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A Challenge from Believers

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

A Challenge from Believers

Postby ProfWag » 12 Jan 2010, 05:16

I've noticed this whole forum has been kind of slow lately, so I'm just throwing this out there, hoping to get some discussion going.
It seems to me that if someone had paranormal abilities, they would want the world to know. After all, if someone claims to be psychic and then can prove it, then all psychics would benefit as the possibility of that phenomenon will have been proven and more people would then use their services, thus profit greatly. Ditto with mediums, astrologers, and any other "gifted" individual.
Now, this may sound silly, but it's a serious question. With all the "distrust" of the JREF MDC, why don't believers in the paranormal collect their nickles and dimes together and offer their own challenge for someone to develop a protocol and test that would show to the satisfaction of others that there are paranormal abilities really out there?
I think I might know why, but am interested in other's thoughts.
Wag
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Re: A Challenge from Believers

Postby NinjaPuppy » 12 Jan 2010, 06:02

Not everyone wants their life to become a circus side show act. Those who want to be in the spotlight will use any means possible to get there. Perhaps those who might actually have some sort of ability know better :D
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Re: A Challenge from Believers

Postby NinjaPuppy » 12 Jan 2010, 06:50

ProfWag wrote:I've noticed this whole forum has been kind of slow lately, so I'm just throwing this out there, hoping to get some discussion going.

Now to give you some insight into this part of your post. Between Thanksgiving and New Years forums tend to get slow. Many people do their posting from work computers during work hours. They get busy with shopping via the net during their down time rather than chit chatting. Then come New Years they make resolutions like to be more responsible, be a better person and find a self help forum, lose weight and find a diet forum, etc. They actually work at work for a few weeks until they can't deal with it anymore and eventurally return to their old habits and haunts. Meanwhile, topics go stale and interest drops off until a few newbies come along and give a forum some life again.

Thanks to WJBeaty pointing out spambots and spammers, I was able to do a quick analysis of some of the stats on this forum. Many of the topics died because they were started by spammers with no real substance or replies other than to get links posted to raise their Google ratings or SEO or whatever they are calling it now. Some of the 'hot' topics were derailed by spammers as well which causes a loss of interest.

We also have members who don't read more than one topic. The JREF topic is a perfect example. We have about 5 members who only bother with this topic and have never commented anywhere else. Then we have the overflow of one topic to another topic to another topic with the same comments from the same people on multiple topics. That gets a bit boring and people start to scroll.

All of this is normal in the world of internet forums. They have individual highs and lows that will eventually form patterns as time goes by that are predictable to a specific forum.

Oh, one other thing.... with the economy the way it is, many people have given up luxuries like a new computer or internet access at home. Those without jobs can no longer get access to a computer as well. Not to mention that the college kids are home so parents don't have a chance to get near a computer until they return. Like I said, depending on the type of forum subject matter, the reasons can vary.
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Re: A Challenge from Believers

Postby highflyertoo » 12 Jan 2010, 10:28

ProfWag wrote:I've noticed this whole forum has been kind of slow lately, so I'm just throwing this out there, hoping to get some discussion going.
It seems to me that if someone had paranormal abilities, they would want the world to know. After all, if someone claims to be psychic and then can prove it, then all psychics would benefit as the possibility of that phenomenon will have been proven and more people would then use their services, thus profit greatly. Ditto with mediums, astrologers, and any other "gifted" individual.
Now, this may sound silly, but it's a serious question. With all the "distrust" of the JREF MDC, why don't believers in the paranormal collect their nickles and dimes together and offer their own challenge for someone to develop a protocol and test that would show to the satisfaction of others that there are paranormal abilities really out there?
I think I might know why, but am interested in other's thoughts.
Wag


Are you a believer in Naturalism?

Because if so then you are like James Randi and like mainstream Science believers who 100% assert ''their belief'' that every ''action'' can be explained by modern science pertaining to Natural Causation.

Modern Science=Naturalism....... Naturalism is Anti-Supernatural
Randi was no researcher of the paranormal even though he tried half heartedly.... Shows over.
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Re: A Challenge from Believers

Postby ProfWag » 12 Jan 2010, 20:18

highflyertoo wrote:Are you a believer in Naturalism?

Because if so then you are like James Randi and like mainstream Science believers who 100% assert ''their belief'' that every ''action'' can be explained by modern science pertaining to Natural Causation.

Modern Science=Naturalism....... Naturalism is Anti-Supernatural

I am a believer in the truth. If someone can read minds, fortell the future, or speak with the dead (to name a few), then we should know about it.
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Re: A Challenge from Believers

Postby ProfWag » 12 Jan 2010, 20:23

NinjaPuppy wrote:Not everyone wants their life to become a circus side show act. Those who want to be in the spotlight will use any means possible to get there. Perhaps those who might actually have some sort of ability know better :D

You know, I've always liked you , but I couldn't disagree more Ninja. Sorry. Sure, there are people who don't want a media spotlight, but there are many that do (see the plethura of people who go public with a hint of a "hit" in psychic investigations, people like Browne and Edward, and on and on). It would only take the first person to prove that abilities do exist and from then on, their would be no circus side show. Of course, I have no data on this, but the possibility of riches would far outweigh the hassle of a short-term media circus for most people, I believe. I think you're giving an excuse rather than a rational answer to my question.
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Re: A Challenge from Believers

Postby NinjaPuppy » 12 Jan 2010, 22:53

ProfWag wrote:
NinjaPuppy wrote:Not everyone wants their life to become a circus side show act. Those who want to be in the spotlight will use any means possible to get there. Perhaps those who might actually have some sort of ability know better :D

ProfWag wrote:You know, I've always liked you , but I couldn't disagree more Ninja.

What part of, "Those who want to be in the spotlight will use any means possible to get there." do you disagree with? You state, "(see the plethura of people who go public with a hint of a "hit" in psychic investigations, people like Browne and Edward, and on and on)." If I didn't get my point across clearly, I was trying to say the exact same thing that you have. You also agree that there are people who don't want a media spotlight. Your 'media spotlight' is my 'circus side show act'.

IMO, the mainstream media is like a circus. I have a very poor opinion of most media venues such as television, radio and magazines. Of course this opinion does not extend to venues such as scientific materials as I don't subscribe to any at this time so I can't express any opinion as to it's quality. I believe I can state that I am sure it's quality is much more accurate than "People Magazine" or "The National Enquirer". Which btw, I also do not subscribe to for the record.

ProfWag wrote:I think you're giving an excuse rather than a rational answer to my question.

I had to look up 'rational answer' in Wikipedia to address this statement. I also looked up 'excuse' for good measure. The term 'rational answer' is an elusive little bugger. I did find 'rationality' as one of the possible explanations:

"RATIONALITY" - In philosophy, rationality and reason are the key methods used to analyze the data gathered through systematically gathered observations. In economics, sociology, and political science, a decision or situation is often called rational if it is in some sense optimal, and individuals or organizations are often called rational if they tend to act somehow optimally in pursuit of their goals.

I addressed this part of your post as I had no rational answer to the other parts:
ProfWag wrote:It seems to me that if someone had paranormal abilities, they would want the world to know.

I addressed it with my data gathered through systematically gathered observations. I made no excuses for not having a butt load of observations and I certainly didn't try to excuse those who do exactly what you stated they do...go public with a hint of a "hit" in psychic investigations.

However, I did notice that you ignored my comment: "Perhaps those who might actually have some sort of ability know better." Of course that is a 'tongue in cheek' sort of comment but IMO it is a remote possibility. It's not even one of those 'you can't prove a negative' kind of things. If someone were to actually have any possible psi ability, it seems to me that they would be able to predict the outcome of their going public.
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Re: A Challenge from Believers

Postby NinjaPuppy » 12 Jan 2010, 23:03

ProfWag wrote:I am a believer in the truth. If someone can read minds, fortell the future, or speak with the dead (to name a few), then we should know about it.

I love this quote. If you don't mind, I will take this over to Psychics /ESP/ Telepathy as to not sidetrack this topic even if it does fit with the JREF.

Here 'tis: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=844
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Re: A Challenge from Believers

Postby ProfWag » 13 Jan 2010, 01:05

NinjaPuppy wrote:
However, I did notice that you ignored my comment: "Perhaps those who might actually have some sort of ability know better." Of course that is a 'tongue in cheek' sort of comment but IMO it is a remote possibility. It's not even one of those 'you can't prove a negative' kind of things. If someone were to actually have any possible psi ability, it seems to me that they would be able to predict the outcome of their going public.

I didn't ignore that comment, it was actually the reason why I interpreted what you said how I did. I saw this statement as saying that people who could possess very paranormal abilities know better than to present themselves to mainstream media and would not subject themselves to testing just because they want to avoid the media circus that would come with it. That was the essence of why I disagreed with you. I don't like the media outlets either, but it's all we have at the present time.
If I interpreted what you said incorrectly, then I apologize. I got defensive for a minute there...
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Re: A Challenge from Believers

Postby NinjaPuppy » 13 Jan 2010, 02:02

Potato / potahtoe :D
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Re: A Challenge from Believers

Postby NinjaPuppy » 13 Jan 2010, 02:16

ProfWag wrote:Now, this may sound silly, but it's a serious question. With all the "distrust" of the JREF MDC, why don't believers in the paranormal collect their nickles and dimes together and offer their own challenge for someone to develop a protocol and test that would show to the satisfaction of others that there are paranormal abilities really out there?

Perhaps because believers don't feel a need to prove something they already believe exists? How about this one... you need a pseudo-skeptic to put together an acceptable scientific protocol that would satisfy pseudo-skeptics and since they already KNOW none of this exists they aren't going to waste their time??

Of course there are people who voice their "distrust" of the JREF MDC but certainly not all believers feel this way. All I know for fact is that I am not eligible to get in the game so it's a non-issue for me.
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Re: A Challenge from Believers

Postby ProfWag » 13 Jan 2010, 03:43

NinjaPuppy wrote:
ProfWag wrote:Now, this may sound silly, but it's a serious question. With all the "distrust" of the JREF MDC, why don't believers in the paranormal collect their nickles and dimes together and offer their own challenge for someone to develop a protocol and test that would show to the satisfaction of others that there are paranormal abilities really out there?

Perhaps because believers don't feel a need to prove something they already believe exists? How about this one... you need a pseudo-skeptic to put together an acceptable scientific protocol that would satisfy pseudo-skeptics and since they already KNOW none of this exists they aren't going to waste their time??

Of course there are people who voice their "distrust" of the JREF MDC but certainly not all believers feel this way. All I know for fact is that I am not eligible to get in the game so it's a non-issue for me.

Me thinks you've missed my point of this thread. I'm suggesting NOT having a skeptic (or pseudo-skeptic if that term makes you happy) put together a protocol at all. Why not leave it up to the believers themselves to do it? I'm suggesting that there is way too much to gain for them to just feel like they don't have to prove something for them not to want to prove their "gifts." If I could foresee the future, and I mean REALLY do it, I would have so much to give to the world that I think it would be a travesty if I just sat back and told you that I have nothing to prove.
For example, if I've read between the lines enough about you, you practice astrology to some degree (if not, then insert someone you know who does.). Now, no offense please, but I wouldn't give you one penny for you to do an astrology reading on me because I don't believe there is anything to it. However, if astrologers could prove that what they do DOES have merit, then I'd literally give you thousands of dollars for you to do a reading for me. I, personally, don't see how someone could pass up the riches that could be gained for ALL astrologers by providing this "proof" (for lack of a better word.)
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Re: A Challenge from Believers

Postby tiger » 13 Jan 2010, 04:51

I sometimes think about how the world would be like if people could do some paranormal ability.Gambling would not exist as anyone who could do these paranormal abilities would win far too often. If people could solve murders then police would run ads looking for such people. They would be paid major $ to solve such murders and other crimes. Prizes such as the MDC could easily be won or shown to be fake. There would also be organizations that sorted out the fakes and the real people. That is if there were any fakes.

Now suppose the paranormal ability does not exist or is so rare as to be undetectable? Well I cannot detect any difference between that place and how the world does exist. Those that try to fake paranormal ability need to make people distrust any challenges on offer, otherwise that would show that they are fakes and not the challenges. This would be true no matter who was running the challenge.

As for these people not needing to prove they have the ability to anyone else, well they can give huge benefits to society and themselves by using their ability and not hiding it. If a person claimed they could run a 3 minute mile but they said they had never been independently tested and refused all offers of such testing what sort of credibility would you give to that person's claim? If you were in the market for fast runners would you employ the person on the spot or would you want some evidence of his ability first?

Of course tomorrow we could all wake up and find lots of people, or even one person with paranormal ability, but I doubt it.
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Re: A Challenge from Believers

Postby NinjaPuppy » 13 Jan 2010, 05:46

Hmmmmm. ProfWag... I think I get what you mean about the 'proving it' part but since I'm not really a skeptic, I guess my mind set is not wired to critical thinking like a skeptic. When supplied with good, solid and sound logic in a plain English sort of way, I can usually comprehend that information and apply it to the particular situation. (BTW, you and ND are usually easy to understand as you both possess the ability to explain your POV or facts very well in this sort of venue.) It doesn't always result in any change in my personal thinking about something but I don't discount it as skeptical jargon either. It's not. It's usually hard core facts that are proven. However there are many different situations pertaining to the paranormal that defy a definitive scientific explanation. They also lack credibility and proof of their existence so they remain a topic of debate and discussion.

As far as astrology goes, I know very little about it as it has been an elusive area of mental comprehension for me. I'm limited to only what I've read in some pretty average books about the subject and even those confused the daylights out of me. I get the jist of it, but nothing else. I read one monthly media style report for all Libras and then I have a perky little daily horoscope that I enjoy simply for the entertainment value. I don't plan my life according to any astrological forecasts as the ones that I access are not what I would consider to be insightful. However, Don suggested a book that I will eventually spend a few hard earned dollars on to read. I probably won't be able to comprehend much of that book either but hey, I won't know until I give it a try and I can always sell it on eBay if that's how it goes. I'm not a fan of fiction books but I will read just about anything that is non-fiction. Now I get the impression that astrology is considered a type of fiction to you. I see it as an area of mental exploration. Maybe there is something to it and maybe there isn't. Maybe I will never know because it's beyond my grasp or interest level but I personally find it interesting in some aspects such as Mercury retrogrades and even those highly debatable personality trait debates that have been around the track more than a few times on this forum.
ProfWag wrote:Now, no offense please, but I wouldn't give you one penny for you to do an astrology reading on me because I don't believe there is anything to it. However, if astrologers could prove that what they do DOES have merit, then I'd literally give you thousands of dollars for you to do a reading for me. I, personally, don't see how someone could pass up the riches that could be gained for ALL astrologers by providing this "proof" (for lack of a better word.)


Would I spend my hard earned money for someone to do a chart for me? I might if they came highly recommended from someone with at least the same basic thoughts about astrology as me but it would depend on the price. I'm cheap, so I don't usually pay for what I'm not sure about when the quality of something is unknown. I still wouldn't hand over a large sum of cash ($1,000) even if they were the best astrologer in the world and it was proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that astrology was a proven science. It's not that important to me to know what's going to happen or how life is going to go. Once I know it, I can change it but life sure would be dull if I knew things ahead of time.
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Re: A Challenge from Believers

Postby ProfWag » 13 Jan 2010, 05:47

tiger wrote:I sometimes think about how the world would be like if people could do some paranormal ability.Gambling would not exist as anyone who could do these paranormal abilities would win far too often. If people could solve murders then police would run ads looking for such people. They would be paid major $ to solve such murders and other crimes. Prizes such as the MDC could easily be won or shown to be fake. There would also be organizations that sorted out the fakes and the real people. That is if there were any fakes.

Now suppose the paranormal ability does not exist or is so rare as to be undetectable? Well I cannot detect any difference between that place and how the world does exist. Those that try to fake paranormal ability need to make people distrust any challenges on offer, otherwise that would show that they are fakes and not the challenges. This would be true no matter who was running the challenge.

As for these people not needing to prove they have the ability to anyone else, well they can give huge benefits to society and themselves by using their ability and not hiding it. If a person claimed they could run a 3 minute mile but they said they had never been independently tested and refused all offers of such testing what sort of credibility would you give to that person's claim? If you were in the market for fast runners would you employ the person on the spot or would you want some evidence of his ability first?

Of course tomorrow we could all wake up and find lots of people, or even one person with paranormal ability, but I doubt it.

Much of what you say Tiger is why I am a skeptic. It just doesn't make sense to me that so many people make claims, yet no one can (olr wants) to prove it?
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