James Randi: fails to explain away Arigo, the surgeon with the rusty knife

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Arigo was a well known healer in Brazil, his healing work through surgery, always free of charge, went on for many years, hundreds of people a day, till he died in a car accident in 1971. According to James (The Amazing) Randi, most if not all of what Arigo accomplished was mere sleight of hand (magic) tricks with perhaps some of the placebo effect involved (people's expectations being met).

Arigo was a Brazilian peasant, with no formal medical training, or other schooling past 3rd grade. He was able to diagnose and cure virtually any malady. He did diagnosis at a glance and prescribed modern pharmaceuticals -- often in combinations and doses that made no sense in conventional terms, but which worked in virtually all cases where this could be followed up by investigators. Arigo performed operations of kinds which have apparently never been duplicated by conventional physicians. For example, he commonly excised even those metastatic tumors that extensively infiltrated vital organs, amid blood vessels and nerves. He regularly removed cataracts with a kitchen knife by scraping the cornea and removing the lens -- and his patients were able to see well afterwards. Most operations were done within 5 to 60 seconds, without anesthesia or antiseptics, yet without pain or damage or infection to patients. He commonly treated up to 300 patients/day.

This sounds like a fairy tale, but was extensively documented by highly respected physicians and other scientists from America (led by Henry Puharich) and Brazil. They made detailed films, and performed on-the-spot diagnoses and examination of patients before and after treatment by Arigo. His "instant" diagnoses agreed with their diagnoses at least 96% of the time.

This is not only among the best-documented records of psychic healing, but among the most intruiging sets of evidence for psychic phenomena in general. Instead of just rehashing the same same notions of telepathy, clairvoyance, etc. it opens up entire new phenomena. In particular, it suggests a radically new perspective on the nature of disease and healing.

Granted, this perspective has something in common with notions of the so-called etheric body and how it can be operated on -- an approach common in Brazil, where physicians commonly combine so-called spiritist practices with modern medicine. (But Arigo's skill and the intelligence underlying it went far far beyond that of his peers.)

This is the so-called intellectual Karcec school of medicine, and is reputedly practiced by hundreds if not thousands of physicians who have graduated from top ranking medical schools [including American and European schools] and who publish regularly in professional journals.

The Kardec approach involves consultation with spirit physicians -- discarnate beings that were allegedly once alive on Earth -- through mediums. Arigo was unusual in that he was his own medium. His spirit helpers either gave him advice or used him like a puppet to perform treatments -- at which time he was in a trance.

Although this sounds extraordinarily far fetched, the documentation is good enough to warrant serious thought. Alas, Arigo was killed in a car wreck before his work could be studied in enough detail for his methods to be passed on to other healers. Many healers aspire to emulate him, but apparently none has equalled his prowess and gentleness.

Arigo also spoke German (the language of the dead German doctor he channelled), which is pretty good for a 3rd grade Brazilian peasant drop-out.

Supernatural Man, Wednesday, 3 November 2004 20:29 (9 years ago) Permalink

By contrast, Randi simply and very briefly lies about the man:
http://www.mindspring.com/~anson/randi-hotline/1998/0002.html

Supernatural Man, Wednesday, 3 November 2004 20:34 (9 years ago) Permalink

You're a funny person.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Wednesday, 3 November 2004 20:34 (9 years ago) Permalink

Supernatural Man, Wednesday, 3 November 2004 21:52 (9 years ago) Permalink

ha ha James Randi. What a guy.

nickalicious (nickalicious), Wednesday, 3 November 2004 21:53 (9 years ago) Permalink

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/9432

Interesting Other Person, Wednesday, 3 November 2004 21:56 (9 years ago) Permalink

From that Mr. Gardner's reply letter to the author of Arigo: Surgeon of the Rusty Knife in the link above:


There is no way to reply adequately to Mr. Fuller short of writing a book on scientific method, the ethics of medical journalism, and how to distinguish anecdotes from facts.

This sounds like the kneejerk / cop-out WE-CAN'T-REPLY-SO-THERE-IS-NO-REPLY-U-IZ-WRONG; "SCIENCE" WINNS!! reaction that seems a bit familiar. I'm very skeptical about the knifing-eyeball thing, regardless.

Vic (Vic), Wednesday, 3 November 2004 22:24 (9 years ago) Permalink

"'science'"

Kenan (kenan), Wednesday, 3 November 2004 22:28 (9 years ago) Permalink

Er, Supernatural Man, can you provide us with any documents by these "highly respected physicians and other scientists from America"? And on what basis do you say Randi "lies", to me the text you've linked sounds quite reasonable.

Tuomas (Tuomas), Wednesday, 3 November 2004 22:33 (9 years ago) Permalink

I predicted that either Kenan or oops would in automatically being the next to post, right after me. And I win!! Note: I did not use astrology to make this prediction, despite presumptions to the contrary.

I _have_ been wanting to post somewhere ( where?? on a new thread?) , however, a few vedic astrological prognostications concerning the election, and am wondering if the two gentlemen named above, along with Tuomas and caitlin and Girolamo etc (completing the "NO BS" contingent) would be so kind and gracious enough to indulge this insufferable "irrationalist" in this indignant regard ?

Vic (Vic), Wednesday, 3 November 2004 22:43 (9 years ago) Permalink

Hoping that it's already obvious (to this who check ISPs etc) but yeah - um, I am NOT "Supernatural Man." Ned can testify to this.

Vic (Vic), Wednesday, 3 November 2004 22:46 (9 years ago) Permalink

Ned is nothing but a careerist debunker. I believe you are "Supernatural Man".

Alba (Alba), Wednesday, 3 November 2004 22:49 (9 years ago) Permalink

Ned knows I'm "The Man," yes, but... that's all; no supernaturalism intervened in our relationship. I didn't do any levitating tricks when he crashed at my place, if I remember correctly, because it was only the first date.

Kenan, I'm presuming silence is a way of saying "SHUT THE FUCK UP," so I guess your answer is no. But I kinda want to now; mixed feelings, really. At least I promise I'll keep it on this thread-hijack, k?

Vic (Vic), Wednesday, 3 November 2004 23:19 (9 years ago) Permalink

I'm kinda confused now.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Wednesday, 3 November 2004 23:20 (9 years ago) Permalink

It was actually my way of saying "I'm not around." Go right ahead.

Kenan (kenan), Wednesday, 3 November 2004 23:20 (9 years ago) Permalink

Tuomas, most of the information on this guy is freely available online and documented in the book on him called "Arigo: Surgeon of the Rusty Knife" (available at Amazon.com, the reviews of which I stole my entire first post from).

Randi's b.s. does not sound reasonable at all because he has fixated wrongly on one thing he believes he can debunk and he also lied about the man and painted him in the worst possible light: Arigo didn't take people's money.

Supernatural Man, Wednesday, 3 November 2004 23:34 (9 years ago) Permalink

but could Arigo explain the mechanism by which he did what he did? Because if he couldn't how do we know that he was responsible for what happened? correlation does not after all imply causation. Just coz I pray for someone to get better and they do, for example, doesn't necessarily mean that it is my prayers that make them get better.

MarkH (MarkH), Wednesday, 3 November 2004 23:46 (9 years ago) Permalink

... and he did a HELL of a lot more than one "eyeball trick", too. I'd like to see anyone else plunge the same unclean knife into someone's scrotum, the next person's abdomen, the next person's arm, the next person's eyeball and on and on. a few hundred times a day, miraculously cure them in under 60 seconds. That's the other thing Randi lied about, not only did the man do this freely, but he actually did cure people, remove tumors, etc. There was a film about him, a book about him and lots of scientific research done on him. The idea that he was "debunked" is wishful thinking and total b.s.

Supernatural Man, Wednesday, 3 November 2004 23:50 (9 years ago) Permalink

What it is you would like to happen, re: this man?

Alba (Alba), Wednesday, 3 November 2004 23:51 (9 years ago) Permalink

MarkH, he didn't really pray. He operated on up to 300 people per day with the same unclean rusty jackknife using no anaesthesia and no antiseptic. There was no pain, no bleeding and he would literally pull out tumors from scrotums, brains, bellies, etc. and give them to people to take home. He also prescribed modern medicine after which REAL doctors would agree were the correct prescriptions.

What it is you would like to happen, re: this man?

I would just like to show that James Randi is full of shit.

Supernatural Man, Wednesday, 3 November 2004 23:56 (9 years ago) Permalink

Good luck with that. Nothing you've said so far is convincing, and there doesn't seem to be anything wrong with the Randi article you've cited. Ignoring or dismissing arguments you disagree with is not the same as refuting them.

Dan I. (Dan I.), Thursday, 4 November 2004 00:17 (9 years ago) Permalink

heh.

Dan I. (Dan I.), Thursday, 4 November 2004 00:17 (9 years ago) Permalink

And also so I don't look like a hypocrite let me point out that the burden of proof is on a person making extraordinary claims.

Dan I. (Dan I.), Thursday, 4 November 2004 00:19 (9 years ago) Permalink

HI VIC!

Arigo is definitely intriguing; I've heard of him before, but don't know enough about him to say anything either way.

The bit you seemed most sceptical about, the eyeball thing, is oddly enough the part I'm least sceptical about, because it's well-documented that medieval physicians treated cataracts in a pretty similar way (basically, pushing the cloudy lens aside with a blunt stick).

(you probably have a slightly skewed opinion of me based on the astrology threads; I'm not just you average SCIENCE IS RIGHT ALWAYS skeptic. I *want* to believe that things like this can happen, and I *do* believe in "paranormal" phenomena that I've personally experienced)

caitlin (caitlin), Thursday, 4 November 2004 00:27 (9 years ago) Permalink

Dan, I can't buy you the book, the DVD or do your research.

If you want to believe the capsized version presented by Randi, that's your choice, but it should be obvious just by what's been cited thus far that he's full of shit on this matter. His description of Arigo is flatly at odds with everything else's, including scientific investigation.

Of course, it is only natural for a rationalist to believe there is some rational explanation for something like this, but that doesn't mean Randi isn't full of shit in his dismissal.

Supernatural Man, Thursday, 4 November 2004 00:43 (9 years ago) Permalink

Hi Caitlin!! I don't know anything at all about Arigo, but I just squirmed at the eyeball thing, from a deep personal desire I have against letting anything other than oxygen and water touch my own eyeballs. [[The Freudian/psychoanalytic explicating this desire would doubtlessly include that one incident where a contact lens remain trapped UNDERNEATH-OR-BEHIND my eyeball for a time period exceeding ten minutes.]] Or perhaps my deep personal desire = deep personal bias, and I R just believing what I want to believe. =)

I am gonna cease the proposed idea of my thread-hiack for the time being, and give Supernatural Man his space; maybe I'll post the planetary stuff foretelling a Bush victory (and going into America's problematic natat chart) elsewhere. But I am glad to have encountered you again, since I had once gotten your AIM name from Ned, before forgotting it - and now I can just email you. =)

Vic (Vic), Thursday, 4 November 2004 00:55 (9 years ago) Permalink

Explain, rationally or not, why this works. Let's forget how we feel about it. Just explain to me why this guy's method works. I want methods and basis, which means something other than that the people said they were healed, because I'm not concerned with efficacy. I just want some hypothesis you believe is valid as to why this practice would be an effective method of healing.

That's all.

Girolamo Savonarola, Thursday, 4 November 2004 00:55 (9 years ago) Permalink

And for that matter, Vic, if you could do the same for your planetary Bush poll, that'd be nice, too.

Girolamo Savonarola, Thursday, 4 November 2004 00:56 (9 years ago) Permalink

Supernatural Man is right though - Randi is a cock. However, I don't have a great deal of time for these 'psychic healer' types, so I will sit on the fence with an "I dislike them both".

Kevin Gilchrist (Mr Fusion), Thursday, 4 November 2004 00:58 (9 years ago) Permalink

See, my thinking is, like, he has some sort of power, right? He can see what's wrong with people. Much like the tantra anaesthesia and tongue-piercing ritual (with dirty hat pin), he simply does the work before the mind has time to register pain. In Tantra, when they pierce themselves with dirty needles or knives or walk on hot coals or lick white-hot metal bars, the person has prepared HIMSELF for the feat. Some would say, he has prepared the Chi or Prana energy (much like the "Iron Shirt" of Kung Fu). But, in the case of Arigo, it seems like he somehow (as with Reiki) is using his own Chi or Prana on someone else.

Supernatural Man, Thursday, 4 November 2004 00:59 (9 years ago) Permalink

redfez? Is that you?

Kevin Gilchrist (Mr Fusion), Thursday, 4 November 2004 01:02 (9 years ago) Permalink

I'm confused. James Randi seems to be talking about an entirely different person than Arigo (different name, anyway.) Why is he being connected to Arigo on this thread (other than that Randi would undoubtedly be dubious about his claims, which seems only natural to me)?

Alex in SF (Alex in SF), Thursday, 4 November 2004 01:03 (9 years ago) Permalink

Gah. No, we just happen to be posting at the same time using the same grammar and syntax.

Supernatural Man, Thursday, 4 November 2004 01:03 (9 years ago) Permalink

So just because someone has prepared themselves for a high pain threshold, how does that correlate to any of these explanations you're offering? Why those in particular?

Girolamo Savonarola, Thursday, 4 November 2004 01:05 (9 years ago) Permalink

Alex in SF, I posted the wrong link. :( I do believe I just searched "arigo" on skepdic.com and came to Randi's comments. Then, I followed another link, I guess and copied+pasted the wrong one. I'll go look...

Subpar Man, Thursday, 4 November 2004 01:06 (9 years ago) Permalink

So, wait...did I guess right?

Kevin Gilchrist (Mr Fusion), Thursday, 4 November 2004 01:07 (9 years ago) Permalink

Someone found mom's collection of 70s paperbacks. Next we'll being hearing about Ancient Astronauts.

Hi hubby ;-)

Orbit (Orbit), Thursday, 4 November 2004 01:08 (9 years ago) Permalink

Also - why does he use a rusty knife? Wouldn't a new one be better? Is the rusty knife magic?

Kevin Gilchrist (Mr Fusion), Thursday, 4 November 2004 01:10 (9 years ago) Permalink

So just because someone has prepared themselves for a high pain threshold, how does that correlate to any of these explanations you're offering? Why those in particular?

Well, no, not high pain threshold but anaesthesia. Compare this to Jonn Mumford (aka Swami Somethingorother) jamming a hat pin through an unsuspecting student's lower lip before they know what's up. It's really the same thing only Mumford isn't trying to heal anyone. So, that takes care of the "no pain" part of it.

As for how he "sees" what's wrong with someone, I have no idea, but Arigo isn't the only person that did stuff like this.

Supernatural Man, Thursday, 4 November 2004 01:10 (9 years ago) Permalink

Someone found mom's collection of 70s paperbacks. Next we'll being hearing about Ancient Astronauts.

Chariot of the Gods? Nah, that's crap.

Supernatural Man, Thursday, 4 November 2004 01:11 (9 years ago) Permalink

Also - why does he use a rusty knife? Wouldn't a new one be better? Is the rusty knife magic?

He was too busy, man! 300 people a day! Besides, the old rusty one worked just fine. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Supernatural Man, Thursday, 4 November 2004 01:13 (9 years ago) Permalink

Someone found mom's collection of 70s paperbacks. Next we'll being hearing about Ancient Astronauts.
Chariot of the Gods? Nah, that's crap.

-- Supernatural Man (asd...), November 4th, 2004.

taught the incas everything they know, man.

latebloomer (latebloomer), Thursday, 4 November 2004 01:15 (9 years ago) Permalink

So you have no idea, but you want to believe?

Girolamo Savonarola, Thursday, 4 November 2004 01:18 (9 years ago) Permalink

Girolamo, that's not really correct.

I believe because it happened several hundred times over. He pulled tumors out of people's nutsack using a dirty knife. Do I need to know how he did that? Or isn't it enough just to know that he did that? Is the alternative believing that he had a sleight of hand trick in which he secretly had a bunch of tumors up his sleeve?

Supernatural Man, Thursday, 4 November 2004 01:25 (9 years ago) Permalink

I have a bridge to sell you.

Orbit (Orbit), Thursday, 4 November 2004 01:26 (9 years ago) Permalink

taught the incas everything they know, man.

Chariot of the Gods is crap. I don't know who taught the Incas, but I suppose it could be aliens.

I think it's cool that they found ancient carvings of corn in Asia, though. Corn was a new discovery that came with the discovery of America. I suppose there could have been an Asian kind of corn that just died out over time.

Supernatural Man, Thursday, 4 November 2004 01:29 (9 years ago) Permalink

Girolamo, isn't the idea of the 'unexplained' that it is? I wouldn't have expected people to deny the existence of lightning because they didn't know how it worked. Not that I think there is anything to this, but people's ability to account for it means nothing in regard to it's truth value.

Kevin Gilchrist (Mr Fusion), Thursday, 4 November 2004 01:29 (9 years ago) Permalink

I have a bridge to sell you.

I have a knife to stab you!

Supernatural Man, Thursday, 4 November 2004 01:30 (9 years ago) Permalink

The "rusty knife" thing has been SO thoroughly debunked by I believe National Geographic, among others over the years, I can't believe anyone cares about it any more. This just seems like an effort to wind people up just for fun.

Orbit (Orbit), Thursday, 4 November 2004 01:31 (9 years ago) Permalink

Are you having fun, Orbit? Arigo has so not been debunked over the years, so please don't lump him in as Randi does, out of necessity, to debunk him.

Supernatural Man, Thursday, 4 November 2004 01:33 (9 years ago) Permalink

No, you seem to misunderstand. Proof happens when you present conclusive experimental data justified through application of accepted methodologies. When you do that, bring pie I'll listen.

(actually I don't know if I will because you're an insufferable buffoon and I don't want to talk to you)

Markelby (Mark C), Friday, 5 November 2004 15:54 (9 years ago) Permalink

No, no, no. I don't need proof. Arigo healed by the placebo effect. Tantra works the same way. Thank you.

Super, Friday, 5 November 2004 15:55 (9 years ago) Permalink

It could be argued such that Arigo is doing his thing, and it is the skeptics who are making the claim - a claim of falsehood. Saying 'you make the claim, you prove it' doesn't really help here.

Kevin Gilchrist (Mr Fusion), Friday, 5 November 2004 16:07 (9 years ago) Permalink

i really think you should read up about the placebo effect. there is a lot of interesting literature, and loads of empirical research into it. there's still a lot of speculation on the mechanisms involved, but the effect itself is very well documented and uncontroversial.

Jaunty Alan (Alan), Friday, 5 November 2004 16:12 (9 years ago) Permalink

Jaunty, and HOW DOES IT WORK? What is the empirical evidence for the placebo effect? It is invisible aside from the result, correct?

The funny thing is nobody here has even looked at PSI research, let alone an actual research paper or experimental data on the topic and carefully analyzed it. And certainly nobody here has carefully analyzed all the experimental data as a whole.

There are a handful of books on the subject and the only one here mentioned is Psi Wars, which nobody has read obviously.

Super, Friday, 5 November 2004 16:16 (9 years ago) Permalink

You are my favourite internet mentalist ever. Don't ever change.

Matt DC (Matt DC), Friday, 5 November 2004 16:17 (9 years ago) Permalink

You are my favourite internet mentalist ever. Don't ever change.

My socks get smelly.

Super, Friday, 5 November 2004 16:19 (9 years ago) Permalink

You've ruined it now.

Matt DC (Matt DC), Friday, 5 November 2004 16:22 (9 years ago) Permalink

Am I at least 2nd place or did I shoot to the bottom of your list already?

Super, Friday, 5 November 2004 16:24 (9 years ago) Permalink

Girolamo Savonarola, Friday, 5 November 2004 17:23 (9 years ago) Permalink

Girolamo Savonarola, Friday, 5 November 2004 17:24 (9 years ago) Permalink

Girolamo Savonarola, Friday, 5 November 2004 17:24 (9 years ago) Permalink

Girolamo Savonarola, Friday, 5 November 2004 17:25 (9 years ago) Permalink

Girolamo Savonarola, Friday, 5 November 2004 17:25 (9 years ago) Permalink

Girolamo Savonarola, Friday, 5 November 2004 17:26 (9 years ago) Permalink

Girolamo Savonarola, Friday, 5 November 2004 17:26 (9 years ago) Permalink

Girolamo Savonarola, Friday, 5 November 2004 17:27 (9 years ago) Permalink

Girolamo Savonarola, Friday, 5 November 2004 17:28 (9 years ago) Permalink

Girolamo Savonarola, Friday, 5 November 2004 17:28 (9 years ago) Permalink

Alex in SF (Alex in SF), Friday, 5 November 2004 17:29 (9 years ago) Permalink

Girolamo Savonarola, Friday, 5 November 2004 17:29 (9 years ago) Permalink

Girolamo Savonarola, Friday, 5 November 2004 17:30 (9 years ago) Permalink

Ha, ha, Giro. I win! edited out - Super - don't ever do that - Alan

Super, Friday, 5 November 2004 17:33 (9 years ago) Permalink

This question and issues that will never be addressed:

"Jaunty, and HOW DOES IT WORK? What is the empirical evidence for the placebo effect? It is invisible aside from the result, correct?

The funny thing is nobody here has even looked at PSI research, let alone an actual research paper or experimental data on the topic and carefully analyzed it. And certainly nobody here has carefully analyzed all the experimental data as a whole.

There are a handful of books on the subject and the only one here mentioned is Psi Wars, which nobody has read obviously."

Super, Friday, 5 November 2004 17:34 (9 years ago) Permalink

Girolamo Savonarola, Friday, 5 November 2004 17:41 (9 years ago) Permalink

Girolamo Savonarola, Friday, 5 November 2004 17:41 (9 years ago) Permalink

posting goatsecx type images isn't helping your "argument" any, super.

you should go away and read about the placebo effect.

Jaunty Alan (Alan), Friday, 5 November 2004 17:41 (9 years ago) Permalink

Jaunty doesn't want to explain it because he knows he's just hit the hole in his argument.

Posting pics of trolls doesn't do say for Giro, either.

Super, Friday, 5 November 2004 17:48 (9 years ago) Permalink

Girolamo Savonarola, Friday, 5 November 2004 18:01 (9 years ago) Permalink

That's funny, then why did I just get a special delivery from ILX?

You should go away and read about PSI research.

Super, Friday, 5 November 2004 18:04 (9 years ago) Permalink

And the reverse:

http://www.kathleengiordano.com/ilxdebate.jpg

Super, Friday, 5 November 2004 18:14 (9 years ago) Permalink

Super, Friday, 5 November 2004 18:14 (9 years ago) Permalink

And you should just go away. But let me leave you with this little nugget.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/True-believer_syndrome

The true-believer syndrome is a term coined by the reformed psychic fraud M. Lamar Keene to refer to an irrational belief in the paranormal. Skeptics see this as a form of self-deception caused by wishful thinking in which a believer continues to accept paranormal explanations for phenomena or events, or denies the relevance of scientific findings, even after the believer has been confronted with abundant evidence that the phenomena or events have natural causes. The term is mainly used by skeptics in the debate over the existence of certain sorts of paranormal phenomena and the persistence of belief in these phenomena.

For example, skeptics generally agree there is sufficient proof to conclude that the alleged miracles of Uri Geller, Sathya Sai Baba and Jim Jones are or were false; they therefore have often reasoned that believers who have been given the extant evidence of fraud in these cases, and yet continue to believe in these men, are described by this condition. Some ex-followers of Sathya Sai Baba accept this syndrome as an explanation of what has happened to them.[1] (http://www.saiguru.net/english/sai_org/14oclery.htm), [2] (http://home.hetnet.nl/~ex_baba/engels/articles/p_holbach/eng/trueb_e.htm?FACTNet)

Robert T. Carroll, the webmaster of the skeptic's dictionary, sees some similarity with a cognitive disorder. However, this syndrome is not used in the scientific literature, has not been included in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and no clinical evidence has been provided for its links with demonstrable cognitive impairment or psychopathology.

The true-believer syndrome seems similar in many ways to belief processes identified by Thomas Kuhn in his study on the sociology of science, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Kuhn demonstrated that scientists can hold onto beliefs in scientific theories despite overwhelming prevailing counter-evidence, and suggested that social forces, as much as ones purely concerned with rationality, are a strong influence on the beliefs we hold. This is an area studied by the sociology of knowledge where the social function of paranormal beliefs has been a focus of research.

The term was not coined by mainstream psychologists nor is it used by them and hence the term could be classified as popular psychology. Though unlike many concepts in popular psychology, there is some empirical proof for its existence.

Girolamo Savonarola, Friday, 5 November 2004 18:15 (9 years ago) Permalink

You've got to admit that medal is cool though.

Markelby (Mark C), Friday, 5 November 2004 18:16 (9 years ago) Permalink

Giro, I'm sorry, but if you think I'm going to read anything you have to say, you're nuts. I already got my prize:

Super, Friday, 5 November 2004 18:16 (9 years ago) Permalink

But, I did happen to notice use of the "lump-it-together" technique in your "brilliant" nugget.

Super, Friday, 5 November 2004 18:18 (9 years ago) Permalink

this should win a prize for longest patently absurd troll-thread on ILX.

Orbit (Orbit), Friday, 5 November 2004 18:26 (9 years ago) Permalink

Hmmm... Isn't a Troll someone who jumps all over from post to post? I believe this is just a thread you don't like. It did take your mind off the election, though.

Super, Friday, 5 November 2004 18:28 (9 years ago) Permalink

Here's a quick recap:

+
+
+
=

Super, Friday, 5 November 2004 23:25 (9 years ago) Permalink

Next up: Science refuses to explain why earth is not hollow.

Orbit (Orbit), Friday, 5 November 2004 23:26 (9 years ago) Permalink

Sore loser!

Super, Friday, 5 November 2004 23:33 (9 years ago) Permalink

2 years pass...

This thread is hilarious! Wow!

Well, at Sébastian's request, I dug up an old thread about Randi (this appears to be the only one), to say he's a carny and the Randi prize is a publicity stunt by a has-been pseudo-skeptic flim-flam. If you are clearly a fraud, Randi will be glad to "test" you. But, for those with the remotest possibility of being able to provide evidence of "paranormal activity," Randi has a history of lying and avoiding these cases entirely. Randi himself has even admitted it when confronted with the fact that his methods are dishonest. He gets away with it, of course, because his audience wants him to succeed and doesn't really care how he does it. If the prize ever was given away, most likely all the pseudo-skeptics in his audience would think he was slipping or in cahoots with the prize-winner.

See first two posts on this thread, if bored:
http://www.lioncity.net/buddhism/index.php?showtopic=50207&hl=

But, I wouldn't trust a guy with a rusty knife to stab me in the balls LOL.

dean ge, Sunday, 29 July 2007 20:52 (6 years ago) Permalink

Man, I love this guy for being such a ranty, insane little gnome man. The world of skeptics is just as weird as the world of the people they're railing against.

Abbott, Sunday, 29 July 2007 22:20 (6 years ago) Permalink

2 years pass...

Randi vs Global Warming

Oh, it must be Christmas. As I mentioned in Wednesday's news briefs, James Randi has come under fire from all quarters this week, after posting his thoughts about global warming to his blog:

-----
An unfortunate fact is that scientists are just as human as the rest of us, in that they are strongly influenced by the need to be accepted, to kowtow to peer opinion, and to "belong" in the scientific community. Why do I find this "unfortunate"? Because the media and the hoi polloi increasingly depend upon and accept ideas or principles that are proclaimed loudly enough by academics who are often more driven by "politically correct" survival principles than by those given them by Galileo, Newton, Einstein, and Bohr. (Granted, it's reassuring that they're listening to academics at all -- but how to tell the competent from the incompetent?) Religious and other emotional convictions drive scientists, despite what they may think their motivations are.

...It's easy enough to believe that drought, floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes are signs of a coming catastrophe from global warming, but these are normal variations of any climate that we -- and other forms of life -- have survived. Earth has undergone many serious changes in climate, from the Ice Ages to periods of heavily increased plant growth from their high levels of CO2, yet the biosphere has survived. We're adaptable, stubborn, and persistent -- and we have what other life forms don't have: we can manipulate our environment. Show me an Inuit who can survive in his habitat without warm clothing... Humans will continue to infest Earth because we're smart.

In my amateur opinion, more attention to disease control, better hygienic conditions for food production and clean water supplies, as well as controlling the filth that we breathe from fossil fuel use, are problems that should distract us from fretting about baking in Global Warming.
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Given that Randi's skeptical peers and scientific admirers have spent the last couple of months attacking 'Global Warming Deniers', Randi found himself in the unlikely spot of being attacked for his 'pseudo-scientific' opinion piece. Blog posts decrying Randi's statement appeared quickly on Pharyngula, The Quackometer, Cosmic Variance, Greg Laden's Blog and Respectful Insolence. Even more vicious were the comments threads (lead, as it would be expected, by more than 500 Pharyngula comments) in which it was suggested that Randi was suffering from dementia and so on (although you'd have to say there may have been some karmic retribution for Randi in the meanness of it all...with friends like those, who needs 'woo-woo' enemies!) And, in a wonderful bit of timing, Randi managed to post his piece on the same day that a fund-raising drive for the James Randi Educational Foundation kicked into gear. Oops.

The back-pedaling was swift - the next day, Randi posted a new statement, "I'm Not 'Denying' Anything" (which P.Z. Myers labeled a 'not-pology', leading to some fun exchanges between Myers' minions and Randi's followers in comments threads.) And then the back-patting, with plenty of 'skeptics' saying that the criticism of Randi showed how healthy the modern skeptical movement is.

But this is nonsense. Randi took a position which was diametrically opposed to the current scientific consensus, and furthermore one that was absolutely contrary to the argument being put forth on a regular basis by other skeptics such as Phil Plait and P.Z. Myers. There was no other option for them but to criticise Randi – it was either that or be hypocrites. What would be a better test of the health of modern skepticism is if other skeptics pulled Randi up for speaking nonsense about more fringe topics. Which he does on a regular basis. And the silence is deafening. The real truth of modern skepticism as a dogmatic faith is revealed in those particular moments.

In the comments threads, many people seemed shocked that their great beacon of truth was spreading misinformation. But the only reason was because Randi took on a topic which didn't allow his sheeple to nod their head in agreement. Randi often posts rubbish and misinformation on his blog - I've criticised him before in the comments section to his blog (asking for references for dubious claims etc) only to be attacked by other 'skeptics'. For instance, as I mentioned recently, Randi once attacked parapsychologist Dr Dean Radin by saying that he had recently moved into researching presentiment after his other research had failed - in truth, Radin has been publishing successful results on presentiment for more than a decade, in addition to his other research. On another occasion with which I was personally involved, Randi deliberately misled his readers to suit his own personal ends. Randi also often states his dislike (or at least distrust) of the 'ivory tower' of academia, perhaps a result of his own lack of education.

But if 'skeptics' would like to dismiss what I say because it refers to fringe ideas, it should be asked why this GW statement caused such uproar, when Randi has posted scary social-Darwinism rants such as the following (regarding the 'beneficial' effects of drug legalisation on addicts) which perhaps deserved far more criticism:

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Those individuals who were stupid enough to rush into the arms of the mythical houris and/or Adonis's they would expect to greet them, would simply do so and die - by whatever chemical or biological fate would overcome them...the principle of Survival of the Fittest would draconically prove itself for a couple of years, after which Natural Selection would weed out those for whom there is no hope except through our forbearance, and I'm very, very, weary of supporting these losers with my tax dollars.

...Any weeping and wailing over the Poor Little Kids who would perish by immediately gobbling down pills and injecting poison, is summoning up crocodile tears, in my opinion. They would - and presently do - mature into grown-up idiots, and Darwin would be appalled that his lessons were ignored.
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So says the world's premiere defender of reason.

Elvis Telecom, Monday, 21 December 2009 03:10 (4 years ago) Permalink

Much props to Randi, but I'd be major bummed to find out he was a Libertarian.

Philip Nunez, Monday, 21 December 2009 03:59 (4 years ago) Permalink

3 months pass...

Mr. Randi has apparently just outed himself on his site (er, as gay, not as a fake psychic).

StanM, Sunday, 21 March 2010 21:59 (4 years ago) Permalink

Hahah I was about to say.

Ned Raggett, Sunday, 21 March 2010 22:01 (4 years ago) Permalink

amazing

sex xe (jeff), Sunday, 21 March 2010 22:38 (4 years ago) Permalink

2 years pass...

What a weird story...

Jailed Plantation mystery artist reveals true identity in federal court

Jailed mystery artist Jose Alvarez and his longtime companion, magician and professional skeptic James "The Amazing" Randi, revealed Alvarez's true identity to a federal judge Friday so the artist could be released on a million-dollar bond after six weeks of incarceration.

For 24 years, Deyvi Pena used the name, date of birth and Social Security number of a New York man to travel the world on a United States passport first issued to him in 1987. During that time as Alvarez, he became a celebrated artist whose works have hung in exhibitions in New York, Miami and San Francisco.

Pena was arrested Sept. 8 at Randi's Plantation home under the name "John Doe" and charged with passport fraud and identity theft. A Sun Sentinel investigation revealed Pena's true identity earlier this week. The newspaper obtained the immigration visa he used in March 1984 to come to the United States from his native Venezuela to attend the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale.

Pena, 49, and Randi, 83, have remained high-profile figures in the world of skepticism for decades, and Randi is famous around the world for debunking people who profess to have paranormal powers. He runs the James Randi Educational Foundation dedicated to skepticism.

The deal to get Pena — whose full name is Deyvi Orangel Pena Arteaga — out on bond was worked out at the last minute Thursday night by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bertha Mitrani and Pena's defense attorney, Susan Dmitrovsky.

U.S. Magistrate Barry Seltzer asked the attorneys if there was any paperwork — a passport or travel visas — to show Pena was who he said he was.

"Do we have anything to confirm this his true identity?" the judge asked. "I can't release a defendant unless I have some idea who he is."

Mitrani said she and the federal agents working on the case had not had time to check for immigration records, but that she was comfortable Pena was his actual identity and that he would not try to flee the country if released on bond.

"We are going to verify and vet the information he gave us," Mitrani told the judge.

The judge was satisfied only after hearing Pena and Randi testify under oath. Randi told the judge he had seen Pena's Venezuelan passport years ago. Pena said he used the fraudulent U.S. passport to travel Europe.

Seltzer set two bonds for Pena: One is a $1 million personal surety bond guaranteed by him and Randi, and the other is a cash bond of $50,000. Pena was released a few hours after the hearing, still wearing tan jail scrubs. He will wear an electronic monitor and be under house arrest.

Even with the disclosure of Pena's identity, another mystery persists. Neither he nor Randi disclosed why Pena had stolen someone else's identity.

"The government and the public will know how all this happened and snowballed," Dmitrovsky said after the hearing. "That's all going to be revealed. It's a very compelling story.

Hope nobody takes up Randi's million dollar challenge anytime soon.

Vini Reilly Invasion (Elvis Telecom), Friday, 4 May 2012 10:14 (2 years ago) Permalink


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