- Spoon bending
Spoon bending is the apparent deformation of objects, especially metal
cutlery, either without physical force, or with less force than normally necessary. It is a common form of stage magic, and a variety of methods are used to produce the illusion.
Spoon bending attracted considerable media attention in the 1970s when some people claimed to have the ability to cause such events by
paranormal psychicmeans. The most notable was Uri Geller, who performed by bending metal spoons as well as metal keys and several other objects and materials. Geller's performances were attributed to stage magic by critics such as James Randicite book
first = James
last = Randi
title = The Truth About Uri Geller
publisher = Prometheus Books
year = 1982] and
Martin Gardnercite book
first = Martin
last = Gardner
title = Science: Good, Bad, and Bogus
publisher = Prometheus Books
year = 1981
isbn = 0-87975-573-3] .
spoons, keys, and other items to appear to bend without any physical force is a common stage magic trick that has many variants. An article in the New York Timesprofiled the neuroscienceconnections of stage magic and perception. In the article, science reporter Benedict Careyexplained what experts who authored a paper in Nature Reviews Neuroscienceon the neuroscience of magic tricks had to say about spoon bending:
When the result is a single bend or break, it's usually at the point where the object would be easiest to bend by hand. In many cases, the trick uses
misdirection, a basic tool of the stage magician. The performer draws the audience's attention away from the spoon during the brief moment while the spoon is being physically bent. The typical bend, where the bowl meets the handle, requires relatively little force. The magician then gradually reveals the bend. [cite news
last = Emery
first = C. Eugene, Jr.
title = Catching Geller in the Act
publisher = Providence Sunday Journal
format = Reprint, hosted by permission
url = http://psychicinvestigator.com/demo/GELRSKP.htm
accessdate = 2007-05-30 ]
Other methods use a metal spoon that has been prepared so that a simple flick will cause it to bend or break. This can be done, for instance, by repeatedly bending the spoon at the desired spot, until the metal cracks and weakens. If the spoon breaks, the magician holds together the two halves of the spoon as if it were unbroken, then slowly relaxes the grip, making the spoon appear to bend before splitting in two. [ cite video
year = 1993
title = NOVA: Secrets of the Psychics
url = http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdiEhPwzuLI
format = flv (Clip from episode archived at YouTube)
medium = Documentary
accessdate = 2007-05-30
time = 5:15
quote = Of course, it does take a little preparation. In fact, it takes a lot of preparation... Isn't this a more reasonable explanation?]
If a magician has control over the viewing angle, the trick can be done by using a spoon that is already bent at the start of the trick. The spoon is initially held with the bend along the viewing angle, making it invisible. The magician then turns the spoon slowly to reveal the bend.
Spoon bending and the paranormal
Due partly to the publicity surrounding Uri Geller in the 1970s, spoon-bending has become a common visual symbol for paranormal ability. It is shown, for example, in "
The Matrix", when a young boy bends a spoon to demonstrate the unreality of a computer simulation.
While many individuals have claimed the
paranormalor psychokinetic ability to bend spoons or manipulate other objects, spoon bending by mental powers alone has not been demonstrated to the satisfaction of the scientific community. Magician and skeptic James Randihas offered a prize of one million dollars to people who are able to demonstrate paranormal abilities such as spoon bending. [http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2007/01/72482 Wired "Skeptic Revamps $1M Psychic Prize" Retrieved June 18, 2008 ] There are many other similar kinds of prizes which can also be claimed for demonstrating any sort of paranormal abilities including the Erasmus Foundation Fundwhich offers €10,000 for any repeatable and examinable phenomena associated with the paranormal or the occult.
* [http://www.michaelcrichton.com/features-spoonbending.html Excerpt from "Travels"] : Michael Crichton's account of attending a PK party.
* [http://www.michaelcrichton.com/qa-travels.html Follow-up comment from Michael Crichton] : Crichton comments on the controversy over spoon bending
* [http://www.metacafe.com/watch/510096/ Mass Spoon Bending in Australia] : Video from Sydney Skeptics in the Pub where everyone is bending spoons.
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