The James Randi Educational Foundation
by Chad Van Wagner
James Randi is not a large man. In pictures, in fact, he appears rather diminutive. He does, however, have bigger balls than most.
In 1964, Mr. Randi put up a grand of his own moolah in exchange for a demonstration of scientifically testable, reproducible psychic phenomena. Since then, the offer has grown to a million bucks, and not one taker.
I first heard about James Randi via the brilliant, if occasionally flawed, TV show Bullshit, hosted by Penn and Teller. Randi is a hero of theirs, and it’s not difficult to see the role he played in shaping their world-view. While not as snide as his hipster protégés, Randi has a similar incredulousness regarding the sheer breadth of human self-deception.
So, the site… An assortment of constantly-updated anecdotes, moments of clarity, and other pragmatic outlooks, it’s not necessarily a fascinating read as a one-time stop. However, if one is intrigued by the culture of debunking, then the site rewards continued visits.
To be sure, there is some degree of “joy in your enemies’ failure” involved. There is a clock for the psychic Sylvia Browne, who (foolishly, it appears) accepted Randi’s terms. In September of 2001. She has yet to follow through, and there is a perverse delight taken in this. Randi’s saving grace here is his insistence that the true believers not be openly mocked, instead saving the ire for the con men and shysters. Smart AND level-headed. We need more James Randis.