Skeptic News: Randi retraction

James RandiFrom: Doubtful News and Hayley is a Ghost

Doubtful News has posted a statement they received from James Randi in response to comments he made on a JREF swift blog and in an interview with journalist Will Storr for his book Heretics.

The reported statement from Randi is as follows:

“The statement “I’m a believer in social Darwinism,” did not come from me. In fact, I had to look up the expression to learn what was being referred to. This attack appears to be calling me a Nazi, nothing less. I demand that Mr. Storr refer me to the original sources to which we assume he has referred. Until then, I’ll only say that he has carefully selected phrases and statements out of context, not the sort of referencing that I would have expected from him.”

However Hayley Stevens took the time to contact Storr and he played her the interview with Randi over the phone. Her blog on this can be found here.

“when this was published I got in touch with Will to let him know what had been said and that’s when our phone call took place. I listened to the interview being played to me over the phone and I heard James Randi talk about how he believed that those addicted to substances should be allowed to “do themselves in“. He then said ‘I’m a believer in, if you call that Social Darwinism, I would have to generally agree”. There’s a pause and then Storr points out that many would consider such a belief to be a right wing view of other people. The conversation continues.”

Now it would take someone remarkably uncharitable to believe Hayley has any agenda to push against Randi and that her account is anything other than the truth. But no doubt some will take this view. We do not.

We note that Randi has demanded that Storr refer him to the original source of the quotes that he substantiate the claims Randi made and denying he made them.

Hayley notes that Randi could simply have forgotten what he said in the interview or that in the heat of the moment may have said thing he doesn’t mean. But this does not explain the remarkably similar views authored from Randi appearing on the JREFs own swift blog.

What Randi needs to do now is contact Storr listen to the interview and we suspect retract his statements. It may be tempting by many to paint Storr as the bad guy, and it remains possible that he conducted the interview in such a way so as to provoke such an utterance. But that would not excuse denying the utterance is made.

He shouldn’t feel the need to apologise for his political views, no matter how unpalatable they are to many, but the onus is on Randi to listen to the interview and if appropriate retract his denial.

It’s ok to be wrong. It’s ok to hold unpalatable views. It is not ok to pretend you don’t.

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22 Responses to Skeptic News: Randi retraction

  1. James Randi says:

    I cannot adequately respond here to this attack. An answer will be posted on SWIFT as soon as I can get one constructed. Please do not make any assumptions before reading my response. Thank you.

    James Randi.

    • This post is not an attack and was not intended as one. We apologise if you feel that is the case.

      I should add that we will happily update and clarify the issue with a post of similar prominence in the light of new information.

  2. Randi has a history of lying, he lied when he weaseled out of the Bill Perron challenge for the disingenuous publicity stunt million dollars. He then posted photo shopped pictures at the JREF site of Perron to intentionally defame Perron, but would not allow Perron to respond to the Randi cowardly shameful treatment of an honest challenge. Randi is a Thought Nazi, if anyone even disagrees with him he will do his best to destroy them. Randi is a cowardly bully and has exposed himself for what he is, a cowardly user of others for his own selfish ego fulfillment and gratification, and nothing more.

    • I suppose I should be duty bound to point out that your comment is libellous and will be removed should anyone complain. Or we could leave it up and let everyone see the stupid I suppose.

      Regardless of whatever James Randi may have done or not done and regardless of what he may have said or not said that does not mean your favourite quack or psychic charlatan is correct.

  3. Endless Psych::: Please consult your attorney, the truth is never libelous. You only insult yourself when you make comments based on emotional ignorance of facts and issues you obviously know nothing about. Perhaps you would like to take the Perron honesty challenge and allow yourself to look ridiculous after Perron proves Randi as dishonest. I have seen the evidence you haven’t, Randi is a liar and Perron has the proof. Sorry if I am the bearer of unimaginable pain that Randibots suffer whenever I tell them their hero is a liar, Randibots have the same mentality as Scientologist’s and I understand their pain, but the truth is the truth.

    • Bill Perron claims to be able to use astrology, via a computer, to predict peoples personalities.

      USING MY DELL LAPTOP COMPUTER AND LEXMARK PRINTER I WILL PRODUCE HOROSCOPES CONTAINING THE PLANETS, THEIR RELATIVE POSITIONING AND INTERPRETATIONS OF THESE POSITIONS AND WHAT THEY INDICATE ABOUT A PERSON THEIR PERSONALITY, CHARACTERISTICS, AND NATURE. I WILL DO THIS WITH A DEGREE OF ACCURACY THAT WILL BE OBSERABLY BEYOND MATHEMATICAL PROBABILITY.

      THEN I WILL OBSERVE HOW MR. RANDI FRAUDENTLY GETS OUT OF PAYING ME THE MILLION DOLLARS THAT I WIN.

      MY PREFERED WAY TEST MY HOROSCOPES IS TO GO TO A PUBLIC PLACE PERHAPS A SHOPPING MALL AND ASK TOTAL STRANGERS WHO ARE MARRIED TO ALLOW ME TO DO A HOROSCOPE ON THE HUSBAND AND THEN TO HAVE THE WIFE READ THE 8 PAGES OF THE ANALYSIS OF THE HOROSCOPE AND TELL US HOW ACCURATE IT IS. I HAVE FOUND WIVES TO KNOW THEIR HUSBANDS VERY WELL AND THEY ARE NOT SHY ABOUT BEING VERY CRITICAL OF THEIR SPOUSES IF I GET AT LEAST A 60% OR BETTER ON THE HOROSCOPES THAT IS ABOVE CHANCE SO I WIN. I BELIEVE 5 HOROSCOPES ARE ENOUGH TO TEST THE ACCURACY BUT IF JREF WANT ME TO DO MORE I WILL BE GLAD TO BUT THERE HAS TO BE AN EVENTUAL LIMIT. SINCE JREF BELIEVES ASTROLOGY IS BUNK THEN ONLY ONE ACCURATE HOROSCOPE SHOULD BE SUFFICENT BUT REPEATABILITY IS REQUIRED SO I SUGGESTED 5 ACCURATE HOROSCOPES I WILL BE USING 12 ZODIAC SIGNS ALL THE PLANETS ALL 12 HOUSES PLUS ALL THE ASPECTS TRINES, SQUARES, ETC. THIS JUST FURTHER DOCUMENTS & SUPPORTS THAT MY ACCURACY IS WAY BEYOND CHANCE.

      His preferred test is fundamentally flawed as his premise. Astology, I am sorry to inform you, is bunk.

  4. If what you say is true then why did Randi lie to weasel out of the Perron challenge?
    How long did you study astrology before you decided it was bunk?
    Why don’t you take the Perron honesty challenge and win his ten grand?
    It is a very simple straight forward challenge, you both bring ten grand to a meeting place give it to an unbiased third party, Perron suggests using an off duty police officer, if he is correct he leaves with your money, if not you leave with his. You talk the talk, but can you walk the walk?

  5. jcmacc says:

    “If what you say is true then why did Randi lie to weasel out of the Perron challenge?”

    Anyone with more than one brain cell would “weasel out” of Perron’s challenge. Time and again there have been psychology experiments to show that giving people a list of very generic personality statements leads them to say it’s a highly accurate description of them.

    There’s nothng supernatural about “accurate” horroscopes, but there is perfectly predictable human nature.

  6. You say you have studied astrology for five minutes and that makes you an expert. I certainly hope you are intelligent enough to realize how ridiculous and foolish you sound. Five minutes is scientific research to you, that is ludicrous.
    The ten thousand dollar honesty challenge is not about astrology it is about honesty, did Randi lie, and the answer is yes and Perron proved it.
    Your hero is a liar but you don’t care because his agenda is your agenda, perhaps you should go into politics, I suggest the Demoncratic party they promote folks who think as you do.
    As for the links you included they are mostly opinions about research, that is silly support.
    Astrology has been around for thousands of years there are plenty of examples of accuracy on the internet. Read Cosmos and Psyche by Tarnas it documents over 30 years of astrological research.
    Read sTARBABY by Rawlins it documents astrology fraud committed by Randi and CSICOP who using the astrological research of a French astrology researcher Gauquelin who set out to disprove the validity of astrology but instead he validated astrology, then Randi and his henchmen at CSICOP using the same methods set out to disprove the findings of Gauquelin and using the same methods instead validated astrology as well. Then they falsified their results because it didn’t fit their agenda. Randi has a well documented history of lying. Go to youtube and do a search for Shermer and Vedic astrology, there is a video of Randi lackey Michael Shermer testing a Vedic astrologer and has to rate the horoscope as 73% accurate. I’m sure Shermer was thrilled about that, but the truth is the truth even if you don’t like the truth.

  7. For the purposes of clarification: Five minutes is all I was willing to waste on studying what astrology believes to be true.

    There is no point in me wasting precious time reading everything about exactly what heavenly bodies billions of miles from Earth exert an influence on people at the moment of their conception or birth. Nor is it worth me spending considerable time reading up on what astrologers say what each of these bodies does or predicts.

    Based on the simple fact that a newborn baby will experience more gravitational force from the Midwife and it’s mother than any star or planet.

    That something has been around for thousands of years does not prove it’s efficacy. Modern medicine has been around for something around or just under 100 years. Homeopathy for about 200. By your logic homeopathy would be better. But the actual evidence shows the reverse.

    Do I care about how one group of Skeptics I am not connected to, involved with or have had anymore contact with other than a comment posted by Randi on a post criticising him may have acted in the past?

    Yes. But precisely because people like you will abuse the slightest scrap or hint of bad behaviour by skeptics to validate and confirm your unevidenced hogwash.

    I’ll put it simply: the evidence from psychology and astronomy shows astrology up for the bullshit belief system it is.

  8. Some more info for you to digest:

    “The belief that the planets, stars and other heavenly bodies can have a “profound influence on our planet” is not all that wild a claim (any astronomers out there will likely be able to clarify). However, surely astrology relies on these heavenly bodies having a profound influence on us? Now, this is a wild claim, and one which doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

    There are known to be four forces in the universe: gravity, electromagnetic force and the strong and weak nuclear forces. The latter two work on the subatomic level, so we can ignore them with respect to this argument. That leaves us with two forces with which the heavens can influence us: gravity and electromagnetic force.

    The electrical charge of most of the planets is negligible. Venus, Mars and Pluto (although Pluto is now a dwarf planet, it is included here for tradition’s sake) have no magnetic field, and Mercury has only 1/1000th of the Earth’s field. Only gas giant Jupiter can hold its own against the Sun, with a field 20,000 times stronger than Earth’s, overtaking Saturn at 500 times stronger, Uranus at 50 times stronger, and Neptune at 30 times stronger. How much influence could these planets exert on us?

    Well, the farther away a planet is from the Earth, the weaker the strength of its influence on the Earth. Magnetic field falls rapidly – it is inversely proportional to the square of the planet’s distance from Earth. These planets are so far away from us that any influence their magnetic fields might have is countered by the influence of the Earth’s own magnetic field. Indeed, their effects are entirely negligible. The same is true of the effects of the gravity of the other planets: almost all the effects are less than 1 billionth of the effects of Earth’s gravity.

    In terms of forces that might influence human beings, the Earth influences us a lot, lot more than distant planets, and other bodies in space have the capacity to. The electromagnetic force of an electric razor influences you 16 million times more than that of Jupiter when you are shaving and if you Stand next to a 80,000 lb truck it exerts a gravitational influence on you 300 times more than Mars.”

  9. And from psychology:

    “Astrologers may try to convince us that they produce birth charts, and predictions that are accurate. In reality, astrology has failed rational scientific test applied to it. People may think their predictions are accurate in much the same way that they might assume that psychics can communicate with long dead loved ones: we are biased towards noticing the hits and ignoring the misses. We read a horoscope and notice the bits that might apply to us. Later on, we may associate what’s in the horoscope with events we have experienced, ignoring the parts that didn’t come true. There is perhaps a degree of self-fulfilling prophecy in this.

    Horoscopes can also be convincing if they are composed of Barnum statements (also known as the Forer effect): statements that are vague enough to apply to anyone, but appear individualised and specific.

    In 1948, psychologist Bertram R. Forer gave a “personality test” to his students. Afterward, he informed them that they were each receiving, based on the test’s results, a unique personality analysis. He then asked them to rate this on a scale of 0 (very poor) to 5 (excellent) on how well it applied. In reality, each had received the same analysis.

    On average, the rating was 4.26, but only after the ratings were turned in was it revealed that each student had received identical copies assembled by Forer from various horoscopes. As can be seen from the profile, there are a number of statements that could apply equally to anyone.

    These statements later became known as Barnum statements after P.T. Barnum, who used them in his performances, allegedly stating “there’s a sucker born every minute”. This, if he had said it, would be reference to the fact that Barnum statements can gull people into thinking that they have been accurately assessed by the speaker or test, when in fact, the outcome could apply to anyone.”

  10. To return to Perron:

    Were I Randi I would not have accepted that test. For it was not a test of Astrologies accuracy but rather a test of the Forier effect.

    It would not have been appropriately blinded and would likely have given results favourable to astrology.

    But as decades of psychological research, which I have read, studied and understood, shows us why this is the case.

    It isn’t because of the influence of distant planets and stars. No it is because of the human brains ability to pick up on patterns and information and form these into a coherent narrative.

    I would predict that Perrons method produces vague information that people will look at and fool themselves into believing it is accurrate when indeed it isn’t.

    Simply because human beings have a habit of focusing on confirming and consistent information rather than disconfirming and inconsistent.

  11. Wrong on a couple of points.
    #1 You post that because the planets are millions of miles away they are too far to affect us, no astrologer has ever said astrology has anything to do with gravitational fields or electromagnetic fields or whatever field you like to play scientist in. Scientists say that because in their limited capacity to think outside the box they can not come up with any other solution. Astrology is like a road map, the map itself has no power but if you follow it you will get to your destination. Genesis Chap. 1 verse 14 “The stars were put into the heavens for signs and seasons.”
    #2 Jungian psychologists often use a patients horoscope as Jung did to get insights into a patients situation. Jung also used the I-Ching as well.
    #3 Barnum tests were proof of what advertising sale folks have known for years, that you can post just about anything favorable in glittering generalities and most folks will identify with it. The tests were not a test of real astrology which often points out very negative traits. The Barnum tests have been debunked by psychologists as well as astrologers for many years. They were a test of human gullibility that’s all. Now you will say so is astrology but that really is not the case as Jungian psychologists have been proving over and over again for decades.
    I can see you are rather closed minded so I suppose this is where we will part ways, at least you didn’t start calling me names like so many of the followers of Randi have done in the past.
    Wish you well, Carlos Caliente

    • 1# Oh so Astrology works because God said it does.

      Great argument.

      Meanwhile in the real world the stars have moved relative to the Earths position. The stars no longer correspond to where they were when Astrology was dreamed up.

      Where does that leave Astrologies road map?

      2# Jungian psychology is also complete and utter bunk.

      3# Barnum tests have not been debunked. They were invented for the purpose of debunking.

      If it is close minded to actually look at the evidence, to critically evaluate claims and ask for actual evidence than fair play. It doesn’t match the definition of close minded I am familiar with and the one you offer a perfect example of.

      I wish you well also.

  12. You say you wish me well then you toss out a final insult. It is not my fault you are closed minded, you prove that by refusing to even look at the evidence I suggested, #1 the book Cosmos and Psyche, by Tarnas, #2 sTARBABY by Rawlins, or #3 the youtube video of Shermer and the Vedic astrologer. I gave educated informed responses to your supports, #1the reports that were nothing more than opinions, #2 the debunked Barnum, and #3 the ridiculousness of only gravity as a power to guide or influence, at least I checked them out but you didn’t check out mine, there by proving who really is the closed minded one.
    Still wishing you well, but also wishing you an opening of your mind too.

  13. I read the sTARBABY article.
    I watched the youtube video.

    I won’t be buying the book.

    You did not give educated or informed responses.

    You started out by defaming James Randi.

    You then made some unsupported assertions and random leaps of logic.

    Then you ended up calling me close minded when the reverse is in fact true.

    Feel free to have the last word if you must.

  14. You lie!!! There is no way you could have read sTARBABY and watched the video in less than 10 minutres.

    • You’re right. I actually read the sTARBABY article before you mentioned it as a result of googling to try and work out what the hell you were talking about.

      Have you addressed any of the points I raised without using biblical quotes (which are not evidence), appeals to false authority (in this case Jung) which is not evidence or misunderstandings of what Barnum/Forier statements are?

  15. Yeah, sure you did. If you actually read sTARBABY and still are a fan of Randi your moral compass is out of whack. Biblical quotes scare you, why? Barnum is worthless trash and if you refuse to acknowledge that then you are doomed, your reasoning is whacked along with your moral compass. And referring to an eminent psychologist as a false authority is further proof of your reasoning ability has joined your moral compass. Sorry pal, but you are doomed.

    • What you seem to fail to understand is that Barnum statements are meant to be trash. They were designed to serve a purpose and that purpose was to show how easily we fool ourselves into believing statements are about us and highly accurate when in fact they are just generalised and vague.

      Also at what point did I say I was a fan of Randi?

      Biblical quotes don’t scare me but they aren’t evidence. I thought I made this clear. Jung is not an eminent psychologist. He was an eminent psychoanalyst. Also his theories and ideas are considered the worst kind of psuedoscientific nonsense by the modern psychological community.

      So… Um how does that make me, or anyone else you imagine I am connected or associated with, doomed?

      That’s not so much a leap of logic but more it’s complete absence.

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