James Randi: Homeopathy, quackery and fraud (2)
Now, Sylvia Browne is the big operator. We call her "The Talons." Sylvia Browne -- thank you -- Sylvia Browne is the big operator in this field at this very moment. Now, Sylvia Browne -- just to show you -- she actually gets 700 dollars for a 20 minute reading over the telephone, she doesn't even go there in person, and you have to wait up to two years because she's booked ahead that amount of time. You pay by credit card or whatever, and then she will call you sometime in the next two years. You can tell it's her. "Hello, this is Sylvia Browne." That's her, you can tell right away. Now, Montel Williams is an intelligent man. We all know who he is on television. He's well educated, he's smart, he knows what Sylvia Browne is doing but he doesn't give a damn. He just doesn't care. Because, the bottom line is, the sponsors love it, and he will expose her to television publicity all the time.
Now, what does Sylvia Browne give you for that 700 dollars? She gives you the names of your guardian angels, that's first. Now, without that, how could we possibly function? (Laughter) She gives you the names of previous lives, who you were in previous lives. Duh. It turns out that the women that she gives readings for were all Babylonian princesses, or something like that. And the men were all Grecian warriors fighting with Agamemnon. Nothing is ever said about a 14 year-old bootblack in the streets of London who died of consumption. He isn't worth bringing back, obviously. And the strange thing -- folks, you may have noticed this too. You see these folks on television -- they never call anybody back from hell. (Laughter) Everyone comes back from heaven, but never from hell. If they call back any of my friends, they're not going to... Well, you see the story. (Laughter)
Now, Sylvia Browne is an exception, an exception in one way, because the James Randi Educational Foundation, my foundation, offers a one million dollar prize in negotiable bonds. Very simply won. All you have to do is prove any paranormal, occult or supernatural event or power of any kind under proper observing conditions. It's very easy, win the million dollars. Sylvia Browne is an exception in that she's the only professional psychic in the whole world that has accepted our challenge. She did this on the "Larry King Live" show on CNN six and a half years ago. And we haven't heard from her since. Strange. She said that, first of all, that she didn't know how to contact me. Duh. A professional psychic who speaks to dead people, she can't reach me? (Laughter) I'm alive, you may have noticed. Well, pretty well anyway. She couldn't reach me. Now she says she doesn't want to reach me because I'm a godless person. All the more reason to take the million dollars, wouldn't you think, Sylvia? Now these people need to be stopped, seriously now. They need to be stopped because this is a cruel farce. We get people coming to the foundation all the time. They're ruined financially and emotionally because they've given their money and their faith to these people. Now, I popped some pills earlier. I have to explain that to you. Homeopathy, let's find out what that's all about. Hmm. You've heard of it. It's an alternative form of healing, right? Homeopathy actually consists -- and that's what this is. This is Calms Forte, 32 caplets of sleeping pills! I forgot to tell you that. I just ingested six and a half days worth of sleeping pills. (Laughter) Six and a half days, that certainly is a fatal dose. It says right on the back here, "In case of overdose, contact your poison control center immediately," and it gives an 800 number. Keep your seats -- it's going to be okay. I don't really need it because I've been doing this stunt for audiences all over the world for the last eight or 10 years, taking fatal doses of homeopathic sleeping pills. Why don't they affect me? (Laughter) (Applause) The answer may surprise you. What is homeopathy? It's taking a medicine that really works and diluting it down well beyond Avogadro's limit. Diluting it down to the point where there's none of it left. (Laughter) Now folks, this is not just a metaphor I'm going to give you now, it's true. It's exactly equivalent to taking one 325 milligram aspirin tablet, throwing it into the middle of Lake Tahoe, and then stirring it up, obviously with a very big stick, and waiting two years or so until the solution is homogeneous. Then, when you get a headache, you take a sip of this water, and -- voila! -- it is gone. (Laughter) Now that is true. That is what homeopathy is all about.
And another claim that they make -- you'll love this one -- the more dilute the medicine is, they say, the more powerful it is. Now wait a minute, we heard about a guy in Florida. The poor man, he was on homeopathic medicine. He died of an overdose. He forgot to take his pill. (Laughter) Work on it. Work on it. It's a ridiculous thing. It is absolutely ridiculous. I don't know what we're doing, believing in all this nonsense over all these years. Now, let me tell you, The James Randi Educational Foundation is waving this very big carrot, but I must say, the fact that nobody has taken us up on this offer doesn't mean that the powers don't exist. They might, some place out there. Maybe these people are just independently wealthy. Well, with Sylvia Browne I would think so. You know, 700 dollars for a 20 minute reading over the telephone -- that's more than lawyers make! I mean that's a fabulous amount of money. These people don't need the million dollars perhaps, but wouldn't you think they'd like to take it just to make me look silly? Just to get rid of this godless person out there that Sylvia Browne talks about all the time?
I think that something needs to be done about this. We really would love to have suggestions from you folks on how to contact federal, state and local authorities to get them to do something. If you find out -- now I understand. We've seen people, even today, speaking to us about AIDS epidemics and starving kids around the world and impure water supplies that people have to suffer with. Those are very important, critically important to us. And we must do something about those problems. But at the same time, as Arthur C. Clarke said, The rotting of the human mind, the business of believing in the paranormal and the occult and the supernatural -- all of this total nonsense, this medieval thinking -- I think something should be done about that, and it all lies in education. Largely, it's the media who are to blame for this sort of thing. They shamelessly promote all kinds of nonsense of this sort because it pleases the sponsors. It's the bottom line, the dollar line. That's what they're looking at. We really must do something about this. I'm willing to take your suggestions, and I'm willing to have you tune in to our webpage. It's www.randi.org. Go in there and look at the archives, and you will begin to understand much more of what I've been talking about today. You will see the records that we have. There's nothing like sitting in that library and having a family appear there and say that Mum gave away all the family fortune. She cashed in the CDs, she gave away the stocks and the certificates. That's really sad to hear, and it hasn't helped them one bit, hasn't solved any of their problems. Yes, there could be a rotting of the American mind, and of the minds all the way around the earth, if we don't start to think sensibly about these things. Now, we've offered this carrot, as I say, we've dangled the carrot. We're waiting for the psychics to come forth and snap at it. Oh, we get lots of them, hundreds of them every year come by. These are dowsers and people who think that they can talk to the dead as well, but they're amateurs; they don't know how to evaluate their own so-called powers. The professionals never come near us, except in that case of Sylvia Browne that I told you about a moment ago. She did accept and then backed away. Ladies and gentlemen, I'm James Randi, and I'm waiting. Thank you.