Skeptics and true believers of all ages gathered in the lecture hall of the Bioresearch Sciences Building Tuesday night to listen to the amazing James Randi.
The lecture was brought to the University of Maryland by the Society of Inquiry, a club that promotes all things science and critical thinking. Mary Mirvis, president of the society, introduced Randi as a “universal symbol of skepticism.”
Todd Robbins, who also was featured in the lecture and conversed with Randi throughout, has done much work with “Ripley’s Believe it Or Not.”
“The society promotes science interests and critical thinking to the student body and the public,” Mirvis said. “We also host a weekly radio show about current events in science and all kinds of different skepticisms.”
Whether it was Randi’s tirade on why the U.S. hasn’t switched to the metric system, or his stories of de-bunking self-proclaimed psychic Uri Geller, he kept the crowd laughing with his quick and witty sense of humor and common sense.
Randi’s phrase “woo-woo” was thrown about liberally.
“The more we use it, the better chance we have to get it into Webster’s dictionary,” he said.
Robbins led Randi down memory lane, asking him to recall memories of his days doing radio shows in the 60s, his first lecture circuits, the beginning of his now famous $1,000,000 paranormal challenge and his recent The Amazing Meetings in Las Vegas.
Robbins spoke of Randi in the utmost regard during the lecture, saying Randi has been an idol of his since he could remember.
“Just being here is an honor,” Robbins said.
Randi has become famous through The James Randi Education Foundation and his notorious debunking of paranormal claims and powers. The James Randi Education Foundation offers a $1,000,000 prize to anyone who can prove they have paranormal abilities or powers through a series of tests.
He has also published several books on skepticism and the debuking of many psychic abilities. Randi has a new book, titled A Magician in the Laboratory.
Randi was featured on the famous “Johnny Carson Show” show 22 times to provide secrets behind the paranormal and magic, and had a strong friendship with Carson until his death. “I loved him dearly and I miss his friendship very much,” Randi said.
The lecture concluded and opened with a brief question and answer session. Questions focused on Randi’s childhood, how he grew up as a child prodigy, his views on disproving religion and religious beliefs and his favorite de-bunking of famous psychic Sylvia Browne on “Larry King Live.”
“She said she couldn’t find me even though my name produces 1.4 million hits on Google alone,” Randi said.
After the session, Mirvis thanked Randi and Robbins and promoted the Society of Inquiry to newcomers, in hopes to increase membership because there are no underclass members. Mirvis was capitivated by the event and hopes the society will be able to bring more people like Randi on campus for lectures.
“Randi really lives up to his reputation,” Mirvis said. “I think he just keeps getting better and better.”