About James Randi
James Randi has an international reputation as a magician and escape artist, but today he is best known as the world’s most tireless investigator and demystifier of paranormal and pseudoscientific claims. Randi has pursued “psychic” spoonbenders, exposed the dirty tricks of faith healers, investigated homeopathic water “with a memory,” and generally been a thorn in the sides of those who try to pull the wool over the public’s eyes in the name of the supernatural.
He has received numerous awards and recognitions, including a Fellowship from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in 1986 for his work in investigating claims of the supernatural, occult, and paranormal powers—in particular his exposures of TV evangelist/healers and of "psychics" such as Uri Geller. He received a grant of $272,000 to assist him in these continuing endeavors. He hosted The Randi Show on WOR-Radio, New York City, and has appeared on numerous TV series and specials throughout the world. He has taught at New York University and at Brookdale Community College in New Jersey, was 1984 Regents Lecturer at the University of California at Los Angeles, and has conducted several seminars at other colleges.
In 1975, by special request of First Lady Betty Ford, Randi appeared at the White House to entertain the children of foreign diplomats for the holidays. In 1977, he was nominated as "Visiting Magician of the Year" by the Academy of Magical Arts & Sciences at the Magic Castle in Hollywood, and he received the Garden State Magicians' award in 1978.
In 1981, Randi received a certificate of appreciation at the MIT Club of Boston and the designation of Grand Master of Magic from Hocus Pocus Magazine. The same year, the International Astronomical Association named asteroid #3163/1981 QM C "Randi" to note his contributions to encouraging young persons to embrace science. "Randi" has an orbital period of 3.71 years and a magnitude of 17.
In 1983, Randi received the Blackstone Cup of the International Platform Association as Outstanding Speaker in his category for his lecture Science & the Chimera. He became the only second-time recipient of this award in 1987.
In 1984, the Bay Surgical Society of Los Angeles granted honorary membership to Randi following his lecture to the group on pseudoscience and quackery in medicine. Two years later, the Israeli Society for Promoting the Art of Magic conferred membership on Randi, and Assembly 22 of the Society of American Magicians gave him their Award of Merit "in recognition of an outstanding contribution to the advancement of the Art of Magic and for exemplary promotion and defense of the Art of Magic."
In 1987, the Academy of Magical Arts & Sciences in Los Angeles created a special fellowship for Randi in recognition of his contributions to preserving the art of conjuring as a form of entertainment, as opposed to the use of deception for purposes of fraud. Also that year, Ring 254 of the International Brotherhood of Magicians conferred upon him their Certificate of Appreciation "for increasing community awareness of Magic's contribution to society as shown in his recognition by the MacArthur Foundation." He also received Assembly 22 of the Society of American Magicians' Award of Merit.
In 1988, the National Council Against Health Fraud gave Randi their National Consumer Service Award "in recognition of outstanding service to the community against health fraud, misinformation and quackery in harmony with the principles of the NCAHF." Also that year, he was appointed to the Hall of Fame of the Society of American Magicians (SAM). He was named an International Ambassador of Magic for the SAM, reporting to the Society from all over the world on developments in techniques and new talent discoveries. He also received a silver plaque from the Magicians of Italy.
In 1989, the American Physical Society presented Randi with their Joseph A. Burton Forum Award. The citation read, "For his unique defense of science and the scientific method in many disciplines, including physics, against pseudoscience, frauds and charlatans. His use of scientific techniques has contributed to refuting suspicious and fraudulent claims of paranormal results. He has contributed significantly to public understanding of important issues where science and society interact." Also that year, Randi was awarded the Gold Medal of the University of Ghent, Belgium, for his work in combating pseudoscience and quackery, and he received the Book of the City of Ghent, plus the Medal of the City of Ghent.
In 1990, the American Humanist Association gave Randi their Humanist Distinguished Service Award "for his lifetime contributions to Humanism through the effective promotion of rationality and critical thinking." The Committee for Scientific Examination of Religion (CSER) gave James Randi their 1990 Distinguished Service Award for his research into the fraudulent practices of faith healers and the legal actions against the evangelists that resulted from his work. The Baton Rouge Proponents of Rational Inquiry & Scientific Methods gave Randi their 1990 annual Thomas Paine Award "for his unceasing campaign to expose charlatans, fakers, and other purveyors of unreason and illogic, the whole world over." The next year, Randi presented his Granada Television series James Randi: Psychic Investigator.
In 1992, the Hungarian Society for the Dissemination of Scientific Knowledge awarded its highest decoration, the Commemorative Medal with Golden Wreath, to Randi "for his very successful activity and his enlightening efforts during several decades in the field of unmasking pseudoscientific beliefs." The Mu Epsilon chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, Miami-Dade Community College, recognized Randi "for his contribution to Education and his tireless pursuit of Truth." Randi was the 1992 Isaac Asimov Lecturer at the Asimov Seminar of the Rensselaerville Institute of New York.
In 1993, Randi delivered the first Koetser Memorial Lecture in Zurich, Switzerland. The Memorial Prize was awarded him "in recognition of his continuous efforts to educate the public on science, to make scientists more aware of methods and possible fallacies, and for his intellectual integrity in enlightening us." In November of that year, he was a keynote speaker at the European Week of Scientific Culture in Lisbon, Portugal, and Madrid, Spain. On October 19, 1993, the PBS-TV NOVA program broadcast a one-hour special titled Secrets of the Psychics dealing with Randi's life work, particularly with his investigations of "psychic" Uri Geller and various healing claims being made by evangelists in the USA and by scientists in Russia.
In April of 1994, at the request of Dean Guido Calabresi, Randi addressed the Yale University Law School as part of their "Science & the Law" seminar. It was only the third time that the Law School auditorium was filled to capacity for a speaker. Dean Calabresi wrote, "I am writing…to thank you for your wonderful discussion…Your presentation was a major boost for our TechLaw group. You certainly lived up to your reputation as an articulate, knowledgable, and entertaining speaker…Your presentation was a great success!" Also in 1994, Randi received the Florida Crime Prevention Training Conference Certificate of Appreciation.
In 1995, a degree honoris causa, Doctor of Humane Letters, was awarded Randi from the University of Indianapolis. The citation read, in part, "James Randi, prolific author, lecturer, and scientific investigator, celebrated MacArthur fellow, and truly amazing magician, your studies have exposed the falsities of pseudoscience, the paranormal, and the occult in order to enlighten the world to genuine science and the authentic powers of the intellect and spirit. In recognition of your scholarly investigations which have helped to define the boundary between true and false faith, between playful magic and the manipulation of quackery, in honor of your distinctive genius in the service of humanity…" Also that year, Randi was an Award Finalist in the non-fiction category of the Horror Writers Association for his Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds & Hoaxes of the Occult & Supernatural.
In 1996, the Committee for Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal gave Mr. Randi their Distinguished Skeptic Award, and he lectured for the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and for the Media Lab in Boston. The next year, Randi gave the fourth annual Isaac Asimov Memorial Lecture for the New York Area Skeptics Society. The mayor of Miami, Florida, named September 27, 1997, "James Randi Day" "for his outstanding contributions on behalf of humankind." The Aventura Marketing Council noted the Lifetime Achievement Award given to "author, lecturer, and humanitarian" James Randi by the International Brotherhood of Magicians. Randi was honored by the Science & Engineering Society of the National Security Agency, Washington, D.C. In the December '97 issue of Esquire magazine, he was named "One of the 100 Best People in the World, people who make our lives richer or larger or happier," sharing the honor with Nelson Mandela, Stephen Hawking, Bob Dylan—and Homer Simpson.
In 1998, Randi received the Annual Award of the Costa Rican Magical Arts Association. The next year, the Comitato Italiano per il Controllo dell Affermazioni sui Paranormale gave their "In Defense of Reason" Special Lifetime Achievement Award to Randi, and he spoke at Harvard University's series "Methods of Understanding in Art & Science."
In 2000, Florida's Nova Southeastern University gave Randi their Distinguished Lecturer Award. In 2002, the International Brotherhood of Magicians presented him with their Presidential Citation. He lectured at Southern Methodist University at their Collegium da Vinci facility.
In 2003, the first annual Richard Dawkins Award was presented to Randi by the Atheist Alliance International at their conference in Clearwater, Florida. The citation read, in part, "Demonstrating a nontheist world view in a straightforward manner, Randi has combined entertainment and education while debunking charlatans who would encourage human ignorance." The Canadian Association of Magicians gave Randi their Camaraderie Award and honored him with an all-star banquet and show in celebration of his Canadian origins.
In 2004, Randi received the Erwin Fischer Prize from the International League of Non-Religious and Atheists in Germany. He also spoke at the 5th World Skeptics Conference in Albano, Italy, and in Dublin, Ireland, for the Irish Skeptics on "Science & Skepticism in the New Millennium."
In 2007, Randi won the Philip J. Klass Award, and he famously "overdosed" on homeopathic sleeping pills while speaking as an invited guest of the TED conference. The next year, he was inducted into the Independent Investigations Group of the Committee for Investigation's Hall of Honor and received a Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2009, he was elected to be a fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Investigation, and in 2010, he was awarded an honorary membership in the New York Academy of Sciences. He also spoke at McGill University, Montreal, Canada, on "Confronting Pseudoscience," Also in 2010, Randi conducted a lecture tour of northern Europe, with stops in Estonia, Sweden, Denmark, and Iceland, including an appearance at Copenhagen’s European Atheists’ Conference alongside Richard Dawkins.
In 2011, Randi embarked on a coast-to-coast, nine-city lecture tour of Canada, beginning in Vancouver, British Columbia, and ending in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He was met regularly along this tour by sold-out crowds. Sponsored by the Norwegian Humanist Association, Randi also traveled on a lecture tour of Norway, where he performed to packed theaters and appeared in national newspapers, TV, and radio.
In 2012, Randi was awarded the Australian Skeptics' Lifetime Achievement Award and the American Humanists' Lifetime Achievement Award. He also received a Lifetime Achievement Fellowship from the Academy of Magical Arts. He performed as part of San Francisco's Porchlight Storytelling Series and spoke at the massive Reason Rally event in Washington, D.C. With JREF president D.J. Grothe, Randi toured Europe extensively, making appearances at Spain's Neuromagic conference and Guggenheim Museum, as well as speaking in Milan, Tourin, and Padua, Italy. He also spoke at India's THiNK conference and at the Australian Skeptics National Convention.
Randi is the author of numerous books, including The Truth About Uri Geller, The Faith Healers, Flim-Flam!, and An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural. His lectures and television appearances have delighted—and vexed—audiences around the world. In 1996, the James Randi Education Foundation was established to further Randi’s work. Randi’s long-standing challenge to psychics now stands as a $1,000,000 prize administered by the Foundation. It remains unclaimed.