End of skeptic James Randi's million dollar challenge

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68 Responses to “End of skeptic James Randi's million dollar challenge”

  1. Fnarf says:

    “The plumber still wants to know how wrench he had just put down next to him on the floor ended up on the other side of the room.”

    Well, gee, I guess that settles it, then. No way a plumber has ever misplaced a tool. I assume the million-dollar check is on its way to you.

  2. Bobbie Wood says:

    I’m sure I’ll get raked for this, but there are a lot of human experiences that we don’t have explanations for. It doesn’t mean they’re false or untrue. I always remember that in a hundred, 500, or a thousand years, people will think we were completely backwards. So, enjoy your glorious feeling of being right since you might be long gone before “proof” shows up. Keeping an open mind just isn’t that hard.

  3. Takuan says:

    Raked? I should hope not. Your position is the only correct one.

  4. shortfatsteve says:

    The fallacy of Randi’s $1M Challenge is the assumption that anyone would could prove paranormal phenomenon exist would want a million bucks. I’ve been a fan of theoretical biologist Rupert Sheldrake (www.sheldrake.org) and his “Seven Experiments That Could Change the World” for years, long before I’d heard of JREF and the challenge, and I think that if anyone could devise an experiment to meet that challenge, Sheldrake could. Randi’s thrown down the gauntlet to Sheldrake before, but I get the strong impression that Sheldrake, Cambridge Trinity College’s Perrott-Warrick Scholar and a Fellow of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, honestly isn’t interested in Randi’s money.

    His experiment that tests to see if dogs know when their owners are coming home through some kind of telepathy or paranormal intuition is probably the best candidate for the challange, and Alex Tsakiris from the Skeptiko podcast thinks so too. He’s trying to put together an experiment to claim the million dollar prize, and I encourage everyone here who’s interested to see if he can mount his challenge in time to subscribe to Alex’s podcast (www.skeptico.com). You might also enjoy the excellent Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe podcast from the New England Skeptical Society (www.theskepticsguide.org) who will doubtless be watching Alex, who’s been a guest on their show, as he makes his bid for the money.

  5. Cris says:

    It is so tiresome hearing “science don’t know everything”. This implies a complete lack of understanding of what the word science even means.

    Science is not a “club” controlled by skeptics, its a METHOD of DISCOVERY!

    SCIENTIFIC METHODS ARE AVAILABLE TO ANYONE, NO MATTER WHAT THEY BELIEVE! What a concept!

    Ghost hunters, Christians, Buddhists, libertarian librarians ,palm readers and even Blonds can use the exact same systems of disovery and testing to prove their claims! Amazing!

    So all you believers that are offended by us skeptics, use science against us!

  6. Nelson.C says:

    Takuan @37: True as far as it goes, but that doesn’t mean that any odd psychic ability that the mind of man can imagine necessarily exists, now or in the future. If it can’t be demonstrated to a skeptic, then it probably doesn’t exist.

  7. iguanoid says:

    I think Randi just wants all the mutants to show up for the prize money so he can register them a la X-men.

    Plus I think he has a huge mancrush on Sylvia Browne.

  8. Mark Turner says:

    A true skeptic and scientist would follow the evidence wherever it leads, not simply that which conveniently fits in his worldview.

    Randi’s mind is already made up: he is not an uninterested third party. Its his money on the line and he’s the judge of his contest. How could anyone expect a fair fight?

    Even so, touting the unclaimed prize as proof that psi does not exist is trying to prove a negative. Just because I’ve not caught any elephants in my backyard elephant trap doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

    We don’t know the merest fraction of how the universe really works. Only a fool would believe science has a ready (and correct) answer for everything.

    Science progresses only when we assume we don’t know everything we think we do. That’s what true skeptics do.

    (Flames cheerfully piped to /dev/null.)

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  10. Anonymous says:

    There are already plenty of pseudoscientific “ghost hunters.”

    That’s why they call them “ghost hunters” and not “ghost finders.”

  11. funeralpudding says:

    #12: “I have heard a man’s footsteps walking down the upstairs hallway when I was alone in the house.”

    How did you know they weren’t a woman’s footsteps if you only heard them?

    “For some people, there is no amount of evidence that will convince them.”

    How about a little evidence? A shred, perhaps, is that too much to ask? You make it seem as if the mountains of evidence supporting the paranormal are somehow being ignored. The challenge is very simple and still has two years, it’s a shame it won’t be used after that, it is a great weapon against deluded fools who think they can argue their way into making fairy tales real.

    #38: “I get the strong impression that Sheldrake, Cambridge Trinity College’s Perrott-Warrick Scholar and a Fellow of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, honestly isn’t interested in Randi’s money”.

    So your point is why would somebody as esteemed as a “noetic” scientist be interested in something as real as money? Hee-LAR-ious. If he could prove any of his quackery, you would think he would do so just to prove he could, then donate the money, perhaps to the “Institute of Noetic Sciences”. These charlatans usually have better excuses for dodging the challenge than “don’t need the money”, surely his own flimsy excuse is better.

    Please reconsider, Randi – surely you can streamline the process somehow, and use insurance instead of a trust. How are we to survive in a world dominated by “noetic” scientists? You are not just losing your most effective weapon – we are, too.

  12. Anonymous says:

    James Randi is a crook, who has nothing but bad intentions for the world. He has no formal scientific training and tries to make claims about science. He is just as bad as the fake he has exposed.

  13. Skep says:

    The fallacy of Randi’s $1M Challenge is the assumption that anyone would could prove paranormal phenomenon exist would want a million bucks.

    Yes, these people wouldn’t even want to donate the $1,000,000 to give it to a worthy charity, or to further research in their field. Amazingly they don’t even seem to want to win the prize just for the sake of knocking a skeptic down a peg. Curious that…

    One would think that $1,000,000 would go a long way to funding research for Sheldrake’s theories. Clearly Sheldrake would also refuse a Nobel prize since, that too, is a cash prize. Or, alternate hypothesis, they know they can’t demonstrate their alleged paranormal power under proper controlled conditions and use the whole “I’m not interested in money” thing as a transparent excuse for avoiding an embarrassing and public failure of their claims. I know which hypothesis my money is on…

    BTW, remember when bandying about a paranormal proponents college and university affiliations that many colleges and universities also have entire departments dedicated to the study, rationalization and belief of unproven paranormal theories–they are called theology departments. So, a college or university affiliation doesn’t necessarily mean one isn’t wrong in theory. Note, too, that some academics are less than rigorous in their studies.

  14. Hanglyman says:

    I can understand why Randi is doing this, but it’s a shame that the challenge has to go. It was always a good way of calling out frauds, and I think it’s needed now more than ever, but 10 years is an awfully long time to do that sort of thing without getting burned out. I wonder what “projects” Randi plans to do with the money now?

    Aldyth- If the paranormal activity is as frequent and impressive as you claim, why haven’t you videotaped it, photographed it, or had a scientist or team of scientists witness it? It may not happen on command, but if it’s happening enough to bother you, surely you’ve had at least a few opportunities to do this.

    You say there’s “no amount of evidence” that will convince some people, but you haven’t provided any evidence whatsoever. You may be secure in your belief of what you’ve seen, but it’s unreasonable to expect other people to believe you without something to back it up.

  15. billy says:

    there are skeptics and then there are pseudo-skeptics.
    pseudo-skeptics have already, quite solidly, made up their minds and will not budge.
    i don’t trust randi to be an actual skeptic.
    the emotional frothing that occurs in people debunking or calling out ‘frauds’ scares me as much as the religious right.

    rocks do not fall from the sky !

    we trust our instruments more than the brains and hands that built them.

  16. Matt Staggs says:

    Agreed. What a waste of time.
    I couldn’t imagine having to live through ten years of dealing with kooks who think they have paranormal abilities.

  17. Skep says:

    Science progresses only when we assume we don’t know everything we think we do. That’s what true skeptics do.

    Agreed, and Randi doesn’t think he knows everything. The prize isn’t just for debunking, it is also a legitimate prize for anyone who can demonstrate a paranormal ability under controlled circumstances. I think we would all be blown away if such a power turned out to be real. However, we can’t study paranormal powers if all the people claiming to have them are frauds and self-deluded people. We must separate out the wheat from the chaff to find the real thing rather than waste our time with bunk like “psychic” spoon benders and homeopaths. Unfortunately, it seems that chaff is all there is, only the chaff refuse to admit it.

    Even so, touting the unclaimed prize as proof that psi does not exist is trying to prove a negative.

    That isn’t the way Randi uses the challenge. However, we can point to any individual psychic huckster and say “If you can really do that then you can win the $1,000,000 prize.” This shines a light on hucksters who can either put up or, should, shut up. The $1,000,000 amount is designed to be high enough so people can’t say “Oh, I’m not interested in money” because they are also welcome to just prove what they do is real to the world and give the money to charity. Amazing how “uncharitable” those hucksters to try and dodge a chance to prove their abilities to the world are…

    So, while you can’t prove an unrestricted negative, the lack of scientific evidence for the paranormal in spite of many attempts is highly suggestive that the standard paranormal claims are all bunk. Extraordinary claims require extra ordinary evidence, and given the lack of even ordinary evidence we can safely disbelieve in all the standard paranormal claptrap just as we disbelieve in leprechauns and fairies. In a true skeptic this sort of disbelief is always willing to change in the case of sufficient evidence, but as a practical matter we are not required, nor should we, claim “agnosticism” towards the infinite number of improbable, non-falsifiable claims. I’m an atheist towards claims of invisible pink unicorn deities rather than an agnostic even though the claim is non-falsifiable.

  18. ernie says:

    This is really lame. My powers have only just begun to blossom and by, oh February or so I should be ready to go public.

  19. Nicholas Weaver says:

    THis is what I emailed to the contact link:

    One thought.

    The stated reason is to free up the prize money for better uses around the institution. This is eminently sensible.

    However, rather than discontinuing the Million Dollar challenge, have you considered the possibility of increasing the size by an order of magnitude, by arranging for an insurance policy instead of a trust fund?

    For example, Berkshire-Hathaway has long specialized in long-odd, huge payout insurance policies (eg, there was a contest that Pepsi Cola ran about a decade ago, with a theoretical billion dollar prize, backed by a Berkshire-Hathaway insurance policy.)

    It is probably worth investigating whether the $1M trust fund could be split in half, with $500K for other operations, and $500K to buy a suitably large ($10M? More?) insurance policy, especially now that there is an established record.

    If you think the charlitans get pressure refusing a $1M prize attempt, how do you think they would react to a $10M prize?

  20. maestrosync says:

    #2: This is really lame. My powers have only just begun to blossom and by, oh February or so I should be ready to go public.

    Great! Sounds like you’ll still have almost two years to collect your winnings.

  21. Anonymous says:

    I find it hard to believe that they just kept 1M dollars lying around in case someone could claim it. Sounds like they had a bad accountant. Think of the investment over ten years of a million bucks!

  22. stovis says:

    #33 – “poor fools. I have long disstained Randi’s petty offering since my powers make me billions – along with the rest of my Illuminati brethren”

    I see you weren’t blessed with the power of spelling. Shazam.

  23. Keneke says:

    As important as skepticism is (I’m a former Randroid myself), I’m a little glad this sort of sneering confrontationalism is being assigned to history. I mean, I am all for protecting the average person from scammers, but I found myself in the midst of some buzz-killing bile over there.

    My view: belief is as much a product of evolution as logical thinking. It is not a malaise or by-product. Yes, it must be (oft times aggressively) tempered by logic, just like our logic must be tempered by our sense of self. But we are more than just chemical reactions; even a materialist like Hofstadter amazes at emergent consciousness.

  24. Takuan says:

    “shazam” is traditionally and correctly rendered; “Shazam!” (oh the tragedy of cultural illiteracy!)

  25. nmhdi says:

    ” #12 posted by Aldyth , January 8, 2008 10:40 AM

    The Amazing Randi set up his “challenge” so it couldn’t be won.”
    ======================

    Aldyth, this comment you made (the first one) demonstrates clearly that you do not know anything about how Randi’s Million Dollar Challenge actually works.

    Please visit Randi’s website and read about it (or read his book “Flim-Flam”, which I highly recommend) and find out how the challenge works before opening your mouth (and sticking your foot in it).

    Since you appear to need some help finding Randi’s Million Dollar Challenge, here’s the link:
    http://www.randi.org/joom/content/view/38/31/

  26. Skep says:

    Oddly enough, I don’t feel the need to insult anyone here for disagreeing with me.

    Maybe because I’m secure in who I am and what I have experienced.

    Have a nice day.

    Sorry if I don’t buy that. You wrote:

    The Amazing Randi set up his “challenge” so it couldn’t be won. Oddly enough, paranormal activity doesn’t happen on command within the parameters he set. So, the whole thing was a crock anyway.

    You attempt imply–without evidence–that the eminent James Randi (“The Amazing Randi” is his former stage name, which he no longer goes by) is a fraud and falsely claim that the long standing and respected JREF $1,000,000 challenge is a crock. I’d say that such accusations border on libel, though they may not actyakkt cross it. You most certainly are a person who insults others here in this forum, just not face to face with other posters.

    Maybe because I’m secure in who I am and what I have experienced.

    I never said that self-deluded people weren’t happy or secure in who they are, they just aren’t scientifically correct in their assertions of proof of paranormal activity. Also, please keep in mind that there are many levels of delusion, and that such a characterization does not necessarily mean mentally deficient or diseased, it just means that you have been fooled in some way and continue to believe in that false belief. (IMO, as are all my posts.)

  27. Takuan says:

    The most telling point: Anyone, absolutely anyone, who could have “read” one thought consistently or “levitated” a fleck of dandruff in a vaccuum chamber three times running, could have walked away with the money. The least, tiniest little thing or deed…

    But nooooo! Cruel world we live in – without magic.

    I suspect the greatest sorrow of Randi’s life is the utter absence of a successful candidate.

  28. Archipictor says:

    Ach! The stars are not right yet! Don’t you see? Merely two and half years for the Great Cthulhu (Ia! Ia!) to awake from his sleep and I could collect that money and enjoy my life!

    Er.. Wait…

  29. Brainspore says:

    I understand that ten years of dealing with kooks of all stripes must have been very draining, but I’ll still be sad to see the prize go. I think it was arguably the JREF’s biggest contribution to the arsenal of rationalists.

    Perhaps another organization such as the CSICOP will take up the reigns with a similar challenge.

  30. paul beard says:

    Ya know,f if he put up a website with ad support to display all this crud, the prize money might re-appear, as if by magic ;-)

    seriously, I think putting that stuff up for review could provide hours of entertainment, maybe put out a book that details the common threads that run through all these ideas.

  31. Anonymous says:

    james randi was waaaaay to picky about who he chose for the testing.
    had he been more open minded and less restricted, he may have gotten un-expected results ;)

    is it fear, james?

    or snobbyness?

  32. TheOceaneer says:

    I have to ask: if you have a haunted house with a recurring, manifesting entity and all sorts of unexplainable (by conventional means) phenomena, why not fill the place to the gills with sensors and scientists, and end once and for all the afterlife debate? You’d be lauded by millions.

  33. Kakumei keahi says:

    Can’t really blame him, that is alot of money to put aside to prove a point.

  34. billy says:

    all these comments make think the following:

    magic doesn’t work that way.

    why can’t multiple worlds overlap making certain features of human experience (dreams, for example) appear slippery to tests ? why can’t individuals within our species sometimes access domains erected by the species as a whole ?

    maybe there’s just more to nature that we haven’t figured out yet ? larger patterns, maybe even jazz formations in the basic rythyms.

    &

    where’s physics with this stuff ? what happened to that east meets west / this is the world thing ?

    don’t tell me all scholarship on human potential is a crock !


    #30 Photon

    thankfully i do not know folks making such claims !
    i like considering positions, though !

    and i do know folks who admit to the existance of sub-atomic scales and also screech that materialism is the only model.
    insist that subtle features of reality/the universe/life cannot be measured because they aren’t there (yay science !), admit billions of stars and galaxies exist but that our godless atheistic rock is the only one graced with life, etc…

    lot’s of opinions out there !

    and that pesky oh-so-measurable force called love continues to elude us !

    of course that’s just funny nervous system stuff ! pshw !

    -

    just some thought.
    earnest, cloying thoughts.

  35. billy says:

    the person who deserves the million dollars is the one who can prove that the sum total of human perceptual experience is as limited as their own.

  36. unclemike says:

    I knew he was going to do this.

  37. Skep says:

    maybe there’s just more to nature that we haven’t figured out yet ? larger patterns, maybe even jazz formations in the basic rythyms.

    Of course there is stuff out there we don’t understand. Unlike many religions which claim to have all the answers (“God did it!” QED), science doesn’t claim to know everything. Science is a never ending process to understand the world around us through rigorous and systematic study. And unlike religion, science incorporates new knowledge as it is validated over time.

    Now, if you can demonstrate an ability that contradicts known physics in a scientifically testable way you’d walk away with a $1,000,000. The $1,000,000 challenge is a challenge of exploration. It isn’t just a debunking tool, it is a tool to prove the existence of legitimate paranormal abilities–if they exist. So far, none have been proven to exist.

    and that pesky oh-so-measurable force called love continues to elude us !

    of course that’s just funny nervous system stuff ! pshw !

    Sorry, love is a not an immeasurable mysterious ethereal force. It is a biological instinct developed to create the social bonds to raise families and to operate as a tight knight society. While we can’t predict the complexities of of our incredibly complex bodies and nervous systems, human behavior, and love, are all entirely in the realm of the normal world and are in no way “paranormal.”

    earnest, cloying thoughts.

    Earnest, perhaps. Rambling, definitely. It is hard to make out your point, if any, given the seeming stream of consciousness writing…

  38. Skep says:

    I have to ask: if you have a haunted house with a recurring, manifesting entity and all sorts of unexplainable (by conventional means) phenomena, why not fill the place to the gills with sensors and scientists, and end once and for all the afterlife debate? You’d be lauded by millions.

    There are already plenty of pseudoscientific “ghost hunters.” They like to wander around with super-sensitive thermometers and EMF detectors so that they can declare any reading proof what whatever phenomena they happen to be chasing, even though they offer no thesis as to why ghosts need to leave electromagnetic signatures. Note that such hunters, like dowsers, always find “something,” which is especially easy to do since they aren’t actually finding anything, merely asserting that they have.

  39. vellon says:

    @7 In an interview by the SGU ( http://www.theskepticsguide.org/ ) James Randi commented that he wasn’t comfortable creating a book/DVD detailing the going-ons of the million dollar challenge. The con-artists caught on quickly that Randi couldn’t be fooled, and the ten years of the challenge were spent testing deranged/deluded ‘psychics’ the majority of whom Randi felt should be receiving some professional therapy.

  40. Takuan says:

    I once subscribed to the physiological/biochemical school of love. I have since discovered love remains long after the juices have evaporated. Don’t fear time.

  41. Skep says:

    I have since discovered love remains long after the juices have evaporated.

    Ewww! TMI.

  42. photon says:

    “the person who deserves the million dollars is the one who can prove that the sum total of human perceptual experience is as limited as their own.”

    If anyone made that claim it would be up to them to prove it.

    I don’t know anyone who makes that claim though. Do you?

  43. Takuan says:

    (tourist!)

  44. billy says:

    a) randi uses his hidden psychic powers to thwart would-be winners of the prize

    b) the oath i took at the lamasery forbids me to display certain abilities for frivolous reasons

    c) …

  45. Aldyth says:

    The Amazing Randi set up his “challenge” so it couldn’t be won. Oddly enough, paranormal activity doesn’t happen on command within the parameters he set. So, the whole thing was a crock anyway.

    As someone who has seen the same ghost on two different occasions in different rooms of the same house, I know that the paranormal events that happen in my haunted house is real. I have heard a man’s footsteps walking down the upstairs hallway when I was alone in the house. Objects get moved, occasionally while you are watching.

    For some people, there is no amount of evidence that will convince them. Any personal experiences they might have would be attributed to seizure activity, hallucinations, or high EMF fields.

    The Amazing Randi is one of those.

    By the way, I am a middle aged professional person who generally passes for sane.

  46. Anonymous says:

    I know that psi phenomena is real, and that it is not technical. because it is not technical, it is very difficult to test is with controlled conditions.although,parapsychology has tested under controlled conditions the psi, many people are deluded by hollywood and by thinking that psychic phenomena can be replicated like using some mechanism. psi involves altered states of consciousness, and that requires lots of concentration and a good environment, I mean a tranquil ambient. very often psychics fail to pass the million dollar test because of the pressure, and also because thoughts of other people can influence the results. people with psi abilities cant change the world with their powers for this reason… a few minds will not change the world completely because of the other millions of minds who do not think as them. like I said, people believe that things are like in hollywood movies and often fail to understand. I agree that the test that randi made is not bad on itself, but what I know is that other minds around there can influence what the psychic can make on many ways… also yes, there are pseudoskeptics, because skeptism does not mean not believing, but rather being open to other ideas. people who say psi phenomena does not exist have a belief, and that belief is that it does not exist and are already closed to that idea. the reason because psi phenomena cant be replicated on other laboratories is because many of those laboratories does not believe on psi, and something many people ignore is that in order to make psi work you have to believe! it is not a machine, it responds to feelings and beliefs. anyway… I know that I will be insulted and ridiculed, but I dont care about that because I will probably will not come to this forum again :p
    I came here by “coincidence”…

  47. Rick. says:

    #12: “I know that the paranormal events that happen in my haunted house is real.”

    I’ve had a few experiences in old houses that at the time I thought were genuine hauntings. But with a few minutes of critical thinking, I’ve been able to discount them all.

    I find Randi’s challenge parameters more than fair. Stupendously fair, in fact. Independent, double-blind testing. It’s as fair as it can get.

    I’d love to see all the evidence you’ve collected that proves your house is haunted. I’ll pass it along to Randi.

  48. Halloween Jack says:

    For some people, there is no amount of evidence that will convince them.

    You don’t say.

  49. jphilby says:

    Up until just 200 years ago, meteors falling from the sky were considered to be just a superstition.

    Of course, that’s not one of things you learn about astronomy in school. Before they were accepted, the idea was ridiculed. After acceptance: don’t talk about it. Harrumph.

    http://www.forteantimes.com/features/articles/504/cosmic_debris.html

    Of course there are charlatans and pretenders and true believers. But it behooves me (a physical science major) to remember that it’s a good thing that there are many unexplained phenomena, else nobody’d have a shot at getting their name immortalized. Had Randi (like Seti) actually *uncovered* something, it would have been well worth $2 mil.

  50. Anonymous says:

    Critics, saying “I will reward anyone who can prove this beyond certain levels of confidence” does not constitute keeping your mind closed. It is actually keeping your mind open, but with a bouncer to ensure enough scrutiny to keep lies and myths out. To those who would be interested in the paranormal, but are still concerned that their philosophy should not have more in it than heaven and earth, I’d like to see a better suggestion.

    Obligatory xkcd. Skepticism about the paranormal isn’t prejudice, there have been enough people looking into it that it is simply judgment. But kudos to Randi for making sure any people who did have solid evidence had at least one popular venue to present it, and shame on those who dismiss that simply because they didn’t have anything solid enough.

  51. forgeweld says:

    @ALDYTH:
    On his website, the details of several challenge protocols are laid out, each specific to the challenger’s ‘skill’. The protocols are negotiated with the challenger and they solicit feedback from anyone who cares to offer it before the challenge is set. Seems eminently fair to me.

  52. uwer says:

    Has anyone ever seen the $1M?
    Or was it just a magicians trick?

    uwer

  53. photon says:

    “The Amazing Randi set up his “challenge” so it couldn’t be won. Oddly enough, paranormal activity doesn’t happen on command within the parameters he set. So, the whole thing was a crock anyway.”

    So because some paranormal activity doesn’t fall within the rules set up by the challenge, the entire challenge is a crock? Nice logic.. My dishwasher doesn’t wash every every dish in existence (some are too big), so it’s a crock…

    It only makes sense to risk a large sum of money on something that is reproducible (an ability or something). Something like ghosts (unless it’s a ghost that appears on command) just don’t fit well with the challenge. Big deal, so what?

    “As someone who has seen the same ghost on two different occasions…”

    Again so what? There’s a reason anecdotal evidence isn’t very strong. You are human, your brain isn’t a reliable record of events, your memory is malleable, etc..

    “For some people, there is no amount of evidence that will convince them.”

    Not true in Randi’s case, if actual evidence was presented he, like most skeptics, would gladly change their position. Science throughout history has a proven record of changing based on evidence.

    Again, just because some aspect of the paranormal doesn’t fall well under the challenge doesn’t mean the challenge is faulty, it just means it doesn’t cover every aspect of the paranormal (and it wasn’t intended to).

    On topic, while I’m sad to see it go, it’s obvious that it really didn’t create the controversy around the big name woo-makers that was desired, and they ended up spending all their time with people who really didn’t do anything to help decrease magical thinking.

    The people who either know they are just scamming everyone or are just self deluded but know that they risk a good thing by taking the MDC aren’t going to, so the only ones that will are the people with nothing to lose.

  54. photon says:

    “The Amazing Randi set up his “challenge” so it couldn’t be won.”

    Sorry one more thing, this is also silly because the challenge is an agreement between Randi and the person applying; the protocol and the success conditions are agreed to by both parties up front, and the result has to be self evident (i.e. not something subjective). It’s also a legally binding contract, so no it’s not setup so it can’t be won.

  55. Takuan says:

    poor fools. I have long disstained Randi’s petty offering since my powers make me billions – along with the rest of my Illuminati brethren

  56. Mr Ascii says:

    #3: “arranging for an insurance policy instead of a trust fund”

    I imagine they considered that.

    If I remember correctly, the original (much smaller) prize was backed purely by Randi’s own money. Then, for a while, they accepted outside pledges that would be due if the prize was won. This allowed them to increase the size of the prize to something more appealing. At some point, they went to a trust fund and they stopped taking pledges.

    As has been said, dealing with the applications is the issue. Increasing the prize would only serve to increase the applications and the headaches.

  57. Skep says:

    Take a look at this
    #32 POSTED BY JPHILBY , JANUARY 8, 2008 2:45 PM
    Up until just 200 years ago, meteors falling from the sky were considered to be just a superstition.

    And, indeed, metors are a real phenomenon which can be empirically verified by science. (Yea science.) And the kind of claim where a claimant in could walk off with the $1,000,000 prize.

    Keep in mind that you are equivocating a bit between “superstition” and “paranormal.” Meteors didn’t contradict Newtonian physics, even as it was understood then. “Paranormal” claims are claims that are outside the realm of our current understanding of the world–the “para” in “paranormal”–and yet one needn’t prove the science behind them to earn the $1,000,000 prize, only that one can merely demonstrate a paranormal power, whether it is bending metal with your mind alone, finding water or precious metal by dowsing, reading the thoughts of other people nearby or far distant, divining the health of people, predicting the future, feeling “human energy fields”–any of the thousands of practices that people claim to be able to do every day for pay all over the world but can’t do under circumstances properly controlled for separating the appearance of being real from actually being real.

    Frauds and deluded people everywhere will applaud the retirement of the $1,000,000 challenge which has been a thorn in their side for years, since anyone could tell them “if you can really do that James Randi will give you a million dollars!” At which point the frauds and deluded people–who know one way or another that their claims can’t actually hold up to scrutiny–start hemming and hawing about how they supposedly aren’t interested in money (not even to give to charity) and blather that the test must be rigged rather than admit they can’t perform when closely watched.

    I’m sorry to see the challenge go, but the cost of dealing day in and day out with self-deluded people was just too much, and meanwhile the real targets, the professional woo-woo hucksters like Sylvia Brown avoided the light of day–er, the $1,000,000 challenge like the plague on falsehoods that it is.

  58. Aldyth says:

    Same old, same old.

    I supposed the electrical engineer, the plumber, and the heating and air conditioning guy had no clue of what they were doing when they looked for causes for what we were experiencing.

    Cost me a few thousand to fix some things they suggested. We still had paranormal things happen, just as frequently as before. Then, my brother-in-law who knew nothing about our ghost saw him in the upstairs bathroom. It scared the ___ out of him.

    The plumber still wants to know how wrench he had just put down next to him on the floor ended up on the other side of the room.

  59. Anonymous says:

    I was told that there was a’forum’ associated with J.Randi and can’t find it . Please contact me j_k@aapt.net.au

  60. Skep says:

    The Amazing Randi set up his “challenge” so it couldn’t be won. Oddly enough, paranormal activity doesn’t happen on command within the parameters he set. So, the whole thing was a crock anyway.

    I see you have fallen for the ant-randi spin. You, most likely, got it from perusing woo-woo sites on the web rather than coming up with it on your own. You are making a large scientific error, which is rather than consider the fact no one has been able to demonstrate paranormal activity under proper controlled circumstances and evaluated by proper statistics–designed to separate what appears to be real from what is real–might mean that there is no paranormal activity, instead you claim the test must be defective. What is more likely? That individuals make stuff up, whether on purpose or through honest self delusion (an phenomena of which we have solid proof off in the form of frauds and honestly deluded people) or that the laws of physics are just pretend?

    I have heard a man’s footsteps walking down the upstairs hallway when I was alone in the house. Objects get moved, occasionally while you are watching.

    For some people, there is no amount of evidence that will convince them.

    Yes, that person would be you. You would much rather believe that ghosts must be real than the idea that you are deluded. Much better to believe that all those stuffy scientists are wrong than have to face reality and the fact you might just be a little deluded. Better to pretend than to face facts, no matter how much evidence there is that ghosts are a figment of your imagination. Much more comforting to believe they are real.

    By the way, I am a middle aged professional person who generally passes for sane.

    A belief you are desperate to hold on to and you will denigrate anyone who’s facts might endanger that comforting delusion.

  61. Hiker4Life says:

    This is an interesting thread of responses here. I found it quite comical and yet sad regarding the reply Rick made
    about the other poster’s “haunting”, stating “I’d love to see all the evidence you’ve collected that proves your house is haunted. I’ll pass it along to Randi”, LOL.. It’s like saying, show me your evidence and I’ll go run it by Randi. It’s as if Randi is viewed by hardcore skeptics as the definitive truth to what exists and what doesn’t. Perhaps HE’S your God :). All kidding aside, you have to keep in mind that Randi had an agenda as well. Afterall, What’s Randi known for? He’s known for the magician who offered the million dollar challenge to prove the existence of paranormal abilities, that nobody could win, and he wants it to stay that way. I mean, let’s be honest folks, do you think Randi WANTED someone to win the million dollars? Of course not, and it’s not because he didn’t want to lose the money, it’s more because he didn’t want to tarnish his image of the debunking skeptic to anything paranormal. I can’t even imagine Randi ever coming out and admitting, “well, the paranormal does exist, I guess I was wrong all these years”. What would happen to his book sales? What would happen to his following?, and because I don’t believe he’d want someone to win his challenge, I can’t trust his testing protocols. Something is just fishy and it’s not tuna I”m cookin…..

    Now, do I believe in everything paranormal?.. no I don’t. I don’t believe in a lot of it, BUT even in the areas I don’t believe in, I do keep an open mind that perhaps I’m wrong. Hard nosed skeptics are just as bad as gullible believers. When you swing too far to each side, there’s no changing your opinion no matter what evidence is provided. When it comes to close minded believers and close minded skeptics, the saying, “Believe it exists, believe it doesn’t exist, either way you are right” rings very true.
    When a test to prove PSI(just an example) fails in a controlled experiment, perhaps instead of saying “this doesn’t exist” it might be better to say “perhaps we need to understand PSI more” and develop some better protocols for testing before we denounce it. Take remote viewing for example, sure there have been failed remote viewing attempts, BUT there have been many successes as well, that I think far outweighs chance(see the stephan schwartz book below), but failed tests do not mean that remote viewing does or doesn’t exist. There have just been too many successful remote viewing experiments that have been nailed to just discard it as woo-woo(Dean Radin had a comical presentation on that word)…I can take it as existing or not existing, either way it doesn’t effect me.

    In my opinion, some facets of parapsychology will be close to proven over the next few decades. Testing protocols will probably have to be adjusted and streamlined to better measure subtle energy and maybe the tests will have to be driven more statistically, I’m not sure, but I am confident that science is getting closer. I’ve never seen so many books on the shelf that I”m seeing today that question physical reality, and a few of these are even in the science section in bookstore. Yes, some of them are philosophical in nature and many are loaded with anecdotal reports, but it’s still good to see these open minds emerging.

    Well, I could write a book on this stuff, but that’s not my purpose. I’m sure I will get many replies of all of the various controlled experiements that didn’t work in favor of proving the paranormal, but before you waste your time and energy, read what I wrote above… Also, 4 books I recommend to OPEN MINDED skeptics are : #1 Opening to the Infinite by Stephan Schwartz, #2 Outside the Gates of Science by Damien Broderick #3 Parapsychology and the Skeptics by Cris Carter and #4 Entangled Minds by Dean Radin(although a bit heavy on statistics)..There’s some info and studies in these books that will blow you away. If you are a close-minded skeptic, don’t waste your time, because the authors are obviously delusional...

    Hiker4Life

  62. bardfinn says:

    I bragged to my wife two nights ago about the JREF Million Dollar challenge while she was watching NBC’s “Medium” – she said “That woman really exists!”.

    The Million Dollar Challenge is a great rhetorical tool. It is a shame to see it go. I do understand that given the state of Randi’s health, the overwhelming paperwork involved in the application process, and the fact that it’s not performing in the way he originally imagined (visibly and powerfully prying scammers free from their prey), it has become difficult to continue it. Apparently even raising the bar on the application process hasn’t helped.

    RIP, JREF $1,000,000.00 challenge. Here’s hoping that whatever Randi comes up with next works as well or better.

  63. Homeoproofer says:

    I am 30Years old at htis tijme and happy as long as nobody tells me that I am a fullidiot like Randy has done that indirektly!

    “Homeopathy is the most rediculous and stupid idea in the world”(only as i remember the sentence plus “shame on all who believe in Homeopathy”
    (Randi)

    (I am native german speaking and that is why my text is not in a perfect english- sorry for that)

    Mr.Randi say sorry !
    You offend me in such a rude way and all others who got cured since about already more than 250years by docotrs who did not support the pharmaindustry(opposite to what you do)

    Randi sayed in a video on Utube, that Hahnemann came from Switzerland and has shown that he has no correct knowledge about the truth of the things he doesnt like(homeopathsy)!

    Hahnemann came from Meissen!(its not in Switzerland+I dont think that it hasnt been there before)

    He lived in many countries and in the end also not in Switzerland-but in France!

    Shame on yourself Mr.Randi!
    Otherwise you would know better about the things you talk about in the bad way…

    Cured people are idiots?
    Who is the real idiot here, if it would be like that?

    Mr.Hahnemann became 85years old- what about you Mr.Randi?
    How long do you think you can make it, after you have already needed help by surgery at your heart?
    Just beccause people with your believe in Allöopathic medicine couldnt live this long…

    —————————–

    I have harder way to take the challenge, because of my visual disability, but I will do whatever possible for me to win!

    Too much I´d like to say, I give the money to science and I dont need it, but it isnt like that unfortunately…
    Ok, I´ll think about it…

    Mr.Randi thins that nothing could have an effect if there are no more molecules left,
    and I want to proof to him, that it is´nt like that!

    The one thing are sugarballs, but the other thing are Globulies!

    I´m going to read the policy of the challenge as soon as I can- but I heared that I can not apply to take the challenge if I have never talked in TV about it?

    Or is there an exception for this spezial topic which irritates so much?

    Could somebody help me to start the challenge?

    And do you know, if Mr.Randi would agree to say sorry to all the homeopathic doctors and patients out there in the world?

    Nobody can stop me, to win this game, because attend the mistaken opinions:

    No need to believe in homeopathy- it works anyway!
    Placebo is no reason for a cure of homeopathy, because you do not have to tell that it is not sugar that you give to the sick people…

    There is nothing that could prevent the effect to manifest when my wife will take 5balls of any homeopathic medicine!
    And everyone can see it with normal eyes- no chance to not believe then…

    Happy for any help to start the challenge!
    Jürgen

  64. Idle Tuesday says:

    You know why people get all bent out of shape (like a spoon in the hands of Uri Geller) when anyone like Randi proves there is no such thing as the paranormal? It is because of the following equation:

    paranormal=religion

    If rational and scientific techniques can be used to prove there are no such things as ghosts and ESP, these same techniques can be used to prove there is no God. As soon as you say God doesn’t exist, then the most “rational” people start wringing their politically-correct hands and saying, “But can’t we (the rational and the irrational) all just get along?”

    Give up your superstition, your voodoo, your feng shui, or whatever metaphysical mumbo-jumbo you cling to and get on with living in a rational world. The faster we can all do that, the more time we can spend on real issues like the environment and global poverty.

  65. Idle Tuesday says:

    Watch James Randi expose Uri Geller and Peter Popoff. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9w7jHYriFo

  66. Aldyth says:

    Oddly enough, I don’t feel the need to insult anyone here for disagreeing with me.

    Maybe because I’m secure in who I am and what I have experienced.

    Have a nice day.

  67. photon says:

    “Same old, same old.”

    Interesting story, but none of it constitutes evidence.

    Your experiences could be real, or they could just be real to you (or for all we know you could be lying through your teeth). Without any evidence though anyone you talk to (and science) can’t know for sure.

    That’s the basis of the challenge. With all these claims and proof of the paranormal, bring forward the evidence. Put up or shut up. Sadly no one has.

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