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July 14, 2007


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I was actually surprised for you to write about James Randi as if he were some cultural, intellectual person to be admired. James Randi is just a variant of P.T. Barnum - a self-admitted publicity stuntman.

If you delve a little deeper into Randi's million dollar challenge, you will find that there are skeptics who are skeptical about Randi's challenge and his openness to look at rigorous scientific investigation with the eye of a sincere skeptic. Don't forget that Randi also claims that homeopathic medicine, acupuncture acupressure, and other non-traditional forms of medicine are also frauds.

The man is a zealot who despises anything he disagrees with.

Take a look what has been written on this...

"For many years this "prize" has been Randi's stock-in-trade as a media skeptic, but even some other skeptics are skeptical about its value as anything but a publicity stunt. For example, CSICOP founding member Dennis Rawlins pointed out that not only does Randi act as "policeman, judge and jury" but quoted him as saying "I always have an out"! (Fate, October 1981). A leading Fellow of CSICOP, Ray Hyman, has pointed out, this "prize" cannot be taken seriously from a scientific point of view: "Scientists don't settle issues with a single test, so even if someone does win a big cash prize in a demonstration, this isn't going to convince anyone. Proof in science happens through replication, not through single experiments."

Randi's fellow showman Loyd Auerbach, President of the Psychic Entertainers Association, is likewise sceptical about this "prize" and sees it as of no scientific value.

See Randi’s Challenge and "Why Randi may have to pay up."

Recent comment on Randi's prize can be found at the following blogs:
Michael Prestcott's Blog and
Prove Randi wrong
Beware Pseudo-Skepticism - the Randi

If you are seriously considering taking the James Randi $1 Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge...read what Sean of PsiPog found out. Then think again!

Also, a new article from Paranormal "Review Sceptic Changes the Rules."

Marcel, it never hurts to be skeptical about skepticism also. But we shouldn't stop there. I'm also skeptical about those who express skepticism about Randi's skepticism.

Browsing through the Wikipedia article on this subject, I'd say that Randi has more science on his side than his opponents do. See:

At least he's trying to elicit proof of paranormal or supernatural abilities. It's possible to quibble about the rules for demonstrating that proof. But I strongly support his preference for open-eyed science over blind belief.

Scientific American, to which I subscribe and enjoy reading every month, also has a long history of supporting skeptical inquiry, as reflected in this piece:

So its a matter of who to believe the most: those who are dedicated to an open unbiased demonstration of truth vs. falsity, or those who say "believe me without any proof." I'm not into dogmatism, so I'll side with Randi and Scientific American.

If you don't mind me asking, what did you find wrong with or lacking in Shotokan karate?

Yes... I completely agree with you on this.

And its not an either/or type of thing either.. Just because you can see some flaws doesn't mean that Everything about it is flawed.

The sooner we can get over the 'All or nothing' type of mindset the quicker we can be open to new insights and understanding.

I have heard people tell me.. 'If one thing is wrong in the Bible then All of it is'....which just drove me nuts because its easy to find 'Many' wrong things if you just look.

This prompts me to ask the question.. 'What would an actual 'science' of the mystical look like?

Would there be sacred cows we couldn't question? I don't think so.

Seems to me a real 'science' of the 'spirit' would be open to any and all possibilities..

everything would be subject to examination and re-examination.

And just like in science....whatever truths we find or discover would be treated as 'relative' truths....subject to change, growth or rejection in light of new information.

Ashwin, you asked what I found lacking in Shotokan karate. I was going to reply via a comment, but realized this subject deserved an entire post. So I wrote one tonight on my other blog. See:

This isn't the entire answer. But it points to the main reasons I grew disenchanted with Shotokan (and Shotokan with me).

Thanks for answering the question with an extended post! The comments for that one were amazing as well. Thanks again.

Hate to double post, but the comment about Randi's early life struck me.

Harry Houdini was a magician all his life who also spent much of it debunking spiritual, mystical powers and claims.

"So far nobody has come close to winning the money. No one has even passed the preliminary tests. Not surprising."

Anyone that cannot see the fallacy of Randi's challenge has some serious handicaps to overcome.

But to his credit it was genius as a publicity stunt and got him lots of airtime.

I can’t believe that skeptics or anyone takes that challenge seriously. Read the fine print.

He does do a service to society, as fraud is rampant when it comes to the paranormal.

But on the other side of the coin he does a tremendous disservice to society, as his level of honestly and his ability to have anything that resembles an open mind is suspect, very suspect.

Ashwin: do your research Houdini was caught sneaking in props to discredit Margery a medium and was thrown off the team investigating Margery. What is it about skeptics that they never do their research?

The same can be said for religious people as they seldom read outside their existing beliefs. There does not appear to be a dime’s worth of difference between most religious folks and most skeptics when it comes to analyzing date outside their cherished beliefs.

[portion of comment deleted because it wasn't in English]

All the idiot people who donot belive in radhasoami is verrrrrrrrryyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy much unlucky.i love radhasoami sents.my family has seen so many miracle of radhasoami sant shrigovindnarayan maharajji. radhasoami is the only god in the whole universe.

puja can you email me at manishfantastic(at)gmail.com
i have few things to discuss with you.

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