I have to admit that my work on beloved skeptic James Randi is probably my most “cuckoo”. I don’t think the theory is entirely wrong, but I have some new information which changes my perspective somewhat and might tie him to more of a Chinese Communist agenda in information war than a specifically Russian one. That is not to say those groups are mutually exclusive, but there may be more evidence at least for his historical employ by China and in China’s interest.
To recap my findings on James Randi (born James Hamilton Zwinge in 1928 in Canada), he is a professional magician and pseudoscientific debunker of spiritual beliefs. His style of skepticism hearkens back to the legacy of Harry Houdini and Orson Welles who were both magicians (and who also at times apparently supported Russian secret police services). Randi frequently calls himself a “conjurer” which by Latin definition means “conspirator”.
Randi is perhaps best known for his debunking of spoon bender Uri Geller who controversially claims to have been an asset of Western intelligence agencies. (There may be a good amount of documentation on CIA.gov to suggest a plausible connection.) Randi is also well-known for being the subject of the 2014 documentary “An Honest Liar”, which was made in the style of Orson Welles’ film “F for Fake” (1973) (a similar influence on Banksy’s “Exit Through the Gift Shop” (2010)).
An Honest Liar was a response to the controversy surrounding Randi’s long-standing relationship with the artist Jose Alvarez (D.O.P.A.), a.k.a. Jose Luis Alvarez, a.k.a. “Carlos”, a.k.a. David Pena, nee Deyvi Orangel Pena Arteaga; a Venezuelan national who was arrested by federal authorities in September 2011 for identity theft.
Alvarez’ (post release) official bio puts him as being born in 1961, but for much of his time with Randi, he had claimed to be around 7 years younger. Randi and Alvarez met at the Fort Lauderdale public library in 1986 (making him anywhere from 18-25 years old at the time depending on the account). In 1987, it is alleged that the identity was stolen from the actual Jose Alvarez. This seems corroborated by dates on D.O.P.A.’s original visa.
Although perhaps distasteful from an age differential perspective, it doesn’t seem the relationship between James Randi and Jose Alvarez legally constituted pedophilia. However, it is notable given the age differential that James Randi has been a party to investigations into sex crimes by his own admission and was recorded on tape talking obscenely with young men who claimed to be minors.* (The above quote in the witch meme is taken from Randi’s comments to a claimed 17 year old and invitations to watch hardcore pornography with Randi from the second audio file.)
He also has been associated with the controversial “False Memory Syndrome Foundation” which critics allege has actually enabled pedophilia.
Beyond all this distasteful stuff, I think the aspect of the analysis I did on Randi before which made me most uncomfortable as far as publicly associating myself with it was the idea that the covers of his books contained some kind of hidden codes or steganography.
However, it does seem that the 1976 poster Randi showcases at the beginning of An Honest Liar indeed contains a hidden message in Morse Code – “Harry Houdini” (check the milk can rim). So perhaps it isn’t entirely out of left field to suggest there could also be hidden images and meanings in his 1981 book cover as well. I guess I can say of James Randi images – ‘steganography confirmed’ – although I can’t say for sure that the anagram “An Atomic Hell and John” means anything in this picture.
When receiving his 1986 MacArthur Genius Grant, Randi was apparently delighting in being introduced as a ‘minion of Satan’ and quoted as saying:
“It’s so wonderful” … “No one can take it from you. Not even the IRS for back taxes. There are no responsibilities, no strings. You don’t even have to continue in the same field. You can announce that you are a Communist, transvestite, child molester and no one can touch the money.”’ – James Randi
Such a quote could be interesting when one simply considers the above and the ‘honest liar’ moniker. However, such an association with Satan could indeed hearken back to the history of revolutionary proto-Communist movements and an association with Romantic satanism.
It doesn’t necessarily mean Randi literally worships the devil – but that such movements have been a useful vector for revolutionary ideology and overcoming superstitious cultural norms which have often been associated with the religions and mystical beliefs of common people in various societies. Randi’s pursuit of skepticism using such imagery may itself be a cultural artifact of ‘communistic’ ideology.
(Echoing the above, a 1995 Scientific American article about Randi opened with the line: “You communist pervert creep” – not my words!)
Of course, Randi was very close to Isaac Asimov – who was investigated as a potential KGB spy – and Carl Sagan, who spread what many Kremlinologists believe are KGB-concocted rumors of nuclear winter. He was close to the accused pedophile Arthur C. Clarke, whose ideas led to initial Soviet dominance of the space race. These details may be circumstantial, but supportive in light of the other evidence presented here.
Moving on to some of my other recent findings of interest, specifically those of a Chinese government nature.
In November 1999, CBC News reported that Randi had been brought on by the Chinese government to fight the Falun Gong in alignment with his skeptical personae. Randi worked alongside the pro-Communist Party ideologue and nationalist Sima Nan to accomplish this objective. Sima Nan is seen as a new left Maoist and said as recently as 2013 that “Mao Zedong is even greater than Confucius – he can conquer your thoughts and you have no choice but to follow him“. The repression of Falun Gong as a political threat to China was widely criticized in the West as irrational.
In addition, it also came to my attention that another of Randi’s widely exposed targets, Peter Popoff had come “to see himself, in those Cold War years, as a kind of Christian 007, sneaking Bibles into Communist lands. … and claim that Peter was “smuggling thousands of Bibles” into China, and that in Eastern Europe, people would walk 150 miles to hear him preach… In 1982 the AP reported on Popoff’s use of helium balloons to deliver Bibles and gospel pamphlets from Finland into the Soviet Union.”
Overall, it does seem interesting that Randi apparently commissions the use of steganography in artworks associated with him and that he has apparently directly and indirectly supported the agenda of the Communist Party of China to suppress religious movements which may be associated with dissent. (Apocalyptically note the Falun Gong seems to associate the Chinese communist government with the ‘Great Red Dragon’.)
I really haven’t thought about “Chinese propaganda” as much as I thought of “Russian propaganda” around 9/11. But it is interesting to note the highly efficient Chinese language processing skills of the Code Red II worm and it makes me wonder what may have been going on knowing that Randi was out there making the rounds in the press to debunk Nostradamus – in a way which put him in conflict with John Hogue and supported social conflict in my opinion to the benefit of a non-American adversary (or adversaries?). Someone with excellent Chinese language skills was definitely interested in gleaning information from Chinese speakers on the internet at the time of 9/11. Maybe it all ties together somehow. But I might just be cuckoo.
*For anyone interested, here are the Randi audio files (zip folder with directory and 7 mp3 files): James Randi sex tape audio recording . This content is not explicitly pornographic per-se but it is ‘NC-17’ ish (talks of BJs, porn, and wiener size). Posting because it is not easily found online and does seem to constitute evidence of Randi contributing to the delinquency of minors. DO NOT PLAY THIS AROUND KIDS AND DO NOT DOWNLOAD IF YOU ARE UNDER 18.
(Update 10/24/2020 : RIP James Randi. This post has been updated to link to James Randi’s own 1999 explanations for the sex tape. Despite evidence the person on the phone was above the age of consent by Canadian or New Jersey law (where the recording presumably occurred), neither jurisdiction allows possession of pornography by someone under 18.)