James Randi

James Randi

Infobox Celebrity
name = James Randi

size =
caption =
birth_name = Randall James Hamilton Zwinge
birth_date = birth date and age|1928|8|7
birth_place = Toronto, Ontario, Canada
death_date =
death_place =
occupation = Magician, skeptic, writer
salary =
networth =
spouse =
website = [http://www.randi.org www.randi.org]
footnotes =

James Randi (born August 7, 1928)cite book
author = H.W. Wilson Company
title = Current Biography Yearbook
year = 1987
publisher = Silverplatter International
pages = p. 455
] (stage name The Amazing Randi) is a stage magician and scientific skeptic best known as a challenger of paranormal claims and pseudoscience. Born Randall James Hamilton Zwinge,in Toronto, Ontario in Canada, Randi is the founder of the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF). Randi began his career as a magician, but when he retired at age 60, he switched to investigating paranormal, occult, and supernatural claims. Although often referred to as a "debunker," Randi rejects that title, describing himself as an "investigator." [ [http://affect.media.mit.edu/milliondollarchallenge/ One-Million-Dollar Challenge] from MIT Media Lab: Affective Computing Group] He has written about the paranormal, skepticism, and the history of magic.He was a frequent guest on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson", and is occasionally featured on the television program "".

The JREF sponsors the famous million dollar challenge offering a prize of US $1,000,000 to anyone who can demonstrate evidence of any paranormal, supernatural or occult power or event, under test conditions agreed to by both parties. As of this time, no one has claimed this prize, which is to be discontinued on March 6, 2010. [ [http://www.randi.org/joom/challenge-application.html Challenge Application - James Randi Educational Foundation ] ] The prize money held by the Foundation will be used for other projects, the nature of which will be announced at that time. [ [http://www.randi.org/joom/content/view/144/27/#i4 Announcement of Million Dollar Challenge discontinuation at randi.org; January 4, 2008] ]

Early and personal life

Randi is the oldest of three childrencite news | url= | title=The Amazing Randi | publisher=The Toronto Star |date=August 23, 1986 | first=Patricia | last=Orwen | accessdate = ] , having a younger brother and sister. [cite web | last = Randi | first = James | coauthors = | date = May 9, 2008 | url = http://www.randi.org/joom/swift/swift/swift-may-9-2008.html#i3 | title = How Wrong Can You Get? | work = Swift | publisher = James Randi Educational Foundation | accessdate = 2008-05-13] He took up magic after reading magic books while spending 13 months in a body cast due to a bicycle accident. His doctors expected Randi would never walk again, but he did.

At 17, Randi dropped out of high school to perform as a conjurer in a carnival roadshow. [ [http://www.sptimes.com/Floridian/41498/The__quack__hunter.html] ] In his thirties, Randi worked in Philippine night clubs. [ [http://www.randi.org/jr/2006-05/051906sylvia.html#i13 randi.org, Filipino Justice] ]

Randi witnessed many tricks that were presented as being supernatural. One of his earliest reported experiences is that of seeing an evangelist using the "one-ahead"cite news | url=http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,149448,00.html?iid=chix-sphere | title=Fighting Against Flimflam | publisher="Time" | date= June 24, 2001 | first=Leon | last=Jaroff | accessdate = 2007-06-18] routine to convince churchgoers of his divine powers.cite news
first = Taft
last = Philip B., Jr.
url =
title = A Charlatan in Pursuit of Truth
work = New York Times
date = July 5, 1981
accessdate =

Randi for many years has been an amateur astronomer, influenced by his friend Carl Sagan. In 1981 asteroid 3163 Randi was named for him.

In 1987, Randi became a naturalized citizen of the United States. [cite web | last = Randi | first = James | coauthors = | date = September 17, 2001 | url = http://www.randi.org/jr/091701.html | title = Commentary: Etc. | work = Swift | publisher = James Randi Educational Foundation | accessdate = 2006-10-29] Randi has said that one reason he became an American citizen was an incident while on tour with Alice Cooper where the Royal Canadian Mounted Police searched the band's lockers during a performance, holding Randi at gunpoint when he objected. [cite news | url=http://www.randi.org/jr/071505on.html#1 | title=On the Soap Box | publisher=James Randi Educational Foundation | date= July 15, 2005 | first= | last= | accessdate = 2007-05-18]

In February of 2006, Randi underwent coronary artery bypass surgery. [cite news | url=http://www.randi.org/jr/2006-02/021006busted.html#i1 | title=Randi Update | publisher=James Randi Educational Foundation | date= February 10, 2006 | first= | last= | accessdate = 2007-05-18] In early February 2006, he was declared to be in stable condition and "receiving excellent care" with his recovery proceeding well. The weekly commentary updates to his website were made by guests while he was hospitalized.cite web | last = Randi | first = James | coauthors = Paul Hatchman | date = February 17, 2006 | url = http://www.randi.org/jr/2006-02/021706hal.html | title = introductory paragraph | work = Swift | publisher = James Randi Educational Foundation | accessdate = 2006-10-29] Randi recovered after his surgery and was able to help organize and attend the 2007 Amazing Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada (an annual convention of scientists, magicians, skeptics, atheists and free thinkers). [cite web | last = Randi | first = James | coauthors = | date = February 2, 2007 | url = http://www.randi.org/jr/2007-02/020207geller.html#i11 | title = In Conclusion... | work = Swift | publisher = James Randi Educational Foundation | accessdate = 2007-10-29]

Career as a magician

Randi worked as a professional stage magician and escapologist beginning in 1946, initially under his birth name, Randall Zwinge. Early in his career, Randi was part of numerous stunts involving his escape from jail cells and safes. On February 7 1956, he appeared live on "The Today Show" remaining in a sealed metal coffin submerged in a hotel swimming pool for 104 minutes, breaking what was said to be Houdini's record of 93 minutes.Sinclair, Gordon, "Television & radio column", "Toronto Star", February 7 1956.] Bryant, George, "Handcuffs no problem Toronto-born magician laughs at locksmiths", "Toronto Star", June 21 1956.]

Randi was the host of "The Amazing Randi Show" on New York radio station WOR-Radio in the mid-1960s.cite news | url=http://randi.org/jr/bio.html | title=James Randi Biography | publisher=James Randi Educational Foundation | date= 2007 | first= | last= | accessdate = 2007-05-18] He also hosted numerous television specials and went on several world tours. Then Randi appeared as "The Amazing Randi" on a television show titled "Wonderama" from 1967 to 1972cite web | coauthors = Kevin S. Butler and Billy Ingram | url = http://www.tvparty.com/lostwonder1.html | title = "Wonderama!" | work = TVparty On! | accessdate = 2007-04-05 "Sonny Fox hosted another 'Wonderama Thanksgiving Day Party' on Thursday afternoon, November 23, 1961 with guests ventriloquist and cartoon voice-over performer Paul Winchell, magician/escape artist and magic historian The Amazing James Randi and folk singer Pat Woodell." [http://www.randi.org/tam3/] ] and as host of a revival of the 1950s children's show "The Magic Clown" in 1970.cite web | author = Kevin S. Butler | url = http://www.tvparty.com/lostny2bonamo.html | title = "Bonamo, The Magic Clown" | work = TVparty On! | accessdate = 2008-05-13] In the February 2, 1974 issue of "Abracadabra" (a British conjuring magazine), Randi defined the magic community saying, "I know of no calling which depends so much upon mutual trust and faith as does ours." In the December 2003 issue of the "The Linking Ring", the monthly publication of The International Brotherhood of Magicians, "Points to Ponder: Another Matter of Ethics," p. 97, it is stated, "Perhaps Randi's ethics are what make him Amazing" and "The Amazing Randi not only talks the talk, he walks the walk."

During Alice Cooper's 1973-1974 tour, Randi performed as the dentist and executioner on stage. ["Good To See You Again, Alice Cooper," Live 1973 (DVD 2005), "Billion Dollar Babies Tour" ] Also, Randi had designed and built several of the stage props, including the guillotine. [cite news | url=http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_g1epc/is_bio/ai_2419200281 | title=Alice Cooper | publisher=St. James Encyclopedia of Pop Culture | date= 2007 | first=Emily | last=Pettigrew | accessdate = 2007-05-18] [cite news | url=http://www.sickthingsuk.co.uk/people/p-randi.php | title=The Amazing Randi | publisher=sickthingsuk.co.uk | date= 2007 | first= | last= | accessdate = 2007-05-18] Shortly after, in February 1975, Randi escaped from a straitjacket while suspended upside-down over Niagara Falls in the winter on the Canadian TV program "World of Wizards". [cite news | url=http://www.randi.org/jr/050302.html | title=Hilarious Name-Dropping | publisher=James Randi Educational Foundation | date= 2007 | first=James | last=Randi | accessdate = 2007-05-18]

Early in his career, Randi was sent a contract for a tour in Florida. His friends in New York mentioned to him that he’d certainly be working before audiences segregated by race, so before he signed the agreement, he wrote in a clause specifying that the promoters could not deny tickets to blacks or segregate the audiences in any way. Upon arriving on scene, he found that the concert promoter had ignored this stipulation in his contract. He discovered that blacks were forced to watch the show from the balcony, and he immediately walked away from the tour. Appealing to the American Guild of Variety Artists (AGVA), he was paid in full for the balance of the tour. [ [http://www.rationalresponders.com/james_randi_debunking_the_paranormal James Randi Debunking the Paranormal | The Rational Response Squad ] ]

Randi was once accused of actually using 'psychic powers' to perform acts such as spoon bending. James Alcock relates this incident which occurred at a meeting where Randi was duplicating the performances of Uri Geller: A professor from the University at Buffalo shouted out that Randi was a fraud. Randi said, "Yes indeed, I'm a trickster, I'm a cheat, I'm a charlatan, that's what I do for a living. Everything I've done here was by trickery." The professor shouted back: "That's not what I mean. You're a fraud because you're pretending to do these things through trickery, but you're actually using psychic powers and misleading us by not admitting it." [Harvcol|Alcock|2001|p=42] The famous author and believer in spiritualism Arthur Conan Doyle had years earlier made a similar accusation against the magician Harry Houdini. [Arthur Conan Doyle (1930) "The Edge of the Unknown", Putnam's]


Randi is author of "Conjuring" (1992), a biographical history of noted magicians. The book is subtitled: "Being a Definitive History of the Venerable Arts of Sorcery, Prestidigitation, Wizardry, Deception, & Chicanery and of the Mountebanks & Scoundrels Who have Perpetrated these Subterfuges on a Bewildered Public, in short, MAGIC!". The book selects the most influential magicians, and explains their history in the context of strange deaths and career on the road. This work expanded on his 1976 book "Houdini, His Life and Art", which focused on Houdini and his cohorts. Randi also wrote a children's book in 1989 titled "The Magic World of the Amazing Randi" introducing children to magic tricks.

In addition to his magic books, he has written several educational works about the paranormal and pseudoscientific. These include biographies of Uri Geller and Nostradamus as well as reference material on other major paranormal figures. He is currently working on "A Magician in the Laboratory", which recounts his application of skepticism to science. [ [http://www.randi.org/documents/randiresume.pdf Randi's resume from Randi.org] ]

Career as a skeptic

Randi entered the international spotlight in 1972 when he publicly challenged the claims of Uri Geller. Randi accused Geller of being nothing more than a charlatan and a fraud using standard magic tricks to accomplish his allegedly paranormal feats, and he backed up his claims in the book "The Truth About Uri Geller".cite news
first = Boyce
last = Rensberger
url =
title = Magicians Term Israeli 'Psychic' a Fraud
work = New York Times
publisher =
page = 29
date = December 13, 1975
accessdate =
] Geller later sued Randi for $15 million in 1991.cite news
first = Charles
last = Petit
url =
title = Bay Magicians Back Uri Geller's Critic
work = San Francisco Chronicle
page = A27
date = May 23, 1991
accessdate =
] Geller's suit against the Committee for Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) was thrown out in 1995, and he was ordered to pay $120,000 for filing a frivolous lawsuit.cite news
first = Michael
last = Levy
url = http://docs.newsbank.com/g/GooglePM/BN/lib00142,0EAF986A6473E6E1.html
title = Group Gets $40,000 From 'psychic' Geller Starts Paying Debunkers $120,000
work = The Buffalo News
date = March 13, 1995
accessdate = 2007-12-29

Randi was a founding fellow and prominent member of CSICOP. [Michael Kernan, "God's Chariot! Science Looks at the New Occult," "The Washington Post", June 11, 1978] During the period when Geller was filing numerous civil suits against him, CSICOP's leadership, wanting to avoid becoming a target of Geller's litigation, requested that Randi refrain from commenting on Geller. Randi refused and resigned. He still maintains a respectful relationship with the group and frequently writes articles for its magazine.

Randi has gone on to write several books criticizing beliefs and claims regarding the paranormal.cite web
url = http://www.randi.org/jr/bio.html
title = "About James Randi"
work = jref.org
publisher = James Randi Educational Foundation
accessdate = 2007-12-29
] He has also demonstrated flaws in studies suggesting the existence of paranormal phenomena; in his Project Alpha hoax, Randi revealed that he had been able to orchestrate a three year-long compromise of a privately-funded psychic research experiment. [Philip J. Hilts, "Magicians Score a Hit On Scientific Researchers," Washington Post March 1, 1983 First Section; A1] The hoax became a scandal and demonstrated the shortcomings of many paranormal research projects at the university level. Some said that the hoax was unethical, while others claimed his actions were a legitimate exercise in exposing poor research techniques. [WILLIAM J. BROAD, "MAGICIAN'S EFFORT TO DEBUNK SCIENTISTS RAISES ETHICAL ISSUES," "The New York Times", February 15, 1983, Page 3, Column 1]

Randi has also appeared on numerous other programs sometimes to directly debunk the claimed abilities of fellow guests. In a 1981 appearance on a show called "That's My Line", Randi appeared opposite psychic James Hydrick, who claimed that he could move things with his mind, and demonstrated this ability on live television by apparently turning a page in a telephone book without touching it. [cite news | url=http://www.randi.org/jr/2006-09/092206bad.html#i11 | title=A Look at the Past| publisher=James Randi Educational Foundation |date=September 22, 2006 | first= | last= | accessdate =2007-05-07] Randi, having determined that the trick was most likely based on Hydrick surreptitiously blowing, arranged packaging peanuts on the table in front of the telephone book for the demonstration, preventing Hydrick from demonstrating his abilities which would have been exposed when the blowing moved the packaging. [ [http://video.google.ca/videoplay?docid=7471941094792399305 Video of Hydrick's page turning debunking] from Google Video] Many years later, Hydrick admitted his fraud.Korem, Dan (1983). " [http://storesense04.dynamic.net/ifpinc/Detail.bok?no=7 Psychic Confession.] " [http://www.unexplainable.net/artman/publish/article_2685.shtml (also transcript)] ]

Randi was awarded a MacArthur Foundation "Genius" award in 1986. The money was used for Randi's comprehensive exposé of faith healers including Peter Popoff, W. V. Grant and Ernest Angley. During the course of the investigation Randi was "healed" by these ministers. When Popoff was exposed, he was forced to declare bankruptcy within the year. [cite news | url=http://www.insideedition.com/ourstories/reports/story.aspx?storyid=639 | title=A Profitable Prophet| publisher=Inside Edition |date=February 27, 2007 | first= | last= | accessdate =2007-05-07]

In 1988, Randi showed how gullible the media are by perpetrating a "fraud" of his own. By teaming up with Australia's "60 Minutes" program and by releasing a fake press package he built up publicity for a spirit channeler named Carlos, who was actually an artist named Jose Alvares, a friend of Randi. Randi would tell him what to say through sophisticated radio equipment. The media and the public were taken as no reporter bothered to check Carlos' credentials and history, which were all made up. The hoax was exposed on "60 Minutes"; Carlos and Randi explained how they pulled it off. [ [http://www.skepdic.com/carlos.html "Carlos" hoax of Jose Alvarez ] ] [http://www.abc.net.au/science/correx/archives/randi4.htm Randi talking about Carlos hoax]

In the book "The Faith Healers", Randi explains his anger and relentlessness as arising out of compassion for the helpless victims of frauds. Randi has also been critical of João de Deus, also known as John of God, a self-proclaimed psychic surgeon who has received international attention.cite news | url=http://www.randi.org/jr/021805a.html#1 | title=The ABC-TV Infomercial for John of God | publisher=James Randi Educational Foundation |date=February 18, 2005 | first=James | last=Randi | accessdate = 2006-11-18] Randi observed, referring to psychic surgery, "To any experienced conjuror, the methods by which these seeming miracles are produced are very obvious." [cite news | url=http://www.randi.org/encyclopedia/psychic%20surgery.html | title=An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural: Psychic surgery | publisher=St. Martin's Press | date= 2006 | first=James | last=Randi | accessdate = 2006-11-18]

In 1982, Randi verified the abilities of Arthur Lintgen, a Philadelphia physician who is able to determine the classical music recorded on a vinyl LP solely by examining the grooves on the record. However, Lintgen does not claim to have any paranormal ability, merely knowledge of the way that the grooves form patterns on particular recordings. [ [http://www.snopes.com/music/media/reader.asp The Record Reader] from Snopes.com]

James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF)

In 1996, Randi established the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF). Randi updates the JREF's website on Fridays with a written commentary titled "Swift: Online Newsletter of the JREF". Topics have included the mathematics of the one-seventh area triangle. Randi also contributes a regular column, titled "'Twas Brillig," to The Skeptics Society's Skeptic Magazine. In his weekly commentary, Randi often gives examples of what he feels is the nonsense that he deals with every day.cite journal | last = Randi | first = James | year = 2005 | month = July | title = Fakers and Innocents | journal = Skeptical Inquirer | volume = 29 | issue = 4 | id = ISSN 0194-6730 | url = http://www.csicop.org/si/2005-07/randi.html | accessdate = 2006-10-29]

He has regularly featured on many podcasts that can be found online, including The Skeptics Society's official podcast Skepticality cite web | url = http://www.skepticality.com/ | title = Skepticality | accessdate = 2007-01-30] and the Center for Inquiry's official podcast Point of Inquiry cite web | url = http://www.pointofinquiry.org/ | title = Point of Inquiry | accessdate = 2006-06-30] . From September 2006 onwards, he occasionally contributes to The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe podcast with a column titled "Randi Speaks."cite web | url = http://theskepticsguide.org/ | title = The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe | accessdate = 2006-10-29]

Randi's viewpoints

On religion

In his essay "Why I Deny Religion, How Silly and Fantastic It Is, and Why I'm a Dedicated and Vociferous Bright," Randi has stated that many accounts in religious texts, including the virgin birth, the miracles of Jesus Christ, and the parting of the Red Sea by Moses, are not believable. For example, Randi refers to the Virgin Mary as being "impregnated by a ghost of some sort, and as a result produced a son who could walk on water, raise the dead, turn water into wine, and multiply loaves of bread and fishes", and questions how Adam and Eve could have two sons that killed each other and yet managed to populate the earth without committing incest. He ends his assessment of religion stating that "The Wizard of Oz" is more believable. And more fun." [cite web |url=http://www.randi.org/jr/072503.html |title=Commentary, July 25, 2003 — Why I Deny Religion, How Silly and Fantastic It Is, and Why I'm a Dedicated and Vociferous Bright. |format= |work= |accessdate=] In "An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural" he looks at a variety of spiritual practices sceptically. Of the meditation techniques of Guru Maharaj Ji (Prem Rawat) he writes that, "Only the very naive were convinced that they had been let in on some sort of celestial secret." [Cite web
title = James Randi Educational Foundation — An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural | accessdate = 2008-10-05| url = http://www.randi.org/encyclopedia/Maharaj%20Ji.html

On Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and spiritualism

Randi describes Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the Scottish author most noted for his stories about the detective Sherlock Holmes, as a "bit of a snob," and that his endorsement of spiritualism, which Randi describes as "incredibly naive," brought legitimacy to it as a religion. [cite web |url=http://www.randi.org/encyclopedia/Conan%20Doyle,%20Sir%20Arthur.html |title=James Randi Educational Foundation — An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural |format= |work= |accessdate=]

The $1 million challenge

The James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) currently offers a prize of one million U.S. dollars to anyone who can demonstrate a supernatural ability under agreed-upon scientific testing criteria. Similar to the paranormal challenges of John Nevil Maskelyne and Houdini, in 1964, Randi put up $1,000 of his own money payable to the first person who could provide objective proof of the paranormal.cite news
first = Kevin
last = Poulsen
url = http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2007/01/72482
title = Skeptic Revamps $1M Psychic Prize
work =
date = 12 January 2007
accessdate = 2008-04-11
] Since then, the prize money has grown to the current $1,000,000, and has formal published rules. No one has progressed past the preliminary test which is set up with parameters agreed to by both Randi and the applicant. He also refuses to accept any challengers who might suffer serious injury or death as a result of the testing they intend to undergo.

On "Larry King Live" March 6, 2001 Larry King asked Sylvia Browne if she would take the challenge and she agreed. [ [http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0103/06/lkl.00.html Are Psychics for Real?] appeared with John Edward March 6, 2001 on Larry King Live CNN] Then Randi appeared with Browne on Larry King Live on September 3, 2001 and she again accepted the challenge.cite news | url=http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0109/03/lkl.00.html | title=Are Psychics Real? | publisher=CNN | work=Larry King Live | date=2001-09-03 | first=Larry | last=King | accessdate = 2006-08-18] However, she has refused to be tested and Randi keeps a clock on his website recording the number of weeks that have passed since Sylvia accepted the challenge without following through. [ [http://www.randi.org/sylvia/ The Sylvia Browne Clock] from the [http://www.randi.org/ James Randi Educational Foundation website] ]

During Larry King Live on June 5, 2001 Randi challenged Rosemary Altea to undergo testing for the million dollars. However Altea would not even address the question. [http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0106/05/lkl.00.html Spiritual Medium Versus Paranormal Skeptic] (Rosemary Altea verses Randi) on Larry King Live June 5, 2001] Instead Altea, in part, replied "I agree with what he says, that there are many, many people who claim to be spiritual mediums, they claim to talk to the dead. There are many, people, we all know this. There are cheats and charlatans everywhere." Then on January 26, 2007 Altea and Randi again appeared on Larry King Live. Once again, she refused to answer whether or not she would take the One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge. [cite news | url=http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0701/26/lkl.01.html| title=Altea and James Randi |publisher=Larry King Live | date=January 26, 2007 | first= | last= | accessdate = 2007-02-02]

Randi has recently challenged David R. Hawkins to win the prize with Hawkins' "arm-pressing technique" (applied kinesiology), suggesting it would only take thirty minutes of easy work, but believing that Hawkins would not even attempt to apply for the challenge for "obvious" reasons. [James Randi. Quoted at New England Institute of Religious Research "Quotes of Experts Regarding Hawkins and 'AK'" [http://neirr.org/David_R_Hawkins_Quotes.htm] ]

Starting on April 1, 2007 only those with an already existing media profile and the backing of a reputable academic would be allowed to apply for the challenge.cite news | url=http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,72482-0.html?tw=wn_index_1 | title=Skeptic Revamps $1M Psychic Prize | publisher=Wired | date=January 12, 2007 | first=Kevin | last=Poulsen | accessdate = 2007-01-14] The resources freed up by not having to test obscure and possibly mentally ill claimants will then be used to more aggressively challenge notorious high-profile alleged psychics and mediums such as Sylvia Browne, Allison DuBois and John Edward with a campaign in the media.

On January 4, 2008 it was announced that the million dollar challenge would be discontinued on March 6, 2010 in order to free up the money and resources for other uses. [January 4, 2008 edition of SWIFT [http://www.randi.org/joom/content/view/144/1/#i4] ]

JREF maintains a public log of past participants in the Million Dollar Challenge.cite web
url = http://forums.randi.org/forumdisplay.php?f=43
title = "Challenge Applications"
publisher = James Randi Educational Foundation
accessdate = 2007-07-13

Legal disputes

Randi has been involved in a variety of legal disputes, but claims to have "never paid even one dollar or even one cent to anyone who ever sued me." [cite web | last =Randi | first =James | coauthors = | date = February 9, 2007 | url =http://www.randi.org/jr/2007-02/020209morebrowne.html#i6 | title = More Geller Woo-Woo | work = SWIFT Newsletter | publisher = James Randi Educational Foundation | accessdate = 2007-01-29]

Eldon Byrd

In an interview with "Twilight Zone Magazine", Randi accused Uri Geller and Eldon Byrd of being the ringleaders in a criminal blackmail plot aimed at destroying Randi.cite web | last = Orenstein | first = Russell T.
date = June 17, 1992 | url = http://www.uri-geller.com/eldon.htm | title = Letter to Eldon Byrd | publisher = urigeller.com | accessdate = 2007-06-03
] Byrd sued Randi when he was accused by the magician of being a convicted child molester. Following the trial a press release from Randi said "Testimony adduced at the trial revealed that, in fact, Mr. Byrd had not been convicted of the crime of child molestation as suggested by Mr. Randi, but instead had been arrested for possession with intent to distribute obscene materials involving children, and had pled guilty to a reduced charge of possession with intent to distribute obscene materials." The jury also heard testimony that Byrd had sexually molested, and later married, his sister-in-law. [cite web
last = Randi | first = James | date = June 5, 1993 | url = http://www.skepticfiles.org/skeptic/randi012.htm | title = Press Release | publisher = Skeptic Tank Text Archive File | accessdate = 2007-06-03
] Despite this, Byrd won the case, but received no monetary judgment. [ url = http://www.skepticfiles.org/skeptic/randi013.htm ]

Uri Geller

In a 1989 interview with a Japanese newspaper, Randi was quoted as saying that Uri Geller had driven a metallurgist named Wilbur Franklin to "shoot himself in the head," after the scientist realized that Geller had tricked him. This statement was incorrect—Franklin had died of natural causes. In the same Japanese newspaper interview, Randi also called Geller a "sociopath." In 1990, Geller sued Randi in a Japanese court over the statements Randi had made in the Japanese newspaper. Randi did not participate in the trial, but in March 1993, the judge ruled against Randi, and awarded Geller 500,000 yen (at the time about US$4400). Randi initially refused to pay the amount. Geller later agreed not to pursue Randi for the money in a subsequent settlement with CSICOP.cite news | url = http://www.randi.org/jr/2007-02/020209morebrowne.html#i7 | title = More Geller Woo-Woo | work = Swift | publisher = James Randi Educational Foundation | date = February 9, 2007 | first = James | last = Randi | accessdate = 2007-06-03 ] [Marcello Truzzi, An End to the Uri Geller vs. Randi & CSICOP Litigations? [http://www.uri-geller.com/psir.htm] ] The newspaper did not escape so lightly, since it was forced to settle out of court for an amount reported as "a high six figure sum - in Dollars not Yen." [Jonathan Margolis, [http://www.uri-geller.com/courts.htm Uri Geller Magician or Mystic] ]

Randi later claimed that the phrase "shot himself in the head" was a metaphor lost in translation.cite journal | last = Krol
first = Carol | year = 1995 | title = Cuckoos and Cocoa Puffs | journal = Skeptical Eye
volume = 8 | issue = 3 | id = ISSN 1063-2077 | url=http://www.skepticfiles.org/randi/legal.htm | accessdate = 2006-10-29
] However, Randi had made the same statement in English three years earlier in a Toronto newspaper: "The scientist shot himself after I showed him how the key bending trick was done." [Patricia Orwen, [http://zammoth-jamesrandi.blogspot.com/ James Randi] August 23, 1986, "Toronto Star".]

Randi commented that Uri Geller's public performances were of the same quality as those found on the backs of cereal boxes. Geller sued both Randi and CSICOP. CSICOP argued that the organization was not responsible for Randi's statements. The court agreed that including CSICOP was frivolous and dropped them from the action, leaving Randi to face the action alone. Geller was ordered to pay substantial damages to CSICOP.cite web | date = August 1994 | url = http://www.csicop.org/articles/uri_dis.html | title = "Uri Geller Libel Suit Dismissed" | work = www.csicop.org | publisher = Committee for Skeptical Inquiry | accessdate = 2007-06-03] cite web | url = http://www.skepticfiles.org/skeptic/randi032.htm | title = "Lawsuit Against CSICOP Dismissed" (CSICOP press release) | work = Skeptic Tank Text Archive File | accessdate = 2007-06-03] Randi and Geller subsequently settled their dispute out of court, the details of which have been kept confidential. The settlement also included an agreement that Geller would not pursue Randi for the award in the Japanese case, or other outstanding cases.


Allison DuBois, on whose life the television series "Medium" was based, threatened Randi with legal action for using a photo of her from her website in his December 17, 2004 commentary without her permission.cite web
last = Randi | first = James | date = December 17, 2004 | url = http://www.randi.org/jr/121704no.html#5 | title = "Another Medium Well Done"
work = Swift | publisher = James Randi Educational Foundation | accessdate = 2006-10-29
] Randi removed the photo, and now uses a caricature of DuBois when mentioning her on his site, beginning with his December 23, 2005 commentary.cite web | last = Randi | first = James | coauthors = Paul Hatchman
date = December 23, 2005 | url = http://www.randi.org/jr/200512/122305hallelujah.html#i2 | title = "Medium Well Done"
work = Swift | publisher = James Randi Educational Foundation | accessdate = 2006-10-29

Late in 1996 Randi launched a libel suit against a Toronto-area self proclaimed psychic named Earl Gordon Curley.cite web | last = Randi | first = James | date = 4 December 1996 | url = http://www.randi.org/hotline/1996/0085.html | title = "Action initiated . . ." | work = James Randi Educational Foundation Info List | accessdate = 2006-10-29] Curley had made multiple objectionable comments about Randi on Usenet. Despite prodding Randi via Usenet to sue (Curley's comments had implied that if Randi did not sue then his allegations must be true), Curley seemed entirely surprised when Randi actually retained Toronto's largest law firm and initiated legal proceedings. The suit was eventually dropped in 1998 when Earl Curley died suddenly at the age of 51.cite web | last = Randi | first = James | date = 8 July 1998 | url = http://www.randi.org/hotline/1998/0025.html | title = "Curley Confirmation + Sony Corp. and ESP, More on Theremin" | work = James Randi Educational Foundation Info List | accessdate = 2006-10-29]

Sniffex, producer of a dowsing bomb detection device, unsuccessfully sued Randi and the JREF in 2007.cite web | last = Randi | first = James | date = July 25, 2008 | url = http://www.randi.org/joom/content/view/204/1/#i1 | title = An Encouraging Development | work = James Randi Educational Foundation | accessdate = 2008-10-29] Sniffex sued Randi for his comments regarding a failed government test and the company was later investigated and charged with fraud.

James Randi stated that Daniel Dunglas Home was caught cheating on a few occasions, but the episodes were never made public, and that the accordion Home is supposed to have played without touching it was a one-octave mouth organ that Home concealed under his large moustache. James Randi writes that one-octave mouth organs were found in Home's belongings after his death.cite web |first=James |last=Randi |url=http://www.randi.org/encyclopedia/Home,%20Daniel%20Dunglas.html |title=An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural |publisher=James Randi Educational Foundation |accessdate=2008-01-05] According to Randi 'around 1960' William Lindsay Gresham told Randi he had seen these mouth organs in the Home collection at the Society for Psychical Research. [ "The First Psychic: The Peculiar Mystery of a Notorious Victorian Wizard" by Peter Lamont, Little, Brown, 2005 p 302] Eric Dingwall who catalogued Home's collection on its arrival at the SPR does not record the presence of the mouth organs. It is unlikely Dingwall would have missed these or did not make them public. [ Lamont 2005 p 302]


*MacArthur Foundation Fellowship 1986
*American Physical Society Joseph A. Burton Forum Award 1989 [ [http://www.aps.org/programs/honors/awards/burton.cfm Joseph A. Burton Forum Award ] ]
*Richard Dawkins Award 2003
*Philip J. Klass Award 2007 [cite news | url=http://www.randi.org/jr/2007-03/032307tx.html#i11 | title=In Closing | publisher=James Randi Educational Foundation | date= March 23, 2007 | first=James | last=Randi | accessdate = 2007-05-18]

World records

The following are Guinness records.

* Randi was in a sealed casket for an hour and 44 minutes, which broke Harry Houdini's record of one hour and 31 minutes set on August 5, 1926.
* Randi was encased in a block of ice for 55 minutes.


*"A Magician in the Laboratory". (Forthcoming [http://www.randi.org/documents/randiresume.pdf] )
*"An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural", 1995, St. Martin's Press ISBN 0-312-15119-5 ( [http://randi.org/encyclopedia/ Online Version] )
*"Conjuring", 1992 St. Martin's Press ISBN 0312097719
*"Flim-Flam! Psychics, ESP, Unicorns, and Other Delusions", 1982, Prometheus Books, ISBN 0-87975-198-3
*"Houdini, His Life and Art". Putnam Pub Group (November 1976) ISBN 0448125528
*"James Randi: Psychic Investigator", 1991, ISBN 1-85283-144-8
*"Test Your ESP Potential". Dover Publications Inc. (31 Dec 1982) ISBN 0486242692
*"The Faith Healers", 1987, Prometheus Books, ISBN 0-87975-369-2. (ISBN 0-87975-535-0 1989 edition) (Foreword by Carl Sagan)
*"The Magic of Uri Geller", 1982, ISBN 0-345-24796-5 (later renamed "The Truth About Uri Geller" ISBN 0-87975-199-1)
*"The Magic World of the Amazing Randi". Adams Media Corporation (September 1989) ISBN 1558509828
*"", 1990, Charles Scribner's Sons ISBN 0-684-19056-7 or ISBN 0-87975-830-9.
*"Wrong!" (Forthcoming [http://www.randi.org/documents/randiresume.pdf] )

TV and film


*"Beyond Desire" (1994) as the Coroner
*"Penn & Teller Get Killed" (1989) .... 3rd Rope Holder ... aka Dead Funny
*"Penn & Teller's Invisible Thread" (1987) (TV)
*"Ragtime" (1981) (stunt coordinator: Houdini)
*"Happy Days" - "The Magic Show" (1978) as the Amazing Randi
*"Good to See You Again", Alice Cooper (1974) as the Dentist/Executioner
*"Wonderama" (1955) (TV) as The Amazing Randi


*"Extraordinary People - The Million Dollar Mind Reader (September 2008). [http://www.five.tv/programmes/extraordinarypeople/]
*"Zembla", 'De trucs van Char' ("The tricks Char uses"). (March 2008.) [cite web |url=http://zembla.vara.nl/Voorpagina.1975.0.html?&tx_ttnews [tt_news] =5316&tx_ttnews [backPid] =1974&cHash=0e36f258ac |title=De trucs van Char, het medium - 23 maart 2008: ZEMBLA:]
*"Welt der Wunder – Kraft der Gedanken" (January 2008)
*"20/20" ABC TV (May 11, 2007)cite news | url=http://abcnews.go.com/2020/story?id=3164858&page=1 | title=Selling Salvation?| publisher=20/20 | date= May 11, 2007 | first=Jim | last=Avila | accessdate = 2007-03-01]
*"Anderson Cooper 360", CNN (January 19, 2007 and January 30, 2007)
*"Inside Edition"- (20 January 2006 and 27 February 2007) TV
*"James Randi Budapesten" - Hungarian documentary ( [http://szkeptikus.bme.hu/randi.iso free download for schools] )
*"Magic" (2004) (mini) TV Series
**- Signs from Heaven (2005) TV Episode
**- ESP (2003) TV Episode
**- End of the World (2003) TV Episode
*"Fornemmelse for snyd" (2003) TV Series (also archive footage)
*"Mitä ihmettä?" (2003) TV Series
*" [http://www.fulcrumtv.com/program.php?id=113&cat=studio/ob&subcat=studio/ob&year=2004&page=1 The Ultimate Psychic Challenge] " (Discovery Channel/Channel 4) (2003)
*"Horizon" - [http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/horizon/2002/homeopathy.shtml Homeopathy: The Test] (2002) TV Episode
*"Spotlight on James Randi" (2002) (TV)
*"Larry King Live" of CNN (June 5, 2001, September 3, 2001, and January 26, 2007)
*"The View" ABC TV (1999)
*"The Art of Magic" (1998) (TV)
*"The Power of Belief" (October 6, 1998) (ABC News Special) (TV)
*"Scams, Schemes, and Scoundrels" (A&E Special) (March 30, 1997)
*The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (32 appearances between 1973 and 1993)
*"NOVA": Secrets of the Psychics (1993)
*"James Randi: Psychic Investigator" (1991) (Open Media series for the ITV network)
*"Exploring Psychic Powers Live" (June 7 1989) (Hosted by Bill Bixby)
*"Magic or Miracle" (1983)
*"That's My Line" (1980) (Appeared with James Hydrick)
*"The Don Lane Show" (1980)

ee also

*International Zetetic challenge
*Pigasus Award
*Project Alpha
*Scientific skepticism
*Massimo Polidoro, James Randi's only full time apprentice on the investigation of psychic claims and co-founder of CICAP.
*Basava Premanand who continues the INR 100,000 Abraham Kovoor's challenge against supernatural and miraculous powers.
*Rationalist Prabir Ghosh and his $50,000 challenge against astrology and the paranormal.
*Narendra Nayak is another rationalist Indian that is campaigning against so-called miracles and quacks
*Robert Todd Carroll's "Skeptic's Dictionary"




editor-last=Kurtz|editor-first=Paul|editor-link=Paul Kurtz
title=Skeptical Odysseys: Personal accounts by the world's leading paranormal inquirers
chapter=Science vs. Pseudoscience, Nonscience, and Nonsense
publisher = Prometheus Books
id=ISBN 1-57392-884-4

External links

* [http://www.randi.org/ James Randi Educational Foundation] – Official website

* [http://skepdic.com/randi.html James Randi in] the Skeptic's Dictionary
* [http://www.skepdic.com/projectalpha.html Project Alpha in] the Skeptic's Dictionary
* [http://www.positiveatheism.org/writ/stoss01.htm How Randi and fake psychic Carlos fooled millions]
* [http://youtube.com/user/TheFriendlySkeptic James Randi Educational Foundation YouTube]

* [http://bsalert.com/news/2145/BSAlert_Show_5_-_James_Randi_on_Paranormalism_and_Phenomenon.html James Randi interview] (November, 2007) from the BSAlert.com radio show where Mr. Randi discusses the TV show "Phenomenon," the current status of Uri Geller and his thoughts about whether society is becoming more or less superstitious.
*cite news | url=http://www.sptimes.com/Floridian/41498/The__quack__hunter.html | title=Randi, the quack hunter | publisher=St. Petersburg Times |date=April 14, 1998 | first=Jeanne | last=Malmgren | accessdate =
*cite news | url=http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/horizon/2002/homeopathyrandi.shtml | title=Homeopathy: The Test - webchat with James Randi | publisher=BBC |date=26 November 2002 | first= | last= | accessdate =
* [http://www.skeptictank.org/hs/paranorm.htm "20 Major Aspects of Liars, Cheats, and Frauds" by James Randi"]
* [http://abcnews.go.com/Video/playerIndex?id=1931702 The Power of Belief (Video clip)] from ABC News
* [http://www.randi.org/radio/index.html Randi's Internet Audio Show] from the James Randi Educational Foundation
* [http://www.skepticality.com/index.php Skepticality Internet Radio]

*cite news | url=http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0701/19/acd.01.html | title=Official transcript: Psychic Powers Debunked in Shawn Hornbeck Case |publisher=Anderson Cooper 360 | date=January 19, 2007 | first= | last= | accessdate = (Sylvia Browne and Randi)
*cite news | url=http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0701/30/acd.01.html | title=Official transcript: Psychic Psychic Reality Check |publisher=Anderson Cooper 360 | date=January 30, 2007 | first= | last= | accessdate = (Sylvia Browne's manager and Randi)
*cite news | url=http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0701/26/lkl.01.html| title= Official transcript: Have Psychics Gone Too Far? | publisher=Larry King Live | date=January 26, 2007 | first= | last= | accessdate = (Altea and James Randi)
*cite news | url=http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0106/05/lkl.00.html | title=Official transcript: Spiritual Medium Versus Paranormal Skeptic |publisher=Larry King Live | date=June 5, 2001 | first= | last= | accessdate = (Rosemary Altea and Randi)
*cite news | url=http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0109/03/lkl.00.html | title=Official transcript: Are Psychics Real? |publisher=Larry King Live |date=September 3, 2001 | first= | last= | accessdate = (Sylvia Browne and Randi)

* [http://www.skepticalinvestigations.org/exam/Prescott_Randi.htm A Skeptical Look At James Randi] "Michael Prescott"
* [http://www.randi.org/jr/091903.html James Randi's response to criticism] "James Randi Educational Foundation"
* Benveniste, Jacques, and Peter Jurgens. [http://www.anomalist.com/commentaries/magician.html On the Role of Stage Magicians in Biological Research] "The Anomalist" 1998
* Thalbourne, Michael A, [http://www.aiprinc.org/para-C05_Thalbourne_1995.pdf “Science versus showmanship: A history of the Randi hoax,”] "American Society for Psychical Research" 89 (4) OCT 1995

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