James Randi crosses over

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As confirmed by his website.
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  • Slorri
I hope he rests in peace, but I feel morally obligated to mention how questionable the famous Randi Challenge was.

From Prescott's blog:

The challenge, part one


Quote:For years superskeptic James Randi has touted his million-dollar challenge as his ultimate argument against the paranormal. If these phenomena are genuine, Randi and his many fans insist, why hasn't anyone won the million dollars yet?

Randi's detractors counter that the challenge is a publicity stunt, and that Randi and JREF (the James Randi Educational Foundation) make it difficult for people to apply successfully for the challenge, or to be tested even if their applications have been successful. They also argue that JREF's standards are loose and ambiguous, and that they can ignore or dismiss an applicant for any number of reasons, some of which are purely subjective.



Quote:Now we return to our question: How objective is JREF in deciding which applicants will be accepted? Well, it appears that JREF categorizes virtually all paranormal claims as "extraordinarily implausible" and assumes that many, perhaps most, applicants are mentally ill. JREF reserves the right to ignore an application from anyone whose claim is too "incredible" to be taken seriously, or whose claim contradicts the findings of "Science," as understood by JREF. Further, JREF reserves the right to ignore applications from people who are psychologically impaired - a determination that can be made by JREF alone.

Now, given all of the above, just how easy is it to get an application approved by JREF, and how many people have managed it? Those are questions we'll look at in part two.


=-=-=

The challenge, part two


Quote:The one thing that stands out here, beyond the obvious difficulty of getting an application approved in the first place, is the disparity between the number of people who successfully apply and the number who are actually tested. Do all these claimants drop out voluntarily even after going to the trouble of applying, or are there other factors involved?

We'll look at that question and wrap things up in part three.


=-=-=

The challenge, part three


Quote:At every stage of the process, the applicant finds himself facing long odds - and not just because he may or may have the ability to demonstrate a paranormal phenomenon. The application process is arduous and time-consuming, often requiring multiple resubmissions over a period of months or even years. Applicants can be rejected for virtually any reason, including the "incredible" nature of their claims. Applicants may be placed in the position of trying to prove they are not mentally ill. Applicants are effectively muzzled from criticizing JREF or Randi either publicly or privately, and may be dismissed at any time for a variety of offenses subjectively determined by JREF administrators, including rudeness and "sap[ping] JREF resources." JREF is the final authority in all cases; there is no mediator and no appeal. Since no lists of applicants and outcomes have been made available on the Internet by JREF, and since Randi himself does not seem to know the number of claimants who've actually been tested, we can only guess at how many people succeed in reaching even the preliminary testing stage. By Randi's own estimate, the number is small, with the "vast majority" of applicants failing to negotiate the application process, or dropping out or being dismissed before the test is attempted.

Given all this, is it really such a mystery that the more sophisticated researchers and test subjects in the paranormal field steer clear of the much-publicized JREF Challenge?
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


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That's a shame but hardly a surprise. And for all his faults, there are some gems among his works. The Faith Healers and his work on Nostradamus was especially good.
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  • Brian
James "Amazing" Randi, one of the leading militant skeptics of the paranormal phenomena (as well as any scientific and scholarly research of them), has recently left the physical plane of existence:

https://michaelprescott.typepad.com/mich...-dies.html

I wonder how much is Amazing Randi amazed to find out, personally, that there IS something beyond physical matter, after all.

And what would afterlife would look like to someone who spent his life trying to defame and denigrate, angrily and fervently, anyone with the interest for the extraphysical aspects of reality?

What do you think?
Man is a rational animal who always loses his temper when he is called upon to act in accordance with the dictates of reason.
—Oscar Wilde
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(2020-10-22, 11:27 AM)ersby Wrote: That's a shame but hardly a surprise. And for all his faults, there are some gems among his works. The Faith Healers and his work on Nostradamus was especially good.

His assistant who committed identity fraud in the 80s, stealing someone's SSN as I recall, was involved with a lot of Randi's work correct?

Given how much self-hype and outright propaganda Randi was involved with, claiming to be champion against fraud but having a fraud right next to him, not sure how seriously anyone can take his body of work.

As such I'm genuinely curious what was "especially good" about anything Randi worked on - there can be diamonds in the rough but I think we'd need to get specific examples of that.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


(This post was last modified: 2020-10-23, 08:20 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel.)
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  • Kamarling, OmniVersalNexus, tim
Sure, as the years went on and his arguments largely stayed the same, he became more and more irrelevant and the later episode with his partner committing ID fraud effectively ended his career as a debunker.  A lot of Randi’s best work is on topics that now seem obsolete or unimportant: The Cottingley Fairies, Nostradamus, faith healers, spoon benders but there’s no reason to dismiss the value of his work.

His book about Nostradamus includes the theory that he was a satirist, writing about current events in a language that means nothing to us but would have been understood by his contemporaries, yet was vague enough that the authorities being satirised couldn’t act against him. This theory appears to have some merit, regardless of the morality of the rest of Randi’s life.
(This post was last modified: 2020-10-24, 08:44 AM by ersby.)
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(2020-10-24, 07:24 AM)ersby Wrote: His book about Nostradamus includes the theory that he was a satirist, writing about current events in a language that means nothing to us but would have been understood by his contemporaries, yet was vague enough that the authorities being satirised couldn’t act against him. This theory appears to have some merit, regardless of the morality of the rest of Randi’s life.

There are so many, many books about Nostradamus, most of them nonsense. I would have thought writing about the subject would count against him.
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As for the Cottingley Fairies, the definitive article on that was published in the British Journal of Photography. The author was photographer Geoffrey Crawley. Though Crawley himself seemingly piggy-backed on the prior work of Stewart F Sanderson.
[Image: attachment.php?aid=218]
Reference: https://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/la...uted-18543


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(This post was last modified: 2020-10-24, 09:12 AM by Typoz.)
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I come at this from a predictable standpoint and I do think he behaved badly (in sum) but I don't know everything about him (he surely had some redeeming aspects to him). 

NDE's were dismissed along with everything else, thereby convincing a great many people that there's nothing going on, death is the end and that's it. Grow up, face it and stop being irrational etc, which always received/receives a round of applause from the gallery. But he didn't deal with the evidence honestly.

Doctors, Surgeons and medical personnel with something to say to the contrary were ignored or 'poo poohed'. The never ending refutation of patients (ordinary sane men and women of good judgement with no agenda) adamant that they had seen things they couldn't possibly have seen when completely unconscious, often even when their brain function was zero. Nope, you're all mistaken, trust me there's always an explanation, move along, folks !  

That's what I really despise. That arrogant dishonesty and the determination to pursue it no matter what (like Woerlee). In my opinion, he was effectively trying to rob people of part of their birthright for no good reason.  Everyone will have their own opinion, of course.
(This post was last modified: 2020-10-24, 12:34 PM by tim.)
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(2020-10-24, 09:04 AM)Typoz Wrote: As for the Cottingley Fairies, the definitive article on that was published in the British Journal of Photography. 

Definitive according to who? I'm not suggesting it isn't, I'm just wondering. Randi's Flim Flam! came out in 1982, so predates Crawley's work. I don't know how either piece compares to the one in vol 84 of Folklore.

But all this is missing the point, since I'd already mentioned that most areas of his expertise are now considered passé. That's not necessarily his failing, that's just the passing of time.

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