The “Amazing” Randi is Just a Nasty Old Eugenicist

Some choice quotes from the favorite skeptic of the atheist and “reason”-based community: magician, bigot, and eugenicist James “The Amazing” Randi:

[T]hose individuals who were stupid enough to rush into the arms of the mythical houris and/or Adonis’s they would expect to greet them, would simply do so and die – by whatever chemical or biological fate would overcome them… [T]he principle of Survival of the Fittest would draconically prove itself for a couple of years, after which Natural Selection would weed out those for whom there is no hope except through our forbearance.

Any weeping and wailing over the Poor Little Kids who would perish by immediately gobbling down pills and injecting poison, is summoning up crocodile tears, in my opinion. They would – and presently do – mature into grown-up idiots, and Darwin would be appalled that his lessons were ignored.

I’m sure Darwin would be appalled, but not by what you think, you cankerous old monster.

But wait! There’s more!

I’m a believer in Social Darwinism. Not in every case. I would do anything to stop a twelve-year-old kid from doing it. Sincerely. But in general, I think that Darwinism, survival of the fittest, should be allowed to act itself out. As long as it doesn’t interfere with me and other sensible, rational people who could be affected by it. Innocent people, in other words.

This word “innocent” you use: methinks you’re a bit confused about its meaning. It tends to be applied to people who don’t advocate the murder-by-inaction of those weaker than themselves, but please, continue showering us with the wisdom only found in the mind of a man who’s really good at card tricks and self-promotion:

These are stupid people. And if they can’t survive, they don’t have the IQ, don’t have the thinking power to be able to survive, it’s unfortunate; I would hate to see it happen, but at the same time, it would clear the air.


Questions: Why would it be unfortunate?  Unfortunate for whom? If it’s a good for society, there’s nothing “unfortunate” about it. If there’s something unfortunate about it, then it’s not a good for society, and your grotesque worldview is dust and ashes.

And these stupid people you’re talking about: are they stupid because they failed a test, or because of a belief system? Should, say, religious people (whom you hold in contempt and certainly believe are stupid) be allowed to die? Say, if our houses catch on fire, should we be allowed to burn alive for the greater good?

If not, why not?

What measure of intelligence are we talking about? For instance, say you need your car fixed, and there’s a mechanic who can’t read, write, or do higher math, but he can disassemble and reassemble a car engine. I have a relative like this, so it’s not an abstract question. Should he be allowed to die? If so, then who’s gonna fix your damn car? Do we have a “stupidity exception” for useful people?

What about aging magicians? I’m really not quite sure what you’re contributing to the world right now. You seem a little arthritic and, based on the rot coming out of your mouth, your brain is clearly decaying. Senility can’t be far off, if indeed it isn’t already here.  If someone smarter or healthier than you tried to kill you or allow you die through inaction, would I be wrong to stand by idly and let it happen?

If not, why not?

Oh, and my family is totally screwed:

I think that people with mental aberrations who have family histories of inherited diseases and such, that something should be done seriously to educate them to prevent them from procreating. I think they should be gathered together in a suitable place and have it demonstrated for them what their procreation would mean for the human race.

A suitable place? You mean, like a camp? Where we can, y’know, concentrate all the unsuitable and untermenschen? Spiffing idea!

Self-styled skeptics (as opposed to, say, Forteans) are just so very tedious. There is no unexplained phenomena they cannot explain away, even unto the point that their explanations become absurdly tendentious. Their skepticism is a religion unto itself, just like evangelical atheism. I traveled in Fortean circles for a while, and never met one “skeptic” who wasn’t vain and egotistical. This anti-humanism bubbles below the surface of the entire movement.

So, dear “skeptical”/atheist community, please fill in the blank:

“The difference between the views of James Randi and Nazi eugenicists is _______________. “

Go ahead, take your time. I’ll wait. You embraced him. You own him.

Will we see him at the next Reason Rally? I bet we will. They do so love their hate.

H/T Fortean Times

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About Thomas L. McDonald

Thomas L. McDonald writes about technology, theology, history, games, and shiny things. Details of his rather uneventful life as a professional writer and magazine editor can be found in the About tab.

  • victor

    Thank you 1) for the laughs in this post, which had me chuckling-out-loud and b) for introducing me to Charles Fort. Having never been a skeptic (as opposed to a cynic, which I’ve always been and which is tired and old and cliche) I wasn’t familiar with him. But from my poking around on the interwebs just now, he seemed to have had a great mind and an even greater ‘stache.

  • Thomas L. McDonald

    I wrote for Fortean Times for a little while in the 1990s. Best gig ever. They comped my subscription (which is really expensive since it’s a UK magazine) for something like 15 years.

    Fort wasn’t much for religion, but he had no patience at all for the facile explanations of the scientific community when confronted with anomalous phenomena.

  • victor

    That was very classy of the Fortean Times. I wish I could get Sound On Sound to do that, but I’ve never written for them so that’s probably why they don’t.

    I’ve got no beef with people who aren’t much for religion, as long as they aren’t much for anything else, either. I’m surprised more curent ID people haven’t revisted his objection to (non-Social? anti-Social?) Darwinism, though. A cursory review of his Wikipedia page would seem to indicate that at least from a formal logic standpoint (I’m not going to make a FORTRAN pun here), his objection to Darwinism haven’t ever been answered: “Fitness”, then, is only another name for “survival.” Darwinism: That survivors survive.”

    I’m going to have to look up his book.

  • Thomas L. McDonald

    “Survivors survive:” The first lesson of Tautology Club is the first lesson of Tautology Club.

    Be aware that Fort’s prose style is, um … unique. The magazine carries on his tradition with wit and verve.

  • Tom

    I’m not sure why his social darwinism is only intellectual. Surely there can be room for physical social darwinism, and I would wonder if he would have any objection if a younger, stronger man were to attempt to apply this to his frail, eighty-something state.

  • Ashley

    The difference between the views of James Randi and Nazi eugenicists is similar to the difference in the views of Nazi eugenicists and the Catholic Ustase: not much. The difference in their actions is enormous, however. Randi has acted on his views by blowing a lot of hot air, much like Orson Scott Card or certain bloggers. The Nazi eugenicists and the Ustase acted on their views by slaughtering hundreds of thousands/millions of “undesirables”, much like the atheistic Stalinists.

    I’ll own my bad people if you’ll own yours.

  • Thomas L. McDonald

    Try to focus, Ashley. The question was this:

    “The difference between the views of James Randi and Nazi eugenicists is _______________. “

    Not this:

    “The difference between the views of James Randi and Nazi eugenicists is _______________ and throw in an irrelevant historical parallel in order to score cheap rhetorical points. ”

    I’m not inviting the Ustase anywhere because, well, it’s 20frigging13.

    Meanwhile, James Randi is feted by Reason Warriors (TM), speaking at the Reason Rally, mentor to Reason Hero Penn Jillette, and probably selling his own line of Reason Wear (slogan: “You won’t BELIEVE our prices!”)

  • victor

    Please tell me that picture of Randi is a screen cap from a youtube video because this is an opportunity potentially too good to pass up. :-)

  • Thomas L. McDonald
  • victor

    Huzzah! I sense a viral comedy diamond in the rough!

  • Harry Piper

    You know, I think it will be fascinating to see what happens when the New Atheist community at large begins to sit down and ask themselves difficult ethical questions (that will have absolutely no answers in their system) that will inevitably cause massive disagreements and schisms – see the civil war over Richard Dawkins comments on “Muslima”, and all the arguments over feminism that caused. James Randi’s eugenicist enthusiasm might be a catalyst for that.
    The only reason it hasn’t happened so far is that they’ve been unified in their hatred for religion and adulation for Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris and Dennet.

  • Dan

    … Well, how disturbing. I think he just sank past Dawkins, passed Harris, and has just breached the border of normative ethical sanity.

  • deiseach

    Even his analogies are wrong, because “survival of the fittest” (and that’s a poor reading of natural selection) doesn’t care tuppence about “innocent” or “guilty”. What happens is that those best adapted to the ecological niche they occupy, under the pressure of the environment, survive, reproduce, and pass on favourable traits to their offspring so they in turn survive and reproduce.

    Even if Randi were the nicest, sweetest, most cuddly teddy-bear out there, it wouldn’t make a straw’s worth of difference to ‘survival of the fittest’. Set up a contest between a torture-loving serial killer who eats healthily, exercises regularly, and avoids alcohol and tobacco (never mind the other stuff) versus Randi in his current state of health, and we can all guess who is going to be the one to survive – and it has nothing to do with being innocent or rational.

  • Gladius

    Nasty Randi wishes he could cause pain, suffering and death on the scale of President Bush II.

  • jose navarro

    The same similarities of any religious duchebag with the same nazi eugenicists. Ignorance is dangerous, for all of you sheeps, go on youtube and look up what Randi is about and what he’s been doing, don’t misquote him as that’s just for phony cowards like the author of this blog

  • Thomas L. McDonald

    That didn’t make any sense at all. Try harder next time.

    There was no misquoting. Just quoting.

  • PatrickG

    Well, if that’s what Randi thinks, then he’s obviously a nut job, and I don’t care for him much at all. I waver between agnostic and Deist, by the way, and I don’t own him. I’ve never professed any faith or love of him, and his idiocy has nothing to with my spiritual beliefs. I honestly don’t see what this has to do with nontheism (to coin a term, I guess) in general. Atheism, and nontheism in general, are not unified, organized belief systems- in some cases (agnosticism) they are simply the lack of belief, so it would be foolish to claim that others who share a lack of belief would necessarily share any other characteristics.

  • Tim in Cleveland

    As a genuine coward myself, I too am tired of all these phony cowards. People need to grow a pair and be true cowards.

  • deiseach

    It has this to do with atheism/nontheism/freethinking, PatrickG. I know that not all atheists (just to use a very broad, umbrella term) share these views. I know there are decent, kind, moral atheists.

    But when there are events such as the Reason Rally, and speakers like The Amazing Randi are invited, that does – however unfairly – intimate that the organisers and attendees share his views. I’ll give you an example from my side of the fence: Pope Benedict made overtures to the Society of St. Pius X, an ultra-traditional Catholic group who split away from the Church after Vatican II. One of their members was a bishop (and by the way, the SSPX bishops are not recognised as having legitimate episcopal authority in the Roman Catholic Church) named Williamson.

    It turns out that Bishop Williamson is pretty much a Holocaust Denier (at the very least). Cue headlines splashed all over the place about “Vatican reaches out to anti-Semitic movement” and “Pope welcomes back Holocaust denial bishop”. Williamson was eventually expelled from the SSPX because he refused to recant his views, and of course the whole rationale behind the Vatican outreach had nothing to do with anti-Semitism, but that didn’t stop various and sundry from gleefully making the connection between Williamson and the fact that Benedict is German and was of an age to join the Hitler Youth when it was compulsory in his country.

    When people like Randi are held up as exemplars of the kind of benefits atheism brings, by introducing rationality and refusal to accept anything other than empirical evidence, and are contrasted specifically with religious believers in terms of “woo” (pro- and anti-) to the detriment of the believers, then it makes it just as much a problem for atheists as Williamson is for Catholics.

  • PatrickG

    I see what you are saying, but it is a false analogy. To be a nontheist does not entail joining any organization., whereas to be a Catholic does entail being a part of a specific organization and accepting specific people as an authority (that the media chose to twist the news in your SSPX example is unfair and unfortunate, but not relevant to my point). Let’s say Randi is head of organization X, an atheist organization where everyone who joins says that they follow Randi’s teachings. Now, it would be fair to suggest after this that members/followers of organization X might support eugenics. But it’s not fair to paint all *nontheists* with that brush, since the majority are not even a member of X! To extend the analogy another way, what you said about nontheists would be like if a leader of a major Christian Church whose followers are committed to the direction of the leader* intimated that the holocaust didn’t happen, then the media said “Christians deny holocaust!” But many, maybe even most, Christians don’t belong to that! It’s a wholly illogical statement.

    *I use the strange wordiness here because I don’t want to offer a pretend example of the Catholic Church denying the holocaust. I respect your faith (and that this is a Catholic blog) and don’t want to be needlessly offensive.

  • idoubtit

    “never met one “skeptic” who wasn’t vain and egotistical”. You don’t get around enough in skeptical circles then. There are plenty who are not.

    I can completely understand why people dislike Randi intensely. And if he said and meant those things, it’s very bad and embarrassing. But I’m not convinced I have the whole story yet and instead of spouting off about it, I’ll wait to see if he responds to the allegations.

  • Jason

    The Adonis quote is misquoted. There’s a period where a comma should be. An entire sentence is cut out that makes a comparison between what he’s advocating for and the end of prohibition. Don’t know if it substantively changes much, but the quote has been altered and that’s not fair.

    As far as Randi’s imperfections go: you’re right. It seems that he does hold some poorly thought out, problematic political views on Social Darwinism (though I’m open to having my mind changed if he refutes the point after the interview goes viral and claims it was misrepresented while distancing himself).

    I’m not really surprised though. Everybody has some problematic views, especially an older guy like that. There’s nothing wrong with calling them out, but exposing a few stupid things he’s said doesn’t erase the positive things he’s done either.

    Randi, like most people, is a mixed bag. It’s an uncomfortable truth: if you listen to anyone long enough you’ll hear something you don’t like. Canonizing is a bad idea, as is disowning. Hero worship and villainizing are equally unproductive; we must engage and recognize the faults of our peers to be good rationalists.

  • Eddioe

    Randy’s BOY-friend is over 40 years younger than he. They met when he was 62. Randy’s utter contempt for religion conveniently fits into his life narrative,.. no shame, no morals, just follow your urges.