Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Book Report: Flim-Flam! Psychics, ESP, Unicorns and other Delusions by James Randi

      Definitely an interesting read. At times, however, I found myself less interested in the material than trying to figure out why he was so angry! His anger seems to drive him to prove that anything remotely related to the paranormal is trickery as he refers to it. That seems to be one of his favorite words. The author feels that all paranormal claims are harmful, even dangerous, to the believers. He states that he does not want to see anyone harmed by these charades and lies yet frequently refers to those who believe as stupid, gullible and even used the word dunces.

      Mr. James Randi, or The Amazing Randi as he was known, is a retired magician himself. He differentiates himself from those claiming to have psychic ability. He always informs his audience that what they will see are illusions. He retired from performing at age 60. Since that time, he has made it his life's mission to debunk every supposed psychic phenomenon that crosses his path. Mr. Randi is a high school dropout who identifies himself as a self educated man. He is definitely an expert in the art of illusion. Throughout the chapters of his book, he explains one magic trick after another. Everything from fork bending to levitating tables. Card tricks, ESP and UFOs. He has offered a 10,000 dollar prize to anyone who can demonstrate genuine psychic ability. So, if anyone reading this has those particular abilities, the offer still stands. No one as of yet has been able to claim it.. Mr. Randi also explains the tests, or controls, that are designed by himself and must be agreed upon by those trying to prove their abilities. He has traveled to multiple countries, spent an exorbitant amount of money and tells some interesting stories throughout the book. His explanations are quite lengthy at times which made the read a little difficult.

      My favorite part of this book quite honestly was the very beginning. Mr. Randi tells a simple story of two young girls who had taken some photographs of themselves with supposed fairies. I found the pictures very beautiful. These young girls indeed were quite creative. It was very easy to identify just by looking at those pictures that they were not real. The endless tests that were done to prove their validity was a little overboard. But, people believed they were real. I don't think that these girls ever meant for these pictures to turn into such a big deal. This is where critical thinking should have come into play. But it did not. People were not trying to disprove the pictures. They wanted them to be real! This is where I first noted Mr. Randi's angry tone. If you dig deep enough, you can find some potential for harm in believing in these pictures. They could have damaged the families reputation. Mr. Randi claims to have concern for the well being of others. In my opinion, you don't call others stupid if you are concerned.
      I think that this book can be helpful to others, if only to make you think. You can not take everything at face value. We all must learn to critically think and to analyze a situation before we make a decision. I do believe also that a person has a right to believe what they want even if the evidence points the other way. I have watched many You Tube videos on James Randi. Most praise him for his accomplishments. He has won several awards from the scientific community and has received much funding for his endeavors. I get a sense that he is not completely honest himself. Attached is a video of someone else who shares my opinion.

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