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Flim-Flam! Psychics, ESP, Unicorns, and Other Delusions

4.02  ·  Rating Details ·  3,033 Ratings  ·  104 Reviews
An internationally known magician and a recipient of the coveted MacArthur Fellowship, James Randi is a devoted investigator of paranormal, occult, and supernatural claims. Here he reads the book that helped expose dozens of outrageous deceptions widely promoted by the media. In his no-holds-barred approach to the truth, Randi lambastes sloppy research, careless errors, an ...more
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Published January 1st 1980 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
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Chris
Sep 10, 2010 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Now hold still while I read your aura. Yes, my spirit guide is telling me something, that you are experiencing some kind of pain or discomfort in your back, or perhaps your shoulders. And this is typical of someone born under your star sign, you know? Of course you do - your type is very insightful, even if you do sometimes let little things escape your notice from time to time. Here - I have a medicine that will help you, a special homeopathic formula that I mixed myself. It's proof against all ...more
Zadignose
Another reason to think humanity is doomed.

Also, nothing changes.

Also, I needed to read the debunking of TM just to remind me that, as much as I admire David Lynch as one of the great artists of our time, his faith in this wacky cult is misplaced... which is why knowing the artist is almost always a bad idea.

Of course, on the other side, I did read Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity.

One thing I was forced to wonder: having grown up learning about biorhythms, "myster
...more
Clint
Jan 01, 2015 Clint rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
This is a book written by James Randi, a famous magician and also a famous pre-MythBusters exposer of ESP/magic/UFO/etc frauds. I really love James Randi, and I'm glad he's still around and at 90 years old still seems as sharp and with it as ever. But this book, well, mainly it's a little too dated.

The edition I have has a foreward from 2010 I think, and he himself notes that it's a little outdated, but still valid. The thing is though, the things he's exposing in this book, Bermuda Triangle, C
...more
Melissa McShane
Nov 03, 2013 Melissa McShane rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
This was probably a more exciting read thirty years ago, when it was written, because so many of the parapsychological organizations or ideas Randi writes about debunking don't exist anymore. Randi's frustration at the continuing gullibility of people who fall for "psychic" cons comes through a little too loudly at times, making some sections seem more strident than necessary. I was particularly interested in his account of Arthur Conan Doyle's fairies, as well as a few of the stories of people ...more
Patrick
If we found something paranormal, we wouldn't call it paranormal

JDN 2456387 EDT 16:50.


Since I won $2500 of his money (The James Randi Educational Foundation scholarship), I felt I should probably read some of James Randi's books. I happened upon Flim-Flam!, which is older than I am, and yet... the nonsense it catalogues and refutes is pretty much the same stuff we're dealing with today. Why, just this last Tuesday I had someone try to convince me that quantum mechanics allows precognition, citin
...more
Barbara
Aug 27, 2012 Barbara rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, science
James Randi (also known as The Amazing Randi) very thoroughly provides evidence debunking many forms of pseudoscience including TM, parapsychology, psi effects, water dowsing, and biorhythms. However, his major problem is that he does not simply provide evidence: he rages against those who believe such things, and this arrogance is a complete turn-off.

A second point: the book was initially published in 1988, but many of the items discussed (biorhythms, for example) have long since lost their pop
...more
Ari Eris
Jun 29, 2015 Ari Eris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have yet to read a skeptic book that I didn't like, but Randi's is particularly loveable. He's seen the same garbage a million times over and doesn't give a shit. Yet he curses like a country vicar and I love it. Flim-flam! Codswallop! Poppycock! Its delightful and charming, especially so because the man is right. A skeptic oldie but goodie.
Leonard Pierce
Jul 07, 2008 Leonard Pierce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: paranormal
James Randi's first major study of pseudoscience and the paranormal is lively, passionate, and incredible well-reasoned. It made a huge impression on me when I first read it as a teenager, and it's held up surprisingly well over the years, largely because the methods of buncombe he condemns rarely change.
Ana Mardoll
Feb 24, 2011 Ana Mardoll rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ana-reviewed
Flim-Flam / 0-87975-198-3

Having been born in the 80's and relatively insulated from the majority of the claims presented in the book, I can honestly say that James Randi's book is still useful today, if only as a guidebook to the past. If those who forget history are doomed to repeat it, then similarly those who do not read Randi's book are doomed to fall prey to such schemes as fake fairies and make-believe aliens who provide blueprints on rocks of open-heart surgery...for a small fee, of cours
...more
Emelie
Sure, I'm interest in the paranormal but I also have an open, critical mind to it all. Both sides believes and views are fascinating. But the book was just boring. Nothing against the subject itself. Didn't catch my interest with the writing, is all.
Todd Martin
Jun 01, 2016 Todd Martin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In order to fully appreciate Flim-Flam! you have to go back to 1982 when the book was first published. Uri Geller was bending spoons on national television talk shows, In Search Of was on TV, and there was a national fascination with ESP, Big Foot, crop circles, the Loch Ness Monster, psychics, faith healers, astrology and a host of other nonsensical gobbledygook (some of which still exists today). The time was right for a healthy dose of skepticism and rationality and who better to kick off the ...more
Петър Стойков
Нищо особено интересно в тази книга.

Джеймс Ранди е един от най-известните и активни скептици - посветил се е на изучаване и разобличаване на астролози, фън-шуи, екстрасенси, хомеопати, лечители, гадатели в всякаква друга "окултна" паплач. Той дава и наградата от 1 млн. долара на фондация "Ранди" на всеки, който демонстрира (пред свидетели и в контролирани условия където е сигурно, че не мами), че притежава каквито и да е свръхестествени способности. За 35 г. до сега никой не е прибрал наградата
...more
Kirsty
James Randi is well-known as a magician and outspoken sceptic of all things paranormal. His mission to expose paranormal and pseudoscientific frauds and promote critical thinking among the public is well documented, as is his million dollar prize for anyone who can demonstrate paranormal abilities under controlled conditions.

This book, published in 1982, discusses some of the main areas of the paranormal and pseudoscience, including dowsing, UFOs, fairies, psychic surgery and religious cults. In
...more
King Ævil
Aug 09, 2009 King Ævil rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: skepticism, 2009
Skeptic and professional magician James Randi has made a second career of investigation claims of paranormal phenomena and psychic abilities, as a representative of the Committee for Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP). In Flim-Flam!, The Amazing Randi dissects a variety of paranormal beliefs and claims, exposing each as a case of deliberate fraud or unintentional self-delusion. In doing so, Randi establishes a code of skepticism not unlike Carl Sagan's famous "Baloney ...more
Halden
Jan 19, 2011 Halden rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
James Randi is known to many as a stage magician but because of his work with CSICOP, his million dollar challenge and his book Flim Flam! he is a veritable guru to the sceptical movement. Flim Flam is a riveting account of Randi’s efforts to shed light and bring a bit of reality to the world of the paranormal. The book focuses on many of Randi’s specific experiments and analysis of various charlatans but can be used as a great tool to learn and/or improve one’s grasp of critical thinking. Flim ...more
Anaala
Dec 28, 2012 Anaala rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Isn't it odd that a book this old is still accurately portraying the tricks that these charlatans use to fool the credulous? How have we as a society become so blind to reality that we allow these charlatans to take advantage of us at our most vulnerable? Why are lies so much more comforting to the masses than the truth?

In this book Randi embarks on a mission to mercilessly expose these people for what they are. He gives each person an adequate test that they agree to to confirm or deny the exi
...more
Thom
Jul 16, 2014 Thom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first heard Teller (from Penn and Teller) speak of James Randi and Flim-Flam in an interview concerning magic and scepticism. Though the book was at times quite dated in the hoaxes that it details (for example, disproving UFO's and levitating people by questioning the authenticity of the photography), in general, it was a great read. Randi's voice is thorough and sometimes borders on obnoxious in it's obviousness — but given the job of debunking, it's hard to imagine anything else.
Randi is a
...more
Yosep
Feb 17, 2013 Yosep rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've been a James Randi fan and admirer for a long time. You might even say he's one of my heroes. My love got me this book along with a few others of his for Christmas. It is a great book! You seriously have no idea how supposed professionals get stuff wrong all the time and people's desire to believe in the paranormal results in 'Chinese-telephone' style information sharing about paranormal claims...as Isaac Asimov calls it, "The Deadly Misinformation."

You will also learn a bit about 20th cent
...more
Leo Abrantes
I'm sorry to say that this one was a little bit disappointing, mainly because it's a bit outdated.
Most of book is a review of the several tests that James Randi carried out in the 70's under the Paranormal challenge. Most of the stories I have read, listened or seen on different blogs and You Tube, so none of them were really new to me.

A great quote at the end of the book sums it all:
"Throw away the Tarot deck and ignore the astrology column. They are products offered you by charlatans who thin
...more
Hannah
Aug 18, 2014 Hannah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This book was interesting, unfortunately, it's completely dated - and fair enough, it's over 30 years old. All of the scams and hoaxes Randi debunks are things that were never 'oh could it be true?' issues of my lifetime, they were all firmly debunked well before I came across them. I've had access to home internet sine I was 3, I've been on youtube since its inception, it's so much harder to be a semi-believable grifter these days with video evidence so easy to come by and debunk anything dubio ...more
Varina
Aug 10, 2010 Varina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to like this book a lot. Parts of it were great, but it all got a little bit pedantic, and I felt like rather than showing the reader how to out-think flim-flamery it was mostly about how great the author is at it. I think Carl Sagan's A Demon Haunted World is a much better choice for that. Also there were no unicorns.
Peter Mcloughlin
the book is a bit older the scams are the same as ones going on at present. Randi unmasks frauds and conmen who pass off pseudo science nonsense. It is a classic for a reason. Well worth the read to add to your BS detector.
Abbey
Sep 20, 2008 Abbey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Flim-flammers must hate James Randi, especially the ones that half-believe their own hype like James van Prague. I think John Edward knows he's faking, and the pet psychic is just pathetic and self-delusional.
Charles Jr.
Obviously a lot of the community has read this; I'll just tell my story. Found a copy of the 1st edition in a little resale book rack in a suburban hospital gift shop (I've been trying to get jobs in hospitals for a long time - without success). Anyway, I bought FLIM FLAM because I remembered it being reviewed in one of the very first issues of Discover Magazine. Years and years later, James Randi came to my county for a free lecture at a college. When I gave him my copy to sign, he made some ch ...more
Luis
Jul 03, 2015 Luis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Muy bien detallado y documentado, a veces demasiado para un lector impaciente, una lectura un poco especializada, pero realmente muy buena en su área.
Jeannie
Nov 11, 2014 Jeannie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We need to keep reminding ourselves how easy we are fooled, and James Randi helps us do that. This book - a bit dated in tone, perhaps - tells the story of several notable "flim flams" and the folks who made them happen. If it seems incredible that people can be fooled by these silly constructs, such a pictures of fairies and bending spoons, it's worth reflecting on what we are being fooled by now! The strength of the book is the set of specific examples of how inquiries into paranormal activiti ...more
Adam Parker
Mar 30, 2015 Adam Parker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some of the stories are fascinating to read. If you're already a skeptic, nothing in here will influence your thinking, but some of the crap people actually bought into makes for some sad laughter. I've seen others say what is in this book isn't relevant or doesn't really happen anymore, but the reality is this crap is still occurring, only now it has been through multiple iterations, reinventing itself and spawning wholly new bullshit.

This stuff sounds ridiculous, but people nowadays are buying
...more
George
Jul 12, 2013 George rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, ipad
A RESPITE OF RATIONALISM, WITH A TOUCH OF DULL.

“Nothing is funnier than the misapplication of a rigorous discipline to tasks disproportionately trivial. It is overkill. It is classic gnat-killing by sledgehammer. It is the machine-gunning of butterflies…the line between sense and nonsense is not, we think, so stark as these earnest vigilantes of science make it out to be nor the dangers of mass popular delusion so menacing…What has happened to their funny-bones?” (Excerpt from a 1977 Washington
...more
Greg
Feb 01, 2014 Greg rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I made it about halfway into it but I had to give it up.

A lot of the material is dated. Many people still believe in astrology and the Bermuda Triangle, but I'd rather read him take on some more modern flim-flam, like homeopathy.

Also, his writing is extemporaneous and reads like that stereotypical Internet dude who goes around writing 10-page skeptical comments to some random blog post. I enjoy it, but I only want it in small does. So I will continue to appreciate Randi only in videos and essays
...more
Megan
Unfortunately dated, James Randi’s study of fakers and hoaxsters is nonetheless a passionate, well-thought-out expose. Though Randi is wordy at times and I felt myself growing bored in the middle, I nonetheless found his methods and careful study of each “phenomenon” he investigated to be useful and informative. I can see why, as he states in the beginning, the book caused a stir in its day and despite its small first printing was heavily ordered and requested. I do think Randi could have benefi ...more
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