John Hasted

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John Hasted
Born16 February 1921
Died4 May 2002
OccupationPhysicist, Parapsychologist, writer

John Barrett Hasted (17 February 1921 – 4 May 2002) was a British physicist and folk musician.[1]


Hasted was born in Woodbridge, Suffolk. He attended Winchester College and won a choral scholarship to New College, Oxford, where he read chemistry and later focused on atomic physics.[2]

From 1968 until his retirement he was head of experimental physics at Birkbeck College, London. He was the author of Physics Of Atomic Collisions (1964), Aqueous Dielectrics (1973), The Metal Benders (1981), and his autobiography, Alternative Memoirs (1992).

He was also active as a folk singer, folk club organiser, and leading light of the Second British Folk Revival.[2]


Hasted was a believer in psychokinesis. He endorsed the spoon bending feats of Uri Geller and other alleged psychics. A 1987 report by the United States National Academy of Sciences investigated the paranormal claims of Hasted and chided him for his naiveté for playing into the hands of anyone intending on deceiving him. The report wrote that the conditions of his 1974 tests with Geller did not rule out the possibility of trickery.[3]

Hasted believed that children could paranormally bend paperclips inside a glass sphere, provided the sphere had a hole in it and they were allowed to take the sphere into a room unobserved. Martin Gardner wrote Hasted was incapable of devising simple controls such as videotaping the children secretly.[4] Stephen North, a British psychic, was tested by Hasted in the late 1970s. Hasted claimed North had the psychokinetic ability to bend spoons and teleport objects in and out of sealed containers.[5] North was tested in Grenoble on 19 December 1977 in scientific conditions and the results were negative.[6] According to James Randi, during a test at Birkbeck College North was observed to have bent a metal sample with his bare hands. Randi wrote "I find it unfortunate that [Hasted] never had an epiphany in which he was able to recognize just how thoughtless, cruel, and predatory were the acts perpetrated on him by fakers who took advantage of his naivety and trust."[7]

The physicist John Taylor gave The Metal Benders (1981) a negative review. According to Taylor the metal bending tests had poor controls and Hasted was not in the same room as the subjects for some of the tests. Taylor wrote that "not only are the tests not watertight but the conjectured theory is monumentally silly." Hasted suggested in the book that paranormal effects arise through telepathy from the individual in a parallel universe.[8]


  • Physics Of Atomic Collisions (1964)
  • Aqueous Dielectrics (1973)
  • The Metal Benders (1981)
  • Alternative Memoirs (1992)


  1. ^ David Gregory. (2002). In Memoriam: John Hasted, 1921-2002. Canadian Folk Music/Bulletin de musique folklorique canadienne, Vol 36, No. 2. pp. 3-8.
  2. ^ a b Ken Hunt. "John Hasted". The Guardian. September 9, 2002.
  3. ^ Kendrick Frazier. (1990). The Hundredth Monkey and Other Paradigms of the Paranormal. Prometheus Books. pp. 159–160. ISBN 978-0-87975-655-0
  4. ^ Martin Gardner. (1991). The New Age: Notes of a Fringe-Watcher. Prometheus Books. pp. 28-29. ISBN 0-87975-644-6
  5. ^ John Hasted. (1981). The Metal-Benders. Routledge & Kegan Paul. ISBN 0-7100-0597-0
  6. ^ Marcel Blanc. (1978). "Fading Spoon Bender". New Scientist. p. 431.
  7. ^ James Randi. (1982). Chapter Off the Deep End in Flim-Flam! Psychics, ESP, Unicorns, and Other Delusions. Prometheus Books. ISBN 0-87975-198-3
  8. ^ John Taylor. (1981). "The Metal Benders by John Hasted". New Scientist. p. 438.