Do skeptics enjoy some time in the sun? How about cruising the Caribbean, discussing the finer points of incredulity as they gaze upon crystal clear waters and tropical islands? You better believe they do.
If South Florida seems a little more gullible this week, it's because James Randi, the "King of Debunkers," and his gang of skeptics at the James Randi Educational Foundation in Fort Lauderdale, is out to sea. They set sail yesterday on the Amazing Adventure, a week-long, skeptic-themed tour of the Caribbean.
Last week, in anticipation of the cruise, we caught up with the legendary magician, who reports he is now finished with his painful Chemo-therapy. He talked about his health, some interesting projects the JREF is working on, and what these cruises mean to him.
This cruise is the fifth of its kind presented by the JREF. These gatherings provide an opportunity for skeptics from all over the world to come together as a community. They bond (or strengthen previous bonds), comfortable in a small floating world of concentrated rational thinkers. They discuss popular skeptic topics (psychics, paranormal activity, the existence of a god) as well as new areas of research and new developments about which skeptics should be aware.
"These gatherings are invaluable," the Amazing Randi says. "It's the best chance to meet people face to face, to press the flesh."
In his 60-plus years of debunking, Randi has garnered millions of fans from around the world. Gatherings like the Amazing Adventure--and the Amazing Meeting held every summer in Las Vegas--are his opportunity to interact with these people, to impart his knowledge in person. Randi expected to spend much of the cruise mingling with his fans. When I was with Randi at the last Amazing Meeting, the octogenarian regaled fans jokes, anecdotes from his life as a skeptic, and even a few small magic tricks.
In July, Randi had recently been diagnosed with cancer. Now, he says, he's feeling much better. He says he had his last chemo treatment, his hair and beard are growing back strong, and he's ready to take on more scamsters and frauds.
And what exactly is the JREF working on these days? "Oh, we've always got a few things cooking," Randi says. "Some are top secret. I could tell you, but then they wouldn't be secret anymore, so I won't."