A small update

James Randi --- Wizard (randi-hotline@ssr.com)
Sun, 27 Oct 1996 01:24:56 -0400

Busy, busy, busy!

I've been rather inattentive to the folks on the mailing list. My
apologies. The 12-to-15-hour days I've been putting in at the
Foundation have taken my time and attention. Getting the whole
shebang off and running is quite a task.

But I love it. Things are falling into place nicely.

To share with you a few things that have been happening.... First, I
got a message from a would-be "psychic" that read -- and I quote
exactly --

What no response to my offer to except your
Psychic Challenge. Scared you will lose or what?

I got no "offer to except" or even to "accept" the offer, but that
won't stop him/her from crowing that I'm scared of this dire threat to
the Pigasus Prize. I recall that this "psychic" claims to be
fabulously wealthy, and says he/she doesn't need or want the prize, so
why all this carrying-on? Make up your mind!

In fact, on November 8th, I'm due to test the weird claim of
"Therapeutic Touch" (TT) which -- we won't be surprised to learn --
involves no touching whatsoever. In co-operation with Bob Glickman of
PHact (the Philadelphia-area skeptics group) I've devised a simple,
cheap, easy, direct, definitive test of TT, and though the Pigasus
Prize is rapidly approaching US$1,000,000 (and will certainly be there
by his year's end), we as yet have no acceptions from the vast number
of nurses who say they can do this wonder of healing, as they do every
day of their lives. If there are no claimants by November 1st, which
is one week before the scheduled test, no test will take place.

A splendid exchange took place between a couple of unhappy "psychics"
and myself, in which the psychics complained that the at-that-time
US$742,000 Pigasus Prize was only in the form of pledges, and would be
difficult or impossible to collect. They had a point there, since
there are just under 300 pledgers in 15 countries who have agreed to
pay the successful claimants who just might materialize. I responded
by agreeing to an additional clause in the official offer: my personal
$10,000 would be paid immediately to any winner, and the additional
prize money would be paid within 7 days (since the Foundation would
need that period to convert stock into cash).

Well, that didn't make them any happier. They next bleated that they
didn't believe that the Foundation had that amount of money available.
In my inventive fashion, I came up with this: If you don't believe we
have the money, put your money where your mouth is, just as I've done
all my life. Bet me US$1,000 that we don't have the money. Send your
check for US$1,000, payable to the Foundation, to any reputable lawyer
you choose to name. I'll do the same, sending a US$1,000 check
payable to YOU, to that same lawyer. As soon as I'm informed by the
lawyer that both checks have been received, I'll send the lawyer a
financial statement, notarized by our bank, which establishes that the
prize can be covered. At that point, both checks will be sent to the
Foundation. Of course, if I can't, don't, or won't, supply that
statement, the lawyer will send both checks to you. Any takers? No,
not a one. Just silence, as we might expect.

A UFO nut in Florida sent me (via Dr. Gary Posner of the Tampa Bay
Skeptics) a bunch of forks and letter-openers bent into various
curliqueues, and claimed that a woman he knows did the job using her
bare hands, right in front of him. Wow! As we know, this is
impossible without magical powers, right? In response, I went out and
bought identical letter-openers, and asked Jenny Blair -- one of my
employees -- to bend them on videotape in very similar, and even
better, shapes. Easily done, within seconds. The UFO coo-coo now has
that tape and the bent metal. It will be interesting to learn what
alibis will next be offered.

We're taking bids on the contract to build our auditorium at the
Foundation. A full stage with state-of-the-art audio and video
equipment will be installed.

The membership drive for the James Randi Educational Foundation has
had some encouraging success, but we're looking for many more members
to come forward.

We're toying with the idea of offering a free US$100,000 insurance
policy against alien abduction, to all members. This was suggested by
an actual, similar offer made by a regular insurance company, and the
news that another company based in Liechenstein has offering a
"reincarnation account" which is designed to provide "seed capital"
for the next life of the insured. The $130,000 accounts would be
invested in "conservative growth portfolios" and would have to be
redeemed within 23 years after the insured persons death. The
"reincarnated" claimant would be required to answer questions that
only they, in their previous lives, would have known the answers for.
But what if one of those powerful psychics were to come along, divine
the right answers, and "pass" as the real re-incarnated policy holder?
Seems risky, doesn't it?

Take a look in at the Web page, won't you? It gets better all the time, thanks
to the dedicated work of Maggie Ragaisis and Jutta Degener. We'd like your
comments.

(I'm in Vancouver, Canada, filming the final shots for the A&E "Scams,
Scoundrels, and Swindles" TV Special, which will air in January.)
Randi.

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