Vale: James Randi

North American sceptic James Randi, who was infamously booted off The Don Lane Show, has died aged 92.

Randi, a magician who later challenged spoon benders, mind readers and faith healers, was the co-founder of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and a regular guest on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.

The James Randi Educational Foundation confirmed the death, saying simply that its founder succumbed to “age-related causes” on Tuesday.

In the 1970s he made an appearance on The Don Lane Show questioning the authenticity of one of Lane’s most popular guests, UK medium Doris Stokes.

Randi suggested Stokes was using various forms of deception for her performances. But Stokes had been good for the show and Randi’s argument was not about to have the last word. Don Lane walked off the set in fury (she can be seen at 1.17m in this clip).

He most recently appeared in Netflix drama Messiah and had made other magician appearances in Happy Days and Sesame Street.

Evidence eventually emerged that at some of her live UK shows, Stokes had invited participants to attend, with a manager of the Palladium confirming she routinely booked the front three rows of the theatre for her own use.

Source: ABC

8 Comments:

  1. Randi is treated unfairly in the interview, vindicated by Don Lane’s admission years later about Uri Geller. I wonder if Don had apologised. People like John Edward, Derren Brown, David Blaine, David Copperfield etc. were debunked as cold reading and misdirection or misleading. Concepts like ghosts and aliens are also outdated and ridiculed nowadays. It’s an interesting history of how paranormal concepts have passed.

    Shows like The One: The Search for Australia’s Most Gifted Psychic and The Extraordinary on Seven were memorable. Certainly astrology and crystal healing has been gaining traction in recent times and which the validity or concepts could be explored in TV programming. Potential frontiers for paranormal investigation.

      • Spot on David: theatre! You’ll notice that even though Don appears to lose his temper, he doesn’t forget to tease what’s coming up after the break.

        • Don Lane fell for Doris Stokes’ Nice Old Lady routine hook, line and sinker, and therefore was complicit in perpetrating the con on his audience. Only a few years later a book, The After Death Experience, thoroughly exposed Stokes, who had plants in the front rows of every audience, accomplices who would mix with the audience before a show, etc. Police disputed her claims that she had helped solve major crimes. And James Randi’s investigations showed that most of the information she supposedly heard “from beyond” in her act, was publicly available beforehand. The Nice Old Lady was actually a ruthless con artist who diddled thousands of gullible people.

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