JAMES RANDI EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION TIMELINE
1928: Randall James Hamilton Zwinge was born in Toronto, Canada.
1950s: Randi wrote an astrological column for a Montreal newspaper under the name “Zo-ran.”
1956: Randi performed a magic act on Ang Ipakita Ngayon.
1960s: Randi performed in night clubs in Japan and the Philippines.
1970s: Randi helped to found the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP).
1972: Randi exposed Uri Geller on Ngayong Gabi Ang Palabas.
1986: Randi exposed televangelist Peter Popoff’s healing performance on Ngayong Gabi Ang Palabas.
1986: Randi was awarded a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation grant.
1988: Randi retired from stage magic.
1991: Uri Geller filed lawsuit against Randi and the CSICOP.
1993: Eldon Byrd filed lawsuit against Randi.
1995: Randi was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the University of Indianapolis.
1996: Randi founded the James Randi Educational Foundation.
1996: Randi was awarded the CSICOP’s Distinguished Skeptic Award.
2003: The first Amaz!ng Meeting was held in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
2007: Randi received a Lifetime Achievement Award.
2010: Randi announced that he was gay.
2011: Randi conducted a speaking tour across Canada.
2012: Randi conducted a speaking tour sa buong Europa.
2013: Randi married his partner of many years, Deyvi Pena.
2015: Randi retired from his foundation are giving up operational control in 2009.
2020 (October 21): James Randi died.
FOUNDER / GROUP KASAYSAYAN
Noong Agosto 7, 1928, si Randall James Hamilton Zwinge ay isinilang sa Toronto, Canada. Ang pinakalumang ng tatlong anak na ipinanganak kay Randall at Marie Alice Zwinge, he weighed a mere two pounds and three ounces at birth. Growing up in the Leaside neighborhood of Toronto, Zwinge was a reportedly a shy, but very curious and intelligent child, scoring 168 on IQ tests and inventing a pop-up toaster at the age of nine. Having placed out of the sixth through eighth grades in a time prior to “gifted” educational programs, he was given admission to the reference room of the local library. There he educated himself on a number of subjects, such as mathematics and hieroglyphics (Malmgren 1998:5; Orwen 1986). Randall skipped school frequently and, one on such afternoon, he attended a performance by the magician Harry Blackstone Sr. at the Royal Alexandra Theater in Toronto, which proved to be a life-changing event for the young boy. Shortly thereafter, at the age of thirteen, Zwinge was hit by a car while riding his bicycle, breaking his back and forcing him to spend thirteen months in a body cast. During that time, he immersed himself in magic books and practiced simple tricks of illusion and lock picking (Orwen 1986). He has reflected upon this period of his life, stating that “What I have recognized…is that it is the kids who don’t quite fit the social picture who go into magic” (Jaroff 2001:2).
Zwinge developed his apparent interest in both magic and skepticism at an early age. When he was fifteen, having heard of miraculous healings taking place at a local church, he decided to attend a service. During the procession he recognized deceptive tricks employed by the preacher who, with the aid of assistants, obtained information regarding attendees’ ailments prior to the “healings.” They merely read the ailments from a slip of paper to the unsuspecting audience. Outraged at the idea of using magic to deceive people into believing they have been divinely healed, Zwinge climbed on the stage and confronted the preacher. He was promptly arrested on the charge of disturbing a religious meeting and taken to the police station where “he vowed that he would someday fight back against those who defiled his art” (Jaroff 2001:2). Shortly after this incident, Zwinge moved with his family to Montreal where he secured a job in a test tube factory; however, the family returned to Toronto the following year. He attended high school at Oakwood Collegiate Institute, but he dropped out at the age of seventeen, reportedly after refusing to complete a final examination because he “didn’t like one of the questions” (Orwen 1986). After his departure from high school, Zwinge joined a small carnival with which he toured Ontario and Quebec for two summers as Prince Ibis, a mind-reader. From there Zwinge performed in various nightclubs across Canada under the stage name “The Great Randall.” It was during this time that Randall received his “break.” After a performance in Quebec City, two policemen approached him and, jokingly, put mga posas sa kanya at hinamon siya upang palayain ang kanyang sarili. Dramatizing ang maglakas-loob, Randall stepped sa isang bahagi ng pulis kotse at lumitaw mula sa iba pang mga bahagi na may mga posas naka-unlock. Pagkatapos ay inatasan ng mga opisyal ang ante sa pamamagitan ng pagdadala sa kanya sa istasyon ng pulisya at hinahamon siyang makatakas mula sa naka-lock na bilangguan cell, na ginawa niya. Ang isang lokal na pahayagan ay may isang kuwento sa susunod na araw na pinamagatang "Ang Nakamamangha Randi Escapes mula sa Quebec Prison," kaya nakakuha sa kanya ng isang antas ng sikat at ang pamagat na dadalhin niya sa kanya para sa susunod na ilang dekada: "The Amazing Randi." Zwinge ay legal na baguhin ang kanyang pangalan kay James Randi di-nagtagal pagkatapos nito (Orwen 1986; Jaroff 2001: 2).
Randi established great renown as an escape artist in the decade following his stint in the Quebec prison. In the mid-1950s he appeared on the CBS television program “It’s Magic,” during which he escaped from a straightjacket while suspended upside down 110 feet above Broadway (Jaroff 2001). The press coverage surrounding his CBS performance propelled him to high levels of visibility unprecedented in his career. He performed on Ang Ipakita Ngayon on February 7, 1956, remaining submerged in a swimming pool in a sealed coffin for 104 minutes, thus breaking the record of 94 minutes previously set by Harry Houdini (“James Randi” n.d.). Randi went on to make dozens of similar television appearances throughout the decade, in addition to writing an astrological column in a Montreal tabloid under the nom de plume “Zo-ran.” According to Randi, the weekly horoscopes were simply clippings from similar columns published years before that he pieced together. He became astonished at the number of readers who wrote to the newspaper in response to his forecasts, claiming that they had been perfectly accurate. It was these reactions which led Randi to, as he remarked, “‘hang up the scissors [and] put away the paste pot, ‘” having decided that believers will adopt any prediction made by a person claiming to be endowed with supernatural abilities (Dawkins 1998:123).
Si Randi ay nagsimulang paglibot sa Pilipinas at Japan sa huli na 1950s at maagang 1960s, na gumaganap sa iba't ibang mga nightclub bago muli
settling in the United States. He hosted a number of radio and television programs throughout the remainder of the decade, including “The Amazing Randi Show” on a New York radio station and the children’s television program “Wonderama” (“James Randi” n.d.). In the early 1970s Randi’s career took a sharp turn when he began investigating the paranormal claims of the world-renowned Israeli psychic Uri Geller. Geller mesmerized large crowds of people by bending spoons and making various objects levitate, claiming a supernatural origin for effects that Randi considered simple magic tricks. Randi, along with several prominent scientists and skeptics, founded the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) in response to the widespread acceptance of Uri Geller’s claims (CSICOP was renamed the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry in 2006). Randi began appearing on television talk shows, showing how the psychokinetic effects for which Geller had become famous could be replicated by a magician using simple optical illusions. These various public appearances gave much greater visibility and legitimacy to skepticism. A major breakthrough came in 1972 when Randi teamed up with talk show host Johnny Carson to expose Uri Geller publicly. Geller was scheduled to appear and demonstrate his psychic abilities on The Tonight Show by correctly selecting from several metal containers one whichwas filled with water. Randi speculated that Geller would discreetly bump the table with his leg a few times, making all of the canisters but the one weighed down with water move. Therefore, he visited the set prior to Geller’s arrival and painted a substance on the bottoms of the cans which would render them unaffected by slight movements of the table. Appearing as though by accident, Geller did knock the table a few times and twenty-two minutes into his performance, announced that he was feeling ill and was unable to continue with his demonstration (Malmgren 1998). Geller’s career went into decline thereafter, and Randi began authoring a book titled Ang Katotohanan Tungkol sa Uri Geller. The 1982 biography contests Geller’s claims regarding his self-proclaimed psychic abilities. Geller filed a fifteen-million dollar lawsuit against Randi and the CSICOP in 1991; however, the charges against the organization were dismissed when Geller’s claims were found to be frivolous, and he was ordered to pay a substantial fine (“James Randi” n.d.).
In the decade following the Uri Geller exposé, Randi continued to debunk paranormal claims and the individuals behind them, while also continuing to perform as “The Amazing Randi,” enjoying celebrity status both as a magician and paranormal skeptic. His fame was elevated even further in 1986 when he exposed televangelist Peter Popoff’s claims of channeling God’s power to heal theill. Randi, recognizing the same one-ahead deceptive methods used by the preacher he had challenged at age fifteen, but on a larger scale, set up an elaborate plan in which several volunteers acted as ailment-stricken audience members. Randi soon discovered that Popoff’s wife, Elizabeth, carrying a transmitter device in her purse, would approach members of the audience prior to the service and strike up seemingly casual conversation. As she spoke to the attendees, obtaining their names, home addresses, and various reasons for attending the service, Peter sat backstage and transcribed the information. Throughout the show, Elizabeth would guide Peter, who wore a hidden receiver in his ear, to the audience members with whom she had spoken. Randi’s team, equipped with surveillance and radio frequency devices, were able to record these conversations between Elizabeth and her husband throughout the show. Randi made the findings public on April 22, 1986 on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, during which he played a segment of one of Popoff’s services alongside the corresponding segment of audio recording, revealing how Peter’s words and movements matched Elizabeth’s instructions. Following the exposé, Popoff disputed Randi’s findings, claiming them to be entirely fabricated. However, donations to his ministry dropped severely, and it subsequently declared bankruptcy (Dart 1986; Malmgren 1998; Jaroff 2001).
Tulad ng mga karera ng mga saykika, astrologo, healers ng pananampalataya, at marami pang iba na may sariling kakayahan ng paranormal na inilantad ni Randi ay bumaba, ang kanyang sariling karera at katanyagan ay napakalakas. Sa parehong mga taon ng kanyang pag-expose ng Peter Popoff, Randi ay iginawad a fellowship from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for his feats in debunking claims of the paranormal. He received a grant of $272,000 to assist in further work. However, he has on several occasions noted that the majority of his grant money was spent defending himself against a number of lawsuits, including that filed by Uri Geller (“About James Randi” n.d.; Jaroff 2001). Nonetheless, Randi received numerous other awards and honors throughout the latter half of the 1980s and the 1990s, including a fellowship created in his name by the Academy of Magical Arts & Sciences in Los Angeles for preserving magic as a form of entertainment rather than deception. In the late 1980s, he retired from stage magic. In 1995, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the University of Indianapolis. Although he had since become estranged from the group that he had helped to found, in 1996 the Committee for Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal awarded Randi their Distinguished Skeptic Award. That same year, he founded a new organization through which he could continue his work, which he called the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) through which he has continued to work (“About James Randi” n.d.; “James Randi” n.d.).
Throughout the 1990s and into the new millennium, Randi authored several books, traveled extensively, appearing on talk shows and speaking at conferences, and received a number of prestigious awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007. While little of his personal life beyond that pertaining to his career has been recorded, questions regarding Randi’s marital status have been raised repeatedly throughout his career. He announced his homosexuality in 2010, at the age of 81, on a posting titled “How To Say It?” on his blog, matulin, attributing his delayed “coming out” to having grown up in a culture opposed to homosexuality. Furthermore, he credited his decision to make his sexuality public to having recently seen a biographical film based on the life of Harvey Milk (Randi 2010). Randi married his long-time partner, artist Devyi Pena (birth name: Deyvi Orangel Peña Arteaga), a gay man who claimed to have fled Venezuela in the face of death threats in 2013 (“Randi Got Married” 2013; Fox 2020).
James Randi retired from his foundation in 2015 after giving up operational control in 2009. He died on October 21, 2020 (Fox 2020; “Canadian magician” 2020;” “James Randi in Memoriam 2020”)
DOCTRINES / BELIEFS
James Randi’s mission of debunking claims of the paranormal rests largely on his belief that magic should be utilized as a form of entertainment, rather than a means for personal gain or deception. Randi has defined magic as an art form in which an understanding is established between the magician and audience members that the effects performed by the magician are tricks, or illusions, and that nothing supernatural is occurring on stage (Malmgren 1997). He has dedicated a large portion of his life to fulfilling the vow he made at age fifteen to refute those who tarnished his art by using it to back what he believes are baseless paranormal claims. As he asserted in the documentary about his life and career, An Honest Liar (Fox 2020):
People who are stealing money from the public, cheating them and misinforming them — that’s the kind of thing that I’ve been fighting all my life,” he said in the 2014 documentary “An Honest Liar,” directed by Tyler Measom and Justin Weinstein. “Magicians are the most honest people in the world: They tell you they’re going to fool you, and then they do it.
However, he draws a distinction between two types of people claiming to possess paranormal abilities: those who knowingly do so and are therefore guilty of overt deception, and people who truly believe they possess a gift, or “innocents.” Randi has expressed his unwillingness to challenge this latter classification, stating “give me a faker, give me someone who appears before and is lying, who is attempting to fool me, to deceive me, or to deceive anyone else…Please don’t give me the innocent who really believe they have the powers. They’re the difficult ones to handle; a true believer is a terrible enemy, but the fakers I can handle” (Randi 2005).
Randi has not only expanded upon his views and attitudes regarding the persons whom he seeks to expose, but also his beliefs in reference to those who trust in the psychics, astrologers, spoon benders, and faith healers he investigates. He claims that certain people are simply attracted to the unexplainable and looking for answers which science is unable to deliver to provide a sense of security and command over the uncertainties of life. Furthermore, he states that those who use magic to deceive cater to these insecurities and fears in people, and some are more susceptible than others. Randi notes that even when a psychics predictions are incorrect the vast majority of the time and there is overwhelming evidence against his or her legitimacy, a susceptible person will be likely to overlook the mistakes and elevate the few correct statements or forecasts. He attributes some of the vulnerability in people today toward belief in paranormal claims to the expansion of technology and the “‘easy access to nonsense,’” proposing that with so much material of this nature readily available, people are able to tease out what they find preposterous and plausible (Cohen 2001). Even so, Randi ties every explanation back to the need for most people to believe in something supernatural, a category in which he includes religion, stating that “its embrace is of the same nature as acceptance of astrology, ESP, prophecy, dowsing, and the other myriad of strange beliefs we handle here every day” (Randi 2003).
ORGANISATION / LEADERSHIP AND PRACTICES
Sa kalagitnaan ng 1970s, si James Randi ay tumulong sa pagtatatag ng Komite para sa Pang-agham na Pagsisiyasat ng Mga Pag-aangkin ng Paranormal
(CSICOP), isang organisasyong idinisenyo upang siyentipikong imbestigahan ang mga claim ng paranormal at dagdagan ang kamalayan at pag-aalinlangan ng naturang mga claim. Ang CSICOP, na pinalitan ng pangalan sa Komite para sa Siyentipikong Inquiry, ay nagsama ng mga miyembro ng iba't ibang mga larangan ng kadalubhasaan, kasama na ang astronomer na si Carl Sagan, ang kilalang tagapagturo na si Bill Nye, pangkaisipang psychologist na si BF Skinner, at may pag-aalinlangan at sekular na humanista na si Paul Kurtz ("About CSI" nd). Kahit na isang founding figure, si Randi ay lumayo mula sa samahan matapos ang isang hindi pagkakasundo sa pamumuno. Kasunod ng paglalantad ni Uri Geller at ng nagresultang korte laban kay Randi, pinayuhan siya na pigilin ang komento kay Geller bilang mga pinuno ng organisasyon na hinahangad upang maiwasan ang isang pangalawang suit na isinampa laban sa CSICOP, pati na rin ni Randi. Tinanggihan at binitiwan ni Randi ang kanyang posisyon; Gayunpaman, pinananatili pa rin niya ang isang likas na kaugnayan sa organisasyon ("James Randi" nd).
Randi worked independently until 1996 when he established the James Randi Educational Foundation after receiving a donation of two million dollars from a computer firm executive who Randi has declined to identify. The Foundation reportedly consists of over three hundred members and a five-person staff who aim “to help people defend themselves from paranormal and pseudoscientific claims” (Malmgren 1998; “About the Foundation” n.d.). The JREF fulfills its mission in several different ways, most notably by challenging claims on an individual basis, famously offering a one-million dollar prize to anyone who can demonstrate paranormal abilities under conditions agreed to by both parties. The JREF’s website offers a detailed list of eight rules for application (“Applicant Rules” n.d.):
- Ito ang pangunahing at pinakamahalaga sa mga patakarang ito: Dapat magsabi nang malinaw ang aplikante, nang maaga, at ang Aplikante at ang JREF ay dapat sumang-ayon sa, kung ano ang ipapakita ang mga kapangyarihan o kakayahan, ang mga limitasyon ng ipinanukalang pagpapakita hanggang sa oras, lokasyon at iba pang mga variable ay nababahala, at kung ano ang bumubuo ng parehong positibo at negatibong resulta.
- Tanging isang aktwal na pagganap ng nakasaad na kalikasan at saklaw, sa loob ng mga pinagkasunduang limitasyon, ay tatanggapin. Ang mga anekdotal na account o mga tala ng mga nakaraang kaganapan ay hindi katanggap-tanggap.
- Sumasang-ayon ang Aplikante na ang lahat ng mga materyales at peripheral properties (photographic, record, nakasulat, atbp.) Na natipon bilang isang resulta ng pamamaraan ng pagsubok, ang protocol, at ang aktwal na pagsubok, ay maaaring malayang gamitin ng JREF.
- Sa lahat ng sitwasyon, ang Aplikante ay kinakailangan na magsagawa ng Preliminary Test sa isang lugar kung saan maaaring dumalo ang maayos na awtorisadong kinatawan ng JREF. Ang Panimulang Pagsusulit ay inilaan upang matukoy kung ang Aplikante ay malamang na gumanap gaya ng ipinangako sa panahon ng Pormal na Pagsubok, gamit ang napagkasunduang protocol. Sa ngayon, walang aplikante ang pumasa sa Preliminary Test, at samakatuwid walang Pormal na Pagsubok ang pa na isinasagawa. Sa anumang oras bago ang Pormal na Pagsubok, ang JREF ay may karapatan na muling makipag-ayos sa protocol kung natuklasan ang mga isyu na maiiwasan ang isang patas at walang pinapanigan na pagsubok. Matapos ang isang kasunduan ay naabot sa protocol, walang bahagi ng pamamaraan ng pagsusuri ay maaaring mabago sa anumang paraan nang walang isang susugan na kasunduan, na pinirmahan ng lahat ng partido na nababahala.
- All of the Applicant’s expenses such as transportation, accommodation, materials, assistants, and all other costs for any persons or procedures incurred in pursuit of the Challenge, are the sole responsibility of the Applicant. Neither the JREF nor any representative of the JREF will bear any of the costs.
- Ang lahat ng mga aplikasyon at iba pang mga sulat ay kailangang ma-typewritten o naka-print sa pamamagitan ng computer at sa Ingles. Ang anumang pagsasalin ng Ingles ay dapat na may kasamang sertipikasyon ng mga kwalipikasyon ng tagasalin.
- Kasunod ng isang hindi matagumpay na pagsubok o ang pagtanggi ng kanilang aplikasyon, ang Aplikante ay dapat maghintay ng 12 na mga buwan bago mag-aplay muli. Ang aplikante ay hindi maaaring mag-aplay ng higit sa dalawang beses.
- By accepting this Challenge, the Applicant waives any and all claims against James Randi, the JREF, the JREF’s employees, officers, directors, and any other person. This waiver includes, but is not limited to, injury, accident, and damage of any kind, including damage and/or loss of a physical, emotional, financial, and/or professional nature. Notwithstanding anything else in this paragraph, should the Claimant pass the Formal Test, the Claimant does not waive any claims against the JREF that might be necessary to enforce payment of the Prize.
Bilang karagdagan sa Million-Dollar Prize, patuloy na hinahamon ng samahan ang paranormal claims sa halos parehong paraan na si Randi ay nasa buong karera niya bilang isang siyentipikong imbestigador, partikular na tinatarget ang mga indibidwal at mga claim na suportado ng mga organisasyon ng media. Ibinahagi ni Randi at ng mga miyembro ng JREF ang mga natuklasan ng mga pagsisiyasat at pananaliksik at sa pangkalahatan ay nagtataguyod ng kamalayan ng pang-agham na pag-aalinlangan sa pamamagitan ng pagsasalita sa kumperensya sa buong mundo. Sa 2011, lumunsad si Randi sa isang paglibot-loob na nagsasalita sa Canada at sumunod sa isang tour sa buong Europa sa susunod na taon.
Sinusuportahan pa ng JREF ang "mapag-alinlangan na komunidad" sa pamamagitan ng pag-uugnay sa sarili nitong mga kumperensya, pinaka-kapansin-pansin Ang Amaz! Ng Meeting, isang three-day “celebration of science, skepticism and critical thinking” (“About the Foundation” n.d.) First held in 2003 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, the conference attracted a much larger crowd than had been expected and has since been held annually or bi-annually in locations varying from Los Vegas, to London, to Sydney, Australia. In 2006, in response to the popularity of the four previous Amaz!ing Meetings, the JREF held its first Amaz!ing Adventure, a weeklong assembly of skeptics which took place on a cruise liner through the Bermuda Triangle. The JREF has organized four subsequent Amaz!ng Adventures to Alaska, the Galapagos Islands, Mexico, and the Caribbean (“The Amaz!ng Meeting” n.d.).
Finally, the James Randi Educational Foundation lends support to educators, students, and up-and-coming skeptical organizations by providing grants, scholarships, and teaching modules designed to bolster critical and skeptical thought among interested parties. Members and non-members alike are encouraged to participate in the Foundation’s forum, a host for the online discussion of topics varying in nature from religion, philosophy, and the paranormal to art, literature, and current events.
ISSUES / CHALLENGES
James Randi has faced opposition from both those who he has exposed and from the ranks of skeptics. He has on numerous occasions had lawsuits brought against him throughout his lengthy career. Uri Geller alone has challenged Randi with six lawsuits, accusing him of committing libel. In only one of the cases was Randi actually convicted; however, the trial took place in Japan and he was convicted of a lesser charge of “insult,” which is not recognized in courts outside of Japan and China. Randi was thus ordered by the court to pay only a fraction of one percent of the amount for which Geller had sued, and the two eventually reached a settlement outside of court (Randi 2007). In 1991, Geller simultaneously attempted to sue Randi and the CSICOP after Randi had purportedly compared Geller’s paranormal abilities to magic tricks printed on cereal boxes. The CSICOP maintained that while Randi was highly involved in the organization as a founding member, it was not responsible for his statement. The court ultimately agreed with the CSICOP and ordered Geller to pay damages to the organization. Randi and Geller settled their dispute outside of court, reaching an agreement that neither party has disclosed (“Uri Geller Libel Suit Dismissed” 1994).
Randi and the JREF consistently receive hate mail, the majority of which is from followers of the individuals they target. Following his exposé of Peter Popoff, Popoff aptly denied the allegations, accusing Randi of attacking God’s work. However, he eventually admitted that he had communicated with his wife throughout the show and used prayer cards and other means of gathering information about audience members beforehand, but he nonetheless maintained his ability to deliver divine messages and channel God’s healing capabilities (Dart 1986).
Karagdagan pa, si Randi ay sinaway dahil sa kanyang kawalan ng pang-agham na pagsasanay at, samakatuwid, ang bisa ng kanyang mga claim. Siya at ang iba pa
have combatted these allegations by pointing out that while he has not undergone any formal scientific training, he is not acting as a scientist. Rather, he has an extensive understanding of magic and how magic is performed, which forms the basis for a large number of his investigations. As Leon Jaroff, a personal friend of Randi’s and a former CSICOP member, remarked, Randi has been “trained in the art of deception…He knows what to look for when he’s investigating a fraud” (Malmgren 1998). Randi has also acknowledged his inability to definitively investigate all paranormal claims that lie outside of his realm of expertise, stating that throughout investigations of the paranormal, “JREF may consult with experts, including statisticians, magicians, and others with specialized knowledge relevant to the claim” (“Conditions of the One Million Dollar Challenge” n.d.).
However, not all of the charges have involved Randi’s work directly. In fact, many of the allegations brought against Randi have involved “personal attacks on [his] character” (Malmgren 1998). In 1993, Eldon Byrd, a scientist and friend of Uri Geller, pressed libel, slander, and invasion of privacy charges against Randi for calling him a “child molester” in a magazine article. Byrd, who claimed to have suffered psychological distress from the comment, had been arrested a decade earlier for possession of child pornography, but was never charged with or convicted of child molestation. The jury sided with Byrd; however, Randi was not ordered to pay any damages.
Randi’s character, remarks, and personal beliefs have come under scrutiny both within and beyond the courtroom. A proclaimed atheist, Randi has on numerous occasions made remarks demonstrating his disbelief in specific religious, particularly Biblical, claims, which have been criticized for being overly abrasive. In his 2003 essay “Why I Deny Religion, How Silly and Fantastic It Is, and Why I’m a Dedicated and Vociferous Bright,” for example, he commented that he considers the impregnation of “a mid-East virgin…by a ghost of some sort” which resulted in the birth of “a son who could walk on water, raise the dead, turn water into wine, and multiply loaves of bread and fishes” to be farfetched beyond the capacity of belief. He goes on to state in the essay that his personal faith rests in “the basic goodness” of humanity rather than religion and, further, that his own religious beliefs should be considered separate from his work, denying that the James Randi Educational Foundation is an atheistic/agnostic organization (Randi 2003).
Finally, Randi has endured criticism even from with the skeptic community. His debunking agenda has put off some skeptics who simply demanded that those purporting to possess paranormal or spiritual powers simply had not made their case. For this group Randi was a “pseudo-skeptic,” for whom debunking was more important than dispassionate assessment (Truzzi 1987). As one critic put the matter: “Randi comes across as a bullying figure, eager to attack and ridicule, willing to distort and even invent evidence – in short, the sort of person who will do anything to prevail in a debate, whether by fair means or foul” (Goodspeed 2004).
James Randi and his foundation occupy a complicated, self-constructed niche that inherently involves role conflict. He is a professional magician and, particularly during the early part of his career, he worked as a very successful stage magician. Throughout his life he has been opposed to the use of performance magic as the basis for claims to magical (paranormal, supernatural powers). Personally, he is an avowed atheist who has little use for organized religion. Randi also identifies himself as a skeptic, particularly with respect to religious claims based on performance magic. He adheres to the principle, often cited by skeptics, “An extraordinary claim requires extraordinary proof” (Truzzi 1978:11). However, he has gone beyond skepticism to an active role as a debunker of paranormal/supernatural claims. It is this assemblage of positions that has resulted in his being criticized by religious healers and their followers for maligning their spiritual leaders, by skeptics for being an ideologue masquerading as a skeptic, and by scientists for pseudo-scientific methodologies. Despite these numerous and varying criticisms and controversies, Randi soldiered on (Horowitz 2020). As he stated in an interview with TIME magazine, "walang pangunguwalta sa pananakot, walang pagbabanta, ay maaaring maging sanhi upang i-back up ang layo mula sa aking napiling trabaho" (Jaroff 2001).
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Petsa ng Pag-post:
4 Enero 2014
27 2020 Oktubre