Sheldrake and Randi: When Pigs and Accusations Fly

The most recent issue of The Skeptic (UK) featured an interview by Chris French with James Randi (you can read the interview here).  It covered an array of topics spanning Randi’s childhood in Canada, to Peter Popoff, to one very famous million dollar challenge.  However, one subject that did not come up was a certain 2007 award given out by the James Randi Educational Foundation “to the scientist who said or did the silliest thing related to the supernatural, paranormal or occult”.

The accolade is called the ‘Pigasus Award’ and in 2007 one of its recipients was Rupert Sheldrake for his work on telephone telepathy through morphic resonance.

After the interview was published, Rupert wrote a letter to The Skeptic asking why Chris French did not challenge Randi on Rupert’s Pigasus Award, when, in fact, Chris has and is working on research with Rupert on this very phenomena.  Rupert’s letter also contained criticism levelled at Randi for a document that was used in a TAM3 workshop, which stated that becoming an expert media sceptic was as easy as “tell[ing] people you’re an expert. After you do that, all you have to do is maintain appearances and not give them a reason to believe you’re not.”

In the spirit of fostering open debate and discourse, we’ve given Randi the opportunity to reply to Rupert’s letter.  Chris French has also written a reply to the original letter.  All three letters can be viewed here.

December 8, 2009 at 11:56 am | The Skeptic Mag | 1 Comment »

One Response

  1. Limbo says:

    Chris, you said:

    “My own approach is to test the more promising and widely accepted claims, such as telephone telepathy, as fairly as possible even though I do not expect to get significant results from such studies. As Rupert is well aware, I have tested many of his claims in the past, either through student projects or in direct collaboration with him, and to date we have never found the results supporting the existence of psi.”

    I would like to ask you if you take the sheep-goat effect into account.