Jump to content
Join the Unexplained Mysteries community today! It's free and setting up an account only takes a moment.
- Sign In or Create Account -
Sporkling

James Randi

33 posts in this topic

Recommended Posts

Sporkling

http://www.skepticalinvestigations.org/who.../Randi_dogs.htm

The January 2000 issue of Dog World magazine included an article on a possible sixth sense in dogs, which discussed some of my research. In this article Randi was quoted as saying that in relation to canine ESP, "We at the JREF [James Randi Educational Foundation] have tested these claims. They fail." No details were given of these tests.

I emailed James Randi to ask for details of this JREF research. He did not reply. He ignored a second request for information too.

I then asked members of the JREF Scientific Advisory Board to help me find out more about this claim. They did indeed help by advising Randi to reply. In an email sent on Februaury 6, 2000 he told me that the tests he referred to were not done at the JREF, but took place "years ago" and were "informal". They involved two dogs belonging to a friend of his that he observed over a two-week period. All records had been lost. He wrote: "I overstated my case for doubting the reality of dog ESP based on the small amount of data I obtained. It was rash and improper of me to do so."

Randi also claimed to have debunked one of my experiments with the dog Jaytee, a part of which was shown on television. Jaytee went to the window to wait for his owner when she set off to come home, but did not do so before she set off. In Dog World, Randi stated: "Viewing the entire tape, we see that the dog responded to every car that drove by, and to every person who walked by." This is simply not true, and Randi now admits that he has never seen the tape.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Nucular

According to Randi,

My experience with Rupert Sheldrake has all been by e-mail, and my attempts to test his wonders have been refused. In describing his "dog" tests some years back, I made an error, promptly admitted it, and seemed at that point to have been written off his list as an incompetent, a condition that's remained ever since.

My own feeling is that Randi did rashly overstate his case, and for this he was rightly brought to task by Sheldrake. Randi is known as a fiery and contrary sort of chap, and on this occasion he dropped the ball because of this tendency.

Does this mean he is an habitual liar? No, it means on that occasion eight years ago he either lied or made an error - he shot from the hip and missed. He has since, clearly, held his hands up to that (whether because he was already rumbled is an unresolved question).

The JREF Challenge files are these days as open as the JREF budget will allow, with new claims in the last couple of years posted straight online, and the full files open for scrutiny by anybody at the JREF HQ in Florida. Whether one chooses to check Randi's utterances, and disregard anything which is unevidenced, in the future, is up to them. Personally, I think that's a sensible approach to take with most highly opinionated and partisan people.

Does it therefore mean all of Randi's work over the decades is null and void? Obviously not.

Edited by Nucular

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Rosewin

That is terrible the way skeptics will simply dismiss something without real proof but then go out of their way to try and make others share in their skepticism with techniques such as these.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
eight bits

I have written against some of Randi's works, but whatever my reservations about him, I have always included among my comments that, so far as I know, he is an honest, law-abiding person.

The only practical way that anybody can be certain to avoid ever making an inappropriate comment is never to make any appropriate ones, either. The path that links memory to lips is narrow and steep. Missteps are inevitable.

And what is to be done when a misstep occurs? Check the records, and amend the false statement as necessary. Which is what Randi did. What further remedy are you seeking here?

These events happened in 2000. It is 2008. Time to move on.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
DfizzleShizzle

He just cares bout savin his million...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
bee
http://www.skepticalinvestigations.org/who.../Randi_dogs.htm

The January 2000 issue of Dog World magazine included an article on a possible sixth sense in dogs, which discussed some of my research. In this article Randi was quoted as saying that in relation to canine ESP, "We at the JREF [James Randi Educational Foundation] have tested these claims. They fail." No details were given of these tests.

I emailed James Randi to ask for details of this JREF research. He did not reply. He ignored a second request for information too.

I then asked members of the JREF Scientific Advisory Board to help me find out more about this claim. They did indeed help by advising Randi to reply. In an email sent on Februaury 6, 2000 he told me that the tests he referred to were not done at the JREF, but took place "years ago" and were "informal". They involved two dogs belonging to a friend of his that he observed over a two-week period. All records had been lost. He wrote: "I overstated my case for doubting the reality of dog ESP based on the small amount of data I obtained. It was rash and improper of me to do so."

Randi also claimed to have debunked one of my experiments with the dog Jaytee, a part of which was shown on television. Jaytee went to the window to wait for his owner when she set off to come home, but did not do so before she set off. In Dog World, Randi stated: "Viewing the entire tape, we see that the dog responded to every car that drove by, and to every person who walked by." This is simply not true, and Randi now admits that he has never seen the tape.

Nice one......good to catch a holier-than-thou-know-it-all out....... :tu:

Does it therefore mean all of Randi's work over the decades is null and void? Obviously not.

Or maybe it does......it certainly brings his character, methods and motives into question.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20SEP2008
He just cares bout savin his million...

1 million dollars is not something he will be letting go of.

I'm afraid that fortune will die along with him. Sadly enough.

But I seriously hope that people who actually have "powers" don't fall into that "Million Dollar Scandal".

People with such "powers" should have more understanding than as to be sucked in by the poison of society.

If one with "powers" does do this and get the fortune, I would be very afraid for the future of mankind. Such things should only be held with people of higher intelligence.

Sincerely,

llynx

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
eight bits
In Dog World, Randi stated: "Viewing the entire tape, we see that the dog responded to every car that drove by, and to every person who walked by." This is simply not true, and Randi now admits that he has never seen the tape.

But there were other experiments done with Jaytee, and what Randi misremembers as the conclusions of his "viewing the tape" is consistent with his being conversant with what is written in this news report, dated 21 August 1998:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/155928.stm

The report includes the following:

Four experiments were carried out in all. One group of researchers stayed at home to film Jaytee and monitor his behaviour. Another accompanied Ms Smart on her journeys, made at different times of the day, and recorded the exact time she would decide to return home. They found that although Jaytee regularly visited the porch during the day, it was more to do with something outside that had caught his attention.

The report concluded: "In all four experiments Jaytee failed to detect accurately when Pam Smart set off to return home."

So it appears that Randi's remarks about the state of the evidence were essentially accurate, but he misspoke about the manner in which he had reviewed the evidence. That doesn't make it right, but it does make it harmless.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
darkbreed

Randi sets up the experiments and guidelines on his premises so they will fall in his favor basically no matter the outcome, so to me he is a crook just trying to keep his money.

This is something that has been reported over and over by those whom have taken part of his challenge and other observers of them.

Never liked this guy myself, perhaps he have revealed some frauds, but at the same time I'm certain he's discredited the real deal people as frauds as well and thus given them a bad reputation. But then again, shame on them for having anything to do with Randi.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Atheist God
He just cares bout savin his million...

Wrong!

It's not his million to keep, besides a million isn't that much money these days.

The million belongs to JREF not Randi himself.

Randi sets up the experiments and guidelines on his premises so they will fall in his favor basically no matter the outcome, so to me he is a crook just trying to keep his money.

Like I said above it's not his money.

Aside from this each claim and individual is unique and different guidelines have to be set up on a case to case basis. There has never been anything I have seen personally to suggest he is a crook and that all the experiments are rigged as you claim.

Perhaps if people could do what they claim they wouldn't complain so much.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
inkblot

Despite the fact that I do not believe psychic powers are real, I do think Randi, if not a liar, lacks clarity in what he says.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Nucular
Randi sets up the experiments and guidelines on his premises so they will fall in his favor basically no matter the outcome

How so, DB?

I'm certain he's discredited the real deal people as frauds as well and thus given them a bad reputation.

Any examples?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
DfizzleShizzle
Wrong!

It's not his million to keep, besides a million isn't that much money these days.

The million belongs to JREF not Randi himself.

Like I said above it's not his money.

Aside from this each claim and individual is unique and different guidelines have to be set up on a case to case basis. There has never been anything I have seen personally to suggest he is a crook and that all the experiments are rigged as you claim.

Perhaps if people could do what they claim they wouldn't complain so much.

Randi's only concern is destroying those people who claim to have powers, and who have a reputation. One of the first requirements in his apllication form, is that you must be known by the media. You must of had some sort of article or television broadcast about you, or something that made you known. Showing, that he only wants people who, if they do fail, it will hurt them considerably. His other requirement, is that all e-mails, or other conversation you have with him and/or people of his "orginazation" can be changed to his like(Don't quote me, thats essentially what he means though)...And, he makes it, so you must be proven real by him...But he does not state his method of determining how he reaches his decision, nor does he give any scientific reasoning for his decisions...Wasn't Randi a former magician? Thats prolly why he can trick people into thinking his challenge is legit so easily...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Harte
Randi sets up the experiments and guidelines on his premises so they will fall in his favor basically no matter the outcome, so to me he is a crook just trying to keep his money.

This is something that has been reported over and over by those whom have taken part of his challenge and other observers of them.

It may be true that people have made this claim, but it's a false claim.

Randi himself sets up no experiment or guideline at all. The claimant has as much a hand in that as the JREF committee does, and Randi has no say in it whatsoever.

People that rail against Randi's "prize" should go read the rules before they shoot their mouth off about how it's set up for claimants to fail.

The claimant has to state what he would consider to be a positive outcome of the test, and then must proceed to arrive at the outcome he has stated he would arrive at.

The committee, before the test, will decide if the stated outcome the claimant claims is sufficient to show a true claim of paranormality, and if they decide it's not, negotiations with the claimant will result in a mutual agreement or they will not.

So, I can't say I will go in there and wiggle my ears using psychokinesis instead of muscle power and win the bucks.

Also, Randi has not put this money up. He is not going to "die with this fortune." The fact that some people think Randi would "lose money" if somebody won his prize just goes to show that the person doesn't care to use their brain. This is not Randi's money, it's underwritten by insurance companies that are paid from an annuity that Randi's Foundation has amassed and the annuity is dedicated to the insurance payments. It will not pass to Randi's heirs if he dies, Randi cannot touch the money - nobody but the courts could ever get that annuity and then only in the case of bankruptcy of the JREF.

Never liked this guy myself, perhaps he have revealed some frauds, but at the same time I'm certain he's discredited the real deal people as frauds as well and thus given them a bad reputation. But then again, shame on them for having anything to do with Randi.

I'm sure he wouldn't like you either, Darkbreed, nor would he care one bit how you feel about him.

I don't particularly like him myself, but spreading lies about him and JREF doesn't improve your standing either. Of course, I don't mean to single you out. Several people in this thread simply don't have any idea what they are talking about.

Harte

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
darkbreed

I admit I have not looked specifically into this organization, who is part of it, and what connection they have to Randi himself.

And it would be interesting to see the rules the participants have to follow to see how fair they are, and if they really are in favor of Randi and JREF in the way that it is hard to produce results that would be satisfying for them as evidence for anything.

With that said, he makes a lot of money on doing nothing important (and yeah I know some will say he do something important but obviously I disagree), while many of the people he works against and try to discredit actually do an important job for many people around in the world, and I do think there are more people whom have had successful helpful results from all these psychics/occultists/healers etc etc than people whom have had any useful help from Randi and his work. And to be honest, for me personally, it doesn't even really matter if there are some crooks out there, charlatans who ain't got a bit of "real" psychic/supernatural ability, as long they are still able to help people and make people get rid of various problems etc, lets call it a placebo effect, at least they still did something good for someone. This includes those whom claim to know how to teach other people to achieve the same skills, and with people achieving these skills authentically it is of lesser importance if the teacher actually could do what he taught as he still taught to do what he claimed.

That doesn't mean I'm in favor of frauds, but I do see that they actually can have a positive effect for other people (I know of frauds whom have admitted to be frauds, teaching people various skills, just to have the students achieve the real skills which the teacher didn't even handle himself in the first place)

For me it still seems like Randi and his organization is more about trying to debunk and discredit, rather than actually find out if various abilities are real or not.

"The relentless hypocrisy of James Randi":

Everyone knows there's no such thing as Magic - at least no REAL Magic. According to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Magic is: "The practice of using charms, spells, or rituals to attempt to produce supernatural effects or control events in nature." This certainly does not fit with the garden variety "magic" one can find on any given night in a stale Vegas casino. Rather, this most basic definition of Magic evokes images in the mind's eye of Gandalf casting demons into fiery pits with a single strike of his mighty sceptre.

I see a certain irony in the fact that some of the world's most famous magicians are often skeptics and/or debunkers of the paranormal. It would seem that some of these performers, having learned the secrets of common stage magic, have come to believe that there are no unknowns, no mysteries remaining in the natural world. Some of these people even display a contempt for the intelligence of the average person, using terms like "the unwashed public" to describe the common man. Their thought process seems to go like this: If people can be duped into believing that a rabbit really was pulled from a hat, then they are ready and willing to believe anything - a flying saucer crashed in Roswell, a man-like beast named Bigfoot roams the forests of the northwest, a psychic medium can put them in touch with their departed loved ones.

Indeed, contempt for the human condition (or at least the condition of the pitiable "unwashed public") seems the very crux of the debunker ideology. It is this contempt which leads them to belittle eye witness accounts of "paranormal" phenomena as "anecdotal testimony," and which causes them to reject with a sneer and a curse the research of eminently qualified scholars like Dr. Gary Schwartz as "biased" and "unreliable." It is also this contempt which has driven the most noted skeptic/debunker of them all, the so-called "Amazing Randi," to stake a million dollars of other peoples' money on his assertion that no paranormal, supernatural, or occult phenomena can be proven by responsible scientists.

The James Randi Educational Foundation's "million dollar psychic challenge," has, if nothing else, succeeded in garnering Randi a great deal of publicity. He has appeared regularly on the Larry King show opposite alleged psychics Sylvia Browne and Rosemary Altea. It is Randi's assertion that Browne refuses to submit to a fair testing by his organization. Since his most recent public sparring match with Browne, Randi has had posted on his website a "Sylvia Countdown" clock, where he tracks the number of days that have passed since the mutually agreed upon deadline of Browne's testing.

Many Randi critics have labeled the Challenge "biased" and "unscientific." Randi often refers to paranormal proponents as "frauds," and/or "self-deluded fools," and inspite of Randi's stated basis, it is JREF which ultimately must approve all testing protocols. Unfortunately, in many ways, the Challenge remains too much of an unknown to come under any real scrutiny, as JREF asserts that numerous applicants, after failing the mandatory "preliminary testing," have asked that their identities be kept secret. It is also JREF's assertion that no applicant to date has ever passed the preliminary testing.

We can argue over the competency and/or impartiality of the JREF organization, but the issue of the Challenge's credibility is affected far more by the words and behavior of Randi himself. Repeatedly, Randi has shown himself to be not only contradictory and hypocritical but eminently illogical in his defense of the Challenge's application process. Bear in mind that Randi asserts there is no valid evidence to support any paranormal, supernatural, or occult phenomena. This obviously includes Sylvia Browne's claim that she can contact the dead, predict the future, and read minds. However, on Randi's most recent appearance on the Larry King show, King asked Randi: "Is one of the possibilities that Sylvia is telling the truth?" Randi's response to this was: "Absolutely." It would seem that Randi would have us believe that he has not yet made up his mind about Browne's alleged "abilities," and only wants to see her tested fairly. If this is Randi's attitude about Browne, then why does he not apply the same logic to others who have attempted to apply for the Challenge?

In June of 1999 a German man named Rico Kolodzey attempted to apply for the Challenge as a self-described "breatharian." Kolodzey calims he can live on nothing but water and "prana" - a supposed divine form of "life energy." This certainly would qualify as a claim of the "paranormal," and on the surface, does not seem any less plausible than Sylvia Browne's claim of psychic powers. However, Randi immediately and categorically rejected Kolodzey's application. The problem for Randi is the logic - or total lack thereof - he displayed in defending this rejection. Randi's email to Kolodzey reads: (from http://www.alternativescience.com/randi_retreats.htm):

Date: 6/18/99 12:03 PM

Mr. Kolodzey:

Don't treat us like children. We only respond to responsible claims.

Are you actually claiming that you have not consumed any food products except water, since the end of 1998? If this is what you are saying, did you think for one moment that we would believe it?

If this is actually your claim, you're a liar and a fraud. We are not interested in pursuing this further, nor will we exchange correspondence with you on the matter.

Signed, James Randi.

(A hard-copy of this letter will be sent by post to you, today.)

James Randi Educational Foundation

201 S.E. 12th Street (Davie Blvd.)

Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316-1815

What exactly is Randi asserting when he writes: "We only respond to responsible claims." Is Sylvia Browne's claim that she can talk to the dead a "responsible" one? What about Uri Geller's assertion that he can bend spoons with the power of his mind? Would Randi have use believe that he views the "abilities" of Browne and Geller as more "plausible" than Kolodzey's? Again, we must remember, it is Randi's assertion that there is NO VALID EVIDENCE of any paranormal or supernatural phenomena, so there really can be no such thing as "degrees of plausibility" in this field. But even more importantly, if Kolodzey IS a liar and a fraud (which he may very well be), then one would think that JREF has all the more reason to accept his application. Isn't that the whole point of the Randi Challenge - to expose dangerous hucksters and/or "self-deluded frauds?"

When Randi asserts CATEGORICALLY and A PRIORI that Mr. Kolodzey is a LIAR and a FRAUD, is he not betraying the sentiment he voiced on the Larry King show - that he hasn't made up his mind, and only wants to find the truth?

It is also worth noting that there may be evidence of human beings surviving without food or even water for extraordinary lengths of time. Recently, the Herald Sun of Australia reported that an Indian man, claiming to have consumed no food or water for 68 years, was observed for ten days by close-circuit cameras at a hospital in Ahmedabad. He was believed to consume nothing, neither food nor drink, during this time, yet suffered no detectable ill effects to his health. Neurologist Sudir Shah stated: "He has evidence of the formation of urine, which was reabsorbed on his bladder wall. The medical committee does not have any scientific explanation.". (Link: http://www.heraldsun.news.com.au/common/story_

page/0,5478,7960637%255E401,00.html

Randi has publicly responded to this case, writing on his website (www.randi.org): "Mr. Jani, who dresses in the female costume of a devotee of the goddess Ambaji, a red sari-like garment, nose ring, bangles and crimson flowers in his graying hair, offered an explanation, yet to be tested by the doctors. 'I get the elixir of life from the hole in my palate, which enables me to go without food and water,' he said. Okay. That we can test. Or will we? Did those doctors think to look for the hole in his palate? Funny, they didn't mention it, if they did so.

"A number of persons have been asking me why I won't test any more of these claimants who say that they don't eat or drink anything for years on end. There are a few dozen of them out there at this time, and new ones come up every month or so. See above. Such a claim is difficult to test merely because of the time involved and the personnel necessary, and the claimants moan that they can't afford the costs involved. I've been out on a couple of these expeditions in the USA, and I get bored out of my mind sitting in a car in a parking lot waiting for the claimant to emerge from a Holiday Inn room, sneak down the stairs, and visit the local burger joint for the needed nourishment. There's no end to it. And, the claim is just so obviously silly and frivolous, and I'm a grown man - too busy with serious claimants, to spend time on these nut-cases. Yes, I'm aware that doctors - trained medical people - have observed a few of the claimants, but I've yet to see any evidence that these learned observers have the correct and necessary qualifications to detect sleight-of-hand. Until that time, those episodes remain as examples of the naive watching the cunning."

Randi's assertions here are lazy, illogical, hypocritical, laced with immature ad hominem, and patently false. For starters, the observation of a "breatharian" in isolation, while perhaps time consuming, would be LESS complicated, and not nearly so open to dispute, as the testing of an alleged psychic. All one need do is strip the person naked, lock him or her in a room, post guards outside every possible point of exit, and let the cameras roll day after day. If he or she becomes ill or dies...well, gosh, I guess that means he or she fails the challenge. Second, if such an operation would be too "costly" for JREF, then one wonders where they got the million dollars from. Third, if the ability to detect sleight of hand is the only requisite qualification for testing "breatharians," then he and is magician pals should have no problem performing the test themselves. Fourth, one wonders why Randi feels the need to insult Mr. Jani, making fun of his religion and his choice of attire. Fifth, Randi is again making the patently hypocritical assertion that he is "TOO BUSY WITH SERIOUS CLAIMANTS, TO SPEND TIME ON THESE NUT-CASES." Can we glean from this hateful, pinched comment that Sylvia Browne and Uri Geller are NOT nut cases? That there may actually be some validity to their extraordinary claims? Randi has really left no room for doubt that he views ALL paranormal claimants as nut cases...so who ultimately is worthy enough of his precious time to warrant testing?

Ask yourself if these are the words or behavior of a man who is interested in finding the truth. Is it not more likely that Randi simply relies on the Challenge as a tool to garner publicity for himself and land paid public speaking engagements? If he is a man of "science" (and I've yet to hear how the ability to escape from a straight jacket qualifies this person as a scientist), why does he not apply the same standards and the same logic to all applicants of the Challenge? The problem here again is HYPOCRISY. It would seem that Randi focuses exclusively on more famous paranormal claimants like Browne or Geller because doing so is more likely to get him an appearance on the Larry King show. If you're a common person with an extraordinary claim, don't waste your time and energy applying for the Challenge; Randi clearly is not interested.

I must again remark on the irony of self-described magicians trying so desperately to debunk paranomal phenomena. After all, Magic in its purest form is an embracing of the Unknown, and these people run from it every chance they get.

http://www.rense.com/general50/james.htm

"Pear Cable: James Randi's Million offer a hoax":

http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2007/10/pear_cab...es_randis_.html

While James Randi is claiming to offer a $1 million dollar prize to differentiate between these speaker cables, by reading the official rules of the challenge, it becomes immediately clear that the offer is not valid. One must be able to "demonstrate any psychic, supernatural or paranormal ability" in order to qualify. Since there is a wealth of scientific information explaining the differences between speaker cables, the offer is not a valid one (and James Randi knows it).

While we publish a frequency response plot demonstrating the differences between cables on our own website here: http://www.pearcable.com/sub_product...cyresponse.htm, there are also independant measurements and data that can be found for example here: http://www.audiodesignline.com/howto...leID=201807390 In addition, the High School eductated James Randi who claims to have consulted unnamed experts on the matter makes unsubstantiated claims that our science is junk. Unfortunately true experts do not agree. For example, despite his claims that RFI is not a problem in speaker cables, according to publications by the Amateur Radio Relay League, RFI has been documented as a known problem that can exist in speaker cables.

In addition, according to the editor of Stereophile magazine John Atkinson, James Randi has completely fabricated the statements about Atkinson made in this "challenge". Furthermore, another audiophile who goes by the moniker "Wellfed" on the AudioAsylum forums, says he tried to take the challenge twice for what I consider a more dubious audio tweak (the GSIC chip), but was denied the opportunity and was lied to by the Randi Foundation. Finally, according to these forum posts: http://www.talkaboutaudio.com/group/...es/719041.html at least one person has tried to take the "challenge" previously to show that they could differentiate between loudspeaker cables and they were denied by Randi who said "Wire is not wire. I accept that".

So, at the end of the day we have claims made by a high school educated retired magician, which are refuted by independent studies and publications conducted by experts. Most importantly, James Randi's "challenge" is backed by nothing. Many audiophiles have already expressed interest in taking the challenge, but they are barred by the contest rules unless they are part of the media. And, in the past, Randi denied audiophiles the chance to

Exposing the unfair truth about the James Randi Million Challenge (page 2 of 5):

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/8...the.html?page=2

On the JREF website, it also states on line 4.2 that this test: "isn't going to be like taking a test. This is going to be like going to court." A million dollars is at stake here and you are expected to put your name and reputation on the line here and everything that you are both physical and mental. This is like putting your life in someone elses hands by a signed contract. Something is wrong with this $1,000,000 game.

Another unfair rule of this challenge is that the JREF has the say so of what they consider to be obnoxious behavior. Please read on the same listed website page above on line 6.2, "Who determines whether my behavior is unacceptable? Is there is mediator or impartial judge that makes such decisions? Can I appeal if I am deemed too obnoxious to deal with?

NO. The JREF alone determines when an applicant's behavior is unacceptable. There is no Appeal Process, and there is no mediator. The JREF will always issue repeated warnings before taking any decisive action, and they will always strive to give the applicant all reasonable leeway in maintaining Applicant status.

It is not the goal of the JREF to reject claims. Quite the contrary. It will be done only when absolutely necessary, and only after having made all best efforts to avoid it."

Wait a minute here. According to this rule, you have no say so in your own behavior. Only the JREF can determine whether or not they deem your behavior as unacceptable. I would never enter into any psychic challenge under a rule like this because anyone can say that any behavior is unacceptable. For some, passing gas is an unacceptable behavior. So far I see that the JREF is in complete control of this so called challenge and it is not just a challenge, it is more like putting your whole life on the line to include any unexpected injury.

"BEWARE PSEUDO-SKEPTICISM - THE RANDI CHALLENGE"

http://www.skepticalinvestigations.org/exa...dichallenge.htm

On January 29th, 2005, we were talking about the James Randi $1 Million Paranormal Challenge in the chat room. If you don't know what the Challenge is, the short version is that this ex-magician, James Randi, is willing to give a million dollars to anyone who can prove something paranormal. It's common for people to ask us why we don't take the Challenge with all the stuff we talk about on PsiPog. Clearly we qualify for the paranormal, and it would seem like easy money. While talking in the chat room, annie made the observation that the prize was in the form of bonds, and not cash. She tried to explain to me how bonds can be "worth" a million dollars legally, but in reality could be completely worthless.

So I decided to do some research on what might be going on. I had thought about taking the Challenge, and I know some of my friends have thought about it too... million bucks seems pretty sweet. But I've heard of stories about how Randi is dishonest, and it's all a scam. Either way, I figured researching would be the best way to figure out what the deal was.

I started by e-mailing Randi, and everything just went downhill from there. For me to type out everything that happened, it would take me forever, and it would be really boring to read. So this is what I'm going to do; I'm going to summarize what happened. Now obviously I am biased because I played a key role in this situation. I will try to summarize without being biased. But, you don't have to trust me... I will post the logs of what actually happened at the end, and if you want to take the time to read through it all and confirm my summary, then go right ahead. Also, because I am aware that I am biased, I am open for any discussion and questions on what happened. The best way to get in contact with me would be the chat room, the Q&A, or as a last resort, you can e-mail me at peebrain@psipog.net.

What is a bond, and why is it different than cash?

First, you have to understand how bonds work. I was really confused at first - I mean, if Randi is offering a million dollars, how can it be "worthless"? It seems very clear cut.

Bonds are certificates of debt. That means that a bond is basically an IOU. Corporations or governments need money to fund projects, so they go to rich people and say, "hey, give us some money, and we'll pay you some interest, and then after a while, we'll give you all your money back". Bonds have four key elements: who issued them, what the interest rate is, when they'll give the money back, and how much money was borrowed to begin with. The best way to show how it works is just to give you an example.

Let's say Bob's Bakery needs some money to buy baking equipment. Now, once they have the equipment, they can bake and make money - but they don't have any startup money to get the gears in motion. So they go to a rich guy and say, "Hey, if you give us $10,000, we'll pay you $100 every month for 24 months, then we'll give you your $10,000 back to you". This is appealing to Bob's Bakery because they can get their company started, and once it gets going, they'll start making money. From their profits, they'll take $100 each month and give it to the rich guy. Then after 24 months, they have a successful business, and pay the entire debt back to the rich guy. Bob's Baker keeps growing and making more money, and Bob is happy. The rich guy is also happy, because he just gives $10,000 to Bob, and doesn't have to do anything. The rich guy doesn't have to bake, or buy equipment, or hire employees, or any of that garbage. He just invests a small amount of his money, and in return gets $100 more a month, and all his money back after 24 months.

So, that's why and how bonds exist. Rich people want more money, and poor entrepreneurs want a successful business. (Of course, I'm simplifying this entire situation just to get the point across; in reality it's a little more complicated).

How can bonds be legally worth money, but be worthless?

Where is the problem? Well, what if Bob's Baker doesn't succeed, and goes bankrupt? What happens to the $10,000? Basically: it's lost. Rich guy doesn't get his $100 a month, and rich guy loses out on $10,000.

How does this all translate to the James Randi Million Dollar Challenge?

The prize isn't cash. The prize is bonds that are WORTH a million dollars. So, there are a lot of Bob's Baker people running around with the money, and they all gave Randi an IOU. And all these IOU's total to a million dollars.

Since the prize money is in the form of bonds, then it is possible that the bonds are worthless. For example, maybe a lot of the bonds are from corporations that are on the verge of going bankrupt? Or maybe the corporations don't have to pay off the bonds for another 40 years? In our example, Bob had to pay everything back in 24 months... this is called the "maturity" of the bond. Some bonds don't mature for a few years, others don't mature for a few decades. If Randi awards the prize of a bond that doesn't mature for 40 years, then legally I do have a million dollars... but I can't USE the million dollars until the bonds mature! As you can see, there are a lot of different scenarios where the bonds could be LEGALLY worth a million dollars, but in reality they could be worthless.

Does the Challenge have worthless bonds?

The next logical step is to find out what the bonds are really worth. To do that, I e-mailed Randi at the address he provided on his website. I politely pointed out where it said the prize was in bonds in the Challenge rules, and then I asked what corporations issued the bonds, what the interest rates were, and when the maturity dates are. These are the main factors at determining if the bonds are worthless or not.

Randi replied with, "Apply, or go away."

I explained to him that I wanted clarification on what he was offering. That this had nothing to do with my claim, but they were questions aimed at getting more information about the Challenge.

Randi replied with, "Immediately convertible into money. That's all I'm going to get involved in. Apply, or disappear."

Obviously that doesn't answer my question at all. Immediately convertible into how much money? Convertible through who?

Enter Kramer

I e-mailed Randi again, asking for clarification. I didn't mean to be annoying, but they weren't answering the question. Why would I apply if the bonds were worthless? The Challenge rules state that I am responsible for all costs incurred in the pursuit of the prize money... so it's quite possible that I could jump through all the hoops, spend my own money, and only have a pile of worthless bonds to show for it.

Randi passed me off to Kramer. Kramer's job is to handle all paranormal claims. Kramer introduced himself in an e-mail, "Randi has directed me to correspond with you directly regarding your inquiries into the JREF Challenge. [...] I handle all Challenge-related activities, so write to me here if you have more questions."

Ok, fair enough. So, I politely explained my situation to Kramer, and asked the same questions again. Kramer replied with, "So far, you're just full of sh**. That's OUR perspective. Apply or go away. We don't have to prove anything to you. If you really have a claim, you'll apply."

"A Skeptical Look at James Randi":

http://www.skepticalinvestigations.org/exa...scott_Randi.htm

Most of the texts above are parts of larger articles so feel free to check the links for the full texts.

-EA

Edited by darkbreed

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
eight bits

Well, Edward Alexander, I am sure I don't have to tell a businessman like yourself that if a profession doesn't police itself, then someone will step in and do it for you.

So, yes, Randi, whose expertise is the creation of illusions, specializes in exposing flimflam artists. To the extent he has succeeed, then I would think that you, along with all the other honest, hardworking members of the psychic/occult/healer etc. trades would be grateful to him for removing the cheats, liars, and frauds from your midst.

It's all squeaky clean now, right, EA?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
darkbreed

Maybe you should read the last post again as I edited it and added some extra information.

Specifically note how Randi and his Colleague responds to the whole money part and if it's even something you can get your hands on, and how quite rude and indecent they both are (Randi and Kramer).

If that doesn't ring some bells about dirty Randi I don't know.

I will actually re-quote a part of the last post from the previous page on this matter:

Does the Challenge have worthless bonds?

The next logical step is to find out what the bonds are really worth. To do that, I e-mailed Randi at the address he provided on his website. I politely pointed out where it said the prize was in bonds in the Challenge rules, and then I asked what corporations issued the bonds, what the interest rates were, and when the maturity dates are. These are the main factors at determining if the bonds are worthless or not.

Randi replied with, "Apply, or go away."

I explained to him that I wanted clarification on what he was offering. That this had nothing to do with my claim, but they were questions aimed at getting more information about the Challenge.

Randi replied with, "Immediately convertible into money. That's all I'm going to get involved in. Apply, or disappear."

Obviously that doesn't answer my question at all. Immediately convertible into how much money? Convertible through who?

Enter Kramer

I e-mailed Randi again, asking for clarification. I didn't mean to be annoying, but they weren't answering the question. Why would I apply if the bonds were worthless? The Challenge rules state that I am responsible for all costs incurred in the pursuit of the prize money... so it's quite possible that I could jump through all the hoops, spend my own money, and only have a pile of worthless bonds to show for it.

Randi passed me off to Kramer. Kramer's job is to handle all paranormal claims. Kramer introduced himself in an e-mail, "Randi has directed me to correspond with you directly regarding your inquiries into the JREF Challenge. [...] I handle all Challenge-related activities, so write to me here if you have more questions."

Ok, fair enough. So, I politely explained my situation to Kramer, and asked the same questions again. Kramer replied with, "So far, you're just full of sh**. That's OUR perspective. Apply or go away. We don't have to prove anything to you. If you really have a claim, you'll apply."

If they don't have to prove anything, why are they so persistent on others proving things? ..

I suggest reading the whole post, and full articles by going to the supplied links.

Cheers.

Edited by darkbreed

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
darkbreed

Dr. Gary Schwartz rebuttal to Randall James Zwinge's (The "Amazing" Randi):

http://www.psicounsel.com/marius/dear_james.htm

Rebuttal 2:

http://www.psicounsel.com/marius/dearjames2.htm

Short introductionary quote to the above two texts:

Dear James, [Randi]

Your latest "article" has so many mistakes, deceptions, and example of arrogance,

that I must respond in detail. I am inserting comments for all interested parties to

read. I am passing this along widely, so that people can circulate the information

through the web.

My perception of your tactics is that they lack understanding and integrity. Since

you purportedly represent the skeptic community, you do them a great disservice.

As I have said before, and will repeat again, when you are right, I applaud you, and

when you are wrong, I attempt to educate you. Thus far, you have shown little sign

of being educable.

My major comments are in Arial 16 bold font below – the insert uses VERITAS – Harvard’s

motto which means "Truth."

Best, Gary [Dr. Gary Schwartz of the University of Arizona]

James Randi - His Amazing Role in the Great Psi Media Circus:

http://www.cfpf.org.uk/articles/background/nicholls.html

His first book contained an appalling catalogue of misrepresentations, bogus media articles, deceptive accounts of sham duplications and outright fabrications: comparing his accounts with those of the researchers and psychics he maligns, it seems he either quotes fabricated stories from other sources (very often his own friends) or makes them up himself.

--

To be fair, he has never claimed to be anything other than a showman, best expressed by his own remark,

'I am a charlatan, a liar, a thief and a fake altogether.'

However, those he has maligned find it less amusing and persistent rumours of forthcoming libel cases would seem to be entirely justified. Perhaps more importantly still, the mischief caused by his unsupported explanations can be profound; the effect is to cloud the issues as his 'debunkings' become part of the public lore. It is thus particularly unfortunate that so many top-ranking scientists, desperate to ignore evidence to the extent that they will believe almost anyone who opposes the paranormal, still appear to take his views seriously, quoting his research as if it were really credible.

Edited by darkbreed

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
eight bits

With respect to the challenge, which will soon be gone anyway, I have written often here about why the failure of anybody to win cannot be introduced as evidence against the existence of paranormal events or abilities. I am not going to go over that again in a thread about dogs.

I have never, however, challenged Randi's ability to come up with the money. Of course it's in bonds. What moron would keep a million lying around in cash?

You can look at JREF's 990 (required U.S. Federal financial report) from

http://www.guidestar.org/

The service is free, but you need to register. A spam-trap will suffice, however. When you have logged in, type "james randi" in the search box, JREF is the only hit, the 990's are pdf's and are listed at the end of the article.

I looked at the 2006 report, the last one due. He had the money. Look for yourself.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
darkbreed

The myth of the million dollar challenge:

http://www.dailygrail.com/features/the-myt...ollar-challenge

First, and perhaps the most important, is the effect size required to win the challenge. While the JREF says that "all tests are designed with the participation and approval of the applicant", this does not mean that the tests are fair scientific tests. The JREF need to protect a very large amount of money from possible "long-range shots", and as such they ask for extremely significant results before paying out - much higher than are generally accepted in scientific research (and if you don’t agree to terms, your application is rejected). In the case of parapsychological research, however, where effect size is often small (though apparently robust), this means most researchers would have to go to extraordinary lengths to win the million dollars. As one psi researcher pointed out to me:

In the ganzfeld telepathy test the meta-analytic hit rate with unselected subjects is 32% where chance expectation is 25%. If that 32% hit rate is the "real" telepathy effect, then for us to have a 99% chance of getting a significant effect at p < 0.005, we would need to run 989 trials. One ganzfeld session lasts about 1.5 hours, or about 1,483 total hours. Previous experiments show that it is not advisable to run more than one session per day. So we have to potentially recruit 989 x 2 people to participate, an experimenter who will spend 4+ years running these people day in and day out, and at the end we'll end up with p < 0.005. Randi will say those results aren't good enough, because you could get such a result by chance 5 in 1,000 times. Thus, he will require odds against chance of at least a million to 1 to pay out $1 million, and then the amount of time and money it would take to get a significant result would be far in excess of $1 million.

Furthermore, applicants must first pass a 'preliminary test', before they are allowed to progress to the actual 'formal' test which pays the million dollars. So an applicant must first show positive results in a preliminary test (yielding results against chance of at least 1000 to 1, apparently), then once through to the next stage they would then have to show positive results against much higher odds to claim the prize (by all reports, at odds of around 1 million to 1). Failure in either test means no cash prize, and a fail beside their name. It many respects it would be like telling a professional golfer to shoot 63 around Augusta National, then come back and shoot 59, to prove that he can play golf. In the words of Chris Carter, author of Parapsychology and the Skeptics:

If Randi were genuinely interested in testing unusual claims, then he would also not insist upon odds of at least one million to one against chance for the results. Anyone familiar with scientific studies will be aware that experimental results against chance of say, 800,000 to one would be considered extraordinary; but results this high would be, according to Randi, a “failure.”

Dr Michael Sudduth of San Francisco State University also pointed out to me a wonderful irony in one of the rules. Challenge rule #3 states: "We have no interest in theories nor explanations of how the claimed powers might work." As Sudduth puts it: “Curiously, Randi's challenge itself is saddled with assumptions of this very kind. The challenge makes little sense unless we assume that psi is the sort of thing that, if genuine, can be produced on demand, or at least is likely to manifest itself in some perspicuous manner under the conditions specified by the challenge.”

Researchers Step Up to the Plate

As a consequence, you might well say "no wonder no serious researcher has applied for the Challenge." Interestingly, this is not the case. Dr Dick Bierman, who has a PhD in physics, informed me that he did in fact approach James Randi about the Million Dollar Challenge in late 1998. Bierman reported a success in replicating the presentiment experiments of Dr Dean Radin (where human reactions seem to occur marginally before an event occurs), and was subsequently asked by Stanley Klein of the University of California why, if his results for psi effects were positive and replicable, he didn't respond to Randi's challenge. Bierman replied that he would rather invest his time in good scientific research, rather than convincing skeptics in a one-off test. However, after further discussion, he decided that he may be able to combine the two:

After some exchange of ideas I was brought into contact with Randi. Randi sounded sincerely interested and I worked out a proposal for an interesting experiment that would last about a year. Experimental effects in this type of research are small and require a lot of measurements to reach the required statistical significance (I think Randi wanted a p-value of 0.000001).

Note that he didn't insist on showing the effect on stage. Rather I proposed to do a kind of precognition (actually presentiment) experiment on-line over Internet where he or some other independent skeptic could generate the targets once the responses were communicated over the Internet (all this would be done automatically on a computer under his control within a second). This would prevent cheating from the experimenter's side but we still had to work out how to prevent cheating from the Randi-side.

At that point Randi mentioned that before proceeding he had to submit this preliminary proposal to his scientific board or committee. And basically that was the end of it. I have no idea where the process was obstructed but I must confess that I was glad that I could devote myself purely to science rather than having to deal with the skeptics and the associated media hypes.

Bierman said I should also contact Suitbert Ertel, Professor Emeritus of Georg-August-University of Göttingent, who has developed a new type of parapsychology experiment which seems to facilitate large-scale psi effects - which would be much more suited to the Randi challenge. Ertel, I was told, had apparently also discussed the challenge with James Randi, after his results had been replicated by other skeptical researchers. Ertel replied to my query by explaining his involvement with not just Randi's challenge, but also a separate 'Prize Challenge' offered by a German skeptical group:

My first approach [to Randi] was made because I thought the prize might be achieved by the Gauquelin planetary effect, a statistical "paranormal" or "neo-astrological" effect, with which I was very familiar as researcher. The problem was that decisions regarding the sample which would amount to 1000 natal charts was dependent on much informed thought, and Randi didn't know how to deal with the conditions. So the correspondence came to an end.

The second approach was made because I had applied to win the prize of 10,000 EURO which the German GWUP promised to give to someone who would be able to demonstrate large psi effects. Winning this prize would have been considered by Randi as passing his preliminary test, his first test which must be passed before someone is allowed to apply for Randi's main $1 000 000 test.

The psi effect demanded, even for the GWUP test = Randi's preliminary test, was so large that I was not hopeful that I would be able to show so much of psi, with the help of my psi-gifted students which I selected by my "pingpong ball test". My only goal was to achieve a statistically significant effect so as to make the skeptics admit that they observed a significant psi effect. This goal was achieved by my first test trial (one psi-gifted participant) in 2005. In 2006 another test was conducted with the presence of GWUP people: two of my students, psi-gifted in earlier tests, participated. In this test the effect was not significant.

One of the apparent reasons for this failure was that the skeptics had changed the conditions of this test arbitrarily in many ways so that the participants felt uneasy under strong control - such feelings have psi-reducing effects.

Ertel's first test with the GWUP had a p value of .018. He mentioned however, that two additional students among a number of observers also participated, secretly, during the test. Their results were also significant, giving a total significance p-value of .002. Ertel told me that the GWUP skeptics, to their credit, did note the results of the two students who had participated secretly.

Ertel thinks that the Million Dollar Prize is winnable, though obviously the odds required are not 'fair' scientifically. However, as one of the rules is that applicants must pay all their own expenses, he estimates that he would need at least $US10,000 to make a ‘long shot’ bid for the formal challenge. He would also like to have a personal attorney present and another independent scientist as observer, and would need to select 3-4 psi-gifted participants near the JREF institution where the tests would be performed:

But winning the prize would not be my main concern. My main concern is to achieve high levels of significance under control by the skeptics. Psi effects would have to be acknowledged as existent by the science community if they were achieved, i.e. replicated (because they would have been observed before the Randi test was made) with, say, p = .0001 - it need not be .000001. Winning the Randi prize is no scientific standard for acknowledging the existence of causal effects. P = .0001 or so obtained under control of people who are experts in deception (so that this factor is ruled out) and whose intention and bias is to prove that psi does NOT exist (so bias is also ruled out) would let psi appear existent beyond reasonable doubt.

Would You Trust This Man?

Ertel's mention of the expenses required to engage in Randi's challenge, returns us to to the "hurdles" mentioned by Loyd Auerbach. Perusing the rules of the Million Dollar Challenge would certainly give most people cause for concern. Two of the most important, especially when combined, are rules #4 and #8:

4. Applicant agrees that all data (photographic, recorded, written, etc.) gathered as a result of the setup, the protocol, and the actual testing, may be used freely by the JREF.

8. When entering into this challenge, as far as this may be done by established legal statutes, the applicant surrenders any and all rights to legal action against Mr. Randi, and/or against any persons peripherally involved, and/or against the James Randi Educational Foundation. This applies to injury, and/or accident, and/or any other damage of a physical and/or emotional nature, and/or financial and/or professional loss, and/or damage of any kind. However, this rule in no way affects the awarding of the prize, once it is properly won in accord with the protocol.

In other words, applicants give the JREF/Randi virtually absolute license to use the data as best suits their publicity needs, without any legal recourse for the participant. Not exactly enticing for an applicant, although if James Randi was held in higher esteem by the parapsychology research community then it might not matter so much. However, a number of scientists iterated to me their distrust of Randi...and a number of them appear to have good reason for that judgement. When I asked Rupert Sheldrake about the Million Dollar Challenge – a scientist who has investigated ‘telephone telepathy’, the sense of being stared at, and possible psychic talents in animals, Sheldrake told me quite simply: "I don’t take the prize seriously, and above all I don’t trust Randi since I’ve found him to be dishonest...He is not a scientist, has no scientific credentials, and is essentially a showman and an expert in deception". Sheldrake pointed out a previous confrontation as evidence for his distrust of James Randi:

The January 2000 issue of Dog World magazine included an article on a possible sixth sense in dogs, which discussed some of my research. In this article Randi was quoted as saying that in relation to canine ESP, "We at the JREF [James Randi Educational Foundation] have tested these claims. They fail." No details were given of these tests.

I emailed James Randi to ask for details of this JREF research. He did not reply. He ignored a second request for information too.

I then asked members of the JREF Scientific Advisory Board to help me find out more about this claim. They did indeed help by advising Randi to reply. In an email sent on Februaury 6, 2000 he told me that the tests he referred to were not done at the JREF, but took place "years ago" and were "informal". They involved two dogs belonging to a friend of his that he observed over a two-week period. All records had been lost. He wrote: "I overstated my case for doubting the reality of dog ESP based on the small amount of data I obtained. It was rash and improper of me to do so."

Randi also claimed to have debunked one of my experiments with the dog Jaytee, a part of which was shown on television. Jaytee went to the window to wait for his owner when she set off to come home, but did not do so before she set off. In Dog World, Randi stated: "Viewing the entire tape, we see that the dog responded to every car that drove by, and to every person who walked by." This is simply not true, and Randi now admits that he has never seen the tape.

Dr Gary Schwartz has often come under attack from James Randi for his research into mediumship. Labelled "Gullible Gary" by Randi, and accused of believing in the tooth fairy, Dr Schwartz refused an invitation from Randi to allow an "independently qualified panel" to hold forth on the data he has collected. According to Dr Schwartz: "He calls it an 'independently qualified panel', but it is composed mostly of people hand-picked to guarantee the decision would likely be a foregone conclusion, merely rubber-stamping his prejudices". In this case, Randi suggested a panel comprising of Ray Hyman (CSICOP Fellow), Marvin Minsky (CSICOP Fellow), Michael Shermer (CSICOP Fellow) and Stanley Krippner (a parapsychologist whom Randi is familiar with). Not exactly “independent”, one would surmise. Unfortunately, according to Dr Schwartz:

James Randi has a history of engaging in the twisting of the truth...Randi's recommendation of Dr. Krippner was certainly acceptable to me. However, when I contacted Dr. Krippner directly to see if Mr. Randi’s statement about him serving on the panel was correct, Dr. Krippner was concerned. Dr. Krippner explained that he had previously emailed Mr. Randi stating that he would not agree to serve on such a committee. The truth is, Dr. Krippner was not willing to serve on the panel, and he made this clear to Mr. Randi.

Lastly, despite James Randi's assurances that applying for the prize is a simple matter, this seems not to be the case. A number of the more 'general' applicants have waited multiple years to have their claim tested; one of the more recent, Carina Landin, went through a 3 year process just to reach the preliminary test, and after failing her test (achieving above chance results, but not to a significant level) found that her protocol had not been adhered to...and so is now waiting to be retested. According to 'Kramer', a former JREF employee who helped with applications:

We experience this a lot, and this most certainly leads many applicants to the conclusion that JREF is "jerking them around", forgetting that no JREF representative is involved in testing, and that tests are determined with Randi's approval, but without his direct involvement, in order to insure absolute impartiality in the testing procedure. JREF cannot guarantee the continued involvement of any third parties who volunteer their time (without any form of compensation) on behalf of The JREF Challenge."

All in all, it's rather easy to see why 'psychic personalities' would ignore the Million Dollar Challenge, irrespective of anyone's opinion as to whether their talents are real or fraudulent. It asks them to risk their careers on a million to one shot (assuming they are not fraudulent), putting all the power into the hands of a man they distrust - and who has been antagonistic towards them over a number of years - with no legal recourse available to them.

On the other hand, although parapsychologists face similar worries, it is now apparent that some are so determined to show the evidence for psi effects that they are willing to risk a failure in order to make an impression. Both Dick Bierman and Suitbert Ertel feel that there is a robust enough effect for them to at least scientifically prove to the skeptics that something interesting is going on. And perhaps others are aware of this fact...

You Say Paranormal, I Say Perinormal

At The Amaz!ng Meeting #3 (TAM3), the JREF-sponsored conference held in January 2005, Richard Dawkins made an intriguing comment during an on-stage chat with James Randi:

About the million dollar prize, I would be worried if I were you because of the fact that we have perinormal possibilities. I mean, what if somebody - what if there really is a perinormal phenomenon which is then embraced within science and will become normal, but at present is classified conventionally as paranormal?

Certainly, suspicious (some might say 'skeptical') minds might wonder whether the influx of positive “perinormal” results - such as from the decades of Ganzfeld telepathy research, replicated presentiment experiments, and Ertel’s new ball-drawing test - may have influenced the JREF’s decision to withdraw the Challenge. It’s interesting to note that Rule #14 of the challenge states:

This prize will continue to be offered until it is awarded. Upon the death of James Randi, the administration of the prize will pass into other hands, and it is intended that it continue in force.

Similarly, in a previous discussion regarding the Challenge, Randi had stated: “...the million dollars is not my million dollars, sir, it belongs to the foundation I represent, and it cannot be used for any purpose other than as prize money in the challenge." It would seem this is no longer the case…

Whatever the reasoning behind the withdrawal of the Million Dollar Challenge, it has little impact on scientific acceptance of psi effects. Even if a challenger took on the risks and won the million dollars – despite Suitbert Ertel’s best intentions - it is doubtful that skeptics would be convinced. According to CSICOP Fellow Dr Ray Hyman:

Scientists don't settle issues with a single test, so even if someone does win a big cash prize in a demonstration, this isn't going to convince anyone. Proof in science happens through replication, not through single experiments.

Ultimately, Irrelevant

It would seem the modern skeptical movement has all bases covered. If you don’t apply, it shows you have no evidence of the paranormal. If you do apply and fail, ditto. If you put your career on the line and apply, beat initial odds of 1000 to 1, and then 1,000,000 to 1, to win the Challenge, then it still offers no proof of the paranormal.

Ironically, paranormal investigator Dr Stephen Braude agrees with Ray Hyman about the merits of the Challenge: “The very idea that there could be a conclusive demonstration to the scientific community of psychic functioning is fundamentally flawed, and the suggestion that a scientifically ignorant showman should decide the matter is simply hilarious.“

Skepticism is certainly demanded in examinations of paranormal claims (not to mention, in all facets of life). However, the JREF Challenge seems to be primarily aimed at providing the modern skeptical movement with a purely rhetorical tool for attacking the topic of the paranormal. In a recent newsletter, James Randi says as much: “The purpose of the challenge has always been to provide an arguing basis for skeptics to point that the claimants just won’t accept the confrontation.” It appears though that some parapsychology researchers are actually more willing than Randi thought...

It seems quite obvious that the Million Dollar challenge does not offer - and has not offered in the past - a fair scientific evaluation of paranormal claims - rather, the statistics employed are primarily based on ensuring the million dollars remains safe. Other rules further stack the deck against participants, by handing control of publicity to the JREF. Suitbert Ertel commented to me:

Randi and those who offer a large monetary prize for psi effect demonstrations are entitled to demand unachievable psi effects. It's their money and they must be careful not to lose it. Everybody must admit that this is reasonable economically. But careful reasoning about money and property is quite a different thing than careful scientific reasoning.

Dr Dean Radin was more blunt in his assessment:

This 'challenge' was like Evel Knievel's steam-powered motorcycle jump over the Snake River Canyon: A great stunt, accompanied by pomp and bluster, but ultimately irrelevant.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
eight bits

EA, it was never about science. Randi has no particular qualifications to evaluate scientific evidence, nor does he claim to have any. The challenge was about attracting media interest in showing frauds, cheats, and liars for what they are. There was never any intention of awarding the money.

Even if Randi's were a real science or engineering incentive award, which it is not, it is typical for it to cost more to win a genuine award than the award pays. And professional scientists know that, so I would take your crew's Beach & Moan routine with a grain of salt, too.

Around here, some, but not all, k-skeptics flogged the non-winning of the Randi challenge as "evidence." For that silliness, they should be taken to task, and I among many others have done so repeatedly.

That some people use a publicity stunt for a different purpose than it was intended does not make the stuntman a crook. Randi is a professional magician, EA, he tells you that up front. So you can't turn around and complain "He fools people!"

Yeah, dude, it's his job. It's on his business card. If you want to fantasize that he hasn't told you it's all an illusion, then that's your lookout.

And you know, none of this makes JayTee psychic, or Randi wrong about the state of the evidence on point.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
darkbreed

Exactly, there were never any intention on awarding the money. And from the above posts, there are some questions raised about this "money" as well, if it exists, in what form, and how it would be paid out. And Randi was not too interested in discussing that matter at all. Nor his spokesman Kramer with his bad and rude attitude towards the guy who tried to find out more about this.

And also as pointed out above, the tests themselves are far from fair or scientific meaning that they do not allow much possibility for passing the tests. The main point is that he is a debunker and only intends to discredit all possibilities for any paranormal / supernatural abilities of any sorts. So yes, he is not a scientist, not doing scientific tests, but tests that are outrageous when it comes to achievability, and set up in his favor as was the point earlier made.

In any case its less than 2 years left of this unbeatable challenge now so they probably don't have to worry much about it anymore.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
guitarjosh

I wonder when Yellow Bamboo will get another shot at the prize money.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
KBA
That is terrible the way skeptics will simply dismiss something without real proof but then go out of their way to try and make others share in their skepticism with techniques such as these.

I think you have to understand that to the average skeptic, someone claiming psychic powers or paranormal happenings is something similar to if a child came up to you and said there was a monster in the closet. You know how many hoaxes, tricks, and pathetic attempts at "powers" someone like Randi has had to entertain in his lifetime? I'm amazed he could remain professional in light of such ludicrous and perpetually ignorant claims that people make based on weak or subjective evidence, at the VERY most.

Edited by KBA

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sporkling
I think you have to understand that to the average skeptic, someone claiming psychic powers or paranormal happenings is something similar to if a child came up to you and said there was a monster in the closet.

This is not a good example. The child saying that there is a monster in the closet, is doing it out of fear. The claimer of psi, is something real. However, people like to play it down, using whatever science to cover it.

You know how many hoaxes, tricks, and pathetic attempts at "powers" someone like Randi has had to entertain in his lifetime? I'm amazed he could remain professional in light of such ludicrous and perpetually ignorant claims that people make based on weak or subjective evidence, at the VERY most.

Oh yes so professional. I believe that you did not read the posts that darkbreed had come up with. And the starter thread that I put in.

Edited by Sporkling

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.