Metal Bending
One of the very few new directions in claimed psychic phenomena
in modern times. It was first publicized in the mid1970s
by Uri Geller, an Israeli psychic, when he apparently
demonstrated paranormal deformation of metal keys and
spoons. When these objects were gently stroked or subjected to
passes of his hand without actual contact, they tended to bend
and often actually break, allegedly by some unknown force directed
by the psychic’s mind. The phenomenon became known
as ‘‘the Geller effect,’’ but is now generally classified by parapsychologists
as ‘‘Psychokinetic Metal Bending’’ or ‘‘PKMB.’’
In spite of many demonstrations by Geller and hundreds of
laboratory experiments with him and other subjects by parapsychologists,
the phenomenon remains highly controversial.
However, some of the evidence is impressive. Metal samples
sealed inside glass tubes appear to have been bent. Some samples
have been bent when held by someone other than the psychic,
while bends have been shown in alloys that normally
break rather than bend when stressed. Videotape records appear
to show paranormal bending of samples not held by the
psychic concerned, but it must be said that other videotapes
taken secretly have revealed fraud by some metal-benders, notably
children, who have become known as ‘‘mini-Gellers.’’
Parapsychologists believed for a time that they had found a new
Geller in the person of a young Japanese psychic, Masuaki Kiyota.
However, in 1984 he admitted to having accomplished
his feats of metal bending by fraud.
The British scientist John Taylor spent three years studying
the phenomenon, which he endorsed in his book Superminds
(1975). Then three years later he retracted his endorsement
and announced a position of complete skepticism. However,
John Hasted, another British scientist who tested Geller and
other claimed metal-benders, continues to support the reality
of PKMB. For a detailed study of his experiments and conclusions,
see his book The Metal Benders (1981).
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. Metal Bending
1029
The stage magician James Randi has demonstrated various
methods of apparent metal bending and also has caused much
confusion by planting fake metal benders in parapsychology
laboratory tests, to show that scientists may be deceived. One
of the most common methods of faking metal bending in tests
with spoons is for the operator to surreptitiously weaken the
spoon by prior bending, which can be achieved easily with the
aid of a strong belt buckle.
Metal bending is a particulalrly spectacular form of psychokinesis.
In spite of the revelation of fraud in some cases, defense
of the ability by some continues among parapsychologists.
(See also movement; psychic force)
Sources
Berger, Arthur S., and Joyce Berger. The Encyclopedia of
Parapsychology and Psychical Research. New York Paragon
House, 1991.
Hasted, John. The Metal-Benders. London Routledge and
Kegan Paul, 1981.
Panati, Charles, ed. The Geller Papers Scientific Observations
on the Paranormal Powers of Uri Geller. Boston Houghton Mifflin,
1976.
Randi, James. The Truth about Uri Geller. Buffalo, N.Y. Prometheus
Books, 1982.
Taylor, John. Science and the Supernatural. London Temple
Smith, 1980.
———. Superminds A Scientist Looks at the Paranormal. New
York Viking Press, 1975