MAILED: April 16, 2001
EAU CLAIRE Can psychics really sense
hidden secrets and help the police solve crimes? Can astrologers predict the
future? Does therapeutic touch really work, as thousands of registered nurses
say it does?
world-renowned investigator of psychic and paranormal claims, will explore these
and other questions Tuesday, May 1, in a program that will close the 59th season
of The Forum at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
Titled "The Search for
the Chimera," Randi's presentation will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Zorn Arena.
The lecture will be followed by a question-and-answer session and a reception.
James Randi has an
international reputation as a magician and escape artist, but today he is even
better known as the world’s premier investigator and demystifier of psychic,
supernatural and magical claims. He has received numerous awards and
recognitions, including the MacArthur Fellowship from the John D. and Catherine
T. MacArthur Foundation.
For more than 30 years
Randi tirelessly and relentlessly has examined and tested claims of all kinds in
countries all over the world, pursuing psychic spoonbenders, exposing the dirty
tricks of faith healers, and generally being a thorn in the sides of those who
try to pull the wool over the public’s eyes in the name of the supernatural.
In his presentation Randi
exposes popularly accepted fakery and reveals what really took place in the last
three decades in the labs of prestigious think tanks that verified a series of
simple magicians' tricks as genuine miracles. He provides a rational
perspective on the seemingly paranormal and otherwise unexplained happenings in
our day-to-day lives.
In 1996, The James Randi Education Foundation was
established to further Randi's work and educate young people to think
critically. The goals of the nonprofit organization are creating a new
generation of critical thinkers through presentations, scholarships and awards;
demonstrating the consequences of uncritical acceptance of paranormal claims;
supporting and conducting research into paranormal claims through well-designed
experiments utilizing the scientific method; and assisting those who are being attacked as
a result of their investigations and criticism of people who make paranormal
To raise public awareness
of these issues, the foundation offers a million-dollar prize to anyone who can
provide evidence of any psychic, supernatural or occult power or event under
proper observing conditions. The foundation's motivation for the Million
Dollar Paranormal Challenge is to discover whether paranormal powers truly do
exist. So far, no one, including scientists and health-care practitioners, has
been able to prove that they do.
Randi is a founding fellow
of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal,
the first formal organization dedicated to critical investigation of paranormal
and fringe-science claims. Other founders include astronomer Carl Sagan,
physicist Murray Gelman, psychologist B.F. Skinner, and noted science and
science-fiction author Isaac Asimov.
"Perhaps nobody in the
world understands both the virtues and the failings of the paranormal as well as
Randi does," Asimov said. Arthur C. Clarke called Randi "a national treasure
and perhaps one of the remaining antidotes that may prevent the rotting of the
Randi has written nine
books, including "An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult
and Supernatural." He often is featured on national and international
television, most recently on "The American Experience" presentation on
Houdini, "Dateline," "20/20" and "Larry King Live." His
investigations have been the subject of many television programs, including a
"Nova" presentation on PBS-TV titled "Secrets of the Psychics."
"A lot of people hate my
skepticism, and I think I understand why," Randi concluded in the program.
"The psychics offer wonder and endless possibilities in a world that often
seems difficult and mundane. They promise health, wealth, wisdom, eternal life.
But if you examine the record, it's not the psychics but the hard-nosed
scientists who have actually delivered the things that improve human life. And,
to me, science describes a world far more interesting than any psychic
fantasies. It's a good world — not perfect, but it's ours. So we'd
better learn to live with it the way it is."
Admission is $7 for the
public; $5 for those age 62 and older and UW-Eau Claire faculty and staff; or $3
for those age 17 and younger and UW-Eau Claire students. Tickets are available
at the University Service Center in Davies Center and will be sold at the door.
Patrons also may charge
their tickets to MasterCard or Visa when they order by phone. Call the
University Service Center, (715) 836-3727 — or, outside the immediate Eau
Claire area, call toll-free (800) 949-UWEC. A $3 handling fee will be added to
all telephone charge orders.
The Forum is made possible by student funds
allocated by the UW-Eau Claire Student Senate.
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: April 16, 2001