The paranormal challenge

April 3, 2012

James Randi, retired professional magician (“The Amazing Randi”), author, lecturer, and amateur archaeologist/astronomer, dedicated his life to debunking the paranormal, pseudo-scientific, and supernatural. To do so, he founded the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) and with the help of generous donors set up the “One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge“. The official description reads as follows:

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.

But it is not because no one has tried. The JREF keeps a detailed log of all applicants for everyone to see. The fact that nobody has been able to beat the challenge seems to be a pretty strong argument against the paranormal and supernatural. If there really were such things as psychic powers, supernatural gifts or anything of that sort, then the JREF should be paying out a lot of money. But it isn’t.

The JREF also has a youtube channel broadcasting the Randi show and some other informative and entertaining stuff. Here’s an example:

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