Today is the 80th birthday of James “The Amaz!ng” Randi, a man to whom we all owe a debt of gratitude. There are many people reading this who have been entertained, educated, and influenced by Randi over the years, including myself. Without Randi there would be no Skepchick, so even if you’ve never heard of him but enjoy this site, you owe him some thanks, too.
I discovered Randi years ago when I was performing magic. I was a big fan of Penn & Teller, and picked up Randi’s name through their act, TV specials, and books. I eventually figured out that Randi had a web site, so I dutifully began reading every week’s update. I was most interested in clever cons and scams — how even smart people get fooled. I became a fan of Ricky Jay’s books, and then on Randi’s general recommendation finally picked up a copy of Sagan’s Demon-Haunted World, my first purely skeptical book. That led me to read more of Sagan, plus Randi’s books and many others. I started frequenting Randi’s Internet forum and discovered an entire sub-culture of skeptics that I didn’t know existed. I found a community of women who encouraged and inspired Skepchick. I found a lot of friends and teachers who gave my life an entirely new direction.
And eventually, I found Randi. The real, living, breathing Randi, I mean — I met him at the first Amaz!ng Meeting I attended, and found a man who had experienced so much and was eager to share everything he had learned along the way. A man who wasn’t finished learning, and who wasn’t finished fighting the good fight. A man who was bigger than life yet still very, very short.
(Seriously, he’s mega-short.)
Every time I see him, his energy and good humor impress me beyond words. I count myself as extraordinarily lucky to know him, and I hope that by the time I’m 80 I’ve accomplished a quarter of the things he has — preferably the really exciting quarter, but I’ll be happy either way.
There’s plenty more to say, but I’ll cut it off there and let you all continue the love in the comments. Tell us what Randi means to you, and hey, why not let him know personally, too?
Happy birthday, Randi!