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Why faith in the Randi Challenge is irrational- Darryl Sloan

Discussions about the James Randi Educational Foundation and its Million Dollar Challenge.

Re: Why faith in the Randi Challenge is irrational- Darryl S

Postby derrida » 04 Dec 2010, 05:37

Arouet wrote:Incidentally, I've picked up a copy of The Concious Universe by Dean Radin. We'll see what he has to say.

i am looking at my copy in my bookshelf.. it is between Tolkien´s Lord of the Rings and L. Ron Hubbard´s Dianetics..
it is in the fantasy section of the bookshelf.
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Re: Why faith in the Randi Challenge is irrational- Darryl S

Postby Scepcop » 10 Dec 2010, 17:16

Here is the chapter in Darryl's book where he described dealing with the closed minded skeptics and the Randi crowd. What he said about their religious denial is very spot on and accurate.

From Reality Check:

Scepticism on steroids
In the year since I began doing telekinesis, I’ve uploaded to
the internet several video demonstrations. These have attracted
many responses from both believers and sceptics. I’ve risen to
the challenge of the sceptics’ objections so often that I’ve seen
a definite pattern emerge. It goes like this:
First the sceptic claims that what I’m demonstrating is a
purely conventional force – air and heat are the favourites. He
confidently asserts that I am deluding myself and that what he
is seeing is perfectly natural. If, at this point, I say nothing, the
sceptic will walk away supremely confident that he is right,
having done no testing whatsoever to verify his claim.
If, however, I point out the factors that rule out his claim
based on how rigorous I’ve been with my environment, the
sceptic then plays a little mental game of hopscotch, and
immediately jumps to the next conventional explanation, again
believing it without testing. And once more, I point out the
flaws in that theory, and he tries to hop again.
When he eventually realises there’s nowhere left to hop, he
says something like, “Okay, if this is real, why don’t you make
it levitate? Then I will believe.” Well, of course I can’t. He
moves the goalpost so that he can feel justified in dismissing
the anomaly that’s presented to him.
When I press for an explanation for the anomaly at hand,
the sceptic often resorts to saying something like “Well, I’m
sure there’s something perfectly ordinary behind this,” or “If
you’re so sure this is real, how come you haven’t claimed James
Randi’s million dollars, hmm?”
James Randi ( is a stage illusionist who
became a professional sceptic. He does a wonderful job of
exposing the tricks of fraudulent psychics who attempt to pull
the wool over the eyes of the public. His organisation, The
James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) hosts an ongoing
contest that is open to every member of the public: The One-
Million-Dollar Paranormal Challenge. The website says, “We
offer a one-million-dollar prize to anyone who can show, under
proper observing conditions, evidence of any paranormal,
supernatural, or occult power or event.” The contest has been
active for many years, and to date no one has claimed the
For me, it’s a strange dilemma to be faced with the reality
of my own small psychic ability and the fact that Randi’s million
is still in his pocket. The reason I personally would never take
the challenge is because I can’t conceive how I could possibly
win where so many have tried and failed.
A proper scientific investigation into a psychic phenomenon
should involve ongoing tests and a keen interest in any findings
that are anomalous to conventional explanation, regardless of
how dramatic or miniscule those findings are. The Randi
approach is to have one solitary test under stressful conditions,
with a criteria for passing or failing decided by the organisation.
If the contestant then fails to meet the imposed standard –
which inevitably happens – there is no further interest in his
case, regardless of any anomalies that may have come to light
during the demonstration. That isn’t a scientific investigation.
What’s interesting to note is that sceptics will quote JREF
like it’s the final word on truth, when it’s merely one
organisation with a long-standing reputation for debunking to
defend. I have no interest in stepping into a room where I have
only a few minutes to prove myself, under the gaze of people
who have a vested interest in seeing me fail. Talk about
performance anxiety. In addition, the organisation decides on
exactly what constitutes a paranormal ability, and may demand
a level of ability that I don’t possess. So the small anomalies
that are quite real and defy conventional explanation get ignored
because the organisation requires something bigger, all in the
name of test conditions. And at the end of the day, Randi gets
to claim, “No one has ever demonstrated a genuine paranormal
On the other hand, if I were invited to participate in genuine
ongoing lab work by real open-minded scientists who were
interested in looking at the anomalies, I would jump at the
But get this: scepticism is a good thing. Sceptics are highly
critical of what they call True Believers, and with good reason.
For what is scepticism? It’s your mind’s way of ensuring that
you are not deluding yourself, by demanding that you search
for evidence. Even though I have a highly intuitive way of
looking at life, I am keen to avoid being deceived by others, as
well as avoiding self-delusion. That’s what your critical thinking
mind is for, and it’s something to be treasured. Scepticism
cannot help you find what is true, but it can help you see what
is untrue. This is something that is missing from so many people
who are open to intuitive thinking and have an interest in the
paranormal. They go with the right brain and suppress the left
brain, and so they become prey for every “psychic” charlatan
out there, unable to discern the truth-tellers from the liars.
I cannot define myself as a True Believer, because that
says I have given up on critical thinking. And I cannot define
myself as a sceptic, because that says I have given up on
intuitive thinking. I refuse the archetype. A balance of critical
thinking and intuition is the key. Intuition to guide the way
and critical thinking to keep me from going off course.
What the sceptics I have encountered fail to realise is that
they actually demonstrate perfectly the traits of a True Believer.
Their reactions to my telekinesis experiments are loaded with
dogmatism. They make definitive statements like “You’re
blowing on it,” or “That’s just heat, mate,” and then they’re
happy to simply walk away. No further testing needed,
apparently. As long as it fits the “physics is the only reality”
paradigm, they’re happy to believe anything. When I go with
my intuition and step beyond the bounds of science, I willingly
enter the realm of pseudo-science, but the kind of scepticism
I’ve been up against is nothing short of anti-science – a
continual stubborn attempt to fit a square peg into a round
“Devotion to the truth is the hallmark of morality; there is no greater, nobler, more heroic form of devotion than the act of a man who assumes the responsibility of thinking.” - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
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Re: Why faith in the Randi Challenge is irrational- Darryl S

Postby derrida » 11 Dec 2010, 11:40

excuses.. lame excuses like always..

by the way.. i am spot on what i said..
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Re: Why faith in the Randi Challenge is irrational- Darryl S

Postby Paradox » 02 Jan 2011, 12:20

Personally outside of being a million bucks richer any person passing the James Randi Challenge wouldn't do much to change the minds of the sceptics. This would be the same scenerio with the other sceptic challenges that exist outside of Randi's. This is funny because I've actually asked a question very similar to this on a very sceptical collective forum and everybody danced around actually answering the question I did ask: "Would your opinions change to some degree about psi if someone actually passed the James Randi challenge"? Not one sceptic answered the question but instead attacked the question as 'unintelligable'. However when these same sceptics that responded to my 'unintelligable' question used the fact that no one passed Randi's challenge as a response to my many posts supporting the case for psi this made me suspicious of many sceptics true intentions.

There was one response however to that question which made me reconsider my stance on what being a sceptic really is. One individual responded: "Your question is ridiculous because sceptics are supposed to reject evidence and already don't accept psi as a real phenomenon. This question is like asking what would you think if the impossible happened and how would you react to it". I looked up the term 'sceptic' in one of my old dictionaries and I found this: "Sceptic=(noun) one who doubts the truth of any doctrine or system; one who doubts the existence of God or revelation; an adherent of philosophical skepticism; (adj), doubting; denying revelation". That one answer combined with the actual meaning of the term sceptic/scepticism seems to be a religion of fundamentalist disbelief rather than disbelief or doubt until presented with enough evidence like the definition of skepticism/skeptic that this website uses. It already seems what is termed as a 'pseudosceptic' on this site is what the true meaning of a real skeptic should be to begin with. For this reason I'm not sure if I would classify myself as a sceptic anymore. Maybe 'critical' or 'free thinker' would be one of the better terms to describe myself. I'm fully aware however that most self described critical thinkers have an ideology that seems synonymous with debunking unorthodox concepts (which I can fully justify to a reasonable degree).

I guess I'm always evaluating my stance on many topics. I used to consider myself a dualist but the term 'dualism' reeks of a completely inexplicable transcendental concept. I like to use this term instead that I've read about on the Campaign for Philosophical Freedom website: 'enlightened physics'. This is the same thing with the term 'sceptic' which reeks of its own brand of religion worshipping physicalism. A true freethinker (unlike a sceptic) will still be sceptical but open minded enough to support a different stance when presented with enough evidence. A true sceptic or even an obscurant on the other hand will never accept anything they're not comfortable with and may even have an obligation (because of funding, peers,etc) to actively debunk. True science does work by debunking but there is a line between debunking and fundamentalist disbelief.
Truth is stranger than fiction.
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Re: Why faith in the Randi Challenge is irrational- Darryl S

Postby Arouet » 02 Jan 2011, 14:21

Someone winning the MDC would not necessarily answer the question of psi in and of itself, but it really depends on what the actual circumstances are. Certainly it would open up some interesting avenues of study.

As for what is skepticim: there are different meanings for the word. The generally accepted meaning by most skeptics - and certainly those representing organized groups - is the withholding of belief without sufficient reliable evidence.

You're going to get all sorts of views on internet forums: some intelligent, others less so. Some are jerks, others not. That's to be expected. There are all types out there so best not to generalize.
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Re: Why faith in the Randi Challenge is irrational- Darryl S

Postby derrida » 03 Jan 2011, 03:40

well the problem with the question is that one people could get lucky
it would be extremely difficult.. but it is nevertheless a possibility
you can discard it and just assume.. SHE´S PSYCHIC! just because they did one right

they would get the million
but they would need to do more tests in order for us to believe it
then again. if they got the ability, a second test wouldnt be so difficult.

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