In November 2012, this paper had written about world-renowned sceptic and magician James Randi who had arrived in India to hold a series of magic workshops. He spoke at the then newly opened Magic Academy Hall in Dadar (W).
The sprightly Randi who was 84 then and looked rather like Santa Claus on a diet, (slim, with a snowy beard) had his audience comprising primarily of young magicians, free thinkers and rationalists mesmerized as he entertained them with tricks, interspersed with witty dialogue and interactive sessions.
Here, we reproduce some of the more pertinent parts of that piece, that resonate louder than ever with the death of Narendra Dabholkar.
Excerpts from the piece titled: Time for the Truth
‘This US-based, Florida native, he lives in Fort Lauderdale, was born in Canada but became a US citizen. “As the US gave me better opportunities,” had some choice words for so-called godmen and those who make paranormal claims and pseudo-sciences. “It is time for the truth,” said Randi with all the force of his 84 years. “It is time they stopped swindling others.”
He also spoke about how he had punctured hollow claims in the USA too, of a woman called S Browne who claimed to talk to the dead, “When I threw her a challenge she claimed that she could not find my telephone number in the phone book. I said, you can talk to the dead and cannot find me in a phone book”
The media came in for a bashing as Randi told this reporter, “I blame the media too for encouraging these fakes with their rubbish claims. All the media wants is a sensational story, good and exciting news, that is what they care about. They do not bother to double check anything at all. Politicians are seen mixing with these types because they believe being seen with a perceived ‘holy’ man is attractive for their image. They also have no problem selling their integrity.”
D J Grothe, president of the James Randi Education Foundation (JREF), said Randi’s, “Moral, righteous indignation along with compassion come together to make him an immovable force”.’