James Randi and accusations

I read recently where James Randi, fighter of ignorance and all things fraudulent, was accused of supposedly soliciting sex on the phone with young boys.
Can someone tell me the real truth on this?
What really happened?
Was this an attempted smear?
thank you

First I’ve heard. While I seriously doubt it, stranger (and more disgusting) things have happened.

A look at Google indicates that there are tapes of Randi supposedly soliciting sex with boys. Randi claims the tapes were made at the request of the local police and phone company, which, if true, would indicate that their meaning was taken out of context.

Judging by the scarcity of references to it on Google, I’m inclined to believe there is little to it. If they were genuine (and they have evidently existed for some time), you’d think it’d be easier to find.

I heard him speak several years ago in Pasadena, and yes, it was an attempted smear. No basis in fact. Randi was in the process of helping the police catch the perp (Randi knew who it was) red-handed. Sorry, I don’t have a cite.

Mr. Randi is a heroic warrior in the fight against ignorance and superstition. He is under constant attack from those who feel that his “so prove it to me” challenge is an affront to their castles-in-the-sky delusions.

I have a lot of respect for the man, and what his organization stands for.

Check out his site: http://www.randi.org/


As an idea of the crap he must endure, consider Uri Geller’s claim that a court of law found Mr. Randi to be a fraud and a liar.

Now for the rest of the story. At a trial which found completely for Mr. Randi, Mr. Geller’s lawyer asked to read for the court a quote from Mr. Randi’s stage performances as a magician, in which he announces something like “Ladies and gentlemen, I am a conjuror; a fake, a fraud, a liar…” Anyway, this stunt went into the court record, and Geller tries to impugn Randi’s credibility with it.

This may partly explain the source of the allegations: Randi was sued for defamation after he charged that a scientist was a child molester, and the scientist’s lawyer tried to discredit Randi by playing tapes that purportedly were of teen-age boys calling Randi’s home to request sex.

Randi has stated that the tapes were made as a part of a police sting operation, and the following link reflects his response (a lawsuit) to someone who made false charges against him:

It’s hard to believe that if Randi actually did anything wrong, the authorities would not have pursued it. It would be hard to ignore tapes of misconduct being played in court. Randi has worked with authorities on a number of investigations, so his explanation seems entirely plausible to me.

One thing to keep in mind is that Randi has spent a big part of his career debunking psychic healers, mind readers etc., most prominently Uri Geller, who has sued Randi a number of times in several countries. Randi has frequently been threatened with legal action and worse by charlatans who think he should pay them a million dollars. Randi has a standing promise that he will pay one million dollars to anyone who can prove the existence of paranormal phenomena under carefully controlled, independently supervised laboratory conditions. Of course, no one has collected, but some people think that they should have. It would not be surprising if somone tried to blackmail or hurt Randi with fraudulent or doctored tapes.

Randi described his philosophy in a speech at Caltech (maybe the one that commasense attended):
Skeptic » The Magazine » Volume 1 Number 1 Table of Contents

Here (again) is the link to Randi’s own website:

Two issues here, one on the surface, one below. Was Randi actually accused of soliciting underage boys for sex? No evidence has been presented that this is true. The sub-question, though, is really, Is James Randi gay? At least one profile on Randi in the mainstream press (I believe it was Time magazine, Jun. 13, 1988), which was between neutral and flattering in tone, did hint that he was by noting all the young men who have stayed at the bachelor Randi’s place. Is this a slander? Depends really on your own prejudices.

Perhaps you are unaware of the controversy Uri Geller started years ago with his claims of para-normal abilities and expertise therein. This included starting dead watches alleged to not have run in years, bending spoons and other demonstrations of stage magic. He made the rounds of the tv shows of the time and apparently did well financially as a result.

Randi duplicated his demonstrations and exposed Uri for the fake and fraud the he is/was.

Uri has an axe to grind at Rani’s expense.

It is? How is this pertinent to the OP?

I am a frequent visitor to randi’s web page and its great.
About the gay thing-I doubt it.
He keeps mentioning Sophia Loren, so…

One could say that Randi loves Sophia as much as Rosie loved Tom Cruise…

I have no idea, and don’t care, just pointing at that making pubic statements about have the hots for a movie star doesn’t exactly prove anything.

Unfortunately the world is full of miracle-makers who’d rather smear Randi than actually perform the miracles they claim they can do. I wonder why that is???

Randi is a crotchety old man and has his flaws. That doesn’t make him wrong, it just makes him human. The world is certainly a better place having him around, and that’s something you can very rarely say about his detractors.

I have to second ‘Number’s’ post. I fail to see the relevance of Mr. Randi’s sexual preference in regards to solicitng sex from minors. Being gay doesn’t make you a pedophile anymore than being Canadian.

In the great fight against ignorance, Randi sits in glory at Cecil’s right hand.

I don’t think the gay implication has anything to do with being a pedophile other than the fact that the OP referred to “young boys” rather than “young girls.” While pedophile != homosexual, both are not normal* and I think that’s what the questioners are looking for.

*in the literal sense of the word, not a bigotted opinion. You know, like saying needing glasses isn’t normal when “normal” is 20/20.

I think the phrase you are looking for here is “the norm.”

Here is an excerpt from the following link in which Randi responds to these vague allegations of misconduct cited in the original post:

"Concerning references to the scurrilous web-sites out there that purport to tell “The Truth” about the dreadful man named James Randi, please bear in mind the motives and causes behind these accusations. For years now, there have been accusations of pedophilia (very popular as a sin, currently), prison incarceration, larceny, income tax evasion, membership in the Communist Party (no longer such a horrendous fault), and other peccadillos of assorted kinds, directed at me. They are absolutely false.

Those who oppose me and my work cannot argue against the facts I develop concerning the so-called psychics and other swindlers. They are dismayed and angry at the success of the James Randi Educational Foundation, and have resorted to the only means they have to fight us: defamation, innuendo, lies, and anonymous character assassination."

These paragraphs are from a section at the very end of a long commentary by Randi on his website dated Sept. 17, 2001. It primarily explores why celebrity “psychics” failed to predict the 911 attacks, and how such frauds try to rationalize their failures.

(fair warning: it’s a pretty long file)


That isn’t accurate. Randi admitted that he had published untrue and damaging statements without bothering to check their accuracy. The specific allegation Randi made was that the plaintiff, one Eldon Byrd, was a convicted child molester. Not true, he had been convicted on related charges, but not of child molestation. The jury found for the plaintiff, but awarded him $0 damages.

As for his million dollar challenge, in fact all of his work investigating psychics, I see a similar level of inaccuracy and carelessness in his tests. The fact that his subjects fail his tests proves nothing, because they are so badly designed.

This is false. The experiments are as well-designed as they can be. And you must remember that the subjects agreed to the terms of the experiment, and in most cases, JREF adjusts the conditions of the experiments to suit the whims of the subjects, as long as said adjustments do not bias the experiment. Please do not go around making baseless accusations without proof.