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Tags uri geller , project alpha , toronto star , james randi

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Old 1st March 2007, 10:32 AM   #1
Questioninggeller
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James Randi in The Toronto Star Aug 23, 1986

An old article from James Randi in The Toronto Star Aug 23, 1986. This might be of interest:

Quote:
The Amazing Randi
by Patricia Orwen
Toronto Star
August 23, 1986, Saturday

NEW YORK - His last great escape was freeing himself from a straitjacket while hanging upside down from a helicopter over Japan two years ago.

"I can't do that stuff any more though," said James Randi, aka The Amazing Randi. "The audience sees this guy with white hair, a white beard and they say to themselves, 'Oh that poor old guy, he's going to have a heart attack or something'. . . that kind of takes away from the show."

So just when the Toronto native's life seemed destined to become more sedate, normal even - no more being frozen in a block of ice for 55 minutes or being sealed in a coffin under water for an hour and 44 minutes (Randi holds the Guinness record for these dangerous acts) - along comes the MacArthur Foundation to lay something called a "genius award" on him.
...
"We never knew quite what to expect from him," said his sister, Angela Easton of Toronto.
...
Now, with the $272,000 (U.S.) Randi will receive from the foundation over the next five years, he figures he can redouble his attacks upon such "flummery."
...
Time had a few paragraphs on him. The Johnny Carson show had already booked him: "I'm in very heavily with Carson," he said, recapping the exposing of spiritualist table-tipping and Uri Geller spoon-bending techniques he demonstrated on his most recent Tonight Show appearance. One person Randi is out very heavily with is Geller. He calls the Israeli psychic a fraud. But more on that later.
...
He admits with all of that, the small house in Leaside where he grew up seems far, far away. He was Randall Zwinge then, the eldest of three children of a Bell Canada executive and - as he recalls now - something of a "child prodigy . . . when I was nine, I invented a pop-up toaster."

His sister Angela, who is eight years younger, remembers him blowing out the floor of the breakfast room in the process of doing a chemistry experiment in the basement. Other times, when the family would be sitting around listening to a radio program, Randi would suddenly interrupt their reception and that of the whole neighborhood by fooling around on his short-wave radio. "The neighbors used to call and ask him to stop," she said.

Most vivid, however, are her memories of being woken up at 6 a.m. so Randi could try out yet another magic trick on her.

"He was unpredictable . . . you never knew quite what he was going to do," said Sophie Smith, who with her husband Harry ran the Arcade Magic and Novelty Store in the Yonge St. arcade which Randi frequented.

"He was always asking questions, always into things . . . we all liked him."
...
"It was hard for Randi," said Angela. "The family couldn't really understand him. At one point they took him to the Toronto General Hospital for psychological testing . . . all we learned was that he was really bright." His IQ, it turned out, was 168.
...
It was during one of these tours that Randi's career took a definitive turn. One night in Quebec city, he met two policemen who recognized him, showed him a pair of handcuffs and asked: "Can you get out of these?"

"I got in the squad car one side and came out the other with them off. The policemen were totally amazed. So they took me to the jail and I showed them that I could break out of a cell."

The jailbreak made headlines in the papers and Randi's career as an escape artist was launched. Over the years he has broken out of 28 jail cells in Canada and the United States. He had himself put underwater in a sealed casket for an hour and 44 minutes - breaking the late and famous Harry Houdini's record of one hour and 31 minutes set on Aug. 5, l926.

He also freed himself from a strait-jacket as he hung by his heels five storeys above Broadway. Somewhere along the way he had become The Amazing Randi because "nobody could pronounce or remember Zwinge."
...
The United States "offered me more opportunities than I could have had in Canada," he said.

As his feel for magic deepened, he became more and more interested in the way it can be used for deception.

"I have 45 file drawers filled with everything from dowsing to vampires to psychic surgery: "Did you know that Peter Sellers died because he went to the psychic surgeons in the Philippines rather than have a heart operation?" Randi asked. "These so-called surgeons are just charlatans, frauds, it's been proven that they claim to 'heal' people by extracting things like chicken livers, cigarette filters, even recording tape, out of their bodies . . . and people fall for it."
...
His meeting with Uri Geller in l972 provided added incentive to do more such investigation.

"I could see that Geller's techniques of misdirection were pretty crude," said Randi who wrote a book exposing Geller titled The Truth About Uri Geller.

"I thought this guy was going nowhere. I was absolutely wrong. I didn't realize the naivet of the scientific world. Their careers were going down the drain because of all this. One scientist, a metallurgist, wrote a paper backing Geller's claims that he could bend metal. The scientist shot himself after I showed him how the key bending trick was done."

Another of Geller's deceptions is the old change-the-time trick, continues Randi taking the watch off the wrist of a female producer seated at the restaurant.

He has each person at the table note that the watch reads 2:25 p.m., then he places it on her palm.

"Geller would say 'change' but I'll say brocolli or zucchini with hollondaise sauce," said Randi to the amusement of onlookers.

He then picked up the watch which, to everyone's amazement, read 1:25 p.m.

"How did you do that," someone asked.

"Very well, I thought," he replied.
...
Randi has been "healed" by some of the big names in the business, including Peter Popoff who broadcasts healing sessions continent-wide from Upland California. Popoff, whom Randi refers to as a "squeaky-voiced preacher," also solicits donations from the public to purchase and send bibles to the Soviet Union. His goal: $3 million. There's also W. V. Grant and Ernest Angley. Grant broadcases his show Dawn of New Day from His Eagle's Nest cathedral in Dallas and his show reaches viewers of 300 TV stations across the continent. Angley broadcasts the Ernest Angley Hour and the Ninety and Nine Club throughout the United States, in parts of Canada, the Philippines and Africa. His Grace Cathedral is in Akron, Ohio, where he also owns a TV station.

Why go after Popoff, Grant and Angley rather than the more widely known evangelists like Pat Robertson, Herbert Armstrong and Billy Graham? The former are more accessible and their claims of healing are more specific than any of the others, said Joseph Barnhart of North Texas State University, one of a group of investigators including Paul Kurtz, editor of Free Inquiry magazine, in Buffalo who has recently been working with Randi on the investigations.

So far, they've found lots of tricks, but no evidence of anyone having been healed.

The most blatant deception occurs at Popoff sessions where before mass healings, Popoff's wife circulates among the audience gathering information from various individuals. Then, when her husband is on stage, she relays the information to him via a mini-receiver and an earphone.
...
False witness
...
Some of the people who come to these meetings are just doing it for a social occasion, Randi said, "but it's the others. It's the parents you see crying at the elevator because they couldn't get their child anywhere near the healer that make me want to expose it.

"At one of Popoff's sessions there was this Oriental kid on crutches with his legs all twisted around. A filmmaker there asked him: 'Why are you here?'

"'To see Popoff, he can heal me', the boy replied.

"But the boy never made it anywhere near the front. At the end of the session the filmmaker saw him with tears streaming down his face."
...
Randi wants to change all that. He has written extensively on Popoff, Grant and Angley for the Buffalo-based Free Inquiry magazine. He went on the Tonight Show with a videotape showing how Popoff works.
...
"Popoff announced that these were the work of the devil and that everyone should crumple them up and throw them in the aisles. But no one did . . . and his congregation has dropped off by one third in Chicago and Philadelphia, because of it. Randi, meanwhile, is writing it all down in a book.

None of this impresses the evangelists - Popoff calls him "a dried-up old magician," Grant refers to him as a "bald runt of a bearded magician who goes on late night talk shows." But the Chicago-based MacArthur Foundation believes their money will be well used.
...
"We know of his background and think his work will benefit society," said Ordonez.

"Randi has more insight into how people can deceive others and themselves than almost anyone else alive," said Ken Frazier, echoing her praise. Frazier is an editor who works on the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, (CSICOP) which Randi helped found in 1976, This group sees no evidence that anything even vaguely paranormal really exists.

They can't even buy the evidence. For the last 22 years, Randi has carried with him a cheque for $10,000 to be given to anyone who can prove a paranormal occurrence. Even a healing would count. To date, 600 people have applied; 75 have submitted to Randi's scientific testing. Randi still has the cheque.

"The media," said Randi with disdain. "That's the reason people tend to believe in all this. The media haven't bothered to differentiate between fact and fiction; if a boat is lost in the Bermuda triangle and found six hours later because they never took off in the first place (the media) never bother to
report the finding because it's a non-story.

Religious teaching, however, is equally to blame, he said. "People have also been raised to have religious beliefs with no evidence whatsoever except it's in this book . . . why shouldn't people believe something else for which there is no evidence?"
...
Thanks to the MacArthur Foundation, that "best" includes expanding his computer system, enlarging his office, writing more articles, giving talks: "I've got so many bookings, it's amazing."
This is only segments, the full article is http://zammoth-jamesrandi.blogspot.com/

Last edited by Questioninggeller; 1st March 2007 at 10:38 AM.
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Old 1st March 2007, 02:01 PM   #2
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Thanks for sharing that!
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Old 1st March 2007, 02:34 PM   #3
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Great article! I'm looking forward to seeing the full thing. I didn't know that about Peter Sellers.
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Old 9th March 2007, 09:56 PM   #4
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Thanks for posting that. I was an interesting read.
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Old 10th March 2007, 09:34 AM   #5
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Thanks a lot for the link, Questioninggeller.
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Old 10th March 2007, 08:37 PM   #6
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Here's one from Time
Quote:
Fighting Against Flimflam
Sunday, Jun. 24, 2001
By LEON JAROFF

The studio audience at the Tonight show in Burbank is strangely silent, staring intently at the proceedings on the stage. A shirtless volunteer lies face up on a table, behind which stands a short, balding man with a fringe of white hair, a bushy beard and piercing green eyes. He kneads the exposed abdomen with both hands, presses one thumb down and draws it across the skin. A trickle, then a stream of blood appears. The audience gasps. Now his hand thrusts into the abdomen and, accompanied by a sickening squishing sound, pulls up a clump of bloody tissue. Host Johnny Carson grimaces. A groan of revulsion sweeps the crowded studio; one woman faints.
...
Article: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/ar...id=chix-sphere
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Old 15th March 2007, 06:46 PM   #7
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"I thought this guy was going nowhere. I was absolutely wrong. I didn't realize the naivet of the scientific world. Their careers were going down the drain because of all this. One scientist, a metallurgist, wrote a paper backing Geller's claims that he could bend metal. The scientist shot himself after I showed him how the key bending trick was done."

Has Randi ever expanded on this quote? According to the Wikipedia article on Randi, this particular statement gave some credibility to a lawsuit Geller had filed against him.
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Old 16th March 2007, 03:39 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Klaymore View Post
"I thought this guy was going nowhere. I was absolutely wrong. I didn't realize the naivet of the scientific world. Their careers were going down the drain because of all this. One scientist, a metallurgist, wrote a paper backing Geller's claims that he could bend metal. The scientist shot himself after I showed him how the key bending trick was done."

Has Randi ever expanded on this quote? According to the Wikipedia article on Randi, this particular statement gave some credibility to a lawsuit Geller had filed against him.
If I remember correctly, this quote was taken out of context. The gist: The guy did in fact shoot himself. It remains doubtful what the exact reason was and if Mr. Randi's revelations had an immediate impact. (From the top of my head, please somebody correct me if I'm wrong.)

There have been discussions about this exact point before. Someone will probably come up with a link to one of said threads.
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Old 18th May 2007, 06:03 PM   #9
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A Charlatan In Pursuit Of Truth

Here's an snip of article from 1981:

Quote:
The New York Times
July 5, 1981, Sunday, Late City Final Edition
SECTION: Section 11; New Jersey; Page 2, Column 1; New Jersey Weekly Desk
LENGTH: 890 words
HEADLINE: A CHARLATAN IN PURSUIT OF TRUTH
BYLINE: By PHILIP B. TAFT Jr.

BODY:
RUMSON THERE'S a trickster here who has duped millions of people, but most of his ''victims'' have loved every minute of it. For 35 years, James Randi has been making a living by sawing women in half, reading minds and commanding objects to float in space.

An established magician and escape artist, ''The Amazing Randi,'' as he is known, has performed for Presidents and appeared on almost every major television talk show. Many people remember him as the man who wriggled free from a straitjacket while hanging over Niagara Falls.

Recently, though, Mr. Randi has taken to telling people how not to be tricked. The 52-year-old entertainer spends most of his time combating parapsychologists, psychics, seers and mediums who claim to travel through space or predict the future -people, Mr. Randi says, who make fortunes by lying.

''The difference between them and me,'' he said, ''is that I admit that I'm a charlatan. They don't. I don't have time for things that go bump in the night.''
...
But his most colorful weapon is a wager. ''The deal is simple,'' he said. ''I'll give a $10,000 certified check to anyone who can show evidence of one paranormal event under proper observing conditions. No ifs, ands or buts.''

The score so far? Mr. Randi has bested more than 300 comers, from dowsers to ouija-board enthusiasts, who have sought to claim his check.

As a child prodigy in Toronto, Randall Zwinge (his real name) studied conjuring and, at 15, was drawn to a local church at which seances and precognition were part of the liturgy. Angry when he caught church leaders using magic tricks, he bounded onstage to expose the fraud - and was promptly jailed.

''I was very put out by the whole experience,'' Mr. Randi recalled, and so he made up his mind that someday he would have the authority, the experience and the position to be able to expose this kind of thing and ''not have to spend the rest of the afternoon in jail.''
...
Dropping the mentalist act, Mr. Randi concentrated on magic and escapes. The change worked well. Over the next three decades, he built a solid reputation around the world as an escape artist as daring as Houdini (his hero) and a magician as brilliant as Blackstone (his teacher).

Although he delighted audiences as a performer, few listened when he scoffed at psychics. To legitimize his complaints, in 1974 he helped to organize the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, a group of philosphers, scientists and thinkers dedicated to scrutiny of supernatural claims.

With names like B.F. Skinner, Carl Sagan and Isaac Asimov on the letterhead, ''The Amazing Randi'' finally had the professional platform he needed.
...
Mr. Randi willingly demonstrates the sleight of hand necessary to perform Mr. Geller's feat. Every year, he presents ''Uri Awards,'' a bent spoon mounted on a transparent base, to individuals and groups who have promoted the paranormalists.

''I never say there is no such thing as the paranormal,'' Mr. Randi explained. ''I merely say that there is not sufficient evidence.

''What I tell people is that this really is a wonderful world we live in. I tell them, 'Wait a minute. Do you really need all that stuff (about parapsychology) to have a beautiful, wonderful life?' ''
...
The house also reflects the prankster and performer in the man. Visitors are greeted by a talking door knocker and a door that swings open backward. Inside, two parrots squawk noisily. And when he needs a rest, Mr. Randi waves a hand in front of a bookshelf and, saying ''Presto,'' swings it open to reveal his bedroom.
...
GRAPHIC: Illustrations: two photos of Randi photo of Randi's posters
Full article: Source
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Old 18th May 2007, 06:11 PM   #10
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Magician's Effort To Debunk Scientists Raises Ethical Issues

Quote:
The New York Times
February 15, 1983, Tuesday, Late City Final Edition
SECTION: Section C; Page 3, Column 1; Science Desk
LENGTH: 1460 words
HEADLINE: MAGICIAN'S EFFORT TO DEBUNK SCIENTISTS RAISES ETHICAL ISSUES
BYLINE: By WILLIAM J. BROAD
BODY:

A CONTROVERSY is rippling through the borderlands of science over how best to aid the quest for truth in the marshy backwater of psychic research.

The debate was touched off by a brilliant hoax in which two teenage tricksters, working under cover for more than three years at the behest of James Randi, a magician and psychic debunker of international repute, fooled researchers at Washington University into believing they had paranormal powers.

The ostensible aim of Mr. Randi's hoax was to make psychic researchers rely more widely on the advice of magicians, a goal advocated by many scientists as a sensible way of routing out trickery and self-deception. But even critics of parapsychology are now crying overkill. Some scientists say Mr. Randi, during a press conference in January sponsored by Discover magazine, and on a recent NBC television special, ''Magic or Miracle,'' has exaggerated his victory over the ''classic fatheads'' and set back relations between skeptical scientists and those probing the paranormal.

''Randi is hurting the field with his gross exaggerations,'' says Dr. Marcello Truzzi, a sociologist at Eastern Michigan University and editor of Zetetic Scholar, a journal devoted to the skeptical analysis of paranormal claims. ''In no way will his project teach psychic researchers a lesson and make them more likely to trust to magicians' advice. Quite the contrary. This outside policeman thing sets up magicians as the enemy.''

At best, Mr. Randi's hoax is a masterful triumph of the scientific method - as exercised by a magician - over the crude dabbling of scientists who should be more adept at what they do. At worst, it is an example of science victimized by showmanship.
...
Debunking is as old as parapsychology itself, both tracing their roots to the founding of the British Society for Psychical Research in 1882. Yet Mr. Randi, known professionally as ''The Amazing'' Randi, has taken the debunking art to new heights. For nearly four decades he has exposed the legerdemain of alleged psychics and attempted to purge parapsychological research of shoddy methodology. His crusade picked up momentum in 1976, when he helped found the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, an august group whose members include such notable scientists and science writers as Isaac Asimov, Martin Gardner, Carl Sagan and B.F. Skinner.
...
Mr. Randi saw an opportunity to test his ideas in 1979 when the McDonnell Foundation (created by the late James S. McDonnell, chairman of the McDonnell Douglas Corporation) donated $500,000 to Washington University in St. Louis to set up a psychic research laboratory. Dr. Peter R. Phillips, a physicist, was named director. ''It was the largest grant for parapsychological research ever,'' said Mr. Randi in an interview.

''Project Alpha'' began in October 1979, when the two teen-age magicians, Steven Shaw and Michael Edwards, presented themselves at the lab as psychics able to bend spoons, keys, and other metal objects by the power of concentration alone. It ended at Mr. Randi's January press conference in New York.
...
At the news conference, Mr. Randi claimed total victory. The wellheeled St. Louis group tested the boy ''psychics'' and, he asserted, proceeded to publish scientific papers that hailed their powers. The hoax was a success, he said, because the St. Louis group refused his offers to help police the experiments for indications of fraud.

''The worst we can say'' about the McDonnell laboratory, Mr. Randi said, ''is that they were far too confident of their abilities to detect fraud, and refused outside assistance because those who offered it lacked academic credentials.''

Not so, says Dr. Phillips. He admits there was a period in which they thought they saw ''extraordinary things'' and even gave a talk that was printed in the proceedings of a meeting. But that, he says, is preliminary data gathering and not the formal process by which results are published in a journal for rebuttal or confirmation by other scientists.

Moreover, after preliminary testing, the St. Louis group took up Mr. Randi's offer of assistance by sending him videotapes of the boys for analysis. Dr. Phillips, armed with Mr. Randi's critique, tightened up the experiments so as to exclude the possibility of trickery. As he did so, the ''powers'' of the boys vanished.
...
Others view Mr. Randi's deeds as an attempt to quash inquiry, especially in light of his "Project Beta," whose existence was revealed at the Discover news conference. ''If those who were caught in this net will realize their errors and adopt stringent standards of procedure,'' he said, ''Project Beta - which is already under way - will fail.''
...
Not surprisingly, Mr. Randi takes umbrage at the suggestion that he is out to hinder research. ''If Tart thinks I did this to stifle research, he is crazy. I brought this type of research into the 20th century, whereas he is in the woods. What if I had told the kids not to tell all? There would be scientific papers all over the place and they would eventually be rich and famous. I think the parapsychologists are lucky we revealed the hoax.''

GRAPHIC: Illustrations: photo of Dr. Peter Phillips photo of Randi the magician
Full article: Source
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Old 18th May 2007, 07:38 PM   #11
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Quote:
''I was very put out by the whole experience,'' Mr. Randi recalled, and so he made up his mind that someday he would have the authority, the experience and the position to be able to expose this kind of thing and ''not have to spend the rest of the afternoon in jail.''
Right on Mr. Randi. Keep up the good work.
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Old 28th May 2007, 09:56 AM   #12
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Magicians Term Israeli 'Psychic' a Fraud

Quote:
Magicians Term Israeli 'Psychic' a Fraud

December 13, 1975, Saturday
By BOYCE RENSBERGER
Page 29, 1066 words

Magicians, long irked by Uri Geller's alleged ability to bend spoons, repair watches and read minds through paranormal powers, have taken off their white gloves and branded the Israeli "psychic" an outright fraud who uses conventional magicians' tricks to mislead the public.

Several professional magicians, in a recent spate of books and public remarks, say they have duplicated virtually all of Mr Geller's feats by using ordinary conjuring methods. They have also discovered major flaws in procedures used by various scientists to test Mr Geller.
...
A more detailed examination of the purported psychic's career is in another new book, "The Magic of Uri Geller," by James Randi, the magician who has probably campaigned hardest against Mr Geller.

The book describes numerous instances in which magicians watched Mr Geller perform at close range and spotted the moment when they thought he diverted attention while, for example, bending a spoon by muscle power.
...
Mr Randi knows that what he does is fake, but it was enough to persuade the editors of Psychic News, Britain's largest publication in the field, that Mr Randi was at least as good a psychic as Mr Geller.
...
Concealed Magnet

Mr Randi did the same using nothing more than a magnet taped to his leg and a similarly concealed radiation source. The scientists did not search either Mr Geller or Mr Randi.
...
Two New Zealand psychologists who studied Mr Geller's "watch repairing" feats found that jewelers were not much impressed. They said many of the supposedly broken watches had merely been stopped by gummy oil, and that simply holding them would warm the oil enough to soften it and allow the watches to resume ticking.
...
Full article: Source
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Old 28th May 2007, 10:30 AM   #13
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From the Time article linked above: "We may disagree with Randi on specific points," says Carl Sagan, "but we ignore him at our peril." "He's a national treasure," says Author Isaac Asimov. Randi's targets are less enthusiastic. A Popoff staff member calls him "the devil" and an atheist.
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Old 29th May 2007, 04:18 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Questioninggeller View Post
they have duplicated virtually all of Mr Geller's feats
"Feats"? Surely "feat" would be more appropriate? What has Geller ever done other than bending spoons?
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Old 29th May 2007, 04:32 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Cuddles View Post
"Feats"? Surely "feat" would be more appropriate? What has Geller ever done other than bending spoons?
He's made compass needles move and performed remote viewing tricks.
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Old 29th May 2007, 04:38 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by clerihew80 View Post
He's made compass needles move and performed remote viewing tricks.
Fair enough. I wonder if he regrets the spoon thing, since most people don't seem to know that he can do anything else.
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Old 29th May 2007, 03:46 PM   #17
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Bay Magicians Back Uri Geller's Critic

The San Francisco Chronicle:

Quote:
The San Francisco Chronicle
MAY 23, 1991, THURSDAY, FINAL EDITION
SECTION: NEWS; Pg. A27
LENGTH: 777 words
HEADLINE: Bay Magicians Back Uri Geller's Critic
Performer files $ 15 million libel lawsuit
BYLINE: Charles Petit, Chronicle Science Writer

Bay Area magicians and critics of those claiming psychic powers are rallying to a colleague named in a libel suit by Uri Geller, the spoon-bending showman who says he wields energies science cannot explain.

The object of the $ 15 million lawsuit is James Randi, a stage magician and Florida resident. He often appears as ''The Amazing Randi'' on stage and late-night television, where Johnny Carson is among his most ardent fans.

Although he rarely performs in public now, Geller's celebrity took off in the early 1970s when, in stage performances, he appeared to be able to fix broken watches and to bend spoons and other metal objects with mind power alone.

Unlike most stage magicians, however, Geller always has said he is not tricking anybody, but is channeling powers unknown to science. Many of his fans believe that he receives energy from extraterrestrial beings, which Geller neither confirms nor denies.
...
Robert Steiner of El Cerrito, president of the Society of American Magicians and a leading member of the Bay Area Skeptics, a group that frowns on claims of magical powers, said Geller's tricks ''are well-known among those who have studied magic'' and rely on no special powers.
...
THE LAWSUIT

The suit, filed May 3 in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., was served on Randi on May 4 at the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley during the committee's annual meeting.

It cited two statements in an article about Randi in the International Herald Tribune newspaper that said Geller has tricked many scientists and that quotes Randi as saying the tricks ''are the kind that used to be on the back of cereal boxes when I was a kid.''
...
TIMEX ALSO BEING SUED

Geller is also suing Randi in Japan and said he is investigating the possibility of suing him in Finland. Geller also is suing the Timex watch company over an ad in which a magician fails to make a Timex run backwards.

Geller and Randi first met in 1973 when Geller performed for the editors of Time magazine. The editors also invited Randi to sit with them. After Geller left, according to one of the editors at the meeting, Leon Jaroff, Randi got up and duplicated every one of Geller's tricks.
...
GRAPHIC: PHOTO,URI GELLER , He's 'had it' with his accuser
Full article in Source archive
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Old 29th May 2007, 03:55 PM   #18
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Group Gets $ 40,000 From 'psychic'

Quote:
Buffalo News (New York)
March 13, 1995, Monday, City Edition
SECTION: LOCAL; Pg. 4
LENGTH: 654 words
HEADLINE: GROUP GETS $ 40,000 FROM 'PSYCHIC'; GELLER STARTS PAYING DEBUNKERS $ 120,000
BYLINE: By MICHAEL LEVY, News Staff Reporter

Uri Geller, a self-proclaimed psychic, has paid $ 40,000 to an Amherst-based group that seeks to discredit psychics.

It is the first installment of a $ 120,000 settlement for a "frivolous" lawsuit that the Israeli-born entertainer brought against the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal.

Four years ago Geller sued the committee and James Randi for $ 15 million, alleging defamation, invasion of privacy and interference with Geller's prospects of future work.
...
The committee, which had been sued earlier by Geller, claimed this suit was brought solely as harassment, and a U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., agreed. It awarded $ 150,000 to the committee. Geller made numerous attempts to overturn the award and was denied reconsideration, most recently in January.
...
Shortly before the Randi interview, Geller had sued Prometheus Books; its founder, Paul Kurtz, a University at Buffalo philosophy professor; and author Victor Stenger after Prometheus published Stenger's book "Physics and Psychics." Stenger cited an Israeli civil suit against Geller for failure to perform mental feats he had promised.

Geller also lost that suit and was required to pay Prometheus another $20,000 in legal fees.
...
Full article: Buffalo News - NewsBank
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Old 29th May 2007, 04:19 PM   #19
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Poof! You're a Skeptic

Quote:
The New York Times
February 17, 2001 Saturday Late Edition - Final
SECTION: Section B; Column 1; Arts & Ideas/Cultural Desk; Pg. 9
LENGTH: 1267 words
HEADLINE: Poof! You're a Skeptic: The Amazing Randi's Vanishing Humbug
BYLINE: By PATRICIA COHEN
DATELINE: FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.

James Randi was standing at the front of Florida Atlantic University's sloping auditorium here before his lecture when a couple walked over to ask for an autograph. In turn, he had a favor to ask. Would they run down the street to the Eckerd drugstore and buy him a box of sleeping pills? He gave the man $5 and a slip of paper on which he'd drawn a picture of the box.

When they returned, he placed the box on the lectern, and soon after starting his talk he opened it and gobbled down all 32 pills. He then went on to lecture for two hours without so much as a yawn.

It was not as spectacular a stunt as, say, the time he extricated himself from a straitjacket while hanging upside down over Niagra Falls, but it made his point: namely that homeopathic remedies are quackery.

Homeopathy, faith healing, mind reading, psychics, mediums, dowsers, parapsychologists. James Randi, 72, has been taking aim at them all and more since he was 15 and accused a preacher of fraud for channeling messages from the dead. (The police hauled him out of the church and into jail for disrupting a religious service.)
...
"You see the proliferation of this stuff and think, 'Why is this suddenly happening today?' " said Louis Masur, a cultural historian at City College of New York. But there is "not anything necessarily new about this today," he said. "We go through cycles. There is a cycle between reason and faith, enlightenment and religion. Think back, throughout American history in particular, and you have these moments where science, experimentation and reason dominate, and you have these other moments where a faith-oriented set of beliefs challenge that."
...
Although ignorance and lack of education are often linked to beliefs in supernatural claims, the information revolution is now often cast as the villain. Some social scientists argue that the Internet helps promote off-the-wall ideas about miracle cures and mind reading, not only because it can instantaneously distribute rumor and gossip, but also because people can more easily cherry-pick their information, walling themselves off from other points of view. Television amplifies the effect, Mr. Shermer said. "There's a U.F.O. show on almost every night," he said. "These stories are repeated so often they become factoids."

Mr. Randi, who often speaks ominously of entering a new Dark Age, said, "It's easier to become silly now because of access to nonsense." He credits a wide backlash against technology as well as a deep-rooted desire for certainty; people want "some sort of magic relief," he said.

Mr. Randi is sitting in the small library of his foundation in Fort Lauderdale. He is wearing a blue checked shirt, chinos and work boots. On the shelves are books about skeptics and believers and stacks of newsletters like North Texas Skeptic, The Rocky Mountain Skeptic, The Pseudoscience Monitor and Norwegian Skepsis.

Human beings look for patterns, he said. That's why psychics are so successful; 98 of 100 of their statements may be wrong, but people discount the mistakes and remember the hits. "It's like panning for gold," he said. "If you find a gold nugget, that's what you seize upon." Never mind that you throw out pan after pan of sand and twigs. "You don't turn to your companion and say, 'Ooh, look here's a worthless stone.' "
...
He has written nine books, and has his own newsletter, a Web site (www.randi.org), where he is described as "one of America's most original and fearless thinkers"; a radio show; a magazine column in Skeptic; and an ability to talk nonstop about crackpot ideas. Now in the center ring is his offer of $1 million to anyone who can prove supernatural or paranormal powers.

It is "a flamboyant gesture, but it proves our case every time," he told a Congressional audience in 1999.

The money was put up by an anonymous donor, he said. Every year about 50 people complete the application process; about half are dowsers who say they can locate water or gold with a forked stick, and nearly all are true believers, he said. Mr. Randi and his assistant, Andrew Harter, devise the experiments for those who make it through the application process, although both are dead certain the account will remain untouched.
...
Full article: NY Times

(The full article is really worth reading.)

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Old 30th May 2007, 05:15 PM   #20
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Getting fired might be in their future

An article by Andy Rooney mentions Randi when talking about the CIA's psychics:

Quote:
PAPER: The Times Union (Albany, NY)
DATE: December 18, 1995, Monday, ONE STAR EDITION
SECTION: MAIN, Pg. A7
LENGTH: 662 words
HEADLINE: Getting fired might be in their future
BYLINE: ANDY ROONEY

For a nation that prides itself on the intelligence of its citizens, we have a lot of stupid people.

No money-wasting story out of Washington ever angered me more than the report last week that for 20 years a secret Defense Intelligence Agency has kept half a dozen, full-time, salaried psychics on its payroll and paid out $ 20 million for what they did. What they did was hoodwink the bureaucracy.

Dozens of times, Pentagon executives asked the psychics to come up with information about specific Russian military operations; they were supposed to put their minds to work locating the whereabouts of the Marine colonel, William Higgins, later hanged by Lebanese terrorists.
...
Nothing the psychics came up with paid off except, of course, for the psychics. They are either honest people with a greatly inflated vision of their extra-worldly powers, or they are fakes and frauds who cheated us and knew they were doing it.
...
We think of someone we haven't seen in 10 years and later that same day, the person will show up. We forget the dreams we had in which the person never reappeared.

There are a thousand ways we can be fooled into thinking we have participated in some psychic experience but we have not because there is no such thing and it is outrageous for an arm of our government to spend money on such hogwash. It might as well put the nation in the hands of astrologists.
...
For more than 25 years, James Randi, the bright, gadfly magician, philosopher and bubble burster, has offered a $ 10,000 reward to anyone who can produce any psychic, paranormal or supernatural demonstration that he can't explain or expose. With the help of some fellow-disbelievers, he has recently upped his ante to $ 440,000, with no takers so far.

The Defense Intelligence Agency is apparently not to blame for keeping psychics on its staff. The agency has tried to fire them, but one staff member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, C. Richard D'Amato, singlehandedly defeated all the attempts to kill the psychic boondoggle. He claimed, without naming them, that ''four to six senators'' were interested in maintaining the program.

The Central Intelligence Agency recently conducted a study of the psychics' work and its conclusion was that ''no intelligence community funds should be spent on this work.'' I'm not enthusiastic about the CIA, but they got it right that time.

I hope all the psychics foresee getting fired and I hope they prove me wrong by being right.
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Old 31st May 2007, 05:51 PM   #21
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Mediums soar in popularity

Another one with Randi, Shermer and Nickell:

Quote:
SOURCE: Cox News Service
DATE: October 30, 2001 Tuesday
SECTION: Lifestyle
LENGTH: 1115 words
HEADLINE: Mediums soar in popularity
BYLINE: Bill Hendrick
DATELINE: ATLANTA

From John Edward of "Crossing Over" fame to medium mogul James Van Praagh, our preoccupation with those who claim to talk to the dead is soaring toward the heavens.

The trend is bringing fame and fortune to a host of netherworldly gurus, especially Edward and Van Praagh, who are making killings allegedly hooking up the dead with the living. But scientists such as those at the Amherst, N.Y.-based Committee for the Study of Claims of the Paranormal say the only line Van Praagh and Edward cross over routinely is an ethical one.

Just last week, Edward drew ire after announcing plans to reunite those who perished in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks with their loved ones for his popular Sci-Fi Channel show, to be aired during next month's fiercely competitive TV sweeps period. But the idea flickered out like a seance candle after a barrage of complaints from TV executives, advertisers, scientists and psychologists, who expressed horror at what they saw as blatant exploitation.

"He's a vulture," declares James Randi, a prolific author and well-known debunker of the allegedly paranormal, who heads the James Randi Educational Foundation in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. "It's typical. They move in on grief and desperation and need."

What's not surprising, Randi adds, is that the executives responsible for Edward's popular TV show liked the idea, "because they know most people believe it's possible for the dead to communicate with the living."

That includes on Halloween, he laughs, when ancient lore says the souls of the dead revisit their homes.

Edward has scoffed at such criticisms as Randi's. "If you want to say I'm a fake, great, I'm not going to defend it," he told Entertainment Weekly recently. "It's a waste of time." Neither he nor Van Praagh returned calls or e-mails for this story.
...
A recent Gallup poll show 38 percent of Americans believe ghosts or spirits can come back in certain situations up from 25 percent in 1990 while 28 percent buy the notion that some people can hear from or talk "mentally" to the dead, compared with 18 percent 11 years ago.
...
But for the most part, scholars who believe are lambasted by their colleagues. University of Arizona scientists Gary Schwartz and Linda Russek published a study earlier this year in a British journal asserting they'd proven that some mediums can talk to the dead. They tested five "superstar mediums" who they said had an 83 percent success rate in contacting dead folks.

The study was savaged in last week's edition of Skeptical Inquirer, published by the Committee for the Study of Claims of the Paranormal.

"Psychics appeal to people's strong need for a belief in an afterlife," says Dr. Stuart Vyse, a Connecticut College psychologist who specializes in human beliefs and is author of "Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition." "They want so badly for what the psychic is offering _ a warm resolution to unresolved problems and a pleasant fantasy about the loved one's happy life on 'the other side' to be true that they overlook the many inconsistencies in psychic readings."
...
Such exposure tends to promote belief, says Michael Shermer, a noted scientist who heads the California-based Skeptics Society.

"It feeds on itself," Shermer says. "The good ones are good at putting on a show. It's really pretty tacky, but people by nature are superstitious, and many need to believe. But it's just a blatant attempt to prey on people who are grieving. The fundamental premise is there is an afterlife, and most people believe there is."
...
Barry Palevitz, a biology professor at the University of Georgia and head of UGA's Sagan Society, agrees, and asserts that the press gives "these guys a lot of currency I don't think they deserve."
...
Most mediums refuse to explain how they do what they do.

Some scientists say there's a reason they won't because it's nothing more than trickery that falls back on a technique called "cold reading" that famed magician Harry Houdini pooh-poohed decades ago.

In a cold reading, mediums greet their subjects with no advance knowledge, then glean information through a series of staccatolike questions. The psychics get clues by observing body language, which provides hints when they're close to a thought the listener wants to hear, Vyse says. They know, for example, that people who seek them out want to contact a dead loved one.
...
Houdini was one of the first to crusade against mediums, and got some to teach him the tricks of the trade, which he later demonstrated publicly.

Before his death 75 years ago today, Houdini said if there were a way to contact the living after one's death, he'd do it. He hasn't yet.

Bill Hendrick writes for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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Old 1st June 2007, 10:30 AM   #22
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God's Chariot! Science Looks at the New Occult

Quote:
PAPER: The Washington Post
DATE: June 11, 1978, Sunday, Final Edition
SECTION: Style; F1
LENGTH: 3132 words
HEADLINE: God's Chariot! Science Looks at the New Occult;
Science and the New Occult: Investigating Claims and . . .;
. . . The Chariots;
The New Credulity: "A Quest for Meaning and Purpose in Life"
BY: Michael Kernan

WHAT IS THIS Need to believe?

In a time when we can transplant hearts, restore severed fingers and sustain life with kidney machines, millions believe in something called psychosurgery, by which growths and cataracts are allegedly removed by sleight of hand and "X-rays" are taken by holding up a bedsheet in front of the victim.

In the era of Thor Heyerdahl's raft expeditions across the Pacific, his reenactment of the building and raising of the Easter Island monoliths, and the newly discovered proofs of how the Temple of Karnak and the Pyramids were built, Erich ("Chariot of the Gods") von Daniken sells 34,000,000 copies of books asserting that these wonders could only have been accomplished by superior beings from outer space. He even outsold Dr. Spock.

For a goggle-eyed television generation never exposed to parlor magic, wildly promoted "mentalists" and "psychics" perform tricks that a few decades ago were standard vaudeville turns. In fact, a New Jersey professional magician, James Randi, makes a career out of duplicating some of the mircales of Uri Geller using regular sleight-of-hand techniques.
...
"It's just amazing, this reversion to primitive credulity in the world's most technologically advanced country," said Paul Kurtz, a philosophy professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo who heads the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal.

Even before the release of the film "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," Kurtz predicted a new wave of UFO sightings. It's a case of suggestion, he indicated, like the so-called cattle mutilations in the Midwest and the pitted-windshields panic of the '60s.
...
For another thing, he added, the visual media and even print media are pushing what has been called the New Nonsense with tremendous dramatic force.

"People are watching this stuff 35 to 40 hours a week: 'Star Trek,' 'The Bionic Woman,' the movies about Big Foot, the talk shows featuring psychics. It's all powerfully dramatized. And it's presented with great authority."

Kurtz's committee has just refiled its suit against NBC over a 90-minute special, "Exploring the Unknown," which last year dealth with psychic surgery, communicating with the dead and other subjects. The committee's charge is that NBC, while purporting to present a documentary, adopted a gee-whiz attitude that seemed to support the claims made.
...
The committee, including 43 scientists, educators and other ranging from writer Isaac Asimov to astronomer Carl Sagan to psychologist B. F. Skinner, is sponsored by, but independent from, the American Humanist Assn.

Formed in 1975 at Buffalo as an outgrowth of a petition by 186 scientists denouncing astrology as "chariatanism," according to The New York Times, the committee publishes a semi-annual magazine, The Skeptical Inquirer, formerly The Zetetic (Greek for skeptic), a curious mix of scholarly and popular writing.
...
The magazine cites experiments by the International Explorers Society which showed that early Peruvians could have flown hot-air balloons over the site, using materials and techniques they were known to possess, to peruse the designs on the ground, believed to be an astronomical calendar.
...
"What concerns us," Kurtz said, "is the way these things are being packaged and sold like deodorants. The same claim is marketed many different way: The Bermuda Triangle has turned up in books, a film, magazine articles, on TV."

Though the committee has crystallised a deep-seated concern among the country's scientists, Kurtz said, the paranormal fad is still growing.

"Before the development of the electronic media, we taught analytical skills in the scolls, we taught people how to read intelligently. Now there's this reversion to the spoken instead of written language. Everything is based on pure images, pre-verbal and pre-analytical knowledge. Images instead of concepts."

And whenever the media deals with the paranormal, the temptation is to take a favorable position, even if jocularly, he said.

James Randi, the magician who challenged Geller to a controlled test (but never got a reply) says the pro-paranormal books outnumber the debuntkers about 10 to 1 on the bookshelves and that even when a pseudoscientific book is debunked it continues to be offered for sale.

What Kurtz called "the psychic explosion" is one of three areas that the embattled committee is tackling. The other two are UFOs and astrology. It also keeps an eye on pyramid power, the Bermuda Triange, psychic medicine and the monster fad. Kurtz has a hard time understand why our picture-conscious nation is so easily satisfied with those few, fleeting, unfocused photos of Big Foot, that handful of decades-old flying saucer shots familiar to us all by now but still used to illustrate the newest saucer books.

"Of course I believe it's possible there are other forms of life in the universe," he said, "intelligent ones, too. But I'd like better proof than that."

One area of the paranormal which has attracted a good deal of serious attention is parapsychology, generally considered to include telepathy, clair-voyance, precognition and psychokinesis. Its most celebrated student is Dr. J. B. Rhine, whose tests at Duke University have covered a span of 40 years.

Though he has reported statistical evidence of the sixth sense that he named ESP, other scientists have had trouble duplicating his experiments. In 1974 his assistant and heir-apparent at the lab, Walter J. Levy, was forced out on charges of tinkering with the figures. (It is not an isolated case: An upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research will charge that results were changed in a 1941 telepathy experiment.)
...
His investigative committee, which represents many different shades of opinion on the subject, has set up its own lab to test parapsychological claims. A girl from Buffalo demonstrated her precognition of playing cards in a session this spring, calling the cards before selecting them.

"It worked fine as long as she was holding the cards," he said, "but when we held the cards, she scored zero. Zero."

The experiments will be featured on an ABC special, "Closeup," next September.

Of course, a scientist shouldn't necessarily dismiss a subject merely because existing lab techniques don't bear it out. And many, many educated and intelligent people will swear that, experiments or no, there's something out there.

It would seem that virtually everyone in America had, or knows someone else who had, an experience with ESP. The most convincing instances involve "flinders." These can range from the strange lady down the street who found your mother's lost wedding ring to body-locators like Peter Hurkos and Dorothy Allison, a 53-year-old New Jersey woman who has made believers out of more than one skeptical policeman.
...
Then there is the business of coincidence. Everyone knows the strange symmetrics of the Kennedy and Lincoln assassinations. But what about the Golden Matchbox story? This involves the Victorian actor Edward Sothern, who lost the box, a gift from the Prince of Wales, while for hunting in England. He had a duplicate made, and years later he gave it to his son, who in turn gave it to an Australian friend.

Twenty years passed. The son visited England, met his father's fox hunting companion and was told that that very morning a farmhand had plowed up the original matchbox. The son wrote his brother about the find. The brother read the letter to a friend he had just met.

The new friend pulled from his pocket - the duplicate matchbox, given to him by the Australian.

...
Ranging from Connecticut ghost tours to voodoo rituals in Haiti, from Loch Ness to satanist Aleister Crowley's home, he found much to scoff at - but also something else.
...
Another writer, Stephen Schwartz, will publish this August a book, "The Secret Vaults of Time," which he says will have "unimpeachable data" on psychic experiments. A year ago he organized the Mobius Group in Los Angeles, an interdisciplinary consortium of established scientists ranging from physicists to archeologists, and he claims astonishing success with triple-blind tests, all elaborately documented, in 14 countries.

There are plenty of mysterious goings-on around us. But it is not apparently the purpose of Zetetic and other skeptics to attack mysteries per se. There are more concerned with the people who us e the unexplained - and even the once-explained - to get money and power.

"If people believe in occultism," New Times magazine quoted science writer Martin Gardner, "you're paving the way for the rise of a demagogue."

Kurtz tells of running across a spaceage religion at Morningland, near San Diego, run by a seer named Sri Patricia.
...
Notice, Kurtz says with a slow shake of his head, the religious undertone of "Close Encounters," the clearly spiritual intent of The Force in "Star Wars."

There is more than money at stake in the exploiting of this new need to believe.

GRAPHIC: Illustration 1, The carved faces on Easter Island; Illustration 2, astrological symbols; Illustration 3, "Palenque Astronaut," "When the illustration is oriented correctly (turned 90 degrees) we can see that the 'rocket' is actullay a composite art form, incorporating the design of a cross, a two-headed serpent and some corn leaves."; Picture 1, Paul Kurtz: "It's just amazing, this primitive credulity in the world's most technologically advanced country."; Picture 2, Erich Von Daniken: Author of "Chariots of the Gods"; Picture 3, Thor Heyerdahl's crew raising the statue on Easter Island.; Picture 4; Two of the UFO hoaxes exposed in a University of Colorado study in 1969: lenticular shaped clouds photographed in Brazil; Picture 5, a cutout drawing superimposed on a print and recopied.
Full article: Source
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Old 1st June 2007, 10:42 AM   #23
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Magicians Score a Hit On Scientific Researchers

Quote:
PAPER: The Washington Post
DATE: March 1, 1983, Tuesday, Final Edition
SECTION: First Section; A1
LENGTH: 1098 words
HEADLINE: Magicians Score a Hit On Scientific Researchers
BY: Philip J. Hilts, Washington Post Staff Writer

During more than 120 hours of experiments in a university lab in St. Louis, two young men performed amazing feats.

They bent dinnerware, moved objects without touching them, spun rotors protected by glass-covered cases, moved the hands of watches and made a digital watch go haywire. They saw through shielded envelopes. They made tiny fuses burn out suddenly, they created weird images on film.

All were fakery.

More than three years after the beginning of the experiments, magician James Randi exposed the feats as one of the slyest scientific hoaxes in years.

Randi said he masterminded the hoax to show that scientific research on psychic powers is not as scientific as it should be and that psychic researchers refuse the help of magicians to design experiments that prevent fakery.
...
Now he says, "I should have taken Randi's help earlier," but he added that he was glad that in the end "we never made any conclusive claims" in print about the psychics. From now on, he said, he doesn't intend to accept psychic subjects from out of town and will check the background of those subjects with whom he works.
...
With arguments aside about methods and ethics, both Randi and Phillips now agree: the hoax was worthwhile. It should put future researchers on their guard.

The hoax, which was revealed in the March issue of Discover, a science magazine, began in November, 1979, when two young magicians showed up, separately, at Washington University's McDonnell Laboratory for Psychical Research, each claiming to be a psychic of great power.
...
There were other times when the experiments were changed and the magicians had to invent new tricks on the spot, or suddenly claim "bad vibrations" and beg off the experiment.

But early on the hoax seemed to be working.

Physicist Phillips, the chief scientist at McDonnell, says he was taken in for a couple of years. But finally, after hearing a rumor that the young performers were fakes, and accepting some help from Randi, the experiments were tightened up considerably.
...
The whole scheme was cooked up in 1979 by Randi, the stage name of James Zwinge, the magician and indefatigable hunter of psychic fakery. To make it more interesting, Randi worked both sides of the trick.

On the one hand, he sent the two magicians to Washington University, which had been given funds to set up the McDonnell laboratory specifically to run psychic claims through a battery of rigorous scientific tests.

And on the other hand, he also sent 22 letters to those being hoaxed warning against the young men's tricks, offering to help, and suggesting specific methods of catching fakery. He instructed the young men that, if they were ever asked directly whether they were faking, they should admit it immediately. Phillips never asked directly, Randi said.

Phillips said he does not feel foolish or cheated by being the object of a hoax, but "exhilarated" because in the end he did not publish any wrong final scientific papers and finally reached the proper conclusion.

It was a very near thing, however.
...
Randi's code name for the whole hoax was "project alpha". Now, he warns psychical researchers, a "project beta" is already under way. After beta, "I can go right down the alphabet," he said with relish.

GRAPHIC: Picture, JAMES RANDI . . . warned of "psychic" trickery
Full article: Source
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Old 1st June 2007, 06:11 PM   #24
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This, I think, should be stickied.
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"You're entitled to your opinion; you're just not entitled to have it taken seriously when you can offer no evidence to support it." - Garrison

"I am the danger." - Heisenberg
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Old 16th June 2007, 02:11 PM   #25
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James Randi Examining the Shroud of Turin on CNN

A small excerpt from the show:

Quote:
SHOW: CNN TALKBACK LIVE 15:00 pm ET
DATE: April 10, 1998; Friday 3:00 pm Eastern Time
Transcript # 98041000V14
TYPE: SHOW
SECTION: News; International
LENGTH: 6726 words
HEADLINE: Examining the Shroud of Turin
BYLINE: Bobbie Battista
HIGHLIGHT:
Is the Shroud of Turin a masterpiece of deception of a miracle of divinity? Experts in this field join today's program to discuss whether the Shroud of Turin is in fact real or simply a centuries old hoax.
...
BATTISTA: Joining us now in Miami is conjurer and famous debunker of the mysterious, James Randi, also known as the Amazing Randi and contributor to the "Skeptical Inquirer."

I don't need to ask you, I don't think, Randi, that you are skeptical of this.

JAMES RANDI, "THE AMAZING RANDI": Well, first of all, I must say, Bobbie, that the analysis we just heard is somewhat incomplete. After all, there was thin film chromatography done of the shroud as well of the blood areas, so-called. We had neutron activation analysis as well. And there was microspectroscopic analysis done. All of these are very accurate, very sensitive, one of them said to be 99.99 percent productive of results, and no blood was found at that time.

The fact that blood has now been discovered is not quite congruent with Walter McCrone's findings, first of all. And that was the only finding that was just mentioned to us a moment ago.

I find this rather incredible.

BATTISTA: How likely is it that the burial cloth, if it was indeed Christ, would have been saved back then? In other words, you know, he was not known as the Messiah during the time that he lived and died.

RANDI: That's right. He was not that famous in that day, though there were some faithful around who, of course, might very well have saved it. But what has got me about this book coming out at this particular moment, it's a dry season for us right now. We just finished with Roswell, that's UFO's. That's come and gone, and it's out of popularity now. We're in a dry season. You see, the crop circles don't come up until spring. That's a yearly event. And it is, after all, Easter and the advent of the touring of the shroud again or the showing of the shroud. I think this is a propitious time to publish a book saying that the shroud is real.
...
RANDI: I think we should point something else out there, Bobbie, that the 13th century was famous for producing various artifacts. We know that there are churches all over Europe, in fact, all over the world, were gifted by very wealthy people with artifacts of all sorts.

It seems that St. Peter's mouth had many more than the usual count of teeth. He must have had quite a smile that would show up for miles. We have two complete skeletons of Mary Magdalene, one bearing two left legs for some unknown reason. There are so many artifacts that were knowingly manufactured during the 13th century to fill a very heavy need for this particular market.

WILSON: You're absolutely right, James. But these -- I think the point you're actually making, in fact, shows how remarkable the shroud is. You could get away with a feather of the archangel Gabriel by simply producing a feather. You could actually get away with a piece of bone and say it's the finger of John the Baptist. For somebody to do something, in fact, extraordinary as this when it wasn't even comprehensible in their own time just boggles the mind. And this is why I say I still come back to you. I just don't see it as a work of the 14th century.
...
WILSON: I totally agree with you. But you've still got to account for these being so medically convincing that medical specialists across the world have said that it convinces them this is something that was genuinely from somebody crucified in the manner of Jesus Christ.

RANDI: But many other medical experts totally disagree with that. You can't quote the ones that agree with your theory and ignore all the rest of them.
...
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Old 16th June 2007, 02:36 PM   #26
Questioninggeller
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Randi debates R.L. Hymers who claims the world will end soon

An old Larry King Live debate from 1990 with R.L. Hymers who claims the world will end.

(This is selected excerpts.)

Quote:
CHANNEL: CNN
SHOW: Larry King Live
DATE: September 21, 1990
Transcript # 134 - 1
LENGTH: 3937 words
HEADLINE: Is the End of the World at Hand?
BYLINE: LARRY KING

HIGHLIGHT: A debate between the Rev. R.L. Hymers, a fundamentalist Baptist minister and author James Randi ("Unmasking Nostradamus") about the possibility of Armaggedon.

BODY:

ANNOUNCER: Welcome to Larry King Live. Tonight, apocalypse now? The ancient prophets have spoken and some say the end of the world has begun in the Persian Gulf. Plus, the Government is looking at what's out there and it may be extraterrestrial. Now, here's Larry King.

LARRY KING: Good evening from Washington. Is the end of the world at hand? Our deadly dance in the Middle East has sparked religious predictions of Armageddon based partly on biblical readings from the Book of Revelation. Secular doom-sayers are busy quoting Nostradamus whose prophetic poetry has been credited by some with accurately foreseeing events for more than 400 years. At our studios here in Washington James Randi is with us. He sees the recent gloom-and-doom predictions as prophesy poppycock. He has a new book out called 'Unmasking Nostradamus' [sic]; it's published by Scribners - there you see its cover - and it takes a careful look at the 16th century poet and his writings. We are also joined in Los Angeles by Reverend R.L. Hymers of the Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle Church. We will start, Reverend Hymers, with you. First, before we talk about Nostradamus, do you believe that the end is at hand?

Reverend R.L. HYMERS, Fundamentalist Baptist Minister: Oh, yes, I believe that the signs, the basic signs that we're looking at now seem to indicate that we are approaching the end of the world as we know it. Of course, we can't set dates; those who do that are always off base because the Bible tells us no man knows the day or the hour, but the time seems to be - we seem to be in the approximate time of it, yes.
...
KING: James Randi has been a debunker of myths; he has followed psychics around and done what they've done and said it's just magical tricks. I guess he's become famous all over this country for doing that. He takes on Nostradamus in the book The Mask of Nostradamus. Do you also think that what Reverend Hymers is saying about Armageddon is myth?

JAMES RANDI: Well, Larry, in preparing my information for my book I came upon so many end-of-the world prophesies from astrologers and from religious figures of various kinds that I decided to run an appendix in there. I've got 37 end-of-the-world predictions, all of which, I hasten to add, failed. The latest, of course, the one that concerns us more than anything, is Nostradamus says it will end in 1999, but they also said it would end in 999. There was even a famine in France because farmers refused to plant crops; they felt so sure that the end of the world was coming.

KING: Do you know why we have always had this phenomenon?

Mr. RANDI: Yes, because it seems that a millennium, particularly a millennium - at the end of any century or a millennium all they do is to look at all the troubles around and they say 'Gee, it's really bad; I guess this must be the time,' but it goes on and on and on. For a couple of thousand years we've been looking for the end of the world. I'm not going to cancel my insurance.

KING: Did Nostradamus say 1999?

Mr. RANDI: Yes, he did.

KING: How did he say that?

Mr. RANDI: He said that, oh, the great terror will come from the sky, the king of the Mongols will come alive again, and all this sort of thing. Remember that Nostradamus, he does actually name that year. In only 103 cases that we were ever able to find does he name a time and a place or a person - any [sic] of those two element - in the same quatrain, and in 103 cases he was wrong - 100 percent wrong.
...
KING: All right, Mr. Randi, has the Bible been right?

Mr. RANDI: Well, I'm not a biblical scholar, Larry. The major reason for that is that I don't come up against religion, simply because they don't really have anything to prove. Now, you've heard the Reverend say that it started in 1948 when Israel became established again. How long do we have to wait? I mean, is it 200 or 300 years, maybe 500 years, maybe 1,500 years? If there's no time limit given on it, it's not much of a prediction.
...
2nd CALLER: Look, I just want to say that I believe that this Kuwait problem is what Nostradamus may be predicting. I don't see any inevitable [sic] way of getting out of war with the rhetoric coming out of Iraq right now.

KING: Do you have a question?

2nd CALLER: I question your guest's analysis of Nostradamus' prediction of the world ending in 1999. Actually, he said the world would end in the year 3600-and-something, but the war would be fully blown by 1999, starting in 1991, with nuclear weapons being brought in in 1994.

Mr. RANDI: No, no, he said nothing about nuclear weapons or anything that sounded like it, but he did say in 1999 the great terror from the sky and the Mongol king being resurrected and then-

KING: What do you make of that?

Mr. RANDI: -in 3767 it's going to happen again, but I don't think we have to worry much about that.

KING: Well, no, but what do you make of the Mongol king idea?

Mr. RANDI: Well, it's been used many times. You see, there is one prediction in Nostradamus which starts out with a blue-turbaned king and it goes on with Sun, Mars and Leo, that sort of thing. The blue-turbaned king, they say 'Gee, I've seen pictures of Hussein with a blue turban on, so it must be the one.' However, they forget that they also used it when the Ayatollah Khomeini came along and seized the American embassy, and they used it when Qaddafi came along as well and started to swing his weight around.
...
Rev. HYMERS: Well, the Bible teaches that the last seven years of history will be called 'the great tribulation period.' This is a terrible time on earth, but those who are born again, who put their faith in Christ, will be raptured, will be caught away from most of the turmoil, and I believe that very much. A person does need to be born again, does need to be sure that they have put their faith in Jesus Christ. I don't think that you can make sense out of the world today if you don't believe the Bible.

KING: Would you agree, Jim, that there are a lot of people who agree with Reverend Hymers and a lot more figures - Billy Graham, one, I guess, quoted in the L.A. Times - coming forward and saying it?

Mr. RANDI: However, they have agreed with them for the last 200 years. There are so many records of people standing on hilltops after giving away their money, dressing in the white robes and the sandals, waiting for the second coming, for the Armageddon, for the end of the world, for the rapture; and so far as I know, none of them have been raptured.
...
5th CALLER: [Evansville, Indiana] Hi, I was just wondering what you thought about AIDS being one of the signs, or do you think this is a plague?

KING: Reverend, do you buy that?

Rev. HYMERS: Well, I think it's one of the pestilences that Jesus spoke about in Matthew 24. He said that there would be pestilences and I think this is one of the pestilences and thus one of the signs, yes, that the end is near.
...
6th CALLER: [Baltimore, Maryland] Yes, I find it interesting that these fundamentalists are using the end of the world over and over again to try to scare people into the church. Don't they have a good point of view that they can convince people to become Christians rather than try to scare them?

KING: Reverend?

Rev. HYMERS: Well, you never scare anybody into church. If I weren't in church, I'd be scared to death. You have the 'greenhouse effect,' you have an area the size of a football field of the rain forests being burned away every second, night and day; you have the threat of thermonuclear war; you have chemical warfare now; you have over-population; all of these things that Time magazine talks about and everybody's talking about. If I weren't a Christian, I'd be scared to death. I think the world situation ought to scare people into church, but apparently it doesn't. People go on-

KING: Are you scared, Randi [sic]?

Mr. RANDI: I'm not the least bit worried. I think I'm going to be around a long time after the turn of the millennium and I don't think this is really serious talk. I really can't believe that people are thinking in a medieval fashion like this.
...
Mr. RANDI: I'm not going to argue these silly things with you. You have a big nerve asking me for a solution to the world's problems. I never said I had it. What's your solution to the world's problems?

Rev. HYMERS: I am in agreement with you that Nostradamus is a fake, but I am in disagreement with you that the church is trying to scare people into its fold. What we're trying to do is to help people who are afraid and who have problems in their lives. Now, I realize-

Mr. RANDI: So you have no solution for any of the things you're asking me to have a solution for.

Rev. HYMERS: There is a solution and the solution is Jesus Christ.

Mr. RANDI: That's not going to fix the 'greenhouse effect.'
...
Rev. HYMERS: My solution to the 'greenhouse effect' is the same as my solution for your sin: My solution is Jesus Christ, and he's coming again-

Mr. RANDI: Yes, some solace, yes. Promise them something that you don't really have any right to promise them and that you can't bring them. Just promise them 'It's up ahead there, don't be worried, everything is going to be fine, it'll be OK' - sure.
...
KING: We have about a minute left. Reverend, do you have any frame of reference as to how close this might be?

Rev. HYMERS: I, Larry, feel - and I sincerely believe this and if I'm wrong, I'm sincerely wrong - but I believe that Jesus Christ, the Messiah, will come in my lifetime and I wish people would trust him. He's a beautiful savior, and he can change your life.
...
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Old 16th June 2007, 02:46 PM   #27
Questioninggeller
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URI GELLER DISCUSSES LAWSUIT AGAINST JAMES RANDI in 1991

Randi and Geller on CBS talking about Geller's 15 million dollar lawsuit.

(Portions of the transcript.)

Quote:
SHOW: CBS THIS MORNING (7:00 AM ET)
DATE: September 10, 1991, Tuesday
TYPE: Interview
LENGTH: 1285 words
HEADLINE: PSYCHIC URI GELLER DISCUSSES LAWSUIT AGAINST JAMES RANDI
ANCHORS: Paula Zahn; Harry Smith
BODY:
...
Paula Zahn, co-host: The psychic Uri Geller gained international fame by bending spoons. Hesays he does it just by using his mind. But is it just a trick? Geller says it's the real thing--mind over matter. Well, magician James Randi, The Amazing Randi, says, It's just an illusion.' So now Geller's suing Randi for $ 15 million. Both have agreed to appear this morning but nottogether. We'll be speaking with James Randi in just a couple ofminutes. First, we go to Uri Geller, who joins us this morning fromLondon. Good morning. Thanks for joining us.

Uri Geller (Psychic): Good morning to you, Paula.
...
Zahn: Randi has, for years, said that you have never proved scientifically that your abilities are, in fact, that of mind overmatter.

Geller: Mm-hmm.

Zahn: Have you ever found a credited scientist that will say that whatyou do is paranormal?

Geller: If I have ever found--I--I think that I am the only psychic--and if I may so say without hurting other psychics--I'm the only person that gave myself to scientifically controlled laboratory experiments all around the world. I mean, they've studied me at Stanford Research Institute, at Kent State University, at Max Planck Institute of the University of London. I can go on and on and on. Now let me tell you this--that I--I have an ability that I cannot explain. And when--and--and it's bad enough that Randi has been attacking my--my abilities, but now he's attacking the originality of what I do. Before I was born, there was no such thing as spoon bending, and I brought it to this world. Now he says, No. This was in cereal boxes when I was a kid.' That is a lie.

Zahn: Mr. Geller, we want to give Mr. Randi a chance now to respond to what you're saying here this morning. Thank you so much for joining us from London. Can you respond to some of the specific charges that Mr. Geller made here this morning?

James Randi (Magician): The Amazing Mr. Geller amazes us once more. Of that whole string of charges there, he knows very well that I can't discuss those things. That's a matter for a court room, of course. But what interests me is he keeps on insisting that he's been scientifically tested. He has not. And if you ask him to name one scientist who will say that under scientifically controlled conditions, he was tested andwas proven to be genuine, then I would change my mind entirely. He was tested at Stanford Research Institute back in the early '70s. And the one set of tests that was scientifically controlled, he failed. He failed miserably. In fact, he walked out on the third day of the test because he wasn't happy with them. Mr. Geller is fond of making statements and he expects people to believe them at face value.
...
Zahn: You've asked us for a spoon here this morning. Was there something that you'd like to demonstrate for us?

Randi: Yes. Where did we get this spoon from, by the way?

Zahn: Here in our kitchen here at CBS This Morning. No special kind of spoon.

Randi: And you're--now these things are the kind of things--not the tricks that were on currently but the kind of tricks that were on the back of Corn Flakes boxes. Lean a little closer to me, would you, Paula? Now this--what does it say on there? Does it say Stainless steel,' or something? guess.

Zahn: Yeah, stainless--exactly.

Randi: All right. I'd ask you to hold the spoon, if you will, between your fingers like that.

Zahn: All right.

Randi: All right. And I'm just going to stroke it like this. Now if we can get a close up on here, perhaps that will serve it better. Hold itfirmly now. And watch what happens. It seems to turn--well, not too tightly, just by the very, very tips. That's it. Look at this. It seems to be getting flexible. Let--let go of it for a second here. Lookat this now. This is absolutely astonishing, but it is a conjuring trick and 12-year-old children can be taught to do exactly this trick. Now if that is psychic, you will want to buy some swamp land from me in Florida.
...

Last edited by Questioninggeller; 16th June 2007 at 03:03 PM.
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Old 11th July 2007, 01:19 PM   #28
Questioninggeller
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Prince George Citizen

Quote:
Abracadabra! Magician-turned-skeptic aims to expose frauds

Prince George Citizen
Wednesday, 11 July 2007, 09:37 PST
by Matt Sedensky

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) - James Randi has escaped from a locked coffin submerged in the sea, and from a straitjacket dangling over Niagara Falls. If you chose a word from a 200-page book, the Canadian native could guess it. Pick an object, he'd make it fade from sight.

He gave up performing as The Amazing Randi years ago, but his words to the audience at the end of each show foreshadowed his next act.

“Everything you have seen here is tricks,” he would say. “There is nothing supernatural involved here. I hope you'll accept my word for that. Thank you and good evening.”
...
“It's important,” he says, “because any misinformation like this - of people claiming they can subvert nature, they can do real miracles and they want to be paid for it ... that's a very negative influence on society.”

Toronto-born Randall James Hamilton Zwinge's career as a magician and escape artist came after he dropped out of high school and left home to join the carnival. His stage routine gave way to a nagging need to speak out against those whose work he regarded as nonsense - not just people who read palms and minds. He also took aim at chiropractors, homeopaths and others.

Randi's “coming out” as a skeptic essentially arrived on a 1972 episode of “The Tonight Show” - he helped Johnny Carson set up Uri Geller, the Israeli performer who claimed to bend spoons with his mind. Randi ensured the spoons and other props were kept from Geller's hands until showtime to prevent tampering. The result was an agonizing 22 minutes in which Geller was unable to perform any tricks.
...
Randi will go to great lengths to expose. All of it has earned him countless fans, and countless other enemies.
...
“I'm not able to do the things that I want to do,” he said. “The true believers will not pay any attention to evidence that does not show that they believe to be untrue.”
Full article: Source
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Old 11th July 2007, 01:53 PM   #29
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That's a very nice article!
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"Reality is what's left when you cease to believe." Philip K. Dick
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