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One-Sided Article in TIME Newsfeed about JREF "Challenge"

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

Re: One-Sided Article in TIME Newsfeed about JREF "Challenge

Postby ProfWag » 31 Aug 2011, 04:14

beckyfitz wrote: 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!

This, Becky, is the crutch in this whole Randi debate. It appears from your statement that you are assuming he is interested in testing every individual who claims to have paranormal abilities. Just how busy do you think one would be if he allowed every Tom, dick, and Harry a chance to earn a million bucks? C'mon, if there were no standards in place, the fraudulent and honest psychics would be crawling out of the woodwork. Just look at how busy The Professor kept the MDC staff a couple years ago. It was ridiciculous. Having said all of that, if one has honest to goodness paranormal abilities, then the local media would buy into it as would the other "professional" references that are asked of in the challenge rules. I, for one, being a university professor would be an acceptable reference to the MDC for their preliminary test. If you, or anyone you know, has psychic abilities and are ever in Arkansas, let's get together and I'll be glad to be a witness for one's paranormal abilities. Just keep in mind that although I haven't been current in 20 years, I do have a background as a magician.
Again, there's no "tap dancing" to it, it's just a matter of someone having abilities (or not) that "can't be explained by science" that appears to prevent most from submitted an honest application.
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Re: One-Sided Article in TIME Newsfeed about JREF "Challenge

Postby Arouet » 31 Aug 2011, 23:44

Ok, so I did a bit of reading on the Ziborov manner in the JREF threads (just go to the MDC forum and search for Ziborov: a number of threads turn up) and while it does look like JREF was certainly not giving it top priority and could have been clearer in their communications with Ziborov that the situation is not quite so simple. Apparently the applicant was very unclear in what his proposed ability was, it changed over time, and the protocols were not precise enough.

Here's one comment that summarises some of the concerns:

[QUOTE=Andrew Wiggin;5091579]I vote no. My impression from reading the various threads is that Pavel was hoping to find a way to get a protocol accepted that he had a fair chance of beating without paranormal abilities. The occasional good run DOES happen, even by chance, and the chances of winning the million are a lot better than the chances of winning a million by playing the lottery. All you have to do is hypothesize that you are better at obfuscating some things that manipulate chance than the various reviewers are at finding them. It really did look to me like he was hoping at some points to make use of the 'monty hall paradox' with his various photographs and rearrangements. It should be so simple to devise a protocol for this, so when a simple protocol doesn't materialize, and endless complications and caveats are added on over years of discussion, then something's rotten.

A[/QUOTE]

There was certainly a lot of critiicms from JREF members about the JREF's handling of the case, but I don't think its clear that that's what did this claim in.

We could discuss it further I guess, though I think the whole thing was dealt with in depth on the JREF forum, including participation from the applicant himself.
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Re: One-Sided Article in TIME Newsfeed about JREF "Challenge

Postby craig weiler » 03 Sep 2011, 12:22

Hi Arouet,

I wrote the article that Becky is referring to and I've done a great deal of snooping through the Pavel challenge forum. He got screwed because Randi thought he might pass. The information and the relevant forum posts can be found here:
http://weilerpsiblog.wordpress.com/2011 ... challenge/

In particular, this one: It refers to a change in the protocol. The volunteers and Zibarov had agreed on 100 trials and Randi cut it down to 20.

I think you have misunderstood (or at least, I hope you have). Your success rate will probably be expected to correspond to the same probability given for success in the other test. However, you are right to be concerned. Reducing the number of tests means that you need a much higher success rate to reach the same level of probability. And this success rate will be higher than the success rate you have actually claimed (through your own testing). It sets you up to fail even if your claim is true and accurate. Which would make the critics of James Randi and the Challenge right. This is very disappointing. (…)

(segue to another post)

Let’s look at what has happened here. Pavel sent in a protocol which gave him a 50% chance of passing – not ideal, but some people may find it acceptable. Randi suggests cutting the number of trials. Now I doubt that Randi intends to change Pavel’s odds of winning to 1:17 instead of 1:1000 by staying with the same success rate, so it is likely that he will be asked to guess at least 18 correctly in order to pass the preliminary. If Pavel’s real success rate is 0.67, then the chance that he will achieve a success rate of 0.90 is only about 2%. You can see that Randi has the ability to ensure that claimants will fail based on dictating how long a Challenge test will last. [my bold italics] Of course, I cannot speak to his motivations for doing so. I suspect (or rather hope) that it is done out of naivety.
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Re: One-Sided Article in TIME Newsfeed about JREF "Challenge

Postby Craig Browning » 04 Sep 2011, 00:58

Thank you Craig!

I believe this particular incident is one of a handful I had heard about and not kept track of, that all the pro-randi types want to ignore, side-step or simply say that "we're" wrong and "misunderstanding" the "science".

In this case, which shell is the pea under. . .
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Re: One-Sided Article in TIME Newsfeed about JREF "Challenge

Postby Arouet » 04 Sep 2011, 13:02

From my brief skim of the JREF threads, it appears that Randi did indeed propose to cut it down, but if I understood correctly, did not state that Pavel required to get all right.

The problem is that Pavel then quit the negotiations. That's a pity. I can get why he was frustrated, and don't blame him, and I believe JREF could have handled the negotiations better, but the math could be figured out with 20 trials like it could for 100. As long as it was correctly figured out his odds shouldn't be that affected. This was just for a preliminary trial.

I wish that Pavel had stuck with the negotiations a bit longer.

Craig: if you read the JREF thread there are a number of skeptic regs who criticised JREF's handling of the matter. but it doesn't look like pavel was particularly clear with his protocols either.

Do we know what Pavel has done since? He doesn't need JREF to get together with a parapschologist to flesh out his ability after all!
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Re: One-Sided Article in TIME Newsfeed about JREF "Challenge

Postby craig weiler » 04 Sep 2011, 15:16

Pavel was given a take it or leave it option by Randi. You know that part where he says "both sides have agreed to the protocol?" Well this is an example of what Randi means: My way or the highway. Either you accept the protocol that Randi offers or you're out. No negotiation.

Pavel protested immediately, but so what? This is the MDC. There is no appeal and no recourse. Randi's decisions are final. Unsurprisingly, Randi has not responded.

This is Pavel's letter, which he kindly copied to my website for the record:

To Mr. James Randi,
201 S.E.
12th Street Ft Lauderdale
Florida 33316
USA

I am writing to you in regards to JREF’s decision to close my file, with the reason – “ In accordance with the suggestions from other JREF staff, Pavel was given one last opportunity to simplify his protocol. He has declined, and his Challenge file has been closed.”

The JREF stuff is misrepresented the facts in favor of the JREF and presenting me in false light.

This is unexceptionably as it is. I was given NO chance but to refuse the protocol, that is absolutely UNFAIR and guarantees that I will not be able to perform claimed by me abilities, the conditions offered to me is making it impossible to. As claimed by me ability and success rate CANNOT be reliably tested with 20 trials that has been offered with no other options. The JREF imposed a limit on the number of trials which is too low to test the ability as stated in the application. The JREF’s proposed test would only give me a 25% chance of passing it, even if I indeed have the ability I claime. A protocol for 100 trials test that was refused is not unreasonable, and the fact that it is refused seems unreasonable and unfair due to the facts:

1. The time required for test did not violate JREF’s limits of 8 hours.

2. It was reviewed by independent statistician (who previously worked with JREF) and according to his opinion it was good enough for testing. He did not pointed any of options where the protocol seemed unfair and would give me at any point the advantage to win by chance and not by the claimed ability.

3. From your response one of the reasons to refuse it and limit it to a 20 trials, was the cost of it. According the JREF’s rules I have to pay all the expanses related to test, so I see no reason why is JREF concerned about costs.

The designed and discussed protocol of 100 pairs test, meets the generally understood requirements. The probability of winning by chance is less than 1 in 1,000. The time taken is within the bounds of previous challenges. I bear the expenses. I believe there are adequate guards against cheating. The protocol has been checked by an independent statistician (who was kind enough to volunteer his time) who is familiar with the challenge process. The protocol seems to have met with enough approval by the JREF staff that it was deemed suitable for final presentation to you.

The fact that the latest protocol was discussed with JREF for ONE year period, and not even once the JREF expressed it concerns about it as being unreasonable and unacceptable. So the sudden letter limiting the test and offering me no choice but to refuse it and my file to be closed, I consider as unfair!

I strongly believe that I was treated unfairly, unjustly and even fraudulently in some way. As I am presented on the JREF’s applicants page in a false light, as a person who was given fair chances, time and conditions for testing the claimed ability but I have refused it. That is absolute false and lie!

There for, I would appreciate the JREF reopening my file and hold fair test or if JREF find the proposed protocol unacceptable and giving me chance to cheat or win in a fraudulent way, officially explain your point and reasons for refusing protocol and limiting me to a conditions that is unfair! I ask of you, to amend the record on the JREFS applicant log, as it misrepresent the fact and as I have said before presents me in false light to a people who were not involved in any way in to protocol negotiation and are not familiar to any other threads on the JREF forums that related to the matter.

Sincerely yours,

Pavel Ziborov

Regards,

Pavel


His objections sure sound a lot like everyone else's.
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Re: One-Sided Article in TIME Newsfeed about JREF "Challenge

Postby Arouet » 04 Sep 2011, 21:41

I'll admit not understanding why Randi wanted to cut it to 20 trials. If he thought 100 would take too long he could have reduced it to 80 or 50.

That said, I don't understand Pavel's argument that 20 trials makes it impossible to demonstrate his ability. We're talking about getting a certain statistical hit that beat certain odds. That can be calculated no matter how many trials are suggested.

What am I missing?
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Re: One-Sided Article in TIME Newsfeed about JREF "Challenge

Postby craig weiler » 05 Sep 2011, 00:03

It's statistics. To beat odds of 1000 to 1 when chance is 50% you need 67 hits out of a hundred. A 67% success rate. To beat the same odds with 20 trials you need to get 18 out of 20 hits. That is a 90% success rate. Pavel did not claim that he could achieve a 90% success rate.


The challenge is to determine whether there is a black or white piece of paper inside an envelope. At the incredibly slow pace of 1 trial per 2 minutes 100 trials would consume about three hours and 20 minutes. More likely is that each trial takes about 45 seconds which would consume about 1 hr 15 min.

The issue of saving time is clearly a red herring.
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Re: One-Sided Article in TIME Newsfeed about JREF "Challenge

Postby Arouet » 05 Sep 2011, 00:17

I'll have to read the JREF thread a little more carefully, maybe I'll do that tonight.

I agree that I think the time issue was unreasonable and I think they should have just gone with 100 trials.


But as for red herrings: the MDC is a red herring. I don't know why it occupies such a sore spot for proponents. I'm more interested in the discussions about parapsychology. The MDC is kind of like an entertaining side show.
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Re: One-Sided Article in TIME Newsfeed about JREF "Challenge

Postby craig weiler » 05 Sep 2011, 01:00

The Zibarov issue is basically a smoking gun that proves that Randi cheats. That's really what we're arguing here.

Here's the page with the damning evidence:
http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?t=119896&page=6

You don't have to go farther back than page 1 of this thread because the previous discussions are consumed with figuring out an acceptable protocol. Pavel needed a lot of help to come up with something testable and while the volunteers were helpful, Randi delayed everything by taking forever to respond, putting the process in limbo for months at a time.
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Re: One-Sided Article in TIME Newsfeed about JREF "Challenge

Postby Arouet » 05 Sep 2011, 04:09

I'll take a look. But I'm curious: in the two years since this occurred what steps has Pavel taken to prove his ability. I wasn't able to find anything in google other than a youtube video saying that he'd search for others to test him.
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Re: One-Sided Article in TIME Newsfeed about JREF "Challenge

Postby craig weiler » 05 Sep 2011, 07:46

I would guess that Pavel has moved on. Without a financial incentive, there is no reason to go to so much trouble to prove yourself.
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Re: One-Sided Article in TIME Newsfeed about JREF "Challenge

Postby Arouet » 05 Sep 2011, 22:57

Really?
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Re: One-Sided Article in TIME Newsfeed about JREF "Challenge

Postby craig weiler » 06 Sep 2011, 01:08

Yeah, really.

For the most part, psychic people don't care what skeptics think. To be truthful, I don't either. I argue merely for the sake of a good intellectual discussion and to understand skeptics better. There is no chance though that I'm ever going to think you're right because I have direct personal experience with psychic phenomena. Nothing beats it. Once you've seen a tree, no one is going to convince you that they don't exist. It's the same with psychic ability.
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Re: One-Sided Article in TIME Newsfeed about JREF "Challenge

Postby Craig Browning » 06 Sep 2011, 01:34

craig weiler wrote:Yeah, really.

For the most part, psychic people don't care what skeptics think. To be truthful, I don't either. I argue merely for the sake of a good intellectual discussion and to understand skeptics better. There is no chance though that I'm ever going to think you're right because I have direct personal experience with psychic phenomena. Nothing beats it. Once you've seen a tree, no one is going to convince you that they don't exist. It's the same with psychic ability.


It's the same with any instance in which one is vested in KNOWING something directly vs. theory or even "faith". Let's face it, there is a reason why so many people willingly faced death than denounce something they KNEW as the fullness of truth.
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