James Randi, Magician Who Debunked Paranormal Claims, Dies at 92

“This stuff was once on the again of cornflakes bins,” Mr. Randi, his voice italic with derision, as soon as instructed the tv interviewer Larry King. “However apparently some scientists both don’t eat cornflakes, or they don’t learn the again of the field.”

The recipient of a MacArthur “genius” grant in 1986, Mr. Randi lectured worldwide and appeared typically on tv; he was a selected favourite of Johnny Carson and, extra lately, Penn and Teller.

He wrote many books, amongst them “Flim Flam! The Reality About Unicorns, Parapsychology, and Different Delusions” (1980); “The Religion Healers” (1987); and “An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural” (1995).

In 1976, with the astronomer Carl Sagan, the author Isaac Asimov and others, Mr. Randi based what’s now the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. Based mostly in Amherst, N.Y., the group promotes the scientific investigation of claims of the paranormal and publishes the journal Skeptical Inquirer.

Although he was typically known as a debunker, Mr. Randi most well-liked the phrases “skeptic” or “investigator.”

“I by no means wish to be known as a debunker,” he instructed The Orlando Sentinel in 1991, “as a result of that means somebody who says, ‘This isn’t so, and I’m going to show it.’ I don’t go in with that perspective. I’m an investigator. I solely count on to indicate that one thing isn’t seemingly.”

In the middle of his profession, he investigated greater than 100 individuals, together with, memorably, Peter Popoff, a well-heeled self-described religion healer whom he uncovered on “The Tonight Present.” Mr. Randi was additionally recognized for his decades-long sparring match with Uri Geller, the professed mentalist recognized for his serial abuse of flatware.

By the James Randi Educational Foundation, Mr. Randi sponsored the Million Greenback Problem, a contest providing $1 million to the one that, following rigorous scientific protocols, might show proof of a magical, supernatural or occult phenomenon. Although the problem attracted greater than a thousand aspirants, the prize remained unclaimed on Mr. Randi’s retirement from the inspiration in 2015.

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