Monday, April 25, 2011

Monday Morning Quotes: James Randi

  • “To make sure that my blasphemy is thoroughly expressed, I hereby state my opinion that the notion of a god is a basic superstition, that there is no evidence for the existence of any god(s), that devils, demons, angels and saints are myths, that there is no life after death, heaven nor hell, that the Pope is a dangerous, bigoted, medieval dinosaur, and that the Holy Ghost is a comic-book character worthy of laughter and derision. I accuse the Christian god of murder by allowing the Holocaust to take place -- not to mention the "ethnic cleansing" presently being performed by Christians in our world -- and I condemn and vilify this mythical deity for encouraging racial prejudice and commanding the degradation of women.”
  • “Sir, there is a distinct difference between having an open mind and having a hole in your head from which your brain leaks out.”
  • “The New Age? It's just the old age stuck in a microwave oven for fifteen seconds.”
  • “The only difference is that religion is much better organised and has been around much longer, but it's the same story with different characters and different costumes.”
  • “Heroin also makes people feel better, but I wouldn't recommend using heroin.”
  • “If Uri Geller bends spoons with divine powers, then he's doing it the hard way.”
  • “Far from being a curse, it might be lucky to disturb a pharaoh's tomb. These people beat  the life span expectation for those days by about a year.”
  • “I suggest that we might want to depose this incumbent God and start dealing with The Real World. He's proven — time and again — to be cruel, capricious, and vindictive. He drowns, crushes, burns, and starves millions of us every day. He created cancer, viruses, and germs to invade and destroy our bodies as He sees fit, and uses them very effectively. In His wisdom, He directed those in charge to impede stem cell research so that such a powerful approach would not be available to us and He wouldn't have to strain the Divine Intellect to disarm that defense. We amuse Him as we flail about vainly trying to appease Him. I vote that we dump Him.”
  • “There exists in society a very special class of persons that I have always referred to as the Believers. These are folks who have chosen to accept a certain religion, philosophy, theory, idea or notion and cling to that belief regardless of any evidence that might, for anyone else, bring it into doubt. They are the ones who encourage and support the fanatics and the frauds of any given age. No amount of evidence, no matter how strong, will bring them any enlightenment. They are the sheep who beg to be fleeced and butchered, and who will battle fiercely to preserve their right to be victimized… the U.S. Patent Office handles an endless succession of inventors who still produce perpetual-motion machines that don't work, but no number of idle flywheels will convince these zealots of their folly; dozens of these patent applications flow in every year. In ashrams all over the world, hopping devotees of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi will never abandon their goal of blissful levitation of their bodies by mind power, despite bruises and sprains aplenty suffered as they bounce about on gym mats like demented (though smiling) frogs, trying to get airborne. Absolutely nothing will discourage them.”
  • "I want to be, if I can, as sure of the world--the real world--around me as is possible. Now, you can only attain that to a certain degree, but I want the greatest degree of control. I've never involved myself in narcotics of any kind, I don't smoke, and I don't drink because that can easily just fuzz the edges of my rationality--fuzz the edges of my reasoning powers--and I want to be as aware as I possibly can. That means giving up a lot of fantasies that might be comforting in some ways, but I'm willing to give that up in order to live in an actually real world, or as close as I can get to it."
  • “Science is best defined as a careful, disciplined, logical search for knowledge about any and all aspects of the universe, obtained by examination of the best available evidence and always subject to correction and improvement upon discovery of better evidence. What's left is magic. And it doesn't work.“

On Christian Faith Healers:
Well first of all they don't do any faith healing, I think I can say that from a point of view of authority. I investigated for my book 'The Faith Healers' 104 cases of people who said they had been healed by faith healers or about whom it was said they were healed. And I found out those 104 people belonged to three classes: first class is people who never had the disease that they thought they did. A quick example of that is a woman who said she'd been healed of throat cancer where the faith healer admitted he touched her on the forehead. So I questioned her further, and eventually got to talk to her doctor. And her doctor sort of shook his head and he said, 'I have examined her for throat cancer at least 15 times in the past few years. Her mother died of it some years ago and every time she gets a sore throat of any kind, or a frog in her voice or whatever, she swears she has throat cancer. She comes to me and I examine her, and say, "No, no trace of any abnormality there" but she still wants to believe she has throat cancer.'

The second class of people that I examined in those 104 people, were people who still had the diseases of which they said they'd been healed. One gentleman, he said he'd been healed of diabetes. W.P. Grant, who had apparently treated this man by again hitting him on the forehead with his palm. There has never been a recorded case of diabetes being healed but it can be treated effectively either with insulin or other drugs that simulate the effect of insulin. He said, 'I'm aware of that, but I want to testify to my healing.' I said, 'OK, can I talk to your doctor?' and he said, 'Yes'. There was a pause and he said, 'By the way, my doctor won't agree that I've been healed.' I said, 'Wait now, either you are healed or you're not healed.' He said, 'Yes, but my doctor's not a Christian you see.' And he said, 'Oh I see, you're one of those sceptical people?' I said, 'Yes indeed I am, Sir, I admit that.' And he said, 'Well, I don't think I want any more of this conversation.' I said, 'One question more: are you still taking insulin?' He said, 'I thought you'd ask that.' He said, 'Yes, the Devil makes me take the insulin.'

The third class of people was even sadder. They were people who were already dead by the time I got around to interview them. And one case was in St Louis, Missouri, we went up to the front door and we were just knocking on the front door and they opened the front door and the gentleman was being wheeled out in the body bag on a gurney. He had died of the disease he said he'd been healed of, just the night before.

I can't say that faith healing has never worked or that it doesn't ever work. All I can say is my experience is 100% failure.