Randi and me

By Phil Plait | June 28, 2008 11:00 am

At TAM 6, I was honored to present James Randi with a unique gift: a trophy filled with comments from audience members about how Randi has affected their lives. Randi has had a profound influence on me and my journey to reality, and it was, well, amazing to stand on stage and give this to him. JREFer Kittynh got video of it; unfortunately her battery died just as Randi started speaking, but you can hear what I said.

In case you’re wondering, the pause in my speech was because something got stuck in my throat. Yeah, that’s it.

And that’s Hal Bidlack standing on stage with me. He’s running for Congress in Colorado against a Bush rubber-stamper, and needs your help.

Hat tip to Dean Baird for the photo.

Comments (17)

  1. duffytvs

    Phil,

    That’s great. One of these days you may find yourself on the receiving end of such a tribute from all of us around here. Thanks for all you do for us.

    P.S. The title of the video says ‘and’ twice.

  2. Kaptain K

    I find it hard to believe that only one person recorded that historic moment. Dig a little and I’m sure you can find a complete recording!

  3. That was such a beautiful moment. I was sitting on the floor right in front of the stage. Wish I would have thought to record it. I keep forgetting that one of my cameras (which is the one I was holding at that moment) has a record function.

  4. Mark

    That was awesome. I was getting choked up too, just sitting in the audience. I’ve been skeptically minded my entire life so its hard to remember who or what influenced me the most. However I do know that Randi contributed greatly. I go back to before his demo of psychic surgery, to his debunking of Geller on the Tonight Show. I remember my mom had seen Geller on a TV show and was impressed by him. After seeing Randi’s spoon bending I was able to set her straight about Geller. Years later I got a mailing from Skeptical Inquirer soliciting subscriptions. I was going to dismiss it but then I noticed Randi’s name in some of the literature. So I read further, ended up subscribing, and was thrilled to find an entire community of people who thought the way I did.

  5. Bigfoot

    Hurray for JR! His numerous clips on Youtube debunking numerous pitiful frauds are something to behold. The “What’s My Line” clip is a bit sad in that it the show actually has a “Professor of Parapsychology” from a major university present on the judges panel. What a sad statement about that university.

    Come to think of it, perhaps I chose the wrong path when I went into seismology. If I could just make unverifiable claims without any need to even provide rational mechanisms, or even basic reasoning, my research deliverables would practically write themselves!

    I wonder what courses one would have to take, and what theses one would have to conjure up in order to become a tenured parapsychology prof?

  6. Chip

    That was great. I remember years ago as a kid my dad calling me over to the TV and saying: “Come quick! The Amazing Randi is on!” and also “Pay attention to this guy, he does great tricks and has something to teach us!”

    P.S.
    I couldn’t help but smile watching that video; from a distance the contents in the bowl looked like tortilla chips. ;)

  7. I like Hal, even if his automated thank you letter thinks I’m a woman. ;) But still, I agree with Phil that everybody needs to go donate to him. How many congresspeople would MC for something like TAM?

  8. kebsis

    Well Phil, that was really cool and I figured I could take this opportunity that, like you and James Randii, it was you who pretty much introduced me to skepticism. Before I found your site, I too was a big believer in pretty much anything; aliens in particular, but also phsycic powers, ghosts, chupacabra, you name it.

    My first twinge of skepticism came with the Fox Apollo Moon hoax special, which of course had everyone in my highschool talking the next day. It seemed like a pretty crazy idea, even for me, so I decided to do a search for more information on the net. That’s when I found your site, and pretty much went from a ‘true believer’ to a hardened skeptic overnight. The site layed everything out so nicely and in such an easy to understand, logical way. BA.com also ignited my interest in astronomy, which remains my favorite science to this day; I guess I was interested in it already, but through the woo-woo goggles of alien abduction stories and whatnot. Now I can really appretiate the immenseness of the universe and the beauty of the cosmos, not to the mention the hard work and genius of all the people working in the field, unobstructed by the silly and simplistic psuedoscience I used to follow along with.

    So, just wanted to say thanks, and keep up the good work because occasionally your site does make a difference, though I’m sure it sometimes feels like it doesn’t.

  9. Sam

    Randi is one awesome (well, Amazing) guy. When he’s on stage, there is such a detectable air of respect from the audience which you probably have to experience to understand, because I can’t describe it. I was lucky enough to meet him after he spoke at the Evening With James Randi and Friends in London this year, all I could think to say was ‘Thankyou!’ as I shook his hand.
    Getting people to write personal messages to him was a really fantastic idea. There can’t be a better way to show our appreciation.
    Thanks, Phil.

    Off topic, though. Dr Who tonight!!?? Awesome. Whats with the regeneration though..? I shall probably cry if David Tennant has left.

  10. themadlolscientist

    When he took ont of the notes out of the bowl and held it up to his forehead à la Carnac the Magnificent, I ROFLdMAO!

  11. Oops. You snagged that pic before I polished and scrubbed everything.

    That pic (cleaned up) now lives here.

    My whole TAM6 album is here.

  12. Kitty

    I’m honored not only to know Randi but that Phil put up one of my “bad” videos from TAM6. Not “bad” for content, but for quality of my camera. I have other videos from TAM6….do a search for “kittinh”, but that is the one that makes me cry.

    Randi and Phil are both people that I admire and that I have look up to, but to me the “amazing” thing is that now I think of them as my friends. They are both great skeptical thinkers, but they are also both great people doing work that I admire and that inspires me to do whatever I can to help the skeptical cause.

  13. A rendezvous with Randi…A great event for the forum……
    He charmed us even as early as in our childhood and he is still there with his child like charms and exuberance while we are getting old and trite..
    thanks….

  14. melior

    That’s way cool.

  15. Ann

    The Bermuda Triangle? Aliens? Ohhh-Noooo!
    Your blog is The Awesome. I never know what I will find. Science, culture, politics. It’s all good. Thanks.

    I love the intertoobs.

  16. Jake

    I was at TAM6, and one of those little envelopes contains my thanks to him written in very small letters :-) Unfortunately, of all the times to sneak out to use the restroom, I did so right before they gave him the trophy and missed it >_<

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