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Uri Geller has often performed in front of audiences where he claims he can sense the contents of an envelope without seeing inside (i.e. remote viewing).

A number of witness reports are published here

"Before I left home, I had drawn a valentine with an arrow through it, placed the drawing in an envelope which I sealed, and placed that envelope in a Manila envelope, which I also sealed. I asked Geller to draw whatever it was I had drawn. He asked me to concentrate on what it was, to see it in my mind, and to try to project it to him. After five minutes of this, he showed me a drawing of a heart with an arrow through it. When we opened the envelopes and he saw he had been right, he was very excited."

Uri Geller claims to use paranormal means to perform these acts.

I can say with absolute certainty I do not cheat. I am not a magician. - Source

Can Uri Geller use paranormal means to read envelopes?

Aside: Geller has a history of dismissing skepticism and using the legal system to address criticism.

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I have performed a substantial re-write to demonstrate my earlier (deleted) comment about removing bias, selecting a single claim, and showing that it is notable. – Oddthinking Nov 1 '11 at 2:20
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Short answer: No. Long answer: No, and Uri Geller is a complete fraud. – Fake Name Nov 1 '11 at 5:17
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and the question here is PROVE IT!!! – YUASK Nov 1 '11 at 5:19
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no Yuask, its up to Geller to prove his claims, not for others to disprove them. And he can not prove his claims, has to resort to trickert to make things work, setting up conditions in which observation is deliberately debilitated for example so his trickery can't be detected. – jwenting Nov 1 '11 at 12:38
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@YUASK: the burden of proof is on who claims something. We can just say that what he does does not require him to be a psychic, that does not mean he is not one. But it is to him to prove he is a psychic if he claims that. – nico Nov 1 '11 at 15:33
up vote 20 down vote accepted

TL;DR Geller's skills could be performed by a competent magician. There is no good evidence that he uses paranormal means, and evidence that at least some of the time he cheats, so the simplest explanation is that he is a competent magician.


The claim that Uri Geller can read an envelope through paranormal means is unfalsifiable.

Sure, we can show:

  1. that his skills can be reproduced by competent magicians.

  2. that his skills are never reproduced under conditions which would preclude normal stage-magic.

  3. that some of his claims are false.

In fact, I'll do all three below.

However, that doesn't rule out that he might still be a psychic.

Nonetheless, psychic abilities are an extraordinary claim, and we should expect extraordinary evidence, before we provisionally accept them as true. That evidence has not been presented.

Note: I use the term "magician" here in the modern sense - i.e. a prestidigitator or illusionist who uses sleight-of-hand and other skillful but non-supernatural techniques to fool people with the impression of supernatural abilities.


Now to support my three claims:

1) We can see many of his tricks can be reproduced with by a competent magician.

Reproducing a Drawing in a Sealed Envelope

Over the years, magicians have developed many different techniques for divining the contents of a sealed envelope. Some of these techniques (such as gimmicked notepads on which the drawing or message is made) are available on the market; others are still used by professional magicians. The methods can be as simple as peeking through one’s fingers to see the drawing being made, holding the envelope up to the light, or even opening the envelope when the viewer’s attention is distracted. A confederate may also be able to assist by conveying information about the drawing. Skeptics allege that Geller’s manager and brother-in-law, Shipi Shtrang, has acted as a confederate, and Shtrang has been present at many of Geller’s successful demonstrations. Observers often forget the presence of an accomplice, particularly if that person appears to have no active role in the proceedings.

Source: Wordsmith that describes many other of his tricks.

(I wish this question had been about the spoon-bending. I have better references for the spoon-bending: Banacek. I also have a stash of cheap spoons for practice. It is a physically challenging skill! Or I wish it had been about his ability to move compass needles; I saw him do that of TV and the gimmick was obvious, despite his misdirection. I've never watched him attempt the envelope trick.)

2) Under conditions which would preclude stage-magic, Geller's skills disappear. For example, when host Johnny Carson was coached on what to look for by magician James Randi, Geller could no longer demonstrate his skills. (That same video reinforces the earlier point, with Randi demonstrating spoon-binding and remote-viewing secrets.) He has never accepted the JREF Million Dollar Challenge.

3) There has been proof that some of his skills are performed by trickery. For example, he was caught on tape moving the hands of a watch. He was caught on tape bending a spoon with his hands during a piece of misdirection.

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"prestidigitator" is probably a more apt term than "magician" :-) – Sklivvz Nov 1 '11 at 7:54
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I'm loathe to use "prestidigitator" because it isn't a commonly understood term, and I don't hear magicians use it to describe themselves. Some (including Randi, from memory) prefer "illusionist". I dealt with it by adding a note about my word-usage so it is unambiguous. – Oddthinking Nov 1 '11 at 13:11
    
Derren Brown may also achieve drawing reproduction via pre-conditioning the subject. – OrangeDog Jun 15 at 12:43
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@OrangeDog: That is not helpful. Derren Brown is a (self-confessed) magician who (self-confessed) lies on stage as part of his job description. Do not assume that, because he claims he is using "pre-conditioning" or the like, he isn't actually using stock everyday prestidigitation techniques with a novel presentation.. – Oddthinking Jun 15 at 14:55
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And that's why your comment is not helpful. The Skeptics Mods may be able to communicate with aliens. That is about as likely. – Oddthinking Jun 15 at 15:03

I bought a book about how to perform mentalism and in this book was a lot of tricks revealed. Between them was remote viewing and bending spoons. I can bend a spoon with the power of my mind but I must use my hand to do that :). It's easy to do this king of tricks , you just need some time to practice, and when you will perform a trick , I don't know why but everyone thinks is magic. For remote viewing is simple , you must be very carefully at the pen movements and you will realize what the user will write down, even if you have your hand or something else cover your eyes. Of course you will be able to see through that "something" that cover your eyes. It's the magician requisite. Also are other techniques that can show you what someone wrote down.

Now about Uri Geller , he is a fraud psychic , he has no powers, but it's a smart guy who knew how to entertain the public and that made him a fortune. Uri Geller was invited by FBI to help in some cases, and also was invited by US government for StarGate project, he refused them all.

Nina Kulagina was another human who claim that has psychic abilities like telekinesis, of course it was a fraud too. Basically every time when you see a guy on tv claiming that has psychic abilities you should know that it's a fraud. He paid to be on tv just to become popular. Let's face it , if you did have some psychic abilities you will used them only for your self, and for your safety you will not tell any one about your powers.

Psychic powers are real between humans, and yes they are a lot of human with this kind power. They usually work for the government and as we all know they even train people for this kind of jobs from when they are young's.

In the Stargate project also know as Grill Flame project you will find some real psychic people like Joe McMoneagle who was one of the best psychic spy using remote view. Lieutenant Michael Holmes who could control people decisions with the power of his mind. Also you have Michael Echanis, who was a US solder and martial art instructor, in hes files you will find the fact that he could kill a goat in less then 1 minute just looking in the goat eyes.This is an example showing that psychic abilities are active in military and political purposes, even if the public is mocking about these practices.

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Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

    
Welcome to Skeptics! This is an unusual answer, in that it swings from cynicism to uncritical belief in the same answer. Please provide some references to support your claims. Some of those claims are listed below: – Oddthinking Jun 15 at 14:58
    
Claims that need references include: That Uri Geller is a fraud and has no powers. That Geller declined an invite to Stargate. That Kulagina claimed psychic abilities and he or she was a fraud. That psychic powers are real. [Extraordinary claim, so be prepared to provide some killer evidence for that!] That psychics usually work for the government. That they are trained from a young age. That Echanis could kill a goat (your reference does NOT support that) etc. etc. – Oddthinking Jun 15 at 15:01

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