James Randi

Canadian-American stage magician and skeptical movement adherent

James Randi (7 August 1928 - 20 October 2020), born Randall James Hamilton Zwinge and also known as The Amazing Randi, was a Canadian-American stage magician, skeptic, and an opponent of pseudoscience. He was also editor and primary author of Swift, the James Randi Educational Foundation's weekly online publication.

An electron or a galaxy is not capricious, nor deceptive; but a human can be either or both.

Quotes edit

Magicians are the most honest people in the world; they tell you they're gonna fool you, and then they do it.
  • I suggest that we might want to depose this incumbent God and start dealing with The Real World. He's proven — time and again — to be cruel, capricious, and vindictive. He drowns, crushes, burns, and starves millions of us every day. He created cancer, viruses, and germs to invade and destroy our bodies as He sees fit, and uses them very effectively. In His wisdom, He directed those in charge to impede stem cell research so that such a powerful approach would not be available to us and He wouldn't have to strain the Divine Intellect to disarm that defense. We amuse Him as we flail about vainly trying to appease Him. I vote that we dump Him.
  • … it's time for the opening lecture in Test Design 101: Consider: a woman claims to be a musician. You seat her at a piano and demand that she prove her claim. She cannot play the piano, and you conclude that her claim has been invalidated. Hardly. You see, the lady is a cellist….
    You cannot challenge a claimant to do something they've never claimed they can do. That's why, at the JREF, we design a protocol only after the applicant has clearly stated (a) what they can do, (b) under what conditions, and (c) with what expected degree of success. And, the applicant must find the protocol appropriate, fair, agreeable, and adequate to prove their claim.
  • The conjuror or con man is a very good provider of information. He supplies lots of data, by inference or direct statement, but it's false data. Scientists aren't used to that scenario. An electron or a galaxy is not capricious, nor deceptive; but a human can be either or both.
  • To make sure that my blasphemy is thoroughly expressed, I hereby state my opinion that the notion of a god is a basic superstition, that there is no evidence for the existence of any god(s), that devils, demons, angels and saints are myths, that there is no life after death, heaven nor hell, that the Pope is a dangerous, bigoted, medieval dinosaur, and that the Holy Ghost is a comic-book character worthy of laughter and derision. I accuse the Christian god of murder by allowing the Holocaust to take place -- not to mention the "ethnic cleansing" presently being performed by Christians in our world -- and I condemn and vilify this mythical deity for encouraging racial prejudice and commanding the degradation of women. (This comprehensive statement was arrived at by examining the statutes of those seven states that have remained in the Dark Ages, so that I might satisfy their definitions of blasphemy.)
    • Skeptic Magazine, 1995 (Volume 3, No. 4) [1], stated in an unsuccessful effort to be officially charged with blasphemy [2].
  • There exists in society a very special class of persons that I have always referred to as the Believers. These are folks who have chosen to accept a certain religion, philosophy, theory, idea or notion and cling to that belief regardless of any evidence that might, for anyone else, bring it into doubt. They are the ones who encourage and support the fanatics and the frauds of any given age. No amount of evidence, no matter how strong, will bring them any enlightenment. They are the sheep who beg to be fleeced and butchered, and who will battle fiercely to preserve their right to be victimized… the U.S. Patent Office handles an endless succession of inventors who still produce perpetual-motion machines that don't work, but no number of idle flywheels will convince these zealots of their folly; dozens of these patent applications flow in every year. In ashrams all over the world, hopping devotees of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi will never abandon their goal of blissful levitation of their bodies by mind power, despite bruises and sprains aplenty suffered as they bounce about on gym mats like demented (though smiling) frogs, trying to get airborne. Absolutely nothing will discourage them.
  • Magicians are the most honest people in the world; they tell you they're gonna fool you, and then they do it.
    • Documentary An honest liar [3]

Quotes about Randi edit

I found Randi likable and plausible; the only thing that bothered me was the sweeping and intense nature of his skepticism. ~ Colin Wilson
  • I regard Randi as a national treasure, and perhaps one of the remaining antidotes that may prevent the rotting of the American mind.
  • Paranormal phenomena have a habit of going away whenever they are tested under rigorous conditions. This is why the $1,000,000 reward of James Randi, offered to anyone who can demonstrate a paranormal effect under proper scientific controls, is safe.
  • We may disagree with Randi on certain points, but we ignore him at our peril.
  • I found Randi likable and plausible; the only thing that bothered me was the sweeping and intense nature of his skepticism. He was obviously working from the premise that all paranormal phenomena, without exception, are fakes or delusions. He seemed to take it for granted that all of us — there were also two women present — shared his opinions, and he made jovial, disparaging remarks about psychics and other such weirdos. I began to get the uncomfortable feeling of a Jew who has accidentally walked into a Nazi meeting, or a Jehovah's Witness at a convention of militant atheists. As a supposedly scientific psychic investigator, Randi struck me as being oddly fixed in his opinions.

Misattributed edit

  • Everyone who believes in telekinesis, raise my hand.
    • Swift, 15 March 2002, closing line
    • Randi has stated (in an email dated July 11, 2006) that he did not coin this phrase, and he doesn't know who did
    • Earlier attribution: "How many people here have telekinetic powers? Raise my hand."
    • Earlier attribution: "All of you out there who believe in telepathy, raise your hand. All right. Now, everyone who believes in telekinesis...raise MY hand."
  • Atheism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby.
    • Swift, 13 January 2006.
    • This quote is often attributed to Randi. While he quoted it with approval in Swift, the coinage is of an "anonymous reader".

External links edit