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Tags jack houck , spoon bending

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Old 18th July 2004, 04:10 AM   #1
Lucianarchy
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Report of a Jack Houck PK Party

originally posted by Flyboy217 in thread 'PK Parties' http://www.randi.org/vbulletin/showt...0&pagenumber=1

Quote:
My friends attended the party last night. Both skeptical friends (both are Ph.D. students) are of the opinion that "something very interesting" happened. Both were briefed on potential cheating methods mentioned here, and were asked to stay vigilant.

Both experienced the metal becoming soft and pliable, and could twist the handle around with ease. Both are unwilling to completely rule out "normal causes," as they are physically able to perform similar feats on identical spoons, albeit with great effort.

They also witnessed an elderly woman next to them collapse the bowl of a spoon with apparently no effort, and no help. They thus feel they can rule out the possibility of Mr. Houck performing the feats for the audience members, but can draw no conclusions from this, as they could not confirm that the Oneida silver-plated spoon had never been tampered with. Their attempt to unbend the same bowl was unsuccessful, as was their attempt to perform the same feat on another spoon from the batch. Inconclusive.

Friend 3 also reported the metal becoming soft, and was able to perform twisting feats that apparently lie outside her normal range of strength. A later attempt by her to unbend the silverware failed, and she was also unable to cause the same outcome on an identical piece of flatware using "normal" methods.

All utensils were brought to the party by my friends, and never left their sight or hands.

Consensus: Further investigation warranted. They believe their experience is in agreement with Radin's and Crichton's testimonies.

Unfortunately, my friends are not interested in writing up a report themselves. I am relaying what they have told me, and will provide pictures when they are available. This post is meant as nothing but my report of their experience. (17th June 2004)
(The above account has been seperated from the original thread and reproduced here to enable easier access to information in the new PSI Forum.)

What is particularly interesting about this account, is that it was undertaken by skeptics who had prepared themselves beforehand to spot trickery and deception.

Photgraphs, further accounts and similar investigations are expected to follow.
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Old 18th July 2004, 04:27 AM   #2
Mercutio
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Re: Report of a Jack Houck PK Party

Quote:
Originally posted by Lucianarchy

What is particularly interesting about this account, is that it was undertaken by skeptics who had prepared themselves beforehand to spot trickery and deception.
Well, yes and no. Certainly, they took pains to bring their own spoons and not let anyone handle them. But given that the nature of the reports was "reported the metal becoming soft, and was able to perform twisting feats that apparently lie outside her normal range of strength", one would hope that advance preparation would include a means of measuring the force it took to bend the spoons without all the party prep. This measurement should also be taken during the procedure; as is, all we have is a subjective report of "apparent" anomalous strength of hands or weakness of metal. Indeed, the fact that "both are unwilling to completely rule out "normal causes," as they are physically able to perform similar feats on identical spoons, albeit with great effort" underscores the need for the objective measure; the claim is that something which they were able to do beforehand was done at the party too...just more easily--er, "apparently" more easily.

Given that the crux of the claim is not what happens to the spoons, but the relative ease or difficulty with which it happens, and given that the participants did not have an objective means of measuring the ease or difficulty, I would have to question characterizing this as a case of "skeptics who had prepared themselves beforehand". They did prepare for some possibilities, but did not prepare to objectively measure the very crux of the claim itself.

edited to add color for clarity
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Old 18th July 2004, 05:07 AM   #3
Interesting Ian
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Re: Report of a Jack Houck PK Party

Quote:
Originally posted by Lucianarchy
originally posted by Flyboy217 in thread 'PK Parties' http://www.randi.org/vbulletin/showt...0&pagenumber=1



(The above account has been seperated from the original thread and reproduced here to enable easier access to information in the new PSI Forum.)

What is particularly interesting about this account, is that it was undertaken by skeptics who had prepared themselves beforehand to spot trickery and deception.

Photgraphs, further accounts and similar investigations are expected to follow.
Ummm . .yeah skeptics maybe . .but I doubt they will be as fanatical as the Skeptics we have on here.
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Old 18th July 2004, 06:02 AM   #4
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Sounds interesting, I look forward to the full report.

"Their attempt to unbend the same bowl was unsuccessful, as was their attempt to perform the same feat on another spoon from the batch."

'The batch' - there's a term that rings the alarm on my concern-o-meter. The batch was provided by .... ?
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Old 18th July 2004, 06:07 AM   #5
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Quote:
[...] Boiling with skepticism, Randi continues: "He's telling you to put pressure on the thing. He doesn't tell you to bend it with your mind; he tells you to put pressure on it but not enough to bend it with your hands--and then add energy to it from your mind. How do you know where that energy is coming from? You don't know."

Well, when bending my four spoons, I barely used any physical force, although it's hard to tell, since it all happened so fast. Maybe I was tricked into thinking I didn't use brute force when I really did. But it hardly seems possible that one can create as fluid a bend as I did with sheer muscle power. I don't have any sheer muscle power, for crying out loud.

After bending a spoon, you're left with a bizarre feeling--almost as if you had just done something you know is impossible, but it can't be a trick, because you just did it. No sleight of hand, no rabbits pulled out of hats, no nothing. But since it's supposed to be impossible, you're not supposed to believe it.[...]
http://www.metroactive.com/papers/me...ding-0348.html
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Old 18th July 2004, 06:11 AM   #6
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[..] My older daughter achieved remarkable results by first rubbing her fork gently until she could feel it was getting "tingly and warm", and then placing the fork atop her right wrist as she rested her right arm on the armrest of her chair, waiting calmly and expectantly for her fork to bend. Ten of us watched as her fork gradually drooped down to form-fit her wrist. She didn't push or pull the fork at all as it rested on top of her wrist... it looked like it simply melted! She later told us that she had wanted the fork to become a bracelet, and that she couldn't really see that it was bending as it bent... but she did keep thinking about how much she really wanted it to bend and become a bracelet. I was fascinated with this creative way to bend a fork. I'd never heard of anyone letting a spoon or fork "melt" around their wrist, and she made it look so simple, easy and fun!
[..]

http://home.thirdage.com/Spiritualit...ter/jan00.html
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Old 18th July 2004, 06:17 AM   #7
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[..] Duke University Professor J.B. Rhine began conducting his famous PK experiments in 1934. Rhine did establish that people could psychokinetically influence the throwing of dice, and went on to learn that in any one session, the longer a subject worked at it, the lower the control factor. So fatigue or maybe boredom were valid factors in the ability to demonstrate PK, just as it often is in other PSI areas. PSI, P-S-I being the undefined force resulting in psychic phenomena. Dr. Rhine first coined PSI to mean ESP-- extra sensory perception, and then later to mean PK and ESP, which he described as ”a general term to identify a person’s extrasensorimotor communications with the environment.”[..]
http://www.altered-state.com/sutphen/psyckinexrpt.htm
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Old 18th July 2004, 06:22 AM   #8
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[...] After 5 minutes of intently watching the woman attempting to bend a similar spoon, to my surprise my spoon started to bend! In accordance with previous claims I had read, the bowl momentary felt like putty, and I easily pinched the bowl over as shown. It immediately hardened up, and it felt cold throughout. I used a thumb and one finger to make this bend, with hardly any force. I immediately checked my fingers for noticeable marks after the bend, and there were none, confirming that I had not unconsciously forced the bowl to bend. All of my attempts to repeat this effect later, both with and without the use of force, failed. Examination of the bend reveals it to be clean and smooth, with none of the characteristic cracking or discoloration that appears in spoons that are forced to bend using tools. I have no easy explanation for this phenomenon, but I cannot deny my own experience. This bend was not due to a conjuring trick or to enhanced strength that can potentially arise in certain dissociated states. [...]
http://www.psiresearch.org/spoon.htm
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Old 18th July 2004, 06:23 AM   #9
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Luci, these reports suffer the same flaw as the OP. No one has separated out the physical, mechanical manipulation from the alleged psi manipulation, they merely report a subjective "it was easier than I expected it to be" type of reaction. I have, myself, bent very stiff wire repeatedly until it reached this plastic state; if you hold the wire upright at that point, it will bend as the spoon in the "older daughter" description does. The fact that the participants find it remarkable, I do not find remarkable. Their ignorance of the structural qualities of metals is not evidence of psi ability.

In all your links, are there any that simply look at mechanical manipulation of metal without attempted psi influence? I would think that structural engineers (do we have any around here) would have conducted such tests of materials quite often.

We cannot know whether something bent more easily than it should have if we do not know how easily it bends in the absence of psi influence. This is critically missing from your anecdotes. It is a fatal flaw in the accounts.
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Old 18th July 2004, 06:28 AM   #10
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Quote:
[...]Spoon-bending is a widely demonstrated example of how the human conscious mind can influence outside objects (projection of consciousness). A group of people gather, each with a cheap metal spoon in hand and strongly focus their conscious intent upon bending their spoons. Lo and behold, most of the spoons bend like putty and/or are significantly warmed at the narrow bending point (The bending point is not where the hand holds the spoon.) This seems rarely to work for one person, but for many gathered with strong visualized intention, the result is many bent spoons. According to theories of randomness, even one spoon bending in such a fashion carries almost zero probability. To have it happen predictably "must be fraud."

[..]Instead of instantly calling spoon-bending "nothing but a fraud," I suggest attending such a spoon-bending party. Or throw your own party if you know of no others in your vicinity. What do you have to lose except some old cobwebs in the brain?[...]
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Old 18th July 2004, 06:36 AM   #11
Lucianarchy
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Quote:
Originally posted by Mercutio

In all your links, are there any that simply look at mechanical manipulation of metal without attempted psi influence? I would think that structural engineers (do we have any around here) would have conducted such tests of materials quite often.

How about McDonnell Douglas?

http://www.jackhouck.com/psd.shtml
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Old 18th July 2004, 06:49 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by Mercutio
Luci, these reports suffer the same flaw as the OP. No one has separated out the physical, mechanical manipulation from the alleged psi manipulation, they merely report a subjective "it was easier than I expected it to be" type of reaction. I have, myself, bent very stiff wire repeatedly until it reached this plastic state; if you hold the wire upright at that point, it will bend as the spoon in the "older daughter" description does. The fact that the participants find it remarkable, I do not find remarkable. Their ignorance of the structural qualities of metals is not evidence of psi ability.

Merc, these accounts show that people are quite aware of how much pressure they are applying. We are talking about rods as well, don't forget. However, maybe Flyboy could ask his pals what they think of that as an explanation. You certainly can't apply that sort of repeated physical force to replicate the bowl bending. Have you tried to do it? I have. Make sure you eat your spinach first!
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Old 18th July 2004, 06:51 AM   #13
Mercutio
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Quote:
Originally posted by Lucianarchy

How about McDonnell Douglas?

http://www.jackhouck.com/psd.shtml
From your link:
Quote:
It was reported that one of the aluminum rods, both bent spoons and the broken fork were the result of an undisclosed warm-forming process while the broken spoon and one of the aluminum rods were manually broken or bent at ambient temperature. This report documents the test results and observations made on the plastic as well as the metal parts.
So the lab that did the testing had no control whatsoever over the process by which they were bent. One was "warm-formed", the other "manually bent", apparently while cold.

No, Luci, this does not address the problem at all. A laboratory analysis, it would seem, but not of the question at hand. If these two samples differ, it says nothing about any psi effect at all, since that was not manipulated.

What I am after is even simpler than that. Looking through an area of the library I am admittedly unfamiliar with, I just found (don't ya love search functions?) an article in the Journal of Engineering Materials and Technology which seems to be more of what I am looking for. No, it does not address psychokinesis (indeed, a search of the entire Applied Science and Technology database, there were only two hits for "psychokinesis", neither of which applied to metal-bending. Such practical people, and they ignore such a promising phenomenon?), but it does discuss bending-unbending tests for measuring the plasticity of metals (in a special issue on metal-forming--Oct 2001), which indicates to me that such tests are quite possible, even simple.
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Old 18th July 2004, 06:54 AM   #14
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PK Party at the Rhine

PK Party at the Rhine

[quoute][...] Made famous by Uri Geller and popularized by Jack Houck, spoon bending supposes that by mental effort, a person is able to alter the metal in a piece of silverware so that it is easily bent and manipulated into swirls and strange angles. So there I was, following the direction of our PK party leader, Bill Joines, shouting emphatically at my fork... Well, the silverware I brought along survived the encounter, but I did see a lot of strangely altered utensils by the end of the event. Twirls and swirls and twists of numerous forks and spoons were put on display at the end of the night, and some utensils bound up in a coil so tight, one would be hard pressed to remain skeptical seeing them. [...][/quote]

http://www.rhine.org/PKParty.htm
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Old 18th July 2004, 07:02 AM   #15
Mercutio
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Quote:
Originally posted by Lucianarchy


Merc, these accounts show that people are quite aware of how much pressure they are applying. We are talking about rods as well, don't forget. However, maybe Flyboy could ask his pals what they think of that as an explanation. You certainly can't apply that sort of repeated physical force to replicate the bowl bending. Have you tried to do it? I have. Make sure you eat your spinach first!
Luci, these people claim that they are applying less pressure than they think they should be. That is all. There is no psychophysiological testing here to indicate that they are accurate in their perceptions (although that would be very easy to test--if the results follow the norm in psychophysics, I would expect that they would be very susceptible to situational biases--Jeff Corey, for instance, had a great demo at TAM2 showing a predictable bias in our perception of weights of objects), and so while they may report honestly, we do not know that they report accurately.

In addition, suppose that we grant that they are both honest and accurate. Are they also knowledgeable about the amount of pressure that is necessary to bend the spoons without intervention of psi? There is no indication that they are. This was my initial objection, of course; no values were given at all for the force necessary to bend such objects.

With the bending-undbending mechanical test mentioned in my last post, it should be very easy to test the effect of the psi intervention. Simply run an appropriate sample of metal rods through the mechanical bending-unbending, and randomly select half of them for the psi proponent to influence. Hey, have an entire crowd of psi proponents surround the machine and focus. Just don't touch.

Such an experiment would, I think (but around here, if there are holes, someone will point them out), test your claim. It won't be nearly as spectacular as a curled-up fork...but perhaps that is for the best.
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Old 18th July 2004, 10:19 AM   #16
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I would like to make some clarifications.

1) Because the spoon that the old lady buckled came from a batch that Mr. Houck provided, they (and I) agree that it wouldn't be prudent to draw any conclusions from that (hence "inconclusive"). However, they did ask to hold the spoon as soon as she finished buckling its bowl, and they were entirely unable to get the bowl to move at all. They had seen her do it as though it were made of putty, with no straining at all.

2) Two of my friends are male ("B" and "D"), and one is female ("S," B's girlfriend of several years). B is well-versed in hypnosis, and says that, while he can of course never be certain, he felt as though he were in a normal state of mind upon bending. D is more hesitant. As is often related, it only happened while he was watching someone else. When he looked down, he noticed he had twisted the handle around several times.

Having been trying to do so for a while at that point, he was aware of the strength that it should normally take. Also, having taken several courses in metallurgy during his time at the U, he is well aware of the fact that repeated bending of metal can soften it. He attempted immediately to untwist the handle, and found he could do it only with great difficulty. This does not match with the claim that repeated bending should make it softer.

3) Because B and D were only able to do it while somewhat distracted, they tell me they are unwilling to discard the possibility that they somehow used considerably more muscle strength than they thought--but only because the alternative (psi) is almost unthinkable.

However, S is a weak girl. B and D witnessed her contorting forks and spoons (that they had brought) with ease. When they immediately took the spoon from her to see if it had just become weakened, they found themselves unable to untwist it, even though they are considerably stronger than she (note: this spoon was of a heavier construction than the ones they claimed they could bend with physical strength alone). Again, this does not support the conclusion that the metal had been weakened by repeated attempts. They are of the impression that, even with an adrenaline rush, and being distracted, she does not have the physical strength to do that to that particular spoon (again, which they had brought from home). This is supported by her futile attempts on the car ride home to cause any further deformation of the utensil.


They did not come prepared with gauges and meters, but they did come with some crucial points of realization (that they were never to let their spoons out of their hands, that metal does become weak after repeated bending, etc.)

They believe that none of the proposed conclusions is in agreement with their experience, although it is not possible to rule anything out "completely:"

- Jack Houck did the bending for the audience members (clearly false).

- Tampered spoons (they brought their own).

- The metal became weakened by repeated effort (they took the spoons from the elderly woman and S immediately, and could cause no further movement at all).

- It was caused by distraction. S is clearly not strong enough to bend the spoons that she did, distracted or not. B and D, however, are, and acknowledge this.


They are not sure what to make of the whole experience, but they agree that the psi hypothesis is a very possible contender. They're trying to come up with ways to test this, but are finding it hard to replicate the results with any consistency at all. This leaves them (and me) in a very difficult position, although I'm pressing on them quite hard to provide further results. Once B and S get back from vacation, I'll get the pictures from them.

I hope this clarifies a few things.
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Old 18th July 2004, 10:27 AM   #17
Lucianarchy
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Quote:
Originally posted by Mercutio
Luci, these people claim that they are applying less pressure than they think they should be. That is all. There is no psychophysiological testing here to indicate that they are accurate in their perceptions (although that would be very easy to test--if the results follow the norm in psychophysics, I would expect that they would be very susceptible to situational biases--Jeff Corey, for instance, had a great demo at TAM2 showing a predictable bias in our perception of weights of objects), and so while they may report honestly, we do not know that they report accurately.

Merc, I've seen a small child turn a metal fork into playdoh and back again. That little old lady who crumpled a bowl in her hand, people like that can't even exert a 'deluded' physical force to do some the things which happen at these parties..

Merc, go and get a spoon.

Now try and crumple the bowl of the spoon in the palm of your hand, with all your physical force

What happened?
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Old 18th July 2004, 10:35 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally posted by flyboy217
[snip]
They believe that none of the proposed conclusions is in agreement with their experience, although it is not possible to rule anything out "completely:"
...

- The metal became weakened by repeated effort (they took the spoons from the elderly woman and S immediately, and could cause no further movement at all).
If I am not mistaken, there is no claim that the plasticity of the spoon is permanent. The metal weakens, or rather becomes plastic, only temporarily. I do not know whether upon hardening it is then weaker, stronger, or the same as before (not my area of expertise at all), nor do I know how long a spoon will remain plastic once one stops bending it (thus, taking it "immediately" from the elderly woman might mean within a fraction of a second, a few seconds, tens of seconds...and that might matter). These are all very testable questions, though, and once again a materials engineer might even have a reference book on it.
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Old 18th July 2004, 10:54 AM   #19
Mercutio
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Quote:
Originally posted by Lucianarchy
Merc, I've seen a small child turn a metal fork into playdoh and back again. That little old lady who crumpled a bowl in her hand, people like that can't even exert a 'deluded' physical force to do some the things which happen at these parties..
Luci, the key unknown in this equation is the human element. That is why I continue to propose a mechanical device for the experiment.

As for being unable to bend it at other times...it is very easy not to bend something even if you do have the strength to, and very easy to convince yourself you do not have the strength. I have done demonstrations of the power of the expectancy effect on physical strength in my classrooms for years. I can very reliably get people to feel weaker or stronger based solely on my suggestion. Of course, I cannot guarantee that this is what is happening here, but neither can you guarantee it is not. The solution, once again, is to remove the "touching" element and test the crux of the claim, that there is a "psi" element involved. Do it with a machine and people concentrating--if the effect works as you suggest, they need not touch the spoon itself to get the group presence effect.
Quote:

Merc, go and get a spoon.

Now try and crumple the bowl of the spoon in the palm of your hand, with all your physical force

What happened?
I'm afraid I must get back to you on this after I make a trip to goodwill. Mrs. Mercutio would not be happy if she found our flatware in curls.

Besides, Luci, it is absolutely irrelevant whether I can or cannot do it. All you are suggesting is that we substitute one subjective observer (me) for another. The same problem arises. Whether or not I can do it (and, frankly, it sounds pretty cool, so I want to try it) does not test the hypothesis. The way to do that is through controlled conditions, which have been completely lacking in your anecdotal accounts. To the best of my reading, none of them support the notion of a psi effect. (Neither do they deny it--for the most part they simply fail to address it at all, and the conclusions of the participants go far beyond what their experience should allow them to conclude.)
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Old 18th July 2004, 08:10 PM   #20
flyboy217
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Quote:
Originally posted by Mercutio
Besides, Luci, it is absolutely irrelevant whether I can or cannot do it. All you are suggesting is that we substitute one subjective observer (me) for another. The same problem arises. Whether or not I can do it (and, frankly, it sounds pretty cool, so I want to try it) does not test the hypothesis. [/b]
I think you are missing Luci's point. Luci is suggesting that you do not have the physical strength to buckle the bowl of the spoon, no matter how hard or long you may try. That is what makes some of the reported results remarkable.
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Old 18th July 2004, 08:14 PM   #21
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Quote:
Merc, I've seen a small child turn a metal fork into playdoh and back again. That little old lady who crumpled a bowl in her hand, people like that can't even exert a 'deluded' physical force to do some the things which happen at these parties..

Outstanding! This is a clear example of something that would be considered supernatural at this time. This would easliy qualify for the million (at least) dollars. Scientific evidence of this phenomena would usher in a new age of discovery. Fame, fortune, and glory are only steps away. GO FOR IT!
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Old 19th July 2004, 05:19 AM   #22
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Merc, have you tries the 'bowl crumple' yet?

Has anyone? Be honest.
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Old 19th July 2004, 06:06 AM   #23
Mercutio
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Quote:
Originally posted by Lucianarchy
Merc, have you tries the 'bowl crumple' yet?

Has anyone? Be honest.
Haven't made the trip to Goodwill yet. But I will.

In the meantime, could you clear something up for me? In reading your anecdotes, it is unclear to me whether anyone has claimed that they have taken a spoon of their own (so no prior manipulation) and bent the bowl as you have asked me to do: "try and crumple the bowl of the spoon in the palm of your hand, with all your physical force." The nearest thing I find is in your "after 5 minutes" story, in which I could infer that 5 minutes of manipulation might be enough to plasticise the bowl. In your OP, the witnesses who saw the old lady had also had sufficient time to manipulate their spoons to a plasticised state, so we may infer that the old lady could have done so as well. In neither of those cases did anyone "crumple the bowl of the spoon in the palm of [their] hand, with all [their] physical force."

What you are asking me to do is, from my reading of your anecdotes, completely different from what has been accomplished at these parties. Of course, I will try it--both as you suggest, and as the anecdotes describe. It could be that no amount of manipulation whatsoever would be sufficient to plasticise these spoons, in which case flyboy's most recent post is absolutely correct. Or it could be that the manipulation makes all the difference, in which case the only way to properly test this is (I know, I sound like a broken record) to remove the subjective element from it and do the mechanical testing.

Speaking of which...Luci, flyboy...neither of you have commented on my suggested protocol. It seems to me that it would be a simple and clear test of the claim, and would eliminate the problems that people like me have with the spoon-bending party anecdotes. I would think you'd jump at the opportunity to support such a test.
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Old 19th July 2004, 10:39 AM   #24
flyboy217
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Quote:
Originally posted by Mercutio

In the meantime, could you clear something up for me? In reading your anecdotes, it is unclear to me whether anyone has claimed that they have taken a spoon of their own (so no prior manipulation) and bent the bowl as you have asked me to do: "try and crumple the bowl of the spoon in the palm of your hand, with all your physical force."


Nobody from my party was able to do this themselves. Crichton and Radin both claimed to do this.

Quote:
Quote:
It could be that no amount of manipulation whatsoever would be sufficient to plasticise these spoons, in which case flyboy's most recent post is absolutely correct.
I would conjecture that this is the case, having tried for quite some time myself. Again, as only a preliminary test, it would be worthwhile for you to try this on any metal spoon of your choosing. Plasticising seems to take place after repeated bending. From my experience, I cannot get the bowl to move at all. But it is possible (or maybe even likely) that accumulated micro-movement could plasticise it--so please do try this. Neither my friends nor I have had any success.

Quote:
Or it could be that the manipulation makes all the difference, in which case the only way to properly test this is (I know, I sound like a broken record) to remove the subjective element from it and do the mechanical testing.

Speaking of which...Luci, flyboy...neither of you have commented on my suggested protocol. It seems to me that it would be a simple and clear test of the claim, and would eliminate the problems that people like me have with the spoon-bending party anecdotes. I would think you'd jump at the opportunity to support such a test. [/b]
I agree, the proper way to test this will be to remove the subjective element. However, I do not believe we are yet at a sufficiently advanced stage to warrant this. It would seem appropriate to work out the larger potential flaws first, viz., knowing the spoons weren't tampered with, knowing that no amount of physical strength (even given much time) can buckle the bowl of the purported spoons, etc.

Specifically, I have suggested a preliminary experiment in which Jack's party is employed on spoons supplied directly by Oneida (see above post). Once we are in agreement that these more basic flaws have been worked out, I will be the first to rush it to the labs. What do you think?
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Old 19th July 2004, 12:00 PM   #25
Mercutio
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Quote:
Originally posted by flyboy217

I agree, the proper way to test this will be to remove the subjective element. However, I do not believe we are yet at a sufficiently advanced stage to warrant this. It would seem appropriate to work out the larger potential flaws first, viz., knowing the spoons weren't tampered with, knowing that no amount of physical strength (even given much time) can buckle the bowl of the purported spoons, etc.
On the face of it, this sounds reasonable. But if we do determine that the bowls cannot be bent, we have not supported any theory of how they do get bent. We are still left with at least 2--psi and cheating, and perhaps more (say, that the bowl-bent spoons are all of a particular shape, which is different from the ones we have tried).

I, myself, would prefer to cut to the chase. If the claim is that it is the psi attention that assists the bend, then test that. Eliminate all else. Do it mechanically using a standard device and standard spoons and we remove the possibility of the structure making a difference, and if done right, we remove the possibility of cheating (by pre-bending, or whatever).


anecdote:
At one dinner at TAM2, Quinn borrowed a quarter from me. I knew, of course, that when I got the quarter back, it would be bent. I even signed my initials on it to guard against a switch, and then kept my eye on him to the best of my ability. He bent my quarter, of course, which (try it with one yourself) is considerably less flexible than a spoon (oh, he also bent a fork while we were there), and I did not see him do it despite being on high alert. Do I think Quinn has PK abilities? Not at all, nor did he claim any. Do I think I would rather trust a mechanical device, rather than assume that I would be able to pick up any cheating with a hand-held spoon? Oh, yeah....
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Old 19th July 2004, 01:38 PM   #26
flyboy217
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It would seem this post got lost, since the forum is acting funny:

I would like to suggest a preliminary experiment which should be agreeable to both sides. I will use the terms "skeptics" and "believers" here loosely.

The believers claim that skeptics cannot do it, because they are unwilling to let it happen. Skeptics believe that believers are employing some measure of trickery or (self-)deception. So how about the following.


Go to Mr. Houck's California party in October, armed with a box of the same Oneida utensils he claims to be ordering (I can post the link here again if anyone is interested). Make sure they are unopened between shipping and the party. At the party, keep half as a control group, and the other half to be used for the party. Keep the control group as far from the party as possible. Allow Mr. Houck to do his thing, and wait for the results.

Be as inconspicuous as possible at the party. Ideally, one would simply provide Mr. Houck with the untampered spoons, and sit back in a corner of the room and observe carefully.

Then, hold a control party, with different (preferably skeptical) attendees. Use the control spoons. Teach them nothing about the purported psi methods. Ask them to perform the same feats that were accomplished at Houck's party. Presumably, nobody there will be able to bend the head of a spoon over, as it appears physically nearly impossible with one's hands alone.


This seems to be a reasonable preliminary experiment. Thoughts?
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Old 19th July 2004, 03:11 PM   #27
walthrup48
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Quote:
Originally posted by flyboy217
[...] sit back in a corner of the room and observe carefully.
One possible hiccup: if Mr Houck was handling one of your spoons and it was obscured even for an instant, you wouldn't be able to confidently assert that no trickery had taken place. The results of that particular spoon test would be invalidated. You'd have to hand Mr Houck another spoon and ask him to perform again. Inconspicuousness might be a problem
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Old 19th July 2004, 03:40 PM   #28
Mercutio
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Quote:
Originally posted by JimTheBrit
One possible hiccup: if Mr Houck was handling one of your spoons and it was obscured even for an instant, you wouldn't be able to confidently assert that no trickery had taken place. The results of that particular spoon test would be invalidated. You'd have to hand Mr Houck another spoon and ask him to perform again. Inconspicuousness might be a problem
I agree. As I said above, I was watching Quinn carefully, and he still managed to bend my quarter without my seeing it. Why design an experiment that is so difficult to control?
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Old 19th July 2004, 08:52 PM   #29
flyboy217
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Quote:
Originally posted by JimTheBrit
One possible hiccup: if Mr Houck was handling one of your spoons and it was obscured even for an instant, you wouldn't be able to confidently assert that no trickery had taken place. The results of that particular spoon test would be invalidated. You'd have to hand Mr Houck another spoon and ask him to perform again. Inconspicuousness might be a problem
Easy solution: don't let him anywhere near the spoons or audience members. Keep cross-angled video cameras around to make sure he doesn't even approach an attendee. I'm not sure if this is feasible, but I think it sounds reasonable.

Then we are left with the possibility that the audience is filled with magicians. Personally, I trust my own friends to not lie to me about being magicians.

Actually, come to think of it: has anyone seen a trick where a normal spoon was used, and the bowl was bent by the magician? It would seem that the magician would need a larger piece of equipment to do this than to bend a quarter. In addition, would it be possible to do this trick (again, with a normal spoon) so that it looked as though the spoon turned into a soft putty?

I am only suggesting this as a preliminary test, mind you. It wouldn't prove anything. But in the case of my friends, it certainly convinced me that deeper investigation is warranted.

At some point, certainly a mechanical setup will be necessary to provide more solid evidence. But I don't think we're at a point where sufficient evidence has been collected to convince everyone that such a test is warranted.
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Old 19th July 2004, 09:03 PM   #30
flyboy217
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Duplicate post.
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Old 19th July 2004, 11:08 PM   #31
CFLarsen
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Quote:
Originally posted by Mercutio
Why design an experiment that is so difficult to control?
You do ask the most impertinent questions!!

BECAUSE, OTHERWISE, IT DOESN'T WORK!!!

Sheeesh....(the secret to spoon bending is to bend it when nobody is watching)

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Old 20th July 2004, 12:29 AM   #32
Prester John
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Question:

Could a good "stage magician" replicate the events at the PK parties ?



I'm always curious as why people who claim to have powers that would revolutionise our understanding of the Universe muck around in the entertainment industry.
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Old 20th July 2004, 02:07 AM   #33
Lucianarchy
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Quote:
Originally posted by Prester John
Question:

Could a good "stage magician" replicate the events at the PK parties ?

No. The magician would have to bend all the participants spoons, without them knowing. He would also have to acheive this feat with the bowl too. It simply can't be done.
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Old 20th July 2004, 02:25 AM   #34
Lucianarchy
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Quote:
Originally posted by Mercutio
Haven't made the trip to Goodwill yet. But I will.

Good. It can't be that hard to get hold of a spoon can it?

Is 'Goodwill' some sort of American cutlery store?
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Old 20th July 2004, 02:30 AM   #35
Lucianarchy
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Quote:
Originally posted by CFLarsen


BECAUSE, OTHERWISE, IT DOESN'T WORK!!!

Spoken like a true believer.

Claus, how many magicians can you name who can fold the bowl of a mundane spoon, and have the audience replicate that effect for him? This would be a start, at least. Can you help with some names?
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Old 20th July 2004, 02:47 AM   #36
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Can someone please clarify. Are these sppons bent using the mind or are the people bending them allowed to hold them ?
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Old 20th July 2004, 04:36 AM   #37
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In addition to Lothian's question, what exactly is being claimed here?

Does the PSI effect weaken the metal? Or does it strengthen the person doing the bending?

Whichever it is claimed to be could not be proven one way or another without the aid of materials testing equipment.

Talking about a report of a spoon bending party is not conclusive evidence of anything. Any opinion I give now would be based on hearsay and past experience.
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Old 20th July 2004, 04:47 AM   #38
Mercutio
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Quote:
Originally posted by Lucianarchy
Spoken like a true believer.

Claus, how many magicians can you name who can fold the bowl of a mundane spoon, and have the audience replicate that effect for him? This would be a start, at least. Can you help with some names?
Luci, you have not established that even your anecdotal cases were of someone who could "fold the bowl of a mundane spoon". We have claims, certainly, but nothing with adequate controls (as can be ascertained by reading your reports--indeed, by the admission of the reporters, in some cases!)

Lothian--it would appear that all of them are allowed to touch them. Not merely touch them, in fact, but manipulate them for a period of minutes, in an environment full of distractions--note that flyboy's report mentions that "it only happened while he was watching someone else". Clearly, such an environment is not conducive to precise observation.

Luci--Goodwill is a second-hand store. I am not a wealthy individual; I cannot afford to pick up a brand new set of Oneida flatware on a whim.

Luci--do you think that my suggested protocol would be a fair test of the psi hypothesis? If you like, you could invite the entire group from the Houck party to concentrate...but not to touch. If you are so certain the effect is not achieved by cheating, it seems that my protocol should be acceptable to you.
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Old 20th July 2004, 06:49 AM   #39
flyboy217
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Quote:
Originally posted by CFLarsen
You do ask the most impertinent questions!!

BECAUSE, OTHERWISE, IT DOESN'T WORK!!!

Sheeesh...(the secret to spoon bending is to bend it when nobody is watching)

Pathetic.
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Old 20th July 2004, 06:50 AM   #40
Lucianarchy
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Quote:
Originally posted by Mercutio


Luci--Goodwill is a second-hand store. I am not a wealthy individual; I cannot afford to pick up a brand new set of Oneida flatware on a whim.

Luci--do you think that my suggested protocol would be a fair test of the psi hypothesis? If you like, you could invite the entire group from the Houck party to concentrate...but not to touch. If you are so certain the effect is not achieved by cheating, it seems that my protocol should be acceptable to you.
Why on earth are you erecting such a straw man? No one's claiming to be able to do it without touching. Stick with the claim, Merc. I guess if you covered them in duct tape, immersed them in freezing water and played them the greatest hits of The Partridge Family, they'd not be able to do it that way either. But that's not the claim.

OK, forget Oneida for the time being, just get hold of any old stainless steel dessert spoon. At least give it a go with brute force and a hammer.
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