Thursday, 13 May 2010

James Randi at TED

This was recorded in 2007 but not released by TED 'till last month (why?). Anyway, it's a great takedown of psychics and homeopaths. Enjoy:

James Randi's fiery takedown of psychic fraud [17:50]

via Unreasonable Faith.


Duncanr said...

Excellent talk !!!

For obvious reasons, the late Mrs D was very keen on this nonsense and when bedbound towards the end of her life would watch endless shows on cable TV featuring these charlatans.

One day I saw an advert that one of her favourites was coming to do a live 'performance' at a theatre in Brum. I decided to buy a couple of tickets to one of his shows so she could go with one of her friends. I contacted the theatre to see if any tickets were available - and then a curious thing happened .

The theatre told me they weren't selling any tickets. All ticket applications had to be made directly to the 'psychic's' own organisation. I did some delving but did not buy any tickets.

Now tell me this - for what reason would tickets for a psychic show at a theatre have to be made not to the theatre but to the psychic himself ?

For what reason would any application for tickets have to be accompanied by a full list of the names of those in the party rather than one person just buying 2 or more tickets for a group of people ?

It is a pretty safe bet that those attending such shows want to believe the psychic is genuine and that they have lost a loved one they hope the psychic may be able to contact on the night.

Armed with the name and address of every one in the audience and knowing exactly who is sitting on what seat and with several months between selling the tickets and performing the show even I could do a bit of research through obituary columns etc to identify some deceased folk who might be related to some of the audience. A casual chat with the neighbours, local shopkeepers and I'd have enough titbits of information to blag it on the night. Jeez, it's money for old rope - I've an elderly gentleman trying to come through. For some reason I'm getting the letter 'J' - John, Jerry, June. Juliet? That mean anything to anyone here? I get the impression this gentleman was a bit of a character in life? (How am I doing, Andy? Think I could make a living at this psychic business?)

Andy Holroyd said...

Duncan, you say so much about how these shysters work. They have a gullible audience and with cold reading, a bit of background knowledge and the stage charisma they can convince good people of the utterly impossible. “It’s only a bit of fun!” some say. No it isn’t say I, not when it cheats people of money and give false hopes.

It’s the worst kind of lying, charlatan does not say enough.

“John, Jerry, June. Juliet?” Well Duncan you got my first name and that of my deceased best mate. Also a co-worker for ~10 years and a part of the title of well known play by William Shakespeare. Not bad, but I can’t bring to mind an ‘elderly gentleman’ called June or Juliet. 50% is a good hit rate though, keep it up.