Comments

  1. brucegee1962 says

    His work with skepticism was the path that led me to atheism. I realized that the same mechanisms that led people to pull the wool over their own eyes with ghosts and bigfoot were at work within religious people as well, including myself.

  2. killyosaur says

    I’m glad I got to meet him, shorter than I expected, but a giant in the ways that mattered…

  3. says

    At one USENIX Randi did a keynote and demonstrated “psychic surgery” by pulling yards of ethernet cable out of Kirk McKusick. The room went wild. Then, he removed a small switch (with wires and LEDs blinking) “I see your problem!”

    During the various problems at JREF, I tried to reach him through a board member I know, and was disappointed to learn that he really did not care.

  4. nomadiq says

    He did a lot of good. And was by and large entertaining.

    I’m sure Uri never forgave him.

  5. ekinodum says

    Randi’s book on Uri Geller (which I stumbled upon in a used bookstore more than 40 years ago) came at a critical time in my life and completely steered me away from magical thinking. RIP.

  6. wmdon says

    Ah, this makes me sad. Randi was one of the people that brought me to critical thinking, skepticism, and atheism. Imperfect in may ways, yes, but overall a force for good and a momentous influence in my life when I needed it the most.

    I shudder to think of the path I might have trod were it not for his influence at a formative moment.

    RIP The Amazing.

  7. kestrel says

    That’s very sad. Flawed yes but still an Amazing person who accomplished a lot and got a lot of people thinking. RIP.

  8. wzrd1 says

    Speak for yourself. I’m a perfect 10.
    Alas, on the Richter scale.

    Well, PZ is fortunate, he’s far more photogenic than I am. I have a face positively made for radio. Randi will be missed, but as PZ did say, none of us are perfect.

  9. Silentbob says

    Hey, that’s my wife!

    He’s gay. He would’ve hugged you but didn’t want her to be jealous. ;-)

    First time I saw Randi was 40 years ago on Australian TV. He so pissed off the host by debunking frauds (who the host believed in) that the host told him to “piss off” and stormed off the set, flinging his freshly bent keys off the table. :-)

  10. gijoel says

    It’s sad to see him look so old and frail in those photos. I remember watching some of his documentaries in the 90s/2000s and he looked indomitable. RIP James Randi.

  11. davidw says

    My wife (then my fiancee) and I attended two lectures of his when we were summer interns at Los Alamos labs. Very entertaining, and very thought-provoking. I remember how he explained how he reset the times on watches by feel alone (after lots of practice!) and I actually pulled that joke on a colleague. Given that the talk was about 4000 years ago, you can understand how much of an impact it had on me. RIP.

  12. Reginald Selkirk says

    Matt Sedensky, Associated Press


    It was frustrating to Randi and fueled an underlying anger toward those he labeled frauds. When he let his displeasure slip out, though, it often was mixed with wit, as when asked about his final wishes and how he\u2019d like his ashes disposed.
    \u201cMy best friend is instructed to throw them in Uri Geller\u2019s eyes,\u201d he said. \u201cI\u2019d like him to get an eyeful of my ashes. I think that would be appropriate.\u201d

  13. anarchobyron says

    What were the imperfections demonstrated by Randi? I ask this question in good faith. I went to one of his conferences in 2005, I loved it, and he was extremely friendly and affable. After 2005 I stopped keeping up with the skeptical conferences and movements for similar reasons as PZ (it became clear that progressive politics were more important than converting people out of religion – I’ll take Cornel West as an ally over Sam Harris any day).

    So I ask in good faith, about this man I adored, what were his mistakes?

    Thank you.

  14. cartomancer says

    I doubt there are many who would be too displeased with a 92-year run. Though if it helps, we can just assume he’ll find a way to get out of a coffin one last time…

    I hadn’t come across the man until he was mentioned here on Pharyngula. But he seems quite inspirational. Particularly in coming out publicly at the age of 81 and then marrying at the age of 83. I’m not yet half that age, and I’m already made to feel old in the gay world. There’s hope for all of us yet!

    Now, hopefully the Grim Reaper will do us a two for one deal and take the orange thing in the Whitehouse in return for RBG and Randi.

  15. eliza422 says

    I’m saddened to hear this. His books were the ones that really got going down the skeptical path. I remember checking them out of the library over and over again.

  16. davidc1 says

    Apart from geller ,he also showed that peter profit ,or popoff was a fraud .
    And debunking homoeopathy. He also had more that a passing resemblance to Uncle Albert .

  17. pedantik says

    My own trophy wife was quite charmed by Randi. When we attended TAM 9, he went out of his way to engage with her several times, as she uses a wheelchair, and had trouble reaching books and other items that were on sale in the hallway. He remembered her name every time we crossed paths during our stay. A real class act. Though he had a long and full life, we’re still sad to hear of his passing.

  18. anthrosciguy says

    @21 one thing was his (if I remember correctly short-lived) embrace of global warming denialism. The worst part of that is that he accepted the Oregon Petition as a major piece of support for this denialism, which could only be done by being stupid or turning off your brain. And he wasn’t stupid.

    All in all more positive than negative though. One of my early memories of Randi was his doing an escape from either handcuffs or ropes around the wrists, which he sad he’d start to escape from as soon as they put this large cloth over his wrists and torso. They did, but he said, no, a little higher and pulled it up further with a completely free hand. He then stuffed it back under the cloth as they whipped it off to reveal him “still” handcuffed/tied. He did that a couple times.

  19. wanderingelf says

    I get that people who admired him back in the day want to remember him fondly, but I cannot forget that he used his standing as a skeptic to cast doubt on AGW. Then, after being criticized, instead of admitting he screwed up, he wrote a lame nonapology claiming his critics were misconstruing him. He was less of a smug assclown about it than, say, Penn Jillette, but his eagerness to apply his “skepticism” to climate change science rather than to climate change denial really pissed me off. The fact that he had apparently not bothered doing any background research on the issue before writing about it, and seemingly did not even understand the basic science of the greenhouse effect, just underscored the hypocrisy.

  20. Numenaster, whose eyes are up here says

    I took a copy of Flim Flam to TAM8 and Randi was very gracious signing it. He actually spotted me waiting at a distance for his conversation to finish. When the person talking to him showed no sign of running down, he politely cut them off and signed my book and chatted with me awhile.

    His personal charm went along with a real inability to understand the impact of sexism in the skeptic community. That sexism, combined with all the other isms that shouted down Atheism Plus, eventually drove me out of the community altogether. Randi was a human with flaws like us all, and with greatness like we all are capable of. Celebrate the good he did, and work to surpass his flaws.

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