James Randi tells us he’s a “conjurer, not a magician”. More to the point, he’s a skeptic, and he’s on a jihad against psychics. He begins by challenging our assumptions – we believe he’s carrying a microphone, but it’s a beard trimmer. We think he’s wearing glasses, but they’re empty frames.
The meat of his talk has to do with debunking “cold reading” psychics, with a special focus on Sylvia Browne. His explanations of their tricks aren’t a surprise to, well, anyone who’s ever done any reading on TV psychics. He points out that psychics never tell you that your ancestors are calling to you from hell, or that you were a penniless beggar in a previous life. He’s challenged psychics to prove their abilities for a million dollar prize. The professionals, he claims, never come to him, except for Silvia Brown, who accepted then backed away.
Early in the talk, Randi has swallowed a bottle of pills. The lets us know that they’re homeopathic sleeping pills – six and a half day’s dose – but since they’re incredibly dilute, this overdose leaves him unharmed.
Randi’s clearly very passionate about debunking claims of psychic abilities, but I’m not sure anyone in the audience actually needed these claims debunked.