Hasted, Professor John – 12 Spoon bending - Andrew G and the ‘paperclip scrunch’
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
THE METAL-BENDERS” by JOHN B. HASTED
By far the most difficult type of validation is that of metal-bending unobserved at the time of action. It would be convenient if one could with certainty accept as genuinely paranormal some of the specimens which have been claimed to be paranormally bent by the children in their homes. But this is very difficult to do.
One way would be if by good fortune the properties of paranormally bent metal turned out to be obviously different from those of physically bent metal; but we have already seen that this is unusual. Hardness measurements, for example, are often well within the range of normally bent specimens. I have therefore accepted ‘homework tasks’ as evidence of paranormality only when the metal specimens were enclosed within laboratory glassware.
Two of the British metal-bending children produced their most effective work in the privacy of their own bedrooms; one, Andrew G., invented the ‘paperclip scrunch’. Under his action, paperclip wires curled up into all sorts of shapes; they would twist together and tighten up, making decorative forms. Little men and animals began to make their appearance; at first they were formed from only four or five paperclips, but eventually Andrew worked with as many as fifty or a hundred. ….. The action used to take place quite fast, but failed to occur under visual observation, although audio and magnetic observation have occasionally been successful.
Obviously it is possible to fabricate paperclip scrunches with the fingers, but in order to determine whether the action was paranormal, I decided to find out whether Andrew could produce them inside glass globes. It turned out that he could do this only when the globe contained a small orifice.
Very little success was achieved with completely sealed globes; but when a hole even as small as 2 mm in diameter was allowed, and straightened paperclips were inserted through it, then wonderful scrunches were obtained. Straight metal strips were also inserted; they bent in such a way that they could not be extracted.
It is possible, as Society for Psychical Research member Denys Parsons showed, to unravel a scrunch with the use of tweezers, etc., and to extract it through the orifice in the globe. This exercise was carried out on the scrunch in sphere P. and it showed that the scrunch was apparently prefabricated in small sections. Of course this does not mean that the scrunch tightening was not paranormal.
To cast doubt on Andrew’s scrunches we would need to reproduce similar ones by normal means, using tools. The first such replication was done by David Berglas, but in the opinion of many who saw the result it was not very convincing.
Eventually Society for Psychical Research members Richard Alabone and Denys Parsons produced two impressive normal scrunches; but on inspection we found that the wires were not so tightly bound as in Andrew’s scrunches. Also the time taken for fabrication was rather long, and the tightening was carried out on the entire assembly of paperclips. Andrew, on the other hand, could do the operation in stages, taking only a few minutes per stage; two of his scrunch histories were recorded photographically and the photographic history of one of these appears in Plate 3.4.
In my opinion the tightening of the paperclips within the globe is possible in these short periods of time only when some paranormal distortion takes place; equally rapid achievement of really strong tightening by normal means using tools has not been achieved.
The globes have been widely exhibited and inspected and have impressed many people with the reality of unobserved paranormal metal-bending. However, it has been argued by others that the validation of unobserved phenomena by this technique is not watertight, and I did not pursue the work beyond this stage.