Thirsty statue update....

James Randi --- Wizard (
Fri, 22 Sep 1995 20:30:41 -0400


I've now seen several video news items on this latest "drinking" statues
brouhaha. The ones I'd been previously told of, were plaster and
ceramic. Some, I now find, are also "marble," though that term covers
many different kinds of stone, some porous and absorbent, some not.
But with the input of Wendy Grossman and Michael Hutchinson, who
offered good observations (as usual) I can now put a more accurate
picture before you.

As with all such matters of mass delusion, there are bound to be different
modes whereby the wonder takes place. One film clip I saw had a small
white figure, well below eye-level, that was believed to have sipped up the
teaspoonful of milk. In all probability, it merely was picked up by surface-
effect capillary action, and ran down the front of the figure. I'm told that
Sanal Edamaraku, a prominent skeptic in India, used colored liquid and
was able to show that this is clearly what's happening, in the cases he
examined. I'd suggested using ink, which would also indicate other
modes. And remember that everyone who gets to "feed" a statue wants
to be a winner, so accepts any taking of the milk to be a personal miracle.
Wouldn't do to go home and say that the god refused to drink....

The metal statues that "drink" are another matter. One woman in the
U.K. claims that her figure drank several liters of milk. It was metal.
Either the milk is just being poured inside, or the lady doth exaggerate
somewhat. I wouldn't be surprised to find that some clever religious
folks have put tiny tubes into their statues and are draining the milk
that way. But disrespectful folks like me don't get the chance to take
a close look. Spoiled miracles are no fun at all.

Not to my great surprise, Uri Geller was summoned from his vast
estate outside London by Sky Television to enlighten England
concerning this series of global miracles. He declared, "Miracles
are very strange....almost paranormal!" Thank you, Mr. G., for this
intellectual coup. Now we can all relax, the phenomenon having been
validated and explained so thoroughly.

Just for the record, I don't believe that statues can drink milk. But
I'm obsessed with reality, as an audience member once told me.
Guilty as charged.
James Randi.


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