James “the Amazing” Randi was the guest on the latest episode of Rationally Speaking. Julia Galef and Dr. Massimo Pigliucci, the show’s hosts, noted this was only time Randi has been a guest on the show. As Randi has recently retired from the JREF and Pigliucci will soon be leaving Rationally Speaking to attend to other pursuits, this was one of the last possible times for this event to occur.
Randi was ever the entertaining guest, but as of normal of late,mhe jumped between topics discussing a recent meeting with Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson, the documentary about himself (The Honest Liar), and his interaction with scientists and their work on psi. Randi also discussed a book he has authored but is apparently in need of editing that ought to be out soon concerning a magician in the laboratory.
However, the part that drew me in was when Randi was asked if there was ever anything he changed his mind over. This is a bit of a spoiler, but it was an interesting exchange. Randi's response was no. There was not anything he had changed his opinion or mind on [I am assuming this meant only in the realm of science, woo woo, or skepticism, not his opinion of The Beatles vs. The Stones or Dr Pepper vs. Mr. Pibb]. Then Galef and Pigliucci raised that few years ago Randi commented that climate change might not exist. Randi defended himself that he merely noted that he was unsure if the science was in to indicate climate change was an actual occurrence. Galef and Pigliucci then gently compared this retort to vaccine deniers questioning the medical safety of vaccines. Now, this exchange was not terribly confrontational, and it was all done in good taste and civility. However, it was good to know that Randi was challenged and not just given a pass. Nobody ought to be beyond query even Randi. I thought it was all well done, and Galef, Pigliucci, and Randi were a credit to skepticism on how this all was handled.
Randi also gave his thoughts on how he feels skepticism has made a difference. Randi seemed to measure it in a personal way and not on a grand scale. Also, Randi gave his opinion on the whole push to coin the term "Brights" for those with a rationalist world view.
All in all, it was a good episode, if a bit bittersweet with the knowledge that Randi is moving off center stage and Pigluicci is going to be less visible as well in the community or least less podcasting.