Monday, April 27, 2020

Book Report - Flim Flam!

The book that we chose was Flim Flam! by the famous magician, James Randi, due to our interest in both the title and the various topics discussed within the text. The book examines paranormal beliefs,  which Randi strives to prove incorrect. He delves into a myriad of different paranormal beliefs such as the existence of otherworldly beings, telekinesis and strange disappearances. Each of the chapters focuses on different cases that the general public has accepted as true paranormal incidences and analyzes the entirety of the story. In the end, Randi manages to provide and ample amount of evidence that disproves any sort of paranormal activity whatsoever.

The first chapter that caught my attention was Chapter 2: Fairies at the Foot of the Garden. This chapter details the lies of two girls, named Elsie and Frances Wright, living in Cottingley Glen. They claimed to have evidence of the existence of real fairies and gnomes near their home. This evidence came in the form of pictures of girls playing with these fae creatures. These photos were examined by "experts" and they somehow came to the conclusion that the photo could not have been faked, even though they clearly were. Testimonies from people who sided with the Wright sisters claimed that the girls were "undoubtedly honest, coming from a family of tradesmen and down-to-earth people incapable of guile"(Randi 32). It was also said that the girls were too unskilled with the camera to have produced fakes; however, in the end that appears to not have been the case.

Cottingley Fairies photos sell for £50,000 - BBC News

Another chapter that I came to enjoy was Chapter 3: All At Sea. This particular chapter centers around the mysteries that surround the Bermuda Triangle. There has always been many stories and  theories encompassing the mysterious disappearances within the Triangle, so the topic has always fascinated me, even since I was a child. In this chapter, Randi goes onto explain how this mythos actually came to be. In short, five Navy Avenger aircraft flew into the area and reportedly vanished mysteriously, causing the many newspapers, media and Charles Berlitz to embellish the tale to the public and publish it into a now famous book and urban fairy-tale of a dangerous area that snatches anything that comes in, giving no way out.

Bermuda Triangle - Wikipedia

The third chapter that I became interested in was Chapter 5: The Giggling Guru:A Matter of Levity. This chapter deals with the practice of "Transcendental Meditation" or "TM" for short; a meditation practice cultivated by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. He claims that by participating in this practice grants a plethora of benefits that range from reducing stress and anxiety to improving the quality of life for all people around you. Of course for such a broad claim, Randi took a look into the circumstances surrounding those that did TM and found that the crime rate around their particular vicinity actually got worse!

Why Wall Street loves Transcendental Meditation - Business Insider

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and how Randi managed to dive into these completely false, yet accepted paranormal phenomena and managed to pull out hard evidence disproving any theorists. I found it very alarming that so many of these cases were very obvious gimmicks or tricks made to scam people for fame or money. Randi makes it a point and a lesson to search for the cold, hard truth, rather than giving into the fantasy of the paranormal.

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