Office of Public Affairs

(315) 312-2265


Nov. 3, 2003


CONTACT: Erin Halligan, 312-4089, halligan@oswego.edu


INVESTIGATOR OF THE SUPERNATURAL
TO OPEN EYES, MINDS AT SUNY OSWEGO

    OSWEGO -- Critical thinking is one of the mental muscle groups that students come to SUNY Oswego to exercise and develop. To that end, the college and its students are bringing renowned psychic investigator James Randi to campus as a guest speaker Wednesday, Nov. 19.
 
   His admission-free presentation, "Search for the Chimera," will be at 7 p.m. in the ballroom of Hewitt Union. This overview of how science has pursued magic and miracles in the last hundred years will include a discussion of how a "politically correct" attitude has blinded scientists, who should know better, to the fact that they are not proficient at detecting fraud, often managing to fool themselves.

    Trained as a magician and escape artist, Randi has built an international reputation as an investigator of psychic, supernatural and magical claims. He received the MacArthur Foundation award known as the "genius" grant in 1986.

    He teamed with Carl Sagan, Isaac Asimov, B.F. Skinner and others on the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal and has exposed a parade of would-be psychics, mediums and faith healers. Sued by psychic Uri Geller for defamation, Randi won.

    "We live in a society that is enlarging the boundaries of knowledge at an unprecedented rate, and we cannot keep up with much more than a small portion of what is made available to us. To mix that

knowledge with childish notions of magic and fantasy is to cripple our perception of the world around us," Randi wrote in Time magazine.

    Randi is the author of nine books -- including "Conjuring," "The Faith Healers" and "The Truth About Uri Geller" -- and articles in such publications as Scientific American and the New York Times.

    He has been featured on television nationally and internationally on such shows as Nova, Dateline, 20/20 and Larry King. In 1997, Esquire magazine named him "One of the One Hundred Best People in the World."

    In 1996, with money donated by an anonymous benefactor, he established the James Randi Educational Foundation in Fort Lauderdale. He has a standing offer of $1 million -- also made possible by donors -- for anyone who can demonstrate paranormal or supernatural powers under controlled conditions.

    "I've always got to be prepared for the possibility that someone's going to come along with a paranormal phenomenon that really is genuine," he told Science Year, a World Book publication. "It could happen. And if it did, it would turn science on its head."

    Randi's appearance at SUNY Oswego is made possible by the Student Association and its Program Board, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, Hewitt Union Bringing Activities to Campus, and the Central New York Skeptics.

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