Jeremy Stein - Journal

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My Encounter with the Paranormal

James Randi is a magician and debunker of paranormal claims. He is probably most famous for exposing the trickery used by psychic Uri Geller who supposedly bent spoons with his mind. James Randi has a Million Dollar Challenge for anyone who can demonstrate paranormal or supernatural powers. Many people apply, but no one so far has been able to demonstrate the ability in a properly designed testing environment.

I occasionally read the claims of the latest applicants. I found that one of the claimants was from my city. He claimed to have telekinetic abilities.

I have found that my presence creates telekinetic/teleportation phenomenon which rearranges and/or teleports random objects in open and closed spaces. Random telekinetically and teleported objects appear in spaces where there are loose debris such as small stones, bits of plastic, metal, glass, leaves, paperclips, etc. These objects appear at random and seemingly from nowhere. Under testing conditions, a short walk from 5 seconds to 20 minutes will produce anywhere from 1 or 2 to several dozen or more objects to appear by themselves. The results are plain to see and obviously appear by themselves, in various random arrangements. I will these phenomenon into being, and/or they happen because of my physical presence alone, therefor I claim to have these powers. I don’t claim to further teleport or otherwise telepathically manipulate these random objects after they appear. [source]

Randi’s organization requested that, before they proceed with negotiating a test protocol, he have 3 professionals (of any field) sign affidavits that they had seen his ability. The applicant was having trouble finding witnesses, so I volunteered.

The applicant eventually took me up on my offer and we agreed to meet at his apartment last Saturday. I was the only witness to show up for this demonstration, but we weren’t alone as his “assistant”, a female friend, also attended. The apartment building was in a poor neighborhood and run down.

We entered the applicant’s apartment and he heated up some pizza and poured mugs of cola. He showed us a collection box that he takes with him to gather the teleported objects for later examination. It included gloves, tweezers, and an old film case used as a container. These are later transferred into a larger box that included all his collected findings to date and included a magnifying glass and a book on investigative methods. He gave me a print-out of his suggested protocol, which basically stated that I should start by looking all around me and then watch very carefully as objects appeared near him.

After eating and engaging in some small talk, we went down to a random floor of my choosing for him to demonstrate his ability. He told me to carefully watch the floor in front of him to see new objects appear. I watched and from time to time, he pointed out some specks that I had not previously noticed. I didn’t see any objects appear in front of me as I examined the floor. I pointed out that the carpet was a blend of dark colors and it easily disguised dirt. I admitted that as I examined the floor, I kept noticing additional objects (dirt, bits of string, various Unidentified Floor Objects). I wondered aloud whether this noticing of new items might be mistaken for new items teleporting.

He insisted that the items are not simply overlooked but actually materialize before one’s eyes. He wanted me to experience this for myself (rather than just showing me the ones that he noticed), so we moved on to another area. The same thing happened there and at the next spot as well.

Eventually I suggested that I be given the opportunity to look over an area of the floor very closely so that I could be certain that any teleported objects he pointed out had not already been sitting on the floor unnoticed. When I found a well-lit area near a window, I got down on my hands and knees and carefully surveyed a section of the carpet. When he came over, he immediately pointed out several specks that had just appeared. I had already noticed them beforehand.

At this point, he was starting to get frustrated and I was getting nervous. He made a (perhaps valid) point that if I was expecting that new objects were simply ones I hadn’t noticed, then that expectation would influence my experience. I was strongly tempted to point out that he may likewise be influenced by the inverse effect, but I thought better of it.

We ran this experiment several more times and I feared he was getting exasperated. I finally suggested that I could carefully videotape an area of the floor, he could demonstrate his ability on camera, and then I could review the tape to see whether the teleported objects really appeared from nowhere. Of course, since the display on my camera is so small, I’d have to first go home to transfer the video to my computer.

He seemed disappointed that he wouldn’t have a signature when I left and he still seemed unhappy as he gave the demonstration in several places for the camera. At this point, I made no negative comments; I think he already knew he had failed. He apologized that I hadn’t been able to see his ability. He then seemed to console himself by saying that he was surprised how the pressure of the demonstration had weakened his ability.

It wasn’t until I left his apartment building that I actually experienced something out of the ordinary. A man approached me with a grin and exclaimed, “Have you tried the tacos?”

“What tacos?”

He looked momentarily confused, but didn’t allow my question to deter him. “Have you tried the tacos?”

“No. Have you?”

He walked away.

July 22, 2006 4 Comments.

4 Comments

  1. Tara replied:

    That’s funny. I think I have the same power: random objects appear all around me when I’m walking around the house. Mostly they look like childrens’ playthings and I’m going to wait to contact JREF until I’ve perfected my technique of telekinetically transporting them to strategically placed toy receptacles.

    August 5th, 2006 at 3:28 pm. Permalink.

  2. Ernest Lehmann replied:

    More here…

    January 15th, 2007 at 9:34 pm. Permalink.

  3. Heather Lehmann replied:

    Satan and his followers are deceivers from the beginning. Do you think that Satan would want unbelievers to believe in him? It is just part of his plan for unbelievers to remain in their darkness of Naturalism.

    February 27th, 2007 at 10:49 am. Permalink.

  4. Ernest Lehmann replied:

    And then there’s this:

    http://space.newscientist.com/article/mg18524911.600-13-things-that-do-not-make-sense.html

    March 3rd, 2007 at 5:09 pm. Permalink.

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