How to be a psychic | Digital Bits Skeptic

Published 9 June 2011 by lordgriggs

Digital Bits Skeptic

How to be a psychic

2009 March 29

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By M Parrott
Article ID: 1314

It is my belief that self-proclaimed psychic Uri Gellar has been deluding people for several decades by bending spoons, stopping watches, changing the movement of compasses and making predictions as to what is on a piece of paper. I am a magician and I can replicate each one of these. Contained in this article are various videos of Geller failing or unintentionally revealing his secrets. I will also – to a degree – tell you how he does these tricks. Please understand I can’t tell you everything, as magic must have its secrets.

Let’s start with the easiest: how to magically stop a running watch.

How to stop and start a running watch

Do this trick with two warnings: you may damage a watch with this technique, requiring a trip to a watchmaker for repair. Also make sure your target watch is not a Rolex, as they often will not restart.

Get an analogue watch and a magnet. Whack the magnet on the back of the watch and it’ll stop.  Easy, right? Nothing too hard, apart from palming the magnet. And you can even get around that requirement, since magicians like to make things as easy as possible. There are magnetic rings.

Geller also supposedly starts “broken” watches. Here is one technique: grab a watch that hasn’t worked for years. Warm it in your hands. By that warming process, a few broken watches will start to work. Admittedly not all, but some of them.

How to magically move a compass

This one is easy. And I even have a video for this one. One way is to use a magnetic ring like before. Another is to use a magnetic fake thumb. You know how a compass works, and you know how a magnet would change it. I have a video for you:

Well… That seems a bit weird. For legal reasons I can’t say he cheated as Geller tends to sue people. However if you look you can see him putting something on his thumb, or it appears that he does. Also the final (successful) attempt is the only one where you cannot see his thumb, so he may be trying to hide something. Notice the word “may”. I can’t say anything for sure.

There is also another technique that Mr. Geller could use. In his earlier clips of this trick you will note that you can see his thumb all the time. However, you could easily repeat this effect by placing strong magnets under your shirt.

Spoon bending

The magic community has plenty of material on these effects. Far more impressive cutlery bends too, like forks! It’s easy, though not all metal will bend. Some are easier than others. But the general idea behind any metal bend is the same, be it spoons, forks, coins, keys, it all comes down to the same thing, and that is misdirection. If you have no knowledge of basic magic principles then you have no idea what I am on about. So let me explain. Misdirection is the art of, surprisingly, misdirecting people. A simple but very effective way of doing this is by talking and asking questions. If you ask someone a random question, that person – for a split second – will stop concentrating on you, and that’s your opportunity to do anything. Corinda (writer of the mentalist bible13 Steps to Mentalism”) alludes that – using misdirection – you should be able to bring in a chocolate-covered elephant being ridden by trumpet-playing pigmies without anyone noticing. Actually, Corinda didn’t say exactly that. I’m exaggerating to make my point. But the principle still remains. Go up to someone, show them a normal spoon. Take it back, ask them a question, while they’re thinking about your question, bend the spoon. Watch in amazement as they later see that the spoon is bent. Well… It’s not that simple. There is also the use of “ratcheting”. This is the technique of making something look like it’s bending, when it’s been bent already. Cover the bend, then place two fingers on the spoon and start rubbing. With a bit of practise you can make it look like it is bending in your fingers.

Spoon bending example and explanation:

Fork bending – the “Liquid Metal” effect by Morgan Strebler:

Key bending

Key bending is another popular trick of some supposed psychics. They take a key and make it look like it is bending. There are several ways to do this. You can use a gimmick. Not a gimmicked key, but use a gimmick to bend the key. But you can also bend it by hand. Take a flat key, put your thumbs on the inside on top so that they touch and your fingers underneath on the edges. If you use a little force you can bend the key with a bit of misdirection. There are alternatives however, which are easier if you are sitting at a table. With misdirection again you can bend the key on the table or chair. Once you’ve bent your key, simply go through the ratcheting technique again.

Psychic predictions

Predictions are beautiful, fantastically so. Well… they’re beautiful when magicians do it. When supposedly real “psychics” do it, it’s disgusting. The tricks are simple, a lot easier than you might think. We don’t have time here to explain the thousands of ways you can do this, so we’ll keep things short. If you’re interested in the detail and the many variations, read the above-mentioned “13 Steps to Mentalism”. It will tell you all about performing anything to do with mediumship, séances, cold-reading and many other predictive powers.

Here’s one example. I heard this from James Randi at this year’s Blackpool magic convention. A senator who was a supporter of Uri Geller came in and said “Randi, I know Geller is correct. You are wrong.”

“Well how do you know?” Randi said.

“He showed me something,” the senator said. “He got me to draw any shape I wanted, tear it off the pad, fold it up and put it under my foot. He then predicted the shape correctly! Even you can’t repeat this.”

Randi asked permission to try. The senator went through the described procedure.  However, when the senator tore the paper off the pad, he tore the paper upwards! So Randi (and originally Geller) could see the shape perfectly! There’s also a related technique that Geller seems to have used. You turn away from the person drawing a picture, cover your eyes and then turn back. The audience now thinks you have turned away and are covering your face, yet through the gaps in your fingers you can see everything. There’s a perfect example in the first minute of this video:

How a psychic fools scientists

Scientists are smart. But they’re incredibly easy to fool. In fact, they’re even easier to fool than other people, because scientists are so confident of the fact that they cannot be fooled. Just look up Project Alpha. The essence is that two amateur magicians were planted into a paranormal research study that lasted almost two years. They easily fooled scientists into believing they had supernatural powers. This massive hoax was designed and monitored by James Randi, and is an example of how easily a magician can fool people into accepting paranormal powers as fact.


I hope this article gave you some information you may not have known. If there is anything more you want to know about mediums, psychics and misdirection, email me. I’ll try to help.

For legal reasons, I can’t claim that Geller – or anyone for that matter – definitely uses the techniques described in this article. However I can show that you can easily replicate these effects. I can also show other magicians performing the same tricks, and even doing them better. What you also must understand is that there is no one way to perform a certain effect. There are hundreds of ways to bend a spoon, bend a key, predict what someone has written or move an object without touching it.

To any magician annoyed by this article because I’ve revealed magic secrets: One, stop putting the emphasis on the trick, and focus on your patter. Second, there is something more important than maintaining a magic secret. That is giving people the truth, rather than having them unknowingly giving their money to fakirs.

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2009 March 30

Amen brother. Just subscribed for email alerts to your blog. Really enjoyed it. Thank God for James Randi.

2009 April 1

Hi HB,

Thanks for subscribing! Hope you see you around here often!

Thank God for James Randi.

While the language might raise a quizzical eyebrow, I’m sure Randi would appreciate the sentiment!


Comments are closed for this entry.

Please consult ” The Transcendental Temptation.”
Yeshua was a “psychic” with that adulterous!
Psychics just cannot admit to being just guessers. Sylvia Brown[e] never is right!
I f avour criminalizatio of this activity whenever purported to be true when flleecing is apparent just as I find faith-healing criminal when medical attention isn’t delivered.
These two are part of the scams of the ages- the paranormal and the supernatural!


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