James Randi, the high priest of skepticism

James Randi, the high priest of skepticismJames Randi, the high priest of skepticismOne of these is a showman who tells the truth. The other is a showman who lies.(Uri on the left, Randi on the right.)

In the ’70s, Americans developed a new fascination with all things paranormal – crystals, Tarot cards, astrology parties. Randi found the trends disturbing; he was particularly irked by a young Israeli named Uri Geller, who said he could bend spoons with his mind and read the thoughts of strangers. Geller appeared on countless television shows and was featured in magazines in dozens of languages…

Randi tried to spread the message that Geller’s techniques were simple charlatan tricks, old Israeli shtick masked by a trustworthy voice and a warm smile…

In 1975, Randi published his first book, The Magic of Uri Geller, later retitled The Truth About Uri Geller. A series of lawsuits and countersuits between Randi and Geller ensued…

"Randi is my best unpaid publicist," Geller says in a phone call from his home in London. "If I had to get a calculator and see how much a high-priced Madison Avenue entertainment publicist would cost, I’d have to say that I got around $10 million worth of free publicity from skeptics."

Geller speaks with an old-world show-business charisma not unlike Randi’s. Under other circumstances, the two might have even become friends, but to Randi, Geller has crossed an ethical line he never came clean about his tricks.

The Demystifying Adventures of the Amazing Randi in San Francisco Weekly>>

Print version of the SFWeekly article>>

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