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Still ‘Amazing’: A Conversation with James Randi

Part 1

The famous conjuror, investigator, and author—and founding fellow of CSICOP—sat down with SKEPTICAL INQUIRER Editor Kendrick Frazier at CSICon 2016 Las Vegas for a live, ninety-minute onstage conversation. Here are excerpts.

KENDRICK FRAZIER: It’s such a delight for me to be here with you. Our pasts have happily intersected a number of times over these four decades.

Before CSICOP was founded, you and Martin Gardner and Ray Hyman were trying to come up with some organized enterprise to deal with paranormal nonsense and flim-flam in society.

JAMES RANDI: Yes, the folks you mentioned were very instrumental in promoting the idea of getting a foundation ready to handle the so-called paranormal. I’d known Martin Gardner for many decades of course. I miss him more than most people who have passed on, I can tell you. Martin was an astonishing man.

Martin Gardner often spoke to me by telephone when I lived in New Jersey, and he lived in Croton on the Hudson. Even later when I moved off to Florida, I’d get calls from him every now and then.

He called me one day, we were chatting away, and there was a pause on the other end of the line when he said, “Randi, I have to tell you something.” I said, “Yes?” and I thought, “What can this be?” He told me, “I’m a deist.” A deist is someone who has a basic belief in a god of any shape or form, someone who has an interest in a superior power of some kind.

“I might as well get this off my chest, at the very beginning. I think that the belief in a deity is such an, first of all, unprovable claim.”

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The Selfish Gene revisited RICHARD DAWKINS JAMES RANDI Interview CSICon Las Vegas 2016 A Special Section God's Own Medicine PAUL A. OFFIT and more...