Recently, I watched the film honest liar (click to watch the trailer) about the Amazing Randi. James Randi, former magician and escape artist is very honest about the fact that he deceits people. But being a skilled magician he could see through tricks that famous mediums engaged in. He made it his life effort to expose fraud mediums. Yes, even the ones that truly thought they were gifted like child whisperer Derek Ogilvie.
Stanley Krippner (see my blog and interview with him) a professor in parapsychology used to be a magician too. Not by profession, but never the less he had his maimonides lab for sleep research checked by magicians. Krippner and Montague Ullman performed several experiments exploring ESP in dreams. A dreamer was selected, a painting was randomly chosen. There was a “sender” who looked at the painting and tried to submit the picture to the dreamer. If there was sign of REM sleep, the dreamer would be awaked. The dream was written down and analyzed for similarities between the images in the dream and the image in the painting. James “The Amazing” Randi, perhaps the world’s most prominent skeptic, also offers Krippner his benediction: “There are so few things in this field you can depend on, and there are so many people who are prejudiced and biased. But I can depend on Stan. And I don’t think he’s biased at all.” (quoted from sfweekly.com)
The film takes us back to the glory days of the Amazing Randi who could escape out of every trap. We learn that James Randi always deceits. When he battles fake mediums, he trains magicians to act as a medium. When he wants to proof that Uri Geller is a fake, he trains magicians to manipulate scientific tests, the way Uri Geller has done it. He battles using the same ingredients. In a way he is performing the principal of homeopathy: using the same “poison” as the thing that got you sick (or fooled) in the first place. In his battle against homeopathy he has gone out o his way to make sure people were aware of the absurdity of the homeopathic principle (click here to see a Ted talk about it) The film gets an interesting plot-twist when he suddenly finds out that his partner has been using a fake id all those years.
What has James Randi tought us? Always be skeptical. Always be aware that you can be biased yourself. A heartbreaking story in the documentary is when two by James Randi trained magicians have tricked a film maker into believing they have paranormal abilities. They tell that it was so very hard to tell them that they had used tricks. “It was like he (the film maker) discovered the Holy Grail only to find out it was not the real one. We are believers. We need magic. It is time to discover, maybe even rediscover our own believe. Our own faith. Our own magic.
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