Wednesday, September 28, 2005

An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural (James Randi)

You have probably heard of James Randi. He is a professional magician who spends his time uncovering hoaxes, frauds, and various claims made regarding the supernatural and the occult. He has put the full text of his book An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural on the web free for all. For example, there is an entry on psychic surgery (the sort practiced in the Phillipines) carried out by people, some of whom charge $US100 a minute! They are frauds and Randi exposes these and many others in his encyclopedia. Randi does not, however, always speak on topics he is an expert in. For example, in a section on end-time prophecies which have failed, he writes:

B.C.-A.D. According to the New Testament, The End should have occurred before the death of the last Apostle. In Matthew 16:28, it says:

Verily, I say unto you, there be some standing here which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.

One by one, all the apostles died. And the world rolled on for everyone else. . . .

That's it! Theologians have been arguing about this passage for years and many have offered quite reasonable suggestions on its meaning. One of which was that the coming of the Son of Man in to his kingdom may refer to his transfiguration. Randi, however, gives no indication of actually studying the issues surrounding this text and, therefore, provides a very simplistic response to it. So read the encyclopedia critically!

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