Many will recall that magician James Randi has been the objects of numerous multi-million-

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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. Best Regards, Rick Moen, Secretary Bay Area Skeptics 1742 S. Grant St. #3 San Mateo, CA 94402-2640 415-570-5998 voice 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 represents. 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 matter. 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 interview, that "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 and mortgages." 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. James Randi. * 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. Best Regards, Rick Moen -- Moen - via RBBS-NET node 8:914/201 INTERNET: Moen@f207.n914.z8.RBBS-NET.ORG ---------------------------- 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 motion. I'm in trouble, folks. I need help. James Randi --------- 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 THIS MONTH. 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. Participate. 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. 415-571-1132 (fax)


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