The Amazing Randi

A Life Story


Born Randall James Hamilton Zwinge to his parents George Randall and Marie Alice Zwinge on September 7, 1928 in Toronto, Canada he didn't know he was going to become one of the greatest magicians of his time. later in his life he started school and showed an early talent for mathematics. While he may have been good at mathematics he started to study conjuring as a teen and I guess it stuck. After seeing a performance from Harry Blackstone Sr. at age 15 he went to a preacher who claimed to have mystical powers and proved it to be trickery. Later at age 17 he dropped out of school and joined the circus as a magician and mind reader. He chose "James Randi" as his stage name or "The Amazing Randi".
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Debunking and Challenges

While many people call it debunking and people call Randi a debunker he prefers to be called an investigator; he doesn't debunk the paranormal he investigates it. Randi began speaking out against various faith healers, seers, mediums and mystics, exposing them as con artists and frauds. His most famous target was Uri Geller an Israeli-born self proclaimed psychic said to bend spoons and other various metal objects with his mind powers. Randi eventually debunked him in 1972.

Another notorious case was that of the television evangelist Peter Popoff, who claimed to have God-given mind-reading powers; Randi revealed Popoff's hidden methods in 1986. Randi saw a small plastic piece in his ear. Randi thought that a person that “heals people” and knows there illnesses should not need a hearing aid. Randi suspected that someone was reading Popoff the answers. He had an expert come in to try and interfere with the signal between the Popoff and the other person, there was a low chance but he did it . He heard Popoff's wife telling him Hello, Petey. I love you! I'm talking to you. Can you hear me? If you can't you're in trouble, 'cause I'm talking as well as I can!(see photo under the text to see Peter Popoff "healing" a man). He later went on to expose a crystal healer with rat poison,(see him do it with this link, and the magnetic man with baby powder,(see him do it with this link, Randi had something called the million dollar challenge, any psychic that claimed to have mystical powers could come to him he would run a test on them with the help of his friend Stevie Shaw professionally known as Banachek to either witness real mystical powers or debunk yet another. Randi was the founder of CSICOP, The Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal. Randi is one of the best known and most succesful "investigator" of the paranormal. Randi said"I don't expect that the million will ever be won, simply because there is no confirming evidence for any paranormal claims to date." James Randi created something called Project Alpha. It was an elaborate hoax that began in 1979 and ended with its disclosure in 1981. It involved planting two fake psychics, Steve Shaw (now better known as Banachek) and Michael Edwards, into a paranormal research project. In spite the tight conditions of the tests the scientists found them to be real psychics even though they were just two kids that were excellent at what they did.

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While many people like me may think that James Randi is a life saver, many think he is a annoyance to peoples everyday lives. The reason James Randi exposes faith healers is because they are not actually healing the person they are just taking there money and making them feel better. Say the person that the Faith healer is healing has a serious disease like Cancer while they may feel better after he healer they are not actually better, so a few days or weeks later they may die because they didn't go to an actual doctor. In spite of this information people still don't agree with Randi. Some people think that Randi is just an annoyance and a non believer and if the faith healer makes the person feel better he should just let them be.

Vocab (people)

Uri Geller, Uri Geller is an Israeli illusionist, well known internationally as a magician, television personality, and self-proclaimed psychic. He is known for his trademark television performances of spoon bending and other supposed psychic effects.

Peter Popoff, Peter Popoff is a German American televangelist, self-proclaimed prophet and faith healer. He conducts revival meetings and once hosted a national television program. He initially rose to prominence in the 1980s.

Steve Shaw (Banachek), Steven Shaw, known professionally as Banachek, is a mentalist. He has written books on mentalism and has invented various magic and mentalism effects, including the Penn & Teller bullet catch and the original "buried alive" stunt.

Michael Edwards, Michael Edwards was one of the fake psychics in project alpha who was accompanied by Steven Shaw

Fun Facts

  • In 1978 he received the garden state magicians award
  • In 1977 he was awarded “best visiting magician of the year” by the academy of magical arts and sciences at the Magic Castle Hollywood.
  • In 1975 he by special request by first lady Betty Ford performed at the white house to entertain the children of foreign diplomats for the holidays.
  • In 1981 he received the certificate of appreciation from the MIT club of Boston and the designation master of magic from Hocus pocus magazine.

Books and Publications

  • The Magic of Uri Geller (1975)

  • Flim-Flam! Psychics, ESP, Unicorns, and Other Delusions (1982)

  • The Mask of Nostradamus (1990)

  • Conjuring (1992)

  • Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural (1995).

(take note he has written more books than this, this is just a small selection of some of his more famous books)


  • "Feeling better is not actually being better", James Randi
  • "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.", James Randi
  • "The problem with experiments has always been that human beings make the decisions on whether or not the animals have benefitted from the treatment.", James Randi