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Last Weeks "Star" Trick. Print E-mail
Written by James Randi   
Tuesday, 30 October 2007

As I’ve pointed out, the “choose-an-ESP-card” trick that Geller did last week on NBC-TVs “Phenomenon” show was done by him back in the UK in 1997, and in November of 2006, in the Israeli “Successor” show. Readers have reminded me that for the Alter TV show in Greece and for “Die Uri Geller Show” for RTL in Germany – both in 2004 – he also did exactly the same trick! This year, in February, he did it for the Mooney radio show on RTE in Ireland, and again in May, for a TV show in Holland! And on every one of these, he chose the “star” as the symbol to send out by his massive mind power! Why? Because when exhibited or listed among the five choices, when the star is shown as the second from the left – which is what Geller always does – viewers tend not to select the center target, nor either of those on the ends of the line. That leaves only numbers two and four, and of the five ESP-card symbols, magicians know that the star is – by far – the one that audiences will tend to choose. It gets about 47% of the votes, as against the 20% expected if there is no bias applied.

Geller isn’t exhibiting any powers, at all; he’s simply going with the odds.

One of his latest TV interviews has him announcing that he prefers the title, “mystifier” rather than “psychic,” which shows his continuing retreat from his former “I’m real” stance…

Let’s see what this performer on Wednesday who “dies” and comes back to life, will be offering us. I’ll bet we don’t get to see what he has tucked under his arm…





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Comments (9)Add Comment
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written by Jeff Alberts, October 30, 2007
I didn't watch the show, and I won't. I don't want to be responsible for upping its ratings one iota.

I also don't watch Criss Angel or Blaine, or any of those other people. I also pride myself in never having watched a single episode of "Survivor". Reality my ass.
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written by Haziq Nordin, November 01, 2007
Jeff. I think that it is ESSENTIAL that we critique the things that we belive. We MUST get both sides of the arguement and lay them side by side, and compare them. You have never watched Criss Angel before. Fair enough. But you cannot turn around and say it's fake, because you do not have any EVIDENCE to say that it's fake. 'People say it's fake' doesn't qualify. I'm not saying taht Criss Angel is the devil, I'm just saying that it is important to keep an open mind and compare both sides of the arguement. =D my two cents worth.
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written by Scott Cofer, November 01, 2007
As awful as the program is, it was nice to see Chris Angel get in Geller's face last night after some "medium" used the help of "the dead" to guess an object. It was horrible. Angel wrote something on a piece of paper, put it in an envelope and told the guy he's give him a million dollars if he could tell him what was on the paper. The "medium" got very indignant and Geller rushed to his defense, prompting Angel to offer Geller the same deal. I'm pretty sure Chris Angel still has his money.
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written by Christopher Smith, November 02, 2007
Jeff, for the record, you won't contribute to the ratings unless there is some device installed in your home that transmits your viewing habits (Neilson box, TiVo's if you don't turn it off, other DVR's, etc.).

I'm not sure it makes sense to lump in Angel & Blaine with the folks on Phenomenon. AFAIK both openly acknowledge that they are magicians/illusionists without paranormal powers rather than psychics.

Honestly, what Angel & Blaine (and for that matter Survivor) do is more "real" than any of the scripted content on TV, so it begs the question: what do you watch on TV? Perhaps just talk shows (and really... a lot of those are pretty far removed from reality ;-), news, and variety shows?
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written by Jim Pryor, November 02, 2007
I watch the show for what it is. Entertainment. The young lady this week was very good. I know I picked the correct placement of the knife just watching his face every time her hand passed over it. There's no doubt she was able to pick it too when he squeezed her shoulder.

The idiot communicating with the dead needs to be locked up somewhere.
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written by Scott Cofer, November 02, 2007
I should point out that Chris Angel did that same knife trick on Oprah earlier this year. I'm surprised he didn't say something.
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written by PieterB, November 02, 2007
I saw Banachek do the knife trick on the first JREF cruise, and I liked the young lady's variation on it a great deal. Given the quality of the performers we've seen so far, the chances of seeing an original illusion on this show are nil, IMO. Magic is like music; you don't go to concerts expecting that you won't hear anything familiar, do you?
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written by Ruan Fourie, November 11, 2007
viewers tend not to select the center target, nor either of those on the ends of the line. That leaves only numbers two and four, and of the five ESP-card symbols, magicians know that the star is – by far – the one that audiences will tend to choose. It gets about 47% of the votes, as against the 20% expected if there is no bias applied.

OK I understand that from observation, the star would be for instance the one that is chosen the most. My question is, why? There must be a scientific explanation for it. Does anybody have any theories?
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written by Brianw, November 16, 2007
There is a simple explaination for this trick. He ask those to look into the tv and ask what pops out from his eyes to yours. Well the position is important of the star, but most importantly is that the star was the only solid symbol and would naturally pop out of the tv as you stare at it.

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