View Active Topics          Latest 100 Topics          View Your Posts          Switch to Mobile

So what's the deal with Randi?

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

Re: So what's the deal with Randi?

Postby Craig Browning » 02 Sep 2011, 22:55

Arouet wrote:IIRC as PW said Byrd "won" his case but was awarded $0 in damages. That means that Randi had to pay nothing. Would have been strange for Randi to settle out of court AFTER he'd received a judgment so favourable to him!


Like I said, my insights are based on what a large number of folks know about the situation. Like a good Catholic Priest Randi covered bases. . . or so it seems.
User avatar
Craig Browning
 
Posts: 1526
Joined: 13 Feb 2010, 05:20
Location: Northampton, MA






Re: So what's the deal with Randi?

Postby craig weiler » 04 Sep 2011, 02:15

Hi everyone,

I thought it might be nice to bring this thread back onto a more scientific footing. Whether Randi is a pedophile or not is not really relevant to the MDC anyway. The main problem with Randi and his challenge is that it is the scientific equivalent of Fox News. The truth matters, and it matters a lot. Just as Fox News muddies the political debate and it can be argued, does considerable harm to ordinary people in doing so, the same applies to Randi and his MDC. It is not just the prominent psychics, or the hapless souls who are naive enough to apply for his challenge that are harmed, it is also hundreds of thousands of ordinary people who are psychic who get subjected cruel behavior, and due to the psychology of psychic people, they are the least able to cope with it. Many develop mental health issues, including depression, as a result. As I said, the truth matters.

Randi makes his living as a professional speaker attacking and making fun of psychic people and treating them as frauds. His speaking fee ranges from $5,000 to $10,000 per event, so it is highly unlikely that he would allow anything to interrupt that cash cow. It also means that he has to stay in the public eye in order to keep the value of his services high. It's business.

The challenge itself is a joke and even the most cursory Google search will reveal this. Beating odds of a million to one to win the main challenge is not possible for any psychic, no matter how talented. The people who apply for the challenge are not aware of just how hard that is. In testing, the effects will never be particularly large, which means that it would require an enormous amount of trials to build up that kind of statistical significance. (In the thousands). Psychic ability also declines as people get bored, frustrated and/or tired. It is not a machine like talent.

So why can't people pass the preliminary challenge? Easy. He relies on the fact that just about everyone, including psychics are ignorant of the science of parapsychology and the odds that people can normally beat. He can also play statistical games by limiting the number of trials; he can introduce extreme negativity into the process; he can break people's concentration with distractions or he can simply rely on the enormous stress of being tested to kill any chance of significant results. As I said, it is not a machine like talent. Try coming up with the funniest original jokes of your life while facing stress and criticism and you'll understand the problem.

Since Randi blows off anyone who can create scientific trials with groups of people to achieve this goal, his prize remains safe.

Science is about openness and honesty, and this is something that the challenge lacks. The real reasons for dropping out of the challenge are never revealed except by poring through thousands of forum posts, which is ridiculous. There is no list of applicants who have actually taken the challenge, no formal, transparent documentation of their testing process to evaluate and no reasons given for picking one applicant over another. Without these things, the challenge cannot be evaluated properly and thus, has no credibility.
A ship in harbor is safe, but that's not what ships are for.
User avatar
craig weiler
 
Posts: 386
Joined: 03 Sep 2011, 12:08
Location: San Francisco Peninsula

Re: So what's the deal with Randi?

Postby Arouet » 04 Sep 2011, 12:53

Randi is quite open that the primarily goal of the challenge is publicity to promote the JREF. He is quite open by saying that it's not actual science, but draws on scientific principles. Not every claim depends on statistics, but those that do do not unreasonably require a pretty high standard deviation from chance to rule out variance.

At the end of the day its his million.

I like the challenge. But I also disagree with people who make the argument: is psi is real, why has no-one won. Whether or not psi is real has nothing to do with the challenge.
User avatar
Arouet
 
Posts: 2544
Joined: 07 Aug 2010, 03:07

Re: So what's the deal with Randi?

Postby craig weiler » 04 Sep 2011, 13:10

Hi Arouet,
The trouble with Randi's challenge for me is that I am a psychic person. Not a professional, just an average Joe who also happens to have the ability. What he is doing is insanely insulting and hurtful; it's bigotry. The people he is attacking are gentle, sensitive people who are amazingly selfless and kind; tremendous empathy is part of being psychic.

You have no idea how bad the psychological damage is to some of these people. I do, they write to me.
A ship in harbor is safe, but that's not what ships are for.
User avatar
craig weiler
 
Posts: 386
Joined: 03 Sep 2011, 12:08
Location: San Francisco Peninsula

Re: So what's the deal with Randi?

Postby Arouet » 04 Sep 2011, 14:32

I'm on record that I'm not a fan of Randi's approach even if I may agree with some of his views.

That said: the MDC itself is not bigotry, nor insulting. The things Randi says about people he considers "woo" are often insulting and I do wish he'd cut it out.

I'm with Phil Plait in the "Don't be a Dick" camp of the skeptical movement!
User avatar
Arouet
 
Posts: 2544
Joined: 07 Aug 2010, 03:07

Re: So what's the deal with Randi?

Postby craig weiler » 04 Sep 2011, 15:04

The MDC is indeed insulting because it's a charade. Randi cherry picks a few no-hopers to test and finds a way to blow off the rest. There is an evidence trail a mile long of this crap. If you don't see this, it's because you're not paying attention to his critics. It's indefensible.

What you don't realize is that any implication that I'm not psychic is an insult to me. It implies that I am feeble minded, gullible or crazy.

Would you tell a gay person that he can be "cured?" It's not like it's any different for me. It's not as if I woke up one day and decided to be psychic; I was born this way; it wasn't a choice and I have to deal with it whether I like it or not.
A ship in harbor is safe, but that's not what ships are for.
User avatar
craig weiler
 
Posts: 386
Joined: 03 Sep 2011, 12:08
Location: San Francisco Peninsula

Re: So what's the deal with Randi?

Postby Jayhawker30 » 04 Sep 2011, 15:25

So this challenge is less of an absolute truth... and more of a reassurement?
User avatar
Jayhawker30
 
Posts: 68
Joined: 14 Jul 2011, 20:04

Re: So what's the deal with Randi?

Postby Arouet » 04 Sep 2011, 21:14

craig weiler wrote:What you don't realize is that any implication that I'm not psychic is an insult to me. It implies that I am feeble minded, gullible or crazy.


With all due respect, while I agree that Randi can be quite insulting, and can understand how you may not like the fact that some people don't believe that you have psychic abilities, the mere fact of not being believed shouldn't be considered insulting to you. None of us are owed having our claims taken at face value. I think we are owed basic respect, but not acceptance.

Would you tell a gay person that he can be "cured?" It's not like it's any different for me. It's not as if I woke up one day and decided to be psychic; I was born this way; it wasn't a choice and I have to deal with it whether I like it or not.


This is a false analogy. Randi is not saying that you SHOULDN'T be psychic. He's saying is doesn't believe that you ARE psychic.


@Jayhawker: as I said: Randi has called the challenge a publicity stunt. And it is a spectacularly successful one. It is not about absolute truth. I don't like the argument: if psi were true someone would have won the MDC. I think people should spend less time dwelling on the MDC and treat it for what it is.
User avatar
Arouet
 
Posts: 2544
Joined: 07 Aug 2010, 03:07

Re: So what's the deal with Randi?

Postby craig weiler » 04 Sep 2011, 22:44

We're not on the same page and I don't think that there is much chance of it. Rather than argue pointlessly about the emotional side of this, I'll just back off. You're obviously a decent person and this is not really part of the overall discussion anyway.
A ship in harbor is safe, but that's not what ships are for.
User avatar
craig weiler
 
Posts: 386
Joined: 03 Sep 2011, 12:08
Location: San Francisco Peninsula

Re: So what's the deal with Randi?

Postby Craig Browning » 04 Sep 2011, 23:19

craig weiler wrote:Hi Arouet,
The trouble with Randi's challenge for me is that I am a psychic person. Not a professional, just an average Joe who also happens to have the ability. What he is doing is insanely insulting and hurtful; it's bigotry. The people he is attacking are gentle, sensitive people who are amazingly selfless and kind; tremendous empathy is part of being psychic.

You have no idea how bad the psychological damage is to some of these people. I do, they write to me.


I'm quite familiar with this "damage" personally, professionally as well as from the observers point of view when it comes to the people that do this work/have "the gift" as well as their patrons who are constantly brow-beat for being "unintelligent", "primitive" (un-evolved mentally & socially), and of course "gullible and thus willing to believe anything that comes down the pike. . ." Randi and his bastard-child Penn Jillette have done more to traumatize the believer, be it those involved with the psychic/New Age world of those of ANY religious perspective, than just about any other group or source in history. . . at least the past couple-hundred years. The only thing "sacred" to these schmucks is their own ego and fame. My attitude towards them and their gospel of hate has recently cost me a great deal in way of friendship and vocationally based standing; as a "Minority" in that world I'm more than used to it, but it has recently been escalated not only in my direction but with most everyone with a backbone in Magic who dares speak-up.

Banachek has gotten onto me for using my knowledge of both, metaphysics and trickery to help scare a group of kids "straight" even though their parents had thrown thousands of dollars into rehab, deprogramming, etc. which never worked but actually made the kids worse -- darker if you would and far more threatening. At their request I presented a Seance that went wrong, scared the hell out of this group of teen-age wanna Satanist/Witches all but one of the 12 involved, running away from that side of mysticism and embracing a far more passive, benevolent and selfless mode of life & spiritual thinking -- humanitarianism vs. self-serving and ego. Using trickery and the passion/interests of these kids I managed to accomplish what parents and pedigreed analytics couldn't make happen, the kicker being that I used the very same psychological principles they've studied but don't know shit about when it comes to applying them.

My point is, I have/can do far more good with my knowledge of both worlds and RESPECTING people for their beliefs and testimonies than Randi lovers and the majority of the "science only" mind-set can. Most "legit" psychics can and will do such simply because of their spiritual sense of self. As Craig has pointed out, he's not in it for fame or cash it's just who he is and what he does; something the MDC and JREF tend to ignore, always seeking out the "soft targets" -- Hell, any one of my students could rip Sylvia Brown apart but notice how much trouble Randi had with John Edward and how many vague explanations Randi offers. . . then again to him everything is "just cold reading" and none of the actual details matter... which goes back to my point earlier that he and most of those like him know absolutely nothing about the occult sciences themselves and the various "tuning" factors behind divination tools, the variables when it comes to how one sensitive discerns energy or is able to describe phenomena vs. another.

Logic Oriented types simply want to break it down into black & white standards which in truth, are the illusion; nothing is as simple as black & white and until people give themselves permission to see and understand that one Universal Truth, they will never be able to to find that "peace" their lives find lacking; the thing that makes them push towards proving the unprovable, the non-tangible.

It really is a sad thing.
User avatar
Craig Browning
 
Posts: 1526
Joined: 13 Feb 2010, 05:20
Location: Northampton, MA

Re: So what's the deal with Randi?

Postby Jayhawker30 » 04 Mar 2012, 10:34

What if pseudoskeptics know that the supernatural is real... and are just trying to protect everyone else?

Image

My God.
User avatar
Jayhawker30
 
Posts: 68
Joined: 14 Jul 2011, 20:04

Previous

Return to JREF / Randi Challenge

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest