When Illusion Points To Truth

**ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND JULY 7-8**James Randi gestures as he talks to a reporter in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Friday, June 29, 2007. Randi is considered the grandfather of skeptics. The 78-year-old high school dropout made a career as a magician before becoming a prestigious MacArthur Foundation fellow and devoting his life to debunking the work of psychics, spiritual healers, astrologers and the like. His namesake James Randi Educational Foundation offers a $1 million prize to anyone who can prove any paranormal, supernatural, or occult power or event. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

With his tireless work and international meetings, James Randi, who passed away on Tuesday, became a benchmark in the fight against fraud

James Randi Toronto 1928Florida 2020 dedicated his life to following the path that Houdini had masterfully marked out making illusionism a weapon against trickery

In a wonderful twist magic magnifies itself turning temporary deception of the senses into an instrument of reason

Randi who died on Tuesday at the age of 92 has left us after a long life in which he brought overwhelming doses of intelligence and good humor to the world

Critical thinking is a faculty of all human beings this truism truth must be repeated over and over again to avoid seeming to be the exclusive space of great thinkers and distinguished scientists Randi demonstrated it all his life from a profession apparently far from the intellectual and certainly far from the academic circles

James Randi was a dangerous opponent for magicians who using the tricks of the profession tried to convince the public of their false powers

They all knew the procedures of illusionism they all had the ability to reach wide audiences But what distinguished Randi as before Houdini was his commitment to the truth and his determination to promote critical reason against deception and imposture

Randi had spent years researching the methods employed by televangelists who like Popoff claimed to be vehicles of faith healing

The elders of the place remember the television sensation produced in 1975 by Uri Geller an illusionist determined to tell the world that he had paranormal powers

It is a pity that the same Spanish television that gave Geller a loudspeaker did not provide the same space to James Randi who had unmasked the imposturebecause he knew the same professional tricks as Geller

It is also a pity that the Spanish television of 1975 did not report on something well known that two years earlier in 1973 the Johnny Carson program had exposed Geller who was not able to do his usual number of bending spoons live repair clocks and guess the contents of sealed envelopes

Advised by Randi Carson did not allow Geller to bring his own equipment The result can be seen again in recordings available on the Internet but it will not surprise anyone to learn that Geller could not reproduce what he did in programs directed by more credulous people

Geller had the cold blood to blame his failure on Johnny Carson as a skeptic This same Johnny Carson show was crucial to Randi publicly exposing a faithhealing preacher Peter Popoff Randi had spent years researching the methods employed by televangelists who like Popoff claimed to be vehicles of faith healing

And it is that James Randi not only knew the arts of his profession but he investigated for years the tricks used by those who made paranormal claims

It was a necessary endeavor because the failure of Uri Geller in the Johnny Carson program caused him to be invited to other spaces where as happened in Spain no one bothered to take measures to verify the veracity of his claims With a great like Martin Gardner Randi founded the CSICOP the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims about the Paranormal whose executive committee included the likes of Paul Kurz Isaac Asimov and Carl Sagan

The JREF James Randi Foundation for Education with its tireless work and international meetings is a benchmark in the fight against fraud The Million Dollar Challenge is well known which between 1996 and 2015 offered that amount to anyone who could demonstrate under controlled conditions the existence of some phenomenon or paranormal power

Not surprisingly none of the candidates to win that money did it They were also unable to earn lower amounts than Randi offered in moments prior to 1996

The Million Dollar Challenge offered between 1996 and 2015 that amount to anyone who could demonstrate under controlled conditions the existence of some phenomenon or paranormal power

The Million Dollar Challenge emphasized the conditions of observation of the experiments something so valid for Uri Geller to fail in Carsons program as to expose scientists of unscrupulous methodology

The prestigious journal Nature called on James Randi to be part of the evaluation team for an experiment by Jacques Benveniste that seemed to give a rational foundation to homeopathy

This experiment had been published in Naturebut the magazine wanted to repeat it under controlled conditions and before an evaluation team When a safety guideline proposed by Randi was applied to guarantee the doubleblindness of the procedure it was discovered that the conclusions of the experiment were not correct Natures attitude when calling Randi clearly reveals mistrust in the procedure followed by Benveniste

The work of James Randi has been an important source of inspiration for skeptical groups in Europe who have had the honor of meeting him and spreading his priceless work when he has visited our countries

On his visit to Spain in 2012 we found that his age was not an obstacle for him and that he was still the same illusionist full of intelligence and humor who had fascinated the public for decades

ARPSociety for the Advancement of Critical Thinking has painfully fired its Honorary Member James Randi but in the hope that his great critical mind and sense of responsibility against deception will continue to set an example for the world

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