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Home > People

Uri Geller: Bending The Truth

"She died... but she did come back in the form of a small bird, while I was out jogging to thank me for my help". Well that's alright then.

29 September 2003

Legally speaking, Uri Geller is a dangerous man to cross. Almost as famous for threatening litigation against his critics as he is for bending cutlery, it would be a foolish man indeed who accused him of being a fraudster. Which is a shame really, as that's exactly what he is. A fraudster - albeit an exceptionally clever and charming one.

A visit to Uri-Geller.com, Geller's personal website, speaks volumes about the man behind the spoons, and his motives. Littered with tales of events which Geller claims to have been responsible for - N'sync: "I motivated and inspired them", The Soviets signing the Nuclear Arms Reduction Treaty in Geneva: "that was all down to me" - the site carefully creates the impression that Uri Geller and his vast range of self-help books and crystal-based products hold the answer to every problem, no matter how small. The message is clear: buy my books and, in return, I'll give you the secret of a healthy, happy and nuclear-weapon-free life.

But on what basis are we expected to trust in Geller's ability to transform our troubled lives? Simply on the basis that anyone who can bend spoons using just the power of his mind must be deserving of both our faith and our disposable income.

Except of course he can't do anything of the sort. In 1973 Geller left America (where he claims to have been "working on secret projects for the CIA") after failing, in dramatic style, to bend a spoon in front of a live television audience on Johnny Carson's tonight show. The reason? Carson insisted on using his own spoon and refused to allow Geller to 'inspect' it beforehand. In fact almost all of Geller's secrets were laid bare in 'Gellerism Revealed', a book by acclaimed magician Ben Harris which teaches readers how to bend spoons and restart watches under "even the most difficult conditions".

True to form, Geller includes a quote from the book's foreword on his site, twisted to suggest that Harris believes his feats to be genuine: "Uri Geller is a superb showman...there is no gimmicked apparatus involved, just pure showmanship that proves successful under nearly all conditions". Unsurprisingly though Uri-Geller.com contains no reference to the book's instructions on 'restarting borrowed watches by sleight of hand' and "how to make your own key-bending gimmick". Which is disappointing, because it makes fascinating reading.

For a prime example of how Geller operates, you need look no further than his appearance this week on ITV's 'This Morning'. After giving advice to a woman who was nervous about an upcoming job interview ("Make yourself look pretty and think positive thoughts...then visit my website") and to the man whose grandfather clock had broken ("Stand in front of it and shout 'WORK!'...then visit my website"), Uri relayed the touching story of a terminally ill girl who he had recently 'helped'. "I held her hands and told her to think strong, positive thoughts" he boasted. And what happened to her? "She died... but she did come back in the form of a small bird, while I was out jogging to thank me for my help". Well that's alright then.

So, why does he do it? Why doesn't he just 'come out' as a exceptionally good magician and a superb motivational speaker. Why does he feel the need to pretend to have 'special supernatural powers' in order to peddle his wares and plug his seminars?

The answer is simple - Uri has developed 'O.J. Syndrome', in that he has been telling the same lie for so long that he's actually started believing it himself. Deep, deep down, he knows that he's really using misdirection and pressure from his thumb to pre-bend borrowed spoons - but inside his head he's thinking; "Of course I could do this without cheating - it's just easier this way". And because he's managed to fool himself he wants us to be fooled too. He wants us to believe that he's some kind of spoon-bending, boy-band-inspiring God.

Because, let's face it, God sells more books than Paul Daniels ever will.

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