Pseudoscience moving into the mainstream | Opinion

An image showing James Randi with a bent spoon

The death of magician and debunker of frauds James Randi was a reminder that even pseudoscience and charlatanry used to come from a kinder world. Randi’s arch-antagonist was the ‘psychic’ Uri Geller, who always seemed to be on 1970s chat shows bending spoons with the power of his mind. I came across Randi (and witnessed a demonstration of his stage magic) while working for Nature after the journal had just published the notorious ‘memory of water’ paper by French immunologist Jacques Benveniste. The editor enlisted the magician to join the team that travelled to the French labs to witness a (failed) attempt to replicate the studies in which a biological molecule was said to retain its activity after being diluted to the point of total absence.

That is now seen as one of…

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