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Flim-Flam by James Randi

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posted on Jul, 28 2017 @ 11:40 PM
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I was interested in all types of paranormal phenomena from an early age, and would frequently haunt second-hand bookstores looking for more to read. One day I found someone had shelved Flim-Flam, by James Randi, among the paranormal literature. A quick skim had me intrigued, and I took it home and read it.

I feel like this book encouraged me to think more critically about the strength of evidence that was presented for various claims, and led me to realize that a lot of things that I'd been thinking could be true didn't actually have very strong evidence. This ended up changing the way I approached these topics entirely.

I'm sure that Randi's attitude doesn't sit well with a lot of people, but I still feel this was a valuable read that has helped me learn to separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to a lot of questionable topics. In particular, it really showed me the signs you see when people are waffling or talking around a lack of evidence.

Has anyone else read this book? What did you think?

Flim-Flam




posted on Jul, 29 2017 @ 12:06 AM
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a reply to: fiverx313

Did anyone ever win the million dollars?



posted on Jul, 29 2017 @ 12:29 AM
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a reply to: Wide-Eyes

not so far



posted on Jul, 29 2017 @ 12:42 AM
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I like him, a no BS kinda guy. He's getting old now and isn't as active, but he's still waving that million dollars around and no takers.....that should speak volumes



posted on Jul, 29 2017 @ 12:55 AM
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a reply to: WUNK22

did you see the documentary about his life? i thought it was pretty interesting.

An Honest Liar



posted on Jul, 29 2017 @ 03:51 AM
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a reply to: fiverx313

I read it years ago and it's not a bad read. Most of the things he was 'exposing' were not common knowledge until deep into the internet age. People had to use their own intelligence and subject knowledge to work out Von Daniken's BS.

There's a great old book if you like the skeptics - Houdini - A Magician Among the Spirits (pdf). The people Houdini dealt with were more interesting than Randi's. Legends like Dunglas-Home and Arthur Conan-Doyle are in there.



posted on Jul, 29 2017 @ 06:14 AM
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a reply to: Kandinsky

Id like to add 'Houdini on magic' for those who are interested. Published 1953 by Dover Publications.
Contains edited material from 'Houdini's Escapes' by Walter B. Gibson (1930) and 'Houdini's magic' by Walter B. Gibson (1932). Both M. L. Ernst Publishing.

And 'The First Psychic' by Peter Lamont 2005 about Daniel Dunglas Home.

Ashamed to say that the Lamont one is still in my "Yet to be read" pile with many others but though it may be of interest...

Now. Back to Randi...

Is there any evidence he was aware of the ingenious radio receiver implants devised by Andrija Puharich as detailed in 'The Stargate Conspiracy' by Picknet and Prince?
After reading their book, it seems as though there was a suspicion the device was to be put inside a tooth and used to produce channelled aliens/spirits but I've not come across its use anywhere else.
edit on 29-7-2017 by Tulpa because: the usual



posted on Jul, 29 2017 @ 06:44 AM
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a reply to: Tulpa

Dunglas-Home's famous levitation has bugged me for years. Out the window and back again. How the heck was that done? I haven't read an explanation that works all the angles and yet people do not float on air either.


I'll check out the book recs


Puharich struck me as a highly-strung and very imaginative person. It's been a few years, but my impression was to keep some of his claims at arm's length. Kind of like Ingo Swann in the sense of being interesting and lively and hard to believe.

FTR I enjoy reading all sides of these topics.



posted on Jul, 29 2017 @ 07:26 AM
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a reply to: Kandinsky

Me too.

Puharich is definitely a person of interest.
The Stargate Conspiracy was something on such a massive scale that I can't help but see connections to things that aren't mentioned in the book.

Bill Coopers 'Mystery Babylon' is another series that I'm slowly working my way through. The recordings are pretty crazy but a lot of it makes sense and, maybe its just me, but some parts of it seem to tie in.

Home predates all of that (I think?) and his window trick stumps me as well!!!




posted on Jul, 29 2017 @ 03:52 PM
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originally posted by: Kandinsky
There's a great old book if you like the skeptics - Houdini - A Magician Among the Spirits (pdf). The people Houdini dealt with were more interesting than Randi's. Legends like Dunglas-Home and Arthur Conan-Doyle are in there.


thanks for the link, this looks like an interesting read! i've read a little bit on houdini's debunking here and there but i've been meaning to dig deeper.


originally posted by: Tulpa
Id like to add 'Houdini on magic' for those who are interested. Published 1953 by Dover Publications.
Contains edited material from 'Houdini's Escapes' by Walter B. Gibson (1930) and 'Houdini's magic' by Walter B. Gibson (1932). Both M. L. Ernst Publishing.

And 'The First Psychic' by Peter Lamont 2005 about Daniel Dunglas Home.


these also look good... i'll have to see if i can find them locally. thanks!


originally posted by: Tulpa
Now. Back to Randi...

Is there any evidence he was aware of the ingenious radio receiver implants devised by Andrija Puharich as detailed in 'The Stargate Conspiracy' by Picknet and Prince?
After reading their book, it seems as though there was a suspicion the device was to be put inside a tooth and used to produce channelled aliens/spirits but I've not come across its use anywhere else.


i'm not familiar with that, tbh -- altho i definitely haven't read everything randi's ever done. google hasn't given me much so far but i'll keep looking a bit.


originally posted by: Kandinsky
Dunglas-Home's famous levitation has bugged me for years. Out the window and back again. How the heck was that done? I haven't read an explanation that works all the angles and yet people do not float on air either.


it's my impression from that particular incident that the witness testimony didn't seem all that reliable.


originally posted by: KandinskyFTR I enjoy reading all sides of these topics.


same here! i love thinking over and evaluating the evidence. when i'm pretty sure things aren't true, i'm interested in how people get to that place where they believe so firmly.



posted on Jul, 29 2017 @ 04:52 PM
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A sceptical-minded friend gave me Flim-Flam to read, and (knowing my fondness for forteana) challenged me to argue against it. He was very badly shaken by the results. Two points that I remember drawing to his attention still stick in my mind today chiefly because of the ashen look on his face when he was confronted with the awful truth:

a) In one chapter, Randi admits that he is wistfully faithful that Woolly Mammoths still roam the Earth (in Siberia, iirc)
b) He claims that the irrational number Pi can be obtained from the Great Pyramid of Giza because the ancient Egyptians used measuring wheels to mark out distances.

The second one is my favourite, because the Egyptians never discovered the wheel, as a single glance at a history book would have told Randi, and in any case using a wheel to measure something would not automatically introduce Pi into the measurement itself. This is such a stupid thing to believe that it is hard to over-emphasise how stupid it is. It's directly analogous to arguing that every distance travelled by a car must be reducible to an exact multiplication of Pi due to the fact that the car's wheels are round.

There were lots of other points that I drew to my pal's attention -- in fact, lots and lots. To be fair to him, he had the good grace to admit he had embarrassed himself by attempting this backfire of a lesson.

We were both 18 years old at the time. I don't think I was some kind of "child genius" to see through Randi's malarkey, I just think it shows that Randi's fans are every bit as prone to uncritical belief as the people that they like to denounce.



posted on Jul, 29 2017 @ 05:11 PM
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a reply to: fiverx313

I never answered your original question. Sorry, very rude of me.
Not read the book yet but, like you, I love trawling through second hand places and finding a bargain so I'll probably pick it up at some point.
I think I've seen the documentary that was posted above.

Can't say I'm a fan of Randi to be honest but I have to admit he was an interesting fellow. As Audobon says, he did have his flaws.
Its better to be temporarily embarrassed that you've been fooled than it is to carry on believing a conman.
Personally speaking, as far as magic goes, its fun to enjoy a bit of wonder but when fake psychics are fleecing their believers its a good thing that Randi could expose them.



posted on Jul, 29 2017 @ 10:33 PM
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originally posted by: audubon
b) He claims that the irrational number Pi can be obtained from the Great Pyramid of Giza because the ancient Egyptians used measuring wheels to mark out distances.


haha really? i don't recall that part. i'll have to see if i can find my copy and take a look at that...


originally posted by: Tulpa
a reply to: fiverx313
Personally speaking, as far as magic goes, its fun to enjoy a bit of wonder but when fake psychics are fleecing their believers its a good thing that Randi could expose them.


couldn't agree more... that was one of the things that primarily interested me in randi and skepticism in general. it's all well and good to have wonder and question things and explore concepts, but grifting vulnerable people just makes me mad!

if you're looking to read something by randi, you might like 'the faith healers' more... it's about his work vs. televangelists and other pseudo-christian grifters. that's a good read, very sad in places.
edit on 29-7-2017 by fiverx313 because: formatting



posted on Jul, 30 2017 @ 02:37 AM
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originally posted by: fiverx313

originally posted by: audubon
b) He claims that the irrational number Pi can be obtained from the Great Pyramid of Giza because the ancient Egyptians used measuring wheels to mark out distances.


haha really? i don't recall that part. i'll have to see if i can find my copy and take a look at that...


From what I recall, there was an entire chapter on "pyramidology" and the Pi jaw-dropper appears in that (even fuzzier memory, it occurs in close proximity to a diagram illustrating some other point). It was a paperback edition that I read, so presumably this howler also appeared in the first edition. Whether it appears in any later editions, I obviously don't know.




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