magicians made Diamond Head disappear. One spot I had to supply power was for the “motorized” platform which the magician, audience, camera, etc., rotated on.
    Every working there (including the audience) was required to sign a statement not to revile how any trick was done ……..except me! They forgot to give me a statement to sign.

  15. Joe says . . .
    March 17, 2016 / 12:58 am

    “Believing in telekinesis is not as stupid as going to see a guy do tricks knowing it is a trick. Deception is not my thing.”

    When I go to a fictional movie of monsters and/or the boogie man, even with the great special effects and makeup job, I know it’s not real.

    It’s the people who DO believe they are real that are the “stupid” ones.

  16. Mel says . . .
    April 13, 2016 / 12:54 pm

    How disappointing. If he did it as impressively as Uri Geller does it, or even Randi, and showed us how they do it, I might be more impressed. I’ve never seen Uri do it like that to camera, therefore only creating an illusion from one angle. He’s always had people on all all sides.

  17. David says . . .
    May 4, 2016 / 7:06 am

    I thought I would see how this is done? Not just unsubstantiated assertions. I am disappointed.

  18. steve-o says . . .
    July 3, 2016 / 8:33 am

    you had me until “explanained”

  19. Cathy Shepard says . . .
    July 11, 2016 / 7:28 am

    I have a cousin that bent forks right in front of me. He was at my mom’s and I went to Walmart and bought 12 forks and I took one at a time out of the bag and he bent, broke and made the fork teeth flower out and do not touch the teeth he just flowered his fingers out the way he wanted the fork teeth to bend and he also corkscrewed some. I told my mom he sold his sole to the devil cause noone could have done that without some type of help. I took each fork out myself and handed it to him. We were outside and there was no way he could have changed the fork from mine. He did not know I was bring 12 forks. So tell me how he did this?

  20. Cathy Shepard says . . .
    July 11, 2016 / 7:29 am


  21. Richard. says . . .
    July 29, 2016 / 4:15 am

    Im drunk and even noticed that the metal bar was already bent at the end of the video. You simply turned the bar slowly giving the allusion that the bar was bending up.

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