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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Comments (28)
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  • James Kelly says:

    interesting videos yet I find the tone of your polemic outdated and preserving a dichotomy pervading western knowledge that finds scientific and magical explanations of phenomenon to have relative and comparable values.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

  • Josh Jones says:

    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.

  • James Kelly says:

    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

  • James Kelly says:

    only to ‘show’*

  • hewy doherty says:

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

  • phuct says:

    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.

  • Spirillum says:

    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.

  • Nick says:

    He was being sarcastic.

  • Nick says:

    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.

  • Noel says:

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

  • Cari says:

    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.

  • Les says:

    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’!

  • Joe says:

    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.

  • Joe says:

    “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.

  • Mel says:

    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.

  • David says:

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

  • steve-o says:

    you had me until “explanained”

  • Cathy Shepard says:

    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?

  • Cathy Shepard says:


  • Richard. says:

    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.

  • Neil M. Lorber says:







  • Mary says:

    I’m on your side and Randi’s. Because I want you to appear as informed, scientific and intelligent as you actually are, I want to correct something you mispronounce. You said Randi was there in your video “in ABSTENTIA.” It’s “in ABSENTIA,” meaning absence, not ABSTENTIA, which sounds like abstinence. Please, be precise, it can only make Geller’s kind look even more foolish and hokey!

    But your video still doesn’t tell me how to do it myself. I’d love to know how, not just watch you bend stuff yourself. Will keep searching.

  • Mary says:

    Maybe things are different where you are, but using all-caps online usually means you’re SCREAMING at people. Please, use lower-case! Yikes!

  • StanK says:

    Easy answer. You’re making it up. Mystery solved.

  • Janeo says:

    Cathy Shepard:

    Why should we believe your story? You offer no evidence at all. Where are the pictures/videos of your cousin bending forks with his mind? And yet you demand an explanation for how he “did this”.

    So either your cousin has this stupendous power, yet never has appeared on any talk show, news show, documentary, or even on an Internet video, and has never tried to claim James Randi’s million dollar prize….or you’re lying.

    Really, from an objective point of view, which scenario is more likely?

  • Comment says:

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

    That’s why it doesn’t work in prize games, “controlled conditions” … most people don’t understand that as soon as you try measure and control and see HOW it works, then it simply doesn’t work… it’s likely why most people have none of these abilities, their mind is full of facts and “education” instead of open for use as it was designed to be … they can’t understand you just have abilities you have no idea what they might be and you have to figure out what you have and how to use it and then it just works. Some people never figure it out or how to use it cause they can’t forget what is taught from when they were young and get their mind around the concept of what makes it work.

  • Stuart Phillips says:

    This is what I’ve seen from Uri WITH MY OWN EYES

    Back in January 2002, I attended St David’s Hall in Cardiff where Uri Geller was “appearing”. The poster I saw advertising the “show” were pretty clear that the evening wasn’t about spoon bending or any other of his psychic repertoire. It was to be a kinda self biographical 2hr presentation of his life.

    My gf and I duly arrived and firstly we were amused by the audience. The (largest in the city) theater was about 1/5 full and pretty much consisted entirely of old, well to do looking Jewish ladies.

    I’ve attached a link to a review of the evening which was kinda hilariously bizarre (but great fun!).


    Despite the clear advertising that spoon bending was not going to be performed, I wasn’t going to not take a spoon with my, just in case !

    So before leaving the house I went to my kitchen of my (mid renovation Victorian) house and picked out an old tea-spoon which I believe was left over from the old owner. The spoon was probably c1950, steel, hallmarked, embellished with a pattern in the steel and extremely robust.

    Not only was it pretty short but it was kinda “stocky”, I was at the time a 120kg bodybuilder and holding the spoon in 2 hands and using all my considerable strength there was no way the spoon was going to bend. Not a chance. With the tiny amount of leverage one could apply it wasn’t even close to moving a millimeter. This was, as far as I was concerned, an impossible spoon to bend short of using a vice and heavy hammer.

    As the attached article says, at the end Uri did in fact ask had anyone bought with them any broken watches. Well yes – half the audience. After he took a load on stage and with the audience help and some “work” chanting (yes I know !!!) many of the watches apparently started. Naturally I was still super skeptical towards any of this stuff at this point.

    NEXT, Uri asked had anyone bought any spoons. Again, yup, half the audience at least had, as we all held them in the air !


    I was sat at the end of a rod on the bottom teer of the theater. Uri walked down the isle, stood right next to me and asked if I’d like him to bend my spoon. Yes, I said – I would !!!

    Uri then took my teaspoon, and held the non spoon end between his thumb and forefinger, the spoon was horizontal. With his index finger from his other hand, he gently rubbed the TOP of the spoon over the middle of the handle. Within seconds the half of the spoon furthest from that he was holding started bending UPWARDS. Very quickly and smoothly it bent almost to 90 degrees. I saw this from about 2 feet away,. At no time was the spoon out of my sight or indeed held apart from between his thumb and forefinger and he only held the very end.

    It was definitely my spoon. He then signed the spoon and asked if he could auction it for charity. Yes, I said, kinda disappointed!! Some guy paid £500 for the spoon so it was all good, After the event he was selling and signing books in the foyer and he drew a “mind pyramid” in the front of mine and wrote “Stuart, thanks for the spoon, Uri”.

    This is not testimony, I remember it like yesterday, I’ll go to my grave firmly believing that without any trick or slight of hand, Uri bent my spoon right in front of my eyes.

    Thanks for reading. I tell it as I see it and that’s what I saw….

  • sylwia says:

    ok. so I just saw a video on facebook on how to do this, so I thought I’d give it a try. Nothing was really happening, (I was gently playing with the spoon to feel for the taffy effect) when all of a sudden I felt it go soft. I panicked and stopped, only because I didn’t want to bend it as I felt that that would be too easy to do with force and to eliminate all possibility of me doing it with my hands using force, I wanted more proof.
    I decided to twist it instead so as to the spoon is on the same side as the back of the handle. With some more practice of “heating” I was able to twist the head 180 degrees, I still used my hands to do it but it was really easy. Now the spoon is “hardened” again. Ive tried it with another one but that one seems to want to be a ladle. It’s very strange. I don’t know how I got it to work and I’m looking for stuff on line but all I’m finding is debunking. I actually did this. I’m hoping someone knows more…

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