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

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  1,931 ratings  ·  80 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
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
Melissa Proffitt
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
Leonard Pierce
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.
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.
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
Ana Mardoll
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
Rob
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
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
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
Thom
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
Varina
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.
Abbey
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.
Barbara
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
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
George
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
Halden
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
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
Greg
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
Yosep
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
Tracey
Jan 15, 2008 Tracey rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: skeptics interested in psychic fads of the 1970's, along with some history
A bit wordy to start with, but covers some good historical examples -- Bermuda Triangle & The Cottingley Fairies -- before delving into the author's personal experiences with psychics. James Randi has offered a monetary prize ($10,000 at the writing of the book - I think he's up to a million now?) to anyone who can demonstrate his/her psychic/otherworldly power within a verifiable situation of Randi's choosing.

A bit dry & overbearing at times (and dated - transcendental meditation and...more
Frank Jude
Randi's book is now a classic. It's a bit out of date in its individual topics, but the fact that such scams are still going on and believed also makes it a timeless book. Unfortunately, I cannot imagine any of the folk who believe in this nonsense ever being moved to read it! AND they are just the ones who do indeed need to read this book!

What I especially respect is the detailed investigative mind Randi brings to his explorations. As a magician, he finds lapses scientists -- who one would thi...more
Alberto
Parte positiva: James Randi es un grande del pensamiento escéptico y en el libro muestra su análisis sobre diferentes casos de supuestos sucesos paranormales, tanto los que han sido famosos e incluso han entrado a formar parte del imaginario popular (por ejemplo el Triángulo de las Bermudas) como los intentos por cobrar los diez mil dólares (hoy son un millón)que ofrecía a quienes demostrasen sus poderes en condiciones controladas.
Partes menos positivas: aunque sospecho del traductor, creo que e...more
Bruno de Maremma
In this book Mr. Randi sets out and succeeds in debunking a number of events and person riding the paranormal bandwagon. UFOs, Astrology, psychics, water dowsers, Eric von Daniken and his Nazca lines 'theories' etc. Unfortunately this material is quite dated and therefore not of great interest anymore.
However Mr. Randi does lay out twenty points that he calls the hallmarks of paranormal chicanery. You can find these points listed in the first forty pages of the book and then skim the rest for i...more
Harold
I read this quite awhile back and it's due for a revisit. Randi debunks a lot of "psychic" phenomenon. Believers tend to dislike books like this while cynics love them. My feelings are that even if psychic phenomenon is possible, it is a field that is ripe for phonies and that they will be out in droves to take advantage of the most gullible is an indisputable fact. I've also known a number of professional magicians and to a person they are total cynics. The problem is they know how the "effect"...more
John
This title really should be a historical relic of back when the masses were duped into believing in psychics, fairies, and other metaphysical mumbo jumbo. Unfortunately it remains relevant nearly 30 years after publication. Some of the material in this title is dated, and parts feel like you are reading the source material for the ESP scene from Ghostbusters. But then there's all the psychic and medium stuff that still continues to take up cultural space. It's worth a read to understand how peop...more
Isil Arican
Incredible book!

Perfectly demonstrates the intent of the scam artists and points out the weaknesses in those who fall for them.

As Randi points out the world is a wonderful place as it is, but some people would not be satisfied with its existing wonders. They will keep on searching some miracle, and some people make loads of money out of it.

And it is sad to see how some called scientists can fall for bad quality parlor tricks if they are looking for a meaning in their lives.

Highly recommended for...more
Karin
This book systematically takes psuedoscience from the 60s and 70s and smashes it with the hammer of science. It can seem a little outdated, talking about pyramids, the Bermuda triangle, etc, until you start to see the patterns that are still around today. No one may be trying to pass off photoshopped pictures of fairies as real anymore, but there are plenty of people who believe in "power hologram" rubber bracelets, homeopathy, astrology, numerology, fung shui, tarot cards, palm reading, acupunc...more
Keith Davis
James Randi has spent the last few decades exposing psychic frauds and faith-healing con-artists who use the tricks of stage magicians to fool people into believing they have special powers. In Flim-Flam Randi uses several case studies to show the techniques used by both profession scammers and the self-deluded. He starts off with the 1917 case of the Cottingly Fairies in which many very intelligent people became convinced that two little girls had taken photographs of actual fairies. By modern...more
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