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James Randi and the Hoax of Carlos the 2000 Year Old Spirit

November 16, 2008


One of the persons behind my transformation from a devout Hindu, who believed in a creator God and everything supernatural and paranormal to a skeptic and agnostic who questioned the myths and assumptions passed off in the name of religion, is James Randi. Other than Betrand Russell , Richard Dawkins and to a lesser extent Carl Sagan, Randi was one of those persons who forced me to critically think about my assumptions about supernatural and paranormal behaviour, for which I am very much indebted to him (even though I have never met him). Though Russell, Dawkins and Sagan put the seeds of doubt in my mind about God and religion, I somehow used to relate supernatural and paranormal phenomenon to the concept of God. It was only after watching Randi’s demonstrative videos and reading his articles debunking astrology and paranormal phenomenon like telekinesis and channeling etc. that I started to enquire more about these and started to critically examine my biases, assumptions and inferences. The more I learnt, enquired and examined, the more I got convinced of the utter silliness of my beliefs and logic. This finally led to my transformation.

 I have often wondered, why people behave the way they do when it comes to supernatural beliefs. Why do people continue to fall for baseless notions about paranormal occurances and supernatural phenomenon?  What makes us so sure that there is something “out there” which is beyond the physical world and which transcend the limits of our comprehension ? Is it the way we are brought up and brainwashed by our families, religious leaders and media? 

In 1988, to prove the gullibility of the media and people in general, James Randi teamed up with the Australian “60-Minutes” crew to hoodwink the media into believing that a 2000 year old spirit named Carlos was channeling himself though a 19-year old boy named Jose Alvarez. This is how the hoax was pulled off.

The following video may not answer those questions I asked earlier, but to me it was more of a study in human psychology and crowd behavior than a successful hoax. It demonstrated how smart, reasonable people fall for the gimmicks of these so-called prophets, mediums and evangelists who manage to con them into believing that they are dealing with something out-of-this-world.  Notice how Carlos or any of the charlatans, we watch on TV, do not have anything new to say. Their words are nothing but age-old homilies and century-old platitudes, attractively repackaged, rehashed and regurgitated, to fool the gullible public into giving them the credit for their novel discovery.

Anyway here is the video. Enjoy.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. daniel permalink
    June 22, 2009 8:26 pm

    thanks for the upload

  2. daniel permalink
    June 22, 2009 8:38 pm

    so that is how jesus feels when he was being persecuted

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