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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 really? » 05 Nov 2011, 21:11

Banachek now oversees the MDC. If I were a betting man I'd bet the same distrust will be levied against him once Randi dies. It's not the man per say, though it does play some role too causing this distrust, but the incorrectly perceived goal of the MDC of which I suspect is thought many detractors to be nothing more than a way to discredit all claims of the paranormal.
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby craig weiler » 05 Nov 2011, 21:59

I bring up Zammit's challenge because it is a way to turn the argument around and show the more enlightened skeptics what happens when the MDC argument is turned against them. All the same unreasonable tactics can be used.

Randi: "If you were really psychic you would take the challenge."

Zammit: "If you had a real skeptical argument you would take the challenge."

Randi and Zammit: "Because you haven't taken the challenge you must be a fraud (delusional, an idiot, etc.)."

All arguments about unfairness can be dismissed with a wave of the hand. "You're just a bunch of sniveling losers making lame excuses." No attempt needs to be made to understand that the issues might be far more complex than they appear. "Hey. What's your problem? Just walk right up, win the challenge and walk away with the money . . . you poser."

The truth, of course, is that both challenges are media stunts and grandstanding. Their prize will never be claimed. They might be different, but they are both unfair in their own ways.
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby Arouet » 05 Nov 2011, 23:24

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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby craig weiler » 05 Nov 2011, 23:39

Arouet,
I appreciate your attention to detail, but it is unnecessary here. Neither challenge is valid. You can easily show that the Zammit challenge is unfair and I can do the same with the Randi challenge. The fact that they are unfair in different ways is immaterial.

I'm aware that the Zammit challenge is insanely strict. I'm not defending it as a reasonable challenge. All that I'm pointing out is that using either of these challenges as talking points proves nothing.
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby Arouet » 06 Nov 2011, 00:43

I'll agree with you that using the MDC as a talking point proves nothing. It is a fallacy that because someone does not want to take the MDC that it must be because they are afraid of being found out for a fraud. Certainly that applies to some, but by no means all, and I think its a weak argument.

That said, a number of people have worked out mutually agreed upon protocols with the JREF where the results would not need subjective adjudication to determine whether they passed or not. I agree that in some other cases negotiations broke down - sometimes it was justified, other times I thought JREF could have handled it much better. But I have yet to hear of a single case where someone said they should have passed the preliminary challenge but were judged to have failed.
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby craig weiler » 06 Nov 2011, 01:11

I haven't heard of that happening either. There is one case I know of where JREF made mistakes on the protocol and refused to re-test and another where a young girl was succeeding and Randi kept intervening, tweaking the process until he succeeded in breaking her concentration. There is, of course, no appeal.

It's also a high pressure, high stakes challenge presented by people who are hoping that you'll fail, which is the exact opposite of the conditions most suitable for psi. Based on that alone I would expect people to fail.
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby Craig Browning » 06 Nov 2011, 01:43

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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby Nostradamus » 07 Nov 2011, 09:41

Scimitars were not available - beware January 19, 2038 is upon us.
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby Nostradamus » 07 Nov 2011, 09:44

Scimitars were not available - beware January 19, 2038 is upon us.
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby craig weiler » 07 Nov 2011, 12:07

A ship in harbor is safe, but that's not what ships are for.
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby Craig Browning » 09 Nov 2011, 00:03

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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby Arouet » 09 Nov 2011, 01:14

Right, but we have to be careful of making the claims non-falsifiable.

I would imagine that we could design a test to control for this. Involve both skeptic and proponent researchers, and divide the trials to be overseen by separate ones. Blind the participants to which researcher is overseeing who. You would have to make sure that the protocols remained identical for each researcher. What do you think?
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby craig weiler » 09 Nov 2011, 10:46

It's been done. That was the Wiseman and Schlitz study I was referring to. Wiseman is a skeptic and Schlitz is a believer. These studies are extremely well controlled as is the case for most parapsychology studies. (They always have skeptics on their asses, they have to be good.)
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby Nostradamus » 09 Nov 2011, 11:50

Scimitars were not available - beware January 19, 2038 is upon us.
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby Nostradamus » 09 Nov 2011, 12:04

Scimitars were not available - beware January 19, 2038 is upon us.
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