SGU Episode 44

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SGU Episode 44
May 24th 2006
James randi.jpg
SGU 43 SGU 45
Skeptical Rogues
S: Steven Novella
R: Rebecca Watson
B: Bob Novella
E: Evan Bernstein
JR: James Randi
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Show Notes
Forum Topic


You're listening to the Skeptics' Guide to the Universe, your escape to reality.

S: Hello and welcome to the Skeptics' Guide to the Universe. Today is Friday, May 19, 2006. This is your host, Steven Novella, President of the New England Skeptical Society. With me today are Rebecca Watson, ...

R: Hello, everybody.

S: ... Bob Novella, ...

B: Happy Randi day.

S: ... and Evan Bernstein.

E: Likewise.

S: And what Bob and Evan are referring to is the fact that coming up very shortly, we have our second interview with James Randi, so we'll get to that very quickly. But first, just a couple of quick news items.

News Items[edit]

Human-Monkey Love (00:49)[edit]

S: The first, which has been in all the news sites and even made Rebecca's blog, is new evidence comparing the human genome with the chimpanzee genome shows that, for probably up to about 4 million years after humans and chimpanzees split from their common ancestor, they were still, at least occasionally, exchanging genes.

R: What Steve is trying to say is that they were hooking up with some hot, sweet monkey action.

S: That's right.

R: Let's just call it what it is.

E: Why didn't you just say that, Steve.

S: Although, they're not monkeys, I have point out. Don't email me; we know they're not monkeys.

E: Save your email.

R: No, and they're also not humans and chimps, either. They are the ancestors of them. But saying 'hot human-monkey love' is funny, so we're going to go with that.

S: Of course. The lay media has mainly reported this as interbreeding between human and chimps, or the better ones "human and chimp ancestors." At least that's a better way to say it.

E: That's about the level of their understanding of it all.

S: It is kind of an interesting topic. And just to give the background on this, what they've done is — you can date the divergence of two species or how far in the past they had their common ancestor, their last common ancestor, by comparing genes for the same proteins. So, for example, you can look at human and chimpanzee genes for hemoglobin, and you can see how many mutations differ between the two of them. We have a rough idea of how often over time mutations crop up. These are silent mutations, mutations which would not be selected against, and that is kind of a genetic clock, evolutionary clock, and we can say "okay, the human and chimpanzee genes for hemoglobin shared a common ancestor 6 million years ago." So that's about when humans and chimps split apart. And what they do is they look at a number of genes, and they take an average, because the mutation clock is not that precise, so they take an average. But now, because we've sequenced the human genome and sequenced the chimpanzee genome, they were able to do a much more extensive comparison between multiple, multiple genes, and what they found is that there's actually quite a range from about 10 million years to about 6 million years, if you date different genes, which means that some genes between humans and chimps have been isolated from each other for about 10 million years, which means that at that point there had to be distinct breeding populations, one breeding population eventually leading to humans and the other eventually leading to chimpanzees. But that down the road they still interbred; they had sex; and they swapped at least some genes, and, therefore, other genes split apart less recently, like only 6 million years ago. Also, interestingly, they also indicate that humans have much more chimpanzee mutations than chimpanzees have human mutations, which means that the earlier, prehuman population was breeding with the pre-chimpanzee population ...

R: That's so hot.

S: ... more than the other way around. Yeah. Rebecca is very, very fascinated by this whole thing.

R: Who is not fascinated by monkey sex? That's pointing at one person. It's impossible not to be intrigued by the idea of a person having sex with a monkey. Am I wrong?

B: Can you imagine these early humans having a drink by the cave and they see this monkey, this knucklewalker walking by and like "Hey! Check that out!".

R: Right.

B: "Remember that great-great grandpa talked about her."

R: Like I'd hit it, totally.

S: Right. Now that's part of the question. Some scientists have been a little bit skeptical of this. If you go back 10 million years, then obviously they didn't really look that much different. They were really almost two races or varieties of the same species, just in different populations. So that's easy to accept. But when you to like 6 million years ago, now you're talking early hominids, probably.

R: Now you're talking about a really awkward morning conversation. We've all had them. You wake up, and you look at the person next to you. But imagine if the person next to you is more ...

S: A knucklewalker.

R: ... chimpish. Yeah.

B: What's that like, Rebecca? Oh, sorry, had to say it.

E: Nice, nice.

R: Oh, ouch!

S: Maybe this does all cut just a little bit too close to home.


R: I think somebody's just a little upset that I didn't call the next day.

S: Maybe, maybe.

Chinese Mirage (05:42)[edit]

S: But one more quick news item and then we'll go to our Randi interview.

S: The other thing that has been passing around the news and also just in our email circles yesterday was this rare mirage in China. You guys have all seen this?

B: Yes!

E: Yes.

B: Very interesting.

S: Very interesting. So the interesting thing about this — this is in the shore Chinese city of I guess that's pronounced Penglai (pen-gly) City, in East China's Shandong province, on Sunday, so just about a week ago. Thousands of tourists were packing the beaches looking across the misty bay at what looked like the image of a city on the horizon, with skyscrapers and buildings.

B: And cars and people, actually. I mean there ..

S: The news reports mentioned cars and people. The photographs don't really show cars and people.

B: Well, yes, it's low-res.

S: Yeah. And the photographs are quite impressive. Now, what's interesting is that like on the skeptical blogs and the skeptical email groups, a lot of people have been dismissive about this thing: "Oh, this is a hoax. This is a Photoshop job," but I don't know. I think the pictures actually look quite convincing. This is a known phenomenon, sometimes referred to as a Fata Morgana mirage, a reference to Morgan le Fay, who apparently had a castle that floated above the water.

E: Or not apparently.

S: This happens from time to time. Sometimes you can see an inverted or upside down image sort of floating above the water. You may see like a ship floating upside down above the water is one way this mirage may manifest. So what happens, basically, is you have hot air above the cool air coming off of the ocean, and this creates a lensing, an atmospheric lensing effect, which causes the light rays to bend around the curvature of the horizon so that you actually see a more distant object, and this is not a precise lensing effect, so you tend to get this sort of layering or blurring effect. And, actually, if you look really closely at the better pictures of this, it does look like that. It looks like the same image spread out and repeated multiple times.

E: Hm, hm.

S: But because of buildings, it just looks like more stories on the buildings, but if you really look carefully, that horizontal lining effect seems to be present. So ...

B: Now, Steve, also, another interesting point about the Morgana mirage is that sometimes it's referred to as a fairy city that seems to be floating above the water, and what that is is that you've got these multiple reflections of light, and it could be up to say a distant mountain peak, and that peak is duplicated and kind of spread out and smeared out, so it actually does look like a castle, like these buildings, like this floating fairy castle, and it doesn't have to be of a city.

S: Right.

B: It could be just a mountain peak.

S: Right, right. So this may have to get filed under the amazing-but-true category. It is a rare optical atmospheric phenomenon, but at this point there's no reason to think that this is not legitimate, and the photographs — there are multiple photographs, not just one photograph that one person is putting up. There were apparently were many witnesses. There are many photographs you could see on the web now. It does fit with this known phenomenon. So this is just a cool mirage, a cool atmospheric phenomena.

R: Neat.

S: Well, we're not going to have any other segments on our show this week. No Science or Fiction, no logical fallacy, and no email, because we want to have the rest of our time for an interview with James Randi. So let's go to James Randi now.

Interview with James Randi (09:38)[edit]

S: Joining us now is James Randi. Randi, welcome back to the Skeptics' Guide.

JR: It's a pleasure to be here.

S: Now, Randi needs no introduction, but I'm going to introduce him anyway. He is a renowned skeptical investigator and educator, began his career as a professional magician performing under the name of "The Amazing Randi", and now he runs the James Randi Educational Foundation, and you can visit his website at The JREF also administers the famous Million Dollar Psychic Challenge, which we spoke about extensively on Randi's last visit to The Skeptics' Guide. Randi also has published numerous books, including The Faith Healers, The Mask of Nostradamus, Flim-Flam, and many others, with more in the works. So, again, Randi, welcome back to The Skeptics' Guide; it's always a pleasure speaking with you.

JR: Well, it's good to be here, but I must say, you don't spell my name, you see. Many people try to reach me on www dot randy, R-A-N-D-Y, which is not correct; it's R-A-N-D-I.

S: OK. (chuckles)

R: It's a good point.

S: So, just to get it out of the way, since we spoke to you last time, you've had some health problems, and I know that all of your fans want to hear how you're doing.

JR: Well, doing very well; I must say I just came back from the gym workout that I do three days a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, at the local hospital. I have pedaled my way around the world at least a couple of times without moving an inch, and I've rowed myself across the Atlantic Ocean without moving. It's quite effective, I must say. All kinds of whirly-gig equipment there, and constant blood pressure and heart-rate monitoring. It's very thorough and I'm sort of halfway through that three-month session, now.

S: It's basically cardiac rehab; is that what you're doing?

JR: Yeah. Mm-hmm.

S: And what happened, exactly?

JR: Well, what happened. Let's go back to the beginning. I was born at the age of —


JR: At a very early age. Let's say that. 1928, to be exact. Very good year. Yes, right after TAM 4, after all the festivities had wound up and everything, I came back to Florida here, and a couple of days after that, I felt a tightness in my chest, which I recognized, having had heart problems before, anginas, and I went out to the local hospital, collapsed at the hospital, went into emergency, and spent a few weeks under morphine. Morphine is my great friend; it's my new friend altogether. And woke up having had a double bypass, which rather slows you down, to say the least. But it was very highly successful. There were complications. I had to have my gall bladder out three days after the bypass, which is relatively minor. But they did punch a few holes in me. As I said on the web page not too long ago, when I got a first good look at my chest in the mirror, I found that I looked like a piece of parchment that Indiana Jones might have taken while searching for the lost treasure of Babylon. Little Xs all over it, and an interesting incision which starts behind my left knee and goes up into my abdomen. I don't know how they had to go all that way They must have ...

S: Well, that's where they harvested the vein, I guess, apparently.

JR: Yes, they harvested the vein, yes.

R: They took the scenic route.

JR: I could have given them a handful.

S: But the angina's cleared up; your symptoms have cleared up and you're doing well, it sounds like.

JR: Oh yeah. No, I'm coming along very well. I've got certain blood pressure things that I've got to look at, and I'm on minor medication; only four pills a day. One of the fellows at the gym was telling me today he takes sixteen pills a day, so I feel only one quarter as bad as he does.

S: (laughs) Right. Let me ask you a question: while you were in the hospital during this entire experience, were you ever offered any alternative medicine modality such as prayer or therapeutic touch or aromatherapy or anything like that?

JR: Well, judging from the recent reports on how badly prayer fails, I'm very grateful to the millions upon millions of people all around the world who didn't pray for me, ...

R: (laughs) It worked.

JR: ... because that obviously helped me somewhat.

S: I did not pray for you, so you're welcome.

JR: There you go. Thank you very much!


JR: Now, Linda, in our office here, the indefatigable Linda — I mean, there's no way of tiring this woman — she wanted to pull a little bit of a gag, but some friends deterred her from doing. She wanted to have when I woke up, on one of those occasions in the hospital, they wanted to have a nurse doing reiki on me.


JR: Or someone dressed as a nurse, at least. And they sort of drew the line at that and said no, I would probably rise from my bed of pain with the tubes down my throat and everything else and all the electrodes attached and strangle her, you know?


S: Now, for the listeners, reiki is just a Japanese form of therapeutic touch where they manipulate your energy field.

JR: (sarcastically) Yeah, right.

S: I'm sad to say that some nurses at Yale are enamored of reiki. They offered it to me a couple of times.

E: Wow.

S: I declined, of course.

R: Wait, are you sure that's what they were offering you when they asked if you wanted therapeutic touch?

JR: Oh, oh, I never thought of that.

S: Maybe I should have reconsidered.


S: I'll have to follow up and find out. So, yeah; it's terrible that in mainstream American hospitals there's this sort of creeping pseudoscience that is justified by the hospitals on the basis that, "well, this is what our patients want, so ..."

JR: Yeah.

S: "... why shouldn't we give it to them?"

E: Right.

S: And it's good marketing.

JR: Yeah, how about blood-letting? If I go in there and I want to be bled, I wonder if they would do that?

R: Well, they should have respect for your beliefs.

E: Or have your humors balanced.

S: If they could bill you for it, they probably would do it.

JR: Yeah, that's my good humor and my bad humor.


Faith Healers (15:53)[edit]

S: Now, we didn't talk last time about one of your favorite topics. That's faith healing, and I notice in your most recent issue of "Swift" online, which is basically your online newsletter on the website, you talk about — or it might have been the last issue, that you talk about your recent evaluation of a faith healer.

JR: What was his name?

S: I think it was Benny Hinn! Benny Hinn.

JR: Benny Hinn. Benny Hinn. Yes, Benny Hinn, the fellow who is probably the leading figure in faith healing these days, who got his comeuppance a few times. Certainly in Denmark, he got his comeuppance. They revealed his methodology and interviewed a number of people he had apparently healed who had turned out not to be healed. Oh, great surprise right there. But Benny Hinn was not around at the time that I wrote my book The Faith Healers, so he didn't even get mentioned in there. As a matter of fact, I sort of put Benny Hinn in business because I put out of business several of the major faith healers like Peter Popoff, for example. And Benny Hinn stepped into that void. He picked up everybody that had abandoned Popoff, because these people never abandon faith healing, they simply go to a different faith healer.

B: Isn't Popoff doing the rounds again?

JR: Oh yeah. No, he's very active again. Yeah. He's very active. He changed the name of his ministry from Peter Popoff Ministries to People United for Christ, and how can we fight that?

E: Right.

R: No, everybody loves Christ. I think.

E: Or they should.

R: And Ernie — Ernie Angley — is back as well, Randi. We talked about that I think a few weeks ago.

JR: (exaggerated) Praise Jay-sus!

R: (laughs)

JR: You know, I attended, along with Paul Kurtz and Barry Carr years ago, I actually went out to Akron, Ohio and I sat in the front row of one of the meetings that he held in the church there, his church. Believe me, the rugs were as thick as the lawn on the best golf course. I think that rug had to be mowed twice a week. It was a luxuriously — he had a wonderful orchestra and a superb choir, and then this awful-looking man who looks like he's really been stuffed into a silk shirt, and he's wearing corsets. You can tell that he's wearing corsets of some kind to hold it all in.

B: Oh, my God.

E: Oh, wow.

R: And doesn't he have — does he have a thick, luxurious rug somewhere else other than his floor? (giggles)

JR: Yeah, that. Believe me, that rug — what I said to Kurtz was, and Kurtz kept on shushing me. You know, Kurtz is like that. I told him, I said, "hey, if he took that thing off, threw it on the floor and said, 'be healed', it would walk up and it would run away, and it would probably reproduce itself in the corner." That is the worst-looking rug. He never turns his head in a hurry, because he may leave the rug behind, you see.

R: Right. He can't go out in a stiff wind.

JR: Oh, it's awful looking. Yeah. So, anyway, we visited Ernest Angley.

S: Now, getting back to Benny Hinn, you said... so what is his shtick? What are his methods?

JR: It's the same old thing, same old thing. As a matter of fact, we did — my first opportunity to really talk about it — BBC called me and asked me if I would go up to Toronto and get in disguise appropriately as Adam Gerson, which means wearing a red wig, dyeing my beard temporarily red, and putting in black contact lenses, which I did. I went up to Toronto, and they gave me all kinds of strange identification to hang around my neck, so many cards that none of the guards even looked at me, because I was festooned with all kinds of ID. And here I was, in Toronto, at the Madison Square — not Madison Square, pardon me — Maple Leaf Gardens — I'm sorry; wrong city. Which is a huge place, and the place was jammed to the ceiling. There was no room for anybody. They had people up and down the aisles, and they had a crowd out on the street estimated at over 1500 people who couldn't get in, and they were just clamoring at the outside doors. So it was a great success for Benny Hinn.

But, we caught Benny Hinn. We got him really good. We got into the counting area with the money, with the coin sorters, and they were sorting the checks and putting them into big boxes and such, and the cash and everything else. We got into the counting area. We even interviewed some of the people there, and they gave away an awful lot of secrets. We found them rehearsing the audience that was coming up on stage, rehearsing them on the stairs leading up to where the video cameras were on how to fall down, and that they would be protected and such as they fell. They would have catchers right there, and they even rehearsed them, right on the stairway leading up to the stage. And we found there was a roped-off area on the main floor at the back where all wheelchairs were kept, especially if they were wheelchairs that were customized. That means that this person doesn't rise from that chair under any circumstances, and they kept all those people back there.

And right in the middle of the whole thing, a young couple who had a child in their arms, a child about, I'd say eight to ten — very hard to say — dressed in an exercise suit. The child was drooling and crying out. I don't know what the problem was, but it was an obvious neurological difficulty. And they rushed right through the security guards, pushed them aside bodily, and rushed up and got on the stage. And Benny Hinn invited them up, naturally. Now there was nothing being broadcast live. This was all being videotaped for future use, and I can assure that section of the tape did not hit the airwaves ...

S: Right.

JR: ... later on. But they broke right through. They got up on the stage, and the husband yelled at Benny Hinn. He said "We followed you through four or five cities now, and we're trying to get on the stage, and they wouldn't let us on the stage. I want you to heal my son!" And Benny Hinn was very cool. He took the kid in his arms, and he hushed the audience and he looked heavenwards with the light on him appropriately, of course, and he said something to the effect, "Sweet Jesus, heal this child, in your own time. Heal him now, if you wish, or tomorrow, or next week. Whenever you wish, Good Lord", you know, that kind of thing.

E: Outrageous.

JR: "Because all the wisdom is in your hands." And then he gave the child back, still screaming and drooling, to the parents. Two security guards hustled them offstage, and literally dragged them down the stairs. They were trying not to go, so they were being led away willy-nilly, which is an interesting expression not many people know the meaning of. It means "willing or not willing." And they got them down into the aisle. And we saw them, and we videotaped them being dragged down the hall and pushed out of the pad-locked doors into the street, and the door slammed after them. Meanwhile, Hinn was singing away and the orchestra started up and all this kind of thing. That was never used on the BBC program because Benny Hinn's lawyers reminded the BBC that they had lawyers up the gazoo. They were all over the place, and he had better be very careful — they had better be very careful if they tried to sue him. So they didn't, and the program was completely whitewashed, and it finally got on the air, but it was nothing. Absolutely nothing.

R: That's pathetic.

S: Really? So the BBC News let themselves be intimidated by a huckster like that?

JR: Oh, this was not the BBC News. This was a BBC program of some kind under some title or other. I've forgotten. I've got it in my videotape library, but it's hard to look that sort of thing up because you grit your teeth a lot while you're watching the thing. But Hinn was seated in front of the camera, very calmly. He knew that he had the thing under control and that they were not going to use any of that footage.

S: That's terrible. And of course, the desperate parents, I mean, you know, obviously if you have a child who's neurologically devastated, it is an incredibly devastating thing, so you could understand the parents' desperation. And they were just given the bum's rush, because he knew that he couldn't heal this kid ...

JR: That's right.

S: ... or give the appearance of healing them.

JR: That's right. He didn't want anything like that happening. Now, we actually went across the street after this event and we sat in a coffee shop across the street. This was about 20 minutes before the crowd let out. We had to fight our way through the people who were blocking traffic on the street trying to get in. And we went to the coffee place across the street, sat down at the back, and we happened to sit right beside a table where there was a rather large lady seated there with tears streaming down her face and a handkerchief to her eyes, and she was being talked to by her feminine companion there, and we overheard the conversation. And she was saying, "but I've followed him over 11 cities, all over the United States and Canada. I don't have any more money. I can't get up on the stage. And we need healing. We need healing" and she was sobbing away. And her woman friend took her by the hand and said, "but dear, you haven't given everything that you have, have you? Because he said that God wants you to give everything, as far as you possibly can. You've still got the CDs; you've still got those investments. You've really got to reach deeper, dear."

B: Wow.

JR: This was so — and the woman was saying, "But I can't; I haven't anything to leave the children. I've cashed in the CDs." And she was going on and on. We just moved our table. We couldn't take it any longer.

E: Oh, my God.

S: Heartless, heartless.

E: Evil.

JR: Yes, evil. It's not just heartless; it's evil.

S: It is.

R: Do you think that there's any way to save people from that kind of ignorance?

JR: Yeah, educate them. But they have to be educated before they go there, before they fall into this trap of believing this crap. They have to be educated. Education — hey, that's why I call it the James Randi Educational Foundation. We try to be educational, if we possibly can. Educating people is not all that easy, but we sure as hell try.

S: And you're absolutely right. You do have to get to people before they fall prey, because once they're a true believer, once they're in the clutches, the psychological mechanisms are just too powerful.

JR: Yes.

S: It's very hard for people to admit that they've been duped to that degree.

JR: Right. And I just answered somebody on email yesterday, the usual thing, which I really hate to put out. His wife has completely fallen for a faith healer and has reached into the bank account and pretty well stripped that out to send all this money off to him. And the man said, "How do I convince her of it?" He said, "I led her to your page, and she just kept on shaking her head and turning away from it and saying, 'No, that's the Devil at work. That's the Devil at work.'" And I just told him, I said, "Frankly, I think you should give up. There is no way that you can convince the true believer. The true believer will ignore all evidence to the contrary because it's comforting to believe what he or she chooses to believe. And she's going to have to learn on her own, but I don't think there's anything you can do." I hate to tell people that. That's ridiculous. There should be a way, but I don't know what the way is. I really don't.

B: The first thing that he should do, I believe, is prevent any access of — prevent her from accessing all of their finances.

S: Yeah, just hide the money.

B: I mean, oh my God, I would make sure she couldn't get a dime unless I was involved. That'd be the first thing I would do.

JR: Yeah, well, what can you do? What can you do?

R: Yeah, I mean, protecting yourself is easier than protecting your loved one.

E: You can't cure it. You can only put it in blocks and preventative measures as best as possible.

JR: Absolutely right.

Patenting and Licensing Pseudoscience (27:48)[edit]

S: So, Randi, to change topics a little bit, you've also written recently about the federal patent office, the U.S. Patent Office. This is an issue that crops up now and again. They are in the habit of granting patents to so-called inventions that are totally pseudoscientific. And you've had some entries on Swift recently about that as well.

JR: Yes, I have, and I perhaps came down pretty hard on the U.S. Patent Office. I now get people within the Patent Office are writing me, saying, "Well, we just don't have the personnel." Why don't you have the personnel? I'm paying taxes for it. I would like you to have the personnel, please. Why make excuses like this? I don't think that's a valid excuse at all.

E: Of course not.

JR: Get the people in there, if you have so many inventions pouring in there. Of course, there's also this business of being politically correct. You don't want to really refuse anybody. And one of the habits that they have, apparently, is just to grant a patent just to shut somebody up. That's not the purpose of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, not at all. I object strongly to this, to get rid of people by simply giving them a patent. Because that gives them the authority, a false authority, but the apparent authority, that this thing has been approved by the U.S. government, by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. "They wouldn't give it a patent if it weren't the real thing." Oh, get outta here.

R: Right.

S: That's right, and we see that in licensing and regulation in general, that the government sees regulation, whether it's licensing or giving a patent or whatever, as a means of regulating an industry, and they do not see it, necessarily, as endorsement of legitimacy, any kind of, like, scientific validity. Unfortunately, the public does see it as a stamp of scientific legitimacy.

JR: Yes.

S: So the same is true, for example, when you license homeopaths and license acupuncturists. So they say "Well, we're just doing ..."

JR: Or even psychics.

S: Yeah, or whatever, license psychics; I mean, there's really no end to it. And then the psychic or the homeopath or whatever can say that "I'm a licensed practitioner, licensed by the state. I've passed some kind of regulation, therefore there must be some legitimacy to it". But that assumption is completely false. And the same holds true of the patent office. The makers of crank and fraudulent devices prominently display the fact that their technology is patented. The patent office says that there's two criteria that you need to have in order to be patented: your invention has to be new. There's gotta be something novel about it. And it cannot be so obvious that — an obvious application or extension of existing technology. There's gotta be something innovative about it. But that's it. They do not have the criteria that it has to work, or even theoretically be able to work.

E: Do they even hold fast to that second criteria? I would question that.

R: Well, that's just it. They're overloaded with so many patents that things slip through the cracks, and they get to the point where ...

B: Well, being obvious is a judgment call, so that's very hard to quantify; you know, obviousness. So I think they might try to make sure that it's not an obvious application, but it's a judgment call.

E: But the peanut butter and jelly sandwich? I mean, you know, that's pretty obvious to me.

JR: Yep, that has been patented, and I think isn't it Dunkin' Donuts that owns it now? I think it's Dunkin' Donuts. (voices overlapping) I made one the other day in my home but I had to close the curtains on the window there and to eat it in silence, and I didn't answer the phone during that time, in case somebody was spying on me. Yes.

R: Very smart.

B: I owe them lots of royalties, I guess.

JR: Yeah.

R: (chuckles) Well, there's a potential solution, if you check out the most recent issue of Swift, a very helpful young woman wrote in to Randi about ... (chuckles) there's a peer review process that they're looking into where the applications, basically, they would go through a peer-review process before they hit the actual patent application office. And that could really help cut down on the number of crap applications that make it through.

JR: That's probably true, Rebecca, but one point I must make here, that Butterworth, was his name, he was the former Attorney General of the state of Florida. And what I wrote to him, and I used to lecture for his Safe And Law squad, the gypsy contingent people there, on the latest scams that these people were pulling. I would go out to Tallahassee once a year and lecture for his group. I haven't been invited since; I don't know why. And he said, when I suggested that they license psychics, but that the psychics had to pass a written test and a practical test of what they claimed they could do. And he said, "Oh no, that wouldn't work because it's impossible to test psychics." Get outta here!

R: Ugh.

S: Right.

JR: You can test counterfeit money; you can test a doctor, a plumber, a masseur. Any of these people you can test. You can find out if they know what they're talking about. But he seemed — what he did was reflecting what the psychics told him. "Oh no, we can't be tested." "Oh really? OK, I'll tell Mr. Randi that then."

S: Yeah.

JR: Incredible.

S: Which is true of these things in general, that the profession being regulated gets to decide what the criteria are for licensure.

JR: Exactly!

S: So psychics get to decide what you need to have to be licensed as a psychic.

JR: Exactly.

S: It just becomes a means of protecting a monopoly in the end.

JR: Yes, indeed, and that's very dangerous. I'm all for psychics being licensed, but I want to know that they will pass certain tests. And of course, they don't like that at all.

S: Right, because none of them could pass it.

JR: Of course.

S: If it were the kind of test that would be meaningful, you know. It certainly wouldn't be unreasonable to require that somebody prove that they have psychic ability before they are licensed by the state to sell their services to the public.

JR: Right. Services or a product.

S: That's right. Service or product. That's right.

The Amaz!ng Meeting 4 (34:28)[edit]

S: So what's in store for The Amaz!ng Meeting next year coming up? Who do you have lined up for that?

JR: Well, you know, we were very late with it because of my illness, and Linda and Jeff Wagg have done sterling efforts, and Hal Bidlack, have been getting people together, and quite frankly, I'm not too aware. I spoke to Scientific American — to John Rennie at Scientific American the other day, and he's trying to put us in touch with Alan Alda. But Alan Alda has now taken on a couple of more series, apparently, and ...

E: Oh, wow.

JR: .... is very, very busy. Scientific American — what is it called — Frontiers, I think it was called ...

S: Yeah.

JR: ... program is now finished for Scientific American as a broadcast. They'll probably be repeating the shows, I would hope. But Alan Alda is very, very busy now, and I don't know whether we can depend on getting him. But I am asking John Rennie, the editor of Scientific American.

B: He's great.

E: He is great.

JR: After all, the next Amaz!ng Meeting will be on science and the media. And that certainly is his forte. Scientific American, I must tell you, in my opinion, is the only media bulwark that we have, aside from PBS NOVA and similar programs, the only bulwark we have against the nonsense. It's the only official one we have.

S: That's true, and he's spoken for our group, and I've talked to him about this, that when it comes to mainstream science journals, Scientific American is the only one that sees it as part of its mission confronting pseudoscience, or educating the public about pseudoscience.

JR: Indeed.

S: Other science journals either pander, like Discover magazine, which is another sort of popularist magazine, at times even panders to pseudoscience, or they just see it as not part of their job. So they just completely ignore the topic, completely.

JR: I must tell you, in passing, that Michael Shermer does this wonderful column for Scientific American, of course.

B: Oh, yeah.

JR: Now we're all very grateful for that. I almost got that contract, though. As a matter of fact, John Rennie had consulted with me, and it was pretty well set that I was going to do the "Skeptical American" in Scientific American. And it fell through at the last minute when they sold the whole shebang, all of Scientific American, to a German publisher. And the German publisher issued new rules saying that only Ph.Ds could write articles that would be published in Scientific American.

R: Oh, my God. Really?

JR: Which would have left Scientific American without Martin Gardner; he has a couple of Ph.Ds, but they're not in science.

R: Oh, wow.

JR: And they're not even in mathematics. So he would've been left out. They had to have a Ph.D in that specialty before they could write. Now this is a German attitude, a very correct German attitude. (German accent) "You vill do this".


JR: But, nonetheless, they had to go along with it, and so I lost out on that. But I'm so glad that Shermer was able to get in there, because of course, he has the degrees that are essential to make a column.

S: Right.

R: He does do a very good job with it, too.

JR: Oh, he does.

S: Yeah. It's an excellent column. "Skeptic" is just simply the name of the column.

JR: Yeah.

B: Randi, getting back momentarily to TAM 4, I heard a rumor that TAM 4 was going to take place in Manhattan. Is that true?

JR: (laughs) No, it's going to take place in Las Vegas again. I say "unfortunately" to a certain extent, because I can't stand Las Vegas. I spoke to John Stossel the other day. I've been trying to talk him into doing it. He's doing Shermer's next do at the beginning of June, and I'm very happy that he is, but he won't go to Las Vegas. He just says he despises the place. Frankly, I'm very uneasy when I'm there, too, because I see around me, all of them are losers!


JR: All of this luxury that they paid for, they're trying to get their money back somehow. And I find it rather sad. I'm depressed by the place.

R: Murray Gell-Mann went on a huge rant at TAM 4 about Vegas; it was pretty funny. He had a point.

JR: Well, I probably agree with him; I probably do.

S: That's Penn and Teller's home, right?

E: Oh, yeah.

JR: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, which is part of the reason for it, of course. (clears throat)

S: Right.

R: And it's really cheap, which is nice.

JR: Oh, yeah; indeed.

S: Well, it's cheap because they want to get people there to gamble.

R/E: Right.

S: So the plane fares and hotels are cheap.

R: Which is what — it kind of makes me laugh, because they give us these great deals to have, you know, 800 skeptics come out and not gamble.

S: Right.


R: Suckers.

JR: I think they lose on our group.

R: They do.

JR: You know, the wonderful thing is, when you talk to the casino, they say, "Well, if you get 150 people, this is what things will cost you," and they give you a whole price list. They say, "if you have 300, however, you get the auditorium for free", or you get some sort of a thing. By the time you get up to the 800-and-something that we had this last time, pretty well everything's free. It's wonderful. And we get a cut on the room rates and all those things. It's just wonderful. Because they want to get bodies in there. Warm bodies with wallets, or purses.

E: Yep, that's right.

S: Well, I certainly understand the practical reasons for having it there. It would be nice to have it on the East Coast at some point in time, but ...

JR: Well, we're entertaining the idea of doing it in the U.K., because we just got a very comprehensive survey that was done by an agency over there who are volunteering to work for us, which is very wonderful, and we're very grateful for it. They did an extensive survey of whether or not it would go well in the U.K., and the answer's a resounding yes. We can draw people from all over Europe and quite some distance into Europe as well as all of England, of course. And we could probably get a few over from America at the same time. I think that the following year, we will probably seriously think about doing it in probably either in Cambridge or in London itself.

R: My only fear with that is that one of my favorite things about TAM is meeting all of the different international people, and most recently I met a ton of really cool people from England, and I'm afraid that if they get their own, then they're not going to come to Vegas next year.

JR: Well, that's possible, yeah. We've got to think of all these possibilities. The logistics of it are really quite complicated.

R: Yeah.

S: Would this be your first meeting in Europe?

JR: Yeah, yeah, for TAM, certainly. All the TAMs — the first one took place right here in Florida, and that was attractive enough, but what did we get? 75 people or something like that?


S: Oh, Really.

JR: Look at where we are now; we're over 800 people. Damn, that's ...

R: And you've also got the cruise coming up, right?

JR: Yeah, the cruise. The cruise is very well subscribed to. As a matter of fact, I don't know that we actually have any room for any more. I think we might have already filled the berths, as they say.

R/E: Wow.

JR: Yeah.

S: This is a cruise through the Bermuda Triangle.

JR: Yes, but a lot of people are scared, you know.

E: Oh, yeah.

JR: They don't want to go. And it's "Oh, jeez, right through the Bermuda Triangle." But they've agreed to be wrapped in bandages and put in cold storage while we're in the Triangle itself.

E: As long as you mention the Triangle, I was reading through Flim-Flam again, and you have a chapter in there about the Bermuda Triangle. And you give a wonderful map about reported disappearances that are attributable to the Bermuda Triangle, and one of them is actually, like, in the Pacific Ocean, or the Gulf of California, or something like that. I got a kick out of that.

JR: Yeah, one up in Newfoundland. But they were all attributed to the Bermuda Triangle.

E: Now that's a triangle.

JR: The one that happened in Newfoundland is very interesting. The plane had been to Miami and was flying to Newfoundland, and right off the coast of Newfoundland it suddenly exploded in mid-air. This was a military plane, and there's pretty good reason for having exploded when you know the circumstances. The point is, however, that it had only been to Miami, and it was now off the coast of Newfoundland, and that was enough to make it explode. So it's included as one of the Bermuda Triangle (unintelligible)

R: That just shows the power of the Triangle, Randi.

JR: Oh, yes, indeed, yes.

R: It's incredible.

JR: Well, I'm glad you brought some sanity to me, there.

R: Yeah, I mean, you can't even think about it while you're on a boat anywhere in the world or you might sink.

JR: Very true. Very true.

S: The boat you're on may have been through the Bermuda Triangle at some time in the past.

JR: There you go. Well, you know, I only have done one other cruise in my whole life, and that was to replace a magician friend of mine when I was living in New Jersey. He called me in desperation, and he was quite ill, and he said, "You have to substitute for me". So I call the U.S. Rotter — the S.S. or U.S.? I don't know — Rotterdam, which is a considerably smaller ship than the one we'll be on on the cruise, and I offered my services, and they accepted because they were rather desperate, I guess. In any case, I did a show onboard the ship. The average age of the passengers was deceased.


JR: Almost everybody had a walker. They looked like living T.V. antennas as they walked around, you know? With all the aluminum rods sticking out in all directions. They didn't know what I was doing. I was out there doing my magic act that I've done for decades and such, and you would hear things like, "Morrie, what's he doing? What's his name? What did he say?" You know.

R: "Speak up."

JR: Yeah, and "I don't know, Ruth. I don't know, Ruth. It's amazing something. I don't know." And they didn't know who I was. They didn't care. The cruise director came to me after and he said, "Take the money and run." He says, "Don't worry, everybody fails on this particular cruise. Nobody knows what's happening in the audience. They just want to get on their canes and get out of there, you know?" So I took the money and ran. But I was at the purser's desk, sending a message of some kind back to the mainland, and a lady came along and she was looking at the map that they had there with a pin showing where you are at the moment, you see. And she looked and she says, (Yiddish accent) "Hey, ve're in the Bermuda Triangle! Vat's dis? I'm gonna die!" She was terrified! She was running around with her hands over her head saying, "We're in the Bermuda Triangle!" She thought she was doomed right there. I didn't do much to try to calm her down. I took her over to the rail to see if she could lean over. "Oh, you can — oh, there you — " That was beautiful. Splash.


JR: Oh, by the way, I've got something going up. I'll give you this little heads-up here. I've got a thing which I just sent off to Jay Leno for his funny headlines; you know?

S: Hm, hm.

JR: And I'm putting it up on the web page[1]. Not this week; next week. It's a full-page advertisement showing people with tablets in their hands and ginseng and various things. "Start working on your bachelor of science degree in alternative medicine or call about our additional bachelor's and master's degree programs". But at the top, it's headed in huge letters, "B.S. in Alternative Medicine".


JR: I think that's an appropriate headline, believe me.

B: Very.

R: It's perfect.

JR: So I think that may get on Leno eventually.

S: What university is offering that?

JR: This is Boca Raton campus of Everglades University, which is not one of your huge, famous universities, obviously.

S: How could you offer a Bachelor's of Science in something which is totally non-scientific.

JR: I don't know. Ask them. On the back, it has "B.S. in Construction Management", which sounds a little more proper, but ...

B: Maybe B.P.S.: Bachelor's of Pseudoscience.

R: There you go.

JR: Maybe. I didn't think of that.

Water-Powered Cars (46:34)[edit]

S: So, Randi, what's some of the more silly things you've run into recently? Anything really absurd you'd like to tell us about?

JR: Oh, I'd have to think about that. There's so many. (chuckles) They're all over the place. The most recent one is the water car, of course. That's back.

S: The water car. Yeah, I was going to ask you about that.

JR: Fellow named Horvath in Australia for years was selling stock and became a multi-millionaire selling stock in his water car, and the latest claim is that, I think on two ounces of water, they do over a hundred miles, using the water as fuel. What they don't mention is that they have to break the water down into hydrogen and oxygen, you see, and then re-combine them. Now, the electrolysis process that separates hydrogen from oxygen in water is very expensive, time-consuming, and energy-consuming.

S: Right.

JR: They consume about eight times as much energy to split it up into hydrogen and oxygen as they do to run the motor.

R: There's always a catch.

JR: Always a catch. I think this engine was also going downhill a lot. But I'm only suspicious of that.

S: Yeah. They don't tell you that it's a hybrid, that there's also a gas engine in there. And they say, "and we're working on a water-only engine". Yeah. You keep working on that.

JR: Yeah. Yeah.

R: Yeah; actually, in the news thing that I saw, they said that his car could run all on water, but right now he was just running on water and gas. And then they moved along, and I'm just thinking, "why bother with the gas? Why not just run it on the water if that's so great?" But they don't really think to ask that question.

S: This is Klein? This is the most recent one we're talking about, right? Klein, or is there someone else?

JR: Oh, there are many of them around.

S: Yeah, I know.

JR: The Horvath thing is still going in Australia, and I list a whole number of inventors since 1935 who have come up with the same idea.

S: Yeah, and this recent one was featured on Fox News. They gave an absolutely credulous report of this guy's water car without even a hint of skepticism.

JR: And the announcer even says, as you know if you listen to the broadcast, which is up on the web page[1]; you can click on it very easily and hear it in its entirety. But the announcer actually says, "he generates, from this torch, heat which is greater than the surface of the sun." Duh!

E: Uh. (chuckles)

JR: The surface of the sun is at millions of centigrade degrees. This from a hydrogen flame? Not likely.

S: Not likely.

E: Uh, no.

S: Yeah, I don't know about the torch thing; I have to look into that a little bit more. I've read some skepticism about that technology as well, but at least if you're generating the energy, you can produce a flame from burning hydrogen and oxygen.

JR: Sure, sure.

S: That's not anything new.

JR: It's been done many times. Yes. It's not very practical. They use acetylene. It's much more practical.

S: Right. But he somehow links that to the next thing, which is the car, which is driving on water.

JR: Yeah.

S: As long as you have the gas engine running along, too.

E: (laughs)

JR: You know, that's a very popular subject right now, the price of gasoline being what it is.

S: Hm, hm.

E: Oh, sure.

JR: So it's natural that it would attract attention.

S: Yeah. This always reminds me of Dennis Lee. Have you ever had a run-in with Dennis Lee, Randi?

JR: Oh, yeah, yeah. I've mentioned him and look on my web page and go to the index or to the search engine and you'll see Dennis Lee in there a lot.

S: Now this guy's a total con artist. He has, like, 50 or 60 devices that he's always trying to sell, and he puts people through this seminar. It's like two- or three-hour sales pitch, basically, and then the people who stick it out for a few hours and they're sleep-deprived and numbed, then he hits them up with the investment scheme. People are left with the idea of, "Wow, if even one of these crazy ideas is true, then we're going to be millionaires". Of course, they're all totally absurd.

JR: Yeah. And not only that, he invokes Jesus a great deal ...

S: Yeah

JR: ... all the way through.

S: Religion and patriotism and greed all rolled into one. It's a really good con.

JR: Mostly greed.

S: Mostly greed. (chuckles) Yeah. He does couch it in religious and patriotic terms as well. I guess that appeals to some people. It's all just different forms of free energy. You know, if you really could power a car by splitting and then combining water, that's perpetual motion, right? That's free energy. If you were getting more energy out of the process than you were putting in to it, you could produce an infinite amount of energy. But I guess that doesn't seem to bother these people. They don't realize the inherent contraction in that, and certainly ...

JR: I call this "perpetual emotion", you see.

S: Right.

E: (chuckles)

The Da Vinci Code (51:17)[edit]

S: So is everyone eagerly anticipating the opening of The Da Vinci Code? Have you guys been following the controversies about this movie in the news?

E: Oh, sure. All week.

B: I might see it tonight.

S: Is it open tonight?

B: I think so.

E: Ah, yes. Yup.

S: So it's always interesting about works of fiction like this, when people like the Catholic church, obviously, and other Christians get upset over works of fiction, but they end up just drawing more attention to it with their protests and by making it controversial.

JR: Oh, absolutely. What I'm interested here, the angle that interests me, is that the Church is now claiming, of course, that they have the only truth, and that The Da Vinci Code is based on fiction. I don't know about that. Do you?

S: Well, the Catholic Church certainly claims to have the authoritative version of Christianity. I do think that The Da Vinci Code is fiction, and I think is less historical. I think there are some aspects of it which are demonstrably historically inaccurate, and of course, they don't care about that. It's a story.

JR: Yeah.

S: I think, actually, it was more interesting to me than The Da Vinci Code, which is just silliness, getting upset about an obvious work of fiction, was the Judas gospel. The Gospel according to Judas.

B: Yeah.

E: Ooh.

S: Because that's an actual historical document. And that is at least as legitimate as any of the better known Gospels, the Gospels that are quote-unquote "official". I mean, there really is no reason to say the Gospel according to Mark or Matthew or Luke or John has any more historical validity, or even religious validity than this newly revealed Gospel. This was just a ...

R: And Steve, is the Church accepting the Gospel of Judas? I haven't been really following to see what's been happening with that.

S: What do you mean by "accepting"? That's it's genuine?

R: Yeah.

S: I haven't heard anyone disputing the fact that it's a genuine document that's however, like, 1700 years old, or doubting any of the science behind it. More of what I've been hearing is that they either say that it's heresy. Yeah, sure, it was heresy 1700 years ago and it's still heresy. Or that it's irrelevant. You know, it has nothing to do with the truth, or the official version of what happened. It's just another version which is irrelevant. But I haven't heard anyone dispute its historicity, or the science behind its dating, or the scholarship of its translation, or anything.

JR: You know, something that people have forgotten here, folks, is the Protocols of Zion [sic], which Henry Ford was very big on. He actually published the Protocols of Zion as if it were an authentic old document. And of course, that was put to rest almost immediately, but he continued to publish for years, and he sent copies to libraries all over the world. That was a, really, talk about a spurious document. It was so obviously a spurious document from the very beginning. No scholar would possibly accept it, but it's still circulating around!

R: Yeah. People just love an excuse to enact their biases, I think.

JR: Sure, sure. Of course.

S: There's obviously other precedence for that as well. I mean, the entire church of Mormon is based upon an alleged newly discovered gospel that was delivered to, who was it, John Smith [sic] by the angel Moroni on the golden tablets.

E: Sounds reasonable to me.

S: (chuckles)

JR: You know, I closed off this week's commentary on Swift with a comment that was sent into me that hadn't occurred to me. I was talking about strange or funny names, really, convulsively funny names for spirit guides, one of which was Hilarion, which I thought was pretty funny. And someone wrote me and said, "what about Moroni? Can you imagine sitting in a Mormon pew thinking about Moroni for a while?" And then, if you really gave some thought to it, you'd have to be convulsed in laughter. It's true, you know.

S: Yeah, wouldn't that make that the "Moronic Church" then?

(all chuckling)

JR: You would think so, yeah.

E: Exactly.

JR: Church of the Moron.

S: (chuckles) The Church of the Morons. It also reminds me of Billy Meier, the Swiss farmer who thinks he's been visited for the last thirty years by aliens. Recently — I say "recently" — it's like the last ten years or so, he's really had a cult spring up around him. I thought this guy was long gone. And part of this cult is that he claims that, based upon some kind of vision, he was led to this cave in the Middle East somewhere, and he discovered a document, again, I think this was an alien document, that reveals the hidden truth about everything. "Here's the real ultimate truth of reality." He translated it, and then of course, promptly lost the original, so there's no original.

E: Ohhh.

JR: Pity. What a pity.

B: What are the odds?

S: But we do have his translation of it. And now, this is like the gospel of Billy Meier; you know, the core text of his cult. So this is a common theme that keeps cropping up: find some hidden text or miraculously-revealed text, lose the originals, and then there you go. You have the basis for a new religion.

JR: Ah, well.

S: (laughs)

JR: We're faced with this sort of thing every day, folks, and we have to fight it, and we have to keep on publicizing the fact that it is BS, after the famous Penn and Teller program, of course, and that if we don't do something about it, we are in for a dark age.

S: Yeah, it's true, and we obviously all think this is fun. That's part of why we do it. We also think it's very important. I think all of us feel, to some extent, this is where our skill and interests lie. I'm sure you feel the same way. But you do feel like you're on a treadmill, because — I'm sure you feel similar to when you're doing your cardiac exercises, that you're working feverishly but you're not really going anywhere. We're actually just ...

JR: That's right.

S: It feels like we're working awfully hard just to stand still with all of this.

E: How's the expression go? "Holding the ocean back with a broom", I believe it is.

JR: Yeah, something like that. One fellow sent me a great metaphor some years ago. I've never forgotten. He said, "what you're doing, Mr. Randi, is like trying to shovel water uphill."

S: Right.

E: (chuckles)

JR: Which is great, because paddling water in a shovel, of course, is useless, and shoveling it uphill, you know... (laughs)

Crisis of Faith (57:55)[edit]

S: Well, we're almost out of time, so let me, on that line, let me ask you: have you ever had a crisis of faith, where you felt, "Why am I wasting my time with all of this? These people are hopeless." Again, you have the unsinkable rubber duckies, the claims that never go away. The believers will always be there. Did you ever have a moment where, in your darkest hour, you thought it was all not worthwhile?

JR: Well, just once. You know, Sophia Loren has a home about eleven miles in a straight line — I measured it on the map to be sure — from where I live at the moment. And she doesn't do that with Oil of Olay. That's witchcraft,.no question about it. How she looks that good at that age, that is supernatural, and I may have to pay over the money. I really may have to. And please don't tell Sophia that. She doesn't know that I have a fixation on her, too.

R: This is just between us.

S: But you need some more direct proof, right? Need some more eyewitness proof?

JR: Yes, yes, exactly. And of course, I'm waiting for the night, you know — it's sort of my fantasy that I fell asleep in front of the TV, found it was raining outside. "Oh, it's one o'clock in the morning. My goodness," get up, stretch, go to the door and decide to head in, and suddenly I hear (four taps) on the door and I'd say, "oh, who could that be at this hour? It's one o'clock in the morning." I throw open the door, and there is Sophia, standing there with an overnight bag in her hand, soaking wet, saying to me, "I have no place to go."


JR: This, admittedly, is a fantasy, but please don't tell Sophia, because she might be offended by this.

B: I don't think she listens to our podcast.

E: Oh, sure she does. Of course she does.


JR: Every intelligent person does.

R: Course.

JREF Podcast (59:39)[edit]

S: Speaking of the podcast, actually, when we had interviewed you last time, and of course this was before your illness, you had mentioned that you and the JREF were going to start a weekly podcast in February, and then, of course, your illness intervened. And I noticed that you haven't done that yet. Do you still plan to do your own podcast?

JR: Yeah, when we get caught up a little better than we are now. I'm still handling email from February and trying to get rid of that. But it's coming along slowly. Yes, we will go to the podcast. I really want to do that. It's the way to go now, and it's not all that hard to do, and it would bring us a much wider audience. And so we'll go into competition with you, OK?

S: Right. Welcome competition.

R: I look forward to it.

S: But I guess until then, people will just have to listen to you on The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe.

JR: There you go.

S: So Randi, thanks again for being on the Skeptics' Guide. It's always a pleasure talking with you.

R: Yeah, thanks, Randi.

E: Thank you.

JR: Well, you're very welcome. Very welcome, all of you. Thank you for inviting me. I feel flattered that I'm asked to spend an hour with you on the air, as they say in the trade, and I used to do it for five hours a night, five nights a week on WOR-AM and -FM, New York.

E: Great station.

JR: Yes indeed. But we used to reach 38 states at that time, I think. But this podcast, we're probably reaching more than 38 states and probably all over the world. Isn't that wonderful?

E: You bet.

S: We do have listeners who email us from all over the world about our podcast.

JR: Glad to hear it.

S: So that's true; that's the wonder of the Internet.

JR: It is indeed.

S: But thanks again. Keep up the good work. I'm sure we'll still be in touch and hopefully we'll have you on the show again in the future.

JR: OK. So for the moment, goodbye, all.

S: Take care.

R: Bye, Randi.

E: Thank you, Randi.

S: Well, it is always great to have James Randi on the Skeptics' Guide, and actually, he is our first return guest. He's the first guest that we've had twice on the show.

E: That's fitting. I find that very fitting.

B: That is a fast hour.

E: Oh, wow.

S: It does go by very quickly.

B: It felt like fifteen minutes.

S: He's very entertaining and fun to talk to. And hopefully we'll have him on again many times for many years. Hopefully he'll be around for a long time. We'll have him on the show again.

E: That'd be great.

S: Well, guys, thanks for joining me.

R: Thank you, Steve.

E: Thank you, Steve.

B: Good show.

S: Always a good time.

E: Yep.

S: And until next week, this is your Skeptics' Guide to the Universe.

S: The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe is produced by the New England Skeptical Society. For information on this and other podcasts, please visit our website at Please send us your questions, suggestions, and other feedback; you can use the 'contact us' page on our website, or you can send us an email to 'info @'. 'Theorem' is produced by Kineto and is used with permission.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Swift Archive - May 26, 2006
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