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James Randi's Latest Debunking Operation

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the liars-and-cheats dept.

Movies 498

An anonymous reader writes "The pair of documentarians behind An Honest Man — The Story of the Amazing James Randi will not only talk to the likes of like Adam Savage, Bill Nye, Richard Dawkins, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Penn and Teller about the life of the famous magician/skeptic, but they'll also follow Randi's latest operation as he assembles 'an Ocean's Eleven-type team for a carefully orchestrated exposure of a fraudulent religious organization.'"

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James Randi is a fake! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39071895)

Teh religion and magick is real, it is James Randi whois FAKE!!11!!

Re:James Randi is a fake! (-1, Offtopic)

JavaBear (9872) | more than 2 years ago | (#39071951)

Spoken like a true Anonymous Coward troll.

Re:James Randi is a fake! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39072131)

Spoken like a... nevermind.

Whoosh!

Re:James Randi is a fake! (0)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072835)

Well I can only speak about the one debunking I saw and i thought Randi was kinda bullshit. I mean for the dousing debunking he stuck these guys on the second floor of a building while switching water pipes with an airgap of a fricking story? WTF does that prove? that would be like proving fire doesn't exist by giving someone a piece of paper sealing in a vacuum and saying "Light that with this match bitch". A much more fair test would have had them simply walk across the grounds while trying to find a known underground water source in an area that otherwise didn't have water, like say a large buried pipe and then comparing their results with a control group that merely guessed at where the water was and compared results. I'm all for debunking but lets be fair in the methods.

Re:James Randi is a fake! (2, Insightful)

billybob_jcv (967047) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072903)

Dousers claim to be able to find water, oil, gas, gold and precious gems buried hundreds of feet below ground. Why would an air gap of 15 feet be unreasonable??

Just another Con Man (-1, Flamebait)

TeTalon (142851) | more than 2 years ago | (#39071913)

I am sorry but the amazing Randi is just another Con Man Media Whore looking for a paycheck.
Let’s face it he has never really disproved a thing, or even followed up his own research that he started.
Now if he ever followed up anything he started that would really be amazing!

Re:Just another Con Man (4, Insightful)

Dan541 (1032000) | more than 2 years ago | (#39071941)

Have any evidence to backup your defamatory statement?

Re:Just another Con Man (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39072005)

Ooo, defamation. Off to the High Court!

If someone says, "I've made a career out of debunking loads of widely believed things!" then they're going to need to try pretty fucking hard to prove it.

They deliberately attract those "in it for the money" by huge cash reward (while biasing the audience to those impressed by money), seem to filter to select a high number of high profile fraudsters, and choose their own tests rather than involving independent third parties.

I am more skeptic than the average man - I have been convinced in no way by any supernatural claims; I consider almost every conspiracy theory to simply be "people with common interests vaguely agreeing with each other without needing to say it"; I favour biology over absurd quasi-philosophical claims about the truth of particular moral or market systems, free or authoritarian. But I know when justice is done and seen to be done, and with Randi it isn't.

Re:Just another Con Man (5, Insightful)

Johann Lau (1040920) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072047)

Then why not simply say "no, I don't have any evidence to back up that statement" -- ? It's shorter to read and makes you seem like less of a tool, too.

Re:Just another Con Man (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39072089)

Are you telling me or Randi?

Just as it's up to the conspiracy theorists and the religious fanatics to prove the conspiracy and the deity, not up to me to disprove both, it's up to Randi to prove that his methodology is sound.

Note carefully what I'm asking: not for proof that the spirits don't exist, but that Randi selects a representative set of practitioners and that he applies scientific tests to their abilities.

Re:Just another Con Man (5, Informative)

dave420 (699308) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072135)

He's already exposed loads. His methodology is perfectly sound.

Re:Just another Con Man (5, Informative)

Johann Lau (1040920) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072137)

"it's up to Randi to prove that his methodology is sound."

lolwhut? what "methodology" are you talking about? you just string words together... take how he exposed popoff for example, by tuning into the frequency of his earpiece with a radio scanner. what fault do you find with that "methodology" --- ? it's different in every case. he exposes specific frauds, and offered challenges with either have been ignored, or failed -- nothing more, nothing less.

and what is a "scientific test" in that context? all you do is blubber and try to smear the man, and you still haven't pointed out a single flaw. you ask for proof that is impossible to bring, and I guess you do so deliberately. "a representative set" of what, exactly? I note very carefully that you make no sense, but seem to be personally offended because some spirits or other. well, good for you.

Re:Just another Con Man (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39072249)

Let me repeat what I said:

They deliberately attract those "in it for the money" by huge cash reward (while biasing the audience to those impressed by money), seem to filter to select a high number of high profile fraudsters, and choose their own tests rather than involving independent third parties.

Randi obtains results on the various fields he's interested in debunking not by collecting a representative sample through the offer of independent testing but by dangling the offer of $1,000,000 under the assumption that any opponents he selects will be misguided or fraudsters. This creates an obviously biased self-selecting sample and provides that justice is not seen to be done. Do you deny this?

Randi does not bring independent third parties to establish the tests but finalises his own terms for the tests. After all, this isn't an exercise is proving what's correct but in protecting his own money.

Even though Randi chooses his own terms, there is no peer review process for his work - e.g. through stringent analysis before publication in some third party journal with a reputation for adherence to academic standards.

Nor are the experiments repeated independently (especially not with a representative sample).

IOW, Randi adheres to few of the practices of modern scientific scholarship. He catches out the occasional deliberate fraudster (as anyone could, with half a brain!) but his "no-one's claimed my $1,000,000!" has nothing to do with the strength of his underlying claim.

Re:Just another Con Man (1)

boef (452862) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072561)

Randi obtains results on the various fields he's interested in debunking not by collecting a representative sample through the offer of independent testing but by dangling the offer of $1,000,000 under the assumption that any opponents he selects will be misguided or fraudsters. This creates an obviously biased self-selecting sample and provides that justice is not seen to be done. Do you deny this?

Well, you could just mention a couple of the examples of fields that you feel he did not get a representative sample from, and the 'real deal' experts in that field that you are aware of that he left out on purpose...

Re:Just another Con Man (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39072577)

aaaw shit.. sorry, i am a dick. I did not understand what i was talking about. LOLZ

hmm.. Randi covered in grits... grrr

Re:Just another Con Man (4, Informative)

horza (87255) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072901)

Randi obtains results on the various fields he's interested in debunking not by collecting a representative sample through the offer of independent testing but by dangling the offer of $1,000,000 under the assumption that any opponents he selects will be misguided or fraudsters. This creates an obviously biased self-selecting sample and provides that justice is not seen to be done. Do you deny this?

Would you like to substantiate this by pointing out cases of people with genuine psychic powers that Randi has refused to test? And he is doing better than testing a representative sample, he has made the offer open to every single person on the planet.

Randi does not bring independent third parties to establish the tests but finalises his own terms for the tests. After all, this isn't an exercise is proving what's correct but in protecting his own money.

He has enough experience to formuate his own tests. What makes you think a third party would establish any better ones? If they can I am sure Randi would be happy to adopt it.

Even though Randi chooses his own terms, there is no peer review process for his work - e.g. through stringent analysis before publication in some third party journal with a reputation for adherence to academic standards.

What's that got to do with anything? He's exposing frauds, not proposing a theory on the origins of the universe.

Nor are the experiments repeated independently (especially not with a representative sample).

??? Anybody is able to repeat the test independently. Any why would anybody want to test somebody exposed as a fraud. The only time worth testing independently is if Randi can't expose them.

his "no-one's claimed my $1,000,000!" has nothing to do with the strength of his underlying claim

Er I think the general public would disagree. $1M is a pretty good incentive.

Phillip.

Re:Just another Con Man (-1)

TeTalon (142851) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072083)

Have any evidence to backup your defamatory statement?

Why yes I do and there are way too many to jot down here.
Just check everything out he does claiming to be a skeptic.
All he does is recreate an event or phenomena and then make an unsubstantiated claim that it was done that way without actually proving it was done that way. (Sorry I want the smoking gun)
All he does is cause doubt and never follows up to prove his point.

And the one time he stumbled in to something interesting with the case against Water Memory he created a perfectly blind study without taking in the error factor.
Then did not follow up to find out why the two studies differed and were both repeatable getting the same data along the two different testing technics.

So think of him as a guy that creates a device on paper that looks like it would logically work, and then sells it to people without ever knowing if it will really work or not. (A coder that never tests his code)
It might work and then again it might not, but when he is done it is no longer his problem and proclaims himself a genius based on his half completed work.

Then again “skeptics” thought the earth was flat because maps were flat and that is all the proof they needed.
That is why I consider skeptics to be just another type of religious zealot.
Because in science you should have both an open curious mind and a skeptical questioning mind too.

Re:Just another Con Man (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39072119)

I bet you're one of those sons of bitches at an engineers meeting that talks the contractor into bringing in a dowser for water, oil, or whatever. I've seen weeks wasted on a contract because of dumb motherfuckers like you running the gamut of dowsers, psychics, and other flim flam just to attempt to make a point. I wish I could say it's a US thing only but having worked now in Asia and the EU, it appears your brand of stupidity is global

People like you should be smacked across the face and put in menial jobs where we can minimize the money you waste on quackery.

Re:Just another Con Man (0)

TeTalon (142851) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072149)

I bet you're one of those sons of bitches at an engineers meeting that talks the contractor into bringing in a dowser for water, oil, or whatever. I've seen weeks wasted on a contract because of dumb motherfuckers like you running the gamut of dowsers, psychics, and other flim flam just to attempt to make a point. I wish I could say it's a US thing only but having worked now in Asia and the EU, it appears your brand of stupidity is global

People like you should be smacked across the face and put in menial jobs where we can minimize the money you waste on quackery.

Funny I never thought the use of dousing would work with my scripts, or software/hardware issues.
That is being a Computer engineer and all.

Re:Just another Con Man (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39072173)

Wasting resources is wasting resources whether it's at a desk or in the field.

Re:Just another Con Man (-1, Troll)

TeTalon (142851) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072189)

Wasting resources is wasting resources whether it's at a desk or in the field.

Dude can you miss my point any more?

Re:Just another Con Man (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39072297)

If you are trying to say that your field is immune to it then you're wrong. There are devices for lay people to "dowse" hardware issues in a PC (look in the ads section of some of your lower level tech rags and mags). There has been in the past fraud reports on local news of people scamming the non-technical by holding a small box up to a PC till it emits a whistling sound. The dowser then diagnoses the issue and would sell the victim a very cheap/broken PC or parts as a replacement. Then plug a cable from machine to machine with the idea that the "information will migrate over on its own in a few days" This was in Buffalo area around the late 90s and all it would take is one moron executive to bring it back into the server closet.

Call a dowser ask them to prepare a code audit using their craft. Dollars to donuts you won't have to explain to much to him and he may already have a price quote available for you.

So you can take that sanctimonious attitude about your profession and stick it right back up your fat ass. Try not to vomit so much of your autism all over the story..

Re:Just another Con Man (0, Troll)

TeTalon (142851) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072499)

Dude what color is the sky in your world?

Re:Just another Con Man (1, Troll)

Johann Lau (1040920) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072155)

Why yes I do and there are way too many to jot down here.

LOL!!!!! that is the most fucking stupid thing I read in a long time, kudos.

All he does is cause doubt and never follows up to prove his point.

you clearly are projecting, thanks for the laugh :D

otherwise, I'll simply skip your blah-blah for that's what it is; feel free to offer any of the aforementioned evidence once you found even just a single thing, or figured out how to decide WHAT of the mountain of evidence to post. (here's a tip, you don't have to be exhaustive -- just one would suffice to make you seem like less of a liar).

Re:Just another Con Man (-1, Troll)

TeTalon (142851) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072181)

Why yes I do and there are way too many to jot down here.

LOL!!!!! that is the most fucking stupid thing I read in a long time, kudos.

All he does is cause doubt and never follows up to prove his point.

you clearly are projecting, thanks for the laugh :D

otherwise, I'll simply skip your blah-blah for that's what it is; feel free to offer any of the aforementioned evidence once you found even just a single thing, or figured out how to decide WHAT of the mountain of evidence to post. (here's a tip, you don't have to be exhaustive -- just one would suffice to make you seem like less of a liar).

I realize a lot of people don’t like to read.
So I will repost this for you and make it easy for you.

And the one time he stumbled in to something interesting with the case against Water Memory he created a perfectly blind study without taking in the error factor.
Then did not follow up to find out why the two studies differed and were both repeatable getting the same data along the two different testing technics.

Re:Just another Con Man (4, Insightful)

Johann Lau (1040920) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072195)

"the one time he stumbled in to something interesting with the case against Water Memory he created a perfectly blind study without taking in the error factor.
Then did not follow up to find out why the two studies differed and were both repeatable getting the same data along the two different testing technics."

uhm, link? I'm sure that's described in parseable english somewhere. I like to read actually, very much so -- I just don't have much patience for empty words.

Re:Just another Con Man (5, Funny)

TeTalon (142851) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072471)

"the one time he stumbled in to something interesting with the case against Water Memory he created a perfectly blind study without taking in the error factor.
Then did not follow up to find out why the two studies differed and were both repeatable getting the same data along the two different testing technics."

uhm, link? I'm sure that's described in parseable english somewhere. I like to read actually, very much so -- I just don't have much patience for empty words.

Here is a good place to start but it is incomplete:
http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Water_memory [rationalwiki.org]

It does not really recount everything or consider all the repeated experiments since then.

In a nutshell.
A paper was published around 1980 in the Journal Nature using the standard chemistry testing protocols still in use today that suggested that water had some form of memory.
The experiments were meant to disprove homeopathy, but suggested that it may in fact be the real deal. (I have no opinions on homeopathy)
The experiment had been recreated around the world resulting in the same data.
The editor in charge of the magazine wanted the experiments rerun with Randi controlling the protocols.
Remember Randi is not a PHD or a chemist.

Randi came up with a new chemistry protocol where no one person knew what they were doing with what samples. Basically it was a completely blind testing protocol, and there have been a few TV shows on this and it was on 60 minutes and NOVA too.
Now they never ran Statistical error analysis on the new protocol so no knew what the error ratereally was.
The experiment came up inconclusive and could not prove that water had memory.

But the cool thing is this that both experiments have been recreated using both protocols several times and came up with the same data results.
Standard protocol’s says water has memory, and Randi’s protocol was inconclusive suggesting that water does not have memory.
Also Randi’s protocol has only been used to recreate this experiment.
So all other chemistry experiments still use the standard protocols today.

So my beef with Randi is that he butted in to a science lab experiment and never followed up with why the data was different and repeatable.
Although these experiments have been repeated a lot since then research in to why was dropped because of the journal bringing in Randi.

My belief is:
The data would suggest that test results are subjective much like the physic experiments done in Princeton Engineering Labs and may give us additional clues towards solving some Quantum Mechanics and M theory unresolved issues.
Then again it could just bring up more interesting questions.

Re:Just another Con Man (2)

Johann Lau (1040920) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072637)

at best that would show he might have gotten that thing wrong. but how does that apply to anything else? (and that guy has been kicking ass before I was even born, so that's a lot of other stuff). I'd salute him just for exposing popoff, even if that was all he ever did other than doing magic tricks, and this advertisement suspense slashdot article (well, video), says he'll go for something that will be in the religious arena as well -- so while that is all very interesting about the water memory, I fail to see the connection... other than you have beef (your words) with randi so you brought it up :P

Re:Just another Con Man (3, Insightful)

Barsteward (969998) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072803)

"My belief is:" well, that sort of says it all

Re:Just another Con Man (1)

zephvark (1812804) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072931)

>Standard protocol’s says water has memory Really, I think there is no point in discussing this. The concept that water has memory is laughable on its face. It's amazing what people are crawling out of the woodwork, here, with vitriolic attacks on James Randi because he has the audacity to dispute their claims of invisible flying space monkeys. If you guys aren't being paid for this, perhaps you should schedule a visit with a mental health professional.

Re:Just another Con Man (5, Insightful)

DrXym (126579) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072203)

All he does is recreate an event or phenomena and then make an unsubstantiated claim that it was done that way without actually proving it was done that way. (Sorry I want the smoking gun)

Well it's like this. One person demonstrates spoon bending powers which they say were bestowed by space aliens. Another person says "you bend the spoon when people are not looking" and demonstrates exactly the same effect by such means. So who is the burden of proof on? And then this second person offers the first person a million dollars to demonstrate their powers in a way that detects cheating (e.g. putting soot on the ends of the spoon) and the first person blusters, whines, prevaricates and ultimately refuses So who is making the unsubstantiated claim?

The simple fact is that Randi has satisfactorily debunked all manner of so called paranomal feats (spoon bending, cold reading, dowsing, miracle smoke, psychic healing etc.) and in some cases exposed outright fraud such as with Popoff. The burden of proof is squarely in the court of those who accept such things to demonstrate it. Extraordinary proof requires extraordinary evidence. Given that there is a million dollars on the table for a very simple demonstration of their powers you'd think Randi would have a queue going round the block.

Re:Just another Con Man (2)

DrXym (126579) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072215)

Extraordinary proof requires extraordinary evidence. Arghh I hate making typos like this which I spot 3 seconds after submitting. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

Re:Just another Con Man (1)

dna_(c)(tm)(r) (618003) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072673)

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

I share your emotion, but actually, superfragilisticexpialadocious claims still only require ordinary, humble, simple evidence... One instance.

Re:Just another Con Man (3, Informative)

thisnamestoolong (1584383) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072703)

Yeah, my favorite one was this guy who said he could telepathically flip the pages in a phone book. Randi figured the guy was just blowing the pages, so he put a bunch of packing peanuts around the book, and the magic suddenly disappeared.

Re:Just another Con Man (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39072273)

Have any evidence to backup your defamatory statement?

Why yes I do and there are way too many to jot down here.
Just check everything out he does claiming to be a skeptic.

Too many to jot down, yet all I see is conjecture and not a single example. Some examples would be most helpful.

All he does is recreate an event or phenomena and then make an unsubstantiated claim that it was done that way without actually proving it was done that way. (Sorry I want the smoking gun)

If those events could be done another way, then anyone who is able to provide evidence of that could grab a million dollar reward from the James Randi Educational Foundation. Not a single person has been able to provide any evidence of phenomena in the almost 50 years since it started. Many have tried, and all have failed. Thousands upon thousands of people make massive profits off of the marks who believe, but not a single one can provide evidence. Now that is unbelievable.

Re:Just another Con Man (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39072383)

For the first 2000 years of the Catholic Church's existence people have been putting forward arguments that God and Jesus could not reasonably be said to exist as the Church preaches. Yet to the Church not a single person has been able to provide any convincing evidence in the almost 2000 years since it started. Many have tried, and all have failed. Thousands upon thousands of people make massive profits off alternative hardline atheist philosophies, from communism to capitalism, but not a single one can provide evidence. Now that is unbelievable.

Spot the similarity? Randi and the Catholic Church get to decide what counts as relevant evidence, what counts as a valid test and what facts to conclude.

The point of contention here is not that Randi may be wrong but that he hasn't employed a sound methodology to back up his basic premise: "I have not given $1,000,000 to anyone therefore any claims along the lines of those eligible for my $1,000,000 payout challenge are false."

I think the most irritating aspect of Randi's cult of personality is the assumption that people will even be occasionally, let alone representatively, motivated to submit to testing based on the offer of $1,000,000. I can't think of a better reason to refuse an offer to test my claim than, "I'll pay you $1,000,000!" It's pretty much an announcement that the tester is not impartial but has the prejudiced belief that you are wrong. It would perhaps be fine (though I might argue that justice would still not be seen to be done) if Randi stepped out of the testing process entirely. But he gets a final say on who he admits for testing and what the nature of the test will be. It's patent nonsense. I'd have better luck choosing the most angrily "owned" page on Wikipedia and submitting to a challenge that the facts will be borne out by whoever manages to keep their version of events on the page for the longest.

Re:Just another Con Man (1)

jpapon (1877296) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072783)

Your church analogy fails since the burden of proof is on the one making the extraordinary claim. The Church makes some pretty "crazy" statements, it is up to them to prove that they are right, not up to everyone else to prove them wrong.

Re:Just another Con Man (2, Informative)

benjfowler (239527) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072397)

No, idiot. The Ancient Greeks knew the Earth was round.

Re:Just another Con Man (2)

servies (301423) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072647)

Have any evidence to backup your defamatory statement?

Why yes I do and there are way too many to jot down here.
Just check everything out he does claiming to be a skeptic.

No, we're asking you to show the evidence!
It appears though you don't have any evidence...

Re:Just another Con Man (-1)

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Re:Just another Con Man (2, Insightful)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 2 years ago | (#39071995)

It's not his job (or sciences) to disprove the extraordinary things people claim. It is their job to prove it. That's just a basic concept.

Re:Just another Con Man (2)

DrXym (126579) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072107)

True but he does debunk the prominent ones and does extend an offer a million dollars if they wish to demonstrate their powers in a transparent and obvious manner which eliminates winning by cheating or luck.

Of course he does, it is so basic (2)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072551)

The paranormal and other frauds claim amazing things that just don't fit in our universe. The most obvious is the capacity for prediction of the future. If you can predict the future, why are you not rolling in money from winning every lottery? Or made it big on the stock market?

The defence against this simple method of proofing your supernatural powers is either that your power can't be monotized OR that you don't think it is ethical.

Randi breaks that defence wide open by given these fraudsters a clear way to monotize their power AND do it in a highly ethical way. So why don't they? Even if you ain;t intrested in the money, you could donate it to a good cause. So why don't people who claim to have powers not claim 1 million dollars that is theirs by rights if they can proof it?

They don't, because they can't. There are no super natural powers. but fools like you can't accept that, you want your beard in the sky and hate anyone who dispels the delusion.

Re:Just another Con Man (1)

Arrepiadd (688829) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072355)

Why is it their job to prove their abilities? If there are people out there gullible enough to be willing to give their money to someone who never proved any of his supposed skills, that's their problem.

And I disagree with you, I think it's his job and science's to prove these people wrong. There are people out there who are not skilled enough or critical enough to realize these psychics are liars, thieves and con artists. Someone has to help them, just like the police is here to protect us of general criminals (or should be).

Actually it *is* science's job to disprove it (1)

tlambert (566799) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072523)

It's not his job (or sciences) to disprove the extraordinary things people claim. It is their job to prove it. That's just a basic concept.

Actually it *is* science's job to disprove it.

Science is a philosophy that starts from the premise that you can't prove anything, you can only disprove things. Then we tell ourselves stories to explain our observations (form a hypothesis or theory), make predictions based on the logical consequences of the hypothesis, and then come up with thests (design experiments) whose outcome would prove the story false.

When it comes to debunking, the principle in question is Occam's Razor. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occam's_razor [wikipedia.org]

The corollary is that sometimes we have stories that are simple and elegant and are found to be predictive in a subset of the observable univers (a problem domain), so we use them there, even though we know they don't fit the big picture. Newtonian mechanics is an example of this: for non-relativistic events, they give approximate answers that are good enough, unless you need too many decimal places.

This is also why "creationism" isn't a theory: it doesn't make predictions about future events, so it's impossible to design an experiment to falsify it as a theory: a theory must be falsifiable, or it isn't a theory.

So a story about Randi debunking a religion (:theory") is as relevant to Slashdot as a story about the LHC's search for the Higgs Boson, which is a set of experiments designed to falsify ("debunk") certain theories about the basic nature of the universe (many string theories, in particular).

-- Terry

Re:Just another Con Man (4, Insightful)

DrXym (126579) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072087)

Randi has debunked numerous frauds, either directly such as Peter Popoff or by revealing how a common con trick is done, e.g. cold reading, spoon bending etc. I can understand his continuing existence serves as a constant nuisance to some people, especially those who prey off the gullible, or those so gullible and weak minded themselves that they leap to the defence of these transparent frauds.

Re:Just another Con Man (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39072289)

The point is not that the cold readers and spoon benders aren't misleading tricksters but that Randi is also a misleading trickster. He scientifically debunks one or two individuals, makes unproven and sweeping claims about everyone else on his radar, and enjoys an angry quasi-religious following by the very sort of people who would be singing hallelujahs in Church had they not found a different cult of personality to follow.

Re:Just another Con Man (4, Insightful)

DrXym (126579) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072371)

I've said this elsewhere but it all boils down to this. If you claim that magic powers allow you to perform some feat and then someone else can perform the exact same feat without any magic at all, then the burden of proof is on you. If as a further incentive I offer you a million dollars you to perform your feat in a manner which prevents tricks (such as the way I just demonstrated) and you bluster, dodge, evade, make excuses, prevaricate, and otherwise attempt to run away from an easy test then any reasonable person might conclude you're cheating too.

And that's the fact of the matter. Randi and cohorts have more than an adequately exposed the tricks behind all kinds of so called psychic phenomena. Why isn't there a queue stretching down the road to take the million off him by demonstrating such phenomena are real? How is it that all these psychics, faith healers and all the rest who are clearly not shy of publicity or averse to making money cannot find a single half a day in their schedule to pick up the easiest million dollars they'll ever make?

Re:Just another Con Man (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39072425)

For the n'th time, the claim is not in favour of the tricksters but against Randi.

If you claim that magic powers allow you to perform some feat and then someone else can perform the exact same feat without any magic at all, then the burden of proof is on you.

Correct, but Randi has nothing to do with this. He hasn't shown anything general - e.g. cold-reading techniques - which hasn't already been shown by others before him, and where he's identified individual fraudsters he's used no more technological or detective skill than isn't employed, say, by an enthusiastic radio amateur. All Randi offers is a marketing machine plus...

u. If as a further incentive I offer you a million dollars you to perform your feat in a manner which prevents tricks (such as the way I just demonstrated) and you bluster, dodge, evade, make excuses, prevaricate, and otherwise attempt to run away from an easy test then any reasonable person might conclude you're cheating too.

...the nonsense that argument X against person Y is any stronger just because Y cannot or will not disprove X under Z's terms after being offered $1,000,000 by Z.

That is the way in which Randi is a fraudster. That is his premise and it surely doesn't take much to see that it's nonsense. In case it's not completely obvious, what's wrong here is:

1. Z getting to choose the terms;

2. The notion that the offer money to disprove an argument makes an argument stronger - being based, among several unwarranted assumptions, on the notion that someone defending a position would accept money from an ideological opponent.

Please just spend a moment imagining what real science would be like if it were based on 1 and 2.

Re:Just another Con Man (5, Insightful)

DrXym (126579) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072489)

Correct, but Randi has nothing to do with this. He hasn't shown anything general - e.g. cold-reading techniques - which hasn't already been shown by others before him, and where he's identified individual fraudsters he's used no more technological or detective skill than isn't employed, say, by an enthusiastic radio amateur. All Randi offers is a marketing machine plus...

Randi has very publicly debunked Uri Geller, Peter Popoff, Sai Baba, Sylvia Brown, John Edward, John of God and various others specifically as well as various other less prominent faith healers, psychics etc. He has also contributed enormously to the skeptical movement by his participation in CSI/CSICOP, the annual Amazing Meeting and so forth. To pretend he's done nothing or that his efforts are meaningless is complete nonsense. Even this documentary features interviews from some of the major speakers from the skeptic movement and they all acknowledge him for his efforts and as a leading figure. Even Carl Sagan when he was alive.

...the nonsense that argument X against person Y is any stronger just because Y cannot or will not disprove X under Z's terms after being offered $1,000,000 by Z.

Sorry but it's not under Z's terms. It's under mutually agreed terms. If I claim I can see pictures inside envelopes then I propose a test along those lines. This other person | has a million dollars riding on the result, so their interest is in ensuring that I cannot cheat but also ensuring the result is transparently obvious so there is no doubt which way it fell. So might require the contents cannot be picked up, held to the light, that a particular grade of paper be used etc. They might also suggest that the test is over 20 envelopes with a particular and obvious criteria for pass or fail. They might also provide me with the actual pictures to place over each envelope to relieve me of the ambiguity caused by drawing what I see. I might also have requirements of my own which can be reasonably accommodated (e.g. skeptics stay 50 meters back because of their negative brainwaves) or the colour of the room or distance that each envelope is space from the next or whatever. Eventually the terms of the test are defined and then mutually agreed upon. Then I perform what I say. Or don't.

You appear to think this is somehow unreasonable.

Please just spend a moment imagining what real science would be like if it were based on 1 and 2.

Who says it's science? It's a challenge with a substantial cash prize for the person who succeeds. The science can come later. Scientists would be falling over themselves to test the successful applicant.

Re:Just another Con Man (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39072589)

Randi has very publicly debunked Uri Geller, Peter Popoff, Sai Baba, Sylvia Brown, John Edward, John of God and various others specifically as well as various other less prominent faith healers, psychics etc.

No, he's "very publicly" repeated what skeptics and stage magicians have known since forever: the techniques to perform various well-known stage tricks. He's done little more than break a few Magic Circle rules. If these half dozen celebrities want to prove that their skills are not stage tricks, it is certainly up to them to show why the well-known methods could not have been employed - but by and large these people don't care to do that. Indeed, the sample is of a few businessmen-performers who are least likely to care about the opinion of loudmouth skeptics.

He has also contributed enormously to the skeptical movement by his participation in CSI/CSICOP, the annual Amazing Meeting and so forth.

These meetings tend to be masturbatory rather than with the aim of increasing scholarship. It's the difference between going to a "Global warming is a fraud!" gathering and a meeting in which peer-reviewed papers about global warming are presented and discussed: the former may have some pertinent points but is by and large a waste of fucking time; while the latter will have a mixture of interesting and not-so-interesting results but by and large tends to increase understanding of the subject.

major speakers from the skeptic movement

That's the whole point. The "skeptic movement" is itself a nonsense. What is its position - that sometimes stuff is wrong and has to be questioned? Well, clearly. That should be the position of all humans. No, what the "skeptic movement" involves is people wanting to show that particular things are wrong.

and they all acknowledge him for his efforts and as a leading figure.

He is a leading figure but just why do you think he is so? IOW what do you think he has contributed beyond preaching to the choir?

Sorry but it's not under Z's terms. It's under mutually agreed terms.

This is effectively the same, since it's Randy making the offer, arranging the test and offering the prize. A fair test does not involve either the test subject or the biased sponsor choosing the terms of the test. It involves the subject's claim being identified and an independent third party establishing a test to prove that claim, which is then peer reviewed before and after the test takes place. If Randy wants to be taken seriously as a "skeptic" (they think they're as scientists, right?) then he needs to practice scientific rigour.

This other person | has a million dollars riding on the result, so their interest is in ensuring that I cannot cheat but also ensuring the result is transparently obvious so there is no doubt which way it fell.

Are humans still that naive? If you think that biased sponsors of particular projects tend to justice rather than whatever gives them the result they want then you need to spend one minute studying how grants are allocated and lobbyists are heard at your local public institute.

Who says it's science? It's a challenge with a substantial cash prize for the person who succeeds.

Exactly. It's an unwinnable prize because it's not based on the only reasonable methodology for testing a hypothesis.

Re:Just another Con Man (1)

dkf (304284) | more than 2 years ago | (#39073019)

Who says it's science? It's a challenge with a substantial cash prize for the person who succeeds.

Exactly. It's an unwinnable prize because it's not based on the only reasonable methodology for testing a hypothesis.

Wut? All they have to do is the thing which they claim to do in the way they claim to do it and which they claim to have done many times before. Do that once(/limited number of times) more, get the prize. Moreover, the test is designed carefully so that it is difficult for someone to cheat on it, and for it to be easy for anyone to say that this is indeed the case. Yes, if they pass it would then give conventional science like physics a bit of a headache, but that would be the scientists problem.

Of course, the real hypothesis is that the mystic is really just a cheat. But if that's not the case, if they really can do amazing things, let them show it; we'll change our understanding of reality to accommodate when the effect is shown to be real.

Re:Just another Con Man (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39072909)

cannot find a single half a day in their schedule to pick up the easiest million dollars they'll ever make?

Psssssh. we psychics, and faith healers all make significantly more than $2 million/day, so taking half a day to make only $1 million would be bad for business.

j/k. I completely agree with DrXym

Re:Just another Con Man (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072657)

makes unproven and sweeping claims about everyone else on his radar

[citation required]

Re:Just another Con Man (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39072833)

It's hard to find an article quoting Randi in which he doesn't reveal his prejudices. This is a favourite of mine:

So does religion have a place in our society? "Yes, a lot of people absolutely require it," Randi said. "They haven't got the faith in their own abilities, they fear the future, and they are very hesitant to assume that anything that they can decide will be better than some deity who knows everything. Of course, my argument is if the deity knows everything, he would have told you. Not only that, if he's omnipotent, nothing you say or do in the way of prayer is going to change his mind, and since he's omniscient, he already knows whether you're going to pray and what you're going to say when you pray. It just doesn't make any sense at all to me."

He might as well say, "Niggers sure are dumb but I'll give $1,000,000 to a nigger who can prove me wrong!"

To me, religion and woo woo remain prominent not in spite of people like Randi but because of people like him. They are formed of the same mould as the people who beat you over the head with a Bible or a Koran but they just happen to have decided to cheer for the other side. The louder people like he or Dawkins sing, the louder the fundamentalist types chant back - and the latter have been doing it for far longer and do it far better.

What Randi and Dawkins and all his followers have wrong is that they don't seem to get how scientific progress works - or, in Dawkins case, he gets it but seems so scarred by an abusive pederast relationship with a priest that he blocks his mind to it when the topic of religion comes up. You don't win over nonsense by frothing at the mouth with the same propagandist vigour as your opponents: you win by teaching people to follow a rational method of analysis and allowing them to be open-minded.

All Randi, Dawkins and his ilk have created is a troupe of angry Skeptics who are as eager to shout "heathen!" at the theists as the theists would shout back at them. Even if they were so blinkered by their own premises that they thought their approach should be successful, the degeneration of education and government at home and abroad shows quite clearly that it does not. If they continue with their current methods, they will lose.

"Letâ(TM)s face it he has never really dispro (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39072317)

He debunked a lot of things, like that guy on tv pretending to do psychokinetic (he put small light stuff which would fly at any small wind to prove the guy was using his own breath) the group even recentely took part in the debunking of a drowsing mine detector, and he debunked with test some other drowser. You are full of shit.

scient....[blocked by lawsuit] (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39071963)

[blocked by lawsuit]

Re:scient....[blocked by lawsuit] (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39072433)

Auditing Process R2-45 will be used.

Fraudulent religious organization? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39071979)

Would he not be risking becoming a suppressive person [wikipedia.org] perhaps? And then he might even become fair game [wikipedia.org] ...?

Re:Fraudulent religious organization? (1)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072013)

He's looking pretty decrepit in that trailer. I wouldn't be surprised if he was interested in pulling off "One Last Big Score" - alluded to by the "Ocean's Eleven" reference - before he passed away, or lost his marbles (not that he seems to be diminished mentally).

Title: An Honest Man or Honest Liar? (1)

a_hanso (1891616) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072009)

OP says title is "An Honest Man", but TFA says it is "An Honest Liar".

Re:Title: An Honest Man or Honest Liar? (3, Funny)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072237)

OP says title is "An Honest Man", but TFA says it is "An Honest Liar".

Its a lie. Honestly.

Oh dear... (1)

zrbyte (1666979) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072019)

Watching the trailer, I could not help notice how old he's become, even compared to the TED video [ted.com] (2007). Dear Randi, please stay with us for a lot longer!

Re:Oh dear... (-1)

Seraphim_72 (622457) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072079)

your worship for eternal life entertains me.

Unfortunately, people will still believe (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39072021)

The problem with exposing religious frauds is that True Believers will ignore the evidence and carry on believing in them and sending money anyway. They will see it as a chance to "strengthen their faith" and ignore the evidence even harder.

Re:Unfortunately, people will still believe (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39072099)

ignore the evidence even harder.

I'm confused, are you talking about Democrats or Republicans here?

Re:Unfortunately, people will still believe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39072497)

But it can prevent others from falling for same fraud, or at least make it much harder to recruit new believers.

Re:Unfortunately, people will still believe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39072811)

That's fine. People can believe what they want. But if potential recruits become aware of the nonsense before they are brainwashed, then it is still accomplishing something useful.

Lot's of possibilities (5, Interesting)

Erect Horsecock (655858) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072033)

Randi has gone after a lot of pseudo-religious organizations and they're still lots more to go before you can narrow it down to Co$.

http://www.vediccity.net/ [vediccity.net] - An entire city and school bought and controlled by Maharishi Mahesh's Transcendental Meditation organization

The Mormon Church - Self explanatory

Raëlism - Wacked out UFO cult founded by a Frenchman in 1974 with anywhere from 2000-5000 followers globally

Moonies - Sun Myung Moons private church where he claims to be Christ (and about every other major religious character) that owns The Washington Times, Kahr Firearms, and many other companies. Personal audience has been given to a few POTUS

Harold Camping's Family Radio - The guy who predicted the rapture a few times in the past couple of years

Lots and lots of possibilities. Co$ would be interesting for Randi to take on but it would be cool to see him deal with any of the above as well

Re:Lot's of possibilities (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39072239)

You've left out patriotism.

Re:Lot's of possibilities (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39072493)

And Christianity.

Actually, what's the difference between a pseudo-Religion and a Religion?

A sudo religion doesn't have root. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39072937)

A sudo religion doesn't have root.

Re:Lot's of possibilities (0)

fermion (181285) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072799)

There is at least one thing that skeptics have in common with religious fanatics. Neither will rest until everyone believes as they do.It is like their personalities are so shallow that any hint of disagreement will set them off. Civilized conversation and debate are meaningless because they are right and everyone else is wrong.

There is a difference between zealotry and faith and basing results of life on physical experience. For instance, I follow the idea that the scientific method is probably the best way to acquire knowledge, and I will tend to reject any form of argument based on common sense or widely held assumptions. This, however, does not keep me from engaging with other people who believe differently, not does it keep from adjusting my opinion based on valid arguments based on empirical facts. I try not assume that people are wrong simply because I disagree with them. My faith is not diminished just because everyone does not hold the same faith. I do not see why it necessary to to personally attack those who disagree. One thing that skeptics and fundamentalists do the same is use the harm of children as an excuse to descend into personal and non productive attack.

My favorite recent example was a case where a cartoon was reinterpreted and linked to by a conservative website that did not share the values of the publishing website. Of course all creative work have only one interpretation, so anyone who interprets the work differently from the original author is simply wrong and deserves to be chastised and ridiculed. What made the situation really comical, however, and totally discredited the skeptics, was that they used the fact that the conservative site deep linked to comic. Of course the publishing site had text requesting that other sites directly link to the comic, and provided the link to so do. Of course none of this dismayed the skeptics from waging their crusade, rather than, as civilized people would, using the cross pollination as an opportunity to know one another. No, skeptics and fundamentalists know what they know, and have no desire to know anything different. This of course makes them different from scientist who go out discover new things, rather than simply use a existing fact base to prove all they disagree with as wrong.

A good example of talking to one another is the proposed agreement between chicken manufacturers and those who wish to make sure the chickens are treated humanely until actually slaughtered. Of course the former provides a product that many want and a low price, and of course the later might prefer that the product did not exist at all. Niether of those scenarios will happen, but there is a third compromise scenario that could happen if the law is passed in the us. Very little productive was going to happen while sides were insulting each other. No that conversation can occur, something might.

"a fraudulent religious organization" (5, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072039)

As opposed to all the non-fraudulent religious organizations?

Re:"a fraudulent religious organization" (5, Funny)

crankyspice (63953) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072101)

As opposed to all the non-fraudulent religious organizations?

They're out there. I have faith that even you, too, shall one day be Touched by His Noodly Appendage.

Re:"a fraudulent religious organization" (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39072679)

Touched by His Noodly Appendage.

That would be appropriate, but Pastafarians can't keep playing catch up to other religions. At some point you're either full of noodles, or you're not.

I was touched a few months ago. The message that fell in my lap told about the gradual downfall of all spaghetti on Earth by 711 AP (After Pasta). Of course it's confusing how many years we have left - due to floating point error or something. Because as we know, pasta is the origin of all math symbols, so the years start counting erratically towards the end. But, based on how many times the number 1 occurs in the Wikipedia article for pasta, I'd say we've got less than 66 months (5.5 years).

Don't despair! Because later that week, a flaming stove spoke pig latin in morse code to me that one of each type of noodle needs to be launched into space in an arc. Unfortunately, that may or may not include worms (they are noodle-like and the stove wouldn't elaborate on it). If this is done and all goes well, then one day pasta will return...

Please, please help save the noodles.
Ramen.

Re:"a fraudulent religious organization" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39072721)

They're out there. I have faith that even you, too, shall one day be Touched by His Noodly Appendage.

Why don't you bend over and let me touch you with my noodly appendage?

Re:"a fraudulent religious organization" (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39072171)

Christianity: The belief that a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.

Re:"a fraudulent religious organization" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39072369)

Christianity: The belief that a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.

I prefer the parts about stoning your wife and selling your daughters myself. Pretty informative if you ask me.

Islam (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39072401)

Hello, I'm Mohammed. I'm not the son of god but just do everything I tell you to do anyway. Oh , and call all your kids after me - saves that tedious baby naming process that the chicks always win anyway.

Re:"a fraudulent religious organization" (2)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072883)

Tim Minchin doing his song about Jesus [youtube.com]

They cut this from the programme before broadcast... apparently someone near the top of the chain of command must be a churchgoer who doesn't share the British sense of humour..

Re:"a fraudulent religious organization" (4, Insightful)

DrXym (126579) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072247)

There are organizations such as Oxfam, The Samaritans, Trocaire etc which have religious origins but offer valuable, impartial, non judgemental aid to people regardless of race, creed or colour.

Sadly there are a lot of other organisations which are more interested in lining their own pockets or pushing Jesus and less in the whole helping people part. Scientology seems to specialize in such rackets.

Re:"a fraudulent religious organization" (4, Insightful)

smi.james.th (1706780) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072469)

I have to agree with you there. I know nearly nothing about Scientology, but I agree with you on principle.

I don't see why it's so popular on Slashdot to hate people who believe in some sort of God. My faith teaches me to do nothing but good things, I may not always live my faith very well though.

I also strongly disapprove of religions whose teachings include holy wars or science hating or things like that.

In the absence of that though, I really feel we should all just live and let live. If you don't believe in God? Fine. I don't hate you for it. My best friend is an Atheist. He doesn't hate me because I do though, he realises that it makes me happy, and he's happy with that.

Re:"a fraudulent religious organization" (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39072597)

"My faith teaches me to do nothing but good things" -- you do recognise the danger that a statement like that includes?

Re:"a fraudulent religious organization" (2)

smi.james.th (1706780) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072651)

Ok, fair enough. I see your point.

My faith teaches me to be kind and respectful to people, to be obedient to the law, to work hard and support my family, not to get into too much debt, to spend time with my wife, and in turn with my children, to be honest and have integrity, and to live a healthy lifestyle.

I think these are good things?

Re:"a fraudulent religious organization" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39072869)

Ok, fair enough. I see your point.

My faith teaches me to be kind and respectful to people, to be obedient to the law, to work hard and support my family, not to get into too much debt, to spend time with my wife, and in turn with my children, to be honest and have integrity, and to live a healthy lifestyle.

I think these are good things?

Yes, and cherry-picking is oh so much fun too. Forgive me for assuming your religion choice, but doesn't your religion rely upon a book which also directs you to stone your son to death if he is rebellious? Sell your daughter into slavery? How about kill your wife if she touches another man's genitals while physically defending your life? Then there's the whole shellfish thing - I never understood why religious folk don't spend more time picketing and denouncing Red Lobster or Joe's Crab Shack instead of actually eating there.

I guess whatever makes you feel better about yourself. Cherry-pick away and be blissful.

Re:"a fraudulent religious organization" (5, Informative)

dissy (172727) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072635)

I have to agree with you there. I know nearly nothing about Scientology, but I agree with you on principle.

I don't see why it's so popular on Slashdot to hate people who believe in some sort of God.

Scientologists do not believe in a god or God (or Gods), they believe in Aliens in space ships who's souls lay dormant in earths volcanoes, put there by Xenu long ago during the great space battle. These souls infecting us humans are the reason for our misery and pain.
(No, I am *NOT* kidding or making that up!)

They do not believe in helping others. They believe that if you pay them very large 5-digit sums of money every couple of months, that they will remove these souls from your body, thus ridding you of pain and misery.

That is why most slashdotters hate and despise scientologists.
That and their well documented crimes such as kidnapping, torture, and murder.

If you would like to fix the first line I quoted from you and put in bold, I highly recommend the second link here, or the first to "dip your toes" in this frightening subject:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientology [wikipedia.org]
http://www.xenu.net/ [xenu.net]

Re:"a fraudulent religious organization" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39072841)

There was also the cult's attempts to censor Usenet. It actually led to my happy marriage: my wife and I met at a protest against Scientology abuse, and the Wikipedia article on Scientology and Usenet is actually pretty good.

Re:"a fraudulent religious organization" (1)

Tom (822) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072705)

Being charitable does not mean you can't be fraudulent.

Robin Hood was a thief. The whole giving-to-the-poor part doesn't undo the stealing part. It definitely figures in if you want to cast a summary judgement, and I agree that there are some religious organisations that I believe have a net benefit to society due to the work they do.

That doesn't mean their foundation isn't fraud.

Re:"a fraudulent religious organization" (1)

bWareiWare.co.uk (660144) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072935)

Oxfam was founded 70 years ago, at a time when the vast majority of the poluation would have identified as having some religion. Some of its founders where Quakers, the rest were presumably CoE, but the organisation itself has never had any religious affiliation. Simirly we wouldn't call the Samaritans a 'Male' charity becouse it was founded by a man, to me it dosn't seem to be a religious charity just becouse it happend to be founded by a vicar (who has since denounced it anyway).

Re:"a fraudulent religious organization" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39072303)

Fraudulent implies willing deception; outside of the for-profit televangelist crowd, religious leaders tend to genuinely believe their own deception. Keep in mind, this is only speaking from my own personal experience and may be biased according to my less-than-totally-cynical worldview.

Not news to me (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072227)

Since his minions have been astroturfing it on completely unrelated forums for the last week. It's still relatively harmless charlatanism compared to what he investigates, but don't mistake that Randi the corporate entity is all about the money.

Re:Not news to me (1)

Erect Horsecock (655858) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072331)

A man writes a few books and gives a few interviews that debunks a frauds trick and he gets paid for it. What's wrong with that?

Not trying to troll but if you are able to provide a service that betters the community why not take a pay check for it?

Re:Not news to me (0)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072565)

He is not debunking anything though, it's all pseudo science that is as harmful to real understanding as that which he is trying to debunk. The summary mentions Adam Savage so to compare with myth busters, which does not always get it right, is fair. Adam and Jame usually test something very specific, If you do X then Y will happen. They don't try to prove Y can happen or Y happened. There are always testable preconditions or actions.

This guy is not proving anything other than $Deity is not a required condition, not that $Deity was not present or responsible when the event is stories to have happened. Suppose I show you I can make girl disappear with smoke, mirrors, and a try door. That does nothing to prove they last guy did not use "real" magic.

Re:Not news to me (1)

Johann Lau (1040920) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072599)

That does nothing to prove they last guy did not use "real" magic.

well, duh! you can *never* prove that something is not caused by some other X what leads to the same results. *facepalm, accompanied by groaning*

Re:Not news to me (4, Informative)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072757)

Have you reviewed any of Randi's debunking efforts, such as his class on how people interpret astrological predictions? Or the intercepted radio transmissions of the faith healer, Peter Popov, who was listening to radio messages from his wife to provide the "miraculous" informaiton about his audience members and whom he would "heal" even of entirely fictitious diseases? Or looked into his debunking of Uri Geller's use of stage magic tricks to claim mind over matter powers, bending spoons and keys?

It's science at its best, providing a testable hypothesis, and works extremely well.

Randi would be more impressive... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39072325)

if he'd taken on some of the really influential cultists - like the Austrian Economics Cult or the "Human Beings are Rational Maximisers" cult...

Alas, he's much more interested in geek adulation than making the world a better place.

Orson Welles in the trailer (1)

davide marney (231845) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072639)

The trailer's worth the visit just to hear Orson Welles say, "Ladies and gentlemen, by way of introduction, this is a film about trickery, fraud; about ... lies."

Along with Harry Houdini (4, Informative)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072719)

James Randi is in the best of company in his late career. Harry Houdin became furious with people who claimed his feats of escape and stage magic were done with mystical powers such as teleportation. Harry devoted a great deal of effort to debunking the horrible and clumsy stage magicians who were conning people with seances and mystical powers. In the midst of the industrial revolution, this fascination with the miraculous was infuriating to someone like Houdine, and now to people like James Randi, who've mastered their crafts and see clumsy charlatans using them against innocent people.

This kind of debunking is in the very best scientific tradition: providing an alternative explanation that requires no violation of previous experiment or understood principles is at the basis of how science works, and helps teach us how to verify new claims properly. I genuinely wish more engineers had the time, or made the time, to study debunking to understand better how their own inattention or deceit by other people can confuse their results.

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