Teach me how to bend spoons with my mind

So how do magicians bend spoons with their minds? I’ve only seen this done once, but the guy was using silverware he’d borrowed from the kitchen staff, so it can’t be that he used a trick fork. How does this trick work?

Talk a lot about how you can bend spoons with your mind. Do something distracting. Bend spoon with your hands, but hide it. Make mumbo jumbo noises and dramatically reveal that spoon is bent.

There is no spoon.

Ahhhhh! Beat me to it! :stuck_out_tongue:
As a starting point, I’d go with two strong earth magnets. One in each hand, under the table. Use them to “grab” the ends of the spoon and bend it.

Or use a trick spoon, one which will slowky curl under the heat of the TV lights.

There are a couple versions. The one that J Cubed alludes to is this:

You are handed a spoon. While no one is looking, you bend that spoon slightly. Now you hold it up cup facing the audience, perfectly horizontal to the ground so that they can’t tell that the bend is there. As you massage the spoon you rotate it so that the bend becomes apparent.

I think you can find James Randi doing it on YouTube, if you search.

Hereare a few methods.

This videouses one of the methods linked above. So does this one, but somewhat more cleverly.

You can’t.

I’ve seen footage of Uri Gellar spoon-bending. His technique was to distract his audience with talk, and give the spoon a good two-handed yank.

Hi. Professional magician and mentalist here who has bent spoons under test conditions on three continents.

This seems like it would be a simple question to answer, but it isn’t. Last time I bothered to count, there were about 40 different methods for achieving spoon-bending effects and illusions of different kinds. This is the nub of the problem.

There are methods that involve fake spoons. Others that use real spoon, but secret preparation. Others that use real spoon, no special preparation, but ‘real-time’ sleight of hand. Others that involve no sleight of hand, but instead use psychological and optical illusions of different kinds. In addition, if you are referring to spoon-bending demonstrations on TV or film (including Youtube!) then of course there are also TV, video, film, editing and CGI tricks to take into account. These don’t work in real-life demonstrations, but can look great on a screen.

Someone who wants to become good at spoon-bending makes it his business to learn as much as possible about all these different methods, and be ready to use them as appropriate - choosing the best method for different circumstances and conditions. Methods can also be combined, which can make the illusion harder to figure out.

Some methods are used mainly by magicians and work best in a ‘performance’ situation. Unfortunately, you are not likely to get reliable information on these methods. Why? Because those who really know (magicians) aren’t inclined to share the information for free on a public message board, and those who are inclined to share don’t really know. This applies to just about anything to do with the methods used by professional magicians. The motto of the Magic Circle is ‘indocilis privata loqui’, which loosely translates as ‘disinclined to talk about the secrets’. It’s all very well finding a Youtube clip or some other source that supposedly ‘reveals’ the methods used by magicians, but you’d be surprised how inaccurate and uninformative most of them really are. Like I said: those who know don’t tell, and those who tell don’t really know. At least, this is usually the case. There are exceptions. There are exceptions to everything.

As others have said, some methods rely on momentarily distracting your attention so that there is a split-second when the performer can physically bend the spoon without you noticing. But this kind of short, sweet summary can be very unhelpful. There’s a world of difference between the bare mechanics and what it takes to make the illusion look real and convincing. The performer needs to learn about performance, misdirection, timing and cogency, and this can take a lifetime. There’s certainly more to it than can be covered in a single answer here on the Straight Dope. It would be like asking ‘how do I learn to play the piano’. One can summarise the basics in a few words, but the fine details take years and years.

One of the clips linked to above features Michael Shermer of the Skeptic Society. I know Michael very well, I’ve lectured and performed for his group, and I consider him a good friend. However, Michael is not a performer. He knows a few spoon-bending methods, but he doesn’t know how to translate those methods into a convincing illusion. This is okay and it’s not a criticism of Michael: it’s not his job to know. That’s why he hires performers like myself and Banachek to entertain people at his conferences. Menawhile, Michael can carry on being a brilliant writer, philospher, editor and pundit, and you should all read his Skeptic magazine because it’s really excellent. (If you get this year’s Spring issue, you’ll see a cartoonified version of me in the ‘Junior Skeptic’ section at the back, explaining some aspects of how cold reading works.)

For the record, I’ve bent spoons under test conditions on three continents. In my stage shows, I get a genuine, non-stooge member of the audience up to check everything first: the spoons and my hands and everything else. They check the spoons are real, not faked in any way, and that there are no chemicals on my hands or secret ‘bending devices’ involved. Doing everything slowly and without misdirection, I take the spoon that the member of the audience has chosen for me to use, I stroke it, and it visibly bends and breaks. I’ve also done this in Chicago earlier this year for C. K. Dexter Haven and Ed Zotti at a private party. Some of my friends in the magic world know how I do this, but no-one else does and the answer sure as heck isn’t on the internet! I can tell you one thing: there’s no psychic ability involved. It’s a trick. But it’s a good one.

You can tell *us *though, right? I mean, *we *won’t tell anyone else, honest! :slight_smile:

Give a man a spoon, feed him for a day.

Teach a man to spoon, and he’ll be popular in prison.

How do you learn to play piano?

How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

How do you bend spoons with your mind?

Practice.

Are you able to say what type of trick it is, i.e., sleight of hand, prior preparation, special spoon, etc?

It seems like I remember reading a magician saying that Uri Geller wasn’t even a particularly good magician. The magician wasn’t as offended at Geller’s fakery as much as his clumsiness.

This is today’s winner! Excellent, Bryan!

I know who you are thinking of, and that guy is the single worst magician I’ve ever seen. He keeps trying to claim that he can reproduce Gellers tricks, but fails every single time.

Here’s a video of Geller performing a magic trick. I’ll leave it to others to judge how good a performance it was. Personally, I think it’s a clever and entertaining trick.

I’d be interested in hearing Ianzin’s opinion. Speaking as a professional magician, Ian, what do you think of Uri’s act in the above link? Just assess it as a magic show, and for the time being leave aside any feelings you may have about him saying that it’s real.

Cecil sez: How did Uri Geller bend spoons?

A while back, an SDMB member’s sig line identified her as someone who could “bend minds with her spoon.”

Speaking as merely an observer of magicians, not as a performer, I was unimpressed. First, his claim that he’s not a magician is just idiotic when he goes on to do an “experiment” that is completely indistinguishable from an ordinary stage magic act, complete with special equipment, music, and lighting effects.

Secondly, as a performance I didn’t think it was all that good. It was slow, predictable, and even if it’s not obvious exactly how the transformations were done, it’s clearly just stage machinery. No one could seriously believe he did it with his “psychic powers.”

The only thing that was even mildly impressive was the bit at the end with the newspaper. I will guess that (assuming the woman wasn’t an accomplice) it was accomplished by warm reading of some sort: the audience might have filled out “releases” or comment cards in advance that provided the needed information.

I wouldn’t care anything about Geller if he simply admitted that he’s a magician. It’s his claim that he has special powers that annoys me, and the fact that so many gullible people seem to buy into it.

So ianzin: I know you won’t reveal how magicians do their tricks, but since Geller insists he’s not a magician, would you care to “out” the “experiments” in the linked video?

:rolleyes:
I just love the way you cut out a large and important part of my post. Just to remind you I said :

[SIZE=“3”]**"Just assess it as a magic show, and for the time being leave aside any feelings you may have about him saying that it’s real. "
**[/SIZE]

How about you doing that, and not attacking him because he say’s it’s real.

By the way, about 99.5% of all magicians tell their audience that they are doing real magic. Very few of them actually say to their audience “by the way, this is all a trick.” Geller is doing exactly the same as almost every other stage magician does.

Exactly. But there are a lot of people who believe they have seen a clever and entertaining magic act.

:rolleyes: right back at ya, Peter.

It’s highly amusing that you give me a hard time for cutting something out of your post. Here’s the **entire **paragraph you quoted:

In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m not ianzin. Therefore, I felt no compunction about disregarding a request you addressed specifically to him.

In any case, you can ask whatever you want. That doesn’t mean we’re required to obey, especially since you’re not the OP or a moderator.

Geller’s a hack, a fraud, a liar, and a piss-poor magician. If you don’t like me saying that, you can lump it.