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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  • 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…

  • Graham Short says:

    I sat shoul­der to shoul­der with Uri Geller as he bent a spoon. He held it light­ly in his left hand and stroked it very light­ly with the index fin­ger of his right hand. It was my spoon. Uri asked me to pro­vide it. I watched as the spoon bent almost in half. I did­n’t take my eyes off it for a sec­ond. Nobody here should even begin to say how Uri does it until they have sat next to him, as I did. He has made mil­lions of pounds by doing this. Has any­one noticed that those anony­mous key­board war­riors who claim they know how to do it have made not a pen­ny!

  • Johnny5 says:

    It fright­ens me more that gullible idiots use stu­pid hack­neyed expres­sion such as ‘in this day and age.”

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