Discussions about the James Randi Educational Foundation and its Million Dollar Challenge.
I wanted to share this blatently biased, one-sided article I found on TIME Magazine NewsFeed. It really drew me in when I saw the ridiculous comments being made by those with no prior knowledge on the background of Randi and his so-called challenge. The article and commenters are making him sound like some sort of truthseeking hero. In fact, the article is referring them only to pro-Randi links and there are those on the comment board stating that they did further "research" on the subject by going to randi.org! Ugh.
Here is the article below, I left out the comments section so visit http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/08/24/calling-all-psychics-prove-your-worth-for-1-million/#comments
Calling All Psychics: Prove Your Worth for $1 Million
By: Tim Newcomb
The $1 million treasure just sits there for the taking. Quite literally. The nonprofit organization The James Randi Educational Foundation has $1 million tucked in an escrow account for any celebrity psychic able to prove their “powers” in a controlled atmosphere. This seems about as safe as offering to fling money at any WWE wrestler who takes down an MMA fighter, or telling your local bar's karaoke star you'll pay them top dollar when they have a record top the Billboard charts.
Either way, your money is safe. And that's exactly what James Randi, a magician and founder of eponymous educational foundation, banks on by taking his challenge public and working to get the word out about a group of people he considers con artists.
(MORE: Psychics and Fortune Tellers Being Regulated to Reduce Fraud)
After a recent Nightline television program showcased psychic celebrities, Randi wanted to promote his own views. “James Van Praagh and Allison DuBois have turned the huckster art of ‘cold reading' into a multi-million-dollar industry, preying on families' deepest fears and regrets,” he says in a statement announcing the challenge. “They should be embarrassed by the transparent performances.”
Using cold readings—a technique that employs repeating back the answers of leading questions to make it appear the answers were discovered supernaturally—and “hot readings,” which is really what we all do nowadays anyway, using Google to find information out about an individual, these “psychic mediums” have made quite a name to some.
But to win $1 million, you better have the real deal psychic power in your back pocket. Participants must prove their worth on randomly chosen strangers in controlled environments, two conditions that take all the fun—and likelihood—out of pocketing people's money.
Without a single documented case of a psychic pulling through in a real-life situation, according to Discovery News, finding a taker for this $1 million challenge proves unlikely, at best.
But who knows? NewsFeed is no psychic, so maybe somebody will step up to the challenge.
Tim Newcomb is a contributor for TIME. Find him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb. You can also continue the discussion on TIME's Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.
Read more and make comments at: http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/08/24/cal ... /#comments
Randi never met press exposure he didn't like. . . even the negative stuff "so long as they spell his name right"
Yesterday I posted about this article "Calling All Psychics - Prove Your Worth For $1 Million Dollars" written by Tim Newcomb from Time. The article was so slanted and poorly researched, never once mentioning the controversy over this challenge. In the article, Randi states that there has never been one individual to pass his "simple scientific" test. Declaring all psychics and paranormal fraudulent and non-existent. Most readers are unfamilar with the topic and are, therefore, taking his word as gospel. Please visit that article's comments section and help get the WHOLE truth out there about this guy and his challenge!
Yes this is true, however, I think it is worth talking about when the responses from the general public are clearly influenced by the false facts. And, I don't think it's Randi that needs to be called out as much as the writer needs to be held accountable for not doing his due diligence.
Are you saying that someone should have been declared to have passed the test?
I'm not sure that I understand your question. Are you referring to the article I posted here? That was not something I wrote at all, it was something I came across and thought would be of interest to many that visit this forum. If you are referring to a comment I made, then can you please specify which comment? Thanks!
Sorry, should have quoted you. I was responding to the bolded: (argh: using preview noticed that bolding doesn't really show up at all with these fonts, I've underlined it also - Ninja: maybe you can change the fonts to one where the bold will show up? Never had a problem on any other forum)
You seemed to be implying that this was a false statement, so I was wondering whether you thought someone had passed the test, but wasn't being recognized for it.
Okay, thanks for clarifying your question. I wasn't referring to any specific individuals that won and weren't acknowledged. I was talking about the fact that he has simply refused to administer the test to a significant number of applicants. I'm not referring to "weeding out the crazies" as many have said, as these are very viable applicants that are being ignored. They are not even given the opportunity to get a pre-screen either. He simply refuses to respond to or acknowledge applications and attempts to accept his challenge. By doing this, the main claim of the challenge, -that no one can pass it and therefore psychic ability does not exist- is voided and any tenuous claims to being scientific are invalidated.
I know that Randy has said that a lot of applications get rejected because they don't follow the application instructions. I also know that a few have gotten off the rails at times (like that big homepathy one which Randy apologised for saying he had misunderstood and thought they had dropped it). But maybe you have a particular example in mind that we can discuss.
Becky, Randi no longer oversees the challenge. That responsibility now falls upon Banachek
There are also a lot of applicants that can't come up with a protocol that eliminates all chance of cheating. Even more can't obtain the professional reference or media requirement.
First and foremost, yes Randi is still very much involved in the Challenge. If you would like me to expand on this, I will do so. But first, let me address the testing methods I take issue with.....
Test? What test?:
How can it be stated that no one has passed his "test" when, in truth, he has not "formally" tested anyone to date? The excuse that only 40-60% of applicants even get considered due to "incorrectly applying" is just flat out ridiculous. If he is truly is interested in testing this theory of his, then he should just get on with it already and stop the charades. Stop trying to create hoops and mazes to discourage applicants. Enough with the tap dancing already!
The following has been directly copied from his website in the Q&A section:
Okay, so let's say someone actually squeezes by the gauntlet and gets to the "pre-screen":
In the case of Pavel Ziborov he had gotten all the way through the process, having agreed to 100 repetitions within the eight hour time limit only to have Randi come back and limit his challenge to 20 repetitions, thereby violating his own protocol and ensuring that nothing less than near total perfection could pass the challenge. No explanation was given for this change which Mr. Ziborov wisely refused. On the JREF site it is simply noted that the challenger had refused to accept the protocol. In other words, Mr. Ziborov’s attempt was cast in the worst possible light.
There is no way to prevent JREF errors or mischief during the testing. Because the people administering the test are JREF volunteers and are self selected for being strongly skeptical of psi, the chance of errors due to cognitive dissonance and inexperience are actually quite high and there is nothing to prevent them from either covering up any mistakes or simply not catch them at all. JREF is under no obligation to publish a full account of the test nor make good on any JREF errors in the event they occur and are discovered.
Randi does not represent the Science community, nor their standard protocols of testing. He only represents a small community of "skeptics" (and I use that term loosely) that have gotten together to make up their own rules. That would be fine if he was upfront about it and didn't try to pass it off as a true scientifc test. His test set-up is more like a carnival game or sideshow than a scientific challenge.
I like this girl!
Becky, understand that taking on the role of "debunker" is what most half-wit failures in the Magic world do in order to feel important, show off and keep their name in the press. Unfortunately, it has likewise become an evangelic platform for the American & European Atheism movements as well; the majority of these folks ignoring the fact that 99% of the "science" they lean on came directly from people of faith as well as serious occultists. The "current" way of approaching things with such strong absolutes emerging in the early/mid 1800s as industry, innovation and science suddenly became a boon element for society, more or less freed from the cage fanatical religionists had kept them in for so long. Like any freed captive "they' have taken things to an extreme, ignoring the median factors that make it ALL work together as part of the ONE (so to speak) vs. being many separate entities and things.
There are many in the more skeptical/analytical side of science that seriously disagree with the Randi types as well as the Dawkinism such folks seem to have likewise embraced as some kind of Holy Grail. This includes more than a few Nobel Prize winners, one particular physicist in fact, was physically threatened by the illustrious leader of the Skeptic's cult -- James Randi. Then again, the man has always had his goon squad; one of the "prove it" points his followers love to challenge us on and yet, many are very much aware of it, some having experienced its menace first hand. As I've pointed out many times here and elsewhere, such factors, if only rumor, suggest that the character of the man and those that surround him, is a thing that needs to be questioned if not deeply investigated. "They" loathe this idea, constantly pushing any challenger in two chief directions; a.) the classic "prove it" challenge; and b.) ignore the character issues and focus on the fact that his tests have never been won. . . etc.
An odd dodge given how often this same group go out of their way to discredit any research or researchers that offer plausibility and "proofs" that sustain paranormal particulars. Just weed through the piles of propaganda produced by this sort but look at all angles on each story and notice how some individuals are applauded and sustained at one point in their work but the instant they offer feedback that does not support the skeptic's gospel, that person is almost instantly transformed into being an "idiot" and "airhead" with questionable credentials.
While I applaud you in this situation, I am compelled to likewise warn you over what you most likely know already; even with a mountain of undeniable fact, you cannot change the views of those that don't want to accept any kind of perspective that runs contrary to their own. They simply do not want to believe and they want the rest of the world to be as miserable as they are, by giving up on hope, affirmation and "Magick"
While most here already know my position on things I must point out to you Becky, that I'm not a pure believer. I am very much a skeptic but one that has priorities when it comes to what is and isn't important, which basically covers my getting venomous with any group, ideology or individuals that are abusive and predatory towards the general public (especially those that use the lie of religion and philosophic ideas to do so). This includes standing up for people of faith who deserve a paladin when it comes to how cynics paint things with a very broad brush rather than dealing with particulars; there are certainly criminals in the psychic world as well as egos and delusional souls but there are also things no skeptic or "debunker" can explain away. This is why I reserve 7% of my consciousness & conscience for faith and belief in the phenomenal -- the things "science" can't explain away and the cynics can replicate, and more.
It's his million, he can create whatever hoops he wants. But from what I understand, people send in long texts in their applications. Thee's nothing wrong with saying we have a procedure: you should follow it.
Ahh, a name! Craig should take note! I'll see if I can find info on that case. But if you have some links that would be appreciated.
I've heard Randi say more than once in interviews that he specifically does NOT consider the MDC to be science - though he borrows on scientific principles in the execution. He freely admits that its primary purpose is for publicity for the JREF. Not exactly hiding it.
Becky is this website yours: http://weilerpsiblog.wordpress.com/rand ... challenge/
Because you seem to have clipped the entire Ziborov paragraph from it, without citing it.
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