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MY WORLD IS A LITTLE DARKER… PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

gardnerMartin Gardner has died.  I have dreaded to type those words, and Martin would not have wanted to know that I’m so devastated at what I knew – day to day – had to happen very soon.  I’m glad to report that his passing was painless and quick.  That man was one of my giants, a very long-time friend of some 50 years or so.  He was a delight, a very bright spot in my firmament, one to whom I could always turn to with a question or an idea, with any strange notion I could invent, and with any complaint or comment I could come up with.

I never had an angry word with Martin. Never. It was all laughs and smiles, all the best of everything.

Forgive me for writing this without any editing.  It’s just as it occurs to me.

I can’t quite picture my world without him, and just yesterday I printed up a new set of mailing labels for him, plus stationery, which didn’t get mailed. For the last few years I supplied him with that small favor, assuring him that he should notify me when he ran out, but he never did, because he thought it was too much trouble for me. Only when I received a letter from him last week that was hand-addressed, did I know that it was time for another shipment to Oklahoma.

He was such a good man, a productive and useful member of our society, and I can anticipate the international reaction to his passing.  His books – so many of them – remain to remind us of his contributions to us all.  His last one was dedicated to me, and I am just so proud of that fact, so very proud…

It will take a while, but Martin would want me to get on with my life, so I will.

It’s tough…

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I can't say enough how sorry I am
written by Tiltmom, May 22, 2010
It was a pleasure to have known him, Randi. And I'm grateful to you for the time that the three of us got to spend together.
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The light is still on, you know
written by WendyH, May 22, 2010
So sorry for your loss ... and sorry that there are only such trite words that stand in for such inexpressible emotions. The desire to comfort a friend when we know that there is nothing we can do is... clumsy. You're right; it's tough. But keep breathing Mr. Randi.
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:(((((
written by sherifffruitfly, May 22, 2010
He was uber pro at bringing scientific ideas to a broader audience, without mangling the science part of it.

RIP, and condolences to his family and friends.

And thanks for all your work, Mr. Gardner.
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written by kitsunechylde, May 22, 2010
I'm so sorry for your loss. My thoughts are with you.
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written by LibraryLady, May 22, 2010
I'm so sorry. Martin Gardner was a huge influence on my life. He led me to the Lewis Carroll Society and to the works of James Randi. I will be forever grateful to him.
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written by Kuroyume, May 22, 2010
He puzzled the mind. It saddens the heart.
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Really sorry, but thankful
written by nashira, May 22, 2010
Dear Mr. Randi, I got to meet you and Martin Gardner about 18 years ago or so, when Skeptical Inquirer was still a small magazine and there was no internet. I was kind of a lonely skeptic militant here in Ecuador, but thanks to you and to Martin Gardner, I never felt really alone. Militancy faded, but not the memories nor the lessons learned trough Mr. Gardner's columns, I never liked math until I read him. I'm so grateful for that and for the solid logic he shared. That's something I'll always remember. Thanks so much!
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I enjoyed watching this video
written by Bea, May 22, 2010
of Martin Gardner. What a brilliant and sweet man . . . Many condolences for your loss.

http://vimeo.com/7176521
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written by Thameron, May 22, 2010
The sun rising on the morrow is a poorer sun for having lost him, but a richer one for having known him. A long life well lived is the best that any of us might hope for and as you say he achieved that. All good friendships carry a price in loss at the end. To morn in the way that best honors him is all that one may do in the face of the irreversible and inevitable. May you find your catharsis.
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What a hugely productive life!
written by Kritikos, May 22, 2010
I am sorry for Randi's personal loss, but the predominant emotion of those of us who know Gardner only through his prodigious literary production should be gratitude. Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science dates from 1952, yet it still makes bracing reading. And that is only one of the early items on a list of dozens of books!
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Take care, Mr. Gardner...
written by Pikatron, May 22, 2010
He was a titan, truly the Skeptic's Skeptic. At least his accomplishments are still with us. Peace out, Martin...
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written by icepick, May 22, 2010
Randi,

Such a long and productive life of someone who contributed to knowledge, education and fun! It is hard to think of it as anything but a gift to us all and you, as a long devoted friend, were a gift to him.
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And the candle burns a little lower ...
written by Carl, May 22, 2010
I never met Mr. Gardner, but his writing was a huge influence on me, as well as a pleasure for me. In Dr. Sagan's metaphor, the darkness is curled a little closer around the sputtering candle, and we must all burn brighter to make up for the loss of Martin Gardner.
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written by Gilmar, May 22, 2010
Gardner's books and Mathematical Games columns in Scientific American were my introduction to him, back in the early 1970s. Only years later did I discover his contributions to skepticism. I am sorry for the loss to all of us, and for Mr. Randi's personal loss.
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Thank you Mr. Gardner
written by Xiphos, May 22, 2010
It was thirty years ago when I came across one of your math books and it helped a clueless, mathematically challenged kid cope with processes he did not understand. Because of your math books I was able to minimally conquer math and due to you, good sir, eventually earn a minor in physics(it was as far as I could go math wise). So thank you very much sir you were a true Renaissance man, scholar and a gentlemen of the highest caliber.

Your books on debunking served me well as child hiding from a bad home life in libraries and parks. Thank you for that also, you have earned your rest with the good deeds you never knew you accomplished. I KNOW I am not the only persons that you have served as a beacon in the dark.
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I am not Sad....
written by Skeptic, May 22, 2010
...that a man, almost 100, after living a full life doing good, with good friends, in a good cause, with a good wife (for 50+ of those years), had at long last died painlessly. "Finality", "end of an era" is a more appropriate description of my feeling.

I almost envy him, in fact; he reminds me of Plato's saying that one cannot call a man's life happy or good before they die -- otherwise some disaster can always strike. Now, we can finally say, he lived a happy life.

Had Gardner, as a young undergraduate in the 1930s, known in advance his life would turn out exactly as it did, he would have been overjoyed. Sometimes the good don't die young, after all.
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written by Hierro, May 22, 2010
I can't lay claim to having met either Gardner or Randi, but I just hope Randi knows he has a legion of supporters who are wishing him strength during such a hard time for him.
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written by MadScientist, May 22, 2010
That's so sad; I've always enjoyed his articles and his books written for non-mathematicians. He lived long though and I'm sure he was an inspiration to many.
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written by serratiasue, May 22, 2010
I have several of Martin Gardner's books, which I treasure. What a tremendously gifted mind he had! I share in your grief, Randi (in kind, although I am sure not in degree), but am thrilled that such a great man existed and that he leaves a brilliant legacy for us and for future generations.
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written by occasional, May 22, 2010
Randi, I share your devastation at this news. I never met Martin Gardner (how I wish I could have!) but corresponded with him in the past. He was a profound influence on my thoughts, and through his writings led me to yourself — my other profound influence. Huge numbers of people from all walks of life will share their condolences for the loss of this great man.
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An evil idea...
written by Skeptic, May 23, 2010
Gardner was known for his fascination with topology -- especially Mobius strips -- and for having a sense of humor.

Now, suppose the undertaker gives the body a half-twist before he buries him...
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written by Cethis, May 23, 2010
I am sorry for your loss, Randi.
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written by PsyberDave, May 23, 2010
Randi, your loss is ours.
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written by Roger Smith, May 23, 2010
Although I never met Mr. Gardner, I feel this as a personal loss, too. Martin Gardner is a favorite author of mine - perhaps my most favorite. I've read dozens of his books on topics from literature to science. His books, no matter the subject, are filled with his obvious joy of learning. He enjoyed learning about things and enjoyed telling others what he learned.

I discovered him through one of his Mathematical Recreations books in our public library. I think I was in the fifth grade. I recall shoing my teacher the "hexaflexagon" I had made based on an article in the book. She turned it into a class project.

My favorite of his books is The Annotated Alice (and its follow-ups). His The New Ambidextrous Universe: Symmetry and Asymmetry, from Mirror Reflections to Superstrings is my favorite popular science book. It introduces and explains many science concepts in a really fun and illuminating manner.

I wrote to Mr. Gardner a few months ago saying pretty much the same things I said above and thanking him for all the entertainment and eductation he's provided me. I received a very nice, type-written reply. I'll treasure that little piece of paper for the rest of my life.

-- Roger
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What a sad time to return
written by cisco255, May 23, 2010
I hadn't checked the JREF site in many months. So I was dismayed to visit today and see the news of Gardner's death. I've seen so many Skeptics speak. Randi, Shermer, Plait, and others. But I never met or heard Gardner speak, and I am sorry I won't have the chance. I'm even sorrier the world lost such a great mind and thoughtful skeptic.
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written by Russell, May 23, 2010
I never met Martin Gardner, but he certainly touched my life. In the late 1970s a girlfriend of mine gave me a copy of "Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science." She was given a copy but didn't want to read it.

I was not exactly a person who was ready to embrace a message scepticism. The book was mostly written before I was born. I was a hippie, a 20-something working in a natural food store, deeply distrustful of any authority and critical of what I thought of as authority-based science. My life revolved around Macrobiotics, acupuncture, Rolfing, herbalism, est, Primal Scream Therapy, foot reflexology, a syncretic hash of Eastern religions and pretty much every other new age technique that flew in over the transom. I was a pioneering subscriber to "New Age Journal," a publication that introduced the world to Andrew Weil and Deepak Chopra.

I was angry when Gardner criticised the things I believed in, but fascinated and amused by the foolishness other people believed in. I've heard Gardner quoted as saying "..oddly enough, most of [my critics] objected to one chapter only, thinking all the others excellent..." and that pretty much captures my reaction to the book.

I vividly remembered my amazement on reading the chapter on Rhine's ESP studies (a subject that had fascinated in my adolescence). It's been over 30 years since I've seen the book, and I may be conflating it with other books I've since read, but I recall a comparison of ESP results obtained by "sheep" (believers in ESP) and "goats" (nonbelievers), and just how resistant the "sheep/goat" effects were to attempts to blind the studies. This was a revelation,and marked the beginning of a self examination that continues to this day.

I had been drawn to New Age activities because of a deep skepticism of authority figures. Science had been taught to me almost like a religion. I thought it was a set of beliefs, handed down as truth by an older generation that had brought us a war in Vietnam, Racism, sexism, environmental disaster and a host of other evils. Garner set me on the path to discovering what science really is. I began to see that in fact its foundation was the very kind of skepticism that led me to all those New-Age practices, that in fact the scientific method supports a much deeper skepticism that allowed me to question my own cognitive biases. He gave me the courage to follow the evidence even when it conflicted with my firmest beliefs. This has served me well in my life and my careers.

Earlier that decade I had witnessed as a fellow natural-food buff died of cancer while dosing himself with bitter almonds (then though to be a "natural" version of Laetrile, a supposed cancer cure) refusing conventional treatment that might have extended his life. He left behind a wife and child. Watching him get worse and worse as he cheerfully talked of his impending cure was heartbreaking, and I remember thinking about how little his belief in the cure helped him ouut. I know that in the decades that have since passed I've steered one or two of my family and friends away from worthless quack cures, and I'd like to think I've saved a few lives taht way. If so, those people have Martin Gardner to thank.

Well, I've run on far, far longer than I meant,but I wanted to add my thoughts. We'll miss him, but take joy in the fact his work will be there to enlighten people like that 20-something me for a very long time.
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Memories of Martin
written by stenquist1, May 23, 2010
At first he was my muse, then mentor and ultimately a friend. Martin was always willing to chat on the phone about magic, magic personalities, puzzles, philosophy and wide ranging sundry topics. I thanked him in person in Asheville and now in bytes for the gift, just before he moved to Norman, OK., of his personal collection of ‘informal science’ books. He was so gracious that he thanked me for removing the burden of carrying the books, in fact a treasure trove of information, to his new home. I wish him peaceful, exciting, puzzling and magical adventures, wherever he ends up, if any place at all. I realize now that there is an afterlife, though we often discussed the (im)possibility of such. He will live on in our memories.

Bob Friedhoffer
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Thank you Martin
written by bcarroll, May 23, 2010
I am devastated to learn of Martin Gardner's death. His words had a huge influence on me when I was young, and they continue to shape my view of the world. His mathematical puzzles challenged the mind, but his philosophical writing spoke to the heart. I know that his words planted many seeds in the minds of his readers that will continue to bloom as long as his books are read. His life made us all richer, and we are all poorer for his passing. Thank you Martin.
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Passing
written by JonK, May 23, 2010
As it was for so many, it was Martin Garner's classic "Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science" that first opened my eyes to a mode of thinking that has served me well for over half a century, both as scientist and citizen. It was for me a transformational book for which I am still grateful.

Martin's subsequent books and columns have entertained me, enlightened me, challenged me in other ways, as well as having served as models of what good writing about science should be.

You never think about someone who has been with you so long as ever leaving until it actually happens. Though I never met him, I will miss him in so many ways.
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Repent, Heretics!
written by Skeptic, May 23, 2010
>>>>>>They had become ENEMIES OF THE PEOPLE AND OF GOD... you pushed too much and *CROSSED THE LINE*

Y'all heard that?! REPENT, or YOU TOO might die painlessly at age 95 after a hugely productive and fun-filled life!
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Another empty chair...
written by Alencon, May 23, 2010
With the passing of Martin Gardner there's another empty chair from my youth. I'm proud to say that Martin helped me decide to major in mathematics. I remember in the late sixties and early seventies immediately turning to his column when my copy of Scientific American arrived. I remember his column on the "Game of Life" as if it were only yesterday that he introduced me to that fascinating little game.

So long Martin, save me a spot by the fireplace where I can read your next column and put me on your celestial mailing list.
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written by cybermystic, May 24, 2010
At my inaugural lecture I showed the audience how lateral inversion "worked" in a plane mirror. I thought I was the first to have worked this one out - should have guessed that Martin Gardner would have beaten me to it by many years smilies/smiley.gif Inspirational work Martin, and usually yours was the only column I read in the Scientific American. I "lost" Prof. Peter Landsberg a few weeks ago as well smilies/sad.gif Slowly all my icons are passing - and all too soon it will be me!
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I am sorry and sad.
written by Walabio, May 24, 2010
He was a good man. These words comfort me when friends pass away:

“I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.”

——

Mark Twain
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written by Phatchick96, May 24, 2010
My condolences on the loss of a good friend. Our world is the poorer for his passing.
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written by Phildonnia, May 24, 2010
I believe it was 26 years ago that as a young teenager I found a book on the school library shelf with the entertainingly long title of "The Second Scientific American Book of Mathematical Puzzles and Diversions" by Martin Gardner. The rest of my life I have been interested in the peculiar and fascinating aspects of mathematics and science.

In another one of his books, he mentions that the Dewey Decimal number for recreational mathematics is 512.81; which is 2^9 followed by 9^2. I remember it because it's a place I often check first when I'm in a library I've never been in before.

I've never met the man, and do not know much about him personally, but I know that if I could be so affected by his work, then he must have been a profound influence indeed on those who were close to him.
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written by Helena., May 24, 2010
Randi, I'm very sorry for your loss. I think by now we all know how much he meat to you.

Martin Gardner will be missed. His passing is a very sad thing, a terrible loss indeed. But I think it would be even sadder if we were to allow Martin Gardner's life work to be forgotten. Not only his work, but the work of so many other great minds who have been a great influence in our lives. We have to take it up on ourselves to do what great people like Martin Gardner did for so many years. It's our job to share his ideas and findings, to inspire future generations to discover the amazing wonders of the world of science and reason.
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I've dreaded this day ...
written by ws1o, May 24, 2010
I've know that this day was inevitable, but I started to dread it after he turned 90. I started reading Mr Gardner's exceptional books and magazine articles in the 1980s and hoped he'd always be around, somehow. Reminds me of when we lost Sir Arthur C Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Carl Sagan, Stephen Jay Gould, Philip Klass, all brilliant writers and outstanding human beings. Great ones are never here long enough....but at least they WERE here at all! Goodbye, gentlemen, and thanks for all you did. And long live Randi, Plait, Shermer, Paul Kurtz, Bob Park, Jan H Brunvand, Joe Nickell, et al...
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Mr. Gardner was an insperation
written by eternalcontrol, May 24, 2010
I was always looking forward to his Scientific American articles. I've been inspired to learn math and science from about the age of 10. Yes, the would is not only darker, but colder as well.
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Lifespan of a human
written by eternalcontrol, May 24, 2010
It is said, "You don't die until you are forgotten". Martin Gardner will live for many more centuries I'm sure.
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He was a great man...
written by Griz, May 25, 2010
...and will be sorely missed.
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What a gem he was
written by Holmstrom, May 25, 2010
I will, I'm sure, continue to read his marvelous writings always. He was, indeed, a giant among us.
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My Condolences
written by RandomReason, May 25, 2010
Mr. Randi,

I recently had the privilege of meeting you on the Amazing Adventure. I remember how fondly you spoke of Mr. Gardner at dinner one night. I am sorry for your loss, it was clear he meant a lot to you. I very much wish I had the chance to meet him and talk about Lewis Carroll, math and skepticism. You have both been huge influences in my life, and this is very sad news indeed. I will be re-reading my first edition of The Annotated Alice in his memory.

Sean

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written by NoDeity, May 26, 2010
I'm sorry to hear it. I've enjoyed his writing and I'm saddened to hear that he is gone. How much sadder it must be for those who knew him personally.
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birkenstock
written by birkenstock, June 14, 2010
I very like to read his marvelous writings. He is a giant!
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