May 10, 2002

"Object" Demystified, Pet Psychic, One More Stupid Patent, That Shroud Again, The "Creature" in the Tomb, and More of Those Damn Orbs!

Danish skeptic Dann Simonsen read the piece here last week about the ludicrous name-dropping of Uri Geller, and enlightens us here concerning the "mystery" object that he said was given to him by John Lennon. Said Geller:

[Lennon] actually believed in UFOs and he gave me an object that he claimed he got from an extraterrestrial entity. I still have it, but I want to leave the mysticism around it and that's why I have never had it tested. No one in the world has ever seen anything like it.

To prepare the reader for what follows: A remarkable chap named Piet Hein (1905-1996) was a Danish poet, designer, artist, genius, and scientist with very wide-ranging interests. He originated the "Soma Cube," a 3-D version of "tangrams" (look it up). The Soma Cube is a set of seven all-different shapes that can be assembled into a single cube in over 200 different ways. (These are matters of great interest to mathematicians and puzzle-folks, but need not take too much of our attention here.)

In addition, Hein created a new geometrical form, the "super-ellipse", which is something in between the rectangle and the ellipse. Rotated about its axis, the form generates a 3-D solid which is called "the super egg" or "the super-ellipsoid." Read what Dann tells us:

The mysterious "object" [that Geller marveled over] was displayed on TV when [he] appeared as — I think — an "expert (!) in the paranormal." Geller told his audience the same story then. However, as so often is the case with Geller, it is not quite true that "no one in the world has ever seen anything like it." I happen to be the owner of one of these objects, but it definitely was not handed down to me by an E.T. I received mine in the late 1960s from a relative who purchased the item in an ordinary souvenir shop. . . .

The largest super egg in the world, made of steel and aluminum and weighing one ton, was placed outside of Kelvin Hall in Glasgow, October 1971, in honor of Piet Hein, but most of them weigh considerably less and are just 3 cm. tall. John Lennon probably got his at the very esoteric Norden Fjord World University in Skyum Bjerge in Denmark, which he and Yoko Ono visited for the Christmas holidays in 1969-70. We all know that — unlike Geller — John Lennon had a sense of humor, so he may have claimed that he got his super egg from an alien. Consequently, Geller is probably right when he "never had it tested" in order to "leave the mysticism around it." But then again — unlike mine, his egg may actually have been manufactured by extraterrestrial aliens....

Yet another myth shattered.... I find it rather delicious that Lennon might have played such a joke on Geller, though Geller can obviously turn even such a ludicrous item as this into a few lines of needed media babble. He never even thought of having it "tested," I'm sure. If he had, it would have been a real thigh-slapper.....

Referring to my item recently re radio station KFI 640 AM in Los Angeles, a reader comments on my statement: "On Sundays, listeners can get two inspiring hours of 'The Truth, The Light, and The Way,' as well.... Wow!"

The Sunday show you are referring to is "The Jesus Christ Show," in which the host answers calls "in character" as Jesus Christ. It may interest you to know that the host of the show, Neil Saavedra, is a magician member of The Magic Castle in Hollywood. Although you and he would disagree on matters of religion, I know that Neil is a fan of much of what you do, as he and I have discussed you often. In fact, I have been to Neil's home several times, and among the magician posters adorning the walls of his living room is one of The Amazing Randi.

I replied:

Concerning your statement, "I know that Neil is a fan of much of what you do," I will tell you that many dedicated religious persons are. However, as soon as I question their own favored superstitions, they balk. Personal resurrection, loaves and fishes, water to wine, raising the dead, etc., etc., are embraced — because they're part of the Jesus mythology; they're "in the book." In the same way, many believers out there say that while they don't accept James Van Praagh or Sylvia Browne at all, they do accept John Edward....!

Yes, I view religious miracle claims just as I do those made by the "psychics"of today. An examination of the tales told about, and by, Simon Magus, Josephus, Apollonius of Tyana, and other contemporaries of Jesus Christ, reveal that they, too, were claiming the same type of miracles. I see no reason to evaluate the miracles of one any differently from the miracles of the others. In my book, there's no evidence for any of them, just anecdotal material.

Since "pet psychics" are getting popular again in the USA, I'm getting inquiries and comments about them. Regarding one of the current animal seers, Sonya Fitzpatrick, a reader wonders about a comment on her web page. The reader writes:

Ms. Fitzpatrick, of course, has her own website, where she offers one-on-one psychic readings via phone for the low, low price of just $300/hr, with a one-hour minimum. The website, in a rare burst of truthfulness, notes, "A telephone consultation is just as accurate and effective as an in-person consultation." Several other howlers are spread through the site, including this gem: "Sonya's first intimate relationship was with her terrier....."

No comment.

I received an inquiry — and the answer — from Justin, a listener to the JREF Internet Show (Thursday nights at 9 p.m. Eastern time):

What do you get when you mix John Edward, a Pet Psychic, and Sylvia Browne? Someone who agrees to contact your dead pet, but never shows up for the appointment....!

The JREF isn't in the prediction business, as I'm sure you know. But here's an item about which I feel we can safely make a major forecast. Yet another stupid US patent, #6,362,718, was granted on March 26, 2002 for something the four listed inventors call, "The Motionless Magnetic Generator" (MEG) which they say is

. . . likely to become the first commercially available free energy device in history in about one year from now. The machine will provide free electricity from the vacuum, for the life of the device, which should be a very long life since it has no moving parts.

Here you see a photo of "scientist Jean Louis Naudin's MEG replication model." Now, what's meant here by "replication model," is anyone's guess. From the photo, it appears as if this device is powering an electric light bulb, wouldn't you say? But is the term "replication model" a way of saying that, if the device actually worked, this is what it would do?

On Sunday, April 28th, I sent this e-mail inquiry to Jean Louis Naudin:

Dear Sir: an inquiry....

(1) A photo appears at (a copy is attached) referred to as a photo of "[your] MEG replication model." Does this show the MEG device actually lighting an electric bulb, or is this only a simulation of what the device should do?

(2) Is the electric light bulb shown in the photo being powered by the device, or by another source of power not seen to be evident in the photo?

Thank you for your kind attention to these two questions. James Randi

As usual, I attached the address and all other contact information for the JREF, to this message. That was 12+ days ago. These two questions are not difficult to answer, in my opinion. If I ever have any response, I'll let you know. All the MEG information can be seen at the address shown above.

Note that a potent notice appears on that site:

Disclaimer: The author assumes no liability for any incidental, consequential or other liability from the use of this information. All risks and damages, incidental or otherwise, arising from the use or misuse of the information contained herein are entirely the responsibility of the user. Although careful precaution has been taken in the preparation of this material, I assume no responsibility for omissions or errors in the diagrams or measurement datas [sic] published here.

Does this mean that the site can consist of lies and hyperbole, errors and omissions, misrepresentations and false data? The site exults that "the patent office has always been skeptical of devices which seem to get-something-for-nothing," yet the office granted the MEG a patent. We also see here the statement that "Patents are not granted on devices which do not work, so in a sense this announcement [of the granting of the MEG patent] proclaims a new era." Au contraire, not so, and no way. As readers of this page are well aware, the US Patent office regularly issues patents on useless, frivolous, non-working devices! 'Way back when the people who ran the Patent Office were both smart and educated, as well as responsible in their duties, that wasn't the case. But it is now.

The MEG site informs us that

[Inventor] Tom Bearden has explained the operation of the MEG on his website, and also speaks about the new fearful weapons that can and have been made [sic] using the same "longitudinal waves" of the vacuum.

This is about as convincing as something penned by L. Ron Hubbard, in either of his two incarnations: science-fiction writer or nut case. What "fearful weapon" has been made to operate on "longitudinal waves"? But just look into what else appears on the site. Bearden tells us that his theories on the MEG also explain how Uri Geller bends spoons. That, in my opinion, is a very significant statement that bears on the writer's sanity and discernment. Bearden claims to be the head of an organization titled, "The Association of Distinguished Scientists"(ADS), which was founded "sometime in the 1960's" and in which membership "is restricted to those scientists and inventors who are awarded the Distinguished Scientist Award by the Association." Seems incestuous, to me. There are just seventeen members of this august group, several of whom are very dead and were awarded membership without ever having even heard of the Association. I'm insulted and angry that Richard Feynman, my friend who so distinguished himself in real science, is included, willy-nilly, in their list of members. Ben Franklin and Nicola Tesla, also both real scientists, are on the list, as is Andrija Puharich, who brought us the benefits of Uri Geller.

Bearden confidently predicts that

As an example, by the time we get a year along into the site, I expect to see a superluminal communication system entering the commercial markets. The system is already working now, and is built by a close colleague and friend. We will say more about that when the time comes.

Well, we're now more than a year "into the site." Surely we could now see this "working" system? If not, just when will this "time" come? Bearden's site abounds in inane comments like this next one, on conventional methods of producing electricity:

10 Trillion Percent of the Current Produced is Wasted!

Hey, from one who is not PhD'd in any respect, Dr. Bearden, I can tell you that no system can waste more than 100% of anything.... But then, I'm only an amateur.

Beardon promises us:

The first MEG units to be produced for sale will output 2.5 kilowatts of free electricity. Forever. They should be in production about a year from now. Facilities for manufacturing the device are being set up in an unnamed "friendly nation."

This free electricity will flow indefinitely, without much, or any maintenance. The units may be hooked together to provide more wattage, so four of them would provide 10 kilowatts. [Hey, he really can do math!] After some production experience, units will be made which output 10 kilowatts each. With a couple of those units a house could get off the electrical grid.

Well, here's my own very confident prediction: I go back to the opening claim made for the MEG: that it is "likely to become the first commercially available free energy device in history in about one year from now." I'll give it a year from this last April 1st, to be quite fair and generous. No, I'll make it two years. Hold on. Make that 200 years. Tom, if you're right, you're a super genius, and you're also at least a million dollars richer. But you're not right, you're not a genius, and you won't be any richer — except off the backs of those who invest in your scam.

I'm waiting. Two years or two hundred years from now, we'll still be waiting for yet another hollow claim to be fulfilled, and people like Tom Bearden will still be making the claims. Why? How can they get away with this? BECAUSE NO AGENCY OR INDIVIDUAL, EITHER IN THE STATE OR FEDERAL GOVERNMENTS, WHO ARE COMMISSIONED TO PROTECT US FROM SWINDLERS LIKE DENNIS LEE AND TOM BEARDEN, WILL DO ANYTHING TO STOP THEM FROM TAKING THE MONEY OF THE INNOCENTS OUT THERE WHO HAVE CHOSEN TO BELIEVE THE CLAPTRAP THEY'RE OFFERED. WE ARE NOT BEING PROTECTED!

A colleague forwarded me an aerial shot on a UK "streetmap" site in which the imaginative (desperate) viewer might find yet one more face-of-Christ image. This was seen on what appears to be a soccer-field labeled, "Selhurst Park." The fuzzy image looked a bit familiar, and I looked up a Shroud of Turin photo. Without further comment, I show you here, left-to-tight, a "negative" Shroud image, the soccer field, and a "positive" Shroud image. You can find the streetmap site at:

We get a lot of weird material here, as I'm sure you've noted. This next bit sure takes some kind of prize, though. A Russian chess player who lives in the Netherlands and speaks several languages (see him at, participated in a chess tournament in Cairo, Egypt, last month. Having an avid interest in the paranormal, he visited the Pyramid of Chefren, where a perfectly normal error with his digital camera led him to believe that he had recorded "the asuri," a "creature from a parallel world." He wrote (very minor corrections in grammar made):

This photograph of this creature, invisible to the human eye, is the only picture of its kind in the world! Nobody else in human history has ever managed to capture this creature on a photograph inside one of the Great Pyramids of Egypt. Before, this creature has only been met inside the caves of Tibet and Himalayas, by the expedition of professor Ernst Muldashev, well-known scientist/ophthalmologist, explorer, author. . .

No, the "creature" is not the obvious one with the glasses; that's the chess-player. Look at the lower right, and you'll see a tiny neon-orange shape. This is what the author would have us believe is a being from a "parallel world." Well, I have another theory. But let's continue with his description. Here is a blow-up selected from the previous photo:

The author describes what he sees in this image:

As you can see on the . . . [blown-up] photo . . . the creature has a complex form and structure. There is a "head" with a "brain," "tail," and "vertebrae." It appears to consist of plasma. The yellow part of the creature is higher in temperature than the peripheral red part of it, cooled off from contact with the environment in the room.

Yes, this is a very imaginative interpretation. By now, I suspect, my readers will have solved this very minor mystery, but I'll try to establish a case for the very ordinary quality of the image, as if that's needed. But first, the author continues:

In the right part of the first photo you can see an electrical device, an air conditioner, used to dry the air in the room. But the creature on the photograph is absolutely not like an electrical discharge because it has too complex and developed a form and structure. Besides the plastic of the button of the conditioner doesn't conduct electricity. [?]

Did that do it for you? Yes, this chap has captured a smeared image of the tiny pilot-light on the air conditioner. To register the entire image under the poor light conditions inside the tomb, the camera shutter stayed open, and during the long exposure (probably several seconds) the hand-held camera moved in a short jerk up and to the left, then back again. What would normally be a point-image of the neon light, has become a trail, a trace, of orange light. Now look at this next version of the author's larger-format image which I have prepared to establish the way the image was formed:

Here, I have located spots of high-contrast or brightness in the original, and I have indicated by short pink lines the path that the camera jogged through during the exposure. The subject's belt-buckle, wristband, and the corners of his sleeves, along with many others also indicated, have moved on the recording surface inside the camera. Included is the neon-light itself. The author, however, feels he was vindicated in his paranormal interpretation by the professor, who apparently was just as naive:

Later having met professor Muldashev and his expedition . . . my version was confirmed.

But our chess-wiz was hardly finished with discovering marvels. Having accepted and embraced this minor camera error as a miracle, he next heartily swallowed another digital-camera weakness, one we've described here previously, the "orbs" illusion. This registers dust motes, snowflakes, or small insects that are located close to the camera, 'way out of focus and not seen by the eye. They register as foggy spheres, particularly when highly illuminated by a flash — which appears to be the case here. I have cropped the original photo to show only five of the sphere images, which are of different sizes due to their varying distances from the camera. The larger the image, the closer the mote or insect was to the camera. I've indicated the center of each image with a light blue dot. The author writes:

On this photograph I managed to capture a large number of white balls, different in size, density and structure. The smaller the ball, the denser it is. . . . The largest ball can be found near me, on the level of my neck. [man in the white shirt] I would like to say that these balls were not visible to the human eye, but appeared on the photograph.

Ah, but there's more. On another photo he took (not shown here), there are foggy smears that he describes as,

the "involute torsion field," a part of the Global Information Field, which contains information about the past, the present and the future, the Global Knowledge.

Now let us try to understand this gentleman, and why he would choose to devise, develop, and believe such an outlandish scenario. He's an intelligent person, but obviously a mystic, which is a characteristic of his ethnic background, and this is a strong cultural factor for him. He has read the so-called scientific works of another mystic, and has accepted them. Here he is on his first trip to Egypt, a place he's always wanted to visit, a land of mystery if ever there was one. He's surrounded by exotic people and ancient artifacts that he's yearned to see. Is it any wonder that he's very suggestible, and will discover things that are not really there? He sums up:

What conclusions can be drawn from the events which happened to me in Egypt? There are parallel worlds, they exist! They are inhabited by creatures, who we can see and meet under certain circumstances, when they become visible to us. Creatures from parallel worlds contact us. It is possible, under these circumstances, to learn the future. In my case it was a digital camera, very sensitive to weak energies invisible to the human eye.

No, I don't think so. These were all quite ordinary events and phenomena, magnified and distorted by the circumstances, and given a romantic, mystical, quality by the tendency of this man to find wonders in the otherwise mundane. Such words as "plasma," "creature," "parallel," "invisible," and "energies" are cabalistic to him; after all, his is a world of chess, a game world, a rarified and unreal place not related to reality. I can easily understand how he came to these conclusions.

We've been inundated with enthusiastic "JVP" postings providing the requested analyses of the two "reading" excerpts given here on our page last week. It's going to take much time — willingly spent! — to organize the observations you've made. I'll prepare a summation of the material, add a few of my own comments (did you doubt that?) and I think we'll have an excellent critique and take-apart of how James van Praagh fooled Larry King — and a few million others. "Devastating" only begins to describe the material.....!