randi documentary - an alternative perspective.

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Brad Henderson
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randi documentary - an alternative perspective.

Postby Brad Henderson » June 10th, 2015, 11:39 pm


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Re: randi documentary - an alternative perspective.

Postby Q. Kumber » June 11th, 2015, 3:46 am

It confirms something I've long suspected..

Highly amusing that in the article's photo Randi is holding a skull cane, no doubt to ward off evil spirits and overly inquisitive journalists. :)

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Re: randi documentary - an alternative perspective.

Postby Bob Farmer » June 11th, 2015, 5:44 am

At a Toronto lecture, I asked Randi if the same standards that he applied to others should be applied to him, because, at the time, I thought some of his claims outran his evidence. I didn't get an answer; the audience just booed--me.

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Re: randi documentary - an alternative perspective.

Postby P.T.Widdle » June 11th, 2015, 8:53 am

This story is a year old and has been posted here before.

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Re: randi documentary - an alternative perspective.

Postby Matthew Field » June 11th, 2015, 9:12 am

Farmer bad! Farmer evil! Boo boo boo!

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Re: randi documentary - an alternative perspective.

Postby Brad Henderson » June 11th, 2015, 9:25 am

Widdle, given all the recent press re randi it is fitting to have the full story presented, yes? I mean, if someone valued honesty and accuracy and wasn't just pushing an agenda in blind faith.

(and the article was posted in December, so it isn't a year old. I thought a skeptic would value facts more than that. )

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Re: randi documentary - an alternative perspective.

Postby Jonathan Townsend » June 11th, 2015, 9:55 am

This skeptic wonders what the fuss about Rupert Sheldrake ... and where are the data behind any of their claims.
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Re: randi documentary - an alternative perspective.

Postby P.T.Widdle » June 11th, 2015, 9:58 am

Brad, if you "value honesty and accuracy," then mention that the article is not new, and that it has been posted here before - you could even provide the link to the original posting by, surprise, me!

viewtopic.php?f=10&t=45734&p=306726&hilit=telegraph#p306726

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Re: randi documentary - an alternative perspective.

Postby Brad Henderson » June 11th, 2015, 12:38 pm

such a loyal disciple you are.

I never claimed it was new.

As it didn't make that claim I need not defend it.

First you skeptics seem to not know what 'skeptic' means. Now you have no idea what claims and evidence are???

(and really, we condemn people now for accidentally repeating relevant magical information that may have been posted previously. Please Widdle, you can hide your true colors better than that. YES YES I see you posted it. But I've seen enough posts by skeptics to know that we must always attack the person and belittle them at all costs. THAT'S the path to changing minds. This explains why no one has heard of Uri Geller since the 70's)

while I Sincerely wish randi a long and happy life, I won't be surprised when his followers declare three days after his death that he is missing from his tomb.

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Re: randi documentary - an alternative perspective.

Postby David Nethery » August 5th, 2015, 10:20 am

Fascinating article. Thanks for posting it. These two paragraphs from the end of the article are telling:

The film’s director, Justin Weinstein, says he’s aware of this very different perspective on the Carlos Hoax. But, he says, his documentary is not strictly a work of journalism. Rather, like Randi, he’s a storyteller. “Sometimes there are greater truths you can reach when you don’t adhere to the facts.”

When I tell Weinstein that my own research lead me to believe Randi was someone who couldn’t be justly described as "an honest liar" he says, “There’s no doubt he’s made misstatements. Sometimes in order to get to a truth you bend the truth. And in Randi’s case sometimes he bends it too far. The irony is he’s leading a sceptical movement that’s calling it out when other people are lying.”


People who use language like that -- and about "useful lies" -- yikes :shock: ... no thanks.

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Re: randi documentary - an alternative perspective.

Postby Banachek » August 5th, 2015, 12:13 pm

Bottom line is it is a fascinating doc that has one many, many awards and is now available on NetFlix an Itunes. Love or hate Randi, people seem to love the documentary.

Also for those who lump all skeptics in one sink, there are skeptics and there are pseudoskeptics. The latter tend to be fanatics and that is a shame, it is one of the reasons I don't really like the word Skeptic anymore It has unfortunately become the label of close mindedness and meanness. I prefer the term 'Critical thinker'. Not ALL skeptics are that way. Being a skeptic means being open minded, not closed, yet not being so open your brain falls out. It means not accepting everything at face value, but stepping back until you have facts to support a claim or not support it, holding back judgement EITHER WAY till all the relevant facts have been handed in despite one's own bias. It does not mean bullying others to your way of thinking, but sharing said relevant facts and letting others make up their own mind.

What many people do not understand is there is a huge difference between a claim and a scientific theory. Scientific theories are based upon the empirical evidence found in science, a claim is simply that, something someone claims with no science attached at all, or psuedoscience attach as an explanation. Hence the reason skeptics doubt most psychic phenomena if not all. It simply has not passed scientific muster. All scientific theories pass through the area of doubt, criticism and the like to proceed to being a a scientific theory.
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Re: randi documentary - an alternative perspective.

Postby Leo Garet » August 5th, 2015, 12:26 pm

“Sometimes there are greater truths you can reach when you don’t adhere to the facts.”

And quite often greater (as in more) facts are revealed when you don't adhere to the truth. :?

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Re: randi documentary - an alternative perspective.

Postby Brad Henderson » August 5th, 2015, 2:35 pm

just got to watch this. Enjoyable and interesting. painted a very positive and human figure.

Banachek came off well as well.

The reason skeptic became a dirty word is because of the behavior of skeptics. So while one cannot paint all with the same brush, one cannot deny that many have transcended skepticism and become zealots. As Geller
points out, the approach of the skeptic movement has failed to move people en mass away from pseudoscientific beliefs. I contend this is because of the attitude and approach which held sway in the skeptic movement - the gardnerian tact of using derision and ridicule as the primary operating position. Which is a shame, for their cause was a good one.

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Re: randi documentary - an alternative perspective.

Postby Banachek » August 5th, 2015, 9:40 pm

Brad, something you and I agree on :-) Maybe not to the same degree as I see both sides doing that, but we agree. It is why I use the term pseudo-skeptics rather than true skeptics but the behaviour has indeed tainted the skeptic word. And I meant "won" not "one" many awards :lol:
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Re: randi documentary - an alternative perspective.

Postby Diego » August 6th, 2015, 12:50 am

Banachek,
What you say is very good and needed, although other skeptics will claim to have that stance, only to be as strident, negative, and tiresome as the true believers they point their arrogant fingers at.

On one matter, I found the stance of some sincere religious believers who questioned the work of faith healers and other miracle workers, much more telling:
"You say you have the gifts of healing that our Lord and Apostles had? Great, then we have faith that you will go to the hospitals and clear them out!" "In the Bible, some had their limbs, ears, etc. miraculously restored...why haven't you EVER shown us a healed amputee as a result of your prayers yet?" "The Bible says our Lord healed ALL manner of diseases, we believe someone with that power like yourself, can bring the healing of those with Down's Syndrome or mental retardation, or AIDS, so please show us that you will let us see the same happen today!"

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Re: randi documentary - an alternative perspective.

Postby Brad Henderson » August 6th, 2015, 1:59 pm

Banachek,

What role if any do you think Randi has played in creating or fostering the pseudo-skeptic ideology,
especially when some of those close to him (and who revere him greatly) would likely be categorized as such.

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Re: randi documentary - an alternative perspective.

Postby Chris Aguilar » August 7th, 2015, 11:55 am

I look forward to watching the documentary.

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Re: randi documentary - an alternative perspective.

Postby Jonathan Townsend » August 7th, 2015, 12:06 pm

Banachek wrote:... scientific theories pass through the area of doubt, criticism and the like to proceed to being a a scientific theory.


Many fail in getting a hypothesis formed which can be falsified (read that as tested).
Many fail in early hypothesis testing along the way.
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Re: randi documentary - an alternative perspective.

Postby El Mystico » August 7th, 2015, 1:44 pm

Interesting; I was a firm believer in pseudoscience as a teenager. Completely fell for Geller; I remember wasting hours trying to guess what my mum had drawn.
It was books like Flim Flam and Gardner's books that brought me to question such things.
Now, looking back at those books, I have to agree that they lack scientific rigour.
But maybe there is a role for both approaches; there are so many populist books in support of 'weird ideas', there should be populist books that at least draw attention to a counter-view. As well as books that contain rigorous analysis.

I'm certainly grateful to Randi and Gardner.

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Re: randi documentary - an alternative perspective.

Postby Jonathan Townsend » August 7th, 2015, 1:51 pm

El Mystico wrote:... so many populist books in support of 'weird ideas', there should be populist books that at least draw attention to a counter-view...



continuity, causality and identity are 'weird ideas'.
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Re: randi documentary - an alternative perspective.

Postby Banachek » August 7th, 2015, 2:30 pm

What role if any do you think Randi has played in creating or fostering the pseudo-skeptic ideology,


That question would be the same as asking, what role did Jesus take in fostering religious fanaticism that kills and fosters hatred. All things that stand out as controversial have people close on both sides who cross the line. THey are responsible for their own actions, they have choices to make just like I have choices to make. Sometimes I make the wrongs ones, that is part of being a human. If I was AI as it is now, I would even make more mistakes due to context and understanding and human psychology, but I am not, but I still make mistakes, we all do. It is how we respond to those mistakes that make us stand apart.

Sure Randi has made his mistakes along the way, but he learns as we all do and we hopefully better ourselves as a result or at least we should. Randi trod in areas where there were no rule books to guide you, he paved the way for true skeptics and yes, psuedo-skeptics have indeed jumped upon the train. Any ride, including the ride of life and it's journeys will include ALL types, good and bad, and all journeys will have ups and downs. It is part of what makes the journey memorable and Randi's life as portrayed in An Honest Liar portrays a true journey with warts and all. He can't be responsible for those who would not follow the ways of a true skeptic.

I can't speak for those others who are psuedo-Skeptics and would not want to as I don't understand that mindset other than it is often fanatical and not the true skeptical way. I am not their shield bearer. They make their choices and hurt skepticism for others. You have the same on the other side of the fence in the psychic world with scum like Van Praag and John Edward.

Then again we have the same in magic don't we?

Just because I write a book for the magic community does not mean I support those who steal and download books. You could argue that just because I wrote a book I foster stealing books as a result. That would be just silly. So I dispute the original quote. Randi is not responsible for those people, but he is responsible for pointing out dangerous nonsense in the world like the fake bomb sniffers and the like.

IF you have not, see An Honest Liar. Then maybe the comment about the skull cane would be understood to be moot :twisted: .

As for Bob Farmers question. It is a good one, one he should not have been booed for but should have been given an answer. Even Houdini was accused and suspected of cheating to further what he thought was right. THat is not the right way to do things and we should approach all things skeptically, even Randi's claims. Taking things at face value just because you have a bias is exactly what got the scientists in trouble with Project ALpha. But raising suspicion on Randi as we all know some do just to muddy the waters is wrong. By all means investigate claims Randi makes. Just as he investigates claims others make.

Randi is not claiming to be a scientist. Even his Million Dollar Challenge is not seen to be scientific proof one way or another as to whether psychic phenomena is real, if someone won it would not automatically mean they are psychic, just as if they lose it does not mean they are not. People win the lottery, that is not psychic and the odds of winning are usually about one in a million. What Randi does is shine a spotlight on items that make outrageous claims and some that could possibly hurt people. THe responsibility for proof is with those making such outrageous or abnormal claims. What the million dollar challenge would do is point scientists in the direction of a possible claim in the paranormal that is real if someone was to win. It would be up to scientists to do further study and validate such a claim. Randi does indeed use the scientific method for his tests. But he is not a scientist. He does consult and use the services of many scientists when investigating outrageous claims


There is nothing wrong with pointing out thieves and con men and gobblygook so that we can deal with the truth and further science and scientific thinking. It does not take science to see a con man for what he is, or to see pseudoscience for what it is. SOmetimes all it takes is a little common sense. SOmetimes it takes cleverness and brilliance. SOmetimes just plain old luck.
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Re: randi documentary - an alternative perspective.

Postby Brad Henderson » August 7th, 2015, 6:15 pm

I think in this case you are being a little too free. It's not that we blame jesus for what his followers did centuries after he taught, but we can reasonably assume that his disciples' behaviors were known and approved of as they never received reprimand while sitting At his feet.

and the book analogy I don't think works. But I do appreciate you taking the time to reply.

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Re: randi documentary - an alternative perspective.

Postby Banachek » August 7th, 2015, 6:33 pm

thanks Brad,

the only reason I use the book analogy is there are those who say that if Randi did not go after these people then there would not be skeptic zealots. To me that is the same as saying if no one wrote books on magic, then there would be no illegal downloads of magic books.
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Re: randi documentary - an alternative perspective.

Postby performer » August 7th, 2015, 10:57 pm

Both skeptics and pseudo-skeptics are fighting a losing battle. They always have and they always will. No matter how much debunking, how much exposing, how much "critical thinking", how many "million dollar" challenges there are, how much chattering about the "burden of proof", how many TAM conferences there are, how much screaming and shouting from the over zealous, rabid, borderline insane pseudo skeptics, how much calm debate and logic from the more moderate, open minded, skeptics and finally no matter how much poor old Randi fulminates about the wickedness of supposedly crooked psychics the believers will always believe and the skeptics will always be vastly outnumbered.

They may as well not bother but I suppose they will continue to do so in great frustration. I know from experience that a newspaper will usually prefer to write a positive article about allegedly paranormal happenings and psychic ability than they will a sceptical article although of course there will be the odd exception.

I also know that a psychic will write a best selling book and it will far outsell some dusty skeptical book which will rot on the shelf of a university library. There are literally THOUSANDS of new age books (I won't even count religious publications) from Astrology to Feng Shui whereas I can't think of even ten (actually I can hardly think of four) sceptical books.

Sceptism has been reduced to the status of a mere hobby on a par with stamp collecting. Nobody cares-they really don't.

It has always been thus in the past and it will always be thus in the future. Sorry about that.

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Re: randi documentary - an alternative perspective.

Postby Banachek » August 8th, 2015, 1:06 pm

For me it is not about losing or winning a war. It is about winning small battles. If you save one person from deceit or death, then a small battle is worth it. The idea that a skeptic thinks he can stop all psychic pseudo nonsense is silly, however certainly one can bring doubt to those who are on the fence with facts.

Nothing to be sorry for, we know this already. Just because I know that does not mean I should not speak up and let it go on.

THere are an e estimated 3.7 million household burglaries occurrimg each year on average . In about 28% of these burglaries, a household member was present during the burglary. In 7% of all household burglaries, a household member experienced some form of violent victimization. Just because that is the case and I know I will never stop household burglaries should I not report one in progress when I see it?

There is an average of around 250 thousand aggravated assaults a year, again, just because they will not stop does that mean I should not report it?

According to NCANDS whose latest statistics are for 2005 an estimated 3.3 million referrals of child abuse or neglect were received by public social service or CPS agencies. Of these referrals, 899,000 children were confirmed to be victims of abuse or neglect (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2007). That means about 12 out of every 1,000 children up to age 18 in the United States were found to be victims of maltreatment in 2005 (USDHHS, 2007). SO again I ask, just because it is "a losing battle" do we let it go on and not say anything.

Of course not. So why is this any different. We all pick and choose our causes, some pick pointing out deceit when they see it. If it helps just a few people, then that is a good thing.

Here is a great story, the most honest cities. Now just because many don't make the list, does that mean when you find a wallet you simply do not return it if you are in such a city? I would rather err on the side of the honest city or honest person and return it, but then again, that is just me. http://www.rd.com/slideshows/most-hones ... llet-test/

In fact I had just such an incident happen to me and you can read it on my blog.. It still makes me feel good thinking about it. http://banacheksblog.blogspot.com/2010/ ... f-you.html
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Re: randi documentary - an alternative perspective.

Postby performer » August 8th, 2015, 1:26 pm

Yep. A losing battle just as I stated. Still, I do wish you luck with it. I would never begrudge anyone their hobby.

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Re: randi documentary - an alternative perspective.

Postby Banachek » August 9th, 2015, 1:07 am

Not a losing battle if your battle is simply to create awareness and save a few people from these scoundrels. If it is to change everyone and make everyone aware, then yes. But I suspect that is not the case for most true skeptics. The idea is to make that information available to those who want it, and that can be achieved, so that battle is one that is won so long as skeptics do so. I find no frustration in it at all. Guess it is all on your outlook. Performer, it seems you simply do not get the purpose of a true skeptic. And that would be your frustration.. my point being it is all how one looks at it.
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Re: randi documentary - an alternative perspective.

Postby performer » August 9th, 2015, 7:04 am

Steve. Please excuse me my snarkiness. I have an inbuilt disdain for "skeptic" busybodies and I am taking this disdain out on you, probably unjustifiably. The beginnings of this disdain can be traced back to when I was kid about 14 just starting in magic. I went into a library and started to read a book about the Piddingtons and was greatly displeased to read how Francis White, the long time president of the Magic Circle took it upon himself to attempt to debunk and expose them. This may well have been the start of my disdain for magicians generally even though they may not all justify such disdain. Alas when bias kicks in it is hard to remove. I suspect you experience the same feeling although from a skeptical angle.

Years later Maurice Fogel had the same problem with self righteous magicians who thought that they were saving humanity by debunking him and exposing him to the People newspaper, a typical British rag of the time. According to Alan Alan, he was a "broken man" for a while because of it.

I am afraid I am not terribly keen on the shenanigans of self appointed saviours of the public conscience who interfere with entertainers making a living

Kreskin got a fair bit of this nonsense as did Uri Geller. Instead of these busybodies minding their own business they felt they had to save the world.

I far prefer the attitude that noted mentalist Jon Tremaine displayed years ago in South Africa (at least I think that is where the incident occurred. At the time Uri Geller was at the height of his fame Jon was touring in his area at the same time. The press came to him asking him to debunk Geller and expose his methods. Jon refused to jump on that bandwaggon and turned the newspaper down. Geller heard about it and thanked him for it.

Anyway that it the root of my disdain. But then these self appointed guardians of public morals went even further by jumping on another bandwaggon by supposedly exposing what they deemed as crooked psychics, usually spiritualist mediums. This would be more justifiable if I thought the intentions of the debunkers were sincere but I have always had a suspicion that the real reason for their enthusiasm is for the purpose of self promotion more than anything else. When starving entertainers start making a career out of exposing psychics then it does make one wonder.

Sure, there may be an argument for exposing these scoundrels and you make a good one. However, there are always two reasons for doing something. One is the reason that sounds good and the other is the REAL reason. Still I won't dwell on that and will assume that your feelings are sincere and not motivated by malice, jealousy and self promotion as is so often the case.

However, what gets me is all the inaccurate debunking. Half the time the wrong methods are exposed. Most psychics don't do half of what is claimed by the skeptics. They have no idea what "cold reading" is. Most of them are sincere, compassionate people that try to help others. Sure, there are crooks in the business as it is not exactly a regulated profession but they are NOT using the methods that skeptics think they are. Crookery yes. But a different type of crookery entirely that skeptics and debunkers don't even seem to know about.

I would have thought if people are going to debunk then at least they should debunk accurately. Sure the television charlatans who do mediumistic work use the methods commonly described by skeptics but they are the only ones. Nobody else does.

Most psychics are sincere people who try to use their gift in a helping compassionate manner. I will grant you that many of them are self deluded as to their ability and can sometimes do more harm than good. However, the ones who are expert in their work can help thousands of people come out of the depths of despair and give them hope for the future but of course you never hear about that from either the demented or the rational skeptics.

But then that is because they don't really understand the psychic business very well. It is like a plumber trying to explain how nuclear science works. He can't simply because he is unqualified in the same way that sceptics are unqualified. Speculation is not a great substitute for real knowledge I am afraid.

However, I DO have the knowledge. I really do. If you want to know anything about the psychic business just ask. I know all, see all and will tell all.

But ask. Don't tell me. You don't have to. I already know.

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Re: randi documentary - an alternative perspective.

Postby Banachek » August 9th, 2015, 3:50 pm

NOw that is much more rational response that I can respect, I don't agree with every detail but certainly can respect the thoughts reflected. I have no respect for the action of exposing magicians/mentalists methods to expose con men and disdain when they go after fellow performers in our craft.

IN this day and age, I often think that those who use heavy claims do as much harm to our art as they are leaving themselves open for exposure by those who would expose the methods. THis hurts all of us.

Now if they are stepping over into the scientific arena, taking advantage of the bereaved and such, by all means expose them for what they are, but do not expose our methods. THere are other ways to expose them for the fakers that they are.

For instance, when Kreskin started to lend his name and character to companies offering to answer life questions and fullfull wishes catered mostly to the retired aging folks on a fixed income. By all means point out he is a magician and not truly psycyhic and can't deliver what he promises, but don't expose his act as that hurt's all of us.

Thanks L ... Performer
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Re: randi documentary - an alternative perspective.

Postby performer » August 10th, 2015, 2:22 pm

I am not overly keen on mediumistic work as I do not accept it as genuine. As Tony Corinda (whom I knew quite well) once stated it is not the highest level of psychic/mentalism work and I think he meant from an ethical point of view. Mind you, someone very noted in magic who is actually being discussed elsewhere on this forum once told me that Tony was actually involved in this business at one time although from an accessory point of view rather than as a medium himself.

I am especially turned off by the late Sylvia Browne whom I consider the most irresponsible of them all. I used to shudder in horror when I heard the sort of things she said on television to people.

However, there is another side to the story and I am going to act as devil's advocate here by telling a true story. I am still not comfortable with mediumistic work and would never do it myself and I don't think what I am about to relate completely justifies it but here it is for what it is worth.

Several years before the rather famous Doris Stokes (now deceased) became a household word in the UK I used to meet up with a bunch of people for breakfast every morning. This was years before I became interested in metaphysical matters such as palmistry, tarot cards etc;

Somehow the conversation turned to spiritualist mediums and one of the group told an interesting tale. It seemed that a friend of his was in the depths of despair and on the verge of suicide. His wife of many years had passed away ahd he was distraught beyond measure. He couldn't eat, he couldn't sleep and he couldn't work. He lost his job and of course this deepened his despair since his income dwindled away. He kept saying that he was going to do away with himself so he could be with his dear departed spouse again.

Then someone suggested to him that he should see a medium for a private consulation. And he did. It was Doris Stokes of all people way before she became famous. I remember asking the name of the medium and was quite surprised when she became so famous a few years after I heard the story.

So he went to Doris who managed to contact his late wife in the spirit world or as skeptics would say merely pretended to. She convinced him with the things she said that she had truly contacted the lady. She informed him that his wife was feeling fine and happy where she was and the only thing she was worried about was his despair and grieving. She sent a message that under no circumstances was he to do away with himself and she would be very upset if he did this. He was to pull himself together and enjoy the rest of his life and eventually would be reunited with her but now was not the time.

Within a very short time he recovered his health and was able to resume work again.He recovered his appetite and his sleep. He led a very productive life from that moment on.

So, is Doris to be condemned or given praise for what she did? Remember this guy had been to grief counsellors and a priest to gain solace to no avail. However, after a very short session with Doris Stokes he was restored to a better existence and saved from suicide.

Some would say she was a fraud and some would say she was the genuine article. Since this forum comes up on search engines and since there is a remote possibility that this man (whom I do not know) could read this and be upset by any debunking I am not going to comment either way as to what actually happened during the session.

Was it a placebo effect? Or was it a genuine contact with the dearly departed?

All I am trying to say is that there is another point of view to be considered. Do skeptic debunkers do more harm than good? Let us say that a woman is convinced that someone dear to her is still there in spirit and she derives great comfort from it then suddenly the bereaved person is convinced by some Randi type that the whole thing is nonsense? Then she becomes even more distraught as a result of the exposure and debunking. Would it be better ethically if the debunker would just shut the hell up?

I do not have the answer to this. I am just saying that people should be aware of the question and make their own mind up about what should be done or not done.

I am 75% against spiritualist mediums. Maybe even 80% or even higher. OK. I will even say 85%. However, the above story is why I still have that tiny 15% at the back of my mind. Doris Stokes was one of the more compassionate mediums whether she was fraudulent or not. I find it difficult to condemn her completely.

I am merely posting the above as food for thought.

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Re: randi documentary - an alternative perspective.

Postby Jonathan Townsend » August 10th, 2015, 2:44 pm

Hi Performer, what do you think of the book Nightmare Alley?
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

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Re: randi documentary - an alternative perspective.

Postby performer » August 10th, 2015, 3:01 pm

Hi Jonathon. It has been a really long time since I read it. I remember it being a terrific book. I always thought the best biography of Houdini was the one written by the same author, William Lindsey Gresham.

Sadly I think I remember reading that the author committed suicide. I have a vague memory (although I may be wrong) that he was depressed because he had a terminal illness.

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Re: randi documentary - an alternative perspective.

Postby Banachek » August 11th, 2015, 12:19 am

William Gresham did indeed commit suicide. He was an alcoholic, with bouts of depression. He finally committed suicide by an overdose of sleeping pills. in a hotel after finding out he had cancer of the tongue. ON top of that he was partially blind.

He died in his early 50s's. Prior to taking his life his business cards read something like:

No Business.. No Address.. No Phone... No Money... Retired

He was very interested in Spiritualism and exposed many of their methods. He wrote a biography on Houdini and .. wait for it.. bringing it back to the subject at hand.. with the assistance of James Randi. :-)
In thoughts and friendship

Banachek

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Re: randi documentary - an alternative perspective.

Postby performer » August 11th, 2015, 5:18 am

Indeed. I know that Randi helped quite a bit with the research for the book and I think in fact it was dedicated to him. Oddly enough I knew another author who committed suicide. He had written a best selling book on reincarnation. I heard he jumped over a cliff with various suicide notes attached all over him. He was a very nice man who gave me some advice on publishing. This being the case, I hope I can forestall any silly remarks about him not being reincarnated as I would consider that very bad taste.

And to go completely off topic for a moment I once met someone who knew Houdini and had nary a good word to say about him. I am referring to John Mulholland whom I find disagreeable, rude and egotistical. He was visiting the Magic Circle and was very rude to several young magicians there who asked him for advice.

I do remember him complaining about Houdini saying, "Houdini was mishandling the funds of the Society of American Magicians and I was the only one who had the guts to complain about it."

I have never seen any reference to this alleged "mishandling" anywhere else but there it is for what it is worth.

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Re: randi documentary - an alternative perspective.

Postby Jack Shalom » August 11th, 2015, 9:44 am

also know that a psychic will write a best selling book and it will far outsell some dusty skeptical book which will rot on the shelf of a university library. There are literally THOUSANDS of new age books (I won't even count religious publications) from Astrology to Feng Shui whereas I can't think of even ten (actually I can hardly think of four) sceptical books.

Sceptism has been reduced to the status of a mere hobby on a par with stamp collecting. Nobody cares-they really don't.


I interpret that more as MAN BITES DOG is news, DOG BITES MAN, not so much. The unusual is what gets reported--it doesn't mean that it's more prevalent or popular.

You would find a similar dearth of popular books about gravity. If nobody cares, it's simply because it's the default operating assumption.

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Re: randi documentary - an alternative perspective.

Postby El Mystico » August 11th, 2015, 9:59 am

performer makes a very good point.

I'll tell another story.
My wife had multiple sclerosis. Her mother introduced her to a faith healer. After a number of sessions, the faith healer told my wife she was now cured of the MS; the remaining symptoms were residual and would go away.
My wife believed this.
The MS worsened, and my wife was utterly utterly shocked and completely unprepared.

The same faith healer, when my wife's foot was in pain, told her she had not broken a bone. So it was days before she went for treatment for a broken bone.

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Re: randi documentary - an alternative perspective.

Postby performer » August 11th, 2015, 12:27 pm

I am not overly keen on faith healers either! However, it cannot be denied that the placebo effect is very powerful and can effect amazing cures. I expect the crooked faith healers anaethetise their consciences by saying the end justifies the means and that the results from the placebo effect makes both their consciences and their bank accounts feel much better.

I do believe that a faith healer can cure a vast variety of illnesses
although certainly not all of them. Or even most of them. However, it is well accepted by even the medical profession that the mind affects the body. It has also been estimated that approximately 50% of illnesses are either caused by stress or aggravated by it. So it makes sense that the placebo effect caused by a faith healer may well have a beneficial effect.

However, I do think it crosses a red line and I would never do it myself.

Incidentally, this reminds me that a lot of nonsense is spouted in books for magicians about so called "cold reading". Virtually all of them self righteously emphasise that a reader should always tell a client to see a doctor if they have medical issues.

Whenever I see this spouted I regard it as a sign of inexperience. It is true to a degree but it neglects to mention that fully 90 percent of people who come to a psychic for health advice have already BEEN to the doctor! And they aren't too happy with the advice they have been given either!

There are ethical ways of dealing with this scenario which actually comes up quite often. I don't have time or space to detail them at the moment. I am merely using this to illustrate the point that there is a load of twaddle written about "cold reading" for magicians
by people who have very limited experience with it.

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Re: randi documentary - an alternative perspective.

Postby Jonathan Townsend » August 11th, 2015, 1:33 pm

How might one know if a writer is a skeptic rather than a believer running a false flag?
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

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Re: randi documentary - an alternative perspective.

Postby performer » August 11th, 2015, 3:33 pm

I don't know the answer to that, Jonathon. I am not psychic, you know.

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Re: randi documentary - an alternative perspective.

Postby performer » August 11th, 2015, 10:17 pm

On thinking further on Jonathon's question I suppose it depends on who the writer is. If you knew that then of course you could ask him directly. Of course you may not get a truthful answer so you would be back where you started.

Still, there is a metaphysical way out. I know a psychic who recommends this procedure to people who find it difficult to make their mind up when they have a decision to make. After all psychics have enough trouble running their own lives properly never mind anyone elses.

So, if you have to figure something out including the question that Jonathon asked then try this:

Form a circle between the thumb and little finger of your left hand. Now form another circle between the thumb and forefinger of your right hand. Push the thumb and forefinger circle just made into the hole made by the left hand thumb and little finger and squeeze the right thumb and forefinger together and ask a question that can only be answered by a yes or no. If the outer fingers (the left hand fingers) stay together the answer is yes. If the pressure breaks the circle and the fingers part then the answer is no.

All the above assumed you are right handed. Simply reverse the above instructions if you are left handed.

This link will explain the matter further. From now on Jonathon will have no need to ask questions. Using this method means he will always be able to make a decision.

http://www.perelandra-ltd.com/PKTT-Self ... s-W75.aspx


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