For nearly two decades James Randi and the James Randi Educational Foundation offered a one-million-dollar prize to anyone who could show, “under proper observing conditions, evidence of any paranormal, supernatural, or occult power.”
James Randi began his career as an illusionist, escapologist, and a stage magician. He achieved a level of popularity under his stage name “The Amazing Randi”. In 1956, he remained in a sealed metal coffin that had been submerged in a swimming pool, for 104 minutes.
With this, he broke Harry Houdini’s record of 93 minutes and won universal acclaim in the world of stage magic. Unlike many stage magicians of the time, Randi never claimed to possess any supernatural powers.
He insisted that stage magic is nothing but a highly elaborate and well-trained illusion and that all who claim otherwise are either liars or delusional.
In the late 1960s, Randi hosted his own radio show on the New York radio station WOR. As a part of the show, he invited guests who defended paranormal claims and started offering a $1000 prize and later, a $10,000 prize, to anyone who could prove their paranormal abilities beyond any doubt.
Author and thinker Isaac Asimov once claimed Randi’s “qualifications as a rational human being are unparalleled“, whilst the New York Times has called him our “most celebrated living debunker”.
In 1996, one of Randi’s friends, the Internet pioneer Rick Adams, donated a million dollars to the prize Randi was offering to the person who manages to prove their paranormal abilities, and the award was officially renamed the “One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge.”
The James Randi Educational Foundation created a set of strict rules under which applicants were to be examined, to deter potential money seekers.
More recently he’s been the star of an award winning documentary film telling his incredible story.
The challenge was open for many years, but it was officially terminated in 2015 when Randi announced that he was officially retiring.
An Honest Liar – The movie
For the last half-century, James “The Amazing” Randi has entertained millions with his dazzling feats of magic, escape, and trickery. Along the way he discovered that faith healers, fortune-tellers, and psychics were using his beloved magician’s tricks to swindle money from the credulous.
Fed up with the fraud, he dedicated his life to exposing con artists with a wit and over-the-top showmanship all his own.
An Honest Liar is part detective story, part biography, and a bit of a magic act itself. An Honest Liar is told through interviews with Randi, vintage footage of his TV appearances, and interviews with illusionists, performers, and skeptics alike, including Adam Savage, Penn & Teller, Bill Nye, Geller, Alice Cooper, and more.
It’s in this private realm where the surprises of the film’s final act emerge. Not only are they dramatic, but they also give a film a human richness and an emotional power that both complement and expand “An Honest Liar”’s enthralling exploration of the contest between deception and truth-telling in one singular man’s personality.