Daily Grail examins Randi’s million dollar challenge

The suggestion that ending the Challenge after 10 years supports any statement that psi does not exist or someone would have won the challenge, is absurd on many levels.

The procedures for the Challenge included several hurdles in favor of, and multiple “outs” for Randi and the JREF that any discerning individual capable of any kind of extraordinary human performance would think twice about (and here I’m not just referring to psychics and the like).

Full Story: Daily Grail.

(via Posthuman Blues).

Good points are made about the level of proof Randi requires (1 in a million odds) and the difficultly in running enough iterations of an experiment to produce conclusive results within the perimeters of Randi’s experiments. However, one would think that psychic of the supposed caliber of, say, Ari Uri Geller would have no trouble producing conclusive results.

What I suppose is being suggested is that while challenge screens out obvious charlatans who claim to have mind blowing supernatural powers, it doesn’t provide for more subtle forms of ESP.

I am, however, confused by reference to Ganzfeld telepathy research. These have been going since before I was born and are still not accepted by skeptics. Why would Randi be backing out of the challenge now, after all these years?

Also, here is an easier explanation for true believers as to why the Randi prize has not yet been won:

Why would someone with legitimate psychic powers “out” themselves for a mere one million dollars? Surely they must be able to make far more money in secret. Warren Buffet doesn’t reveal his secret investment strategies (hell, maybe he’s got psychic powers), why would anyone else?


  1. “Why would Randi be backing out of the challenge now, after all these years?”

    Randi said: “Now, while the JREF earns a certain income from having the prize money very conservatively invested, that sum could certainly be used more productively if it were made freely available to us. […] Ten years is long enough to wait. The hundreds of poorly-constructed applications, and the endless hours of phone, e-mail, and in-person discussions we?ve had to suffer through, will be things of the past, for us at the JREF.”

    I’m guessing you mean Uri Geller, not ‘Ari Geller.’

  2. Trevor, I know what Randi said (I linked to the announcement of the end of the prize previously on Technoccult). I’m referencing the idea put forth by Daily Grail that the Ganzfeld experiments might be behind it (rather than the reasons Randi suggested). I don’t see why Randi would start taking them seriously after all these years if he didn’t before. In other words, I think Randi is being honest about his reasons for dissolving the prize.

    (I am willing to concede that the fact that the prize has not been won is not proof of the non-existence of ESP, however)

  3. Regardless, nobody would ever be able to produce conclusive results to Randi’s standards. He’s asking for objective proof of what often amounts to things of a subjective nature. This contest could just as easily been about proving that “you” exist, which is a philosophical argument still examined by even today’s philosophers.

    Quantum physics teaches us that the observer can never be removed from that which is observed (the experiment). Randi can never be removed from the actual contest and its experiments, thus, his preconceived notions and bias’ will always “affect” the experiment and the conclusions drawn from it.

    Furthermore, neurological science has shown that reason doesn’t factor into the decision making process until after the decision is made… only the justification process. We are ruled by our “passions. As skeptical forefather David Hume would put it. No matter how “open-minded” Randi claimed to be about the results, which we all know he wasn’t, he’s always going in with a steady mind deadset on rebuttal.

    It was a joke contest from the beginning meant to drum up publicity for Randi himself. It was never meant to be won. Criss Angel tried to drum up similar publicity with his “guess what’s in this envelope” tirade on the television show Phenomenon.

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