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November 4, 2016
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March 28, 2000
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December 7, 1974
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U ~ i:, eta DECEMBER 711973 Approved For Release 2QO/08/'FO : CIA-RDP96-00787R0002002r 29-9 ~1fr:t"" 'E~f!151t'1 I i C~tl~l '.II tU i'i~lailtj ITAIN has recently been experiencing the strange, ,penings that seem to accompany Mr Uri Geller erever he takes his one-man show. Knives and forks re been bent, broken watches restarted and feats. of )arent telepathy performed. No generally accepted )lanation is yet forthcoming. Although the phenomenon of Mr Geller is new to itain, he is well known both in Israel and the United .res for his performances. Ti is iiuliottant that he ims to be doing these strange things not as an illusionist ng sleight of hand or deceptive material but as some- e invested with a previously unappreciated power. He prepared to back up this claim very convincingly by rforming in such inauspicious surroundings as the back a taxi in the company of the Science Correspondent the Sunday Times. If he is an illusionist he runs the k of being detected every time he shows off his skills, rticularly when his performance goes on to videotape. irther, any stagehand knows how an illusionist works, :t none has yet revealed Mr Geller's secrets. It needs to be said, however, that not everyone is con- aced that Mr Geller is other than a great illusionist .d that there seems to be somewhat more scepticism Israel and the United States than has yet developed Britain. For a fairly cool assessment Time of March 1973, should be read. Nevertheless he has clearly sated a prima facie case for further investigation and is to be hoped that the proposal by the New Scientist at he submit to examination by its panel will be taken even though he has already been examined extensively y a team at Stanford Research Institute. What does all this mean for the scientist--and not .cessarily only the scientist interested in psychic ;search? There are two distinct challenges to him. The first is that analysis of this phenomenon must be bsolutely neutral and above board. One of the remark- ble things about this whole affair has been the way the ublic has asked that it be investigated by scientists. It as been common to hear phrases such as "I will not be appy until a panel of scientists have pronounced on it". n mediaeval times it was priests, later it was noblemen, i Victorian times businessmen and now scientists who re the arbiters of acceptability and correctness. It is of possible to believe that this situation will last much )nger though it is difficult to decide who will eventually upplant the scientist in this role-trade unionist, profes- ional footballer or television announcer. Nevertheless, vhile this duty still falls to the scientist he has a great esponsibility to be utterly objective and entirely open. ['here have been some doubts cast on the Stanford investi- ,ation because of the lack of publication of the results tpart from a report at a conference. On the other hand t is undesirable that Mr Geller should be used either by ;omeone delighting in the occuit or exceedingly sceptical it. scientific community to come to terms with something totally beyond its powers of explanation-indeed some- thing which in a religious context would be called a miracle. Just as the public wants scientists to validate Mr Geller, it would also want them to explain hurt and, however awkward this question may be, it should not be avoided. If Mr Geller indeed possesses extraordinary abilities it is immaterial whether he is an isolated un- repearahle phenomenon or whether a large number of people can be taught the skills, and it is immaterial that he manifests the abilities in ways up to now better known to music-hall illusionists than to scientific investigators. The challenge would still exist-that well established scientific laws as apparent to laymen as to scientists are not inviolate under the influence of some presumed mental process. It is difficult to see how research into the causes of such extraordinary happenings could proceed. One suspects that any approach which involved extensive instrumentation would end unsuccessfully. Technology has an unerring ability to suppress human skills. Never- theless a boost for psychical research would be very welcome. There are too many loose ends lying around for comfort,'and psychical research has not yet been able to shake off its mildly eccentric character and its ability to attract fierce criticism. The viewing public, shown a chest operation under acupuncture one week and an exhibition of knife bending the next, is bound to ask searching questions about con- ventional scientific wisdom. - Tim London Association of Correctors of the Press held a conversazione on Saturday last under the presidency of Afr. B. H. Cowper, editor of the Queen. We are glad to notice that the principal items of the programme were of a scientific cha. ratter. Mr. E. R. Johnson, Chairman of the Association, read a paper on the past work of the Association, enumerating some of the papers and discussions on philological topics which had engaged its attention, and while comrnerding the study of philo. logy, the advantage of an acquaintance with one or other of the exact sciences was set forth. )Mr. G. Chaloner, Late Secretary of the Association, and lecturer on Chemistry at the Birkbeck Institution, enlightened the meeting as to some of the properties of hydrogen, accompanying his remarks with appropriate expeti- tnents. 3t r. J. T. Voun,, di.-.coursed on the glacial period, and h f i ereo . l re wonders of the The second challenge to scientists will arise if iilVCSti- exhibited some fossils illustrative t microscope and stereoscope also contributed to the enjoyment of rations continue to r,{>r idt f Psey$ir *MOJYJO : CIAtl9P?%00787R000200200029-9 end with the presc evidence tits certainly cann t, ruled out. It would then be urgently necessary for the From Nature, 9, 114, December 11, 1873.