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Video: James Randi Challenge Exposed - A Lawyer Explains

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

Video: James Randi Challenge Exposed - A Lawyer Explains

Postby Scepcop » 11 Oct 2010, 23:55

Lawyer Victor Zammit explains why he advises psychics and mediums to ignore James Randi's so-called $1million challenge.



To download Zammit's ebook about evidence for the Afterlife:

http://www.victorzammit.com/book/
“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: James Randi Challenge Exposed - A Lawyer Explains

Postby Craig Browning » 12 Oct 2010, 03:23

I don't know if it was you or John Riggs that sent me to Victor on some research I've been back & forth on re: Randi and the Million Dollar Hoax (as well as his Church/"Education" Foundation). Interesting man but I think it was George Anderson that did some exposing on this issue as well as interviews with noted magicians who've had paranormal experiences and who believe strongly in the many aspects there of. As I say, there's far more to it all than mere mortals can explain away. :lol:
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Re: Video: James Randi Challenge Exposed - A Lawyer Explains

Postby The_Grand_Illusion » 13 Oct 2010, 13:09

I strongly recommend Zammit's ebook, particularly for the purposes of sifting through large amounts of rational *evidence* for the "paranormal" to then take note of a claim Randi makes about Zammit: that he provides no evidence!! LOL! Randi has no shame. None. He is the archetypal gatekeeper. Anyone who applies for his "challenge" is patently insane IMO.
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Re: Video: James Randi Challenge Exposed - A Lawyer Explains

Postby Scepcop » 13 Oct 2010, 16:23

You can download Victor Zammit's ebook here:

http://www.victorzammit.com/book/
“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: Video: James Randi Challenge Exposed - A Lawyer Explains

Postby The_Grand_Illusion » 02 Nov 2010, 12:39

Dean Radin explains some of the reasons why Randi's challenge just doesn't matter:

After studying these phenomena as a scientist for about 30 years, I've concluded that some psychic abilities are genuine, and as such, there are important aspects of the prevailing scientific worldview that are seriously incomplete. I've also learned that many people who claim to have unfailingly reliable psychic abilities are often delusional or mentally ill, and that there will always be reprehensible con artists who claim to be psychic and charge huge sums for their "services." These two classes of so-called psychics are the targets of celebrated prizes offered by magicians for demonstrations of psychic abilities. Those prizes are safe because the claimed abilities of these people either do not exist at all, or they're much weaker than sincere claimants may wish to believe. There is of course a huge anecdotal literature about psychic abilities, but the evidence that convinced me is the accumulated laboratory performance by people who do not claim to possess special abilities, collected under controlled conditions and published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

http://www.deanradin.com/NewWeb/bio.html
Brendan D. Murphy is the author of the forthcoming book series on the nature of reality and consciousness, The Grand Illusion: A Synthesis of Science, Mysticism and the Occult. Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/The-Grand-Illusion-TGI/151764238172173?ref=ts

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Re: Video: James Randi Challenge Exposed - A Lawyer Explains

Postby Arouet » 02 Nov 2010, 12:55

I commented on a few of the points in this video over on Skeptiko. Here's what I wrote:

He says that the challenge is unenforceable. He gets to this conclusion by saying that Randi makes the applicant sign a waiver. He (probably rightly) then says that this waiver is illeagal. So why would the challenge be unenforceable?

He notes that the challenge is not put on oath, nor perjury laws. So what? He says that Randi should make the challenge subject to perjury laws so that if Randi renegs he could go to jail. I'm not familiar with this area of law, but I don't think you can contract yourself into criminal sanctions? Am I wrong?

He says that the evidence must be self-evident. Not quite: Here is the relevant section:

If you are submitting a claim that works off a previous assumption, you have to present evidence proving the assumption correct first. For example, a claim of exorcism must have prior proof of the existence of demons, unless the existence of demons would be self-evident during the exorcism. If someone’s head spins ‘round the wrong direction during an exorcism, it is safe to say that demons (or some other entities) are responsible. Projectile vomiting, however, is nasty and probably explainable.

Some claims are, unfortunately, untestable. For example, claiming that you are able to make someone feel happy by talking to them is untestable, because it is impossible to objectively gauge someone’s level of happiness, especially if they have been told that after talking to you they should feel happy.

If your claim is untestable, there is nothing that can be done to alter that status unless you find a new claim or negotiate a protocol in which the results are self-evident and objectively testable.
it's not that all claims must have self-evident evidence. I think the examples provided are pretty self-evident as to when this clause would kick in. In any event, there would have to be agreed upon protocols as to that as well.

He has a problem now with the challenge requiring evidence, and that a litigation lawyer would be necessary to prove the case. Not in most cases. If the protocols are properly drafted, what qualifies as a successful trial should be clear. If there is a dispute later, that one party says A and the other B, then yes, lawyers may be needed. But not for the initial trials.

He says that the applicant should have a right to know what constitutes valid results: isn't this taken care of in the negotiations? what's his actual beef here?

I stayed out of the non-legalistic reasons he gave. His critiques don't have too much weight, imo.

Now, I don't do this kind of law, so stand to be corrected, but this comes across more as a polite rant, than strong legal arguments.
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Re: Video: James Randi Challenge Exposed - A Lawyer Explains

Postby derrida » 03 Nov 2010, 02:47

hahahahahaha
it always amuses me how much weight believers put on the randi challenge
they just hate the idea they cant produce just one guy that is able to humilliate randi and his challenge
JUST ONE GUY

so they start with excuses.. there´s no money, is a sham, you will never get the money.. and on and on
and they forget the whole thing is about PROVING PARANORMAL ABILITIES
you need to bash on the challenge cause you hate the idea you cant produce ONE GUY.
many people have applied
now.. on the list on applicants there´s everything.. from dowsers to loonies (not such a stretch)

just produce ONE GUY that is able to show their abilities!
oh.. that´s right.. they cant!.. cause if they go out and look for fame.. they will lose their abilities.. yeah..
(and they wonder why people laugh)

Forget about the randi challenge.. THERE´S 30 More challenges around the world
that old dude will die eventually and you will still have nobody that can do anything paranormal on command
just stories.
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Re: Video: James Randi Challenge Exposed - A Lawyer Explains

Postby Mistislav D'ralle » 16 Nov 2010, 11:46

Arouet wrote: He says that the challenge is unenforceable. He gets to this conclusion by saying that Randi makes the applicant sign a waiver. He (probably rightly) then says that this waiver is illeagal. So why would the challenge be unenforceable?


A contract is made up of 4 main areas
Offer
Acceptance
Performance & Consideration
Intent.

JREF has held out an "offer" to the public to enter into a "contract" with JREF. The applicant by doing those activities stated as "express terms" ( written things that must be done to the letter) of the contract means that the applicant has entered into a contract with JREF. The "performance" is the applicant's effort in doing those activities. The "consideration" is the payment of $1mill.

JREF cannot say "Oh I did not really intend to pay any money and this was just puff" as JREF has undertaken public activities expressly state its intent to pay the money.
This comes under the very basic contract law rules found in.... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlill_v_ ... ll_Company

In addition, any court reviewing the case would look to see what the parties "intent" was, and indeed all the public activities of the JREF indicate an intent to pay the $1mill upon meeting the express terms of the contract. In other words, JREF cannot back out.


Arouet wrote: He notes that the challenge is not put on oath, nor perjury laws. So what? He says that Randi should make the challenge subject to perjury laws so that if Randi renegs he could go to jail. I'm not familiar with this area of law, but I don't think you can contract yourself into criminal sanctions? Am I wrong?
He says that the evidence must be self-evident. Not quite: Here is the relevant section:[/quote]

Perjury laws or oath has nothing to do with the price of fish or JREF's public offer. Do you give an oath when you enter into a hire car contract for a car that has been advertisied? Perjury and oaths are matters for the court if the court has been asked to review the contract if there is a claim, not beforehand. To make a claim of misleading and deceptive conduct against JREF before entering a contract would come under consumer protection legislation, however no "believer" has ever found any errors in the JREF offer to make this claim.

Please note that there is a clause in the JREF offer that states that the offerer and the applicant to the offer would agree upon the actual evidence needed to prove a finding one way or the other. This really means JREF is offering to enter into negotiations ( invitation to treat) as to what the nature of evidence will be. Therefore no contract exists until both parties reach an agreement on this specific point. As no "believer" has ever reached this level with JREF this whole discussion becomes moot.


Arouet wrote: Some claims are, unfortunately, untestable. For example, claiming that you are able to make someone feel happy by talking to them is untestable, because it is impossible to objectively gauge someone’s level of happiness, especially if they have been told that after talking to you they should feel happy.


Absolutely! It cannot be expressed as a written term with hard data or measured. In advertising, a non enforceable "puff" term is when, for example, a toothpaste says "ours is the best!" because the public know this is "puff" and there is no one measurement of what is the best. JREF has taken care never to be accused of relying on just "puff" and demanding that defined measurements are required.

( i'm a Skeptic Society forum member who joined this forum under a fake name to hunt down "Highflyertoo" a year ago. "Highflyertoo" posted about walking statues talking to him and how he was Emmanuel the saviour, from a psych facility in Western Australia. "Highflyertoo" was also threatening Australian Naval bases and ( I believe but don't know as fact) has stopped internet forum posting)
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Re: Video: James Randi Challenge Exposed - A Lawyer Explains

Postby Arouet » 16 Nov 2010, 11:56

Thanks for the elaboration! Zammit strikes me as a rather strange lawyer with some very strange ideas about the law. He doesn't really talk like a lawyer. That said, I'm a lawyer, but in a particular field, so when I step out (in contract law for example) I don't sound as knoledgeable. Maybe he was a patents attorney or something and knows very little about the areas he's talking about here.
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Re: Video: James Randi Challenge Exposed - A Lawyer Explains

Postby derrida » 16 Nov 2010, 15:15

perhaps he is a mail-university lawyer
:lol:
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Re: Video: James Randi Challenge Exposed - A Lawyer Explains

Postby ProfWag » 16 Nov 2010, 18:41

Mistislav D'ralle wrote: Therefore no contract exists until both parties reach an agreement on this specific point. As no "believer" has ever reached this level with JREF this whole discussion becomes moot.
( i'm a Skeptic Society forum member who joined this forum under a fake name to hunt down "Highflyertoo" a year ago. "Highflyertoo" posted about walking statues talking to him and how he was Emmanuel the saviour, from a psych facility in Western Australia. "Highflyertoo" was also threatening Australian Naval bases and ( I believe but don't know as fact) has stopped internet forum posting)

Actually MD, several "believers" have reached an agreement and have been formally tested by the JREF after a signed agreement. I don't follow the JREF board much, but I know Connie Sung (or something like that) was tested at the last TAM meeting in Vegas for which she would have won the million.

I had forgotten all about HF2! He certainly had some "interesting" and sometimes combative thoughts...
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Re: Video: James Randi Challenge Exposed - A Lawyer Explains

Postby Mistislav D'ralle » 17 Nov 2010, 10:21

ProfWag wrote:
Mistislav D'ralle wrote: Therefore no contract exists until both parties reach an agreement on this specific point. As no "believer" has ever reached this level with JREF this whole discussion becomes moot.
( i'm a Skeptic Society forum member who joined this forum under a fake name to hunt down "Highflyertoo" a year ago. "Highflyertoo" posted about walking statues talking to him and how he was Emmanuel the saviour, from a psych facility in Western Australia. "Highflyertoo" was also threatening Australian Naval bases and ( I believe but don't know as fact) has stopped internet forum posting)

Actually MD, several "believers" have reached an agreement and have been formally tested by the JREF after a signed agreement. I don't follow the JREF board much, but I know Connie Sung (or something like that) was tested at the last TAM meeting in Vegas for which she would have won the million.


You are right. I was wrong. Connie Sonne had agreed protocols but her efforts were just expected averages on the day at TAM 7 in 2009. Here are the protocols offered to her in the lead up.
http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?t=132844

Here is the result
http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/jre ... lenge.html


ProfWag wrote:I had forgotten all about HF2! He certainly had some "interesting" and sometimes combative thoughts...

Highflyertoo was "scheduled" to a Western australian psych hospital after being arrested for an armed seige. It was about a year later that he got internet access and announced on many forums that he was going going to obtain telekinesis on a specific date. He based this on dreams he had concerning a library in Bunbury Western Australia and a dream of an ANZAC statue coming to life, also in Bunbury. However the story kept getting bigger and bigger until he announced he was actually Emmanuel the real prophet, here to save earth. When the date passed for his telekinesis to eventuate he stated this was in fact evidence because as Emmanuel, he had changed time to prevent the anti-christ from returning. He then went a little nutty..... Sadly as I use my real name Matthew Ellard on other forums, Highflyertoo simply looked it up in the phone book and rang my father and abused him for having me......thus he was banned.
http://www.skepticforum.com/viewtopic.p ... oo#p164028

Here is the very long thread at the Skeptic society where Highflyertoo makes his first announcement. As the thread progresses you can watch Highflyertoo getting stranger and stranger.
http://www.skepticforum.com/viewtopic.p ... ghflyertoo
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Re: Video: James Randi Challenge Exposed - A Lawyer Explains

Postby derrida » 17 Nov 2010, 13:50

:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
that was the greatest post ever!! thanks for sharing
that was soooo funny to read!
i remember hf2..

i would like to point out so we dont forget
HF2 was on the believers side
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Re: Video: James Randi Challenge Exposed - A Lawyer Explains

Postby ProfWag » 17 Nov 2010, 22:01

Mistislav D'ralle wrote:Here is the very long thread at the Skeptic society where Highflyertoo makes his first announcement. As the thread progresses you can watch Highflyertoo getting stranger and stranger.
http://www.skepticforum.com/viewtopic.p ... ghflyertoo

And that would have been hard to do considering he started off the posting pretty strange if you ask me...
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Re: Video: James Randi Challenge Exposed - A Lawyer Explains

Postby Mistislav D'ralle » 18 Nov 2010, 11:48

derrida wrote::lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
that was the greatest post ever!! thanks for sharing
that was soooo funny to read!
i remember hf2..

i would like to point out so we dont forget
HF2 was on the believers side


I wouldn't worry about Highflyertoo's "side". I think both ruthless JREF skeptics, SCEPCOP skeptic watchdogs and the Pope himself, would be be standing together reading Highflyertoo's posts with the same universal confusion.
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