John Hasted

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John Hasted
Born16 February 1921
Died4 May 2002
Occupation(s)Physicist, 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 paper clips inside a glass sphere, provided the sphere had a hole in it and they were allowed to take the sphere into a room unobserved. Science writer and skeptic Martin Gardner wrote that 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][page needed] According to James Randi, during a test conducted by Hasted at Birkbeck College, North was observed to have bent a metal sample with his bare hands.[6] North was tested in Grenoble on 19 December 1977 in scientific conditions and the results were negative.[7]

The physicist John Taylor reviewed The Metal Benders (1981) for New Scientist. 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. ^ Frazier, Kendrick (1991). "Improving Human Performance: What About Parapsychology?". The Hundredth Monkey and Other Paradigms of the Paranormal: A Skeptical Inquirer Collection. Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus Books. pp. 159–160. ISBN 978-0-87975-655-0.
  4. ^ Gardner, Martin (1991). The New Age: Notes of a Fringe-Watcher. Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus Books. pp. 28–29. ISBN 0-87975-644-6.
  5. ^ Hasted, John Barrett (1981). The Metal-Benders. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. ISBN 0-7100-0597-0.
  6. ^ Randi, James (1982). Flim-Flam! Psychics, ESP, Unicorns, and Other Delusions. Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus Books. p. 221. ISBN 978-0-87975-198-2.
  7. ^ Blanc, Marcel (16 February 1978). "Fading Spoon Bender". New Scientist. Vol. 77, no. 1090. p. 431. ISSN 0262-4079.
  8. ^ Taylor, John (14 May 1981). "The Metal Benders by John Hasted". New Scientist. Vol. 90, no. 1253. p. 438. ISSN 0262-4079.