Flim-Flam! by James Randi

Flim-Flam! explains that not one shard of evidence exists to prove that the Bermuda Triangle poses any special menace to ships and planes, that earth is being visited by alien spacecraft, that the unassisted power of mind can read closed books, predict our future or induce levitation. It shows that the ‘psychic surgeons’ of the Philippines have relieved their patients of no more burden than their cash.

Magician and professional sceptic James Randi (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Randi) exposes the outrageous deceptions widely promoted in the sensation-seeking media. The book calls on fakes and charlatans to be accountable for their impostures. Randi writes that the public is badly served by scientists investigating the paranormal who don’t adhere to the standards of their profession and shows how sloppy research is often followed by rationalization for their failures.

This book points out the low grade nature of research into the paranormal, showing how carelessness and  selective interpretation that would not be tolerated in other fields of research is accepted in investigations of the ‘supernatural’. One anecdote in the book is Randi’s experience as a newspaper astrologer in Montreal under the name Zo-ran where he cut horoscopes from old magazines and randomly assigned them to the twelve signs of the zodiac, publishing the results. They were eagerly consumed by the credulous.

Equally entertaining is Randi’s debunking of the book ‘Chariot’s of the Gods?’, noting, among other things, Erich von Daniken’s euro-centrism.  The ‘Transcendental Meditation’ movement and Edgar Cayce’s mystic medical practice are also subjected to Randi’s sceptical scrutiny. The ‘Cottingley Fairies’ get roundly deconstructed, as do UFOs.

This is a wonderful exercise in intellectual hygiene. Don’t miss it. Check if this blistering scepticism is in stock at your local library by consulting the online catalogue at https://www.sllclibrary.co.uk/cgi-bin/spydus.exe/MSGTRN/OPAC/BSEARCH

357 pages in Prometheus Books

First published 1982

ISBN  978-0879751982

James Randi

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