August 01, 2010
James Randi talks about how learning magic tricks may lead to adopting a more skeptical point of view about supernatural and paranormal claims. He discusses magician and Houdini ghostwriter Walter B. Gibson and how he may be an exception to this rule, in that he wrote a number of pro-paranormal books throughout his prolific career. He talks about the Tarbell Course in Magic as an entree into skepticism, and to what extent magician and author Harlan Tarbell was himself a skeptic. He relates his friendship with the famous magician Doug Henning, and how Henning’s lack of skepticism about the paranormal may have led to his death. He discusses his long friendship with the great mentalist Dunninger, and how he may have had a double standard when it came to Dunninger’s mindreading claims as opposed to the paranormal claims of Uri Geller. He shares the story about how the influential magic store owner Al Flosso scolded Dunninger about his paranormal claims. And he draws distinctions between magicians who make fake paranormal claims and magicians who make fake psychological claims.