Sunday, June 12, 2011

YouTube, Interviews and Senator Claiborne Pell on Wikipedia

I'm a photographer. I don't like to shoot video but I know a opportunity when I see it and anytime James Randi is talking it is an opportunity. Often times he goes from one story into the next one like a river. You don't know what your going to get so I just turn the video camera on and go with it.

This is one reason why I have 192 YouTube videos (my user name is sgerbic) they aren't the best quality (I'm getting better at it) but it really isn't something I'm excited to do. The editing is the worst part, actually just getting the darn video to load/save and publish is insane, it can take hours to just get the darn thing uploaded. Pictures it just takes me a couple minutes to crop/save/upload.

Anyway, I have a lot of video of James Randi, my son Stirling and I have done two Amazing Cruises with him and during lectures and meals my camera is always pointed at him. I posted the link on Facebook over a year after I shot it and asked people if they could identify who Randi was talking about. My friend Don Lacey knew right away who it was, Randi says the name but I didn't recognize it. This turned out to be about an experience Randi and Blackstone (the magician) had with Senator Claiborne Pell.

Apparently Pell was enamored with Uri Geller and felt that he (Pell) could not be fooled because he was a Senator and smarter than everyone else. The story goes that Randi fooled Pell with a trick and Pell was so thunderstruck that he believed that Randi had psychic powers like Geller. Pell is taken out of the room by his security team and Randi and Blackstone shared a laugh about how easy Gueller had it to fool Pell. Anyway it is a funny story and you will just have to watch the video to learn how it was done.

This blog post is about using YouTube as a citation for Wikipedia. Normally it isn't allowed as something editors want to see used. I'm not sure why but I suppose it is like a blog that is too often opinion. In this case I am recording a video of an interview told in a public place. When I quote what Randi says on Claiborne's page I cited the video. Opinions aren't proper on Wikipedia it shows bias. BUT quoting an opinion is fine as long as it is well cited.

I must mention that I had never heard of Pell before I learned who Randi was talking about on the video. Again this is an example of working backwards, finding the reference, writing a blurb and then posting it on the Wikipedia page (and hopefully other pages as well). Pell's page was pristine before I touched it, no criticism at all, he looked like a pretty upstanding Senator who gave us Pell Grants BTW. Even his grandson is quoted about what a neat man he was. I almost felt a twang of regret when I hit the publish button after leaving this quote. Almost.

Interest in the Paranormal

"According to Uri Geller, Pell in the late 1980s took an active interest into Geller's claims of remote viewing. On Geller's personal website he states that he was called by Pell and asked to describe a drawing he was looking at that moment. When Geller answered "a dagger with an ivory handle", Pell replied that he had gotten it correct and he was now convinced that Geller was genuine. Gueller reports that Pell was one of the most "forward-looking" and "open-minded people" he had ever met who was very interested in using psychic powers for peaceful means."

"In an 2009 interview with James Randi, he discusses his experience with Senator Pell who asked him to try and duplicate one of Geller's remote viewing feats. The Senator upon seeing that Rand's drawing matched his own drawing yelled, "I know a trick when I see one and that was not a have the power!"
I think I was kind compared to what I could have said, right? Anyway I wanted a second proof of this relationship between Geller and Pell and as you can see I went on a Internet search and found quotes on Geller's page about Pell's belief in Geller's powers. Now what Geller says is not necessarily factual as far as I know he could be making it all up. But I am clear that the quote is from Geller's personal website and not something probably more reputable. Readers can follow the links as I did and find more stories as well as pictures of Geller and Pell together. Along with Randi's account I think the evidence weighs pretty strongly on the side of Geller's account.

So look for sources in all kinds of places. Books, magazines, journals, newspapers as well as YouTube can produce all kinds of nuggets for Guerrilla Skepticism.

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