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An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural


James Randi

Published in the United Kingdom as  The Supernatural A-Z: The Truth and the Lies


Quotes & Notes



  • Page 137

    "But it was the newest marvel that he later performed - seeming to bend and break metal objects by mind power - that made all the news. That it seemed, was original with him, unlike the other rather standard routines. However, in 1968 a conjuring magazine available in Israel published the instructions for a spoon trick that was indistinguishable from the Geller demonstration." (emphasis added)


    Remarks

    A claim similar to this appeared in T.A Waters's "The Encyclopedia of Magic of Magic and Magicians" published in 1985. Geller's entry in the encyclopedia states:

    "A primary effect of Geller's has been the bending and breaking of spoons by apparent psychokinesis. It is interesting to note that a similar effect appeared in Abracadabra Magazine some years prior to Geller's public performances."
    Neither Waters or Randi provides a detailed reference for this trick and despite consulting a number of knowledgeable magicians I have been unable to find anyone who is aware of a spoon bending trick prior to Geller's first public performances. On February 15th, 2001 and again on March 4th I emailed Randi asking for the publication details of this trick or a brief description of the effect or method - No reply was received.

    In March 2006 I was sent the details of an effect called "Breaking a Spoon" by John Gilliand which had appeared in Abracadabra magazine in July 1967 - A copy was sent to Randi and he confirmed that this was the effect he'd referred to as, "indistinguishable from the Geller demonstration."

    The effect according to its creator, Gilliand, is:

    "The performer picks up a tea or coffee spoon from the table and snaps it in two. After displaying the pieces he puts them back together, rubs, and shows the spoon restored."

    Part of the method required breaking a spoon just below the bowl before the performance began.

    Randi wrote regarding this trick:

    "I believe this is the effect, yes. Somewhat different, in that it restores the spoon, but certainly an inspiration for the eventual routine. I should think that the process of obtaining the bowl of a spoon -- which would involve bending and breaking it -- might suggest that the breaking process could be halted when nearly complete, and thus give rise to the Geller routine..."

    To say that part of the preperation process could have inspired Geller seems a far cry from the original claim that the effect itself was "indistinguisable" from Geller's.

    Randi also risks misleading his readers by not mentioning "Abracadabra" by name and referring to it as: "a conjuring magazine available in Israel" - "Abracadabra" was only available in Israel via subscription direct from the publisher in England, the same basis on which it is available elsewhere in the world.


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