James is a member of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), an organization dedicated to investigating claims of the paranormal through a scientific point of view and giving the results to the public as well as fellow scientists. Other famous members of CSICOP include Carl Sagan, Isaac Asimov, mathematician Martin Gardner, and science television host Bill Nye.
James received the Humanist Distinguished Service Award from the American Humanist Association in 1990.
James has an asteroid named by NASA after him, 3163 Randi.
James won the prestigious MacArthur Foundation's "Genius" award in 1986, for his efforts to educate the public about pseudoscience and superstition.
James has written two novels, "Flim Flam" (1982), in which he gave his observations on claimed supernatural phenomena such as UFOs, The Bermuda Triangle, Divining and other topics, and "Conjuring" (1991), a historical encyclopedia about famous magicians and their tricks of the trade.
James refused to perform his magic act in the 1950s and 1960s at any theater in the United States that segregated audiences, and would arrange his tours to avoid such theaters or cancel if he found out the places he was booked at had racist policies.
James will pay $1 million to any person that can prove they have a psychic/supernatural power to him. He first offered $10,000 for this, beginning in 1964, and to this date, has never paid out due to his disproving/debunking close to 1,000 claims so far.
James toured with Alice Cooper on his 1974 tour, acting as dentist and executioner for his stage act. He designed the guillotine Alice was famed for using in his performances.
James broke Houdini's record of surviving inside a sealed coffin, staying 11 minutes longer than Houdini's 93-minute record, in 1955.
James exposed the televengelist and self-proclaimed psychic Peter Popoff as a fraud in 1987, after finding that so-called readings Popoff was giving to his congregation members were actually information gathered before by employees posing as fellow audience members and transmitted to him via a wireless microphone in his ear, with his wife reading it to him as well as giving him directions as to which people to "read" next.
James was close personal friends with Johnny Carson, appearing many times on The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson.