The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Posts Tagged ‘The Amazing One’

“An Honest Liar” Headed to Indie Film Festivals!

Posted by mattusmaximus on March 17, 2014

As many of you know, there has been an effort to make a movie documentary of the life of one of the greatest skeptical icons, James “The Amazing One” Randi, in recent years.  The film is now made, and it will soon be making the rounds on the indie film network.  Despite that fact, those who made and now promote the film still need your help; read on to see how…

An Honest Liar Film Festival

We are thrilled and proud to announce that AHL was accepted to premiere at the prestigious  2014 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City!

It is thanks to YOU our great supporters that we were able to make this film and we are so thankful for everything you’ve done for us!

The schedule has not yet been announced, but when it is we will pass it along. The Festival runs from April 16 – 27, and AHL will screen several times in that period. AHL is showing in theViewpoints section of the fest.

It will be possible for the general public to buy tickets, but it’s likely the numbers will be limited. Have no fear! We will have additional festival and screening announcements coming soon, and there’s a good chance we’ll be showing the film near you. Keep an eye on our website and sign up for updates if you haven’t for the latest news. …

… We are slaving away – working day and night – to finish the film! We barely eat or drink. We are doing our best to make ourKickstarter backers proud by making the best film you’ve ever seen! We have little to look forward to in these agonizing days of constant headaches, technical issues, archival footage houses sending us the wrong clips. We know it’ll be worth it, but we need a boost. Something to pick us up, to help drive us over the finish line.

Well, YOU can help us – help make all our hard work pay off, help us sleep better at night, and have sweet happy dreams. And it won’t cost you a penny.

How?

MAKE US INDIEWIRE PROJECT OF THE YEAR!!!

Tell all your friends, pass the word around – VOTE FOR AN HONEST LIAR!

http://www.indiewire.com/vote-for-project-of-the-year

For Randi – for the film – for us poor filmmakers – WE CAN DO IT!!!

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“An Honest Liar: The Amazing Randi” Project is in the Home Stretch

Posted by mattusmaximus on January 17, 2014

One year ago, I wrote a post about a kickstarter project to help fund a film on the life of that skeptical giant, James Randi.  The film is titled “An Honest Liar: The Amazing Randi”, and I’m happy to report that it is nearing completion!  But in order to bring it across the finish line, the film’s producers need a little more financial help.  Read on for details, and please consider donating if you are able…

an-honest-liar

The finish line is approaching and we wanted to let you, our supporters, know about our progress. We’ve now completed a fine-cut of the documentary and will be locking it in shortly.

We have now scheduled our post-production (conform, color correct, audio mix, final output etc.) for mid-March and are officially going to complete the film by the end of March, with the aim to premiere An Honest Liar at film festivals beginning in April.

Between now and then, we’ll be refining the edit, working with our composer on the score, sourcing the archival footage we use (there’s a TON…) transferring it and re-inserting it into the cut, completing graphics, animations, and titles, and when it’s all done, popping open a bottle of champagne.

(BTW – if you have any videotapes of old Randi shows, let us know!)

EXCEPT for people getting the digital download/DVD/Blu-ray and movie posters, everyone should have gotten their Kickstarter rewards. We have gotten a number of returned packages for people who may have moved, so if you haven’t gotten your reward please message us.

We still need additional support. The licensing of some of the archival footage is incredibly expensive, but it’s rare and great material that we can’t pass up. If you missed out on donating or know someone who wanted to, we can still use help. Plus, you can still get many of the Kickstarter rewards we offered – while they still last. Just go to our website to donate and choose rewards.

Finally, below is a bonus clip that isn’t going to be in the final film, but we just couldn’t leave on the edit room floor.

Thanks again to all our supporters!

The Honest Liar team

https://vimeo.com/84064979

Posted in skeptical community | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

“An Honest Liar: The Amazing Randi” Kickstarter Campaign

Posted by mattusmaximus on January 27, 2013

One of my biggest skeptical heroes is James Randi.  He is a small man with a big laugh, an even bigger heart, and an even bigger love for the pursuit of skeptical analysis into all manner of paranormal, mystical, or odd-ball claims.  For Randi, no questions are off limits and skepticism knows no bounds; he and his legacy are one of the primary reasons why I am here, doing what I do on this blog and in my daily life as a skeptic and teacher, and I know his work (through the James Randi Educational Foundation) has reached and inspired countless others.  Now there is a movie being made about him, called “An Honest Liar: The Amazing Randi Story”.

However, such an undertaking requires money, so please consider donating at the Kickstarter page to help get this movie made.  Click the picture below for more information, and please spread the word…

An Honest Liar

Posted in skeptical community | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

An Honest Liar – The Story of James “The Amazing One” Randi

Posted by mattusmaximus on February 18, 2012

One of my biggest skeptical heroes is James Randi.  He is a small man with a big laugh, an even bigger heart, and an even bigger love for the pursuit of skeptical analysis into all manner of paranormal, mystical, or odd-ball claims.  For Randi, no questions are off limits and skepticism knows no bounds; he and his legacy are one of the primary reasons why I am here, doing what I do on this blog and in my daily life as a skeptic and teacher, and I know his work (through the James Randi Educational Foundation) has reached and inspired countless others.  Now there is a movie being made about him, called “An Honest Liar: The Amazing Randi Story”.

Watch the trailer, pass it on to your friends (even if they aren’t card-carrying skeptics), and consider helping to get this film made.  As is stated early in the trailer, “This is a film about trickery, fraud, about lies…” :)

James Randi – An Honest Liar

Posted in skeptical community | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Halloween: The Perfect Opportunity to Promote Skepticism!

Posted by mattusmaximus on October 27, 2011

My favorite time of the year is almost upon us: Halloween! :D

I love Halloween not just because of the candy, the costumes, and the decorations (when else can you be a complete freak and it be socially acceptable?) but also because of the wonderful potential for promoting skepticism and critical thinking about various paranormal claims.  Let’s face it: at this time of the year, ghosts, witchcraft, psychics, and various other kinds of woo are on everyone’s minds, so why not take advantage of that fact and use it to inject the skeptical viewpoint on things?  I have found this to be a very effective teaching technique over the years, so that’s why I pass it along to you.

So in the spirit of the season (pardon the pun), allow me to share with you some links to various Halloween-ish skeptical resources that you can use, including a few of my earlier blog posts on the subject…

A Skeptic’s Halloween

Snopes: Halloween Legends

South Park Spoofs “Ghost Hunters”

Halloween Lesson, Part 1: Randi’s “Secrets of the Psychics”

A Historical Halloween & Skepticism Lesson: The 1938 “War of the Worlds” Broadcast by Orson Welles

Halloween Lesson, Part 2: The Haunted Physics Lab

Happy Halloween!!!

Posted in aliens & UFOs, education, ghosts & paranormal, humor, magic tricks, physics denial/woo, psychics, skeptical community | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Register for The Amaz!ng Meeting 8 in Las Vegas

Posted by mattusmaximus on March 8, 2010

I just wanted to give you a quick heads up that registration for The Amaz!ng Meeting 8 (a.k.a. TAM8) is now open.  This year’s event takes place in Las Vegas at the lovely South Point Hotel & Casino from July 8-11th.  There’s an all star lineup of speakers, a whole bunch of new & interesting workshops and other events, plus all the usual (or is it unusual?) TAM fun & weirdness.  Try to make it if you can – registration info here…

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A Good Halloween Lesson: Randi’s “Secrets of the Psychics”

Posted by mattusmaximus on October 29, 2009

Again, in the spirit of Halloween and skepticism, I want to share with you all what is likely one of the best videos ever: James Randi’s “Secrets of the Psychics”. I often show this video to my students around this time of year, when many of them are (consciously or not) thinking about psychics & various paranormal phenomena.

If you’ve never seen the entire video, I strongly encourage you to watch it all.  In addition, if you really want to get a good look into real paranormal investigation, take some time to check out one of the best skeptical books on the topic: James Randi’s “Flim-Flam! Psychics, ESP, Unicorns, and Other Delusions” :)

 

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Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It’s Off to TAM I Go!!!

Posted by mattusmaximus on July 8, 2009

Well, tomorrow afternoon I fly out to Las Vegas to attend The Amazing Meeting 7 (or TAM7), the largest gathering of skeptics on the planet!  TAM is put on by the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF), which was founded by famed magician and uber-skeptic James “The Amazing One” Randi. Here’s a photo from last year’s TAM of me and Randi…

HPIM3642

TAM7 promises to be quite sensational, not the least of which is because I am one of the few people participating in the very first TAM Talent Show :)

My “talent” will be performing a skeptical physics demonstration called the Bed of Nails – whereby I lay flat upon a bed of nails, have a second one placed on top of me, have a concrete block placed atop that, and have an assistant crush the block to pieces with a sledgehammer.  It looks like this…

PNW Demo Show - #2Piet Kreunen (with ax)

I hope to get plenty of photos & some video of the demonstration.  There will be plenty of other awesome things going on, and I’ll do my best to share those with you.  Stay tuned!  :)

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Why Do People Believe in Woo & Superstition?

Posted by mattusmaximus on February 20, 2009

I have often wondered why it is that so many otherwise intelligent & educated people that I know buy into some of the weirdest woo that is out there. As famed skeptic Michael Shermer has said, “There are plenty of smart people who believe dumb things for non-smart reasons.” Why? What is it that makes so many of us so susceptible to accepting & believing in various kinds of woo and superstition?

A recent study from Northwestern University researchers may have found an answer, one which would corroborate the views of many skeptics who’ve pondered this question for years: control. The research was outlined at this Chicago Tribune article last October, and here are some key points of the study…

Now a new study by Northwestern University researchers has found that all such superstitions may have a common source: the feeling of a lack of control, which spurs people to concoct false patterns and meaning from the noise of life’s chance events.

The Chicago group found that making experimental subjects remember a time when they lacked control actually changed the way they viewed the world, and created a temporary need to see patterns where none existed.

The study in Friday’s edition of the journal Science represents the first experimental confirmation of a link that psychologists long suspected was behind superstitions, conspiracy theories, rituals and even some aspects of religious belief.

Conspiracy theories may be the most poignant example of the way lack of control can color perceptions and beliefs, said Jennifer Whitson, who co-authored the study with Northwestern professor Adam Galinsky as part of her doctoral thesis at the Kellogg School of Management.

For example, a universe of false conspiracy theories cropped up after the terrorist attacks of 2001, including the notion that the U.S. government masterminded the attacks. Whitson said the loss of power that terrorism can inflict on people helps explain the appeal of such theories.

As I said before, this study verifies the suspicions of many a skeptic. For example, renowned skeptic James “The Amazing One” Randi explains to a college class why it is that he thinks that so many people give the pseudoscience of astrology so much validity, despite the fact that it has been proven to be completely useless…

As Randi has said many times, when it comes to belief in woo & pseudoscience, for many people it’s not so much that they want to believe it, it’s that they need to believe it. And if you attempt to shake someone’s comforting worldview (even unintentionally) that gives them some sense of control, even if that sense of control is false & a complete illusion, they will often react negatively.

So, the next time you are discussing with friends or acquaintances some aspect of woo, take care how you come across with your skepticism. Be skeptical, and make your case, but also remember that you’re dealing with real people who have real emotional needs, some of which are satisfied with belief in woo, and tailor your message accordingly.

Posted in psychology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

 
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