Homeopathy, quackery and fraud | James Randi

Good morning. Happy to see so many fine folks out here and so many smiling faces. I have a very.

Good morning. Happy to see so many fine folks out here and so many smiling faces. I have a very peculiar background, attitude and approach to the real world because I am a conjurer. Now, I prefer that term over magician, because if I were a magician, that would mean that I use spells and incantations and weird gestures in order to accomplish real magic. No, I don’t do that; I’m a conjurer, who is someone who pretends to be a real magician. (Laughter) Now, how do we go about that sort of thing? We depend on the fact that audiences, such as yourselves, will make assumptions. For example, when I walked up here and I took the microphone from the stand and switched it on, you assumed this was a microphone, which it is not. (Laughter) As a matter of fact, this is something that about half of you, more than half of you will not be familiar with. It’s a beard trimmer, you see? And it makes a very bad microphone; I’ve tried it many times. (Laughter) The other assumption that you made — and this little lesson is to show you that you will make assumptions. Not only that you can, but that you will when they are properly suggested to you. You believe I’m looking at you. Wrong. I’m not looking at you. I can’t see you. I know you’re out there, they told me backstage, it’s a full house and such. I know you’re there because I can hear you, but I can’t see you because I normally wear glasses. These are not glasses, these are empty frames. (Laughter) Quite empty frames. Now why would a grown man appear before you wearing empty frames on his face? To fool you, ladies and gentlemen, to deceive you, to show that you, too, can make assumptions. Don’t you ever forget that. Now, I have to do something — first of all, switch to real glasses so I can actually see you, which would probably be a convenience. I don’t know. I haven’t had a good look. Well, it’s not that great a convenience. (Laughter) I have to do something now, which seems a little bit strange for a magician. But I’m going to take some medication. This is a full bottle of Calms Forte. I’ll explain that in just a moment. Ignore the instructions, that’s what the government has to put in there to confuse you, I’m sure. I will take enough of these. Mm. Indeed, the whole container. Thirty-two tablets of Calms Forte. Now that I’ve done that — I’ll explain it in a moment — I must tell you that I am an actor. I’m an actor who plays a specific part. I play the part of a magician, a wizard, if you will, a real wizard. If someone were to appear on this stage in front of me and actually claim to be an ancient prince of Denmark named Hamlet, you would be insulted and rightly so. Why would a man assume that you would believe something bizarre like this? But there exists out there a very large population of people who will tell you that they have psychic, magical powers that they can predict the future, that they can make contact with the deceased. Oh, they also say they will sell you astrology or other fortunetelling methods. Oh, they gladly sell you that, yes. And they also say that they can give you perpetual motion machines and free energy systems. They claim to be psychics, or sensitives, whatever they can. But the one thing that has made a big comeback just recently is this business of speaking with the dead. Now, to my innocent mind, dead implies incapable of communicating. (Laughter) You might agree with me on that. But these people, they tend to tell you that not only can they communicate with the dead — “Hi, there” — but they can hear the dead as well, and they can relay this information back to the living. I wonder if that’s true. I don’t think so, because this subculture of people use exactly the same gimmicks that we magicians do, exactly the same — the same physical methods, the same psychological methods — and they effectively and profoundly deceive millions of people around the earth, to their detriment. They deceive these people, costs them a lot of money, cost them a lot of emotional anguish. Billions of dollars are spent every year, all over the globe, on these charlatans. Now, I have two questions I would like to ask these people if I had the opportunity to do so. First question: If I want to ask them to call up — because they do hear them through the ear. They listen to the spirits like this — I’m going to ask you to call up the ghost of my grandmother because, when she died, she had the family will, and she secreted it someplace. We don’t know where it is, so we ask Granny, “Where is the will, Granny?” What does Granny say? She says, “I’m in heaven and it’s wonderful. I’m here with all my old friends, my deceased friends, and my family and all the puppy dogs and the kittens that I used to have when I was a little girl. And I love you, and I’ll always be with you. Good bye.” And she didn’t answer the damn question! Where is the will? Now, she could easily have said, “Oh, it’s in the library on the second shelf, behind the encyclopedia,” but she doesn’t say that. No, she doesn’t. She doesn’t bring any useful information to us. We paid a lot of money for that information, be we didn’t get it. The second question that I’d like to ask, rather simple: Suppose I ask them to contact the spirit of my deceased father-in-law, as an example. Why do they insist on saying — remember, they speak into this ear — why do they say, “My name starts with J or M?” Is this a hunting game? Hunting and fishing? What is it? Is it 20 questions? No, it’s more like 120 questions. But it is a cruel, vicious, absolutely conscienceless — I’ll be all right, keep your seats (Laughter) — game that these people play. And they take advantage of the innocent, the naive, the grieving, the needy people out there. Now, this is a process that is called cold reading. There’s one fellow out there, Van Praagh is his name, James Van Praagh. He’s one of the big practitioners of this sort of thing. John Edward, Sylvia Browne and Rosemary Altea, they are other operators. There are hundreds of them all over the earth, but in this country, James Van Praagh is very big. And what does he do? He likes to tell you how the deceased got deceased, the people he’s talking to through his ear, you see? So what he says is, very often, is like this: he says, “He tells me, he tells me, before he passed, that he had trouble breathing.” Folks, that’s what dying is all about! (Laughter) You stop breathing, and then you’re dead. It’s that simple. And that’s the kind of information they’re going to bring back to you? I don’t think so. Now, these people will make guesses, they’ll say things like, “Why am I getting electricity? He’s saying to me, ‘Electricity.’ Was he an electrician?” “No.” “Did he ever have an electric razor?” “No.” It was a game of hunting questions like this. This is what they go through. Now, folks often ask us at the James Randi Educational Foundation, they call me, they say, “Why are you so concerned about this, Mr. Randi? Isn’t it just a lot of fun?” No, it is not fun. It is a cruel farce. Now, it may bring a certain amount of comfort, but that comfort lasts only about 20 minutes or so. And then the people look in the mirror, and they say, I just paid a lot of money for that reading. And what did she say to me? ‘I love you!'” They always say that. They don’t get any information, they don’t get any value for what they spend. Now, Sylvia Browne is the big operator. We call her “The Talons.” Sylvia Browne — thank you — Sylvia Browne is the big operator in this field at this very moment. Now, Sylvia Browne — just to show you — she actually gets 700 dollars for a 20 minute reading over the telephone, she doesn’t even go there in person, and you have to wait up to two years because she’s booked ahead that amount of time. You pay by credit card or whatever, and then she will call you sometime in the next two years. You can tell it’s her. “Hello, this is Sylvia Browne.” That’s her, you can tell right away. Now, Montel Williams is an intelligent man. We all know who he is on television. He’s well educated, he’s smart, he knows what Sylvia Browne is doing but he doesn’t give a damn. He just doesn’t care. Because, the bottom line is, the sponsors love it, and he will expose her to television publicity all the time. Now, what does Sylvia Browne give you for that 700 dollars? She gives you the names of your guardian angels, that’s first. Now, without that, how could we possibly function? (Laughter) She gives you the names of previous lives, who you were in previous lives. Duh. It turns out that the women that she gives readings for were all Babylonian princesses, or something like that. And the men were all Grecian warriors fighting with Agamemnon. Nothing is ever said about a 14 year-old bootblack in the streets of London who died of consumption. He isn’t worth bringing back, obviously. And the strange thing — folks, you may have noticed this too. You see these folks on television — they never call anybody back from hell. (Laughter) Everyone comes back from heaven, but never from hell. If they call back any of my friends, they’re not going to… Well, you see the story. (Laughter) Now, Sylvia Browne is an exception, an exception in one way, because the James Randi Educational Foundation, my foundation, offers a one million dollar prize in negotiable bonds. Very simply won. All you have to do is prove any paranormal, occult or supernatural event or power of any kind under proper observing conditions. It’s very easy, win the million dollars. Sylvia Browne is an exception in that she’s the only professional psychic in the whole world that has accepted our challenge. She did this on the “Larry King Live” show on CNN six and a half years ago. And we haven’t heard from her since. Strange. She said that, first of all, that she didn’t know how to contact me. Duh. A professional psychic who speaks to dead people, she can’t reach me? (Laughter) I’m alive, you may have noticed. Well, pretty well anyway. She couldn’t reach me. Now she says she doesn’t want to reach me because I’m a godless person. All the more reason to take the million dollars, wouldn’t you think, Sylvia? Now these people need to be stopped, seriously now. They need to be stopped because this is a cruel farce. We get people coming to the foundation all the time. They’re ruined financially and emotionally because they’ve given their money and their faith to these people. Now, I popped some pills earlier. I have to explain that to you. Homeopathy, let’s find out what that’s all about. Hmm. You’ve heard of it. It’s an alternative form of healing, right? Homeopathy actually consists — and that’s what this is. This is Calms Forte, 32 caplets of sleeping pills! I forgot to tell you that. I just ingested six and a half days worth of sleeping pills. (Laughter) Six and a half days, that certainly is a fatal dose. It says right on the back here, “In case of overdose, contact your poison control center immediately,” and it gives an 800 number. Keep your seats — it’s going to be okay. I don’t really need it because I’ve been doing this stunt for audiences all over the world for the last eight or 10 years, taking fatal doses of homeopathic sleeping pills. Why don’t they affect me? (Laughter) (Applause) The answer may surprise you. What is homeopathy? It’s taking a medicine that really works and diluting it down well beyond Avogadro’s limit. Diluting it down to the point where there’s none of it left. (Laughter) Now folks, this is not just a metaphor I’m going to give you now, it’s true. It’s exactly equivalent to taking one 325 milligram aspirin tablet, throwing it into the middle of Lake Tahoe, and then stirring it up, obviously with a very big stick, and waiting two years or so until the solution is homogeneous. Then, when you get a headache, you take a sip of this water, and — voila! — it is gone. (Laughter) Now that is true. That is what homeopathy is all about. And another claim that they make — you’ll love this one — the more dilute the medicine is, they say, the more powerful it is. Now wait a minute, we heard about a guy in Florida. The poor man, he was on homeopathic medicine. He died of an overdose. He forgot to take his pill. (Laughter) Work on it. Work on it. It’s a ridiculous thing. It is absolutely ridiculous. I don’t know what we’re doing, believing in all this nonsense over all these years. Now, let me tell you, The James Randi Educational Foundation is waving this very big carrot, but I must say, the fact that nobody has taken us up on this offer doesn’t mean that the powers don’t exist. They might, some place out there. Maybe these people are just independently wealthy. Well, with Sylvia Browne I would think so. You know, 700 dollars for a 20 minute reading over the telephone — that’s more than lawyers make! I mean that’s a fabulous amount of money. These people don’t need the million dollars perhaps, but wouldn’t you think they’d like to take it just to make me look silly? Just to get rid of this godless person out there that Sylvia Browne talks about all the time? I think that something needs to be done about this. We really would love to have suggestions from you folks on how to contact federal, state and local authorities to get them to do something. If you find out — now I understand. We’ve seen people, even today, speaking to us about AIDS epidemics and starving kids around the world and impure water supplies that people have to suffer with. Those are very important, critically important to us. And we must do something about those problems. But at the same time, as Arthur C. Clarke said, The rotting of the human mind, the business of believing in the paranormal and the occult and the supernatural — all of this total nonsense, this medieval thinking — I think something should be done about that, and it all lies in education. Largely, it’s the media who are to blame for this sort of thing. They shamelessly promote all kinds of nonsense of this sort because it pleases the sponsors. It’s the bottom line, the dollar line. That’s what they’re looking at. We really must do something about this. I’m willing to take your suggestions, and I’m willing to have you tune in to our webpage. It’s www.randi.org. Go in there and look at the archives, and you will begin to understand much more of what I’ve been talking about today. You will see the records that we have. There’s nothing like sitting in that library and having a family appear there and say that Mum gave away all the family fortune. She cashed in the CDs, she gave away the stocks and the certificates. That’s really sad to hear, and it hasn’t helped them one bit, hasn’t solved any of their problems. Yes, there could be a rotting of the American mind, and of the minds all the way around the earth, if we don’t start to think sensibly about these things. Now, we’ve offered this carrot, as I say, we’ve dangled the carrot. We’re waiting for the psychics to come forth and snap at it. Oh, we get lots of them, hundreds of them every year come by. These are dowsers and people who think that they can talk to the dead as well, but they’re amateurs; they don’t know how to evaluate their own so-called powers. The professionals never come near us, except in that case of Sylvia Browne that I told you about a moment ago. She did accept and then backed away. Ladies and gentlemen, I’m James Randi, and I’m waiting. Thank you. (Applause)

60 thoughts on “Homeopathy, quackery and fraud | James Randi”

  1. I think this guy is great but there's a lot he doesn't address and a lot which could be proved if his $1m wasn't so stringently controlled. I'd like to see him with an authentic clairvoyant and them offer up information not in the public sphere. My uncle was like this and after he died I visited a clairvoyant. She burst out laughing and the first thing she said was, "…your uncle [said his name] is laughing his head off because he knows why you're here!"

  2. This guy's an idiot, of course there are charlatans, Edgar Cayce and Aliester Crowley and Psychiatrist Dr. Raymond A Moody have not been among them, Slyvia Browne probably started out with genuine ability but when greed took over that would definitely greatly lower the accuracy level if not erase it entirely, if you truly want to receive messages from deceased loved ones you yourself are the best person to do so, hundreds of millions of people alive today have done so, you will notice that the skeptics can always weed out a charlatan, but will always avoid at least one of the heavyweights I've listed, it's all very cowardly on their part!

  3. From my point of view, homeopathy does have a place in medical practice. At times, a GP may want to prescribe a placebo, and homeopathy gives them the chance to do so.

  4. There is a Homeopathic hospital in my city i went to when i was a kid, and i was instructed to go other hospitals but also told resistivity could be made through homeopathic. more like building an immunity

  5. Sorry, but I must ask, can you ask your doctor to change your pills? You ain't funny at all, not for me, you're not humourous at all! And sorry, your white hair didn't give you any wisdom.

  6. legends say this man is still living and is so energetic because he have been taking bottles full of homoeopathic medicines .

  7. Re the million dollars: PLENTY of people have met the conditions and Randi immediately changes sufficient of the conditions that he can claim they were wrong. THAT is why it has never been awarded.
    Randi is a professional soi-disant "debunker" (not one debunk so far, but a lot of chest beating). A Charlatan, con man, wannabe magician and a Quack of the first order. Believe his words at your peril.

  8. Homeopathy medicine works for alot of people and animals…
    But, there are alot of psychic frauds out there.

    He's wrong about saying there aren't any real psychics out there.

    Some are scary good, Sylvia Brown wasn't one of them.

  9. Diabetic person: * takes fatal doses of sleeping pills *
    Diabetic person: hahah, it's homeopathic, I'm gonna be alright!
    Diabetic person: x_x

  10. ‘’Rantdini’ takes a number of homeopathic pills ONCE and later says they had no effect! When you take a pharma drug which incidentally kill over a 100,000 people a year just in the USA alone do you take only one time? No it’s repeated day by day. It takes a while to affect bodily functions. So the same for homeopathics! Or nutritional supplements including herbs. Then in homeopathy the potency level is of importance. You can read that in my link. I had carpal tunnel pain in my left wrist.The homeopath whom l knew was a former Head engineer of Rocketry at TRW extremely intelligent photographic memory highly detailed l could why they made him Chief of that department. He proffered calcium fluoride 12X potency.
    I took my daily dose nothing happened until about two weeks later l awoke no pain! Day by day l was expecting it to come back as the Dr. said stop taking it if the pain stopped. Well,that was several years ago and still no pain. At the time l tried everything and considered surgery as it was getting intolerable. So l put no credence in a Debunker.
    He didn’t do a fair prolonged test. It’s showmanship. A dr. began taking Nat.mur. or sodium- salt in homeopathic form at 200X considered a high potency 6 pellets each day to prove it would no effect on him. After a time he began to crave salt,was getting dehydrated,had skin welts that some get relative to salt interaction in the body, he was very thirsty even though he drank water.
    He realized that even at 200 dilutions1 to 9 dilution there could be no molecular salt or sodium chloride in the pellets yet he was ‘proving’ salt! He stopped the condition dismissed rapidly and he normalized. So the idea in homeopathy like cures like is the substance that one produces a set of symptoms will alleviate those same symptoms if thus afflicted.
    You will need to read the link.Remember the mind is like a parachute it’s no good unless it’s open! You think,you study, you give things in life a fair trial. I have done this as a researcher many times over the years. Works🤔

  11. James Randy is another Government Stooge ! He is incorrect on many areas, to do character assassination on a person or in general homeopathic practitioner and spread misinformation is the lowest of the low! Shame on you Mr. Randy!

  12. one of this charlatans ( sorry mediums) has a tv show in my country ( portugal ) deceiving people on live tv, this people should be in jail.

  13. Who cares if someone makes 700 bucks in 20 minutes. sounds like jealously to me. if people are dumb enough to throw away 700 bucks for a bogus reading then they deserve to get ripped off

  14. Whoever is against homeopathy I am talking to you, hey fool! Have you ever tried homeopathy? Or you’re a believer on allopathy which is working to destroy peoples health with misguided medical practice. I have more than enough evidence to prove how allopathy making people sick with their wrong treatment. They just fooling people. Just suppressing the symptoms not the actual disease so that they can sell drugs. The whole medical industry is controlled by big pharmaceutical companies. And FDA is the puppet of big pharma. I have so much evidence to show you better treatment protocols than allopathy and how effective they are but still they are kept out of public rudder by big pharma coz they don’t want to spoil their fortune. Go and do some research on orthomolecular medicine, regenerative medicine and all of these has tons of evidence from reputable medical journal. Homeopathy itself has more than 300 double blind placebo controlled studies published on the most reputable journals. My request for you guys pls dont be deluded by big pharma, coz if we let allopathic medicine to go where its going then in future we will have a medical study of what happens when you put poison to a malnourished body!
    How deluded you are to support allopathy which does not cure the underlying cause of the problem, they even treat fever, purely idiots. They themselves contradicts their own researches if you want proof then let me know I am busy but I will try my best to stop fools from misleading people.

  15. I don't understand how he went from doing commercials regarding starving African kids for the Christian Children's Fund to TED talks.

  16. it is not his mistake, he doesn't know about homeopathy.. if he can cure headache in one pill y they unable to cure cancer, BP, Suger, Asthma..etc with thousands of pills

  17. Like supernatural belief in God or Gods , some folks believe in deluded wish fulfillment and happy to hand over cash to those in white coats and funny hats.

  18. He should be given a dose of Lachesis 1m, a homeopathic remedy for such sarcastic old bastards, rather psychopathic people.

  19. I believe it it time to move to a new era of accusation. No longer should it just be these hack "magicians" and "psychics" that are criminalized but also the gullible that ruin things for the rest of humans simply through their own idiocy. (edited to sound less mean :p)

  20. Aw look how much the old grubbling Marxists sodomite hates God, good luck with that Atheists/sodomite/marxists old Wizard guy,Now don't forget to pass on your culture/"values" and etc to your children mr Randi…oh wait…..sodomy tends to not reproduce or create life thats my bad…

  21. First of all there is no Fatal doses of Homoeopathy. As regard as sleeping pills its not like Valium that will put you to sleep. It works over a period of time to give you Normal sleep! And now a days Homoeopathy has become a full blown business. it doesnt work like allopathic remedies. As far as insomnia or sleeping disorder is considered, an allopath will give you same remedies fr this disorder but a homoeopath will give not give you the same remedies. Because based on person to person the remedies change based on his psyche and symptamology. Even if the old man here took 100 bottles of the homoeo remedy he won't die. Though there might be some aggravation for a short while.
    Though not a doc but have been using homoepathy for myself, my dog and skeptic peoples I know off. Be it bronchitis, warts, anaemia, infection, mental disorder,eczema and other ailments I have 100 percent success. Though they tried the allopathic treatment before with full faith but to no avail. And though sceptic of homoeo prescription had great relief in their symptoms. SO talking about placebo here wud be BS. My dog who was on a verge of death due to Parvo virus and the allopathic doc gave up on him. ANd homoeopathy saved him. That was the starting point to discover the philosophy of homoeopathy.
    Homoeopathy is a great science that work on vital forces. Few becomes masters of using it efficiently.

  22. I bet he tries to talk into a beard trimmer instead of a microphone and wears empty frames instead of glasses

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  24. Homeopathy works, this experiment proves it ones and for all!


  25. How do we account for this Nobel Prize winner then? https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=R8VyUsVOic0 of course we should discoubt snake oil sellers, but the hitting of low hanging fruit is easy, far more tricky to understand why a mystery is as it is. Thought=work, dismissing without investigation = non work

  26. Tell me this what has the medical world cured considering multiplied billions and billions have been spent. Are side effect laden drugs and surgery the answer? No!

  27. Their are many Homeopathic remedies that are effective. Not claiming every is true, but the term Homeopathic is not evil. People are evil, ones that sell you something worthless, including vaccine makers and other big pharm drug pushers

  28. one has to be wise about quacks , fortune tellers , and the rest of the untested paranormal …..as for homeopathy some of the natural remedies do work beneficially on me ……….randi is a pharma drugs pusher , way to go randi …

  29. You don’t believe in Homeopathy? You work for the Pharmaceuticals? I challenge you to take the remedy Sulphur in a 1M potency over and over again in the same day, maybe even for a couple days. But don’t do it because it will mess your mind for life. So I’m not responsible for whatever happens to you. You are so ignorant! You obviously never studied Homeopathy but you still give yourself the right to talk about it this way.

  30. This guy knows zero about homeopathy. It doesn't work like allopathic medicine. You could take a truckload of those 'sleeping pills' and still be standing, especially if the remedy is not designed for you. But even if it's not, you're not going to die from an 'overdose' on a homeopathic remedy.

    However, this doesn't disprove anything. It only shows he hasn't even bothered to research the principles of homeopathy.

    He sure does wear the crap out of those pants though.

  31. For several years James Randi has had one million dollars on offer to anyone who can demonstrate paranormal or supernatural powers or events. Understandably, he has very strict criteria and rules to the challenge, and to date, nobody has passed even the preliminary stages of the application process. Various psychics, astrologers, clairvoyants and dowsers have applied over the years, only to be rejected as not worthy of the Amazing Randi's attention.
    It would seem that Mr Randi has no intention of risking his million dollars, and one of the finest examples of his chicanery was his dealings with George Vithoulkas – an eminent Greek homeopath, who was confident about taking up Randi's challenge.
    Alas, it was not to be.
    Read the story here: https://www.vithoulkas.com/research/clinical-trial-randi

    It's worth bearing in mind that "The Amazing Randi" is a stage magician and is practiced in the art of deception, illusion, distraction and sleight-of-hand. Some may regard these talents as very useful for debunking fraudsters in the manner of… "setting a thief to catch a thief"… but the question is: can you believe him?
    To me, he appears as a huckster – a circus side-showman with all the persuasive schtick of the snake-oil salesmen he derides. So many of the people commenting on this video (the ones that aren't big pharma shills) remind me of the rubes at a country fair, dazzled by the sleight-of-hand and believing that he really did pull a rabbit out of that hat.

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