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Thread: The James Randi Educational Foundation Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge

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    Senior Member Absinthe Anecdote's Avatar
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    The James Randi Educational Foundation Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge

    James Randi is one of my heroes and the JREF website is also very interesting.

    Check it out: http://www.randi.org/site/

    James Randi has an international reputation as a magician and escape artist, but today he is best known as the world's most tireless investigator and demystifier of paranormal and pseudoscientific claims.
    Randi has pursued "psychic" spoonbenders, exposed the dirty tricks of faith healers, investigated homeopathic water "with a memory," and generally been a thorn in the sides of those who try to pull the wool over the public's eyes in the name of the supernatural.

    The Foundation is committed to providing reliable information about paranormal claims. It both supports and conducts original research into such claims.

    At JREF, we offer a one-million-dollar prize to anyone who can show, under proper observing conditions, evidence of any paranormal, supernatural, or occult power or event. The JREF does not involve itself in the testing procedure, other than helping to design the protocol and approving the conditions under which a test will take place. All tests are designed with the participation and approval of the applicant. In most cases, the applicant will be asked to perform a relatively simple preliminary test of the claim, which if successful, will be followed by the formal test. Preliminary tests are usually conducted by associates of the JREF at the site where the applicant lives. Upon success in the preliminary testing process, the "applicant" becomes a "claimant."

    To date, no one has passed the preliminary tests.

    1. Challenge History

    1.1 How long has this Challenge been open?

    The Challenge was first introduced in 1964 when James Randi offered $1,000 of his own money to the first person who could offer proof of the paranormal. When the word got out, donors began stepping forward to help, and soon the prize had grown to One Million Dollars.

    1.2 Where did Randi get this great idea for a Challenge?

    During a live radio panel discussion, James Randi was challenged by a parapsychologist to "put [his] money where [his] mouth is", and Randi responded by offering to pay $1,000 to anyone who could demonstrate paranormal powers in a controlled test.

    1.3 How many people have applied for the Challenge?

    Between 1964 and 1982, Randi declared that over 650 people had applied. Between 1997 and February 15, 2005, there had been a total of 360 official, notarized applications. Applications continue to pour in!
    1.4 Has anyone ever gotten past the preliminary test?

    No. Some people use this fact as a reason not to apply – and yet the protocol is never altered once the applicant agrees to it. In fact, we ask the applicant to design the test.

    1.5 Has anyone taken the formal test?

    No. Applicants must pass the preliminary test in order to move on to a formal test. So far, no one has ever performed the paranormal ability they claimed to have

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    Re: The James Randi Educational Foundation Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge

    I had seen James Randi on a television show or in a documentary about 20 - 30 years ago. He was with a former prisoner who claimed he could make dollar bill spin (it had a pin through the middle of it on a block of wood) that was under an inverted aquarium on a glass table. The guy place his hands near the aquarium and got his face close near it and then, after a couple of seconds, the dollar bill began spinning. The audience was amazed, everyone except James Randi. He told the guy he could do the same then and then, imitating the guys actions, made the dollar bill spin. The former prisoner's eyes bulged and his jaw dropped in disbelief. Randi explained it wasn't magic or a telekinetic power but a simple trick. What happened was when the aquarium was turned upside down on the glass table, it didn't create a tight seal but allowed air to enter the space. What the guy did was to use breath control. With slightly parted lips, it was hard to see but he was blowing air in-between the aquarium and the glass table which caused the dollar bill to spin.

    The guy admitted it was a trick and when he was in prison he learned to control his breath and he could do it well enough to cause the pages of a bible to turn "by themselves." He said he converted a lot of prisoners with that bible page-turning trick.

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    Senior Member Absinthe Anecdote's Avatar
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    Re: The James Randi Educational Foundation Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge

    I’ve seen that one and a couple of others but my favorite was when he exposed that faith healer Peter Popoff.

    James Randi is getting old and he has a number of health problems now. I’ll be sad to see him go but I’m glad his foundation will carry on.

    I’ve been hoping that they would expose those ridiculous ghost hunter shows because there are a lot of people out there that think that crap is real.

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    Senior Member RS6405's Avatar
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    Re: The James Randi Educational Foundation Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge

    They (or their staff and similar groups) have exposed several shows like Most Haunted, etc.

    At one time I used to believe and even participated in investigations, using a skeptic's approach to the investigation. The main thing I learned is that there is absolutely an explanation for everything that could be considered "proof". This is with the exception of personal experiances, which cannot be proven or disproven, thus should should not be considered. Once I grasp that notion, they whole thing seemed pointless.

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    Senior Member Absinthe Anecdote's Avatar
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    Re: The James Randi Educational Foundation Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge

    Quote Originally Posted by RS6405 View Post
    They (or their staff and similar groups) have exposed several shows like Most Haunted, etc.

    At one time I used to believe and even participated in investigations, using a skeptic's approach to the investigation. The main thing I learned is that there is absolutely an explanation for everything that could be considered "proof". This is with the exception of personal experiances, which cannot be proven or disproven, thus should should not be considered. Once I grasp that notion, they whole thing seemed pointless.
    I didn’t catch any of those; I’ll have to look for them.

    I can’t stand the show Ghost Hunters, the one with the plumbers, but I am uncontrollably drawn to it. There used to be some hilarious discussion threads over on JREF about it.

    So, did you have fun participating in the ghost hunting and what did the other people think about your skeptical approach?

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    Senior Member RS6405's Avatar
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    Re: The James Randi Educational Foundation Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge

    The team I was involved with were all skeptic minded (to so some degree at least). One place in the garden district in New Orleans had reports of flickering light, a swinging door, and a toilet that flushes in it's own. Within 30 minutes all issues were solved ld balance in fluorescent light; settling if the house so closet door falls open per gravity; and the flushing toilet occurred when the front toilet was flushed, which pushed an air pocket to the back toilet, popped the seal, and flushed the toilet on its own.

    We all figured that the rest of the investigation would be boring, yet we all had a lot "personal experiences" that seemed unexplainable and certain equipment failure. That was the case that I realized it was pointless to continue.

    Checking out old houses or places seem fun, but if you are interested in looking for more than entertainment, then there is no point.

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    Junior Member MAquino's Avatar
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    Smile Re: The James Randi Educational Foundation Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge

    James Randi is also one of my heroes; I'm a magician member of the Magic Castle, and we're all professionally concerned about the misuse of magic for fraudulent purposes. I particularly recommend his book Flim-Flam: Psychics, ESP, Unicorns, and Other Delusions.

    While reviewing the history of government involvement in ESP research in my current MindWar book, I discussed perhaps the biggest [or at least most expensive = $20 million) caper in this area: the 1973+ Stanford Research Institute Project Stargate. SRI attempted “remote viewing” experiments, which failed due to the simple fact that the transmission of visual information to the brain does not occur outside of the visible electromagnetic spectrum (EMS), approximately 400-790 THz. It is impossible for EMS waves in this range to survive coherently through atmospheric interference at the extensive distances proposed by SRI. Moreover the electrical impulses within the brain are far too weak even to escape the skull, much less travel any distance beyond it. To light a flashlight bulb a human would need to generate about 30 million times his present level of brain current. Unamplified brainwaves can’t be detected beyond EEG electrodes pasted on the body, and such detection is far too crude to be “decoded” into coherent visual images.

    That said, I would think that part of the problem is a precise definition of the term "paranormal". Deliberate trickery aside, the functioning of the human mind is a very complex, and still somewhat mysterious area of research. In MindWar, for instance, I also examined one of the latest extensions of Magnetic Resonance Imagery: the 1990s’-emergent technique of Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). In fMRI magnetic sensors detect blood-flow activity within the brain with such precision and accuracy that the result can be used by a computer to assemble an accurate image of the subject’s visualization from a database of standardized components. In reverse, fMRI may eventually be able to transmit them. So we are getting close to "ESP" in at least a technologically-interfaced sense.
    Michael A. Aquino
    LTC, PSYOP, USA-Ret.

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    Re: The James Randi Educational Foundation Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge

    neat is that like a 6 seces.

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    Senior Member Absinthe Anecdote's Avatar
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    Re: The James Randi Educational Foundation Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge

    Quote Originally Posted by MAquino View Post
    James Randi is also one of my heroes; I'm a magician member of the Magic Castle, and we're all professionally concerned about the misuse of magic for fraudulent purposes. I particularly recommend his book Flim-Flam: Psychics, ESP, Unicorns, and Other Delusions.

    While reviewing the history of government involvement in ESP research in my current MindWar book, I discussed perhaps the biggest [or at least most expensive = $20 million) caper in this area: the 1973+ Stanford Research Institute Project Stargate. SRI attempted “remote viewing” experiments, which failed due to the simple fact that the transmission of visual information to the brain does not occur outside of the visible electromagnetic spectrum (EMS), approximately 400-790 THz. It is impossible for EMS waves in this range to survive coherently through atmospheric interference at the extensive distances proposed by SRI. Moreover the electrical impulses within the brain are far too weak even to escape the skull, much less travel any distance beyond it. To light a flashlight bulb a human would need to generate about 30 million times his present level of brain current. Unamplified brainwaves can’t be detected beyond EEG electrodes pasted on the body, and such detection is far too crude to be “decoded” into coherent visual images.

    That said, I would think that part of the problem is a precise definition of the term "paranormal". Deliberate trickery aside, the functioning of the human mind is a very complex, and still somewhat mysterious area of research. In MindWar, for instance, I also examined one of the latest extensions of Magnetic Resonance Imagery: the 1990s’-emergent technique of Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). In fMRI magnetic sensors detect blood-flow activity within the brain with such precision and accuracy that the result can be used by a computer to assemble an accurate image of the subject’s visualization from a database of standardized components. In reverse, fMRI may eventually be able to transmit them. So we are getting close to "ESP" in at least a technologically-interfaced sense.
    I’ve had Flim-Flam on my reading list for a long time and haven’t gotten around to it; I’ll bump it up on the list.

    Recently I’ve been reading some of Michio Kaku’s articles and have been wondering how often science gets twisted into nonsensical beliefs.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am an admirer of Dr. Kaku and I love hearing him speak on radio and TV; however, there are charlatans who quote Dr. Kaku out of context to promote their own brand of nonsense. George Noory and the Coast-to-Coast radio show is prime example of what I’m talking about.

    PS

    Welcome to the forum!

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