- Paperback: 342 pages
- Publisher: Prometheus Books (January 1, 1982)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0879751983
- ISBN-13: 978-0879751982
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (131 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #142,516 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Flim-Flam! Psychics, ESP, Unicorns, and Other Delusions Paperback – January 1, 1982
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Top Customer Reviews
This book's most interesting sections include accounts of some people who have tried to claim this prize, and often descriptions of the trickery they tried to pull. Famous scams and flim-flammery are also discussed. The perpetrators range from the honestly mistaken, to those manipulated by others (including children) to the deluded to the knowing liars. It's not a read that will lift your opinion of humanity, but it's well worth reading.
The book is not without its flaws. Randi is correctly portrayed as pissed off - and given the insistent idiocy he deals with, perhaps that's no surprise. The topics veer through a hodgepodge of the allegedly paranormal, making it read a little too episodic. At times, the prose gets dry. For example, the chapter on the Cottingly Faeries goes into technical details about cameras, which I had a tough time understanding.
Worth noting are some false claims that negative reviewers have made on Amazon. Randi does NOT maintain a dogmatic insistance that all paranormal claims are false. He bases his belief that such claims are hooey not on faith, but on evidence, having seen many (many, many) which are false, and none that have proven true.Read more ›
Randi exposes more foolishness than any other of the texts I've read, from Arthur Conan Doyle and his taste for fairies, to the Maharishi to UFOs. And he's not subtle about his distaste for it. Granted, he does give credit to those who really believe in their craft. For instance, there are dousers and the like who really believe they're gifted with the talent for the bizarre. There are others, however, who are simply crooks who've lined up a gullible public with their credit cards. I actually appreciate Randi's powerful attitudes. Why get so "political" as to soft pedal crooks? He doesn't.
The book is a good primer because it covers so many subjects, and because it describes the reasoning process. Sure there'll be the people who dispute his findings. But one will convince them of nothing. At least the reasoning process illustrated by this volume will convince those capable of reason.
The ONLY reason I don't give it 5 stars is that some of the samples he gave would be better illustrated on a stage or a show; it was a bit difficult for me to follow them in writing.
Aside from that, I think this should probably be required reading for, say, high school seniors, those particularly prone to the charlatans of silly New Age fads and other quackery. But anyone wondering about such fads could gain a great deal from Randi's prose.
This book is full of such examples. Randi uses them, and scientific data, and consistently careful analysis of facts, to show that such ideas as astrology, biorhythms, transcendental meditation, UFOs, the Bermuda Triangle, ESP, and psychic surgery are, quite simply, nonsense. In 1964, he offered $10,000 to anyone who could demonstrate a paranormal power under satisfactory observational conditions. As of the 1982 publication date, over 650 people had tried for the reward, none successfully. Some of the attempts are described in this book. Funny how psychics who have "demonstrated" the ability to bend metal rods by will power can't do it anymore when they are no longer allowed to wander out of the room with the rods during the experiment!
A theme throughout the book is that people who want to believe something will accept the most absurd rationalizations in order to continue to believe it, in spite of overwhelming contradictory evidence. At the beginning of his chapter on psychic surgery, Randi quotes William Cowper: "To follow foolish precedents, and wink / With both our eyes, is easier than to think.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A bit dry, but good. Ask yourself, would you trust this idiot to be a conduit to GAWD himself?Published 14 days ago by Wesley Horton
A lot of it is similar if not identical to what he's been recorded as saying in interviews, lectures and his TV show from years ago now. Read morePublished 1 month ago by David L.
Good book. Randy can ramble on a bit in order to drive home his point, but I get it. And it was fun reading his clever tactics to expose scammers.Published 3 months ago by DanJr199
A book denouncing some facts about paranormal fake but tells many lies in favor of the skeptics. Stories useful for skeptical indoctrination (The Paranormal Man-Amazon). Read morePublished 5 months ago by maurizio armanetti
Very little NEW information about the scams that are perpetrated on us.Published 5 months ago by JSB