I bring you great news from the Suez Canal. The pseudo psychic – all psychics are pseudo, but stay with me – Uri Geller has been trying to encourage readers of the Daily Star to shift the Ever Given, the massive container ship that is currently stuck and blocking the entire canal. This morning, despite the efforts of Star readers to shift the ship, it’s still stuck but that hasn’t stopped Geller proclaiming success: “My dear friends,” he announces. “Say what you want! We moved the ship!!!!!! A bit, but she moved! It’s breaking news! I believe in my powers and I believe in yours!!!!” Part of it is true: the tugboats managed to shift the ship a couple of inches. The rest, that Geller somehow had something to do with it, is bollocks.
The fact that the Star is the only newspaper to run with the story suggests that few people, other than the hard of thinking, are interested in the ‘story’ is actually quite encouraging because there was a time when Geller acquired considerable fame for being a spoon-bending psychic, persuading vast swaths of the country that here was a man with supernatural powers. It was only when the late, great James Randi exposed Geller for the fraud he was on the Johnny Carson Show that many people started to have doubts about his so-called powers. But not everyone doubted his ‘gift’ and even today Geller makes a good living by showing off powers that really do not exist.
It is entirely possible, of course, that some people do possess supernatural, psychic gifts. I cannot prove they don’t but by the same token those who claim special powers can’t prove they do. For years, the aforementioned Randi offered $1m to anyone who could prove their psychic powers under independent scientific conditions. Not one person ever took him up on it. I think it’s pretty easy to work out why.
Only a few weeks ago, an acquaintance explained on social networks how they had enjoyed a Zoom call with a medium who told them that person things they could not possibly have known about. This isn’t proof of psychic powers: it’s almost certainly as a result of cold reading. It’s very clever and gives the impression that the psychic is talking to people are actually dead. Being dead, you might think, was a major obstacle to making contact to a loved one through a third party but in the business – I used the word business advisedly: none of these psychics work for free – of the spirit world, it’s no obstacle at all. Watch the brilliant comedian Tom Binns in action. He has no psychic powers but he knows the techniques.
I find it all very tawdry that self-styled psychics offer false hope to the bereaved or even the merely inquisitive. They offer healing but to the best of my knowledge no one has ever regrown a limb or been cured of cancer by a psychic. The best they can offer is to bend some spoons, which any decent magician worth his salt could do, or to talk to dead people. This must be particularly tricky when the dead person was cremated.
I rather think it will require the brains and brawn of real people to shift the Ever Given, not some bloke who has been grifting a living with non-existent powers for his entire life.