James Randi was once a famous magician, but these days he is better known as a defender of science. He is a hero of the skeptical community, and his James Randi Educational Foundations (JREF) is a popular movement that seeks to eradicate unscientific thinking. James Randi is also a believer in social Darwinism, and he claims that addicts should be just allowed to die:
I believe that if the sale and use of drugs were to be suddenly legalized, first, the entire criminal community would be almost instantly crippled due to lack of income, on an international scale. Second, those individuals who were stupid enough to rush into the arms of the mythical houris and/or Adonis’s they would expect to greet them, would simply do so and die – by whatever chemical or biological fate would overcome them. Third, the principle of Survival of the Fittest would draconically prove itself for a couple of years, after which Natural Selection would weed out those for whom there is no hope except through our forbearance, and I’m very, very, weary of supporting these losers with my tax dollars. As reader Wellcome points out, our species – the American sector – made the very expensive and very failed Prohibition experiment, yet we have survived cancelling that error, rather well.
This view expressed by Randi is also known as eugenics – the belief that the human race will benefit by cleaning up the gene pool. In a new book called,The Heretics by Will Storr, James Randi told the author:
I’m a believer in Social Darwinism. Not in every case. I would do anything to stop a twelve-year-old kid from doing it. Sincerely. But in general, I think that Darwinism, survival of the fittest, should be allowed to act itself out. As long as it doesn’t interfere with me and other sensible, rational people who could be affected by it. Innocent people, in other words.
Should Addicts be Allowed to Die?
If James Randi was just some other guy, I would find his comments to be sad, but I’d soon forget about them. The fact is though, that he is not just some other guy. Randi is an important figure in the skeptical and new atheist movement – a community that is growing all the time. There has been no real outcry from other skeptics over Randi’s claims, and this is not something new that he is saying here – he has made similar statements in the past. It worries me that his promotion of social Darwinism is going to influence many of his supporters to adopt the same views. The fact that there is so little fuss about his comments makes me think that many of his followers must already feel the same way.
Before the twentieth century, the general consensus was that drunks were just bad people who got what they deserved. Over the last hundred years, there has been a growing understanding that addiction has many causes, and it is not simply that people are being willfully stupid or evil. The focus has gone from condemning people who fall into addiction to helping them. As a result of this, there have probably been millions of people who have been helped to give up alcohol or drugs so that they could go on and live productive lives. If James Randi has his way there will be no more “supporting these losers with my tax dollars”.
James Randi Would Have Me Dead
I struggled with alcohol addiction for twenty years. I lost so much and endured a great deal of suffering. The worst thing for me was that, for a long time, it felt like I was getting what I deserved. It took other people to convince me that I didn’t deserve any of it, and that there could be a better way for me to live. There was help there when I needed it, and this allowed me to break free. I’ve enjoyed such a wonderful life since becoming sober, and I want other people to get the same chance. This will not happen if folks like James Randi get their way. He is part of a community that prides itself on being ‘critical thinkers’, so hopefully there will be some of his flock that will call him out for this unscientific bullshit.