I think it can be worth mentioning on this blog that I am getting some television time soon. Uri Geller is known to a lot of people and in recent years he has been doing this television show with different mentalist competing against each other. It is of course a bit strange that a person who started his career claiming to not be a magician now hosts a competition with mentalists. (Mentalist is the term used among magicians to describe those of us that simulate psychic abilities.) In Sweden it is on kanal 5 that one can see the Swedish version of the show that is called Fenomen (Phenomenon). The first program will air on the 27th March 20:00 CET and it is live television so I can’t say anything here about how it is going to go, at least not without having the power to predict the future. But I can say this, so far I have got good press, only good press, and this is before the show have started.
We had a meeting with the press on Tuesday with reporters from some of the major newspapers, so far I have been mentioned by two. At least that is what I know about.
First we had the reporter from Expressen, she was not very impressed by my friend Peter Gröning who didn’t get the card she was thinking of right away but had to get it on the second attempt, I think that should have been impressive enough. Later she asked Dan Kirsch a very gifted mentalist (not in any supernatural way) to read her mind and he apparently did a mathematical effect that didn’t impress her very much. After all that she was convinced about the non-existence of any supernatural powers. But after that she had the misfortune to meet me. Apparently I managed to impress her with some metal bending, an old Uri Geller speciality. But of course I didn’t have the benefit of supernatural powers so I had to resort to the art of illusion. The article is not online but those of you who know Swedish can read it since I scanned it and posted it here. What I consider the interesting part is this:
När träffen är över är jag övertygad, det finns inga magiska krafter. Men mentalismen (sic) Per Johan Råsmark rubbar min övertygelse när han böjer en gaffel – med minimal muskelstyrka och mig som hjälp. Hur det gick till vet nog bara han.
(When the meeting is over I am convinced, there are no magical powers. But the mentalism (sic) Per Johan Råsmark alters my conviction when he bends a fork – with minimal muscle force and my help. How it was done he is probably the only one who knows.)
At the meeting with the press I also met an old friend Clas Svahn a journalist from Dagens Nyheter (DN) the most prestigious newspaper in Sweden. The article that he wrote can be found online. It is of course mostly about Geller but the only mentalist that is more than just named in the article is me. Svahn who is very sceptical minded and loves investigating different phenomenon and strange stories, writes not only about what I do but also about my involvement in the sceptic movement. The entire article is in my opinion as sceptical as it should be, people will se amazing things in this television show but it will be a question of us mentalists fooling the audience. The only difference between magicians and mentalists is that to us “magic” is just one of the techniques used to fool our audience.
Here are some of the interesting parts in the DN article:
En bit längre bort står en av de svenska mentalisterna och böjer skedar för brinnande livet. Per Johan Råsmark, som jag har haft nöjet att träffa förut, är både välutbildad och kritisk till bland annat det Uri Geller har ägnat sig åt. Som medlem i Vetenskap och Folkbildning är inte tron på påstådda paranormala fenomen något han vill underblåsa.
– Jag har inga okända förmågor men jag vet hur jag ska få folk att tro att jag har dem, säger han.
(A little further away stands one of the Swedish mentalists and bends spoons as if his life depended on it. Per Johan Råsmark whom I have had the pleasure to meet previously, is both well educated and critical of among other things what Uri Geller have been doing. As a member of Vetenskap och folkbildning (the Swedish sceptics) the belief in paranormal phenomenon is not something he wants to support.
– I have no unknown abilities but I do know how to make people believe that I do, he says.)
As a comment I like to point out that as far as I remember I only bent one spoon and one fork during this meeting with the press. Concerning the spoon it was a spoon brought by a photographer for “Aftonbladet” (if I am not mistaken). The spoon was handed to Geller but since he really doesn’t do things like that any more unless he is really sure to get away with it he handed the spoon to Peter Gröning who was standing right next to him. Since Gröning don’t do much metal bending but knows that I do he handed the spoon to me. I used a Richard Osterlind technique and did a good bend before handing it back to Geller, who without hesitation signed the spoon and gave it to the photographer.
Huvudpersonerna är tio svenskar: Claudia de la Creme, Peter Varg, Stefan Odelberg, Claes Danell, Alexander Vasiliou, Dan Kirsch, Riku Koponen, Henrik Silver och Per Johan Råsmark.
Alla duktiga mentalister som kan få våra ögon att inte tro vad som utspelar sig framför dem. Exakt vad de ska visa vet vi inte. Men efter att ha sett Per Johan Råsmark lura skjortan av ett rum fyllt med kritiska kursdeltagare när UFO-Sverige höll fältundersökarutbildning för ett par år sedan är jag beredd på det mesta.
(The main characters are ten Swedes: Claudia de la Creme, Peter Varg, Stefan Odelberg, Claes Danell, Alexander Vasiliou, Dan Kirsch, Riku Koponen, Henrik Silver och Per Johan Råsmark.
All accomplished mentalists that can make our eyes not believe what takes place right in front of them. Exactly what they will do we do not know. But after having seen Per Johan Råsmark completely fool a room filled with critical minded attendees of a field investigator course held by UFO-Sweden a couple of years ago I am prepared for almost anything.)
Just a short comment about the other competitors: I didn’t know many of them before the show but I have got the impression that they are all very nice people and it is a pleasure working with them. Because at the moment that is what we all feel, we are working with each other to make as good a show as possible. It is unfortunate that some of us are going to be voted off the show. Still I miss some of my friends that I would have hoped would have been on the show.