Many will recall that magician James Randi has been the objects of
numerous multi-million-dollar lawsuits by claimed psychic Uri Geller
over the past two-plus years, all of which have thus far been dismissed
upon coming up in court. Many will have also seen Randi's appeal for
help to the skeptics' movement, published and discussed here and in
many other places.
Well, an interim fund _has_ now been set up, to be held untouched in a
money-market account until Randi withdraws the balance and deposits it
with a more permanent fund. Cheques may be sent to
The Skeptics' Legal Fund
c/o Robert A. Steiner, CPA
P.O. Box 659
El Cerrito, CA 94530.
Steiner is a distinguished magician and also Randi's accountant.
By the way, if you're interested in skeptics' matters and electronic mail,
I would urge you to get in touch with the chair of CSICOP's Electronic
Communications Subcommittee, Page Stevens of Cleveland, OH. He and I (with
other members of the committee and interested individuals) are compiling
a list of (1) BBSs with a skeptical angle, and (2) e-mail addresses of
skeptics, especially those involved with local skeptics' groups. (Yes,
you _do_ have one in North Carolina.)
Page can be reached at aa325@Cleveland.Freenet.Edu, or by telephone at 216-
631-5987. Tell him Rick sent ya.
Rick Moen, Secretary
Bay Area Skeptics
1742 S. Grant St. #3
San Mateo, CA 94402-2640
415-648-8944 BBS (The Skeptic's Board, 1:125/27@fidonet, HST/V.32bis)
P.S.: Might I recommend that you get in touch with one Fredric Rice, sysop
of "Universal Mayhem" BBS in Southern California? He has started a "SKEPTIC"
echo-conference, and is distributing it widely, including to Europe and
Australia. He can be reached at 1:102/901@fidonet (V.32), 1-818-335-0128
(data), 1-818-963-8640 (voice)
Following is a message from James Randi dated 25 May 1991, which
I am posting to the newsgroup at his request:
Uri Geller, apparently alarmed at the widespread support I have
been receiving through the academic community and the skeptics'
groups, has issued a colorful "Open Letter" to all concerned. I
hasten to respond.
The very first line of Mr. Geller's tirade sets the pattern for
what follows: "Since the early 70's, James Randi has been trying
to debunk me." No, Mr. Geller, in the early 70's I DID debunk you.
Far from handling the present "libel" suit that is now being
answered, and which is the real matter at hand, Mr. Geller next
launches into an account about events he says took place in Japan
in 1988. He chooses to accept what he has been told I said there,
without any question, quoting at one point from one faulty
translation that suits his purpose, then switching to another.
Since no action has yet been brought against me in Japan, I will
be wise not to comment on his accusations in that matter, but I
assure you that the facts are rather different from what he
As for his comment that I "liabled [sic] a friend" of his, that
case, too, cannot be commented upon by me (as Mr. Geller is surely
aware), since it is presently in the courts. Forgive me for
following the advice of my lawyers. When the case has been
resolved, I will be happy to go into detail on the facts of that
Believe me when I tell you that lawsuits handled by New York
lawyers (in particular) are VERY expensive. I ran back and forth
between my Florida home and NY many times, and paid two lawyers at
a rate of $250 an hour (each!) for their work, over a period of 18
months. The cases were settled against Geller "with prejudice".
Anyone who wonders about Mr. Geller's comment that "It is
difficult to believe that Randi has no further funds to continue
[a defense]", is welcome to examine my checking and Money Market
accounts (the only two I have) and the loans I have taken against
my life insurance. Mr. Geller lives in a mansion outside London,
which he admits is worth $20,000,000. He has said, in an
"There was a phase when I had Rolls Royces and ten Rolex
watches* and I bought 500 silk shirts in one go. . . .
Having money frees you from a great deal of the stresses
of life. You don't have to worry about things like bills
Somehow, I can understand how he would find it "difficult to
believe" my present situation...
The MacArthur grant has now stopped. A lot of it was used to
enable me to travel and research books like "The Mask of
Nostradamus." It also allowed me to do free lectures at schools
where they had no budget for such matters. I helped out some
people who needed help badly, and in any case, I cannot now afford
the very expensive costs of this continued litigation.
The money obtained from the last few MacArthur payments, and that
earned by the Granada TV series in England, was paid directly to
the lawyers. I'm currently almost paid up, and will be paid up if
and when other currently-being-negotiated deals work out. There
are no guarantees.
Finally, Mr. Geller writes, "What [Randi] said about me is not the
truth. I know that most of you are skeptics and perhaps not very
interested in my viewpoint." I will answer for myself and will
presume to answer for at least some of the skeptics, Mr. Geller.
We are VERY interested in your viewpoint, but we are much more
interested in the truth. Truth is something that can be
established only by proper investigation, and it is not a matter
of opinion, nor of "viewpoint." You have always been accustomed
to making statements you expect to be believed by those who pay to
see you do your act. Well, we'll see, won't we?
These matters are not proper subjects for discussion in this
fashion, but Uri Geller's "Open Letter" required that I respond,
lest his accusations be accepted as true. I will not fight this
out here. He has brought the matter to court, and I am prepared
to answer him there. Stay tuned.
* Later, asked about the Rolexes, Mr. Geller modified his
statement. He said, "I don't know if they were all Rolexes. They
could have been Constantine Vacherons or Piagets."
Rick Moen comments:
Geller's "open letter" (which I haven't seen yet) seems to have
been occasioned in part by the publication of Randi's 11 May 1991
appeal for help in Bay Area Skeptics' newsletter and the resulting
newspaper articles (Geller immediately made a threatening 'phone
call to _BASIS's_ editor), the Usenet and BITNET postings,
letters among the local skeptics' groups, and the various ongoing
-- and increasing -- expressions of support.
The legal fund is still being set up, and I _will_ post the name
and location when it is ready.
Moen - via RBBS-NET node 8:914/201
Special Announcement - Urgent
RANDI NEEDS HELP
Open Letter from James Randi
[The following is the text of a letter dated May 11, 1991 from
magician James "The Amazing" Randi to friends, sympathisers, and
(particularly) leaders of the skeptical community.]
Uri Geller has announced that he intends to sue me "in every state and
in every country." He currently has four lawsuits against me, two of
which I have won (at a cost of over $155,000 in legal fees), and one
of which he has told me he is bringing in Japan, with one just served
on me in California. This latter case concerns two statements I made
about him in response to questions by a reporter for the
"International Herald Tribune": (1) Geller has fooled some
scientists, (2) His tricks are the same kind that used to be on the
back of cereal boxes when I was a kid.
It appears that this is a frivolous lawsuit, and Geller may be using
the legal process both to break me financially and to silence me from
speaking what I know to be the truth. I have a right under the
Constitution to fairly say what I know to be true, and I will not
surrender that right.
I have resigned from the Committee for Scientific Investigation of
Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), since the Committee is always named
in the suits, and in order that CSICOP will be spared further
involvement in such suits if and when I again mention Geller's name.
This has been a very difficult thing for me to do.
Should these actions continue, I will be forced into silence from my
inability to support further legal costs. CSICOP has been silenced,
and I'm next, it appears.
I now have no further funds to continue my defense. It has been
suggested that a legal fund might be set up for my defense against
these harrassing actions by Mr. Geller. I hope that can be set in
I'm in trouble, folks. I need help.
Rick Moen comments:
The skeptics' movement owes a monumental debt to James Randi. Now, it
is quite simply time to begin paying him back.
Randi was one of the founding members of CSICOP, has been easily its
most prominent member, and is to this day perhaps the greatest bulwark
of the skeptics' movement. I find it difficult - and dispiriting - to
imagine the skeptics' movement without him.
Most skeptics will have been unaware of this series of lawsuits, which
has been sapping Randi's time, energy, and funds for the last couple
of YEARS, with Uri Geller's vastly greater resources making possible a
very effective campaign of attrition.
Gratitude is only ONE reason why skeptics should help Randi. There's
also SELF-PRESERVATION. If Randi can be beaten down this way, YOU AND
I may well become quick, easy, and obvious next targets. The time to
put an end to this sort of thing is now. Unfortunately, time is
short, since at least one of these lawsuits must be answered LATER
No one else is coming to Randi's defence. It is up to us.
WHAT WE CAN DO:
GET THE WORD OUT. There are, of course, the local skeptics'
newsletters (Yves Barbero of Bay Area Skeptics is publishing Randi's
letter in the next "BASIS"), but also skeptics have more friends than
you may realise. Contact your local magicians' society, members of the
press, and sympathetic notables.
OFFER ON-THE-SPOT HELP. A group of skeptics near a museum of magic
have been asked to visit it and acquire Polaroid photos of magic
tricks on the backs of cereal boxes, from the time when Randi was a
kid. These photos may end up being worth - literally - millions of
dollars in court. Also, if you know of sympathetic law firms in your
area, please put them in touch.
ENCOURAGE CONTRIBUTIONS. As I write this, arrangements are being made
to set up a trust fund solely for Randi's legal defence. Further
details will be forthcoming.
FIGHT BACK. Is Uri Geller by some chance coming to your area? Do you
have perhaps an untapped flair for making picket signs? (Please, be
very, very careful and be scrupulously legal, though. Do not take ANY
CHANCES WHATSOEVER, but by all means accumulate evidence and ideas.
Further advice on this UTTERLY CRUCIAL matter of staying out of legal
trouble will soon follow in various skeptics' newsletters.)
ORGANISE. Become active in your local skeptics' groups, and encourage
those groups to join forces to oppose these sorts of intimidation
tactics. Get in touch with your fellow skeptics. Write articles.
Rick Moen, Secretary Speaking only for himself,
Bay Area Skeptics and specifically NOT purporting
to speak for Bay Area Skeptics,
415-564-4225 (home) CSICOP, or the Network of
415-571-0222 (work) Local Skeptics' Groups.