Ronnie at Berkeley

James Randi --- Wizard ((no email))
Tue, 5 Apr 1994 09:03:07 -0400


Ronnie Marcus was tested at Berkeley today. The physicists in charge
decided to ignore the suggested protocol offered by Prof. Ray Hyman, a very
competent, experienced, and specialized researcher in the field of
The tests were planned to comply with Ronnie's claimed abilities. First
he was asked to perform his famous "hot foil" demonstration. He refused to
do so, just perhaps the trick method of doing this was described here
recently. He was then shown eight sealed boxes containing hidden items, and
asked what was in them. He failed. (In practice, Ronnie likes to used
matchboxes which he handles; he was not allowed to handle these, and
complained about that fact. In fact, he complained all day.)
He tried to change watches psychically. He failed. He was presented
with a matchbox in a sealed glass container and asked to levitate it as he
has done countless times before. No success. He was given a spoon in a
similar "atmosphere controlled" container. No results.
The experimenters gave in, relaxed the controls. The cameraman offered
spoons he'd brought along (now we're doing a free-for-all, no controls, no
protocol, totally useless efforts) and Ronnie offered to teach the cameraman
how to "put himself into the spoon" and to thus bend it. Thinking the
monitoring video camera was now on the cameraman, Ronnie made a bad mistake.
He made a quick movement, and lo! the spoon was bent. Later frame-by-frame
analysis showed the move clearly, pressure from his thumb which simply bent
the spoon by perfectly ordinary, physical means.
There will be no more tests of Ronnie Marcus at Berkeley (another day
was planned) and a leading investigator there has declared that he "won't
touch Ronnie Marcus again."
Tomorrow, Ronnie will be tested at Santa Cruz. I predict that he will
complain bitterly about today, will say that he was trying to please, came
all the way from Israel to do so, and was badly treated. Ronnie, it was
expensive to bring you to the U.S.A., and you were touted by your mentor as
being a wonder-worker. These folks expected you to do your usual stuff, as
advertised. If Ray Hyman's suggestions had been followed, we'd know a lot
more about you and your work, but the physicists opted to over-instrument
and over-control the situation instead of using proven protocols. That's
because they only know physics; what could a psychologist contribute to
their investigation?
Ronnie, before someone really starts imposing proper protocol on you,
you better start working wonders. That was the original plan, wasn't it?
You see, a lot of folks (not all, but a lot) have gotten much smarter since
the original Israeli Psychic Superstar arrived on these shores. Those folks
are now more aware of how certain people might use tricks (like bending a
spoon with a thumb, for example) and though your mentor will NEVER change
his mind about you, many others will.
Let's see what happens in Santa Cruz. I'll bet that it will be decided
to use a more relaxed protocol, without all those dreadful negative
vibrations. That's the lex loci in some parts of California. If so, I'll
just bet that you'll do much better....
More anon, friends. JR