James Randi, a master of illusion and devote activist up until his death in October of 2020. In the beginning of his career, he was a famed magician, and by the end he was renowned skeptic on a mission to save others from the same tricks he was famous for. He was performer who sold his acts as nothing more than a good show, but what he saw growing within the country was anything but innocent. One day in his retirement, he was watching television and saw a man named Uri Gellar using what he claimed was telekinesis to move paper clips. He performed other tricks as well, such as melting a metal spoon between his fingers and sending psychic waves across the nation. The audience ate it up, while Randy sat terrified at what he witnessed. Gellar claimed his powers were real and the audience believed him without question, an audience who didn’t know what Randi knew.
Geller hadn’t just fooled his way onto a daytime talk show, he had fooled doctors, military personnel, lawyers, scientists, droves of educated and perfectly competent people to get to where he was. He claimed to be apart a government program called Project Star Gate, a secret operation tasked to investigate the psychic and telepathic ability of humans. Today the documents are declassified since by the 90s the project failed to yield any scientific merit that such abilities were possible. Regardless, Gellar toted himself as a superhuman, while Randi understood he was nothing more than a charlatan peddling parlor tricks.
Randi realized the nation’s best and brightest were just as susceptible as the common person to this foolery, and there was a heinous danger that came with it. As Gellar traveled the country showing off his fakery, Randi used his own fame to dispell the lie. Whenever Gellar aired on television, Randi would show up the next episode to expose him for the fraud he was. Sometimes he would even show up before Gellar to warn the hosts so they could expose him themselves. Day by day, show by show Randi worked to reveal the man behind the curtain. Randi renewed a carrier on this, not just by exposing Gellar, but all the others who mimicked him. Gellar was not alone; psychics have been around for thousands of years pushing the same tricks. Sooth Sayers, dowsers, mediums, breatharians, faith healers, all were guilty of exploiting the same vulnerability in people with disastrous results.
They would charge people thousands of dollars to offer meritless advice or give false solutions to serious problems. These people ruined countless lives through either delusion or sheer malice, and Randi was good enough to apply his perspective and destroy their false image. To see his work is as simple as a google search of his name, as there is a marathon of media to attest his crusade. The importance what of James Randi pointed out should never be forgotten and it reflects what we here at Venture Up preach in every one of our programs.
We always say that diversity drives everything. James Randi knew what others didn’t, and had he done nothing, untold harm would have befallen those Gellar captivated. Our programs such as Strategic Games hope to cultivate a similar ideal. The Dallas program shown above demonstrates a simple brain game, one meant to reach into everyone’s perspective to find a solution. The game acts a safe space for participants to open up and show what they know. What they learn is that they all bring something to the table, something valuable that should be shown for all to see.