Josh Wakefield and James "The Amazing" Randi
June 11, 2007 at the James Randi Educational Foundation - Fort Lauderdale, Florida

James Randi (born August 7, 1928), stage name The Amazing Randi, is a stage magician and scientific skeptic best known as a challenger of paranormal claims and pseudoscience. Born Randall James Hamilton Zwinge, in Toronto, Canada, Randi is the founder of the James Randi Educational Foundation and its famous million dollar challenge offering a prize of US $1,000,000 to anyone who can demonstrate evidence of any paranormal, supernatural or occult power or event, under test conditions agreed to by both parties. He was a regular guest on the "Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson", and is occasionally featured on the television program Bullshit!, hosted by noted skeptics Penn & Teller.

Randi entered the international spotlight in 1972 when he challenged the public claims of Uri Geller. Randi accused Geller of being nothing more than a charlatan using standard "magic" tricks to accomplish his allegedly paranormal feats, and he backed up his claims in the book The Magic of Uri Geller.

Randi was awarded a MacArthur Foundation "Genius" award in 1986, drawing upon his conjuring skills to write and educate the public on superstition and pseudoscientific matters.  The money was used for Randi's comprehensive exposť of faith healers including Peter Popoff, W. V. Grant and Ernest Angley.  During the course of the investigation Randi was "healed" by these ministers. When Popoff was exposed, he was forced to declare bankruptcy within the year. 

In 1996, Randi established the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF). Randi updates the JREF's website on Fridays with a written commentary titled Swift: Online Newsletter of the JREF. Randi also contributes a regular column, titled "'Twas Brillig", to The Skeptics Society's Skeptic magazine.

In September 2006, he joined the cast of The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe podcast with a weekly column titled "Randi Speaks".

The James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) currently offers a prize of one million U.S. dollars to anyone who can demonstrate a supernatural ability under agreed-upon scientific testing criteria. Similar to the paranormal challenges of John Nevil Maskelyne and Houdini, in 1964, Randi put up $1,000 of his own money payable to the first person who could provide objective proof of the paranormal. Since then, the prize money has grown to the current $1,000,000, and the rules that surround claiming the prize are official and legal. No one has progressed past the preliminary test which is set up with parameters agreed to by both Randi and the applicant. He also refuses to accept any challengers who might suffer serious injury or death as a result of the testing they intend to undergo.


  People I Have Met

Last updated: Saturday, June 16, 2007 09:25:17 AM CST.  All images are © Copyright Josh Wakefield and may not be reproduced without express written permission.  All rights reserved.