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CNN Larry King Live
Spiritual Medium Versus Paranormal Skeptic
Aired June 05, 2001 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, she believes she has psychic powers. He says, prove it! Spiritual medium and best-selling author Rosemary Altea squares off with professional skeptic James Randi. We'll take your calls, too, next on LARRY KING LIVE!
We welcome to LARRY KING LIVE, Rosemary Altea, spiritual medium and healer, and author of the new book "You Own The Power." It's been a bestseller for quite some time, and there you see its cover.
And in Miami, the amazing -- that is the way he is billed -- the amazing Randi. James Randi is paranormal skeptic known as the Amazing Randi and president of the James Randi Educational Foundation. He has long been a critic of those in the psychic world. And this is the first time the two have met up. Is that correct?
ROSEMARY ALTEA, SPIRITUAL MEDIUM AND HEALER: Yes, that is right.
KING: And thank you very much.
Now, Rosemary, will you please explain what you believe -- I don't want to say what you believe -- what you do? What are you able to do?
ALTEA: I'm able to contact the spirit world. I can see hear, sense, feel in every way, communicate with the spirit world. I'm also a spiritual healer and I run a healing organization in the U.K. I'm a teacher. I teach people to develop their own abilities to get in touch with their own soul, their own sensitivity, and to develop that. I am many faceted, I...
KING: You don't predict someone's future though, do you?
ALTEA: I do see the future. I do.
KING: That means...
ALTEA: And know absolutely that -- that you know, so much of our lives are predetermined. I think that we do have a free will, but I believe that most of our free will connects with our attitude, how we are, who we are, what we are.
KING: This power you found early in life?
ALTEA: Since I can remember. KING: When were you a child?
ALTEA: Since I was a child I have heard voices, seen faces, been able to connect with the spirit world. Which was really terrifying for me as a child -- really scary. It is not something that I would want anyone else to go through. Because, you know, I grew up believing that I was crazy like my grandfather. My grandmother heard voices and she was a patient in a mental institution, a voluntary patient. When the voices came on strong she would put herself in there and get treatment.
KING: Are you ever then not glad you have this power?
ALTEA: Not anymore. But I had to reach my early 30s before I could really accept and understand it.
KING: James Randi, in Miami, your thought on what Rosemary just said.
JAMES RANDI, PARANORMAL SKEPTIC: Well, I don't have visions and I don't hear voices, but ever since I was very small child I have had attacks of rationality every now and then and they've lasted me quite well.
KING: Meaning you believe Rosemary is kidding herself? Kidding public? Believes it, and there's something the matter? What is your belief about the process?
RANDI: I really don't know as far as Rosemary is personally concerned. But I know that most of these people are aware of the gimmicks, the methods that they use to produce the effect that they may be speaking with the dead. They can do this very easily, because people out there not only want it to be true, Larry, they need to it be true.
And they will accept any kind of nonsense, any kind of rationality, irrationality, pardon me, and any kind of rationalization of the failures of these people. It surprises me, constantly.
KING: So you believe, and then Rosemary and you can go at it back-and-forth, and I will just sit around and listen. I just want to clear up one other thing. You believe that the dead is dead and no one can communicate with them, or do you believe that possibility exists and hasn't been proven?
RANDI: I just don't know, Larry.
KING: What do you believe? You don't know.
RANDI: I don't know. I do know one thing: That it has not certainly been proven and we haven't and we have a million dollar prize at the James Randi Educational Foundation which is available to anyone who can prove it.
KING: Now on March 6, Sylvia Brown was here, the psychic, and she said she would take you up on this. Have you heard from her? RANDI: No, I have not, Larry. Isn't that mysterious? That's 91 days ago, and on our Web page we have the Sylvia clock which is ticking away. Ninety-one days as of today, and she has not responded. We have sent her letters, we've made phone calls.
KING: Rosemary, he will give you a million dollars if you could prove what you do.
ALTEA: Well, I would like to respond to what James just said. We are actually going to begin this conversation by agreeing, because, I agree with what he says, that there are many, many people who claim to be spiritual mediums, they claim to talk to the dead. There are many, people, we all know this. There are cheats and charlatans everywhere. And that is an unfortunate part of my work and my...
KING: How do we, the laymen, know who is who?
ALTEA: You have to be really skeptical. You know, everyone says to me James Randi is skeptical. Well my reply is, I don't know James -- and it is nice to meet you, by the way -- but everyone says he is skeptical. And I say that is great because so am I. I mean, I have questioned what I have done, and my life, my experiences as a child, my experiences since I have been an adult, my experiences of yesterday.
I question all the time what I'm seeing, what I'm hearing, what I'm doing. And James is absolutely right. There are many people out there who are taken advantage of. I'm in total agreement with this. They are taken advantage of because they are extremely vulnerable. I deal with people who have lost someone. People who have lost their children, people who have lost their mothers, their fathers, brothers, sisters.
I deal with loss all of the time. And I see how vulnerable those people are.
KING: Now James, do you believe that Rosemary is fraud? Misconceived? Something wrong? Or do you question whether she believes what she just said?
RANDI: Well, I have seen a number of tapes of Rosemary and she is not using any methods that are different from any of the other cold readers as we call them in the trade. This is a process of probing, of making suggestions, throwing out ideas, of asking questions -- mostly of asking questions.
And people who are subject to this, the victims of these scams are people who will ignore the failures. They only listen to the ones that are hits. We found out that James Von Prague for example and John Edward have about the same percentage of success. Thirteen percent of their guesses are right. That doesn't sound very a good to me.
KING: And so you think Rosemary -- if we take a call now, and someone says tell me about my father -- is guessing? RANDI: Well, we don't know who the phone call is coming from for one thing, Larry, and it's a little bit better doing it over the telephone simply because she can't get any immediate feedback from expressions such. But I would be interested to listen to it, yes.
KING: Do you think you could also do it?
RANDI: I have done it in the past, but the problem is people don't believe that I have psychic powers, you see. And yet when I do it successfully for an audience who doesn't know who I am, and we have done this many times over the years, they argue with me after and say, oh, yes, do you have psychic powers. How can you possibly deny it?
KING: You agree, Rosemary that we do want to believe you? You have an edge going in. I would love to know.
ALTEA: I agree. I think there are so many people who really need to know. They need to know where their loved ones are, did they die, what's happening. I think we all have that question, yes. So, I go in, perhaps with that advantage. People want to believe me. Which is why I'm really careful. I try to be really careful and I take my responsibilities in this area very, very seriously.
KING: What we are going to do on this show -- hold on, Jim -- is we're going to take a break and come back. We'll take some calls and we will ask Rosemary to investigate some of her things and we will ask James to comment as we go along. This a first: Rosemary Altea, and James Randi together. This is LARRY KING LIVE. We'll be right back.
KING: We are going to your phone calls shortly with Rosemary Altea, author of "You Own The Power," and James Randi, the paranormal skeptic known as "The Amazing Randi."
Now, are you saying, James -- just so we clear ourselves -- that Rosemary doesn't believe what she is saying?
RANDI: When I see the methods that Rosemary is using, Larry, they agree exactly with what we call cold reading, which is a hunt and fish sort of a system, asking questions, throwing out suggestions, and narrowing in on the thing.
So, I think that this is just another example of cold reading, and if it is, then certainly Rosemary is very much aware of what she is doing.
ALTEA: OK. I think -- I think it is fair to say that I'm either a liar, a cheat, a charlatan, without a doubt.
RANDI: Those are your words, not my words.
ALTEA: I'm saying, we have choices. I'm either a liar, a cheat, and a charlatan, or I'm crazy, and I have these weird visions that are purely from my imagination.
RANDI: Or the other possibility is that you're the real thing.
ALTEA: Exactly. Or that I am the real thing.
KING: One of those three has to be true.
ALTEA: I can only be one of those three, I always say, I'm on TV, I'm going to tell you absolutely that I'm not a liar, a cheat, and a charlatan. I totally believe. And I would sit and take a lie detector test for anyone. Strap me to the chair. You can ask me those three questions: Am I a liar and a cheat? Do I have these visions which mean nothing? Or am I telling the truth and have I really had these visions since I was child?
KING: But a crazy person might have visions, too. And not be lying.
ALTEA: The other question is, you know, I have people out there, listening, I have Kris and Mike out there listening. They lost their son in a very tragic accident, I told them weeks before they knew that there their boy was going to help a friend of his to find a cactus and to bring a cactus home from Colorado.
Neither of them knew what I was talking about. I had no idea what I was talking about. I was passing the message from Ryan to his friend.
KING: Ryan, who had passed.
ALTEA: Ryan who had passed.
And, sure enough, three weeks later, Kris determined she wasn't going to say anything to the friends. She was not going to mention cactus or anything. She was going to wait and see what happened. The friend called, her son's friend called up and said, I've got something for you. A cactus. I felt that Ryan was with me in the desert, and I picked this cactus.
KING: Randi -- James, how would you explain that?
RANDI: I don't explain it, Larry, because it is an anecdotal story. I deal with fact of evidence here and now.
ALTEA: It's a what?
KING: Anecdotal story.
ALTEA: That is a fact. These people are listening, in fact, there is a whole group of them listening. These people are listening, these people have had this experience, and, James, I can give you names, addresses, telephone numbers...
RANDI: These are all anecdotal stories, Rosemary. This is stuff that has happened in the past.
ALTEA: But there are other people's stories. They are other people's stories.
KING: In other words, James, what she is saying if she introduced you to Kris Smith, and Kris Smith testified to you he doesn't know her. She told him this story, what would -- would that be evidence?
RANDI: Larry, I have had testimony on evidence of this kind from leading TV personalities, people that you, yourself know, whose names I wouldn't mention, not to embarrass them, who have told me stories very much like this, and then when we have looked into them, we found out they didn't happen quite like that.
To the point, where the stories were not lies, but they were mistaken, in their reception of them.
KING: What then to you James is evidence?
RANDI: Evidence is something that we do here...
KING: You would give a million dollars to someone who did what?
RANDI: Who could prove that they really are speaking with the dead. That is all.
KING: How would they prove that to you? Example, what do you mean by prove?
RANDI: Well, we have a test that we are working on right now for a couple of other psychics, and what we do, is we have them do a reading for someone without any feedback. That is, without seeing their expressions and getting answers for them, and then we play that recording, for 10 other people, all of whom believe that it is being done for them and for them alone.
And they all give it a very high score, which is rather strange if their reading is not being done for them.
ALTEA: Well, I don't think that that is a way of proving, quite frankly, and...
RANDI: Well, I do.
ALTEA: I'm talking about, I'm talking about -- I actually think there are certain people who are very closed minded to my subject, James, and I think you are one of those people, and I...
RANDI: (UNINTELLIGIBLE), but I don't have a hole in my head.
ALTEA: If I, and nor I do, and I really feel that if I stood on my head and whistled Dixie, I don't think it would impress you one little book.
RANDI: No, it wouldn't.
ALTEA: I think you have your own set thoughts and feelings, and, I respect that, very much, I respect... RANDI: Oh, thank you.
ALTEA: ...your doubts and you're right to be skeptical. Everyone is right to be skeptical, Larry. We all should be skeptical.
KING: What if a psychic told you, something about someone you'd lost, that only you knew? Would that...
RANDI: I would be very, very much impressed with that.
KING: Impressed. Would it be proof to you?
KING: Can you read him?
ALTEA: I thought about this, you know, everyone said to me before I came on the show. Are you going to do James Randi? And I said, there is no point, because I mean, in a private session...
RANDI: Why not?
ALTEA: In a private session, I might consider it.
KING: Well, you believe he would say no, even if you hit it right?
ALTEA: No, I think that he would say, and rightly, remember, I'm the skeptic here, and rightly so, well, she could have checked up on that. You know, she has had two or three weeks or something, however long it is that we have known this show is going on.
I could have -- I mean, I can tell you honestly, I think I have seen him on TV, but I have never read anything about him and I don't know anything about you, James. I'm sorry, but I don't. But, you know, I'm -- I would take the lie detector test on that one, but...
KING: So, if you told him something about his late father...
ALTEA: But of course he could....
KING: ...he could say -- so you would be skeptical about him.
ALTEA: I could have had a team people out there, checking every detail about James and I could sift through it and so on and so forth. That is what he pretty much is saying that I do. And he could be right if...
RANDI: Larry, there certainly would be things she couldn't check up on, things that would be known only to me, I could give those to you in a sealed document, and then ask her for the answers. Right?
KING: That would work.
ALTEA: I guess so. I don't know if that would work. I don't know if that would work. KING: Let me get a break and what we'll do, we'll take some calls, we'll see what Rosemary does, and we'll see how James responds to it.
Since James is skeptic, we will ask him to do some calls. Hey, we'll try anything, don't go away.
KING: James Randi, before we take phone calls, I had the honor of interviewing Dr. J.D. Rhine of Duke, the inventor of the term ESP extrasensory perception, psychic phenomenon and the like. And he thinks it was just it was just in his infancy, he worked with cards, he would take a deck of cards, he would look at a card and ask, he did say that, while he thought there were a lot of charlatans, there were some people who would get 50 out of 52 cards and he was just beginning to examine this phenomena.
That is, he looks at a card, they tell him what the card is. Simple as that. Do you believe that there are things still unknown?
RANDI: Oh, yes, there are many things still unknown.
KING: Do you believe in the possibility of psychic phenomena?
RANDI: Absolutely, or I wouldn't be in this business.
KING: Right, so we can -- the possibly of transmitting thought exists.
RANDI: Oh, absolutely. The possibility, but the evidence for it just isn't there. Not yet.
KING: Dr. Rhine agreed. He said, they were on the road. But you -- if you see a guy would know 50 out of 52 cards, something is going on. Right?
RANDI: Oh, yes, you bet. Either he is a very clever performer and he is doing a trick, or he has got the power.
KING: No, Rhine is holding the cards.
RANDI: Oh, yes, we understand that.
KING: All right, let's take a call. Steubenville, Ohio, for Rosemary Altea and James Randi, hello.
CALLER: Hello, thank you for taking my call. I am familiar with both of your guests via television, and both have valid points, but Rosemary, my father believed in you totally and all things psychic, and he has passed away, and I wondered if you could tell me anything.
ALTEA: I don't know if this your father that I'm connecting with, that is the first thing I have to say. I never know who it's going to be. OK?
KING: Well, what are you hearing now?
ALTEA: What I'm -- first of all, I'm seeing, I'm looking, that is the process, I'm looking. And I'm looking at a man, very slim built. I have no idea of his height, I'm sorry, don't do heights well. But he is a very, very -- he is a slim built man, rather slender face, gaunt face, and I know that he had some problems with his chest and with his breathing.
ALTEA: He tells me that his passing was very sudden and very quick, you notice I haven't asked this lady one question yet, and I don't intend to.
KING: I know. We haven't heard her comment yet, so go ahead.
ALTEA: OK. Whether she understands me or not is not my issue here. I'm just trying to do my best for the man who is standing in front of me.
KING: And you are seeing this man?
ALTEA: And I am seeing this man standing in front of me.
KING: Now, how do you know he had chest problems?
ALTEA: Because he is talking to me, as I'm doing this. We're actually using some hand signals, and he sort of, you know, pointing to his chest, he is describing his breathing. He tells me that the end, his passing was very sudden and very quick. And it is surprising, because I know that he had problems, and he was sick before he passed. He is nodding as I'm saying that, I see him nodding as I say that.
But even though the family knew that he was sick, and he tells me -- he is laughing and he is telling me he knew he was sick, it was still somewhat of a shock when he passed.
KING: Now, stay right there. Ma'am?
KING: How correct is that.
CALLER: She is exactly correct.
KING: He was slim?
CALLER: On his looks and on his health. He had open heart surgery, and he had a pacemaker, but he was -- just matter of time, but we didn't know when.
KING: All right. Wait a minute, was it a surprise or not a surprise?
CALLER: It was a total shock. He had just planted a rosebush for my mother, and they had a nice day at the park, and he just was going to feed the dog and passed over.
KING: And he was drawn and thin, and...
ALTEA: May I just say there -- you mentioned a rosebush, and he holds up his hand and tells me that there were two special rosebushes. You only mentioned one, and he tells me that there were two.
CALLER: He planted two that day, you are right. One in my sister's yard and one in my mothers's.
KING: All right, now, hold on. James Randi, assuming -- we have to assume that this lady doesn't know Rosemary and just called out of the blue from Steubenville, that she is not a plant, assuming that. And let's assume that -- we have to, or else...
RANDI: Sure, sure.
KING: What do you make of what you just saw?
RANDI: It is a typical cold reading technique. Most people do die suddenly. There is nothing unusual about this whatsoever.
KING: Wait a minute...
KING: He is drawn and thin, he has chest problems, he dies suddenly, not one rosebush, two rose bushes?
RANDI: No, she said problems of breathing. When you die, you have problems with breathing. That is, I think, a medical fact. I don't think we can argue that very much.
ALTEA: James, you are a sweetheart. You are a sweetheart, you really are.
RANDI: Oh, thank you so much. Be patronizing, that's a good way out of it.
ALTEA: No, I'm really not. I'm not -- no, I'm not being patronizing. Please don't judge me. You don't know me.
RANDI: Sounds like it to me.
ALTEA: I'm really not. I think you are a sweetheart. I really...
RANDI: Rosemary, will you take us up on our $1 million offer and prove to me that you can speak with dead?
ALTEA: I knew that that question was coming.
KING: Why not do it?
RANDI: You could see that psychically, could you?
RANDI: How clever.
ALTEA: No, I'm just a really sane and sensible woman who knows that that question is going to come.
RANDI: What's the answer?
KING: Would you take him up.
ALTEA: I'm not sure. I'm not saying yes, I'm not saying no. I'm saying I'm not sure, because you know, many years ago, Larry, I had a very bad experience with some scientists who tested me, and tested me and tested me, and tested me. And every time I gave them something, they went away saying, "wow!" And then, a week later, two weeks later, they came back and said, "it's not enough." At first, it was "you are as unbelievable as the Turin Shroud," that was what they said.
RANDI: Well, we won't do it that way, Rosemary. What...
ALTEA: Well, how it -- well...
KING: Let me get a break, and then you come back and you tell her how you would do it, James.
KING: This is LARRY KING LIVE. We will continue taking phone calls. Rosemary's new book is "You Own the Power." James Randi is in Miami, Rosemary is here in Los Angeles, and Paul McCartney is here one week from tonight! Don't go away.
KING: James, this is a short segment, so I will be getting your response and then breaking, and then we will get back to phone calls. All right, what would she have to do? What would you do with her for the million?
RANDI: Well, what we do when we do tests, is we define them thoroughly in advance with the agreement of both sides, these are the questions that will be answered. And we will seal them up in an envelope, and she will ask the questions, or she will be asked the questions, or she will ask them of the spirit or whatever, and we will check them, very obviously, right in front of everybody else, there is nothing concealed. It is a simple, definitive test. She either succeeds or she fails.
KING: And if she succeeds -- with how many people does she have to succeed with, for example?
RANDI: Well, we would have to arrange the statistics. That's a different...
KING: Well, I mean, for your -- you give away a million if she did five people correctly in a row?
RANDI: Well, it would depend on what you mean by "correct." We have to do some definitions, that sort of thing.
KING: Well, correct is -- all right, a stranger comes in and what she just did? Two -- one rose bush, two rosebushes, would that be correct?
RANDI: Well, the woman supplied that information, remember.
KING: She said one rose bush.
RANDI: Larry, remember this fact now, when Rosemary went to do this reading, she said I'm just getting somebody, I don't know if this is the right person. So if she was completely wrong, all she has to do is back out of it by saying, gee I guess that wasn't the right person.
KING: That's true. That -- you could have backed out by -- if she said that's not the way he looked, then you said you might have been his uncle.
ALTEA: Here is what I'm...
KING: You could have said that.
ALTEA: No, I could have said -- here is what I'm saying basically is. I actually don't know who I'm talking to when I first start talking to somebody. And you know, I often say to somebody, if you don't understand what I'm saying, please check with your family. I had a situation recently where somebody's uncle came through from the spirit world. This person didn't know the uncle. The uncle died before she was born.
The uncle kept saying to her: "You have my bed, you have my bed." She thought I was crazy. I have to tell you, I wondered a little bit too. She didn't know what I was talking about, so she spoke to her father, and her father said that we gave you his bed.
KING: Randi, don't you want her to be right? Don't you want to know that you go on?
RANDI: No, not really, Larry. I don't have any needs in this situation. I just want to know what's true and what's not true. That's my only desire.
KING: You don't care to know that this is not the end of life?
RANDI: No, I do the best I can while I'm here. I try to do something while I really know that I am here, because I don't know what the future holds.
KING: But if you did know, you wouldn't want to know that?
RANDI: Well, if I did know and I knew there was another future, I perhaps wouldn't be the kind of person I am today, perhaps I'd be a little meaner.
KING: We will be right back with more phone calls, don't go away.
KING: We're back with Rosemary Altea, spiritual medium and healer, author of "You Own the Power." and James Randi, paranormal skeptic, known as the Amazing Randi, president of the James Randi Educational Foundation.
We go to Hanover, Pennsylvania, hello.
CALLER: Hello. I'm calling for information about my mother.
KING: Now, what do you need to know from her?
ALTEA: Nothing, actually. But again, even though it makes me sound like I'm doing this cold reading, I have to tell you, immediately I am hearing something. But I really -- I have to be really honest about this. I don't know if it's this person's mother. I don't know who this person is yet. If we had...
KING: Well, you have to assume it, right? I mean...
ALTEA: Not necessarily. No, it might be a grandmother, it might be somebody connected to somebody in the studio. I'm giving James incredible food here, absolutely. But I have to be really honest about what I'm doing. So I'm just saying that I am aware of and I don't see yet. I'm hoping to see, but I'm aware of a lady standing just behind me, just behind my right shoulder here, who tells me that she died of cancer.
She was very, very sick before she died. She's talking of hospital, she's talking of being in a hospital before she died, and I'm actually going use this little sketchpad here, because she's talking about a house. Something about a new house. Something about a move -- I don't know who she's talking about. I'm just telling you what I'm seeing here. A move, a house, renovations to part of the house, something about the roof of a house. It's something about the roof of the house collapsing, I think. She's -- I'm seeing very vaguely now, she's nodding at me as I'm saying that.
She is again coming back to her illness, and again, she tells me that -- she tells me that the end of her life was sort of quite quick, which is, you know, often not the case with people who pass with cancer. But she tells me it was a blessing when it happened. It was quite quick, quite fast. She had cancer, she tells me. She's talking about -- she's talking about getting over -- about thinking that she was doing better, thinking that she was doing well and being fine for a while, and then suddenly the whole thing came back again. And then it was really fast...
KING: Now, hold it right there. Ma'am?
CALLER: Yes. KING: Your comment.
CALLER: Yes, my mother did have cancer. And yes, she was -- had health problems, she thought she was fine and then it came back, and then she was gone within a matter of weeks.
KING: All right. What about the house?
CALLER: My brother is just moving into a brand new house. They just bought it and sold their house that they renovated, and they're moving in in about a month.
KING: So, to your knowledge, everything she said was on the mark?
RANDI: Hardly any comment on that, Larry. That applies have to thousands of your viewers that are watching the program right now.
KING: But she can't win with you.
RANDI: It applies to me, as well.
ALTEA: That's right. I can't win.
KING: It applies to you? Your mother dies of cancer quickly and someone's buying a new house?
RANDI: No, not of cancer, but the new house, that applies. Yeah, let's take what we can get out of this sort of thing. It is such a common thing that these things will apply to somebody.
KING: Wait a minute. We've taken two calls, and so far it's 100 percent.
RANDI: No, no, it's not 100 percent, Larry. You can't look at it as 100 percent. These people are fitting these things to the needs of Rosemary. What they're doing is exactly what she wants them to do -- searching for some sort of a connection somewhere along the line in order to make the thing work. She just mentioned a new house or moving, that sort of thing. That applies to almost everybody within a certain period of time. So it's universally applicable.
KING: What could she have said -- give me an example of something she could have said that would have blown your mind.
RANDI: Well, come up with a name or a very distinctive bit of appearance, not just "heavy" or "not heavy, with a smile, and she loves you" and that sort of thing. Come up with some evidence. KING: In other words, if she would have said, "Your mother's name was Molly and she had a scar across her cheek," that would have...
RANDI: Then we've got it, yes. But if it applies to everybody, Larry...
KING: Can we get names?
ALTEA: I -- If I can something, here, James. I actually -- I actually understand where you're coming from. I am not being patronizing. I understand where you're coming from.
RANDI: Well, I know that you understand it, yes.
ALTEA: However -- please allow me to finish. We're on a TV show. We have to be quick, we have to be fast. Larry, you know that.
KING: It's live.
ALTEA: And, you know, it's live, and, you know -- and also, we have to be somewhat entertaining when we're doing it. What I would say to this woman, if I had an hour on the telephone -- not sitting opposite someone necessarily, not reading their face or whatever it is we're supposed to do -- but if I had an hour, or even half an hour just to sit with this woman quietly, maybe we would get the name of Molly and the scar on the face and we would get a thousand, thousand other things, other details. I've done it. But we're on a TV show, and it's hardly fair to sit and judge on a TV show.
KING: Have you ever watched someone do it for a half hour or an hour, Randi, with a subject?
RANDI: Oh, yes. I've sat through endless hours of this sort of thing all over the world, in several different languages, and they never seem to produce.
KING: And you've never seen anyone -- you've never seen anyone that you at all could say, "Boy, there's something here"?
RANDI: No, no. Never, or I would have given away the million dollars long ago.
KING: We'll take a break and we'll be right back with more phone calls. This is LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.
KING: Tulsa, Oklahoma, for Rosemary Altea and James Randi. Hello.
CALLER: Yes, I would like to ask Rosemary if her voices are audible, and I would also like to ask her if she can contact someone who has been gone that was very close to me.
ALTEA: Yes, sometimes the voices are audible. Sometimes I hear them -- rather the sound is rather like something seeping through my skin. But without you being specific -- I'm sort of hanging myself here, I know. But without being specific as to who it is you'd want to speak to, I can say yes, I'm sure that certainly given time I could -- I could connect with many, many people who are close to you. But as I am speaking to you -- and this is a little bit unexpected and different for me -- I'm actually...
KING: Because she didn't tell you anything.
ALTEA: No, and I don't know if what I'm going to say means anything to her either. But I just -- as I'm just thinking to myself, I can't really see anyone or hear anything, I have caught a glimpse of a man standing slightly to my right and in front of me wearing -- actually wearing a uniform. In fact, wearing a strange hat which I can -- I can only think is like a beret. My father used to wear a beret, so I'm associating that. And wearing a uniform of some kind.
He is describing to me having had some problems -- he is -- I can tell you this man is tall, slender build. That's all I can tell you in the time we have. But he is talking about his leg and talking about an injury to a leg.
Now it wouldn't surprise me at all if this lady was completely confused by what I'm saying, because it's very sketchy to me, too.
KING: Caller, what do you make of that?
CALLER: Well, my father was very tall. He was 6 foot 5. He was in World War II -- excuse me -- World War I. I know nothing about a beret. However, he -- my dad was an old Southern gentleman and he always but always wore a hat. And when he went away, his cowboy hat went into the casket with him. Nothing wrong with his legs, though.
ALTEA: I didn't -- I have to be honest, I didn't see a cowboy hat. I didn't. I just saw a strange hat with a kind of a funny thing at the front and it reminded me of my father's beret cap.
KING: All right.
CALLER: My great-grandfather died of -- in the Civil War of an injury to the leg.
KING: Could have been him.
CALLER: Could have been.
KING: OK. Now, James, what do you make of that call first? And then...
KING: ... I know -- no, I'm sorry. Go ahead.
RANDI: Well, what you see now, Larry, is this hunting thing. We have the father. We could have the brother, the uncle. We could have the son. We can have the father -- grandfather. KING: But that caller didn't even say it was father, mother, brother, sister, and she got a male.
RANDI: Yeah, yeah, but she's got half of the spectrum to work with, male or female. And she did hit on male. That's true. So she had 50 percent of a chance of being correct there.
But you see, this man in his reconstruction of it is going all the way back to his grandfather to try to make it fit. So we got two different people involved here, the sitter...
KING: Of course, he's trying -- he wants her to be right.
RANDI: ... the person who's having the reading done is forced into making it work.
KING: Now, Rosemary was saying to me during the break that she doesn't think there's any way anybody could get your million because you have set up a condition that's impossible.
RANDI: No. That's not true at all.
ALTEA: Well, can I...
RANDI: We make the rules in advance in agreement with both sides.
ALTEA: OK. First of all, I think that James is talking about people like me performing tricks and using tricks, and so on and so forth, and I think, James, you have a pretty good trick up your sleeve, too, because I think the million dollars is totally unobtainable, because -- let me finish.
KING: Let her explain.
ALTEA: What I think you're doing is you're saying basically, I want you to get through this door, OK, which seems to be a fairly easy thing -- and it sounds really, really plausible that someone like me might be able to get through that door, except you fail to tell us that behind the door you stand or someone you know stands with a lock. And you pick that lock and you're there with another lock.
ALTEA: And you're -- you're shaking your head, but I am saying to you you're doubting me. You have every right to, and I understand your skepticism. But I have to tell you that I believe you're million dollars is completely unobtainable and it's a great trick.
KING: James, give us a simple example. What might be something you would ask her to do that could win her a million dollars? I know about writing it all up and everything. Give me an example. What -- you meet with her next week. You would say to her what?
RANDI: We would sit down and determine what she believes her powers are and to what extent they go, how far they will go, with what accuracy they will go. And then we would agree on a set of questions that would be asked that would have to have answers correct within a certain degree. We can do this.
KING: A question like -- like what? All right, give me an example.
RANDI: Such things as the gender of a person. That's a yes or no. That's a binary question, either right or wrong. Related, not related, old or young. And we'd have to determine what that would mean, too. A set of binary questions like this could easily decide whether or not Rosemary has the power.
KING: And how many questions would you want to have her respond to? As an example.
RANDI: It depends on what she says she can do and with what accuracy.
KING: With what you've seen tonight, what would you set up? How many questions?
RANDI: Oh, I would set up at least 40 questions.
KING: For -- and if she were right on 35, would she fail to get the million?
RANDI: You'd have to talk to a statistician about that, Larry. I'm not a statistician.
KING: Well, what would -- you give me an example.
What would you give the million for? What would you give the million for? Would she have to get 40 right?
ALTEA: Another wall.
RANDI: I can't talk the statistics with you. We have to refer that to our statisticians.
ALTEA: Another lock on the door. It's a very good trick, James, and I applaud you.
RANDI: There are no tricks being imposed here by me, Rosemary.
ALTEA: I think it's a really good trick. I think...
RANDI: The tricks are on your part.
ALTEA: Yeah, I think...
RANDI: I don't play tricks on people when I'm doing these tests.
RANDI: We agree at the test in advance, and you either pass or you don't pass. Will you try, yes or no?
KING: I'm asking a simple question, James. What is passing?
RANDI: It depends on what the test is, Larry. We have to assign the statistics to it.
KING: All right. A 40-question test, what passes? You know you're going to give away a million dollars.
RANDI: That's true.
KING: The statistician -- I assume you know statisticians. I assume you...
RANDI: No, I don't -- I know statisticians.
KING: You've never...
RANDI: I don't know statistics.
KING: So if she met with you tomorrow, you couldn't tell her what -- how many of the 40 she'd have to answer.
RANDI: Yes, I could, because I would have the right people on hand to advise me on the statistics. It's that simple.
KING: And if they told you she was 30 percent right, that would be considered extraordinarily accurate and you'd give her the million, if she had the 30 of the 40 questions right?
RANDI: If that were the statistical expectation that we could have, yes.
KING: Ah! But who sets the expectation? You can't tell us -- you have to give the statistician the expectation.
RANDI: That's right.
KING: The -- what do you ask him that he give you?
RANDI: The statistician will tell us what is significant in a set of binary questions, yes. The statistician will tell us if there were 40 questions, she would have to get x number right.
KING: I see.
RANDI: If there were 50 questions, you'd have to get...
ALTEA: I have something I don't understand.
KING: And he or -- and he or she, the statistician, would define "significant"?
RANDI: Yes, that's true.
ALTEA: I have something I don't understand. I have something here that I don't understand, because if -- James, what you're doing, and this deal is really genuine and you really expect to give it away this million dollars...
RANDI: No, I don't expect to give it away, no.
ALTEA: Well, OK -- well, you put it out there.
RANDI: I'm offering it to you.
ALTEA: OK, OK. If you -- well, then, you know, if you're seriously offering, not just to me but to anyone, I would have thought you'd really got this down. You would have had your numbers, you would have had your statisticians.
I mean, a million dollars is a lot of money. You don't just give it away and then come on TV show and say, well, it depends on this, it depends on...
RANDI: It all depends on what you claim your powers are and what your accuracy is.
ALTEA: I -- you know, I'd love you to you listen to this show. If you're recording this show, I would love you to listen to this show afterwards, because you're doing to me, to us, exactly what you're claiming I do to other people. You're doing exactly -- you are fishing, you are...
KING: I've got to get a break here. I'm going to have James respond. We'll come right back with Rosemary and James. Don't go away.
KING: Dubuque, Iowa, hello.
CALLER: Thank you for taking my call. I just wanted to touch base with Rosemary -- hello.
KING: James, you are not hearing the call? Go ahead, ma'am. I will repeat it, James, if you don't hear it. OK.
CALLER: Yes, I just wanted to touch base with Rosemary. I just felt this need to give her a call. And I lost someone real close to me. About two and half years ago, and I wanted to know if she could tell me something about it.
KING: You are not telling us is it a mother, father, what?
CALLER: It is my mother.
ALTEA: Well, I am, right away from your mother, I have to tell you, because I actually, as this lady was talking to me, and I still see her now, I see a young girl probably around teenaged -- maybe teenage, who died very suddenly, very tragically, due to an accident. So, I mean, I know this not your mother. But, I can see her, she is standing in the studio. She's standing right in front of this camera over here.
And she is describing this accident which was very sudden. She is talking about a bike and a bike accident. I'm probably confusing this lady enormously, but that is what I'm seeing very, very clearly.
KING: You don't see the mother?
ALTEA: I actually, am catching brief glimpses of a lady. I'm really lousy at descriptions. She certainly fatter than I am. She's a rather plump-built lady, she has some heart problems.
KING: Now let me ask the caller because of time -- did you -- any association with that young girl, caller?
CALLER: No, I cannot find any.
KING: Did your mother die of heart problems?
CALLER: No, she didn't.
KING: OK. You are not seeing the mother then. Now, Randi didn't hear the early part of the call, so this not...
ALTEA: What I would say to this lady and I know this -- I know this happened on this show, you know. We tell people something and I would say to you, please go home and check with your family about this young girl because somehow she is connecting to you and sees you as a connection to someone in your family.
KING: James, you say that's a cop-out, right?
RANDI: I believe it is a cop-out, Larry, because, she is now making these people search for an answer somewhere or another. I have heard these people say that it applies to somebody else in the studio, or someone in another building nearby. They make it work somehow. It has got to apply to someone. If you say you have a transvestite brother-in-law named Percy, someone is going to have that brother-in- law with that name.
ALTEA: What happens if this lady goes back to her family and says to her father, for instance, you know, Rosemary saw a young teenaged girl who was killed on a bike and he says, my sister was a teenager and was killed on a bike. And that happens over and over and over again.
KING: Would that be a point in her favor to your questionnaire, James?
RANDI: Certainly it would, Larry, but we are dealing here with things that are so widely dispersed. There are so many guesses being made, so many if you count each one of them, you find that there are many more than you expected, and many more than you remember. KING: I have got to get another break and then we'll have some final thoughts from our guests. Don't go away.
KING: We have had one person holding. I will take it. Quickly, please, because we are running short on time. Pefferlaw, Ontario, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry. Thank for you taking my call. Rosemary, I've lost mom and dad and I just wondered if they were OK, or if you know anything about them.
KING: Can you answer that quickly, because I have to...
ALTEA: The answer is absolutely yes. I'm sure they are together they are OK, and I'm sure James Randi is going to say something about that answer, but I believe it 100 percent.
KING: James, do you think Rosemary is deliberately defrauding or do you think she believes what she is saying?
RANDI: Well, now that I have seen her a little closer and in operation, she is doing cold reading. It's the old technique. It is very, very old, and it has all the earmarks of this guessing game, and talking nice to people. She never uses these word "dead" you notice.
KING: It is false.
ALTEA: I actually don't believe in the word "dead."
RANDI: What do you call a mouse that's been run over by a truck?
ALTEA: Michael, I call that a mouse that has been run over by a truck.
RANDI: I see.
ALTEA: I believe in the spirit world. I will take a lie detector test any time.
RANDI: Oh, never mind the lie detector test. You know very well they won't work. Come on.
ALTEA: Actually, Larry agrees with me.
RANDI: Do a test.
KING: With the right person doing it, lie detector tests are fairly accurate, Jim. But you'd want more than that, right?
RANDI: I don't want lie detector tests, Larry. I want an actual test for evidence. Evidence will speak for itself.
KING: All right. ALTEA: You are right. Can I answer that? Evidence does speak for itself. I have been doing this for 20 years, and I have testimonials from millions of people all over the world.
RANDI: Testimonials are not evidence.
ALTEA: Evidence proves it is right.
KING: I hope the two you can get together, work something out, and hire a statistician. Thank you, James Randi in Miami. Thank you Rosemary Altea here in Los Angeles. Author of "You Own The Power."
A couple of quick program notes. Friday night George Carlin is here for the hour -- it's going to be a riot. Next Tuesday night, exclusive with Paul McCartney. We invite you to stay tuned now for CNN TONIGHT. It is next.
We thank Rosemary Altea and James Randi for being our guests. I'm Larry King. And we thank my friend Pat Sajak for sitting in last night with that great show on the death of Anthony Quinn. Good night.
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