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James Randi Educational Foundation
Giving Thanks PDF Print E-mail
Newsflash
Written by James Randi   

James RandiDear Friend,

As Thanksgiving approaches here in the United States, and we gather with loved ones, I can't help but pause and reflect on the work we do at the JREF, and how grateful we all are for the support from folks like yourself.

Concerned and dedicated skeptics and science advocates like you drive all the work we do combatting unreason and promoting critical thinking at the grassroots, in classrooms, at conferences, in the media, and on our speaking tours.

And as we look to the year ahead, I know that our work will continue to be difficult. Promoting skepticism is in many ways an uphill battle — but it is so worthwhile. And I also know that with your continued support we are ready for the challenges ahead.

So from all of us at the JREF, and from my family to yours, I want to wish you a very happy Thanksgiving.

Sincerely,

Randi's signature

James Randi
 
It keeps going and going PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

 

IT NEVER ENDS…  Even though the UK finally caught, charged, and convicted the man - James McCormick - who sold thousands of spurious “bomb detectors” all through the Middle East, those same devices – simply glorified dowsing rods with fake electronics installed – are still being sold and used in Iraq, causing wounding and death to personnel who unwittingly wave them about, believing that they work. They don’t, and the JREF has for years now issued warnings that have gone unheeded, yet we have never received credit for our work. Though I was personally contacted by the Avon & Somerset Constabulary in 2012 and asked to attend McCormick’s trial in the UK as an expert witness, and I reserved the time to do so, I found that the trial took place without my receiving any notice.

This, unfortunately, is all too common a practice. In the past, I have similarly been consulted by the FBI, have provided useful information that resulted in similar convictions, and have never received any credit to the JREF for our co-operation. 

In The New York Times, sent to me by my friend Chip Taylor in Vermont, I see that the ADE651 – the one which McCormick peddled (see the Wikipedia page of the device for a full account)  – is still relied upon. Says The Times:

The Iraqi government bought thousands of the devices that international bomb detection experts have described as about as useful as a “Ouja board.”

 

Although at one point the government made an effort to get rid of them, they are still used a many police checkpoints and at the entrance to the Green Zone, where many embassies are, as well as offices for top government officials.

 

 

Check in with Doubtful News for the latest in convictions surrounding fake bomb detectors.

 

SO MUCH FOR AUTHORITY BY DEGREE… Dr. Jeffrey Mishlove – a real PhD, a “doctor of parapsychology,” folks, wrote a massive 380-page thick, 8½” X 11” book, “The Roots of Consciousness” (1976) which is chock full of half-endorsements, suggestions, faint praise, almost-evidence and simple rumors about a wide variety of “psychics” and “sensitives,” the author just-about endorses. In his blogging activities since, he has also managed to misunderstand the Million Dollar Challenge with rare inaccuracy. For example, he wrote:

 

Although on the popular media scene many magicians – such as the Amazing Randi have claimed that they can duplicate parapsychological effects using magic tricks, they have consistently been unable or unwilling to do so under controlled laboratory conditions (Eisenbud 1975).

 

Well, let’s examine that statement. It’s attributed to Dr. Jule Eisenbud [1908-1999], who challenged me to duplicate what he claimed that “psychic” Ted Serios [1918-2006] had done under ridiculous conditions, tricks that everyone but Eisenbud easily solved. My response to him was that if Serios could really do such demos under double-blind, controlled conditions – the conditions under which such tests must always be done – I would run a test for the JREF (James Randi Educational Foundation) million-dollar prize. Though Dr. Eisenbud simply refused to respond to that notice, Dr. Mishlove has no problem citing him…

In another entry on Dr. Mishlove’s blog “The “Pigasus Award Ironies,” he wrote this:

 

But, I believe Randi’s offer is a scam. And, I will say why I believe it to be so, in very simple terms. First of all, there is no doubt that Randi has used his alleged offer – over a period of many years – to generate enormous publicity for himself and his cult of debunkers.

 

Well, I deny having a “cult” going, of course, but I’m very pleased and satisfied that the JREF’s work has resulted in copious news interest. But Dr. Mishlove moved ahead. I’ll handle each point he offered:

 

Second of all, Randi’s offer sets himself up as judge and jury.

 

Au contraire, Dr. Mishlove. It is clearly stated in the rules for the Challenge that there will be neither judge not jury, as a quick glance would have informed you – had you cared to look. We conduct the tests – always with the agreement of the challenger – in such a way that the results are self-evident to all; no assessment is necessary. For example: You can fly by flapping your arms? Okay, let’s see. Lean out this window, ma’am…  Oops…! Next candidate…

 

And next point:

 

And, of course, he [Randi] has not the slightest interest in losing the very game that he has created.

 

Yes, this is true, but we quaver not…

 

A true prize would have an independent panel of neutral judges – and these judges, not Randi, should be in control of prize money, to determine if and when it shall be released. 

 

See above. The results are always – by experimental design – plainly evident. Next…

 

So while James Randi and his cult go around accusing the general public of falling for a wide variety of psychic scams, they themselves are engaged in perpetrating a scam of an equal and opposite sort.

 

Oh, I think not, doctor. As you very well know, the “general public” certainly does “fall for a wide variety of psychic scams,” as you suggest, but there is no deception in the JREF challenge, as anyone can determine by examining our procedures and our assets. It is available to anyone who asks – which you did not care to do before you rushed “The Pigasus Award Ironies” into print. To conclude:

 

The final irony is that they are the very near a mirror image of the phonies they try to expose.

 

As long as they set about exposing the true frauds and schemes in the psychic world, they do the world a service. And, I applaud Randi and his ilk for that. But, in their fanatical zeal, they sometimes endeavor to put a stop to legitimate scientific and academic inquiry. (I know this, first hand, as they attempted to interfere with my own doctoral degree program in parapsychology at the University of California, Berkeley.) When they go this far, as they did with Brenda Dunne, they simply reveal the philosophical and moral emptiness of their position.

 

I am unaware of any interference applied to either Dr. Mishlove’s or Ms. Dunne’s doctoral degree program, and would wish to have details of this affront. I would very much like to have contact information for Dr. Jeffrey Mishlove, so that I might clear up that misunderstanding.  Can anyone supply that information?

Stay tuned…

 

TAM 2014  The general consensus among TAM-goers is that this year’s gathering was the best ever.  We’ll have a summary of the activities for you shortly, delayed only by the fact that I’m on my way to Toronto, Aspen, and Québec in the next few weeks to accompany screenings of our film, “An Honest Liar,” which most of the folks at TAM 2014 saw, and expressed their satisfaction with it. Then, in December, I’ll be touring Australia, as well. So, here’s my message for that continent:

 

G'day Australia! This is James Randi. Remember me? If you haven't already heard, I’m coming to visit you in December, this time travelling to Perth, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney between Dec. 3rd and 7th, exclusively screening our 90-minute film “An Honest Liar” at “An evening with James Randi” on this trip Down Under. It’s full of surprises, and will be followed by a Q-and-A session that you’ll long remember! For more information and/or to purchase tickets, please go to ThinkInc.org I’m looking forward to seeing many of my old friends, and exchanging useful ideas and experiences once more!

 

I’ll be doing my best to keep in touch with Swifters while away.

 

That’s all for now, dear friends…

 

James Randi

 

 
Randi Speaks Again! PDF Print E-mail
James Randi Speaks
Written by Jeffrey Wagg   

James Randi is back with the second entry in his YouTube vlog. This week's entry, "It's Not In the Name" deals with the specialized wording used by different groups who may or may not be reality-based. And don't miss a minor miracle performed by Randi himself.

This, and all of the JREF's videos are available at our YouTube account. To see it larger or leave comments, click here.

 
TAM 2014 Videos PDF Print E-mail
Latest JREF News
Written by Sharon Hill   

Here they come! The Amazing Meeting talks from July in Las Vegas will be appearing on our YouTube Channel.

Go here for the first three talks: Carol Tavris, Daniel Loxton, and Daniel Dennett.

More will follow. Bookmark James Randi Educational Foundation Channel.

 
Video: Steven Novella from TAM 6 PDF Print E-mail
Amazing Meeting
Written by JREF   

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.

This videos features Dr. Steven Novella’s fascinating review of consciousness from TAM6.

 
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