Some time ago, while I was trying to put some order into my video library, I came upon a videotape without any tags or writings that could suggest its content; so, I decided to put the tape in the VCR and find out. It was the recording of a TV show on the paranormal called "Incredibile" and aired by RAI TV a few years ago. I had never seen it and later found out that my sister taped it while I was living in the United States, studying with James Randi.
The discovery proved to be most interesting.
I had read and heard about the achievements of a young spanish girl namedbooks on the paranormal, she Monica Nieto: according to newspapers and appeared to be able to bend metal and see through solid objects. From theseemed to be another mini-Geller, as the imitators of descriptions, she self-proclaimed psychic Uri Geller are called; enthusiastic reports told of her abilities of bending metal rods in sealed glass tubes or spoons and forks under the eyes of the onlookers, others said that the bending never occoured when one was looking (remember the shyness effect of prof. John Taylor?), it only did a long time after the girl had taken the object in her hands and played with it. Sometimes, she would leave the room with a tube for a while and then return hiding its content with the hands andtimes she would dance holding the object in her fists and revealing later that the metal inside it had bent; other close to her body, precluding toPena, the ex-vicepresident of the Sociedad Espanola de Parapsicologia (SEDP), who anybody its sight. Jose L. J. conducted an investigation on theclaimed powers of the girl, said that he believed she could bend the lighter stripes of metal closed inside the glass tube by shaking it vigorously while dancing, the rumors being covered by the loud music she uses to play "for concentration".
Beside these more conventional effects, the girl was noted for anothermessages inside closed containers. The special ability, that is to say the ability to read descriptions I found were very vague and did not allow any speculation.
That's when the videotape came to my help.
The "Incredibile" show was on metal bending and PK and after interviews toexplain what PK was supposed to some parapsychologists who attempted to be,Caceres, Extremadura (Spain) and showed an adolescent girl there came a documentary on Monica Nieto. It had been shot in her own house in obviously enjoing all that attention. The hostess of the show, actress Maria Rosaria Omaggio (a would-be Shirley MacLaine), said that the girl had never before shown her abilities on TV and that she was very happy to do it for the italian TV. The girl then proceeded to show metal bending... well, almost. In the first demonstration, one could see the girl and the hostesstube with a metal rod inside it; a walking by the streets of Caceres, the girl holding a glass voice in the background telling the story of thetaken outside the tube and shown to be bent: incredibile!
girl. At the end of the walk the metal is Next we are in the house of Monica, here a parapsychologist explains howcommision of scientists: a physicist, a the girl had been thouroghly studied by a biologist, an ingeneer, a priest and a parapsychologist - noof them had been convinced of the psychic nature of her powers. conjurors, sorry - and all Monica is then asked to bend a piece of metal in front ofthe camera: the rod is placed in the tube and a cork placed on top of it - not sealed, only placed; the girl takes the tube with her two hands and suddenly the image on the screen freezes and fades away! After a while (how long, we'd like to know?) the images return on the girl: she is still seated with her hands on the tube, but now the metal inside it is bent.
What had happened during that interval? Had it been possibile for the girlappear important to be included to exit the room or do something else that didn't in the documentary? Did the girl go on and on sitting with thecameramen to stop taping? Who knows, they don't tell us.
tube forcing thus the Finally, comes the most revaling part of the whole documentary, the X-ray eyes demonstration.
The hostess shows a few pieces of paper with names of colours or phrases incarboard box is introduced and a spanish written upon them. An hand-made billet chosen at random placed inside the box, face down; a lid is placedwhich is then given to the girl.
on the box Seated in an arm-chair with a long back and wings at the sides of her head,rotates it, turns it upside down she manipulates the box very close to her face, and presses it; most of the time she is looking not at the box but atWhat is very clear in the film is that with her thumbs she raises the experimenters faces. the lower part of the box and reads the billet (seewhile the attention of the spectators is misdirected by all her sudden moves and requests like: "Can figures) I turn the music on? It helps me".
After a while she announces her guess, obviuosly correct.all the attention she gets from the The girl had finally demonstrated to be a fraud who surely enjoys media; in an interview she is quoted to say: "Ipictures and all the rest". There surely is nothing wrong with that, in like very much to be in the magazines, with her point of wiew: fooling somepopular. What is certainly wrong is the attitude of those who present the case as unexplicable to the adults and getting audience and furnish no clues as to an alternative explanation of it. Something correct would have been to call a professional conjuror to comment on the video. Well, incredibly as it may seem, they did, but this proved to be more confusing than anything else.
The conjuror is a very popular one to tv audiences in Italy, and is alsoGeller-like psychic: not a very know for his attempts in the past to be credited as a good choice. What happened is that he asked where the box cametransparent; having the hostess said that the box had been brought by from and if it was herself and was not transparent, he declared that the only explanation could be clarvoyance. A conjuror, he explained, could do the same but only if he can direct the game (which was exactly what Monica did); he then proceded to perform his version of the trick which, in reality, had nothing to do with the one used by the girl.
This, I think, is the kind of things that convices people the most of theconjuror declaring that there is no reality of psychic phenomena: here is a famous possible trick, ergo: the girl really did it by psychic powers!
Montecelos, Alfonso. 1987. Una Dolce Mirada Que Dobla El Acero. Ya Rivista, p. 15.
Pena, Jose L. J. 1990. Las Capacidades Prodigiosas de Monica Nieto. Psi Comunicacion, n. 31-32, pp. 55-60.
Stone, Reuben. 1993. Mysteries of the Mind. Leicester: Bookmart Ltd.