Throughout mankind's history there has existed a folklore that certain gifted individuals have been capable of producing physical effects by means of some agency generally referred to as psychic or psychoenergetic. Substantiation of such claims by accepted scientific methodology has been slow in coming, but recent laboratory experiments, especially in the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia, and more recently in our own laboratory, have indicated that sufficient evidence does exist to warrant serious scientific investigation. It would appear that experiments could be conducted with scientific rigor to uncover not just a catalog of interesting events, but rather a pattern of cause-effect relationships of the type that lend themselves to analysis and hypothesis in the forms with which we are familiar in the physical sciences. SRI considers this to be a valid area for scientific inquiry.
Text of Stanford Research Institute Film
As scientists we consider it important to examine various models describing the operation of these effects so that we can determine the relationship between extraordinary human functioning and the physical and psychological laws we presently understand. It is not the purpose of our work at SRI to add to the literature another demonstration of the statistical appearance of these phenomena in the laboratory, but rather we seek to achieve an understanding more compatible with contemporary science and more useful to mankind.
This film describes a five-week investigation conducted at Stanford Research Institute with Uri Geller, a young Israeli. The film portrays experiments that we performed with him just as they were carried out. Each scene has been taken from film footage made during actual experiments; nothing has been re-staged or specially created. It is not the purpose of the film to demonstrate any purported psychic abilities of Mr. Geller but rather to demonstrate the experiments done with him and his response to the experimental situation.
Meet Uri Geller. One of the types of demonstration that Geller likes to do is to sit with a group of people and attempt to send a number to various people in the room. With Uri Geller, this is Edgar Mitchell, who with his eyes covered is trying to pick up the number that Geller is sending. Also, we see Wilbur Franklin, of Kent State, Harold Puthoff and Russell Targ, of SRI, along with Don Scheuch, vice-president for research at SRI. Dr. Scheuch is trying to receive and then write down the number that Geller is sending. In this case, Scheuch is successful in picking up the number.
Of course, this is not a laboratory experiment, since the activity is totally under Geller's control. It was set as an absolute that experiments, to be worthy, had to be under institute control. Here we show a series of experiments where, previously, fifteen drawings were placed in double-sealed envelopes in a safe for which none of the experimenters had the combination. It took signatures of both the key researchers to remove a drawing at random from the collection in the safe. One of the researchers would then, in this case Targ, look at the drawing outside the experimental room, reseal the envelope, enter the experimental room, whence Geller's task was to draw what he perceived in the envelope.
This is Geller's representation of what he believed was sealed in the envelope. At no time during these experiments did he have any advance knowledge of the target material. As far as he is concerned, these could be drawings of any kind, whether a design or a representational picture. In fact, this is the most off-
target of the drawings that he did.
Here - the experiment is repeated, this time with Puthoff as a sender, just to check that the identity of the sender is of no significance in the experiment. Additionally, all experiments are tape-recorded to guard against any verbal cuing on the part of the experimenters.
This the drawing that Geller has made to correspond to the target object. The rectangle on the clipboard represents the TV screen in Geller's mind on which he claims to project the image he is trying to draw. As you can see, he is quite elated about getting the right answer. Before he does this, it is usually preceded by several minutes of "I can't do this - it's impossible. I want to stop. Let's wait."
Here in the laboratory notebook on the left side of the page you see the original targets, and on the right, Geller's responses. This is not a collection of correct answers out of a long series of correct and incorrect responses. This is actually the total run of pictures in the series. It is interesting that there is often a mirror symmetry.
In this particular case, neither Geller nor the experimenter had knowledge of what the target was. This is a double blind experiment. Here, on the upper left of the page, is a picture that was brought to SRI by an outside consultant and sealed in his own envelope; Geller's representation is at the lower right. This was by far the most complicated target picture encountered during these experiments.
This is a typical target carrier used in the experiments. The inner envelope is opaque in its own right; the outer one is a heavy manila envelope. A floodlight behind these envelopes would not permit the interior to be seen. This type of communication experiment was repeated many other times during the five weeks, with Geller choosing to pass about 20 percent of the time.
It is interesting that when he drew his response in this case he didn't recognize the object as eyeglasses - it seemed to him to be an abstract drawing. In general, these drawing experiments were not double blind as one of the experimenters knew what was in the picture in the envelope.
Here, however, we present a case of a double blind experiment, in which someone not associated with the project comes into the experimental room, places an object into a can chosen at random from ten aluminum cans. Numbered tops are also put on at random. The randomizer then leaves the area, and the experimenters enter the experimental area with Geller, with neither the experimenters nor Geller knowing which can contains the object. In this particular case, the target is a three-quarter-inch steel ball which now resides in one of the ten cans in the box.
The ten cans having been arranged neatly, Geller's task now is to determine which of these ten cans holds the steel ball bearing. He is not permitted to touch the cans or the table. The experimental protocol is for experimenter to remove the cans one at a time in response to Geller's instructions as he points or calls out a can-top number. Eventually there will be just two or three cans left, and Geller will then indicate both by gesture and in writing which one of the remaining cans contains the target. It is only at the end of the experiment that Geller touches the can that he believes contains the object. The protocol included the possibility that he might touch a can accidentally. In such case, that would have counted as a miss. Here he writes the selected number.
This, you might say, is a kind of ten-can Russian roulette. He has made his choice. The steel ball is found.
In later repetitions of this same experiment, he was finally weaned away from the dowsing technique where he runs his hands over the cans. He got to the point where he could walk into a room, see the cans lined up on a blackboard sill, and just pick up the one that contained the target. We have no hypothesis at this point as to whether this is a heightened sensitivity of some normal sense, or whether it is some paranormal sense.
Now we are repeating the experiment with a different target object. One of these cans is filled with room-
Again, the can was filled by an outside person who randomized the position of the cans. Then the box that contained the cans was rotated by a second person so that there is no one person in the room who knows the location of the target can. As you can see here, there is less hand motion by Geller over the can. The protocol as before involves his calling out the number or pointing and one of the experimenters removing the can at Geller's call. At this point in time he is asked to make his choice both by writing the number down as well as making a selection by hand. You will note that he is making a final test to be sure of his selection. Tentatively, he reaches and having made the selection now looks to see whether water is inside the can He now waters the plant with the contents of the can. You will note he is very pleased with finding this target because he had doubts at the outset whether he would be able to locate a can filled with water.
We repeated this type of experiment fourteen times; five times involved a target being a small permanent magnet, five times also involved a steel ball bearing as the target. Twice the target was water. Two additional trials were made - one with a paper-wrapped ball bearing and one with a sugar cube. The latter two targets were not located. Geller felt that he didn't have adequate confidence as to where they were, and he declined to guess, and passed. On the other twelve targets the ball bearing, the magnet, and the water - he did make a guess as to the target location and was correct in every instance. In subsequent work with another subject, we found the subject experiencing a highly significant difference in his ability to find the steel ball bearing as compared with finding other targets.
The whole array of this run had an a priori probability of 1 part in 10^12 or statistics of a trillion to one. Here is another double blind experiment in which a die is placed in a metal file box (both box and die being provided by SRI). The box is shaken up with neither the experimenter nor Geller knowing where the die is or which face is up. This is a live experiment that you see - in this case, Geller guessed that a four was showing but first he passed because he was not confident. You will note he was correct and he was quite pleased to have guessed correctly, but this particular test does not enter into our statistics.
The previous runs of ten can roulette gave a result whose probability due to chance alone is one part in 10^12 We decided at the outset to carry out the die-in-
box experiment until we got to a million to one odds, at
which time the experiment was terminated. Out of ten tries in which he passed twice and guessed eight times, the eight guesses were correct, and that gave us a probability of about one in a million.
We would point out again, there were no errors in the times he made a guess.
This is the first of two experiments in psychokinesis. Here a one-gram weight is being placed on an electrical scale. It is then covered by an aluminum can and by a glass cylinder to eliminate deflection due to air currents. The first part of our protocol involves tapping the bell jar; next tapping the table; then kicking the table; and finally jumping on the floor, with a record made of what these artifacts looked like so that they could be distinguished from signals. In tests following this experimental run, a magnet was brought near the apparatus, static electricity was discharged against parts of the apparatus, and controlled runs of day-long operation were obtained. In no case were artifacts obtained which in any way resembled the signals produced by Geller, nor could anyone else duplicate the effects.
The bottom four signals show the type of artifact that results from tapping or kicking the table. They are small AC signals with a time constant characteristic of the apparatus. The upper two traces, on the other hand, are apparently due to Geller's efforts. They are single-
sided signals, one corresponding to a 1,500-mg weight decrease, the other corresponding to an 800-mg weight increase. Those types of single-sided signals were never observed as artifacts with any other stimuli.
We have no ready hypothesis on how these signals might have been produced. The width of the signals produced by Geller was about two hundred milliseconds. The chart ran at one millimeter per second. It was of interest to note that Geller's performance improved over the period of experimentation, starting with 50-mg deflections and arriving at 1,500 mg.
In this experiment Geller is attempting to influence the magnetometer either directly or by generating a magnetic field. The full-scale sensitivity of the instrument is .3 of a gauss, and, as is clear in this instance, his hands are open. Throughout the experiment, his hands do not come into contact with the instrument. The magnetometer itself was used as a probe to go over his hands and person to make sure that there were no magnetic objects in his hands or on him. Here you see substantial fluctuations both to the left and to the right - almost full-scale in certain cases - on the magnetometer meter. These fluctuations are sometimes uncorrelated with the motions of his hands.
This is the chart recording of the magnetometer fluctuations produced by Geller. We see here full-scale fluctuations of .3 of a gauss, which is a significant magnetic field, comparable to the earth's field. After each of these experiments we would in general discuss the results with Geller, show him the strip chart recording, and talk about the significance of his experiments. He was very interested in the experiments we were doing because he had never taken part in laboratory experiments of this kind before.
The following is an experiment which in retrospect we consider unsatisfactory, as it didn't meet our protocol standards. Here the task is to deflect the compass needle which, indeed, Geller does. Before and after the experiment, he was gone over with a magnetometer probe and his hands were photographed from above and below during and following the experiment so that we are sure there were no obvious pieces of metal or magnets in his possession. However, according to our protocol, if we could in any way debunk the experiment and produce the effects by any other means, then that experiment was considered null and void even if there were no indications that anything untoward happened. In this case, we found later that these types of deflections could be produced by a small piece of metal, so small in fact that they could not be detected by the magnetometer. Therefore, even though we had no evidence of this, we still considered the experiment inconclusive and an unsatisfactory type of experiment altogether.
A look at the lower mirror affords one the best view. It can be seen that his hands are completely exposed to photography from above and below with different cameras.
These are a series of unconfirmed physical effects that need further investigation. One of Geller's main attributes that had been reported to us was that he was able to bend metal from a distance without touching it. In the laboratory we did not find him able to do so. In a more relaxed protocol, he was permitted to touch the metal, in which case, as you will see in the film, the metal is indeed bent. However, it becomes clear in watching this demonstration on film that simple photo interpretation is insufficient to determine whether the metal is bent by normal or paranormal means.
In the laboratory, these spoon-bending experiments were continuously filmed and video-taped. It is evident that some time during the photographic period this stainless steel spoon became bent. However, unlike the things we have heard about Geller, it was always necessary for him in the experimental situation to have physical contact with the spoon or for that matter any other object that he bends. It is not clear whether the spoon is being bent because he has extraordinarily strong fingers and good control of micro-manipulatory movements or whether, in fact, the spoon "turns to plastic" in his hands, as he claims.
Here are a number of the spoons that were bent by one means or another during the course of our experiments. There is no doubt that the spoons were bent. The only doubt remains as to the manner of their bending. Similarly, we have rings that were bent by Mr. Geller. The rings that were bent are shown here. The copper ring at the left and the brass ring at the right were manufactured at SRI and measured to require 150 pounds force to bend them. These rings were in Geller's hand at the time they were bent.
This brief recap is to remind you of those experiments we feel were best controlled. They are the three perception experiments, including the hidden drawings in envelopes, the double blind hidden object experiments, and the double blind die-in-the-box experiment. The two psychokinetic experiments - the depression or raising of a weight on an electrical scale and the deflection of the magnetometer - also do not seem to admit of any ready counter-hypothesis. What we've demonstrated here are the experiments that we performed in the laboratory and should not be interpreted as proof of psychic functioning. Indeed, a film never proves anything. Rather, this film gives us the opportunity to share with the viewer observations of phenomena that in our estimation clearly deserve further study.