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In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

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

Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby Arouet » 03 Nov 2011, 19:38

Yes the MDC is a publicity stunt - and Randi himself has said it.

No its not anything like a cult.
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby Nostradamus » 03 Nov 2011, 20:12

Craig Browning wrote:The joke within the Psychic Community is that the MDC is a retirement program for psychics; you take the challenge and use the experience as a marketing vehicle that will sell books, get you on TV and booked for lots of lectures. . . I'm not kidding, even in loosing the challenge you win! You likewise have valuable feedback for the Psi Community itself as to what goes on in the testing, the attitudes, etc.

The MDC situation as I understand it, is fluid by its nature and for years Randi had final say, not the very small handful of "research scientists" that were involved with each study. . . and when it comes to peer review, some of these papered "scientists" weren't exactly A level students; the majority of them are very pronounced cynics that have their minds made up even before the tests begin. That in and of itself reveals unfair bias.

After the book "Magicians Who Believe in the Paranormal" came out the wordage and other key weaknesses that revealed the duplicity of the challenge were "corrected" and yet, we still hear the mantra as to how fair and legit it is. . . just as it was before the expose' and of course, before the FATE magazine's inference to things.

The MDC is nothing more than a PR gimmick for Randi that gives him a tax exempt status by way of his own Cult (JREF). He may as well be Jim Jones in that his whole operation is essentially the same structure as is the apparent infallibility of the Grand Pubah himself. By all pretense and observation the JREF fits the literal definition of being a Cult and worse, a Dangerous Cult, it's even been tabled for inclusion on at least one Cult Watch list that I'm aware of because of the radical antics of its membership. Given the MDCs close affiliation with said group I would believe it fare to say that it is as tainted and stained and if actually investigated by outside sources, would prove exceptionally bogus. . . or so goes the rumor in various circles of the academic world.

Just as there are scoffers that deny much of what is shown to them there are the other close minded individuals that believe anything despite the evidence. People treat these paranormal issues like religion and accept and believe despite the evidence to the contrary.

I don't buy it that losing results in a win. I do accept that refusing to be tested leads to a win. There are lots of famous so-called psychics, frauds in my book, that try to leverage their displeasure of the MDC. They hate the MDC because they know it would expose them as the frauds they are.

Claiming that the panel that constructs the tests is impartial is meaningless since the goal is to create a test that results in a self evident result. What the JREF panel thinks is of no interest. They could be believers or scoffers. That is immaterial. The reason that the test is fluid is that it is adjusted to each type of situation presented. The goal is simply to construct a self evident result where a win is evident to anyone without judging and the chances of winning by guessing are remote.

Just because the JREF exposes one whining fraudster after another is no reason to call it a cult. The MDC is an enticement for a person with real abilities to come forward. Some do because they truly believe in their powers. These are the people that do not whine after a failure. They are often surprised. Then there are the charlatans that scream and whine unfair before and after testing.

The claims of bogus do not come from the academic world. They come from the frauds, hoaxers, charlatans, and their cult of close minded believers.
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby Arouet » 03 Nov 2011, 23:45

The suggestion that the JREF is cult-like is ludicrous. Even a cursory read of the wiki article (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cult) makes apparent the vast differences between an actual cult and a public interest group like JREF.

Frankly, its a cheap shot and reduces credibility to lauch such attacks.
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby ProfWag » 04 Nov 2011, 00:34

Craig Browning wrote:The joke within the Psychic Community is that the MDC is a retirement program for psychics; you take the challenge and use the experience as a marketing vehicle that will sell books, get you on TV and booked for lots of lectures. . . I'm not kidding, even in loosing the challenge you win! You likewise have valuable feedback for the Psi Community itself as to what goes on in the testing, the attitudes, etc.

Really? Since no one has ever made it far enough along to actually take the challenge, I'm not quite sure how they could get rich off of TV and books for not winning.
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby NinjaPuppy » 04 Nov 2011, 01:28

ProfWag wrote:Really? Since no one has ever made it far enough along to actually take the challenge, I'm not quite sure how they could get rich off of TV and books for not winning.

It starts with getting them their "15 minutes of fame" and the rest is up to a good publicist or agent.
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby craig weiler » 04 Nov 2011, 03:44

Quite a few people have taken the preliminary challenge. A lady named Patricia Putt was the latest.

JREF may not be a cult, but it certainly has members who behave like cultists.

From my reading of the parapsychological scientific literature, Randi is ignored. His challenge is not science, nor does it claim to be. It's not proof of any sort that psychics exist and contributes nothing to scientific understand of psychic ability. It is not regarded as fair by anyone on the believer side of the issue who has taken the time to examine it.
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby Nostradamus » 04 Nov 2011, 04:01

Of course the MDC is not science, but it allows anyone to provide evidence that any of this paranormal is real.

The believers call the test unfair because they fear it. They fear being revealed as failures.

To ignore Randi is just reinforcing the notion that the believers are close minded. They close their mind to the possibility that this is all bunkum.
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby craig weiler » 04 Nov 2011, 07:20

Nostradamus,
Of course the MDC is not science, but it allows anyone to provide evidence that any of this paranormal is real.


Where is the evidence that this challenge is legitimate? There is even a $100,000 challenge By John Bennett to anyone who can prove it's legitimate. So far, no takers.

The believers call the test unfair because they fear it. They fear being revealed as failures.


That is just opinion. You're welcome to believe whatever you choose.

To ignore Randi is just reinforcing the notion that the believers are close minded. They close their mind to the possibility that this is all bunkum.


They ignore Randi because he is not contributing anything useful. How is that close minded?
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby Arouet » 04 Nov 2011, 11:40

started listening to his video put very annoyingly done with the ninja shouts in between each rule. He seems to be just trying some satire of the MDC. Doesn't look like a real offer.

If anyone listened to the whole thing let me know if anything serious in there.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZE_UzmtUH7g
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby ProfWag » 04 Nov 2011, 20:52

As stated before, there are at least a dozen "challenges" out there apart from Randi's. If one doesn't like his rules, they could very easily look elsewhere if they believe in themselves and their abilities to prove to themselves and to us if their ability is legitimate.
The only way to prove beyond a doubt that the MDC is legit is for someone to pass the test and then fail to get paid. He makes his account available to the public and he has a legal obligation to pay if won.
From a personal standpoint, if I was giving the money away, I wouldn't give an inch on a test that could possibly have either trickery or coincidence as a possible outcome. That's all he does.
And, oh by the way, Mr. Benneth is a member of this forum that's posted a few times...
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby Arouet » 04 Nov 2011, 21:32

Have you ever read one of the JREF threads where they discuss proposed protocols? Have to admit, some of these people have trouble staying focussed and coming up with simple and clear protocols.
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby Nostradamus » 05 Nov 2011, 03:40

They ignore Randi because he is not contributing anything useful. How is that close minded?

It is incredibly obvious that they ignore Randi because they don't want to be shown to be fakes. Were they open minded they would try.
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby Arouet » 05 Nov 2011, 04:00

I don't think this necessarily holds. Some really don't like Randi want anything to do with him. Whether or not people actually have psi abilities I don't think there's a question that many honestly believe that they do.
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby craig weiler » 05 Nov 2011, 09:50

Nostradamus,
I personally would not accept any challenge that was completely controlled by someone I didn't trust. I don't think that anyone else would either.

Zammit has a million dollar challenge of his own for skeptics. I've never heard of a skeptic who thought that one was fair. Just turn the logic around.
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby Arouet » 05 Nov 2011, 09:57

If you want to compare Zammitt's to the MDC I'm game. In fact, I've already done an analysis somewhere on this forum. They are nowhere near the same.

I'm not saying you should do the MDC if you don't trust Randi - but they are not the same thing.

Also, the goal of the MDC is to develop a test where judgment is not necessary - the results will be clear, with no equivocation. The complaints against the MDC have come at the negotiating stage - not at the actual testing stage. (compare that to Zammit's version - I wonder if you've actually read his rules?)
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