Randi Redux

January 4, 2008 by Craig

Here’s a video of James Randi debunking a professional astrologer. This vid is all kinds of awesome for several reasons:

  • It shows Randi doing what he does: putting the paranormal to the test in a reasonable, honest, and palatable way. He gives his subject a chance to explain himself and what he does.
  • It shows a true believer in action. The astrologer stands behind his beliefs and is willing to have them tested in front of an audience. It’s important to show that not all paranormalists are outright frauds: many (most?) are well intentioned but misinformed. This makes the real frauds stand out even more.
  • It shows the true believer rationalizing his failures and his attempts at (self) deception.
  • It’s a real-life demonstration of the Forer effect, on which astrology is heavily based. In video form it’s easily accessible to everyone, and it’s shown both in action and in verbal description by Randi.
  • It highlights the contrast between science and pseudoscience. The astrologer looks to his beliefs for insight about a subject; the scientist (here represented by Stephen Fry) looks to the subject itself.
  • It features Dr. House himself, Hugh Laurie, with a (fairly rare) glimpse of his off-screen personality (and accent for that matter). (By the way, Randi is being ironic when he says that Laurie “hardly knows” Fry; the two were a Britcom comedic duo for over 20 years.)
  • The video page has a bunch of links to other similar videos where Randi debunks several other types of paranormalists and peseudoscientists.
  • (Courtesy Shvetz in this Fark thread.)


1 Comment

  1. That description, however, is dead on for Dr. House. Dr. House also has the same birthdate as Hugh Laurie–so I think it probably is accurate.

    Of course you may protest that House is fictional–but that doesn’t hold water: so is astronomy! So you see, it’s a perfect match.

    -Marco

    Comment by Marco — January 4, 2008 @ 9:48 pm

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