Russian-American "Blind Care Foundation"
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DEBUNKING THE DEBUNKER.
Author’s reference to English-speaking readers:
James Randi… Who is he: an ignorant militant inhabitant? OR… an artful and cruel swindler who is perfectly aware of what he does? The false information placed by James Randi on the website of his company, James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF)
served as the reason for this article’s creation.
This story began in the middle of 2001. Natalya Lulova, a student of my School of Perception of Information of the Surrounding World, accepted JREF’s One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge. Natalya’s task was to demonstrate her ability to receive visual information without utilization of the “usual” organs of sight.
James Randi emerged quite successful in ruining my student’s demonstration via the dirtiest, most underhanded methods possible. He then proceeded declare this as his [humble] victory: he described this on his site with the utmost enthusiasm, while completely distorting the entire truth. The lie about Natalya’s failure took off for a round trip around the internet.
In response to this deception, I wrote an article where not only did I give an honest account of Natalya’s trial, but also carefully analyzed James Randi’s career as a professional debunker. What you are reading now was originally written in Russian five years ago and posted on the [Russian-speaking] internet.
Yet the years passed, and my means of receiving visual information expanded dramatically, until it jumped the limited border of a purely Russian-speaking audience. I was more and more frequently invited to visit different countries to hold lectures and seminars devoted solely to this direct perception of visual information. My potential English-speaking students wished to learn more about me, for which they turned to the internet. But lo and behold, there they were greeted by the disgusting lies fabricated by Mr. Randi.
The time has come to inform the English-speaking readers, too, of the truth regarding James Randi’s methods of debunking.
I would now like you to direct your attention to this article, which was translated so that all who treasure integrity may know --- who, why, and how --- presents truth through a crooked mirror.
- Mark Komissarov
British Airway, Flight # 177
London – New York
December 7, 2008
James Randi, a former magician, was characterized in the press as “a well-known illusionist, a TV host and an advocate of science.” In reality, his accomplishments in popularizing science can only be compared to those of Torquemada, the Grand Inquisitor. The two are quite similar in their desire to quash and destroy all new undertakings.
A few years ago, James Randi has willingly accepted an honorable new challenge: to publicly expose charlatans and quacks that passed their common tricks for miracles, labeling them as “paranormal activities.” Mr. Randy himself never believed in miracles. So he zealously resolved to uncover them all. His methods of “uncovering miracles” were rather peculiar.
Imagine that you are demonstrating a radio and a camcorder to an Indian tribe in the Amazon jungle, mired in the Stone Age. If you ask them whether they believe in miracles, they are likely to give a strongly positive answer. Now imagine among them a fellow who does not believe in miracles. This “advocate of reason” puts your working radio on a rock and smashes it with an axe. And then he points at a pile of metal and exclaims: “See, I told you there is no such thing as miracles!” He then may or may not proceed to hit you on the head with the same axe to prevent any future muddling with the minds of his tribesmen.
There are no miracles in the work of a radio. It is based on the laws of nature yet unknown to the Amazon people. They call it “a miracle,” and I am not to judge them. I do have my reservations, however, about a “material world savage” who proves his beliefs with an axe.
Same is the frame of mind of James Randi. He fancies the surrounding world as simple and clear. Everything has been discovered and that which is yet to be discovered belongs in the official realm of science. All that is not endorsed by this official science is trickery, subject to being unmasked and exposed by James Randi, a passionate populist and champion of science.
My god, how many times throughout history did the official science err!
I am, however, not presently interested in the history of science, but in a rather different matter: what caused James Randi, a man far enough from science, to step onto the path of fighting for its purity and integrity? An insatiable thirst for justice or something less honorable?
It is my belief that his main reason was not his unselfish desire to serve science, but a longing for the days of his bygone fame and popularity. Who in the world remembers the Great Randi, once a shining star of the magic shows across America? There are other ways to regain the old glory. And so one day Randi entered a promising career of publicly exposing the paranormal acts, those cheap mystifications.
A professional magician, i.e. a creator of fake “miracles” on stage, Randi never doubted that all paranormal acts are equally fake. Of course, he, with his vast experience as an illusionist, would have no problem figuring out the nature of every trick and then convincingly exposing it. A perfect career of the “Grand Debunker.”
Clearly, nobody likes to be “unmasked.” But, if offered a hefty sum, many conmen can bite the bait. Originally Randi offered $1000 to anybody willing to demonstrate a paranormal act. He then waited for offers, but to no avail. He then increased the prize to $10,000, but again, nobody came. Finally, fortune smiled at him. The following is the quote from the article by Leon Jaroff, a Time Magazine correspondent, a crony of Randy’s and a mouthpiece of all his revelations:
“For many years, as a master debunker of the paranormal, Randi had offered $1,000 and then $10,000 to anyone who could, in a test agreed upon by both Randi and the challenger, prove supernatural powers. But five years ago, a wealthy Internet entrepreneur and admirer of Randi called and said, in effect, "Ten thousand simply doesn't cut it these days." He promptly dispatched a million dollars to Randi’s foundation, which purchased negotiable bonds and placed them in a special account where they await the first successful challenger.”
As you see, it never hurts to have a rich admirer. The business started to roll. The James Randi’s Educational Fund began its creative/destructive activity. A fearless fighter with paranormal obscurantism received a long-awaited opportunity to travel around the world, exposing and unmasking.
“But wait,” you can rightfully reply. “How come Mr. Randi is not afraid that somebody some day DOES demonstrate a paranormal act and win a million dollars? Wouldn’t it be a catastrophe for him and his fund?”
Here is where we are coming to discuss the most interesting and, alas, the most disgusting aspect of his “debunking” activity. The trick is: every contender for the Randy Fund is automatically doomed to fail, regardless of the nature of the demonstrated act! To reveal the nature of this deceit and to show true colors of James Randi is the reason for my article.
To answer the question: “Yes, he is afraid to lose a million!” Although he is strongly convinced in the non-existence of paranormal phenomena, only God knows the whole truth. So Mr. Randi hedges himself and his money.
There is only one way to avoid a financial disaster of losing a million dollars: every demonstration of a paranormal act must be treated as a failure apriori and then be exposed as a cheap trick and a swindling. Of course, it cannot be declared in the open: to keep the appearance of “impartiality” of the trial and not to scare off the potential victims.
Mr. Randi must have been a talented illusionist. He moved with apparent ease from tricks on stage to those on paper. Carefully read his challenge, addressed to all who “possess paranormal abilities.”
- We do not act as judges. Tests will be designed in such a way that no "judging" procedure is required.
- The applicant may be asked and/or required to perform informally
before an appointed representative, if distance and time dictate that need, for purposes of determining if the applicant is likely to perform as promised. This is to eliminate the need for formal testing in such cases.
- We have no interest in theories or explanations of how the claimed powers might work; do not provide us with such material.
On a first read all his conditions look fair. The absence of judges excludes judicial prejudice. Desire for a preliminary demonstration also looks innocent. And “no explanations needed” clause appears to signal impartiality! But let’s take a closer look at these provisions:
1. Absence of judges. Who must determine the success or failure of the paranormal demonstrations? A judge? But there isn’t one! So who is going to decide? Randy! Trick number one.
2. Preliminary trial. Remember the Latin expression “Praemonitus – Praemunitus” (“The one warned is the one armed”). During this test Randy simply wants to see what do you have for him. There should be no surprises at the actual demonstration. The Grand Debunker Randi receives an opportunity to prepare to crush and destroy your claim. And if, for any reason, he is not able to do just that (and a miracle actually happens), you may be sure that the actual demonstration and the trial would never take place (for “objective “reasons, of course). Trick number two.
3. No need for explanations. This item strips you of all opportunities to rebut Randy’s actions and to argue with him. Allow me to illustrate on a simple example. Imagine the above-mentioned working radio. Randi places it on the table and covers it with a metal hood. Obviously, the reception on the radio would not work, but your attempted explanation that the metal screen prevents the radio waves from reaching the instrument is interrupted by Randi’s announcement: “We are not interested in theories or explanations, and you are nothing but a quack.” That’s trick number three.
And now let us look at Randi’s system of deception in action. For instance, you claim you can rotate the paper strip on a thread with a mere look. First, you will be scheduled for a “preliminary trial.”
If your demonstration were successful, Randy will proclaim you accomplish this with a power of your breath.
Your objections would not be noted and there is nobody to appeal to.
So, in front of your face a glass screen is set up. If you still succeed, Randy will assert that your face warms up the glass and the warm air currents cause the strip to rotate.
Your objections would not be noted and there is nobody to appeal to.
Тhe glass is replaced with a thicker one. If you can still do it, Randi will invent another similar pseudo-logical explanation.
Your objections would not be noted and there is nobody to appeal to.
Finally, when the glass is replaced by with a plastic sheet, the paper will remain still. Your attempt to explain that the whole basis for the strip’s rotation is the energy from the eyes that goes through the glass but does not penetrate the plastic will be rejected on the basis that “we are not interested in explanations.”
Your objections would not be noted and there is nobody to appeal to.
And two weeks later, you will read an article in Time Magazine about a debunking of another quack that “shamelessly claimed to be able to rotate a paper strip on a string, but was unmasked by Mr. Randy. Carefully observing the man, Mr. Randy noticed a special lip configuration that allowed the man to blow towards the strip. Randy then set up a transparent plastic screen between the quack and the strip, and the magical powers of the man immediately vanished. Thus another charlatan, greedy for a million dollars, was exposed.”
Do you think you still have a chance?
By the way, do you think I am joking about a “special lip configuration”? Not at all! My student, Natalya Lulova, accepted Randi’s challenge. Her demonstration of “seeing without eyes” was successful until Randi, using his arsenal of tricks, disrupted it. Quoting Leon Jaroff:
“Randy’s explanation of Natalia's earlier success was simple. He had noticed an unusual concavity in the bridge of her nose and discerned, from the sideways turning of her head, that she was using her right eye to look left — or the left eye to look right — through tiny, hairline gaps between the blindfold and her distinctive nose. By placing duct tape over the bridge, he had, so to speak, unmasked Natalia's (and Komissarov's) deception.”
Nonsense? Yes, but not for
What we have just examined (the trickery involved in Randi’s announcement alone) is merely the first line of defense, though a very powerful one. This is strategically erected on an indirect approach, and intended to protect the sacred one million from the specifically abstract bastard with the desire to possess this juicy, readily available chunk. Once this abstract bastard materializes into a concrete applicant for the reception of said prize, the strategic line of defense is immediately strengthened by further tactical-defensive works. In essence, the means they consist of are no more virtuous than those of the first line of defense.
But since the tactical defense is always directed at the very same concrete applicant, it is best to analyze it using a concrete example. In doing this I will be accompanied by immense pain, for in my example, the victim of the dirty struggle for the perseverance of the million becomes Natalya Lulova, a ten-year-old girl.
And so, this story officially began on November 6; yr. 2001, when our lawyer addressed to JREF Natalya Lulova’s signed and legally certified application for the demonstration of her ability to see while firmly blindfolded. This was preceded by a telephone conversation between Randi and our lawyer, concerning the same topic.
Randi has now been officially informed, and, in correlation, a very real danger now stood before the million. Here were specific people who were ready to encroach upon the safety of this juicy chunk. It must be protected--- and how exactly does James Randi go about doing so?
It is universally known that the best defense is a good offence: it is most efficient to crumble, thwart, intimidate, and crush the opponent the moment he as much as looms over the horizon--- all by utilizing an indirect approach. And, as are the indispensable attributes of any attack--- the terrifying shout of battle, the monstrous countenance, and the madly protruding eyes. The goal: to psychologically oppress the opponent, along with his will for continued resistance.
The first stage of the road to victory begins here--- a psychological attack on both the applicant and the members of his team.
I am the first to have a taste of this medicine, since in the letter attached to Natalya’s application I am mentioned as the person who was responsible for the development of her paranormal ability. A message was sent to the lawyer with a confirmation of acceptance of Natalya’s application (November 13th, 2001), in which Mr. Randi, anything but humble in wording, stated his surprise at the fact that “such a competent and respectable lawyer” allowed himself to be dragged into an adventure initiated by obvious fans of easy cash.
“I observed,” writes Randi, “a common tendency amongst Russian immigrants: they all greedily reach out for easy cash. They are willing to lie, cheat, and go down absolutely any road necessary, as long as it guarantees what they so desperately crave”.
“I am convinced,” continues Mr. Randi in his letter, “that Mister Komissarov belongs to just that sort of person, perhaps even to the worst of them, since he does not hesitate to involve children in accomplishing his lousy goals.”
“For the remaining years of my life,” shares the former magician, “I have made it my job to publicly expose frauds such as Mr. Komissarov before the video camera. I take great pleasure in doing this. Mr. Komissarov will be publicly unmasked and humiliated. And maybe, just maybe, this will serve as an excellent lesson for future reference. What bothers me is that an innocent child will have to suffer, having been dragged into this despicable falsehood by a person lacking all sense of morality. Public exposure of fraud can result in a deep trauma for such a young adolescent. Let this be yet another burdensome sin on the darkened, rotten soul of Mr. Komissarov.”
Just like that, I am no more or less than your average swindler and bastard. It was never accounted for that before this, Randi has never even heard of me, let alone met me.
Is this his genuine opinion of me? Perhaps you may think so, but it certainly isn’t! It is simply the psychological attack--- the protruding eyes, the mouth contorted into a horrible roar… He needs me to instantaneously take the place of the defender, justifying my claim: “Why, Mr. Randi! I have no such a thing in mind! I am not that type of person!” And in reply he bellows “Shut it, you! Do you know how many of your sort I’ve seen in my time?” And that’s that--- I am contained and crushed. Still unconvinced? Here is a fragment of Mr. Randi’s commentary after his successful ruin of Natalya’s demonstration (http://www.randi.org/jr/022202.html):
“I was sure Mark… …had "amused himself" by teaching Natalya to do this act... …I simply could not believe that he, a well-educated chemical engineer would really be deceived in such a simple ruse.”
Satisfied? Let us move on.
The next to be targeted by Randi’s psychological attack is the lawyer.
Faxes from November 24th and 26th, 2001:
“…Why do lawyers insist on redundancy? It's incredible! You "reserve the right to object" when I have already clearly granted that right to you? Perhaps you're not accustomed to dealing with persons who mean what they say, and say what they mean. I am such a person.”
“Natalya’s manipulations were so very obvious, that the French team who were here, were astonished that you did not see the modus operandi. But, as I explained to them, you do not see because you do not want to see…”
“I can’t believe...... that you’re as insensitive to simple instructions as you appear to be.”
“. . . will Natalia have any reasonable time (say, 15 minutes) to adjust to a new environment?” Yes. She can have any amount of time she needs, I fully understand why she needs this time. I understand, but you don’t.”
“I can’t believe…… that you would try to use your rigid "lawyer" attitude to intimidate and manipulate me. Spare me the obvious assurances. I'm immune to legal obfuscation.”
“You caused me a great deal of damage by sending me 3 computer viruses — after I had specifically notified you about this — twice…” (The lawyer sends out many e-mails from his computer on a daily basis to his respondents, none of which ever complained about messages carrying computer viruses. –M.K.) “…I now have a 3 system anti-virus program in place that will protect against any further attacks of this sort from you.”
Poor, poor lawyer; what have you ever done to deserve this? Even toward the end of our interaction, Randi’s idea of the lawyer hardly changed. Here are other fragments from the commentary I had previously mentioned (http://www.randi.org/jr/021502.html):
“… I received a phone call from their New York lawyer describing the claim of his client, Natalya, who, he assured me --- and I quote --- could “read with her eyes totally covered with a piece of black cloth. I ask you to notice the (I believe) unconscious redundancy in this statement. Think about it. That’s like saying he has a usable teapot without any holes at the bottom. Just one tiny hole, crack, or gap in any cloth covering the eyes will permit the wearer to read.
His word totally may only be a lawyer’s way of being secure and safe in his statement, but subsequent statements from this man lead me to believe that he does not have a grasp on the real world, in which cheating and trickery can take place, though he repeatedly assured me that he was a skeptical person by nature. That’s a provision that most won-over believers insist that you take into account.”
Sir Randy decides to kick him in the other side, too. More from the commentary:
“I believe that the lawyer may only be acting in his advocacy function. That would mean that representing Natalya requires him to accept her claims without any [declared] doubt, and to work unreservedly for her interests. On the other hand, if there is a contingency factor working here --- meaning that he would get a percentage (40% is customary) of any proceeds --- he might well be seeing the image of four thousand hundred-dollar bills piled up on his desk. But I don’t think so; I think he’s just honestly deluded.”
Well, that’s when it becomes apparent that our lawyer is just a money-hungry idiot. Let us move on.
Of course, the remaining, most crucial subject of Randi’s psychological assault is Natalya. It is she that carries the real threat to the Fund’s financial well-being. If for some god-forsaken reason she is able to validate her claim for paranormal abilities, Randi can calmly retire and assume his position by the phone and television. But oh, how badly he doesn’t want that!”
The volley of fire aiming at Natalya sounded in but the second letter to our lawyer (from November 13, 2001):
“After reading your letter, I suspect that the girl herself may be the guilty party, and Mr. Komissarov may be the duped.”
As you can see, only a hint is present here. But the aggression of his strikes at Natalya intensified dramatically after the unofficial, preliminary trial of her abilities in JREF’s Florida office. I will describe this encounter at a later point, but particularly after its occurrence James Randi saw that the threat looming over his million was indeed very real. The tone of his letters transformed entirely; Natalya was showered with insults and direct accusations of fraud.
Here is a perfectly polite letter sent to Randi by our lawyer (from January 18, 2002):
“Dear Mr. Randi:
If the test is conducted on TIME'S premises, we would like to visit such premises in advance. Would that be possible? How can it be arranged?
Secondly, can you please describe the "simplified" system that you are going to use?”
Randi’s boorish reply from January 20, 2002:
“Miss Lulova wants to know details of the "simplified" blindfold I intend to use? Mister Lawyer, has it not occurred to you why she wants to know such details? Would a genuine psychic have any need or desire to see how his/her sight would be blocked? I know that a magician would find that essential, so that he would know whether or not he could defeat the blindfold. And he would want to know in advance about it, in order to be ready to apply his tricks to the problem. Think: a real psychic would not need to know this, nor would he/she need to know about the setup of the room where the test would take place. But a magician would want to know both these variables. Just something for you to think about, not that I believe you will take it seriously.
No, I will not discuss the "simplified" blindfold. It is 100% effective in blocking sight, and since Miss Lulova says she is not using her eyesight, she need not know about it. If she wishes to cancel the test as a result of this factor — or any other — please inform me immediately so that I may change the duration of my stay in New York City.”
Fax from January 24, 2002:
“I'm not going to deal "with prima donnas here. Miss Lulova is accustomed to having her way with you, telling you what she will or will not do, when and how she will do it. She will not have that privilege with me. She should understand that thoroughly.”
“…You refuse to recognize that Miss Lulova cannot and will not be able to perform properly blindfolded so that she cannot see. It's that simple. The initial simple blindfold that I will present, is 100% foolproof. It cannot be defeated by her usual methods of working her face, pulling at her face, stalling until a peek-hole is attained. That Is what she calls — and you choose to believe, is - the period of "acclimatization”. Miss Lulova will immediately see that this blindfold is efficient, and that she will not be able to see when it's in place. If she rejects it, and I hereby grant her that right, I will immediately apply the alternate two-patch system.
BUT be sure that Miss Lulova understands this: I will NOT tolerate her touching her face or in any way attempting to obtain a peek-hole. The videotape we already have of the test done here, shows her constantly picking away, and then suddenly stopping when she has obtained the necessary peek-hole…”
This is how Mr. Randi resolved his tactical concerns--- to insult, frighten and knock the target off equilibrium--- in advance. But, as I have already mentioned, this is merely an appetizer; fire from a distant shore. The main course is yet to be served; at time of direct contact, during the presentation itself.
It’s time to graduate from Randi’s faxes and letters to take a look at Natalya’s trial in Florida, so that you may understand the cracks and facial contortions the Great Debunker, in his noble rage, was talking about.
Upon our arrival in Florida we still naively believed in James Randi’s genuine desire to witness a paranormal event. Randi himself was ill at the time, so Natalya’s test was conducted by his assistant, Andrew Harter.
In our classes we commonly use a specially constructed blindfold, designed to eliminate the possibility of cheating--- this blindfold will be described later. But for our demonstration at JREF we decided to use something else, from our point of view it was even more effective: black duct tape.
Of course, it was most barbaric to paste duct tape on a child’s gentle skin. However, we went through with it, because specific method of blindfolding made it easiest to control the formation of any cracks around the eyes. The skin smarted and stung underneath, but Natalya willingly endured.
Firstly, according to the rules of the test, we were to place our blindfold over Natalya’s eyes. I cut two circles out of the duct tape, each one being slightly larger than the size of her eyelids and adjusted them over her closed eyes. She easily read all the words in the test. Andrew Harter was passing her the cards with typed words, and while sitting half a meter away, he could see full well no holes or cracks were present in the blindfold. The applicant demonstrated her paranormal abilities clearly and instinctively.
The legs of the table with the million sitting on top of it were becoming progressively more unsteady. What to do? How can the million be saved? To make matters worse, the question of how to best watch out for himself stood before Andrew Harter. Just think--- the boss is in the hospital; he has entrusted you to expose a ten-year-old charlatan, and instead of that, you are ready to hand over the million!
So what can you do? Where is the escape route? It seemed there wasn’t one. And there wasn’t--- as far as honest means were concerned, that is. But this was no time to consider honesty, not when the situation needed to be changed pronto for the sake of survival. Underhanded tactics followed suit. Is this a matter to find surprising? Not when James Randi’s whole career as a professional debunker is constructed on just that.
It is well-known, that when a person is put under severe emotional stress, he will be unable to adequately perceive the world (an example of the quote “blind from rage”). But this is a matter of sight--- a visual perception of the surrounding world--- a concept that has been secured and proven reliable by hundreds of millions of years of evolution on Earth. What is left to be said about the other, still extremely fragile and uncommon mode of perception used by Natalya? Andrew Harter’s last resort of a scheme counted heavily on provoking Natalya into unbearable emotional stress.
This is masked with a supposed “discussion of the test’s outcome”. However, going by all written and unwritten rules, such discussion should pass in the absence of the applicant, especially when testing is not yet complete. It is doubtful that Andrew Harter had anything to really discuss; what he needed was Natalya.
He starts by declaring that he saw how Natalya was cheating, via a crack that had formed under her left eyebrow. He did not care whether or not this was even anatomically possible. Even if a crack were to form under the left eyebrow, in order to see anything through it, one would have to roll the eyeball upwards, rip off the top eyelid, and drill a hole in the skull on the eye-socket. To me, the absurdity of such a declaration is absolutely obvious, but the assault is directed not at me, but at a ten-year-old girl.
Natalya was literally dumbfounded by so impudent a lie: Andrew’s scheme was coming together quite well, and he proceeded to “artfully” build on this. Once our blindfold was removed, she reached up to itch the irritated skin under her eye, and Harter instantaneously took advantage of this. “Aha!” he exclaimed, “I saw how she just licked her finger and wet the skin under her eye, so that the duct tape would not be able to stick!”
This hideous lie finishes Natalya off. She is no longer in the condition to demonstrate anything; her demonstration has been irreparably spoiled. The small, ten-year-old girl sat in the library of James Randi’s Florida office, crying bitterly, and repeating over and over as though she were a broken record: “Mark, why is he saying that I’m cheating? I am not cheating!”
And how was I to explain to her, that because this involved big money, foul play has entered the picture? That in this world exists the type of person for whom the smell of money defeats and overpowers all else, that they don’t care one bit that before them is merely a child… Only one thought circulated through his primitive brain: “There are many children in this world, but this million--- there is only one!”
I do not know why James Randi decided not to count this attempt--- maybe he felt legally vulnerable, given the “method of debunking” used by Andrew Harter. Or perhaps, the pleasure of personally debunking someone was not a frequent one, and he wished to remind the vast public of his name. Following shortly after our first (unofficial) encounter, the commentary on his internet site evolved into a two-part article with seven photographs. Regardless of which, Natalya was granted a second chance to demonstrate her paranormal abilities.
“You will be contacted by the JREF in New York,” explained Andrew Harter before our departure--- “He will oversee Natalya’s preliminary test.”
We waited and waited for their New York representative, but to our great surprise, Randi himself was the one to come to witness this occasion.
I am led to believe that study of the Florida video was what propelled him to come to New York. Having seen this tape, he understood most excellently that Natalya’s demonstration was legitimate, and had come to an abrupt end due to a despicable move on Harter’s part. Thank God--- the million had been rescued then, but Randi was not keen on allowing the fate of this money to rest on anyone else’s shoulders a second time. The risk of losing it was now too prominent to ignore; the Florida videotape provided plenty of such evidence. And so, James Randi began preparing for his trip to New York.
This is when the tone of his letters undergoes a change; there were now insulting epitaphs addressed to Natalya. Randi brilliantly “unmasked” Natalya’s success in the Florida trial by saying that her nose practically lacks a bridge (!!!??), allowing her to see what’s on her right by using her left eye (and vice versa) via the cracks formed in the blindfold near the nose. At a later date, Leon Jaroff, the [constantly] loyal executioner, expressed Randi’s ingenuous discovery in his article in the Time magazine.
Take a look at the photograph posted on Randi’s site for the purpose of proving that her nose was missing a bridge. The nerve one must have to even propose such a thing! I personally have no comments--- judge for yourself!
We, too, were preparing for our approaching encounter with Randi. The problem was that the test that took place previously did not leave Natalya unaffected; she lost her ability to see without her eyes.
We trained every day without fail, but nonetheless, it took us a little over two weeks to rehabilitate Natalya. At last, she had stabilized, and we notified JREF of our readiness.
The demonstration took place in our lawyer’s Manhattan office. Mister Randi arrived there with a member of the media who stood by all of the Great Debunker’s heroic battles against Parapsychology.
Just as in Florida, we started with our blindfold--- the very same duct tape. Just then, something we had not counted on at all actually happened: Natalya saw nothing.
An old Soviet song says “Nothing passes from this earth without leaving an imprint”---- how undeniably true! We all had assumed that Natalya had rebooted completely after her experience in Florida, but this turned out to be a mistake. Just the night before we were scheduled to meet Randi in Manhattan she was able to easily read text with several layers of duct tape on eyes---and now, she just couldn’t! It seemed that from the depths of her subconscious, memories of her humiliation in Florida had emerged, and her brain refused to function in this mode of perception. The feeling of duct tape over her eyes, joined with the concept of a demonstration created a formidable psychological block, which Natalya was unable to overcome. She fought herself for a period of forty-five minutes, but all was in vain.
Since in the first part of the test we were to use our means of eliminating vision, I asked Randi if it was all right to switch to our original blindfold. He generously agreed, and we covered her eyes once again.
I had mentioned earlier that its construction made peeking an impossible option. Two thick circles of foam sheathed by a firm, black fabric completely covered the eye sockets, with a black elastic band that passed over the nose and pressed the foam against the eyes, making it definitely impossible to cheat.
In this familiar blindfold, Natalya relaxed and exercised by identifying colors, reading text from a book, and challenging me to a game of tic-tac-toe, therefore successfully completing the first part of the test.
Now it was Randi’s turn. On the table he laid his secret weapon. The “real” blindfold was a pair of goggles, taped over with aluminum foil on the outside, and stuffed with foam ovals on the inside. Technically, this was very similar to our blindfold, so I was not worried for Natalya.
This is where I made a grave mistake. Instead of continuing the test right away, I wanted to make sure that Natalya was ready. I gave her a stack of colored paper to look at, and she identified the colors correctly. Randi, upon seeing this, was at Natalya’s side at once, and started taping over his foolproof goggles wherever possible. The lawyer’s objections were not taken into account. (Remember Trick #1--- the Absence of Judges?) Once he was sure his work was complete, Randi stepped aside. And once again, Natalya picked up the stack of colors and named them correctly. Randi resumed his taping with no hesitation.
I must momentarily deviate from the story. Within the limits of this article, I had not planned on discussing the theory behind Natalya’s vision, but some explanation is inevitable.
Natalya does not see through the blindfold by using her eyes, which is what Randi is sure of. Her brain is capable of receiving rays of visual information from the surrounding world. But in order to reach the brain, these rays need to first pass through an energy field (a.k.a. the aura), which all material beings have, living or none. The aura creates an obstacle for the due information, and the more physical barriers there are in the general area of the forehead, the harder it becomes to receive it.
This is a lot like a radio tuning into a very distant station with a weak transferring signal. Let’s say you are entering a large building with a turned on radio in hand: if by the entrance or the window you are capable of hearing this wave, as you wander further into the building the signal weakens, the audibility decreases and eventually vanishes--- the radio waves can no longer penetrate the thickness of the walls.
Just as with all that tape that Randi kept adding to his “real” blindfold--- they did not cover any [nonexistent] cracks, but made it progressively move difficult for Natalya’s brain to directly receive visual information. Why, you ask? Each piece of duct tape had its own aura, and created its own barrier.
Our lawyer’s attempts to inform Randi of this (to say the least) were not crowned with success (Trick #3: No Explanations).
At last, Randi’s diligence has paid off--- after another casual serving of duct tape, Natalya ceased to see at all.
This is how Natalya looked once the observant Randi managed to block off all holes that allowed her to “artfully cheat”.
Here’s a mission for anyone with good vision: try and find the real blindfold under this contraption of duct tape; the blindfold which, according to Randi, guarantees a 100% elimination of cheating.
Naturally, the question of why it was deemed necessary to apply all that duct tape on such a reliable blindfold arises. A penny for your thoughts, Mr. Randi? His grand explanation: “The prepared blindfold was intended for an adult, not a child.”
Good LORD, Randi! And who exactly did you come all the way to New York to test--- a child or an adult!?
But even if one were to accept this flaky reasoning--- though I myself cannot: goggles can be adjusted both by the crosspiece on the nose bridge and the rubber band that tightens them around the head--- regardless, Randi’s conclusion was sown together with gum and paperclips. His “real” blindfold does indeed do a fine job of blocking any vision offered by the eyes. During the process of putting on the goggles, the dense foam stuffed inside them puts a decent amount of pressure on the eyelids, leaving the wearer unable to open his eyes and therefore crossing off any chances of peaking. And this in no way depends on the size of the glasses.
At this point, Randi could have been celebrating his victory, but to him not all felt complete. Natalya’s last stronghold of her ability was yet to be shattered: he needed to prove to her that her performance in our black custom blindfold was fraud, too. He offered Natalya to continue the demonstration in our blindfold, under the condition that he’d be entitled to several “light adjustments”.
This is how the blindfold looked after Randi’s “light” adjustments. I doubt the question of whether or not Natalya was able to see anything need be answered.
So what happened next? What followed were a child’s insulted tears, filled with misunderstanding: how could he have possibly proven that she cannot “see” if she clearly can? How is it possible, to so quickly transform white to black? The consequences of this shock resulted in a viciously heavy psychological trauma, as well as Natalya’s complete loss of her wonderful ability to see without eyes.
For ten (!) months we worked to rebuild what has been destroyed; ten months of hope and disappointment, until at last, success! Once again, Natalya was able to view the world with her eyes wide shut.
I bow down before the will of an 11-year-old girl, who has accomplished this difficult feat. Do not mock the use of the word “feat”--- imagine yourself in her shoes, putting on a blindfold day after day for ten months, in hopes of being able to see, and you get NO-THING! How long would you last? A week? A month--- two? Shortly after, anyone would have admitted defeat. But Natalya… did not, and it was she who has won! She has conquered Andrew Harter.
She has conquered James Randi.
And most importantly, she has conquered herself!
And the most incredible thing about this girl was: she was ready and willing to face Randi--- again--- even after having her face unceremoniously shoved into the dirt by the representatives of JREF twice
She is preparing to struggle not for the million dollars over which Randi and Harter quiver so compulsively, but for the Truth.
For white to once again be white.
For the real charlatan to be tagged with his proper name.
For the sake of other children’s souls and destinies never being crippled again.
According to the rules of JREF, the applicant may repeat his attempt one year after failure. By January 31st, this time was up. On February 5th Natalya’s application was sent to JREF.
To be frank, I am not sure Randi will be willing to see us again. This sly character knows full well that we are aware of his foul tricks, and we will make sure to protest them with the help of the law. But I may be mistaken--- only time will tell.
Now you, too, know how the debunking method of the “disinterested” advocate of science functions. In reference to the beginning of this article, I would like to ask: How far has James Randi progressed from the materialist Amazon savage swinging his axe? Let’s be honest…
I would also like to answer a question that may or my not have formed: “Was I not overly harsh in comparing James Randi with the great Inquisitor Torkvemadoj?” In response: “No; absolutely not!”
However, let us discuss this topic with James Randi himself. His answers to my questions are taken from his articles.
M.K.: “Mister Randi, when did you begin your career as a debunker?”
Randi: “Margaret Foos, in 1960, was the first American girl I tested.”
M.K.: “Ah, so you have been doing this for over 40 (!) years. How widespread is your career in terms of geography? Where have you had the pleasure of ‘debunking’?”
Randi: “As I’ve said, I’ve encountered this trick in China, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Hungary, Germany, and the USA and Canada.”
M.K: Who were your victims in those areas of the world?
Randi: “I’ve tested many children who do the blindfold trick--- mostly little girls, who find it easier to manipulate adults.”
M.K.: “And how did those encounters end for them?”
Randi: “And it’s always been the same: they have all failed… it was the same story. It always is. And the subject(s) of the tests always end up in tears, though the believers close to them maintain their belief and offer them support when they’re discovered.”
M.K.: “Thank you, Mr. Randi. I have no more questions for you; I understand perfectly.”
Well, then. I’m sure you’ve noticed that the majority of his victims were “little girls”. This fact may surprise him, but not me.
While working with my students, I have come to observe that it is specifically girls of ages from 7 to 11 that are the quickest to begin “seeing”--- they accomplish this as quickly as during their first class. Because of this, there is not much surprise in such an ability developing spontaneously. I am 100% sure that none of the children that were tested by Randi were charlatans.
So when I read something like “…the same story. It always is. And the subject(s) of the tests always end up in tears…” I envision Natalya’s teary face, an unspoken question leaking out of her eyes: “How could have he possibly proven that I can’t see--- when I can?!!”
Just think: on Randi’s shoulders is…
-40 years of transforming Truth to Lies;
-40 years of dirty tricks;
-40 years of damaging the souls and destinies of children all over the world!
So, you still believe that I was overly harsh in comparing Randi to …?
Do you recall the eastern proverb that says “The dog barks, but the caravan keeps going”? From time to time, the caravan’s leader wants nothing more than to sharply turn to this hysterically-yelping stray and give it a good kick, sending it flying way in front of its irksome squeal, straight off the caravan’s path. The caravan’s leader is only a man, so forgive him this human weakness...
That which you have just read was written by me on February 14, 2003, and I was right--- Natalya’s last application still has not been signed. James Randi has unearthed just about any excuse possible to avoid signing it. But, to properly counter this I used Michael Gorbachov’s patented device --- “Glasnost” (Publicity). Sources of mass information are aware of our two applications for Randi; articles on the subject have been posted in three New York newspapers. For the illumination of Natalya’s demonstration, one of the Central American news channels has asked us for exclusive rights--- Randi will have nowhere to hide.
If you were to ask me “Why does he resist?” I would answer “He is simply too dumbfounded and confused.” For the first time in the Fund’s history, an applicant wishes to return for an encore. Randi cannot understand what’s happening--- it has certainly seemed that he has proved that she doesn’t see; that he has managed to crush, smear, and drive her through mud. No one has ever gotten up after something like that. And, suddenly… what else have they invented? The brain swells profusely, and fear gathers like vicious storm clouds. Fear for the loss of the million--- what if they take it away?
A while ago, our disastrous encounter with Randi lessened in its significance. What really is urgent and important is that more and more people are starting to acknowledge that [direct] perception of information is no magic trick, but an objective reality of our world --- no matter how hard the large numbers of “randis” and “jaroffs” out there fight to refuse this.
I have no way of knowing which other filthy methods our Holy ex-magician keeps hidden in his old, moth-eaten top hat. It is distinctly possible that Randi will once again be able to spit upon Natalya’s name. But, in principle, that changes nothing. One can stop the clock, but never the Time.
- Mark Komissarov
April 25, 2003
New York, USA
I was right: our second meeting with Mr. Randi did not take place. For over half a year of negotiations, we attempted to establish an honest testing procedure. We agreed upon a blindfold of the greatest efficiency (Randi’s goggles), limits of discussion throughout the test, the presence of neutral observers and members of the media. At first, Randi approved of all this, but suddenly, just a week before our assigned meeting in New York, he was struck by yet another ingenious discovery. “Kept on a leash by fair testing procedures, and in front of correspondents of the mass media, he would be unable to apply his usual tricks and he would have to state his acceptance of Natalya’s paranormal abilities. Unfortunately, such a statement goes hand-in-hand with the loss of a million dollars.”
Below is his second to last letter to our lawyer:
“... I want you to understand something, once and for all. You will not dictate to me the terms under which your client will be examined. This is a challenge from the James Randi Educational Foundation, and we decide the rules, the conditions, and the acceptable parameters of the test procedure - as a result of consultation with the applicant…
...the test will take place during the two-week period between the 9lh and 23r of December, 2003, here in Fort Lauderdale at a place of my choosing.”
“You suppose that we are trying to get the money by any means. Due to your understanding that Ms. Lulova is a money-hungry liar, you talk about it every time you get a chance. I, however, have reason to believe that the testing in the form proposed by you would not allow an honest and objective determination of the presence of Ms. Lulova's paranormal abilities, or lack thereof. You have done everything you could to prevent objective testing. Our elementary requirements to the procedure of testing, the ones we proposed pursuant to the rules of your foundation, designed by us to ensure fairness, you deem to be "tricks" or "dictate" . You even change the terms that have already been agreed upon. Even those that you had proposed.
You understand that fairly conducted test of Ms. Lulova's paranormal abilities will put an end to your career of a "truth-seeker". It became exceedingly clear to me after reading your last letter, where you give an ultimatum, where you refuse everything that had been agreed upon, where you demand to conduct the test in the form that would guarantee you a carte blanche of actions, away from independent observers.
Which one of us is correct in our suspicions? Well, Mr. Randi, now all of us will have an opportunity to show the sincerity of our motives.
We will not claim the prize of one million dollars and we are offering you to test Ms. Lulova WITHOUT paying her the proposed prize in the event of Ms. Lulova's success.
You do the testing on the terms that have been previously agreed upon, in New York, in the presence of independent observers, with free access to the mass media representatives.”
Take a lucky guess at what happened next?...
James Randi refused to test Natalya Lulova.
Now that you know who is who and what is what (and why Natalya failed to demonstrate her very real paranormal ability), feel free to decide for yourself.
- Mark Komissarov
April 10, 2004
New York, USA
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