James Randi dead at 92

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/10/22/james-randi-dead-at-92.html


Jeez, he’ll be missed.

Without him the world’s average IQ drops a few points at least.


Looked up James Hydrick to see how he’s fared since then.

Not well since, and not well before, either.

Article should be amended to read “claimed psychic but convicted child molester.”


Now, won’t he be surprised when he finds himself standing in front of the pearly gates.


I loved seeing him on TV when I was a kid. He’s one of the main reasons I’m a skeptic about all that nonsense today.


Ultimate irony:

R: "Woah… what’s this? I have a non corporeal form? I can weakly interact with inanimate objects?! I… I’m a ghost! Hey everyone, I’m a ghost!

R: “Hey! Hey! Hey! You there! Look at me! I’m a ghost!”

P1: “Weird, it got cold all of a sudden.”

P2: “I know, must be drafty in here.”

R: “No, that was me! I did that! Let me try something else…”

-Book falls from table-

P1: “Oops, must have put that too close to the edge.”

R: “No, you dummy! That was me! Why would a book suddenly fall for no reason!!??”

-Looks around frantically, eyes a toaster in use.-

-Toast pops up.-

P2: “Hey, look at this. It looks kinda like Jesus on my toast.”

P1: “Well I’ll be, it sure does. Pareidolia is a hell of a brain trick.”

R: “No, you idiots! That’s me!!! Not every bearded man in toast is Jesus! Why won’t you people open your eyes!!”

R: “Why… why won’t they believe me??? Oh… oh no… OH NOOOOO!!!”

No, but seriously, RIP. There is a good documentary out there about him:


This one man left an army of skeptics behind him, to the dismay of charlatans, woo peddlers, and snake-oil salesmen everywhere. Mission accomplished, Amazing one.


Just when we need him the most!


Cue: James Randi coming to a séance near you soon! Just like Houdini, the Spiritualists will probably be claiming Randi contacted them to say he was wrong all along, and he wants you to donate cash to the medium in question.


Randi was a true skeptical magician in the Houdini tradition. He used magic not as cheap entertainment, but as a tool to teach us all about the flaws in our own cognition.

I had the good fortune to meet him at a The Amaz!ng Meeting several years ago, and it was a genuine pleasure. His mind was sharp as a tack and I treasure my photo with him.

It’s up to us now, to carry on what he was doing and build upon it. Learn about confirmation bias, about logical fallacies, about how we know what is true and what isn’t. Learn how to rate information on its merits, not on how you feel about it. Trust and follow evidence, especially when it goes against how you feel or want things to be. Do all that, teach others to do all that, and we might just survive as a species.


I would not be surprised if he left a codeword with his organisation, and they will be asking every spiritualist to tell them what was said, to see if it is in there.

Spoilers: It won’t be.


Randi was inspiring. I remember watching him on The Tonight show way back when, replicating the tricks of psychic surgeons. And, of course, exposing Peter Popoff.

As a non-magician, I always bristled that he kept the secrets of fraudsters who used conjuring methods to fool people to himself. His knowledge and skill as a magician was a big part of this strength as a professional skeptic, but to my mind it was also a bit of a hindrance because it kept him from being completely open when exposing many frauds since he held to the magician’s code of keeping conjuring methods secret. Regardless, his efforts played a big part in the formation of my own skepticism. I’m sad to see him pass.


Posted on the other Randi thread, but copied here 'cuz I never tire of talking about him:

Back in the 90s, I and a friend had the privilege of driving Randi around State College PA looking for props for a presentation he was giving that night, organized by our Skeptics Club. Afterward we took him out for sticky buns and coffee at the College Diner. A good day.

Randi was a enormous formative influence on me, and I have him to thank for whatever critical thinking skills I possess. Loved that guy.


“Hush! The Ouija board has something to say! F…U…C…K…O…F…F…Y…O…U…F…R…A…U…D…”


Wonderful man. I had the pleasure of meeting him once about 15 years ago. I was visiting Ft Lauderdale and happened to see the James Randi Educational Foundation as I was walking with my brother and my partner. We stopped in and he happened to be relaxing inside. We had a great long chat about everything you can imagine. It’s a happy memory of mine.


Are we sure?

Kidding. He was a role model for skepticism.

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Man, I loved this documentary. I came for the skeptical inquiry and stayed for the personal drama. Who knew James Randi was such a softie?

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I first picked up on “The Amazing Randi” growing up in New York City, maybe 1960. He was a regular visitor to the original Wonderama as hosted by the eternally gentile Sonny Fox.

Some years later I became aware that he was the ‘executioner’ beheading Alice Cooper night after night in 1972.

In the late 20th, early 21st Century I fell for the guy all over again through his YouTube vids and lectures.

In my world, Randi himself was the magic. Shit Randi, if you believed in reincarnation, I’d be saying “Thanks, see ya’ soon!”


Sonny Fox and “The Amazing Randi” in 2017 at a Wonderama reunion. Wish I had been there!


I was watching Now You See Me last night by sheer happenstance and I have to assume Morgan Freeman’s skeptic character was inspired in no small part by Randi.

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