In The Mask of Nostradamus, James Randi encompasses the famous seer’s life through the use of three different lenses: the man’s predictions, his fellow ‘prophets’, and his professional life.
The Seer of Provence, Nostradamus, has a long-lasting legacy as a successful prophet. Nostradamus produced an enormous volume of prophetic work, much of which has been lost or bastardized. The author clarifies the man Nostradamus by examining his surviving works, avoiding spurious interpretation in favor of evidence-based analysis.
A fine example of Randi’s analysis is his examination of Nostradamus’ “Quatrain V-LVII”. He describes first the interpretations of earlier, less rigorous, scholars—a common claim is that this quatrain predicts the invention of the hot air balloon. He discusses the ‘ridiculous anagram’ produced by the method of an earl...
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...amount of rational analysis and fact checking that Randi presents. This is how he describes his position on the subject:
I must declare frankly that I have no belief in the popularly held notion that Nostradamus or anyone else ever had or now has any supernatural prophetic powers. My rather considerable professional experience and common sense dictate against such a belief, but I will always yield to facts and probabilities that oppose my admitted yet understandable prejudice when those facts are properly derived and set forth. (148)
Randi is an admirable crusader against nonsense. I recommend The Mask of Nostradamus to anyone who appreciates ruthless skepticism, a charming writing style, and incisive analytical skill.
Citation: Randi, James. The Mask of Nostradamus: The Prophecies of the World's Most Famous Seer. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus, 1993. Print.
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