John Hasted. The Metal Benders. Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1981.
This book takes one back to the heyday of William Crookes and Oliver Lodge, when white-coated scientists soberly and po-facedly reported all sorts of astounding marvels. There is the same deep assurance that 'none of these conjurer Johnnies' could get the better of the scientist. So we see Hasted claiming many things for his child metal ­ benders. Far from adding confidence to claims of metal-benders this book, albeit unconsciously, does much to undermine them. Those looking for a detailed account of a conclusive experiment will be disappointed. There are, however, plenty of anecdotal accounts of Uri Geller and others even more amazing. These include tales of children being teleported through walls, which apparently feels like being in a blizzard. Tales of Philippine healers, long demolished as hoaxes, are retold without critical comment.

This is perhaps less an indication of the author 's credulity than of his lack of background knowledge in parapsychology. It is also an indication of the way in which scientists have a general tendency to quote papers and monographs quite uncritically. Most of the time this escapes notice, and it is only in controversial areas, and places where pseudo-scientific garbage is quoted with the same solemnity, that this comes to notice. Much of the book is very technical; strain gauges and equations abound, and the non-technical reader (like yours truly) is of course unable to tell whether any of this is of much validity. -- Peter Rogerson. Magonia 11, 1982.

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