A Real Human Being Named James Randi

James Randi couldn’t be at CSICon as planned because of a small stroke, and of course it’s disappointing. But to sate the skeptic appetite for amazingness, Massimo Polidoro recounted some of Randi’s greatest feats from generations ago.

It’d be pointless for me to recount them for you here, especially since I can’t write in a sufficiently charming Italian accent. But I did come away from this presentation with a new appreciation of Randi and his legacy.

The stories made Randi out to be less of a legend, and more of a man who was driven and devoted to the details. The ways he escaped prison cells or humiliated charlatans, these weren’t done off the cuff. He didn’t take any frauds down by critically blockquoting their blog posts. He planned and he prepared with the kind of meticulousness that is hard to imagine.

But look, if you care deeply enough about something, such as the truth, the effort is so worth it. It’s easy to conceive of Randi as a kind of secular wizard. I’m happy to remember him as a guy who worked incredibly hard and cared a hell of a lot.

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