Geller Poll as requested

On Uri Geller's psi abilities


  • Total voters
    19
#2
The trouble with flawed experiments into psi, is that you cannot be sure that any successful results were the result of psi or of the flaw. Nevertheless, Uri Geller failed in the most rigorous experiment which makes me suspect he has no psi abilities. But the video and documentation are not enough to make a definitive decision either way, so I went for option 3.
 
#3
The trouble with flawed experiments into psi, is that you cannot be sure that any successful results were the result of psi or of the flaw. Nevertheless, Uri Geller failed in the most rigorous experiment which makes me suspect he has no psi abilities. But the video and documentation are not enough to make a definitive decision either way, so I went for option 3.
Can you give some solid examples of how the experiment is flawed? Thanks.
 
#4
Well, the preliminary experiments – the ones in the video – simply don’t strike me as being very well controlled. There’s not much that can be said about those.

As for the line drawings published in Nature, that experiment had a flaw in the randomisation process that meant it was possible to get successful results using fraud. It would need some collusion, but otherwise it’d be quite simple.

In the experiment, the target drawing was chosen by opening a dictionary at random and choosing the first drawable word. Obviously, Geller could not possibly know what word was chosen, but if the person with the dictionary knew what Geller was going to draw, then he could chose a suitable word, or interpret that word in a way that would match.

For example, in one trial the word “fuse” was chosen (reported as “firecracker in Nature. This subtle change between original SRI report and published version is another cause for concern) and the drawing was of a stick of dynamite. This matched Geller’s drawing of a drum in the sense of something cylindrical that makes a loud noise.

Another example is the session where the target picture was a devil, which matched with Geller’s drawings along a religious theme. The word that was chosen is not recorded, only that the drawing began as an outline of a man that evolved into a devil.

Once this randomisation process was changed, and the target drawing was drawn completely blind from a group of 100 (iirc) prepared drawings, the experiment returned null results.
 
#5
Well, the preliminary experiments – the ones in the video – simply don’t strike me as being very well controlled. There’s not much that can be said about those.

As for the line drawings published in Nature, that experiment had a flaw in the randomisation process that meant it was possible to get successful results using fraud. It would need some collusion, but otherwise it’d be quite simple.

In the experiment, the target drawing was chosen by opening a dictionary at random and choosing the first drawable word. Obviously, Geller could not possibly know what word was chosen, but if the person with the dictionary knew what Geller was going to draw, then he could chose a suitable word, or interpret that word in a way that would match.

For example, in one trial the word “fuse” was chosen (reported as “firecracker in Nature. This subtle change between original SRI report and published version is another cause for concern) and the drawing was of a stick of dynamite. This matched Geller’s drawing of a drum in the sense of something cylindrical that makes a loud noise.

Another example is the session where the target picture was a devil, which matched with Geller’s drawings along a religious theme. The word that was chosen is not recorded, only that the drawing began as an outline of a man that evolved into a devil.

Once this randomisation process was changed, and the target drawing was drawn completely blind from a group of 100 (iirc) prepared drawings, the experiment returned null results.
That's fine, but most of the examples you're giving here are about the Nature publications, not the SRI video. I get your point, but it raises a question for me.

Where is the line between saying that you cannot draw any conclusions about an experiment because of flaws, and just believing that fraud and/or collusion must have taken place to get the results? Doesn't one equate to the other?
 
#6
That's fine, but most of the examples you're giving here are about the Nature publications, not the SRI video.
Oh, I see. Well, it doesn't change my vote.

As for your other question, there's no way to be definitive about what happened. There's no smoking gun, so I can't be sure that collusion took place. But that's not important since we have the results of an experiment where collusion was not possible (or, rather, far more difficult).
 
#8
Sorry, I'm referring to the Nature article again. There are two paragraphs describing a later experiment, this time with nobody knowing the target.

"One hundred target pictures of everyday objects were drawn by an SRI artist and sealed by other SRI personnel in double envelopes containing black cardboard. The hundred targets were divided randomly into groups of 20 for use in each of the three days' experiments.

On each of the three days of these experiments, Geller passed. That is, he declined to associate any envelope with a drawing that he made, expressing dissatisfaction with the existence of such a large target pool. On each day he made approximately 12 recognisable drawings, which he felt were associated with the entire target pool of 100. On each of the three days, two of his drawings could reasonably be associated with two of the 20 daily targets. On the third day, two of his drawings were very close replications of two of that day's target pictures. The drawings resulting from this experiment do not depart significantly from what would be expected by chance."
 
#9
Sorry, I'm referring to the Nature article again. There are two paragraphs describing a later experiment, this time with nobody knowing the target.

"One hundred target pictures of everyday objects were drawn by an SRI artist and sealed by other SRI personnel in double envelopes containing black cardboard. The hundred targets were divided randomly into groups of 20 for use in each of the three days' experiments.

On each of the three days of these experiments, Geller passed. That is, he declined to associate any envelope with a drawing that he made, expressing dissatisfaction with the existence of such a large target pool. On each day he made approximately 12 recognisable drawings, which he felt were associated with the entire target pool of 100. On each of the three days, two of his drawings could reasonably be associated with two of the 20 daily targets. On the third day, two of his drawings were very close replications of two of that day's target pictures. The drawings resulting from this experiment do not depart significantly from what would be expected by chance."
So you're saying that experiments in which collusion was not possible yielded results on par with chance. Is this part of your conclusion about Geller's ability? It would seem to indicate that you are more in the camp of believing Geller is a fraud, i.e. when protocols are tightened and collusion is not possible his abilities disappear.

I guess I'm not sure why you didn't select #1 in the poll, unless you truly aren't sure either way.
 
#10
2. Has real psi abilities , but sometimes resorts to stage magic.:D

That's a funny sentence. Why would he do that? Just to muddy the waters?




 
#12
2. Has real psi abilities , but sometimes resorts to stage magic.:D

That's a funny sentence. Why would he do that? Just to muddy the waters?
Originally the poll line was "2. Has real psi abilities , but sometimes resorts to stage magic because psi can be unpredictable".

Maybe it didn't appear that way because it was too long. The idea is that as a celebrity he is expected to deliver all the time, and if psi is unpredictable and he can't always deliver a performance he must sometimes resort to stage magic.
 
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#13
So you're saying that experiments in which collusion was not possible yielded results on par with chance. Is this part of your conclusion about Geller's ability? It would seem to indicate that you are more in the camp of believing Geller is a fraud, i.e. when protocols are tightened and collusion is not possible his abilities disappear.

I guess I'm not sure why you didn't select #1 in the poll, unless you truly aren't sure either way.
There isn't enough to say for sure if collusion actually happened. It may be that his psychic powers only work if there's someone who knows the target. The documents from the SRI work aren't detailed or reliable enough to give a confident assessment, so I think option #3 is the only sensible one.
 
#14
There isn't enough to say for sure if collusion actually happened. It may be that his psychic powers only work if there's someone who knows the target. The documents from the SRI work aren't detailed or reliable enough to give a confident assessment, so I think option #3 is the only sensible one.
Well then I'm glad I included that option in the poll. :)
 
#16
My sense of Geller is that he may well have / have had genuine abilities, but they might be waning with age, something that has for him the same effect as a moviestar's hair waning with age. Do they sometimes use "stage hair"? Yup. And progressively more often.
 
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