Author Topic: James Randi - Flim-Flam! Psychics, ESP, Unicorns and other Delusions (1982)  (Read 1170 times)

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Offline Grimner

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This book looks a little dated when you first browse it. Fairies, the Bermuda Triangle, van Dänicken, TM and Uri Geller seems a little old.

Once you start reading, tough, that impression changes quickly.
First, the tone is more urgent and sharp than most modern, politically correct books. Once proven, a fake is a fake and an idiot is an idiot.

Second, it gives example upon example on how deluded people think and work - on both sides of the lab table. Chapter 7 'The Laurel and Hardy of Psi' is brilliant in this way.
The Yorkshire photo-fairies get a detailed walk-through which is kind of humbling in how easily deceit and belief run off together. The best account I've seen on that myth.
Psychic healing comes off as sad - desperate people meet swindlers - but with a little training and and pruning of our ethics that chapter provides all you need to become a flawless psychic healer.

Thirdly, it shows the mind of a skeptical inquirer while providing us with reviews of experiments and methods for finding out the truth. Chapter 13 'Put up or shut up' shows what paranormals had to go through in order to get Randi's $10.000.
Interesting enough, but what hits you after a while is how easily these people got away with their claims until a magician dangled a little bait in front of them.
Dowsers are so utterly debunked that there is nothing left but to laugh at them.

An entertaining read with clear and sharp thinking on most pages (well, the flim-flammers get their say), and I had no problem hearing The Amazing Randi in this text.
It should be read not so much for the examples themselves, but for the way the author homes in on the truth.


By the way, the title is a little misleading. No unicorns here either, sorry.
Quaere verum

 

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