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Magician & Investigator James Randi Talks Directly to You (Video)

Roblimo posted about a year and a half ago | from the nothing-up-my-sleeve-but-yours-looks-kind-of-suspicious dept.

Science 259

Last week James Randi answered your questions. But that was text, and he's a performer ("The Amazing Randi"), so you need to hear the man talk to get his full flavor. He's a good talker, too. So Rob Rozeboom (samzenpus) got on Skype with The Amazing Randi to talk about his exploits, including his debunking of a whole bunch of (alleged) frauds, ranging from Uri Geller to Sylvia Browne. The resulting interview was so long and so strong that we cut it in half. Today you see Part One. Tomorrow you'll see Part Two. (The video's here now; sorry about the delay.)

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WHAT IS IS LIKE TO KNOW YOU ARE GOING TO HELL ?? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43340711)

And in an hand basket of your making !!

Re:WHAT IS IS LIKE TO KNOW YOU ARE GOING TO HELL ? (1)

i (8254) | about a year and a half ago | (#43341283)

Old people like warmer climate and take any chance to again be able to do the sins of their youth.

So... I think of a cozy feeling and a bit of excitement.

Re:WHAT IS IS LIKE TO KNOW YOU ARE GOING TO HELL ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43341495)

At least he is going to be in good company. Traditional Christian heaven looks like a refined type of torture to me, with the aggravation that the company is dull, boring and utterly immoral. What kind of prick can experience bliss knowing that fellow humans -some times their own loved ones- are being tortured for eternity by the same deity they keep fawning to?

Re:WHAT IS IS LIKE TO KNOW YOU ARE GOING TO HELL ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43341839)

Actually, if Christian heaven is close to how they really describe it, none of them are ever going to see it first hand, anyway.

Re:WHAT IS IS LIKE TO KNOW YOU ARE GOING TO HELL ? (1)

evilpenguin (18720) | about a year and a half ago | (#43342527)

One of my favorite Mark Twain quotes is "I want to go to heaven for the climate, and hell for the company."

I don't know how exactly I've got that, but it is the gist...

Not so much (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43340731)

Content unavailable....what gives?

Re:Not so much (1)

click2005 (921437) | about a year and a half ago | (#43340929)

Read the transcript. Theres a $1 billion prize.

Something's wrong (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year and a half ago | (#43340733)

In the video above:

! CONTENT UNAVAILABLE Unknown content specified.

What you see today (2, Insightful)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year and a half ago | (#43340735)

Is nothing because Slashdot keeps using technology from two decades ago.

DEATH TO FLASH!

Re:What you see today (1)

azav (469988) | about a year and a half ago | (#43340925)

As a former member of both the Director and Director Shockwave teams, death to Flash, indeed.

Re:What you see today (1)

aicrules (819392) | about a year and a half ago | (#43341073)

Also, death to director and director shockwave!

Re:What you see today (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43341373)

I'm perfectly fine with Flash. Works 99% of the time for me, and most of this 1% of problems can be solved with a refresh.

It gives me an easy way to ad-block without blacklisting specific websites, has consistent 3D support, and shows up the same on all browsers which support it.

Not sure why anyone would want to kill it...

Re:What you see today (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43342803)

Before I saw the comment author I thought "Now that is something that Zav would say".

Re:What you see today (2)

farlukar (225243) | about a year and a half ago | (#43341449)

Slashdot keeps using technology from two decades ago.

Well, that's just because Lynx hasn't implemented the canvas tag yet.

Re:What you see today (1)

Roblimo (357) | about a year and a half ago | (#43341863)

I have emailed "the right people" yet again about switching to HTML 5 or providing it as a Flash alternative.
I, too, would like to watch Slashdot videos on my Adenoid smarty phone (or whatever it is).

Re:What you see today (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about a year and a half ago | (#43341661)

But Flash is still the defacto standard for video, and often the only one that actually works for people. HTML5 is something that may work possibly, some day in the future, by replacing one closed format with another. If Flash died today, video would probably also die today.

Ah aaaaaaaaaah (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year and a half ago | (#43342253)

So the radio star would be avenged, albeit posthumously?

content unavailable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43340751)

- make me sad :-(

Asking for proof there is a god, if there is one.. (3, Insightful)

mark-t (151149) | about a year and a half ago | (#43340861)

... is not altogether unlike one character in a book asking another one to prove they are characters in a book.

Kind of pointless, since the events that happen in the book are taken for granted as "natural", and so anything which the author writes about would not be seen as anything other than normal to those characters, even though the author still actually wrote it.

Re:Asking for proof there is a god, if there is on (3, Interesting)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year and a half ago | (#43341057)

One can, however, ask for proof for particular claims about a God who defies the apparent "natural" order. When claims are made that, e.g., God created the world 6,000 years ago, with all species as immutable types --- proof, please? God sent a hurricane New Orleans to punish the gays --- proof, please? God will cure your cancer if you pray hard enough --- proof, please? While a God who acts through creating the entirety of empirical and intelligible reality is an untestable proposition, many more specific claims (in which the "finger of God" comes out of the sky to nudge an off-track cosmos back onto course) are often made. I actually happen to believe in God; but, willingness to ask what is amenable to "hard proof" (and noting its consistent resulting lack) considerably refines/constrains my picture of how God operates in the world.

Re:Asking for proof there is a god, if there is on (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year and a half ago | (#43341467)

If there were a god, I would imagine that all of what we consider real existence to be little but an imaginary tale to such a being. We "believe" we have existence, but the only actual existence we would actually have is by virtue of being sustained by the ongoing imaginary events that are happening in the mind of god. If god forgot about us, we would wink out of existence and we would never even know it.

Re:Asking for proof there is a god, if there is on (1)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year and a half ago | (#43342115)

Thus you should at least strive to make sure such a god stays really pissed at you (just below the immediate smiting threshold, but plenty to not slip out of mind).

Re:Asking for proof there is a god, if there is on (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year and a half ago | (#43342153)

What difference would that possibly make? While I have no desire to slip out of existence, if that were to actually happen, I would not ever know it anyways, so relative to my own well-being, it is a moot point.

It therefore makes more sense to make sure such a god likes you... so that at least you have the possibility of incurring favor.

Re:Asking for proof there is a god, if there is on (1)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year and a half ago | (#43342771)

My post above was intended in jest (nonetheless, see Luke 11:5-11 for components of an "annoy the heck out of God to get what you want" theology in one religious tradition). One's "possibility of incurring favor" are very "model dependent," to say the least --- since currying favor with one potential set of gods is likely to be damning idolatry to another. Coming from the Christian tradition (by way of Lutheranism), I personally hold to a perspective in which favor is offered (undeservedly) to us by God, rather than incurred through out own actions; YMMV.

Re:Asking for proof there is a god, if there is on (0)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | about a year and a half ago | (#43342189)

Gods will "is" the natural order. Having a perfect understanding of God's will would mean having a perfect scientific understanding of the universe. They're different words for the same thing.

Nobody has a perfect understanding of either, but many people will lie to you about these things if there's money to be made. Thing is, once you realize these things are synonymous, you can stop wasting time arguing with someone about God being real and argue instead that they are mistaken in their understanding of God.

Re:Asking for proof there is a god, if there is on (-1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year and a half ago | (#43341411)

That's what I find endlessly hilarious about militant atheists - they'll prattle on and on about how religious types are "idiots" for basing their entire belief structure on pure faith, completely ignoring the fact that, since it's impossible to prove a negative, atheism is also a faith-based belief structure.

Myself, I adhere to more of a "couldn't give less of a rat's ass" approach.

Re:Asking for proof there is a god, if there is on (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43341483)

it's impossible to prove a negative

Really, so you cant prove you're not a giraffe?

Re:Asking for proof there is a god, if there is on (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43341533)

You can never prove or disprove a definition.

Captcha: artwork

Re:Asking for proof there is a god, if there is on (1)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about a year and a half ago | (#43341735)

Indeed, can you prove that there isn't a giraffe sitting behind that keyboard? While we all haven't seen any giraffe that can type coherent English, can you prove that one doesn't exist?

I'm an atheist myself, but I don't set out to convince anybody else to be one, so I don't bother to try to prove my viewpoint to anybody. If a conservative tells me to observe the sabbath, I'll tell them the same thing I'll tell a liberal who tells me that it is immoral to own firearms. But at the same time, I'm not going to tell them that they should agree with me, rather just ask that they respect my position.

Re:Asking for proof there is a god, if there is on (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43341909)

In the philosophical sense, maybe not. But you can definitely prove it "beyond a reasonable doubt". Which is funny, because it means under any objective burden of legal proof, God clearly doesn't exist, and it only useful as a concept to philosophers.

Re:Asking for proof there is a god, if there is on (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year and a half ago | (#43341967)

No... under any objective burden of legal proof, even under the notion of "beyond a reasonable doubt", there is no assessment made about whether or not god exists one way or the other, any more than under a notion of legal proof, you could somehow come to any conclusion about whether or not the events of today either would or would not ever actually happen.

There simply is no data... either way.

Re:Asking for proof there is a god, if there is on (5, Insightful)

The Wild Norseman (1404891) | about a year and a half ago | (#43342579)

No... under any objective burden of legal proof, even under the notion of "beyond a reasonable doubt", there is no assessment made about whether or not god exists one way or the other, any more than under a notion of legal proof, you could somehow come to any conclusion about whether or not the events of today either would or would not ever actually happen.

  There simply is no data... either way.

Yes there is. There is a tremendous amount of data supporting the fact that gods (where properly defined so as to be a coherent concept) are made up by humans. There is especially more evidence when a god is spoken of in an incoherent manner that it is simply imagination. There is no evidence of the existence of these god-concepts -- either coherent or incoherent -- outside of imagination.

This isn't a 50-50 kinda deal and it's a mistake to think it is.

Re:Asking for proof there is a god, if there is on (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year and a half ago | (#43342733)

There is no evidence of the existence of these god-concepts -- either coherent or incoherent -- outside of imagination.

What evidence was there a thousand years ago that we would have this conversation today? There was certainly none, at all... should the fact that there was absolutely no evidence that we were to have this conversation somehow be taken as even circumstantial evidence that, within the framework of what could have ever been possibly known at the turn of the 11th century, that this conversation today most probably would not have occurred? Nope. You can't even assign a probability to it at all. let alone measure which outcome is even slightly more probable.

Now multiply that thousand years by 14 million.

That's what trying to argue about which is the more probable situation when it comes to the existence of God is like. Zero basis... either way.

Re:Asking for proof there is a god, if there is on (1)

The Wild Norseman (1404891) | about a year and a half ago | (#43342927)

Well, okay, if you want to ignore the totality of what I said to slice out that chunk, please be my guest. However, that's where the evidence leads: god-concepts that people believe are real and have some existence are made up things.

Also -- a thousand years from now, ten thousand years from now -- there will not suddenly spring forth evidence that the Abrahimic god of the Christian bible is real and has some sort of empirical existence as claimed by believers. Science (the methodology as well as the body of knowledge) has already shown that god to be made up.

Please trot out any logical, coherent and meaningful definition of a god and we'll test it now; today. Not a thousand years from now.

Re:Asking for proof there is a god, if there is on (4, Interesting)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about a year and a half ago | (#43341707)

The problem with your statement is that militant theists don't recognize the existence of any other type of non-believer than atheists. That view is an epic fail.

That view doesn't cover things, and by a very long distance.

I do not believe in God. I am not an atheist though, I just don't care about the existence of God, or not. The reason is simple, as my tag line says, I have no need for that hypothesis. Other approaches to the problems posed by reality require simpler hypotheses, and hypothesis that are testable. God is not admissible as a hypothesis under these conditions.

When somebody is able to pose a problem that I think is reasonable to want an answer for and that answer requires the hypothesis of the existence of God, or alternatively the opposite, the hypothesis that God does not exist then I'll become more interested.

Right now though it's a waste of time. God, existence or not, is not a useful concept.

Re:Asking for proof there is a god, if there is on (4, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year and a half ago | (#43341899)

And, that, is completely indistinguishable from an atheistic opinion. Atheism just means not actively supporting bad hypotheses on religious grounds.

Re:Asking for proof there is a god, if there is on (2)

narcc (412956) | about a year and a half ago | (#43342271)

Atheism just means not actively supporting bad hypotheses on religious grounds.

What?

Atheism is simply a lack of belief in any god. That's all. There's nothing extra. No add-ons. There's no "because", further ramifications, or requirements.

The parent is undoubtedly an atheist. He seems to dislike the term, however, likely due to the association with the vile cesspool that is the online atheist community.

Re:Asking for proof there is a god, if there is on (1)

Dahamma (304068) | about a year and a half ago | (#43341987)

God, existence or not, is not a useful concept.

To you, maybe. But to the leaders of various political, religious, and terrorist groups it's a very useful concept. The history of Judeo-Christian organized religion has always been centered on control, and it has worked remarkably well for that purpose.

Re:Asking for proof there is a god, if there is on (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about a year and a half ago | (#43342229)

But has that purpose been useful to me? I think not.

Re:Asking for proof there is a god, if there is on (1)

Dahamma (304068) | about a year and a half ago | (#43342603)

Yeah, that's what I meant by the first sentence, but it may not have been worded that clearly... anyway, it was nothing against your comment except to point out ignoring it entirely doesn't mean it can't affect you greatly (and probably not in a good way).

Re:Asking for proof there is a god, if there is on (4, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year and a half ago | (#43342025)

The problem with your statement is that militant theists don't recognize the existence of any other type of non-believer than atheists. That view is an epic fail.

Hell, most militant theists don't recognize the existence of other types of theists! For example, I submit Jihadist Muslims and the WBC - according to both groups, if you're not among their ranks, you're a filthy non-believer.

I do not believe in God. I am not an atheist though,

If the first part of that statement is true, then yes, you are an atheist by definition. However, the rest of that paragraph makes me think what you meant to say is something to the effect of, "I do not necessarily believe in a God, but I will not acknowledge nor deny the existence of such," which would technically make you an "agnostic atheist." At least, according to Wikipedia; personally, I hate labels.

Right now though it's a waste of time. God, existence or not, is not a useful concept.

Fuckin' A, man. We, as a species, have more important shit to do than waste our lives arguing about an unknowable.

Re:Asking for proof there is a god, if there is on (0)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about a year and a half ago | (#43342393)

> If the first part of that statement is true, then yes, you are an atheist by definition.

NO. Atheism is the belief that there is no God.

That is not the same as saying you do not believe in God.

Re:Asking for proof there is a god, if there is on (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year and a half ago | (#43342133)

I do not believe in God. I am not an atheist though, I just don't care about the existence of God, or not.

This position is either agnostic atheism [wikipedia.org] or apatheism [wikipedia.org] , depending on whether you find the existence of God to be at all worthy of any of your attention. It's basically either "I don't know, so I'll act like there isn't a God", or "I don't know and I really don't care".

That's a different position from strong atheism [wikipedia.org] , which specifically declares that there is no God.

Re:Asking for proof there is a god, if there is on (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about a year and a half ago | (#43342213)

I think of it more as methodological naturalism.

Re:Asking for proof there is a god, if there is on (5, Insightful)

deoxyribonucleose (993319) | about a year and a half ago | (#43342113)

/.../, atheism is also a faith-based belief structure.

In exactly the same way that avoiding playing football is a sport.

Re:Asking for proof there is a god, if there is on (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43342503)

This is what I find endlessly hilarious about certain theists - they'll prattle on and on about how their faith in a magical sky daddy is just as good and reasonable as the assumptions an atheist accepts in order to function properly in the real world.

Also applies to certain idiots.

Re:Asking for proof there is a god, if there is on (1)

kaizendojo (956951) | about a year and a half ago | (#43341525)

Wouldn't a more accurate analogy would be the characters asking one another to prove there is an author??

Re:Asking for proof there is a god, if there is on (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year and a half ago | (#43341567)

Good point

Actually, I suppose so... since the author might write conditions within the book which could appear to them such that any book they might be a part of may conceivably have written itself.

It's called pseudoskepticism (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43341593)

On pseudoskepticism: [debunkingskeptics.com]

As mentioned earlier, a skeptic doubts, inquires, questions, ponders, etc. But these pseudoskeptics do anything but. They attack, ridicule, discredit and suppress anything and everything that challenges the materialist reductionist paradigm. But don't take my word for it. Just look at any article by James Randi, Michael Shermer, or Skeptical Inquirer, for example, and you will see that there is no questioning of what they are told, doubt or pondering of possibilities at all. All they do is ridicule and attack anything related to paranormal and psychic phenomena, holistic medicine, and conspiracies. That's not what skepticism is. The founder of the term itself meant this:

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skeptic

        In classical philosophy, skepticism refers to the teachings and the traits of the 'Skeptikoi', a school of philosophers of whom it was said that they 'asserted nothing but only opined.' (Liddell and Scott) In this sense, philosophical skepticism, or Pyrrhonism, is the philosophical position that one should suspend judgment in investigations.[1]

And according to Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, a skeptic is:

        "One who is yet undecided as to what is true; one who is looking or inquiring for what is true; an inquirer after facts or reasons." ...

Captcha: ignoring

Re:It's called pseudoskepticism (2)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year and a half ago | (#43341759)

You are confused, young man.

All they do is, when someone makes a claim, say, "Let's prove it."

They create tests that merely rule out known forms of trickery (this is why you need skilled magicians like Randi) and, Lo! The phenomenon suddenly disappears.

Repeat that to yourself: When known forms of trickery are watched for, the phenomenon never manifests.

Make of that what you will...if you are intellectually honest.

Re:It's called pseudoskepticism (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year and a half ago | (#43342037)

What possible tests could characters in a book use to prove, not necessarily absolutely, but even just beyond all reasonable doubt, that they are just characters in a book (and in turn, that an author actually exists)? I can't think of any.

It could be an interesting literary challenge, I think, for an author to try to write a fictional conversation which somehow logically proved the existence of the author to the fictional characters.

Re:It's called pseudoskepticism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43342907)

They can't test if the author exists or not, although that is only relevant to a very small portion of the theist versus atheist argument these days. However, if trying to test whether there is a very specific kind of author, there are situations that would run into contradictions. Suppose testing for say an author that makes character's thoughts & actions follow logically, and additionally the author has a thing that does not allow them to say anything bad about cheese ever in their books. A sufficiently determined, observant, and skeptical character is going to run into a problem eventually, either noting that there is always a contrived situation preventing cheese being portrayed in a bad light, or an out of character change will happen to make the character disregard their previous questions and thoughts. Or in a different case, a character that goes through some well contained, significant adventure/story without having sex at any point could argue that they are at least not in a story written by one of those authors that needs a sex scene with the main character in every book.

Re:Asking for proof there is a god, if there is on (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43342445)

In your analogy, how would either character come to the know that there is an author?

How could they tell what they know is real? Even if the author imbued special knowledge, how can you know it's true? ", this is speaking. I am all knowing and created this book. I am a Giraffe with wings attached at my knees." vs. "The thought themselves to be in a book written by a giraffe with wings on it's knees." In the end the character would have the same "knowledge" but it's completely unprovable, both are false, and neither are useful in any way.

Your analogy also completely removes any free action from the characters. If the author stops writing the characters do nothing.

Re:Asking for proof there is a god, if there is on (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year and a half ago | (#43342601)

Well, it's an analogy... of course it falls apart at some point. But if the characters do nothing because the writer stops writing, the characters don't know about it either.

My point being that the very concept of being just a book, there is no possible way that any kind of rational proof can be established within it that things exist outside of it, even though that may very well be true because the author is outside of the book, but all of reality for the characters only contains what is in the book.

God, if such a being exists... I think would have simply imagined creation, in a not entirely dissimilar way to how an author writes a story... the biggest difference that I would see is that as characters in this imaginary tale of his, living organisms with what we would classify as a mind (or at least one of sufficient complexity) would have somehow been imbued with an independent free will so that they can supposedly be accountable for their own choices. And even if this notion were entirely true, the information density in the entirety of creation, from the big bang until the universe burns out could still not contain sufficient data to prove, or even establish any degree of likelihood, of the existence of such a being.

Re:Asking for proof there is a god, if there is on (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43342787)

But in the end you have a useless exercise. None of the characters can know the truth of their beliefs about said entity. Claims that there is an author are as unimportant as claims there is not.

As they completely lack any free actions, there's nothing that can be done with the knowledge. In your analogy, there is no interaction between the author and characters that can be bidirectional, it's all at the authors will. The claims that there is an important connection between the characters and the author (or humans and god) are not addressed in the analogy, and so it doesn't apply to said claims.

My objection is that it fails to even address why someone claiming there is a god should be taken seriously.

Damn, I missed it (2)

azav (469988) | about a year and a half ago | (#43340911)

I wish I got a word in. See, I'm a very scientific person with an actual degree in this "Science" stuff. Yet, I realize that science falls short in explaining that which can't be quantified, measured, or repeated.

As a 15 year old young man, I did live in a house where things moved, occasionally right in front of our eyes. Thankfully, it was only for a one year, and I have never experienced such disturbing events again.

At least four other people (all men) also witnessed these events within our house.

Of course, after leaving, I found out that there was a violent relationship (and death) in the house. It's like some imprint was left on the place and there was a constant hostility towards all men within the house. When you see 3 inch nails flying across a room, more than once, that sends a message.

Though James Randi is very much against supernatural things, I wonder if he is able to admit that there are things that we do not have the disciplines to explain yet?

Part of scientific thinking is that "I don't know" is a perfectly good answer for that which science can not yet measure or identify.

Really. This stuff did happen to me, my father, two friends and a repairman.

Re:Damn, I missed it (4, Informative)

dingen (958134) | about a year and a half ago | (#43341067)

He says "I don't know" all the time. He also explicitly doesn't say he knows supernatural stuff doesn't exist. He just asks that if you say you have a supernatural ability, you have to be able to prove it. Many have tried, but so far nobody has ever been able to do so.

Re:Damn, I missed it (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year and a half ago | (#43341365)

I have the "ability" to affect *some* street lights. It's always the same ones *but* it doesn't always work. It seems to depend on my mood for some reason. When I approach they turn off and once I'm past them they light up again.

I think the light sensors may have extremely varying properties and that some may happen to pick up on some kind of energy and/or frequencies that people emit. I also think that people who can see "auras" see the same thing, their eyes pick up something outside of the visible spectrum.

I've once seen a video where a guy had to prove he had the same ability, as if all street lights were manufactured with the exact same atomic patterns. There's variations in each and every single things we make. As an example, some people may be able to crack a board in two with their bare fists, other boards will resist the punches because maybe it's a different wood type, maybe it's because of the wood grain, etc. Same thing applies to everything, on the atomic level.

Re:Damn, I missed it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43341423)

dude this happens to me all the time too, and i don't think i'm magical.

FROM WIKIPEDIA--------------

The skeptical explanation to claims of SLI is to consider it an example of confirmation bias: people are much more likely to notice when a street light near them turns on or off than they are to notice a street light in a steady state. This is compounded by a failure mode of street lights, known as "cycling", in which street lights of the high pressure sodium type turn off and on more frequently at the end of their life cycle.[7] Also, a bizarre personal causal inference, especially in the case of inferring a relationship from one or few instances, is known as magical thinking. A top high pressure sodium engineer at General Electric, quoted by Cecil Adams, summarizes that SLI is "a combination of coincidence and wishful thinking".[7] Massimo Polidoro notes in Skeptical Inquirer that "Paranormal phenomenon is the least likely possibility."[8]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Street_light_interference_phenomenon

Re:Damn, I missed it (3, Informative)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year and a half ago | (#43341459)

I have the "ability" to affect *some* street lights. It's always the same ones *but* it doesn't always work.

*facepalm* Otherwise known as dodgy street lights which would be going on and off even if you weren't around, only then you're not around to see it.

Re:Damn, I missed it (2)

Pope (17780) | about a year and a half ago | (#43341537)

I have the "ability" to affect *some* street lights. It's always the same ones *but* it doesn't always work. It seems to depend on my mood for some reason. When I approach they turn off and once I'm past them they light up again.

I think the light sensors may have extremely varying properties and that some may happen to pick up on some kind of energy and/or frequencies that people emit. I also think that people who can see "auras" see the same thing, their eyes pick up something outside of the visible spectrum.

I've once seen a video where a guy had to prove he had the same ability, as if all street lights were manufactured with the exact same atomic patterns. There's variations in each and every single things we make. As an example, some people may be able to crack a board in two with their bare fists, other boards will resist the punches because maybe it's a different wood type, maybe it's because of the wood grain, etc. Same thing applies to everything, on the atomic level.

Hi. That's called Confirmation Bias. You do not have supernatural powers.

Re:Damn, I missed it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43341587)

I have the "ability" to affect *some* street lights. It's always the same ones *but* it doesn't always work. It seems to depend on my mood for some reason. When I approach they turn off and once I'm past them they light up again.

This is a common fallacy [wikipedia.org] . I had a failing street light outside my bedroom window once. It confused the hell out of me for almost a month before I figured out exactly what was going on. Because the street light went out suddenly, but turned on slowly, it was easy to believe one was caused by something, but it was just cycling. For the first week, I only observed the light going out and never on, which I knew was impossible.

Re:Damn, I missed it (1)

uvsc_wolverine (692513) | about a year and a half ago | (#43342743)

Oh my gosh...I typed a huge long reply to this and then the comment system ate it.

I have had this happen to me a lot. Enough so that my cousins and some of my friends refer to it as my super power. We saw two different types of lights (same day, different times of day) turn off in a movie theater parking lot as I walked past them, or parked under them.

My original reply was much longer and more detailed than this, but I don't want to retype it.

Re:Damn, I missed it (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about a year and a half ago | (#43341387)

If I'm anywhere near as sharp and coherent as he is at age 84 I won't be complaining I tell you. Or rather I probably will be, but sharply and coherently.

Re:Damn, I missed it (0)

narcc (412956) | about a year and a half ago | (#43341919)

Many have tried, but so far nobody has ever been able to do so.

A Randi misdirection. No one has ever taken the official challenge. The JREF is also suspiciously silent on the number of preliminary tests conducted every year. I suspect that it's because they're not being conducted at all. (If they had real numbers, you'd think they'd use them for marketing! That they're completely silent on the activities related to their most well-known and well publicized function speaks volumes.)

When you say "many have tried" you're taking Randi at his word. A bad idea, as he's already shown that he's willing to defraud the federal government (example: Jose Alvarez). What makes you think he'd balk at defrauding his supporters?

Well-known fraud committing fraud? It's not exactly a stretch.

Let's face it, Randi is the Peter Popoff of the skeptic world. Atheism's very own faith healer. That such an obvious fraud can operate so openly among (self-proclaimed) skeptics is an embarrassment.

Re:Damn, I missed it (4, Informative)

Xtifr (1323) | about a year and a half ago | (#43342683)

No one has ever taken the official challenge.

Because no one has ever passed the preliminaries.

The JREF is also suspiciously silent on the number of preliminary tests conducted every year.

No they're not. Nobody has taken the preliminary since they introduced the "you must have reasonable documentation of something worth testing" requirement a while back. There are plenty of ways to provide documentation: letters from a local college or university, passing the tests offered by many smaller skeptic groups (which will give you some cash to continue your efforts), or even mainstream media news coverage. I only looked into it briefly out of curiousity, and I was able to find that out with just a little bit of investigation. The fact that you think it's some great mystery doesn't speak well to your investigative powers.

They do, however, try to run at least one informal test each year at TAM.

He's already shown that he's willing to defraud the federal government (example: Jose Alvarez).

A publicity stunt designed to show that people are still too gullible, perpetrated on Australian media somehow magically becomes "defrauding" the "federal government"? Not only are your facts wrong, but your butt-hurtedness is showing. Which sacred cow of yours did he gore?

That they're completely silent on the activities related to their most well-known and well publicized function speaks volumes.

A) They're not completely silent on it, and B) however well-known the million-dollar-challenge, it's still nothing but a publicity stunt that has little or nothing to do with the Randi Foundation's primary purpose of educating the public. It serves its purpose quite well just by sitting there, unchallenged. The Randi Foundation's actual activities are well-documented and publicized. If they weren't, the Foundation would be in serious legal hot water.

Re:Damn, I missed it (2)

nblender (741424) | about a year and a half ago | (#43341219)

You were had.

My son believes that squirrels leave messages for him in his mailbox. He wants to believe it so badly that he refuses to acknowledge that it could be me doing it, or a workman that I cajoled into doing it for me. One day it will occur to him that it was me but until then, he's entitled to his little fantasy.

It's too bad someone didn't own up to it though. Those pranks seem to have affected your adult ability to think critically.

Re:Damn, I missed it (0)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year and a half ago | (#43341757)

You were had.

Read: I don't believe you saw what you saw, and even though I wasn't there and have no reasonable, alternate explanation, I'm going to call you stupid for believing you saw something that I don't believe you saw, based entirely on my own blind faith.

How... unscientific of you.

Re:Damn, I missed it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43341891)

Just the same as saying nails flew through the air, I could say I saw unicorns but without any evidence I would expect any half-intelligent person to question it the rest of the idiots would be criticising those who dismiss it.

Re:Damn, I missed it (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year and a half ago | (#43342597)

Accepting wild ass claims just because someone insists "me and my buddies saw it, do we look like liars to you" is not science. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. So get to work. Provide some actual evidence. Otherwise, you're just another person in the long list of people making crazy claims. I'm sure you're a nice guy, and probably even sincere. But nice and sincere simply is inadequate for anyone to believe, let alone spend a good deal of money and time, researching your claim.

Or, as Carl Sagan put it so well "They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright Brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown."

Re:Damn, I missed it (1)

lgw (121541) | about a year and a half ago | (#43342773)

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. I'm going to call you stupid for believing something extraordinary without any evidence to back that up, because magical thinking is stupid.

Magic doesn't work. Wishing doesn't make it so. The supernatural is a fraud. You've been had.

Re:Damn, I missed it (4, Insightful)

KingSkippus (799657) | about a year and a half ago | (#43341299)

If you watched the video, he specifically addressed this. He says that he's not claiming that supernatural events don't occur. His prize is up for grabs to someone who can prove that they do.

"I don't know" is, in fact a perfectly good answer, but it's not a valid explanation. It's certainly not proof of the contrary. More often than not, it is a cop-out to use "I don't know" as an excuse to not believe what evidence there is or do further research into the matter. This is where religion gets into trouble a lot. I've seen it a lot in the form of statements like, "Scientists don't know such-and-such, therefore God did it."

If you have what seemed to be supernatural occurrences happening in a house you lived in, the scientifically "correct" course of action isn't to simply chalk it up to ghosts and be done with it, it is to try to come up with plausible explanations for what was happening and testing them. Even if you settle on the ghosts answer, you need some way to prove that that's what it is. Who knows? Maybe you could have won Randi's prize.

And I'm not being facetious when I say that. A lot of advancements in science have happened when people didn't just accept seemingly supernatural phenomena at face value, but investigated it. Sometimes you even get really lucky and the actual explanation is more fantastical than any supernatural explanation.

Re:Damn, I missed it (2)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about a year and a half ago | (#43341963)

This reminds me of a TV show where it turned out that a "haunted" house happened to have a fungus growing in the walls that caused hallucinations in susceptible people (not everyone). End result was that sometimes it was the people themselves throwing things across the room, but remembering it happening without them touching the objects. Once they cleaned up the fungus, the paranormal activity stopped.

Sure, that's just someone's script for a show, but there are quite often* explanations for paranormal things, as long as your thinking isn't trapped in a box of limited possibilities.

*OK, there's always more explanations (hypotheses) than events, and often even more than one is correct, for a given limited definition of correct.

Never forget that science is really just a collection of narratives that have been cross-referenced to hang together. Most of the time, we can create a narrative that's both simplistic enough for us to understand it and complex enough to cover most of the event horizon. But not always (see Lies to Children like "what is a solid object" and "what is gravity" -- even with Higgs (boson particle/field etc), we're dealing with narrative descriptions based on observations, not definitions of how things actually work).

Foolish demands for proof of the impossible (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43342611)

Can you please define "supernatural" for us?
Can Randi?

Re:Damn, I missed it (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year and a half ago | (#43341351)

1. What's your degree in?
2. How do you know things have in fact moved, and have you attempted in any way to find other explanations (ie. shifting foundation).

Re:Damn, I missed it (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year and a half ago | (#43341873)

On my own behalf, referring to a similar situation I used to encounter when visiting a friend who lived in a "haunted" house:

1) Automotive Technology and Network Security (odd combo, I know)

2) Well, unless the entire world, minus a small porcelain figurine, suddenly shifted down about a foot, then moved in a way that would cause the now static figurine to fly from one side to the other, smashing against the opposite wall... yea, pretty sure that thing moved without visible assistance.

Of course, that's not to say that I think "it was a ghostesses!" or anything like that; were I to posit a hypothesis, I would likely assume the event was a result of some sort of electromagnetic anomaly, but couldn't determine the cause for sure without further investigation and experimentation. Like what a real scientist would do.

I have seen apparitions* as well, both transparent and opaque, but by no means attribute them to any sort of supernatural event. Everything is explainable, given sufficient experimentation and analysis.

What saddens me is when people instantly discount a phenomenon just because their chosen faith doesn't allow questioning the unknown. What really saddens me is when the people who do this refer to themselves as "scientists."

*Mostly in theaters (real theaters, not movie houses)... always found that to be a curious aspect of the phenomenon...

Re:Damn, I missed it (3, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year and a half ago | (#43342491)

So, in other words, your qualifications are no more "science" than a baker's or a doctor's.

And the reason these phenomenon are frequently discounted is because they almost inevitably do not stand up to scrutiny. How many times do researchers have to waste their time on claims of spirits moving dishes before finally researchers throw up their hands and decide their time would be much better spent in areas where fruitful results are likely,.

I'll be blunt, the paranormal "field of research" is populated by a long list of quacks and frauds, with maybe a very very very very very small number of researchers who actually are willing to apply appropriate methodologies. The reason that guys like James Randi, Penn and Teller and the Mythbusters are so successful at what they do is because they are experts in what one might call the illusionary arts, and thus are uniquely qualified to recognize when some spoon bender type is playing a con.

And as a final note, it amazes me how, after a century and a half of pretty deep research into how the human mind functions, and all too often malfunctions, that people are so willing to absolutely trust their senses when objects or environment seem to function in a counter-intuitive fashion. There have been no lack of studies that demonstrate just how fallible our senses and our cognitive abilities can be under extreme and sometimes even normal circumstances, and yet those rational explanations are rejected out of hand in favor of wild ass claims of ghosts, spirits, UFOs, the Hand of God, the Holy Spirit, mystery electro-magnetic (or insert your favorite quasi-scientific phrase; quantum seems quite popular these days) and yes, sometimes just being plain conned.

Re:Damn, I missed it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43341501)

Could there have been a carbon monoxide leak?

Re:Damn, I missed it (1)

tibit (1762298) | about a year and a half ago | (#43342689)

You're a fool for needing to believe in a supernatural explanation for this -- if that's what you have implied. Utter fool. Sorry. Scientific person, my ass.

I don't see the video? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43340919)

He made it disappear!

Oh Slashdot (3, Insightful)

dingen (958134) | about a year and a half ago | (#43341013)

You claim the interview is "too long" to post in one go, so you cut in half (it's not even half an hour, but ok). Yet you didn't use these cutting abilities to edit out the bit where Randi had to go turn off his TV in the other room, making us watch at his empty chair for over a minute.

Re:Oh Slashdot (1)

Farmer Tim (530755) | about a year and a half ago | (#43341271)

But Randi is so amazing even his arse-groove is entertaining to watch.

Um, that sounded a lot less questionable in my head...

Re:Oh Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43341327)

This was simply one of James Randi's disappearing tricks.

Re:Oh Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43341505)

If the video was too long (too long for what? Does their video host limit them to 13 minutes?) They'd simply have posted both videos today.
Posting them a day apart only serves to drive page views.

Re:Oh Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43341585)

They're hoping to get readers from r/atheism on "that other site," hence the bullshit cliffhanger -- the editors here know full well who they're losing readership to, they just don't know how to get them back. Besides filling up the site with paid advertisment "articles" of course, they won't stop doing that until someone stops paying them.

Edit the video PLEASE! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43341015)

You can edit it into two parts but refuse to edit out the dead air, really?

Horrendous Editing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43341037)

Half of the clip features an empty chair. The interview is cut off in mid sentence. Can't imagine why there were even credits! In addition, Randi was obviously trying to make the most of the rather poor questions being asked...

Spelling (1)

Nethead (1563) | about a year and a half ago | (#43341081)

That's The Amaz!ng Randi to you.

"alleged"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43341089)

No one can sue you for claiming their supernatural ability is a fraud, because unless it's advertised as entertainment, it is fucking fraud! They can never prove otherwise, that's the fucking point. Cowardly editors and submitter?

Re:"alleged"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43342197)

No one can sue you for claiming their supernatural ability is a fraud, because unless it's advertised as entertainment, it is fucking fraud! They can never prove otherwise, that's the fucking point. Cowardly editors and submitter?

People can sue you for anything they want. You make an argument for why they can't win, but that doesn't mean you won't have to spend lots of money defending yourself until then.

Did he just age a year? (2)

dcollins117 (1267462) | about a year and a half ago | (#43341235)

Anyone else notice that he says " I am now 84, going on 100 as I like to say." and then shortly thereafter says "as I say, I'm 85"

I'm not busting his balls or anything; I like the guy. Just struck me as odd. He either doesn't know how old he is or that video took a long time to make :P

p.s. According the Wikipedia, he's 85.

Re:Did he just age a year? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year and a half ago | (#43341275)

Anyone else notice that he says " I am now 84, going on 100 as I like to say." and then shortly thereafter says "as I say, I'm 85"

You should have said "Happy birthday, James Randi!" ;-)

Re:Did he just age a year? (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year and a half ago | (#43341907)

I take it you don't spend much time around geriatrics?

They tend to be a bit... forgetful.

Re:Did he just age a year? (1)

Xtifr (1323) | about a year and a half ago | (#43342543)

Speaking as someone slightly past the half-century mark, it's easy to lose track of a year here or there once you have enough piled up.

Magician's Alliance Approved? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43341401)

I dunno... I'd just feel more comfortable going with a guild approved magician.

Magician? Wait a minute.. (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year and a half ago | (#43341461)

It's not this guy [addictinginfo.org] , is it?

He's a good talker, too. (1)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | about a year and a half ago | (#43341515)

>> He's a good talker, too.

OK - you sold me. I'll watch an old man talk to me. (Er...not really.)

Blanks in transcript (2)

furyqba (2886311) | about a year and a half ago | (#43341985)

There are three gaps in the transcript; here's what belongs in two of them. I'm still having trouble making sense of the other.
~6:45 "they should be able to cheat people and lie to them and fake their results"
~11:26 "giving them things like, be sure to take their lecithin; I can sense from the vibrations"

I think the editors are send subliminal messages (1)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | about a year and a half ago | (#43342123)

So, the editor believes that James Randi's interview was long and strong, does that necessarily imply that the editor or Mr. Randi are 'down to get the friction on'? It just seems to logically follow, or so I've been told.

(This put Sir Mix-a-lot in my head, thank you ever so much. /sarcasm)

He looks like.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43342713)

Deckard Cain

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