Professional skeptic, James Randi, has made it his life’s mission to expose phony psychics everywhere.
As a young man, Randi made a name for himself as a magician called The Amazing Randi. In his teenage years, he toured with a carnival and had a popular mind-reading act. He also claimed to see the future.
In 1949, he made headline news for predicting the World Series champions a week before the final games began. The public was astonished. He confessed it was a simple trick, but many refused to believe him. He saw firsthand just how easily magicians could exploit the public.
Randi later started a campaign against fake psychics and spiritualists. As a magician, he knew all the tricks they used to deceive people.
The Amazing Randi is well known for challenging world-famous psychic, Uri Geller. Geller claimed to bend spoons and fix broken watches with the power of his mind.
In 1973, Geller was invited on the Johnny Carson talk show for an interview. With the advice of Randi, Carson surprised Geller with a challenge to prove his psychic powers on live TV. With no advance warning, Geller was not able to manipulate the spoons and watches beforehand.
Despite Geller failing the test, many refused to believe their own eyes. Ironically, Geller’s fame grew. He described Randi as his “most influential and important publicist.”
Years later Geller admitted he was no psychic. He described his act as only show-business. Geller still has his followers who believe that his ‘only show-business’ claim is a cover, so he can continue his psychic work in secret.
Randi isn’t all talk. Until 2015, he offered a million dollars to anyone who could pass his tests proving psychic ability.
Randi says he is not a debunker. He is a scientific investigator. He claims to approach every investigation with an open mind. Some critics do not take him at his word. They say that Randi is sometimes less honest and less scientific than he claims.
Parapsychologist Dr. Rupert Sheldrake, who has researched psychic phenomena, has a bone to pick with Randi. He says that he never accepted Randi’s million-dollar challenge because Randi is not a scientist and his challenges are not scientific. Furthermore, he says Randi is a liar. Randi wrote a magazine article claiming to have recreated one of Sheldrake’s psychic experiments. Randi said it failed his tests. When Sheldrake asked to see the data, Randi said it was lost in a flood.
Later on, Randi would apologize to Sheldrake. Randi even agreed that he sometimes lies and gets carried away.