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Science

How to Get Conjurer James Randi to Give You $1 Million (Video) 219

Posted by Roblimo
from the conversations-with-physicists-and-other-delights dept.
This is the second of our two-part interview (part one ran yesterday) with Conjurer and Investigator (his words) James Randi, whose organization, the James Randi Education Foundation, has a long-standing offer: prove you have paranormal abilities and they'll give you $1 Million. They say they've recently made this award easier than ever to win. Note that, lower bar or no, Randi claims the last time a conjurer's illusion fooled him was many years ago, when he was very young. It was one done by the famous Chan Canasta -- and Randi claims that in the end he figured it out, anyway. So forget the $1 Million, relax, and enjoy James Randi. He's a great raconteur, so we can all be jealous of interviewer Rob Rozeboom (samzenpus) for having made this great video even as we enjoy watching it.

Rob Rozeboom : So of all the people you have investigated over the years, do you have a favorite, do you have one that you thought, wow that was very clever?

Randi: No unfortunately I have always sort of hankered have some “psychic” and I use that word in quotation marks, come down the road, that something that would really ____12:55 where I’d say, hey that is something else. I’ve been around for all these years. Let’s face it. I know how these things are done. And to any experienced conjuror, a term I prefer rather than magician, to any experienced conjuror with a certain amount of maturity in the field, it is so immediately evident what is happening. And any magicians that includes myself, of course, walking along the street, and coming upon a street performer doing card tricks or doing whatever sort of tricks he or she is doing, well we literally do, you saw it in The Sting, did you see that motion picture?

Rozeboom Yeah.

Randi: Okay, well you know the motion which is like this, and if you catch the magician’s eye, and you simply do that, and the magician acknowledges your gesture and he or she knows that you are going to keep quiet and just watch the performance, not disturb it, and if required to name a playing card or a number, you would be most cooperative in that respect. Because it is entertainment. These people are not taking your money under false pretences.

Rozeboom Right. If you’ve ever had one that took you a while to figure out what was happening, any close calls?

Randi: No, not now. No. In the early days, Chan Canasta. When I was I guess 14 years of age or so, Chan Canasta took me for a ride for one day. I had to go back and see the show the second time until it dawned on me what he was doing. But, no, it might be with some of the professionals some of my close friends, who are really very experienced magicians, they sometimes will go through all kinds of shenanigans to fool me and they will set me up in some way or another, and they will try; as a matter of fact, Richard Feynman, do you know that name at all?

Rozeboom No.

Randi: He is a physicist, a Nobel Prize winner of course in physics, and he lives in California. Dick and I were great friends. And we had a bit of an arrangement after he contacted me and we met and found we were on the same wavelength. Dick Feynman and I had this arrangement, that I would spring a surprise on him in such a way that he would probably be astonished by something that I had just done unexpectedly. And then he had to ask me the question was that one of them? If I said yes, that meant that he had the privilege of asking me any question he wanted as to the modus operandi that I might have employed as long as the answer was yes, no, or doesn’t apply, and so I wouldn’t answer but then get the fact, but he would say something like if we had not been in this room with the ceiling and side chair, would that still have worked? And if I’d said no, then he’d say aha and he’d give me some possibilities. But he did all the thinking.

He never failed. This was no dummy. I actually had some pretty smart friends over the years I must say. Carl Sagan, Richard Dawkins, just a few name droppers that I can throw at you. But Feynman was something else. He always solved it. Sometimes it took him several days. One interesting, what few may find interesting, I hope you do. The little episode occurred one day when I had done a stunt with him with a spoon that he had at the side of his coffee up just given to him by the restaurant. I said, okay, took it and manipulated it slightly and it melted away and broke. He said was that one of them. I said yes. He started to ask his questions. And that was in California. And I was living in New Jersey at that time.

So I actually went back to New Jersey, and he would call me occasionally and ask me one of the questions that he asked for a yes, no, or doesn’t apply. One day, at 2 o’clock in the morning I got a call: He says Hi Dick Feynman, and said if the waiter had come in. I say Dick, Dick, Dick it is 2 o’clock in the morning. And he paused for a second, he said I know, oh you are in New Jersey. I said yes, you see the earth rotates as seen from the North Pole in a counter clockwise direction in a period of once every 24 hours. This is time zones. He said yeah I know that. But obviously you don’t know that because it is 2 o’clock in the morning. Will you just answer the question yes or no. And I said yes. He said fine, I will call you back quick. And I sat there for the rest of the night of course waiting for him to call me back at any moment but he’d probably forgotten about that. He didn’t connect with the real world, in many cases but when it came to physics, oh yes. And Dick eventually solved that one too.

Rozeboom So this isn’t really related to that, but I read that you were on tour with Alice Cooper.

Randi: Who?

Rozeboom Alice Cooper.

Randi: Vincent Furnier. He used to use that nameOh yes, I just saw Coop not too long ago, where was it? Was it in California? Or was it at Atlanta I believe? That was for Dragon Con. I guess that was Atlanta. I am not sure. We had a little conference, it is on YouTube some place I believe, as a matter of fact. When we walked away from that conference, he and me and his wife, we walked down the ramp, we went back stage and I said Coop we could’ve told them about so and so, and he said oh yeah, and what about the such and such; we thought of all the things that we could have talked about in front of the cameras. So we will do another one. Maybe at another Dragon Con one of these days. But Coop and I are good friends. He is a Born Again character, and his father used to be I guess still is, I don’t know if his father is still with him, but he was a Mormon minister. So he was raised in a religious family, but he has now turned into a Born Again, and he has appeared on many other smaller rock channels giving his message. We don’t argue about that. Coop would never argue with me. He’d know that we’d be fist fighting in no time at all. But we got along famously well. We had a good time on the Billion Dollar Babies Tour. I toured with him for 90 days. And he made a whole load of money and he paid me very handsomely too, thank you.

Rozeboom Excellent. I also saw that how do you feel about I’ve seen people accuse you of actually being a fraudster, not the kind of fraudster that you are proud of, but actually having psychic abilities and that is how you actually do some of these things. What do you say to that?

Randi: It is a little sad, because what they are doing is they are saying I am so smart I can figure it out, how the mentalists, that is not mentalism, that is the real thing, that James Randi, I am smart enough to know, no they are not. They can be fooled as well as anybody else. They don’t special training or instruction in this field. And that is the purpose of the James Randi Educational Foundation. Not to reveal magic tricks, because the magicians are legitimate entertainers. They work hard at it. And we are honest about it. We say I am going to fool you, here you go, and we fool them. So we are very honest about it, we don’t tell them we have any ethics at all, we don’t tell them that we really do have magical powers.

Rozeboom Good. Do you miss it sometimes? What did you like better, performing or doing this?

Randi: Oh no, no. What I am doing now is what I guess I was training all those years to be able to do. As I say I am 84, going on 100, because I am an optimist you see; and I have got a few years left I am sure. I want to continue on doing this. And I want to go when I go not yet, not yet, okay, I want to make sure that I have done as much as I possibly can I want to go in the saddle so to speak. I want to go hot on the trail of some scallywag who needs a comeuppance. I want to be working at the moment I go. Cut.

Rozeboom Well interviews work kind of so here we go, dream come true. How many people do you have working on debunking these things?

Randi: Well it is not a case of a number of people debunking. My whole organization is well we have our headquarters in Los Angeles. DJ Grothe is our president, as I am sure you know. And I am really the founder. I am supposed to sit and look noble and smile at people, and pose for pictures. We have a larger network of people, literally all over the world, because the million dollar prize that we offer is available to anyone in the world. All they have to do is write an application and they have to explain what they believe they can do and under what circumstances and with what accuracy. It is a very simple thing. But most people don’t seem to be able to manage that. We get many applications that are never followed up on. They just ask for the form, we send them the form, or they can obtain it from our site, of course it is very easily available, and they fill it in there, they have to get it notarized and send it in to prove their identity. That is all.

And then we design tests mutually with them, so we don’t exceed what their claim is for their ability, and we design the tests in such a way that is amenable to all parties concerned, and if the opportunity arises, we then conduct a test. Now at the coming Amazing Meeting in Las Vegas, and you can go to our site, and look up TAM The Amazing Meeting, TAM 2013, get all the details of it, we have got a great bevy of speakers this year, as we always do, very satisfactory, we will be actually testing some people for what’s known as therapeutic touch. Now the North American Nursing Society, is very much on this. They believe that their nurses have the power to sense the human aura and they can balance the human aura and they can smooth it out, and what not. That my friends, Penn and Teller came up with a term, oh yes Bullshit, that is the term they came up and I adopted it very readily. But the North American Nursing Association though they are supposed to be dedicated to truth and to medical science and such, they have adopted this, they say their nurses can do it. Well we have challenged them for years now to do it.

And we are going to have a very satisfactory, double blind but very, very simple test as to whether or not they can sense the human aura, because they all say oh I can tell from my hand, oh you have a very strong aura, yes sir, okay, we do this with a simple fiber glass sleeve which is opaque, and we have a person sitting behind the screen, and either that person puts their arm into the fiber glass sleeve or doesn’t it depending on the tossing of a coin. It is very simple. And then we ask the person sitting on the other side of it, to sense the human aura that their marvelously sensitive facilities, sure, and if they can do, they can do it to beat the laws of chance, so you never getting enough and we agree in advance what that’s going to be of course. We have statisticians who work on that sort of a problem, and if they can do that, they can win the million dollars. I always say it is a million dollars, it is held by an investment company in New York City and we have proof of that.

Well, that’s an interesting perhaps angle too. We have for a long time now, we have advertised that all one has to do is come to our site, which is www.randi.org and all they have to do, get in there, look up the million dollar challenge, fill up the form, mail it in, after having it notarized, get tested they can win the million dollars. But where are the applicants? These people say they can do it, and they advertise it, and they make money doing it, by selling their services to other people. If it is that easy, why don’t they simply do it, and collect the million dollars? That is the basic question right there. But you are not required to do it. Some of them are so wealthy like Sylvia Browne for example she doesn’t need my million dollars, she has got lots of her own, but there are other people out there who claim that they have got these abilities let’s find out. I am amazed at how few applicants we have for this prize money.

Rozeboom Well, as you say, with Sylvia, John Edward, they are on TV, they have how many bestsellers, how many people buy their books.

Randi: John Edward by the way with an ‘S’ on the end of it, it becomes a politician and you wouldn’t want to buy that one by John Edward.

Rozeboom So I read that Penn was working on a movie about your life. Is that the same as An Honest Liar the Kickstarter.

Randi: An Honest Liar that Penn is not connected with at all. Penn is working on a biography of me, but An Honest Liar people, we get along just fine because I have always told them don’t pull your punches, any questions, or anything, I have nothing to hide, I am upfront with it, it is coming along very, very well. I am in fact, I don’t have my schedule in front of me there but I believe next week I am going to Tallahassee to work. I travel far and wide as you can see. But I think this coming week they are coming here to do some filming, we call it filming still even though it is video. And they are doing it high definition. Wow! That is pretty scary stuff you know. The first shot they shot with me, they showed me some blowups, and you can see every pore.

Rozeboom It is. The makeup they have to do for high definition is completely different. It is unusual.

Randi: Oh yeah, yeah, because pancake makeup just doesn’t work that well anymore. They may be going back to grease makeup because the pancake makeup shows us flakes on the face, it is astonishing the definition.

Rozeboom Yeah. So besides the challenge what do you do most of the time nowadays?

Randi: Well I am writing my tenth book A Magician In The Laboratory and I have a lady who has volunteered to do the proofing of the manuscript. That is coming along well. We are more than half way through that. And it is going to be published first of all on Kindle, that is quite an attractive situation. You can get published on an electronic media first so if you have any real howlers, real mistakes, really dreadful boo boos in your manuscript, people write you right away, and they correct you on it, a misspelling or a misuse of a term, whatever, so that kind of a mistake which would go into the printed job in the form of books permanently is correctable if you don’t go to print and start to fell trees to make paper for your book for a few months, then you get a chance to make all those corrections before the poor trees have to sacrifice their lives and be turned into wood pulp.

Rozeboom Right. The internet is great at instant feedback like that.

Randi: Yes it is. And on programs like this.

Rozeboom Right. Really that is what I got for you this afternoon. I really appreciate your time. I’ve been really looking forward to this. We are all pretty big fans. So thanks a lot for your time, and thanks for your work and good luck.

Randi: It is good luck, when you have to hold on.

Rozeboom Perfect. I got it.

Randi: It has nothing to do with luck. Well, though it’d be years falling on me and things like that, yes that is a luck factor we can’t do much about it, but most of it

Rozeboom How about may chance be with you? How about that? Is that better?

Randi: That will be good. Okay. Alright. I’ve got to adopt that, I got to write that on the wall. Your wise words.

Rozeboom All right.

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How to Get Conjurer James Randi to Give You $1 Million (Video)

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  • One of us? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by XanC (644172) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @03:52PM (#43351267)

    So samzenpus has never seen The Sting, nor heard of Richard Feynman?

    • Rozeboom doesn't make a good showing at all I have to say, Randi is talking about how he wants to go while working and oprah drops the "well an interview is kind of work, so there you go, dream come true" clanger. I mean what?

    • by click2005 (921437) *

      Not an impossible situation (even on slashdot), just very improbable.

    • by nospam007 (722110) *

      "So samzenpus has never seen The Sting, nor heard of Richard Feynman?"

      Apparently no video camera nor microphone worth their name either.

    • by kermidge (2221646)

      Yeah, I caught that too. Given finite life hours and the huge number of entertainments I can overlook not seeing the movie but to moderate a geek/nerd site and not know of Feynman, one of the finer physicists of last century, known for working on the atom bomb, cracking safes, playing drums, painting, serving with distinction on the Challenger commission, his highly-regarding filmed lectures series, his Nobel prize, his pithy sayings which have spread, his series of very successful books, comments on educa

    • by tehcyder (746570)
      No, he said he had seen The Sting, but I agree that not even having heard of Feynman seems remarkable for anyone who has even just read slashdot, never mind been an editor.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @03:55PM (#43351291)

    In the early 80's, I recall seeing "An Element of the Divine" on Arthur C. Clarke's Strange World I think it was called. Randi and Clarke were testing dowsers. Randi predictably declared all the dowsers bogus after a small experiment. Clarke disagreed, saying that there were two experiments, one to find water and the other to find metals. The water dowsers apparently had a much higher rate of success than the metal dowsers. Randi didn't even raise his eyebrows. Not saying he is a fraud or doesn't believe in what he is doing, but his objectivity seems highly suspect to me. His convictions seem to get in the way of his thinking, and I am pretty sure that the money will never be awarded no matter how well the subject matter may be demonstrated.

    • by MetalliQaZ (539913) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @04:04PM (#43351377)

      I am also pretty sure the money will never be awarded. But that's because MAGIC ISN'T REAL.
      I haven't seen that program you mention, but it is very hard to do Good Science on a television show. It's too boring. That is probably why Randi didn't play along.

      • I once felt as you do: magic isn't real. I changed my beliefs only because I eventually had my own direct experience with non-ordinary reality. ("Non-ordinary reality" being a more clinical term for "magic".)

        I cannot prove this to you. Only your own direct experience with non-ordinary reality will make you believe in it.

        Saying you don't believe in magic makes sense when you have never seen it. When you have seen it it makes sense to believe in it. I really do hope you get to experience magic some d
        • I eventually had my own direct experience with non-ordinary reality.

          Why are you so sure you weren't fooled or simply mistaken? That's far far more likely than magic actually existing. But if it were genuine magic, the consequences are so enormous that relegating it to a mere anecdote is almost criminal.
          If it's something you merely can't explain, making the leap to "magic" is no better than invoking a god to explain it.

        • by tehcyder (746570)
          That is the same argument that believers in God use.

          It overlooks the fact that the universe is a very strange place, not least inside our own heads. Nobody can experience all of reality in its entirety. You can't directly apprehend quantum events. And Heisenberg's uncertainty principle says you can never measure the base of reality precisely.

          I don't think even the most hardened realist would deny that there are events that are fundamentally incomprehensible to a poor human brain. That doesn't mean ther

        • by Maritz (1829006)

          I once felt as you do: That my brain had some kind of privileged direct access to reality. Now I realise that my mind is full of cognitive biases and that different brain regions can produce very strange and surreal effects. I also realise that my senses are an on-the-fly hodgepodge of what the brain cobbles together at any given second, subject to illusions.

          But yeah, I'm glad you believe in magic. My personal view is that if it were real it would be absolutely trivial to demonstrate its reality to just abo

    • by h4rr4r (612664) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @04:16PM (#43351481)

      More water is likely available.

      It will never be awarded because magic is fake. No one has even come close, because magic is fake. If dowsing was real a trained dowser would do better than an untrained one.

      • Thank you. The more abundant something is, the more likely someone is to "discover it." Let's say that I got a large cage. On the bottom of the cage I put a piece of paper that was 60% white, 30% blue, and 10% black. I then found two blind lab rats and said that one could find black and the other could find blue. I noted that the rats would stop moving when they were on the color they were "able" to find. Ruling out external factors such as the black squares being warmer (and, as such, attracting the

    • by DrXym (126579)

      His convictions seem to get in the way of his thinking, and I am pretty sure that the money will never be awarded no matter how well the subject matter may be demonstrated.

      You're flat out wrong. The challenge is very straightforward to understand - someone claims they can do something paranormal, they fill out a form to apply, they agree to a protocol that demonstrates this power in a self evident fashion and they do it (or not). If they succeed and they get a cheque for 10,000 dollars on the spot and the remainder within a period of time. The protocol would obviously be designed to prevent cheating or arriving at the result by chance alone but aside from that the important p

    • The water dowsers apparently had a much higher rate of success than the metal dowsers.

      Did the water dowsers pass their test? If not, what difference does it make if they did "better" than the metal dowsers?

    • by richlv (778496)

      well.. if there was a solid proof, there is no way the award could not be successfully claimed. if you say "I am pretty sure that the money will never be awarded", you are on the track of thinking that all claimants are either insane, or frauds :)

      if something is real and provable, you can convince all skeptics - you might have to work on it and spent some time in repeatable experiments, but those people love facts, and they can change their views - if there are, in fact, facts.

    • by realmolo (574068)

      Dowsing is crap.

      You know why the "water dowsers" had higher success? Because in most places on Earth, if you dig a few feet, you will find water.

      • by LesFerg (452838)

        Dowsing is crap.

        Too true. The only real statistical proof would come from getting a dowser to flag an equal number of places that DO have water and DO NOT have water below them. If the statistical anomaly is larger than random for both sets of identified locations, then maybe we would have to start believing in something.

    • by Joce640k (829181) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @04:57PM (#43351809) Homepage

      In the early 80's, I recall seeing "An Element of the Divine" on Arthur C. Clarke's Strange World I think it was called. Randi and Clarke were testing dowsers.

      This?

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cqoYrSd94kA [youtube.com]

      t his objectivity seems highly suspect to me. His convictions seem to get in the way of his thinking, and I am pretty sure that the money will never be awarded no matter how well the subject matter may be demonstrated.

      Rubbish.

      The experiments he does are always designed so that the result is obvious to anybody watching. Results are black/white, yes/no. No interpretation or judgment is needed from him.

      The participants are asked at every stage if they're happy (mainly so they can't claim afterwards that they weren't...). They get trial runs, things are altered as needed so they're sure they can perform.

      Randi couldn't possibly be more fair in what he does, yet the million goes unclaimed...

    • by Arker (91948)

      Randi is a Fundamentalist Materialist. Just about as annoying as the other Fundamentalists, in his own way, though he certainly has a charming side as well. But you are right, objectivity? He has none, he has faith in materialism just as unquestioning as the faith others hold in supernaturalism.

      He's been putting out this 'reward' offer for something demonstrably 'paranormal' many years. A counter-offer was also made, many years ago, for something demonstrably 'normal.' Neither reward has been claimed and li

      • He believes what he sees, and since there isn't so much as a shred of convincing evidence that any supernatural phenomenon exist, I really can't say I blame him. that doesn't make him a fundamentalist anything; it makes him a realist.

      • by BancBoy (578080)

        He's been putting out this 'reward' offer for something demonstrably 'paranormal' many years. A counter-offer was also made, many years ago, for something demonstrably 'normal.' Neither reward has been claimed and likely neither ever will be.

        Wait a minute. I can demonstrate something normal and I'll get a million dollars? I could've retired before lunch today! Dare I ask what the other website is?

        • by tehcyder (746570)

          He's been putting out this 'reward' offer for something demonstrably 'paranormal' many years. A counter-offer was also made, many years ago, for something demonstrably 'normal.' Neither reward has been claimed and likely neither ever will be.

          Wait a minute. I can demonstrate something normal and I'll get a million dollars? I could've retired before lunch today! Dare I ask what the other website is?

          Anything you think is "normal" can be alternatively explained. For instance, I woke up, had a shower, drove to work today and had a cheese sandwich for lunch. A religious person could say that God has simply placed these ideas in my head. A mystic could say I dreamed the whole lot while my soul was on a higher astral plane. A Matrix fan could point out that the whole thing might be a virtual reality environment. And so on.

          You can't disprove any of them, even though they're simply untrue.

      • by j-beda (85386)

        Randi is a Fundamentalist Materialist. Just about as annoying as the other Fundamentalists, in his own way, though he certainly has a charming side as well. But you are right, objectivity? He has none, he has faith in materialism just as unquestioning as the faith others hold in supernaturalism.

        He's been putting out this 'reward' offer for something demonstrably 'paranormal' many years. A counter-offer was also made, many years ago, for something demonstrably 'normal.' Neither reward has been claimed and likely neither ever will be.

        Do you have a link to this "normal" award terms? I have a whole bunch of things that I am confident I can demonstrate under all sorts of controlled conditions. For a $10,000 or larger prize I would even be willing to travel to try to collect it.

        I can't conceive of a way of creating a test of "normal" that would be thought of as such by the "general public", that would not be trivially easy to have happen. Almost by definition, "normal" is the expected behaviour, and while there are a lot of things in the un

        • by narcc (412956)

          Do you have a link to this "normal" award terms?

          Digging around a bit, all I could find what that the challenge was offered by a fellow named Robert Anton Wilson.

          I couldn't find any info about the normal challenge on his website http://www.rawilson.com/ [rawilson.com]

          The challenge may be long gone. You could try the wayback machine, my eyes can't handle the blue text on a blue background any longer.

        • by Arker (91948)

          This is what I was thinking of: http://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/tag/pataphysics/ [wordpress.com]

          âoeThe normal consists of a null set which nobody and nothing really fits.â The committee claims that there is no such thing as âoenormalâ, and there are no existing âoenormalâ people (i.e., people existing in the average). For example, no one has 2.3 children.

    • The water dowsers apparently had a much higher rate of success than the metal dowsers. Randi didn't even raise his eyebrows.

      I'm not surprised. If you did a hole anywhere, you'll find water. It's called groundwater.

    • by Maritz (1829006)
      His objectivity is irrelevant, the test is fair. That's how these things work. You make the test in such as way as bias can't influence it.
  • I am discriminated against. I do not have paranormal abilities.

    • by Spectre (1685)

      I think you are discriminated against in this case (and in politics as well) because you are honest.

  • Richard Feynman (Score:4, Insightful)

    by damacus (827187) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @04:27PM (#43351555) Homepage
    Interviewer didn't know who Richard Feynman was? Missing out on that one.... please renew your geek card.
    • by Quirkz (1206400)

      Shame. I highly recommend his book, "Surely You're Joking, Mister Feynman." It's interesting and funny, great tales of crazy ideas and safecracking adventures, and good science, too. It convinced me to major in physics, I liked it so much.

  • They should talk to Joe McMoneagle, the remote viewer who worked for the US government's psychic spying program. I believe it was he who revealed the Soviet's new Typhoon-class submarine (hello Red October!) before anyone else knew it existed. I think Joe would take his money.
    • by niado (1650369)
      From Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]: "According to McMoneagle, humans came from creatures somewhat like sea otters rather than primates and were created in a laboratory by creators who "seeded" the earth and then departed."

      Sounds like a ringer to me.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Oh yeah...he's super reliable. After all, he said he made accurate predictions so it must be true that he did. Why would we need independant confirmation when he said he did it. Good enough for me.

      Here are some of his recent predictions from the Wiki article about him...

      "McMoneagle's future predictions include the passing of a teenager's "Right to Work" Bill,[16] a new religion without the emphasis of Christianity, a science of the soul,[17] a vaccine for AIDS,[18] a movement to eliminate television,[17]

  • by belthize (990217) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @04:59PM (#43351831)

    I met James Randi when he came to my high school in '83 as guest lecturer in our physics course, then met him again as an undergrad in '87 in a paranormal physics course (basically describing the physics, quantum or otherwise, required for certain paranormal activities to be possible).

    Both were fascinating visits, in the first he performed a psychic surgery demonstration. Even standing beside him, knowing it was fake, it sure looked real.

    The bet was 20+ years old then. The only thing that's changed in 50 years is the value of the bet. Still no takers.

    He's a man that will be sorely missed in the much too soon future.

  • Pro tip (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Al Al Cool J (234559) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @08:16PM (#43353643)

    When a professional magician offers you a chance to win $1 million, you have absolutely no chance to win $1 million.

  • thanks to the article author for conveniently providing a link to a definition of 'raconteur'.
    that was super helpful.
    ditto the link to the wikipedia page for Canasta.
    both links are totally cogent and i never would have found that info myself.

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