Stage magician and escape artist James Randi is one of the world’s leading sceptics and most active debunkers in regard to claims relating to the paranormal. He gained notoriety when he appeared on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show in 1972 to debunk the abilities of psychic Uri Geller. Geller’s skills had just been declared genuine by scientists at the Stanford Research Institute, and Randi worked with Tonight Show producers—without telling Geller— to ensure that Geller could not use any sleight of hand in his performance. During a period of twenty-two minutes, Geller was unable to perform any of the psychic feats for which he was famous, such as bending spoons using only his thoughts.
Randi has debunked faith healers as well as psychics, and he has written numerous articles and books to counter claims related to the paranormal. Randi’s books include Flim-Flam!, The Faith Healers!, The Truth About Uri Geller, and An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural. His articles have appeared in such magazines as Time, Scientific American, Technology Review, and the Skeptical Inquirer. The latter is the publication of a sceptics’ organization of which Randi was a founding fellow, the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal.
In 1996 Randi also established the James Randi Educational Foundation, a group dedicated to promoting what it calls critical thinking, or scepticism; to investigating paranormal claims; and to supporting sceptics who have been publicly attacked by people making paranormal claims. Located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the foundation offers a prize of $1 million to anyone who can demonstrate a psychic, supernatural, or paranormal ability under tightly controlled scientific conditions; the conditions for claiming this prize have never been met, however.
The Greenhaven Encyclopedia of Paranormal Phenomena – written by Patricia D. Netzley © 2006 Gale, a part of Cengage Learning