Bernie Madoff worked hard to rob his victims of billions of dollars. Be it Monte or Madoff, con artists are skilled deceivers who understand human foibles and can use these skills to take unfair advantage. While there are always observers who are quick to blame the victim, people duped by con artists are not perpetrators. While it is true that human psychology and flawed thinking may help us become co-conspirators in such predations, nevertheless blaming the victim offers neither insight nor explanation. If we are going to understand how and why such schemes are successful, we must credit the con man.
Every year on April 1st, the JREF gives out the Pigasus awards; a dubious honor to people or organizations that have done their best in the past year to snuff out science and promote irrationality. Randi talks about the 2008 winners, who receive no plaques, trophies, or banners: just the knowledge that they're getting publicity... but probably not the kind they want.
[Note: We became aware after making this video that Pigasus winner Dr. Colin Ross has recently reactivated his Million Dollar Challenge claim. While the video is still technically correct, we thought it fair to add this.]
Folks, this is a serious matter. Our colleague Richard Wiseman explains:
My latest book is called Paranormality. It follows in the footsteps of one of my all-time favourite skeptical books, Randi's Flim-Flam, and examines what seemingly supernatural phenomena tell us about our brain, beliefs and behaviour. I explore lots of topics, including psychic readings, out of body experiences, mind control, ghosts and dream precognition. I made the book as interactive as possible, and Richard Dawkins was kind enough to provide an endorsement, writing “Wiseman shows us a higher joy as he skewers the paranormal charlatans, blows away the psychic fog and lets in the clear light of reason”.
The book has done well in the UK and has been bought by publishers in lots of other countries. However, the major American publishers were reluctant to support a skeptical book, with some suggesting that I re-write it to suggest that ghosts were real and psychic powers actually existed! We didn’t get any serious offers and so it looked like the American public (around 75% of whom believe in the paranormal) wouldn’t get the opportunity to read about skepticism.
In an effort to make our extensive video library available online free of charge, The James Randi Educational Foundation is posting high quality digital video lectures and sessions from previous Amaz!ng Meetings and other events on randi.org. Check back often to see the latest video content.
July 12-15, 2012 | South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa | Las Vegas, NV
24 Talks | 5 Panels | 10 Workshops | 3 Evening Shows | 3 Late Night Events 2 Live SGU Shows | 1 Million Dollar Challenge
The Amaz!ng Meeting (TAM), the world’s largest celebration of science, skepticism and critical thinking, is just two weeks away. With well over one thousand skeptics already signed up, if you haven’t reserved your spot yet, now’s the time!
Check out the the full schedule online. We have an AMAZ!NG lineup of exciting talks, panels and workshops, with brilliant speakers like Penn & Teller, Carol Tavris, Lawrence Krauss, Pamela Gay and Randi himself.
Talk topics include "The Moral Arc of Science," "The Future and Nothing," "Techno-optimism vs. Reality," "The Self Illusion," "Ignorance: How It Drives Science," and many, many more!
TAM is a full four-day skeptical immersion experience, from early morning to after midnight each night, debating, discussing and celebrating skepticism and its goals.