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JUST TO SET THE FACTS IN PLACE… PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

In an attack titled, “The Problem with James Randi,” published in the Las Vegas Weekly some time ago, someone named Skylaire Alfvegren ran on in delight on how poorly informed she is about me and my claims. This was recently forwarded to me for my comments. First, I strongly suggest that my reader go to http://rense.com/general69/randi.htm to see this masterpiece, then read my comments, which follow. This is a first-class example of how badly informed the woo-woos can get, without any help... 

Read that…? Okay…

First, Ms. Alfvegren dubs me a “dogmatist.” She fails to provide any example of this, so her designation is unproven. Moving along…

Second, when I began “futzing with a deck of cards” as a kid, I knew well in advance that conjuring was a “world of smoke and mirrors,” a deception.  And the “connection between stage magic and skepticism makes sense” from any perspective, Ms. Alfvegren.

In answer to her question, “What's more important, what science knows or what it doesn't (yet)?” I would say that these are of equal importance… You see, I’m just trying to clear up a few points that seem to easily confound Ms. Alfvegren.

Next, she refers to a TAM (The Amaz!ng Meeting) that we held in 2006 – I believe – and states that “(some) scientists have falsified data to get grants or overlooked inconvenient phenomenon to maintain the status quo in their field.” This is a well-known fact, her use of which quite escapes me…

Ms. Alfvegren refers to me as “wildly intelligent,” a description that similarly puzzles me, along with my “contributions…to science and objective thought.” Any such output by me has been the result of my simple consideration of the inconsistencies of certain scientists who are obviously out of their depth, certainly not the result of any elevated IQ. But then I see a reference to what Ms. Alfvegren says are my “main qualities… malice and hypocrisy”, for which she offers no examples. It’s very true that I defrock “distinguished scientists and Nobel Prize-winners” as easily as I do the lesser-honored quacks, swindlers, and liars who infest the field, even though I lack academic credentials.  I wrote that astrology column she mentioned for a Canadian tabloid to establish that simply clipping up an astrology magazine and randomly connecting the predictions with dates, met with eager approval from those naifs who read and followed my advice, but Ms. Alfvegren failed to mention that fact, and the “paranormal-themed radio show” to which she referred covered 39 states, seven nights a week, and regularly reached literally millions of listeners. It debunked any and all current vendors of nonsense… 

Sir Arthur C. Clarke was my very good friend, and hosted me during a few visits I made to him in Sri Lanka. He quite changed his mind on cold fusion when he heard more about Pons and Fleischmann, the two coo-coos who cooked up this farce. And Nobel-winning Dr. Brian David Josephson, despite the abundant evidence that Uri Geller is a conjuror, still prefers to accept that he produces miracles rather than simple sleight-of-hand conjuring tricks…

And let’s examine my claimed “penchant for lawsuits,” as well. Uri Geller, alone, has brought literally dozens of lawsuits against me, all over the world – and he has lost every one of them! – while I’ve brought only one, against a “psychic” in Canada, which the subject avoided by dying – an unfair tactic, as you may agree. As for my leaving CSICOP, I chose to do that because the organization – of which I was a co-founder – refused to support me in my continuing opposition to Uri Geller, who I agree is quite “charismatic,” but a liar, nonetheless.

Please note that the “satisfactory observing conditions” I require for any test of anyone’s psychic claims are always arranged in total agreement with the challenger’s needs and design of the protocol, not mine. Hundreds have applied, not one has succeeded. Ever…

Professor Ray Hyman’s observation is that "Scientists don't settle issues with a single test... Proof in science happens through replication." I agree, of course. The million-dollar challenge is just that, nothing more. But tell me, please, why won’t the “big names” of the woo-woo world send in their acceptance of this generous offer…? Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

I insist that any test of psychic powers must be done double-blind, and that neither I nor any person in my camp, may participate.  This challenge is not “rigged” in any way, though I’m sure Ms. Alfvegren is quite aware of that fact, and also of the fact that I have never claimed that “paranormal phenomena simply does [sic] not exist.

I’ve no more time for this. I have much better-informed persons to even better inform…

And my best wishes of the season, folks!

James Randi.

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written by daveg703, December 24, 2012
Right on target as usual, James! However, it seems a bit unfair to apply facts and common sense to castigate the rationally incompetent devotees of applied ignorance, such as Ms. Alfvegren, when they obviously lack both method and mentality to properly defend their position. (Said position having often been observed as "stooped," with the favored pronunciation employing two syllables, rather than one.)
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challenge of u$ 1000000, Lowly rated comment [Show]
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written by MadScientist, December 25, 2012
I can't help wondering what alternate universe Alfvegren lives in. I wonder what Ray Hyman has to say about some of her claims. It's a pity Arthur Clarke can't speak for himself anymore.
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written by Zoroaster, December 25, 2012
I find this the most blatant inaccuracy: "And they have a sense of humor largely missing from Randi's crowd."

No sense of humor?! Yeah right, Randi has been running around with boring eggheads like Johnny Carson, Penn & Teller, Trey Parker and Matt Stone and the Mythbusters crew, just to name a few.

I can only assume she has never watched one of Randi's lectures, never been to an Amazing Meeting or perhaps has no sense of humor herself. I don't see how anyone could stay in the field of debunking pseudoscience without having sense of humor.

I hate to rant but this really sticks in my craw, if she (by the way, are we sure that Skylaire is a woman?) wants to push all the usual crap that's fine but if she is seriously going to say this crowd lacks a sense of humor I demand a retraction!
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written by SkepticScott, December 25, 2012
diogod, you must apply for the challenge. There's a little paperwork you, yes YOU, have to fill out. If you don't, then I think you're just making silly statements.
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..., Lowly rated comment [Show]
THE MAYAN SKEPTIC APOCALYPSE, Lowly rated comment [Show]
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written by Peebs, December 27, 2012
I understand every single word in that post.

Unfortunately when those words are strung together in that order I'm lost.

It does remind me of a precis post from Mabus.
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@diogod
written by mariamyrback, December 27, 2012
Here is the link for the application for the MDC http://www.randi.org/site/inde...ation.html
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written by Dumb All Over, December 27, 2012
Very good, diogod. Yes indeed, you posted the link to the Challenge application.

Step two: Read the application
Step three: If you are serious, fill it out and send it to the JREF
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written by diogod, December 27, 2012
I'll have more do not know if will come, no, the CIA has prevented my correspondence from entering the United States ... do not have to send via email?
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written by Peebs, December 27, 2012
This must be a Po.
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Don't Bother
written by JonK, December 27, 2012
Good lord, why is anyonee and especially Randi bothering with this: a purported "news" story in the blog of a throwaway weekly from 2007 by a self-proclaimed purveyor of "yellow journalism" and columnist for UFO Magazine? (Though Ms. Alfvegren--and her photo suggests that s/he is indeed a woman--claims to be a journalist, fact-checking does not appear to be part of her skill set.)

Are we hearing about this ancient piece of nonsense now because it was "repurposed" on an absurdly ridiculous website that hawks the Vibe Card, "quantum technology to protect against environmental pollution & ionizing radiation"? Come on, folks, this is the Internet. And this isn't even "woo" worth noticing.
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No sense from Rense
written by ianmacm, December 27, 2012
What Skylaire Alfvegren's piece seems to boil down to is "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy" (Hamlet, Act I, Scene V). There are plenty of things that science does not know, but when a person makes a specific and testable claim, such as "I can bend a spoon by stroking it lightly", the onus is on them to prove it, not on other people to believe it. Skylaire Alfvegren's piece is a typical woolly headed rant which ignores the real reason why spoonbending, UFOs etc are regarded with scepticism, which is lack of convincing evidence. smilies/cry.gif
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"Skylaire Alfvegren"... What a unique name!
written by Brookston John, December 29, 2012
Sounds like one of those handles bestowed by a Plastic Medicine Man during a $2500 sweatlodge... smilies/grin.gif
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