Tuesday, January 31, 2006

James Randi

Las Vegas Weekly:
"After all, while it's true that opportunists profit from the murky worlds of the paranormal and the unknown, and that some people will believe anything, it's also true that scientists have falsified data to get grants or overlooked inconvenient phenomenon to maintain the status quo in their field.

Well, as iconoclastic writer Charles Fort once noted, 'Witchcraft always has a hard time, until it becomes established and changes its name.'

...Randi can be eloquent and is quite the showman; he is also wildly intelligent—he got a MacArthur genius grant in 1986. But according to his detractors, Randi's main qualities are his malice and hypocrisy. He's hell-bent on tearing apart anyone he deems a kook, including distinguished scientists and Nobel Prize-winners. This is amusing, as Randi has no scientific credentials whatsoever (although he did once write an astrology column for a Canadian tabloid and host a paranormal-themed radio show).

In 1997, Randi threatened to fly to Sri Lanka to persuade Arthur C. Clarke to stop advocating cold fusion. (Clarke, a genuine scientific visionary, inventor of the communication satellite and award-winning author, received degrees, with honors, in physics and mathematics.) In 2001, on a BBC Radio program, Randi attacked Brian Josephson, Nobel Prize-winner and professor of physics at Cambridge University.

Why? Josephson was interested in the possible connections between quantum physics and consciousness. Randi also has a penchant for lawsuits—he once tried to sue a writer known for covering the UFO beat, simply because he printed some unflattering but verifiable information about the magician. Randi left the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) because of all the litigation against him.

..."In and of itself," says a man once denigrated by the skeptical movement, "skepticism has made no actual contribution to science, just as music reviews in the newspaper make no contribution to the art of composition."

The universe is full of mystery, as well as charlatans. It is up to the individual to weigh evidence objectively. Just don't use your intuition to do so, or you could be the skeptics' next target."

No comments:

Post a Comment

Post a Comment