Vanish Magic Magazine 102 (2023) Vanishmagazine102 - Page 14

Taylor and Watson were not the two most qualified referees to have been seated with Geller . While they were being presented as scientists , their areas of expertise were irrelevant when adjudicating Geller ’ s presentation . This loose pairing of mystery with scientific overtones is , I would soon learn , called “ Pseudoscience .” The 1970s was a period in time ripe for what was being hailed as the “ New Age Of Enlightenment .” Shirley MacLaine ( the popular actress who turned New-Age guru ) would also jump on board , sprouting a mish-mash of nonsense , as would other believers .
On the flip-side , there were those disgruntled about what they considered the deceptive coupling of magic tricks with science . Some were even furious . The most vocal would be a Canadian magician who would fight Geller ’ s claims with vigor and flair , continuing until his death in 2020 .
James Randi ( real name : Randall James Hamilton Zwinge ) was a magician who specialized in daring escape routines . Born in 1928 , his career was inspired by Harry Houdini in two distinct ways : his love for escapology ( resulting in two Guinness World Records ), and his unerring passion for scientifically questioning claims of the paranormal .
That scientists were being fooled by what Randi observed to be simple magic tricks , misdirection , and a cool presentation , was of concern . Funding and resources , it was argued , were being pulled from more deserving areas to research . Randi ’ s unrelenting objection , combined with the talents and resources of Paul Kurtz , Marcello Truzzi , Martin Gardner and Ray Hyman , would , in 1976 , lead to the establishment of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal ( CSICOP ), now known as the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry ( CSI ). The James Randi Educational Foundation ( JREF ), with its famous million dollar reward for a successful demonstration of super-natural abilities executed under mutuallyagreed controlled conditions , was founded in 1996 .
A fierce and colourful battle — psychic versus skeptic — would result in decades worth of publicity for all parties . The journals of science jostled , and the popular magazines fawned and propagated the psychic mythology . A war of words would also generate a plethora of lawsuits — including one
Alain Nu
Banachek & James Randi

A fierce and colourful battle — psychic versus skeptic — would result in decades worth of publicity for all parties .

14 JANUARY | 2023