Flim-Flam by James Randi

Read: 20 October, 2011

I don’t consider myself to be a Skeptic. I run with a lot of people in the skeptic community, and I do think of myself and generally skeptical, but I’m not a big-S Skeptic. I knew of James Randi, of course, but I was never terribly familiar with him or his work. So when the Centre for Inquiry managed to book him for a pan-Canada tour, I figured that I ought to read up on him a little bit before he hit Ottawa.

Because I was reading Flim-Flam around the same time that I saw Randi speak live, the parallels between the two were made quite evident. In both cases, there’s an ostensible thesis, although the experience is much more of a series of vignettes from Randi’s professional life.

The tone throughout the book is light and conversational, like Randi’s telling an acquaintance about the work he does. He covers a number of psychics and supernatural phenomena, explaining the tricks. He personally exposed most of them, although some, such as the Cottingley fairies, are merely explained.

I found Flim-Flam to be an interesting read – enough so to inspire me to want to learn more about conjuring and mentalism. And while it was written in the early ’80s, it really isn’t at all dated. Recommended for anyone with an interest in the paranormal, or with skepticism in general.

Your humble narrator meets the aptly-named Amazing Randi.

Buy Flim-Flam! Psychics, ESP, Unicorns, and Other Delusions from Amazon to support this blog!