Friday, January 27, 2006

Questions For Skeptics: The problem with James Randi and his foundation on the paranormal, pseudoscientific and supernatural

Randi can be eloquent and is quite the showman; he is also wildly intelligent -- he got a MacArthur genius grant in 1986. But according to his detractors, Randi's main qualities are his malice and hypocrisy. He's hell-bent on tearing apart anyone he deems a kook, including distinguished scientists and Nobel Prize-winners. This is amusing, as Randi has no scientific credentials whatsoever (although he did once write an astrology column for a Canadian tabloid and host a paranormal-themed radio show).

In 1997, Randi threatened to fly to Sri Lanka to persuade Arthur C. Clarke to stop advocating cold fusion. (Clarke, a genuine scientific visionary, inventor of the communication satellite and award-winning author, received degrees, with honors, in physics and mathematics.) In 2001, on a BBC Radio program, Randi attacked Brian Josephson, Nobel Prize-winner and professor of physics at Cambridge University.

(Via The Anomalist.)

Let's just come out and say it: The man's a crank. Yes, his intentions are good -- I think -- but his attempts to advance pop "skepticism" are offensive to actual thinkers and his fashionable addiction to rote dismissal of the unexplained is, to use a showbiz term, "played."

1 comment:

W.M. Bear said...

And he has a totally dorky stage name to boot. I keep wanting to invent a fictional stage magician named "Amazingly Randy" whose show is off-color and off the wall, including a paranormal claim that he uses his psychic X-ray vision to see through people's clothing. ("And now, madam, allow me to tall you what color underwear you have on.")