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Portrait of Deceit

A long time ago, James Randi did something rather important for me. He lied. He didn’t lie to me, but he made it clear he would if it would help me sort out the truth. I’ve written before about how important this was to me.

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, I was young and somewhat naive. Libraries had always been very good to me, sometimes when no one else was, and I trusted them. See, they had these sections labeled “nonfiction,” where I found confirmation that the world was a weird and wonderful place. Parapsychology, ghost stories–all of them had to be true because the library told me they weren’t made up stories. They weren’t fiction.

A high school psychology class reinforced that belief, talking about J. B. Rhine’s experiments. Experiments! Science confirmed what the library had told me. And as I went through college and learned more about science and experimental design, parapsychology garnered more legitimacy.

Then a friend gave me Flim Flam.

The experience was formative, but it isn’t something I share with enough other people. Get someone to read a book telling them that this sort of faked wonder is a business and that we’re all very good at fooling ourselves? Well, it’s hard enough getting people to simply read any book these days.

However, a small group of documentary filmmakers are working to bring Randi’s story to a broader medium–the big screen. They’ve set up a Kickstarter for the funds to help them complete their film An Honest Liar, which is already in progress. After just two days, they’re more than a quarter of the way to their goal.

I’m not the only person Randi’s lies have reached or helped. If you’re one of them, or if you just want to help them reach a broader audience, you may want to help out.

Comments

  1. says

    I’m glad to see this. Doubly glad to see it HERE. With the recent misogynist debacles, I’m rapidly running out of role models amongst the prominent skeptics I used to admire (Dawkins, that was kind of not co- say WHAT, Shermer??). Randi being here means he hasn’t done anything publicly embarrassing, and it’s perhaps not too problematic to still like him.

    Also Phil Plait. <3 Bad Astronomer.

  2. says

    Randi being here means he hasn’t done anything publicly embarrassing, and it’s perhaps not too problematic to still like him.

    Or that it’s just a really worthwhile cause…

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