There has always been some scrutiny itself,concerning The Amazing James Randi.First of all I don’t know anything to special about the man. As long as I have been around,we have never ever seen any such scientific proof that there was ever a fund of any type, concerning any such account,that there was a million dollars,that was set aside for his ridiculous challenge.
Doubtful News is one such critical thinking scientific group of people, that seems to stand behind The A- mazing Randi.This is why I think Sharon Hill of Doubtful News and their entire thinking process is absolutely ridiculous.Just say I doubt it,when it comes to some critical thinking folks.
Special report: Regarding the 1 million dollar challenge.James Randi Sued Over “Bogus Million Dollar Challenge”.. – See more at: http://www.bolenreport.com/feature_articles/Doctor’s-Data-v-Barrett/milliondollarsuit1.htm#sthash.6Mmvv4IQ.dpuf
On May 10th, 2012 George R. Simpson, a resident of the Hamptons, a community on the East end of Long Island, New York, filed suit (Case 0:12-cv-60817-KMW) in the United States District Court – Southern District of Florida against James Randi, DJ Grothe president of Jamrandal, James Hamilton Zwinge AKA JES Randi Educational Foundation, and the James Randi Educational Foundation.
The lawsuit charges the Defendants with: Fraud; Misrepresentation and Breach of Contract; Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress; Misfeasance, Malfeasance; Conspiracy (Sect 1985 and 1986); Action for Damages; and Action for Specific Performance.
George R. Simpson is, according to court documents, an engineer, inventor, writer, and businessman. He makes his living, primarily, from programming and data publishing businesses in the Real Estate field. Simpson also owns and operates two websites, www.ufoetblog.com, and www.etcorngods.com, created to explain and promote the ET Corn Gods Language and Games.
The lawsuit explains that:
“Defendant JREF maintains a “contest” called “The One Million Dollar Challenge”, which the website http://www.randi.org explains as follows:
‘The JREF will pay US $l,000,000 (One Million US Dollars) (”The Prize ‘) to any person who demonstrates any psychic, supernatural, or paranormal ability under satisfactory observation. Such demonstration must take place under the rules and limitations described in this document. An applicant can be from or in any part of the world. Gender, race, and educational background are not factors for acceptance. Applicants must be at least 18 years of age and legally able to enter into binding agreements. ”
And the lawsuit claims:
“One objective of Plaintiff’s ET Corn Gods language/game discovery and documentation (for many years) has been to apply for, and to win the JREF The One Million Dollar Challenge.”
But, court papers say:
“There was an offer made by Defendant JREF on the website Randi.org. The same or slightly changed $1Million Challenge offer had been accepted, according to Defendant James Randi, “over one hundred times” with other
people who wished to have their “paranormal claims” tested.
The Exhibit 1 challenge acceptance and subsequent correspondence from Defendants to Plaintiff is evidence of the three elements of a contract: The 1) offer, 2) acceptance and 3) contract compensation.
But when Plaintiff George R. Simpson filed an application for the $ lMillion Challenge, he was treated in a fraudulent way. Defendants did not return calls or emails.
When Defendant JREF finally answered by email on April 03, 2012, the answer evidenced total lack of understanding of Plaintiffs proposed “protocol”.
Note: “protocol” is the word used in the JREF $lMillion Challenge to define the testing scheme for each Challenge.”
Why am I laughing?
Because, just below is what I think is the essence of the case, and the language, I think, explains not only the Million Dollar Challenge, but the entire “skeptic” (pseudo-skeptic) existence.
“Defendants claim to be the defender of scientific and critical thinking methods, yet they exhibited the scientific/math sophistication of a grade school student.
Because of the stonewalling and inactivity of Defendants, Plaintiff has been forced to sue to compel Defendants to perform as they have promised in their advertised “One Million Dollar Challenge”.
Defendants have treated Plaintiff in a fraudulent manner and have misrepresented their offer.
Because Defendants know that Plaintiff Simpson will win the $ l Million Challenge, Defendants are stonewalling, trying to avoid the contest.”
Randi’s attorneys already filed a “Motion to Dismiss,” and it fell flat…
It’s interesting to hear of a man,that exposes folks over critical thinking and said deceptive practices,but he made his life as a master magician.Magic is the said act of deceptive manipulation of beliefs and thoughts proposed through quite often the human psychic.
There is one thing more disturbing then hoaxed or faked evidence, to support paranormal frauds,but paying folks money,giving them grants, to be doubtful haters of the paranormal field is more disturbing then Amazing Randi’s 1 million dollar challenge,that everyone would know is rigged,no one will ever be able to pass a test like that,not when a million bucks is supposed up for grabs. Idoubt it.
Perhaps The Amazing Randi, isn’t so amazing after all?
JREF changes focus, slips into the background
Inside the JREF,”Starting in 2016, we will be making grants to non-profit groups that we believe are promoting activities that encourage critical thinking and a fact-based world view. We expect to make a small number of grants each year totaling approximately $100,000 per year. We will NOT accept suggestions, applications or proposals for these grants. We hope they will come as a pleasant surprise to the recipients, just as Randi’s MacArthur foundation grant was a pleasant surprise to him.
Million Dollar Challenge to paranormal claims will continue but in a slightly different way.
Effective immediately, JREF will no longer accept applications directly from people claiming to have a paranormal power. We will however offer our Challenge to anyone who has passed a preliminary test that meets with our approval. We will provide example protocols early next year. Of course, any established psychic may always contact JREF to be tested directly (preferably with an independent, third party TV crew.)
After decades of a clear monetary offer to produce sound evidence of the paranormal (even back to the days of Houdini), the world has NEVER been given even such evidence. This is telling. Psychics and those who claim to possess special powers are deluding themselves or would rather gain financially from those that believe without testing. It’s quite clear. But, the door remains open to anyone who disputes that and can show that such activity is more than skill or luck but is truly beyond normal. We encourage those claimants to attempt the test for the good of humanity and for you to substantiate your extraordinary story.
The JREF will cease taking memberships and donations. It will become a much more quiet, behind the scenes means of support for science-based thinking.
With the retirement of Mr. Randi, it is the end of an era. It’s inevitable. On a personal note, I have worked with (and for) the JREF in the past year. (My involvement ended early this month.) It is difficult and sad to face change in the skeptical community as our founding fathers have aged and some have passed. The remaining deserve to enjoy the rest of their lives. They have given us a great deal and have been astoundingly successful in educating the public about charlatans and misleading claims.
The community has greatly expanded from this original foundation and now exists in small groups and efforts all over the world. And, it exists in the mission and actions of many individuals. I count myself in that and will continue that mission to support reason, sound evidence, skeptical thinking and scientific progress.
To that end, Doubtful News will remain a premier online source for a skeptical view of questionable claims.We do this because it’s the right thing and we are passionate about it. If you wish to help in that mission and help us grow, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. There is a lot to do – a LOT – to continue that critical and necessary voice in society.
May new leaders emerge, new organizations form and existing ones strengthen, and new projects be launched.
By projects,they mean anyone associated within the paranormal, will become targets?If you do not think as they do, they will write false articles, launch false attacks and slander anything and all things they see as not being paranormal scientific proof ?
Related Post: Can You Win Randi’s Million Dollar Challenge?
First of all, the challenge is meaningless by scientific standards. It’s not a study and it can’t be replicated. It’s a one off. As it is entirely controlled by one person who has no scientific experience, is known to have strong views and has published no scientific peer reviewed papers on the subject, The challenge carries no scientific weight whatsoever.
Compare that to the Parapsychological Association, which is a member of the The American Association for the Advancement of Science and regularly publishes peer reviewed studies. Here is what real evidence looks like.
By far the most damning evidence that this challenge is a mere publicity stunt is that Randi does not take all comers.
He has explicitly refused to test homeopath John Benneth (who has issued a $100,000 challenge to any person who can demonstrate, under conditions similar to James “the Amazing” Randi’s Psychic Challenge, that the Psychic Challenge is a valid offer for proof of psychic powers.), Professor George Vithoulkas’s homeopathy experiments similarly never got tested and backed down from a challenge issued by Dr. Jule Eisenbud, who wagered $100K that Randi could not duplicate the “thought photography” of Ted Serios, even with the aid of a prop in which a gimmick could be housed. Randi has ignored challenges to the test such as English psychic Chris Robinson. Dick Bierman, PhD proposed a presentiment test to Randi which Randi simply never followed up on. This brings up a legitimate question: who else is he ignoring?
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.
Skeptics seem to think that this challenge means something; that if psychic ability were real, someone would pass the test. This assumption rests on the belief that this challenge is reasonable and fairly administered. But where is the proof of this? Science demands openness. A parapsychological study run like Randi’s challenge would never get out of the gate.
John Benneth, (homeopath) points out that the challenge is not an actual contract, lacks third party mediation and in his words:
Randi has expressly told me that he will not deal with attorneys. As an instrument, its unilateral. Like a fiat from the King, or a papal bull. It gives the applicant no recourse in case Randi harms him; in fact, the applicant has to forego any rights of recompense if Randi harms him.But the biggest thing is that Randi’s signature has never appeared underneath it. It’s a hoax. It was conceived of by an entertainer, a man who has made a career deceiving and tricking people, a particularly nasty little man who has a grudge to bear against the world, revealed in the animosity routinely shown towards applicants.How is it that one can expect to have an AGREEMENT with someone who is calling you derogatory names, ridiculing and CHALLENGING you?
He has a point actually. The Daily Grail points out that Rules #4 (allowing Randi to use the data from the experiment in any way he chooses and #8 (denying the applicant legal recourse), when combined allow Randi the option to lie about the results and get away with it.
John Benneth went back and forth in 70 e-mails with Randi. The Vithoulkas experiment process dragged on for two two years, the Zibarov process dragged on for two years, Carina Landin, went through a 3 year process. Only one of these actually came to down to an actual test and that one was botched.
For that matter, how many people have actually gone down to Florida to take the challenge? Randi’s website is decidedly vague on this point. Why is this information missing?
After doing a bit of research on the JREF site, I found out some interesting things. First, many applicants have no clue how to put their abilities up to a scientific test. Once they start in on the process, many drop out. The fact is, performing a psychic ability for a scientific test is much harder than it first appears. They also find out an extra requirement not stated up front: There is a time limit for the preliminary challenge: eight hours.
This time limit is quite a barrier to success. It prevents people from building up statistical significance through sheer repetition, which is how it’s done in every scientific study. Most parapsychological studies do not test for more than a couple of hours at a time, having found that psychic ability wanes quickly as mental exhaustion sets in. There is no reason for the time limit since the applicant is paying all expenses. In fact, in the case that I studied, the number of repetitions was limited. What this means is that psychic ability is not being tested. Extraordinary psychic ability is being tested. This distinction is important. You cannot make claims about psychic ability if you’re testing for something else.
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. (Mr. Ziborov has posted his response to JREF in the comments below.)
Randi has also claimed that once the parameters are set, neither he nor anyone else can change them, yet it was done here. How is that? Simple. Randi NEVER accepted the application. Mr. Ziborov was going back and forth with JREF for almost two years and in that time he was never formally declared an applicant. It appears that this a loophole in the process that has been exploited to prevent legal challenges to his methods. If nothing is signed, there is no contract and the person applying has no legal means to force a reasonable challenge. It appears that when James Randi talks about the fairness of the challenge, he is referring to accepted applicants, who can only achieve this status by agreeing to absolutely everything Randi demands whether it is reasonable or not.
When I went through the forum postings for the Ziborov challenge, I noted that he was referred to as a “woo.” This is an abbreviation of woo woo. In other words, the challenger was being insulted. Throughout the discussion, other posters on the forum make it clear that they do not believe that he has this talent; effectively saying that he is either a liar, con artist or deluded. These are the people responsible for setting up the challenge and possibly administering it. The bias is clearly strong.
This is extremely important because another undocumented “feature” of the challenge is that the applicant may not bring anyone in either for moral support or to assist or monitor the challenge. 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, (they are volunteering their time to a skeptical organization after all,) 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.
There is also the fact that an extremely important bit of information that is lacking. You cannot find it in the FAQ, nor on the application, nor does Mr. Randi talk about it. There is no way that withholding of this information is anything but deliberate. The way this challenge is currently set up, it is in my opinion, a trap designed to disgrace and humiliate the people who take up the challenge.
To easily understand this, let us take the analogy of Mr. Smith’s jumping challenge. Mr. Smith does not believe that the ability to jump actually exists and he has a million dollar challenge to anyone who can prove to him that jumping exists under laboratory conditions. You have to apply for the challenge and bear all travel expenses to Mr. Smith’s facilities. You can help design the experiment and everything will be measured with complete accuracy.
So what’s wrong? If you can jump you should take the challenge right? By now, you should notice what’s missing. There is nothing in the previous statement about how high you have to jump. Wouldn’t you want to know this before you applied for the challenge? Because if the height you have to jump is unreasonable, there is certainly no point in applying. Misdirection has been applied here by confusing the requirements with the testing procedures.
But how can you do this with psi? If someone makes a claim, all they have to do is live up to it right? The answer is that parapsychology is a science that relies on statistics. It is well known that psychic ability is not automatic. People get some answers right and some wrong and statistics must be used to determine if this occurred due to chance or not.
All statistical measurements of psi ability can therefore be expressed as odds against chance. All you have to do is set up a test where the exact odds for chance are known. (i.e. picking the correct picture out of a set of four yields a 25% chance outcome with odds against chance for one trial at 1 in 4.) Certainly JREF would never allow a test where this sort of computation couldn’t be done, nor should they. Statistical certainty is essential for determining success.
So if James Randi wanted to tell people what his requirements were, all he would have to do is tell them what odds against chance he would accept for someone to claim the million dollar prize. He could use words like “approximately” to indicate that there was some flexibility. There is nothing vague or complicated about this, yet this is not mentioned at all even though the challenge application and FAQ were recently re-written to address a number of valid complaints.
Why does he leave out this crucial bit of information? Because it allows Randi to work behind the scenes to make the challenge as difficult as possible. It is well known within scientific circles that the odds against chance that James Randi will accept are 1,000 to 1 for the preliminary challenge and 1,000,000 to 1 for the main challenge. The odds for the main challenge are the equivalent of asking a person to stand under a 20′ high wall and jump over it. And if their foot brushes the top? That’s a failure; too bad, so sad, get lost.
You can’t find this out of course until after you’ve applied. While psychics can, conceivably overcome odds of a thousand to one, it’s extremely doubtful that they can do this under both the pressure of performing, in the presence of extreme skeptics, within eight hours and having their number of trials arbitrarily limited. It is a worse case scenario for demonstrating psychic ability. Beating 1,000,000 to one odds is completely out of the question. Bear in mind that should a psychic show a sudden flash of great ability, they may be asked to repeat it, further worsening the odds. Randi makes no attempt to explain these details, he only paints the applicants in the worst possible light.
Until as recently as the end of 2007, applicants were required to give up all publicity and media rights as a requirement for applying. So not only were they screwed, they were not allowed to talk about it. This is kind of like the sideshow at the carnival where people are promised that they will see something wonderful, but when shown the empty box are advised not to tell anyone else lest they be the only fool. Until very recently, he did not even show the list of applicants. At every step of the way he appears to be seeking to withhold information about the difficulty of the challenge.
This is one more way in which the scientific validity of the challenge is nil. Proving that people cannot jump over a 20ft wall does not prove anything about jumping except that people cannot jump that high. It makes no statement about any ability under that threshold. If a person can only jump six inches, that is still jumping. The same applies to psychic ability.
It is possible for scientists to achieve 1,000,000 to 1 odds, this has been done many times, but only through a great number of repetitions, which is how this sort of science is normally done. Taking time away from the real science to travel to Florida in order to perform in front of die hard skeptics isn’t really high on their priority list. The expense of such an endeavor would likely use up a large chunk of the prize money so as to make the challenge unappealing. Psychic ability has already been proven, so it’s only about shutting Randi up.
But the expense and obstacles of the challenge do not make it an attractive proposition. A scientist would have to front all of the money for the challenge and stands a chance of running out before they get to their goal. They would likely have to do this in the face of Mr. Randi doing everything in his power to prevent their success, since that would mean the end of whatever fame he possesses from the challenge and his skepticism. This would undoubtedly add to their expense. Of course it’s all moot since he ignores them anyway.
In conclusion, there is no reason to take this challenge seriously. It’s not science. The illusion of the Great Test is only maintained through selectively culling applicants, making the process opaque and rigging the odds. Its only possible purpose can be to harass and humiliate people who do not share Mr. Randi’s beliefs.
I’ll leave you with a comment one of Randi’s own volunteers made on a thread discussing an applicant who had been denied (here #468):
I realize that there is almost no interest in holding Randi and the MDC to the standards that they claim for themselves. I’ve always been in a ridiculed minority when I make these suggestions. It is clear that the Challenge is notabout allowing people to demonstrate their claims, but rather about providing examples for our ridicule – partly for education, partly for group-bonding (my guesses). I am in the process of moving on from the idea of trying to persuade anyone to care to that of trying to get the JREF and Randi to be more upfront about this instead, in order to thwart criticism. I fully realize that this will be a futile effort as well. I also continue to tell people to quit smoking.