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An Article Rebuttal by Randi

Discussions about the James Randi Educational Foundation and its Million Dollar Challenge.

An Article Rebuttal by Randi

Postby really? » 28 Dec 2012, 12:02

I present this for your entertainment and elucidation regarding his position on the existence of the paranormal
JUST TO SET THE FACTS IN PLACE…


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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Re: An Article by Randi

Postby The23rdman » 28 Dec 2012, 20:03

I'm sorry, but I can't give Randi even one iota of my time or respect. Anyone who is so dismissive and calls a whole group of people by such a derogatory name can only be a fundamentalist.
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Re: An Article by Randi

Postby really? » 28 Dec 2012, 23:51

The23rdman wrote:I'm sorry, but I can't give Randi even one iota of my time or respect. Anyone who is so dismissive and calls a whole group of people by such a derogatory name can only be a fundamentalist.


If you have ever met some of these people you'd understand. Some are woos. They can be lumped into broad categories some are scientific, some are spiritual, some political. Would you recognize a wooish person ? They should be exposed for what they are. Now why did you miss this point ?
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Re: An Article by Randi

Postby NinjaPuppy » 29 Dec 2012, 01:24

really? wrote:
The23rdman wrote:I'm sorry, but I can't give Randi even one iota of my time or respect. Anyone who is so dismissive and calls a whole group of people by such a derogatory name can only be a fundamentalist.


If you have ever met some of these people you'd understand. Some are woos. They can be lumped into broad categories some are scientific, some are spiritual, some political. Would you recognize a wooish person ? They should be exposed for what they are. Now why did you miss this point ?

I AM one of those persons by Randi's definition. I know me and UNDERSTAND me. So my question is, how does that make using any derogatory term acceptable?
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Re: An Article by Randi

Postby The23rdman » 29 Dec 2012, 01:48

really? wrote:
The23rdman wrote:I'm sorry, but I can't give Randi even one iota of my time or respect. Anyone who is so dismissive and calls a whole group of people by such a derogatory name can only be a fundamentalist.


If you have ever met some of these people you'd understand. Some are woos. They can be lumped into broad categories some are scientific, some are spiritual, some political. Would you recognize a wooish person ? They should be exposed for what they are. Now why did you miss this point ?


Because I have remained objective and open-minded when dealing with people's beliefs and reality tunnels. I have experienced plenty of stuff Randi would dismiss out of hand and remain unable to come to any conclusion. The man seems like nothing but a publicity hunting joke to me, but much more dangerous because he seems to hide behind the mask of a serious investigator.
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Re: An Article by Randi

Postby really? » 29 Dec 2012, 05:32

The23rdman wrote:I'm sorry, but I can't give Randi even one iota of my time or respect. Anyone who is so dismissive and calls a whole group of people by such a derogatory name can only be a fundamentalist.


really? wrote:If you have ever met some of these people you'd understand. Some are woos. They can be lumped into broad categories some are scientific, some are spiritual, some political. Would you recognize a wooish person ? They should be exposed for what they are. Now why did you miss this point ?

NinjaPuppy wrote:I AM one of those persons by Randi's definition. I know me and UNDERSTAND me. So my question is, how does that make using any derogatory term acceptable?


First off you don't strike me as being a woo. Secondly having some beliefs doesn't make you a woo. What really defines one as a woo is a person that hold irrational ideas not based upon evidence equal to the claim. In most cases a high number of irrational ideas.

Now the reason I posted this to begin with ( and contrary to popular opinion ) is to let everyone know Randi has never denied the possibility of the paranormal.
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Re: An Article by Randi

Postby NinjaPuppy » 29 Dec 2012, 06:44

really? wrote:First off you don't strike me as being a woo. Secondly having some beliefs doesn't make you a woo.


Hmmmm. I know that saying that I don't strike you as a woo is obviously a compliment. In my mind, it says that I'm bad at being a woo. :lol: Maybe I'm a cautious woo. I do try to do a bit of research before forming an opinion and sometimes I never form an opinion about some things that I read/hear about.

really? wrote:What really defines one as a woo is a person that hold irrational ideas not based upon evidence equal to the claim. In most cases a high number of irrational ideas.

For the record, I have plenty of irrational ideas. Right now I'm trying to figure out how to talk to dead people. Not just any dead people, I don't need a bunch of dead people to make my day interesting. I'm talking about my so called "Spirit Companion" (that term comes from a some psychic that I met at a ghost hunt) Fred (that name comes via any Quija board I am near) who's been hanging around me since I was a kid. Is that woo enough for you?

really? wrote:Now the reason I posted this to begin with ( and contrary to popular opinion ) is to let everyone know Randi has never denied the possibility of the paranormal.

Then you should have said so in your OP. We woos aren't mind readers.... oh wait, yes we are. ;)
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Re: An Article by Randi

Postby SydneyPSIder » 29 Dec 2012, 07:50

I don't disagree with Randi in this piece, and he is a rational man. However, in his remark:

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…


I think he has somehow failed to travel widely and meet a lot of people, or made the opportunity to meet people who have genuine abilities and study them. It's easy to debunk a Uri Geller or the many frauds out there, and they should be debunked, as many are making money from gullible people out of it. However, Randi has made the fatal logic error throughout his (pseudo-)skeptical career that because he only sees white-faced sheep or white swans that only white-faced sheep sheep or white swans can exist. (And he seems to tape pictures of white-faced sheep to the inside of his glasses to help in this.)

I have met people with abilities, who have demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that they can do things that are not conjuring tricks. They choose not to seek out Randi and his million dollar challenge -- either they shun publicity, they are in a different country, they mistrust the premise of the 'challenge' or they have not even heard of it. However, they continue to see dead people, communicate with them, act as psychic readers and so on, often for very small amounts of money or none at all. I have performed tests with at least 3 such people that have satisfied me they could not have known beforehand the information they produced, and have heard stories from many others that indicate there are psychic and biological connections between people that we currently have no good understanding of in science. And it's not even hard to find such people, so I suspect Randi has deliberately limited his circle.

Sure, there are plenty of completely irrational 'woo' types out there who never seem to question anything much, and seem to live in a deeply intuitive and non-rational place that seem to make them happy. Others of us are deeply analytical and rational. As a genuine sceptic, I cannot remain in the company of the woo types for long without challenging something, and certainly don't endorse a lot of the mystic and new age thinking that is backed up by very little if you are thinking analytically. These are not the people I meet with genuine psychic abilities, however, and it is a mistake to conflate the two, as Randi seems to do. Or, 'throws out the baby with the bathwater' as we often say here on SCEPCOP.
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Re: An Article by Randi

Postby The23rdman » 29 Dec 2012, 22:58

That's a great post, Sydney. I too have met folk who shun publicity but would pee all over Randi's challenge. Who wants to be made to look a freak to the world?
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Re: An Article by Randi

Postby NinjaPuppy » 29 Dec 2012, 23:26

Yes Syd, EXCELLENT POST.
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Re: An Article Rebuttal by Randi

Postby Scepcop » 30 Dec 2012, 04:18

really,
What's the link to that rebuttal by Randi?

This part of the Rense article is so true. lol

http://rense.com/general69/randi.htm

"In and of itself," says a man once denigrated by the skeptical movement, "skepticism has made no actual contribution to science, just as music reviews in the newspaper make no contribution to the art of composition."
“Devotion to the truth is the hallmark of morality; there is no greater, nobler, more heroic form of devotion than the act of a man who assumes the responsibility of thinking.” - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
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Re: An Article Rebuttal by Randi

Postby The23rdman » 30 Dec 2012, 05:58

Scepcop wrote:really,
What's the link to that rebuttal by Randi?

This part of the Rense article is so true. lol

http://rense.com/general69/randi.htm

"In and of itself," says a man once denigrated by the skeptical movement, "skepticism has made no actual contribution to science, just as music reviews in the newspaper make no contribution to the art of composition."


Thanks for that, Winston. :)
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Re: An Article Rebuttal by Randi

Postby NinjaPuppy » 30 Dec 2012, 06:59

Scepcop wrote:really,
What's the link to that rebuttal by Randi?

You will find the link to Randi's article in the rense article.
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Re: An Article Rebuttal by Randi

Postby really? » 30 Dec 2012, 11:04

I think all the hatred I see across forums such as this one and like this one arise for one reason only and this is no revelation. That reason is, he reminds people that the beliefs they hold dear may not be true after all. And it would be refreshing to actually hear someone say this out loud instead of taking snarky potshots. I cheapens the argument your attempting to make.
It would also be refreshing not to see excuses made for why real people with real abilities don't try for the 1 million dollar prize. That's an excuse that doesn't work because there are people, some well known and many others not making money through their abilities. None of them seem to be worried about being called a freak.
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Re: An Article by Randi

Postby really? » 30 Dec 2012, 11:22

really? wrote:First off you don't strike me as being a woo. Secondly having some beliefs doesn't make you a woo.


Hmmmm. I know that saying that I don't strike you as a woo is obviously a compliment. In my mind, it says that I'm bad at being a woo. :lol: Maybe I'm a cautious woo. I do try to do a bit of research before forming an opinion and sometimes I never form an opinion about some things that I read/hear about.

really? wrote:What really defines one as a woo is a person that hold irrational ideas not based upon evidence equal to the claim. In most cases a high number of irrational ideas.

NinjaPuppy wrote:For the record, I have plenty of irrational ideas. Right now I'm trying to figure out how to talk to dead people. Not just any dead people, I don't need a bunch of dead people to make my day interesting. I'm talking about my so called "Spirit Companion" (that term comes from a some psychic that I met at a ghost hunt) Fred (that name comes via any Quija board I am near) who's been hanging around me since I was a kid. Is that woo enough for you?

No, it's not enough. Perhaps I should provide an example of a typical woo. I have one in mind, but for some reason the site has been down for maintenance since 12/21/12.

really? wrote:Now the reason I posted this to begin with ( and contrary to popular opinion ) is to let everyone know Randi has never denied the possibility of the paranormal.

NinjaPuppy wrote:Then you should have said so in your OP. We woos aren't mind readers.... oh wait, yes we are. ;)


I used to play with the Quija board too, but they are nothing more than toys. To suggest or believe otherwise suggests to me you may be unfamiliar with the ideomotor affect. If the planchette would move of it's own accord after asking a question would be impressive, but that it requires the fingers of the participants resting on the planchette suggests the parsimonious explanation that it is the ideomotor effect and the participants answering their own questions instead of receiving answers the beyond.
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