Monday, August 10, 2015

James Randi Social Darwinist Deceiver And Liar & The "Skeptics" Who Eternally Cover Up For Him

When dealing with the long record of lies and deceptions of James Randi, it's hard to know where to begin.  I'll begin with the end, or at least the most recent because it deals with a serious and dangerous and characteristic position on his ideological side which I have written a great deal about in an entirely unrelated context.

The author Will Storr recently had a book published, "The Heretics: Adventures with the Enemies of Science", which contains a chapter on James Randi.*   I only know it, so far, from what I've read in reviews and blogs.  I will only deal with what an ideological skeptic, "Haley" said about it, her encounter with Storr and Randi.

On her "skeptical" blog, Haley stated that she was shocked at quotes from Randi in the book in which he advocates a rather extreme form of Social Darwinism, endorsing it by name:

I’m a believer in Social Darwinism. Not in every case. I would do anything to stop a twelve-year-old kid from doing it. Sincerely. But in general, I think that Darwinism, survival of the fittest, should be allowed to act itself out. As long as it doesn’t interfere with me and other sensible, rational people who could be affected by it. Innocent people, in other words. 
James Randi, The Heretics

Haley gives a link through The Daily Grail which eventually leads to a Social Darwinist screed Randi posted at his "Educational" Foundation website.

Steve expresses my feelings on the matter quite well. I believe that if the sale and use of drugs were to be suddenly legalized, first, the entire criminal community would be almost instantly crippled due to lack of income, on an international scale. Second, those individuals who were stupid enough to rush into the arms of the mythical houris and/or Adonis's they would expect to greet them, would simply do so and die - by whatever chemical or biological fate would overcome them. Third, the principle of Survival of the Fittest would draconically prove itself for a couple of years, after which Natural Selection would weed out those for whom there is no hope except through our forbearance, and I'm very, very, weary of supporting these losers with my tax dollars. As reader Wellcome points out, our species - the American sector - made the very expensive and very failed Prohibition experiment, yet we have survived cancelling that error, rather well.

Any weeping and wailing over the Poor Little Kids who would perish by immediately gobbling down pills and injecting poison, is summoning up crocodile tears, in my opinion. They would - and presently do - mature into grown-up idiots, and Darwin would be appalled that his lessons were ignored.

However, last month,  after Storr's book began to expose him, James Randi said this:

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. James Randi

This is typical Randi procedure, to say or do something disgusting and then deny he's done it.  There are accounts of him doing this kind of thing going back to the 1970s and earlier as Dennis Rawlins and many others have testified.   As has happened, in some of those, Randi brazenly lied even though the evidence was recorded.  You can also note that he accuses Storr of apperaing "to call me a Nazi", something which Storr didn't do. As Haley began her blog post by noting Storr played the interview recording for her, there was no doubt that Randi had said exactly what he was quoted as having said.

After it became widely known that Storr could produce the tape of the interview, the escape artist abruptly changed his story.  From Haley's follow up.

The unfair suggestion that Mr. Storr tried to provoke me, or that he’s a “bad guy,” is something I must dismiss, since I believe I would have remembered that sort of behavior. In any case, I now know much more about the described encounter, and I maintain that I would never have said I was a Social Darwinist, since I only recently learned in detail what that term really means, and in fact I was quite ignorant of the history of the movement organized around that false idea. I’ve been surprised that this was not obvious to people discussing the matter, but I accept that the conversation with Mr. Storr went just as described. No problem with that.

There is more of the Randi walk back which turns to another well known tactic of the walk back,  rather disgusting and self-serving displays of morose confession and false modesty:

I’m well aware that I sometimes “shoot from the hip” and speak on things about which I know very little. In this present situation, I published my personal opinions about drug addiction without knowing very much about the neuroscience behind addiction, or the addiction recovery field. Not only did I say some deeply regrettable and insensitive things, but as I’ve learned more about the questions and issues at hand, I accept that I have been wrongheaded on a number of topics related to these issues. Even at 84, I’m still learning. Please bear with me, folks.

People have been bearing that kind of stuff  from Randi for decades, as Rawlins and many others have shown.  A small encyclopedia of The Lies, Deceptions and Hypocrisies of James Randi could be compiled.

Far more valuable than that, though, is the reaction to the "Skeptics" to these instances of Randian violations of the truth.  In almost every case, as soon as he is exposed,  Randi's fan base either covers up or, failing that, they make ridiculous excuses, diminishing the crime, denying that it is serious.   For a movement that feeds on lies of the kind Randi tells about scientists and others, the wall of impunity it maintains around even the sleaziest of their demi-gods should cause massive defections by real skeptics and the complete discrediting of those who maintain the Randi cult.

* I haven't read the book, though it sounds like one worth reading.  The review in The Guardian talks about Storr's report of a "tour" given by the Hitler apologist and Holocaust denier, David Irving sounds deeply disturbing and entirely more important than the interview with James Randi which is the subject of this post.

But it is towards the end of the book, when he meets the right-wing ideologue Lord Monckton and the Holocaust denier David Irving, that he begins to excavate darker and more dangerous territory – the places where humanity's wilful self-delusion can lead. Going undercover with some neo-Nazis he finds himself standing in a gas chamber, listening to Irving point out how the chamber is a fake, a "typical Polish botch job". Shuddering with horror, Storr turns away from the group and begins to cross himself.

Relevant to this series is this, from the review:

At a "sceptics" conference he questions some self-righteous individuals with a passionate hatred of homoeopathy, only to discover that none of them has read the research that they refer to.

As I previously said that I don't believe that Jerry Coyne and PZ Myers were familiar with what Rupert Sheldrake wrote and said before they issued a sort of joint Fatwa against him, that might be the first question to consider when encountering "Skeptics".

NOTE:  I am deeply skeptical of homeopathy and doubt it's valid.  But I am not competent to debunk it exactly because I haven't read enough about it.   Knowing how the "Skeptical"/atheist lie machine works, I'm expecting to read someday that I'm a rip roaring enthusiast for homeopatic medicine.  Which I doubt this paragraph will prevent.  I've had more lies told about me by online atheists than I have gay bashers and religious fundamentalists.  In my experience, not believing that it really is a sin to tell a lie makes an actual difference in the amount of lying.  Perhaps that is relevant to understanding the Randi cult.

Update: August 10, 2015.  I've been getting comments from someone who would seem to be from the "skeptical" community,  sending me links to the "Rational Wiki" in which people like Susan Gerbic claim to not be doing things like turning the Wikipedia page on Rupert Sheldrake into inaccurate propaganda for "skepticism" .   Susan Gerbic and  Tim Farely who have been openly instructing people in her cult on doing that at Wikipedia, "Web of Trust" and other online resources that depend on uncontrolled public "editing" and "reviewing" are hardly reliable sources of information on what they and those they instruct to turn such entities into "the most important tool for skepticism that exists today".  Those are Susan Gerbic's words, by the way, not mine.   Wikipedia, Web of Trust, and other vendors of "reliability" have been informed but don't seem to be interested in preventing their sites from being turned into propaganda vehicles instead of reliable sources of information.  I've come to conclude that reliable information will not be generated without exercising rigorous editorial control with avoiding ideological hijacking being one of its foremost objectives.

What Gerbic, Farley and others builds on the careers of James Randi and other, older pseudo-skeptics in distorting reality ideologically while claiming to be all about evidence-based knowledge.  The entire thing is and has been a fraud.   Here is a link to the post I did about Gerbic and Farley's propaganda efforts.   That kind of effort doesn't only include misinformation about people like Sheldrake but also in sanitizing, thus falsifying, the records of Paul Kurtz, James Randi, and other pseudo-skeptics who have had major scandals and ongoing careers full of sleaze, as well as those such as Ray Hyman who, while they are not as sleazy, nevertheless haven't exactly been Vestal Virgins, pure keepers of the flame of truth and reason.   They are all ideological hacks, cousins to the worst of commercial, political and even religious hucksterism, not anything distinctly different from the other members of their family.

Anyone who wants to present "Rational wiki" "Wikipedia" Robert Carroll's massively unreliable and always ideological "Skeptics Dictionary" as reliable evidence isn't a skeptic, they are a true believer in their own cult.   In looking at the pseudo-skeptics with tools of real skeptical inquiry, they are among the worst hypocrites who regularly replace rational skepticism with credulous belief in clearly ideological propaganda masquerading as rigorous information.   Everything they touch seems to be diminished from their involvement.  They aren't alone in that, it's what happens when people stop believing it's a sin to tell a lie.   They can keep up the pretense of piety like any faith healing huckster and snake oil salesman but it's just another scam.


  1. Funny; everything I've read New Atheists screaming about is present in Randi's comments.

    Tribalism: "As long as it doesn’t interfere with me and other sensible, rational people who could be affected by it. Innocent people, in other words."

    Lack of compassion for human beings (related to tribalism): "Any weeping and wailing over the Poor Little Kids who would perish by immediately gobbling down pills and injecting poison, is summoning up crocodile tears, in my opinion. They would - and presently do - mature into grown-up idiots, and Darwin would be appalled that his lessons were ignored."

    And an absolute obsession with death that seems to relate to convenience (all the people not of my tribe should die, which will be more convenient to my tribe) but actually masks a fear of death expressed as "All non-tribe members should die so we will live forever."

    Which, of course, is what New Atheists accuse Christians (the only religious group they seem to think exists, really; Muslims are just variants on "Christians," to them) of: Christians believe in God only because they fear death, and so don't accept the reality of their mortality.

    Back to that splinter in my eye, and the beam in yours.

    I'm just struck with how death-obsessed they are, and how death clearly is the answer to all problems. If all the non-members my tribe would just die off, the world would be a better place for me; and, by extension, I would not die. Because obsessing so about who should be dead is just masking your own fear of death, your own conviction that you should NEVER be dead.

    But you are going to be, someday; and your legacy should be that all those other people should have died first?

    It's just kinda pathetic, when you think about it.

    1. That is the common thread that goes through all of this stuff I write about, from eugenics on. Cumulatively, I do think it's the difference between people who do really believe people are endowed by God with inalienable rights that they have to respect and people who don't believe that. That is a lesson I learned from the new atheists and fact checking them, the result of reading all of those comments on all of those blogs and online mags and taking a skeptical attitude toward them.

      To compare what they say with what the people involved with religion say, especially the UCC, Quakers, Mennonites, Catholic Worker, etc say is the difference between liberalism and the so-called religious right who support some of the most amoral politicians we have had inflicted on us. I think our politics has been severely damaged by two groups of materialists who have radicalized the Republican right and who have crippled the Democratic party and destroyed the left.

      I used to go from the "Science Blogs" to the political blogs because the air on the "Science Blogs" was so polluted. Now I read religious blogs because the air there is generally a lot cleaner and you can see things more clearly.

    2. Yeah, I'm ceaselessly surprised, for example, that the "religious right" supports Ralph Reed, a man as crooked as a dog's hind leg, a true sleaze master whose only god is Mammon.

      Then again, people loved Marjoe as a child and as an adult, and thought Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker were fine examples of Christianity. Well, enough people to make them very rich.

      The examples worth knowing, from the UCC or the Mennonites or the Catholics, et al., are so easily overlooked because they are in the world, but not of the world.

      And "skepticism". Feh. Those idiots don't know the meaning of the word. It's a magic shield erected around their tribe, defining who is in and who is out, with as much basis in rationality as food preferences. We could use another Reinhold Niebuhr; but if we had him, who would listen to him?

      Indeed, we still have him, but no one wants to read what he said. He was on the cover of TIME, now it's as if he never existed.

      Such is the way of the world.....