Phil Plait for President

This news came out last week, but I’ve been out of town and now want to offer congratulations to the Bad Astronomer Phil Plait who is adding one more item to his long list of credientials and accomplishments. Phil will now be taking on the role of President….. of the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF). If you’re not familiar with JREF, (you should be!), the goals of the Foundation are to bring critical thinking to the public, expose pseudoscientific frauds, and promote real science and rationality. If you’ve been reading Phil’s Bad Astronomy blog, you know that those are his goals as well, so this new role seems like a perfect fit for both Phil and JREF. Phil says he owes everything to Randi: “He opened my eyes – and my brain – to the idea that reality is a better place to live in than fantasy. I owe it all to Mr. Randi, so I am very excited and deeply honored to continue his vision with the JREF.”

Congrats Phil! We know you’ll “Phil” Randi’s shoes just fine. But you’ve got some work ahead of you on your beard….

Outgoing JREF President James Randi has long been known as a magician and escape artist, but he’s also a tireless investigator and demystifier of paranormal and pseudoscientific claims. Carl Sagan tells a great story about Randi in his book “The Demon Haunted World,” which highlights how gullible people can be and how easily people with paranormal claims can appear credible.

Randi has pursued “psychic” spoonbenders, exposed the dirty tricks of faith healers, and generally been a thorn in the sides of those who try to pull the wool over the public’s eyes in the name of the supernatural. Randi’s long-standing challenge for proof of claims of the paranormal now stands as a $1,000,000 prize that has yet gone unclaimed.

Phils says he would like to expand the efforts of JREF’s educational activities. “I want to teach kids about the wonders of the real Universe. We can do this by partnering with the educational community and developing fun, hands-on materials that schoolchildren can use in the classroom to teach them about critical thinking and the scientific method. Science is sometimes taught as being cold and dull, but nothing could be more wrong! It’s exciting, it’s fun, and it’s cool. Kids are natural scientists, and we need to encourage that, foster it, and let it grow.”

Sounds like a great plan! Congrats again, Phil!

11 Replies to “Phil Plait for President”

  1. I’ve been a Bad Astronomy fan for years (found this site through Phil’s page of course).

    This is great news!

  2. Gosh, that guy spends much more of his blogging time bashing religions than he does talking about astronomy. Hopefully he will pick it up and become more professional.

  3. Phil Plait isn’t a skeptic because he doesn’t follow the rules of skepticism. I wouldn’t even call him a debunker because he does no research before debunking and instead just throws his beliefs out there. If anything, Phil Plait is a Lampoonist and for that reason alone, Randi deserves him.

  4. Anybody would be better than the pathtic two choices afforded us so far… anybody seen A.E Newman running yet? but I guess it really doesn’t matter… no matter who is “elected” (joke) the country will be ran the way that the “they-them” decide…

  5. “A. E. Newman”??? You weren’t aware he was “installed” in the White House seven years ago? I’ve read about Randi on & off for more than 30 years now, and anyone who attacks supermarket tabloids is doing a public service as far as I’m concerned.

  6. “Phil Randi’s shoes”?
    Either a REALLY bay pun, or a strange euphemism for something highly deviant & very, very wrong.

    Or is it just my sad twisted mind?

  7. Too many nutters & con-artists out there are duping people, especially when they’re vulnerable, or robbing them blind.
    people have a right to their own beliefs, but very often they are exploited by the charlatans out there.
    Anyone that can show these people for what they are, or even help start the debate in these areas has to encouraged.

  8. Of course people have a right to their own beliefs. Believing something in my own mind, however, doesn’t make it any more or any less true. Your nominee is simply a mouthy bigot that hates those ascribing to certain categories of beliefs with which he disagrees. Rather than either ignore these beliefs totally or debate their substance, he simply denigrates those who hold to them, enveloping it within a thin wrapper of professional jargon. The explanation is simple — he holds to his own set of unproven beliefs that offer him no answers with which to meaningfully engage those who disagree. To hold this small man up as an example to the rest of us via an award is pathetic, and another transparent example of politically-correct, christophobic bigotry in the name of enlightenment and openness. And it’s really too bad — his on-topic writing would be interesting and entertaining if the flow of venom were squelched. If the Darwinism so enthusiastically espoused by the subject is correct, then its arguments can stand on their merits and prevail — so why insult rather than debate?

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