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

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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  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    interesting videos yet I find the tone of your polemic outdated and preserving a dichotomy pervading western knowledge that finds scientific and magical explanations of phenomenon to have relative and comparable values.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’*

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