Rinn grew up in New York City. He was a friend of Harry Houdini and exposed many fraud mediums throughout his career. He was a former one year member of the American Society for Psychical Research and a lifelong inquirer into psychic matters. He was a member of the Society of American Magicians.
His book Searchlight on Psychical Research (1954) was described in a review as the "death knell of spiritualism" as it exposed the fraud and tricks involved in spiritualist activities. Rinn would offer huge amounts of money, up to $10,000 to anyone who could demonstrate a psychic event, however as nobody ever did, the money went unclaimed. He was friends with another debunker of spiritualism the magician John Mulholland.
- Searchlight on Psychical Research (1954)
- Sixty Years of Psychical Research (1950)
- Massimo Polidoro. (2001). Final Séance: The Strange Friendship Between Houdini and Conan Doyle. Prometheus Books. p. 111. ISBN 978-1573928960
- Joseph McCabe. (1920). Is Spiritualism based on Fraud?: The Evidence Given by Sir A.C. Doyle and Others Drastically Examined. London: Watts & CO. p. 128
- The Month. (1954). Volume 11. Simpkin, Marshall, and Company. p. 189
- William Seabrook. (1940). Witchcraft: Its Power in the World Today. Harcourt, Brace. p. 373
- John Mulholland. (1938). Beware Familiar Spirits. C. Scribner's Sons. p. 126. ISBN 978-0684161815
- Andrew Neher. (1980). The Psychology of Transcendence. Prentice-Hall. p. 211. ISBN 978-0486261676