***Update***: A few changes have been made to this posting since I first put it up.
Here’s an extensive article about James Randi and JREF, courtesy of Michael J. Mooney of The Riverfront Times, an alternative newspaper in St. Louis.
The highlight of the weekend for most of the skeptics here is the chance to meet the man dubbed “The King of Debunking.” Randi is a five-and-a-half-foot-tall command performance, with his characteristic white beard, brow and penchant for zingers. On each morning of the conference, Randi is brought into the main lecture hall in a wheelchair. A slow-moving pack of swooning disciples gathers around him. Pictures are taken. Hands are shaken. A little girl asks him to sign her straitjacket. A booth sells little James Randi dolls with glasses, bushy white beards and tiny handcuffs. Some conferees come with questions they’ve been dying to ask for years (“Mr. Randi, when you flew in upside down over Japan, did you have any plan in the event of an auto-rotation ditch?”). But most want to give thanks to the man who got them sober to the ways of the world: “Hi, I saw you speak in Toronto, and you changed my life.” “You let me know it was OK to question my own beliefs.”
The article focuses on what will become of JREF after Randi passes away (it’s not very optimistic). But plenty of organizations are built around certain leaders and find a way to continue well after the founder moves on or passes away. The Amazing Meeting will continue with or without Randi, and skeptics will hopefully stick with JREF and provide it with the funding it needs to continue the work of debunking psychics/frauds and promoting skepticism.
JREF hasn’t issued a response yet, but it seems there are some inaccuracies in it that will be addressed by them.
(via Dangerous Intersection)