Before setting off to Europe

James Randi --- Wizard (randi-hotline@ssr.com)
Sat, 8 Apr 1995 10:57:00 -0400

THE NUT FRINGE IS EVERYWHERE.....

Let's face it, folks. It's an invasion. I'm not referring to my Official
Office Skink, an attractive 9-inch-long striped lizard who inhabits my
office and is at this moment moving about under a pile of papers at my
elbow. Sherman is harmless, rather pretty, and no threat to anything but
the occasional wandering bug that I can do without. We have a symbiotic
arrangement, you could say.

The invasion I refer to is one that becomes more obvious every day, an
increasing presence that alarms me. We are being taken over by the strange
folks who apparently lack any sense of reality, the nut fringe that accepts
and endorse every irrational cause, guru and theory that is thrown at them.
Just take a look at recent news, and my point is made.

In the Courtroom....

Marsha Clark, lead prosecutor in the O. J. Simpson case (you've heard of
it?) comes from a Scientology background. Now Scientologists are the folks
who have employed every Dirty Trick in the book to frighten critics, and one
has to wonder whether Ms. Clark would allow this technique to be used by her
office in the process of trying Simpson. Personally, I think not, but one
has to reserve a certain amount of room for that possibility.

Ah, but the Dream Team, the Simpson defense lawyers, also hides a skeleton
in its closet. F. Lee Bailey, hotshot attorney, is also one of the army of
lawyers retained by that channeler/horse breeder/advisor who is still a guru
to millions, J. Z. Knight. This bad actor, who does a Comedy Central/Kids
TV accent as she portrays a 35,000-year-dead "warrior" from Atlantis named
Ramtha, recently won a case in an Austrian court against a German spirit
medium who claimed Ramtha as her property. The judge, trampling Solomon
underfoot, gave Ramtha to Knight, officially. So, an Austrian court has
validated a comic-book character as a real entity, by seriously ruling on
whether it belongs to one or the other of contending mythologists. Come to
think of it, we could now bring Mickey Mouse to court for cohabiting with
Minnie, and we'd probably win.

In the Paramilitary Field....

But the Los Angeles Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, in the
April/95 issue of Scouters' News, gets the April 1st Silly Putty Medal for
awarding their "coveted Lifetime Achievement Award" -- for "his humanitarian
works for the betterment of mankind" to "author-humanitarian" L. Ron
Hubbard, the science-fiction writer who came up with, first, the pseudo-
scientific notion of dianetics (don't ask, it's pretty silly) and then
turned it into the religion known as Scientology (see paragraph 3, above).
The mayor of Los Angeles, Richard Riordan, along with various sports
figures, movie stars, and even Nancy Cartwright -- the voice of Bart Simpson
-- attended the solemn occasion and rhapsodized on Hubbard's gifts to
humanity. Damn, I missed that one!

Let's not forget that the BSA refuses to admit any kid who won't assert his
belief in a Supreme Being. Would L. Ron do, I wonder?

Return to Ramtha (with apologies to Arthur C. Clarke).....

But we're not finished with channeling. Sorry. The U.S. Federal Aviation
Administration put out a request for bids for a contract to fluff up the
performance of their Air Controllers -- the guys who direct aircraft in and
out of airports. A serious and vital job, so only the best could be
accepted for the task of instructing these folks. There were 200 bids put
in, and one was accepted, at a fee of $1,600,000, to perform the task. It
was a disciple of J. Z. Knight, the Ramtha guru, who was endorsed by no
other authority than Linda Evens, the TV actress. So there! The anointed
consultant, Gregory May, was known for directing his pupils to be tied
together in pairs (same gender, thankfully) all through the instruction
periods, and requiring them to visit the toilet thus joined. No, it's not
an April Fool joke, folks, this is for real. I don't know if the FAA
operators were so joined during their joyride with Mr. May, but I hope not.
But I do wonder whether, after such an intellectual growth experience, an
Air Controller might refuse a 747 landing rights if a UFO demanded priority.
Hmmmmmm.

And in the Quackery Corner....

Finally, to really make your day, best-selling author/guru Dr. Deepak Chopra
has solved the cause -- and cure -- for both cancer and AIDS. He declares
that since science has established that matter is mostly space (with a few
electrons, protons, etc. zipping about) the mind should be able to influence
matter. (He fails to recognize that space is defined as any place that
matter does not occupy.) So, says this intellectual giant, since cancer and
AIDA are both "failures of intelligence" on the part of DNA, which is "a
bundle of vibrations," the Indian "sutras" (ritualized chants) will re-
educate the DNA. Sure. Recently, during their annual fund-raising drive,
the PBS-TV network offered a 90-minute tirade by Chopra followed by a one-
hour show on Guardian Angels. As a result, I ignored the pledge I'd called
in the day before, and annotated the payment request I received in the mail.
I know that no one cared, but I felt I had to do it. What an insult to the
intelligence of PBS viewers!

Off to The Other Side.....

I'm off to Europe very soon, after I pick up my honorary degree in Indiana.
I'll be in Germany, Italy, Austria and Switzerland -- Berlin, Darmstadt,
Trieste, Padua, Genoa, Florence, Turin (to check the shroud!), Zuerich,
Basel, Bologna, Bolzano, Geneva, Salzburg, Frankfurt, and Nuernberg. I've
has requests from France and Hungary, as well, but that will have to wait
until August. Gone from May 1 to May 31.

If I can manage it, I'll send a posting from over there.

James Randi.

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