James “the Amazing” Randi: Fighting the Fakers

James Randi speaks at The Amazing Meeting in 2013 Photo: thedailybeast
In a flat expanse of southwest Las Vegas, six miles from the gaudiness and glitz of the Strip, sits the massive South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa. Enter its cavernous “gaming floor” and one is immediately pulled into a world of middle-aged waitresses in skimpy costumes, geriatric gamblers, and men in tanktops—arms invariably graffitied with tattoos—scanning The Racing Form.

by Michael Moynihan – thedailybeast

But during a four-day stretch in mid-July, these stereotypical Vegas denizens shared the hotel with a very different, very un-Vegas crowd. On the far end of the casino and up an escalator, in a windowless conference center, there was an annual convention taking place called The Amazing Meeting—a gathering known to attendees simply as TAM.

TAM is organized by the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF), a group devoted to a philosophy called skepticism: the debunking of psychics, mediums, pseudoscientists, faith-healers, homeopaths, and anyone else who makes claims that defy the known laws of science. Skepticism has a wide following—the Internet is littered with self-proclaimed skeptic blogs, podcasts, and forums—and JREF is widely acknowledged to be the movement’s hub. Over 1,000 people attended this year’s conference, which featured an array of panelists and speakers, from magician Penn Jillette to comedian Father Guido Sarducci to Steven Novella, a professor at the Yale School of Medicine. (And yes, it was ironic that this militantly rational group decided to hold its annual meeting in a casino.)

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