Randi’s 1 Million Dollar Skeptical Challenge to End in 2 years: What Will Woo Do?

I didn’t believe it at first, but it’s true: James Randi’s famous 1 million dollar challenge now has a final deadline, after which it will be discontinued.

When I first heard about this, I was sad and a little disappointed. But on second thought, it’s really a pretty smart move. In theory, the challenge was a brilliant way to tell psychics and other woo-meisters to put up or shut up. But the reality has played out differently:

Our expectations at first were that we’d attract major personalities by this means, but they’ve avoided having to take the test by simply not applying; those who have actually applied are generally honestly self-deluded persons who have difficulty stating what they can do, which can be understood if they really don’t know what they’re experiencing; we at JREF have gone through involved procedures to help them recognize their problems. Usually, they have indicated that they don’t know what real scientific rules are, when it comes down to their actually being properly tested.

Early this year, Randi and the other folks at the JREF decided to face facts: things weren’t working as planned, and something had to be done. Mystics, astrologers, psychics, John Edward, Sylvia Browne, dowsers, and all the rest were basically just getting away with dismissive technicalities and giving implausible excuses and then dropping the subject. Originally, the plan was to change the rules to screen out mentally ill applicants and target celebrity woo-meisters more directly, something that was done last March.

This is really just a more dramatic move in that direction: think of it not as the challenge giving up, but rather as giving paranormalists a hard deadline. Randi will now be able to go on Larry King and put it pretty pointedly: the test is ending and you’d better get in gear and step up to the challenge instead of endlessly putting it off with excuses. It’s now or never: will you step up to the challenge? Or will you continue to run away and make excuses?

Once the prize expires, it will also put a nice solid period on the whole affair. For ten years, a million dollars was held out to paranormalists of all stripes. A million dollars that they could have just won and then given to charity if they had pleased. Or spend on promoting this amazing new insight into reality that had so far eluded all scientists and other natural observers. All they had to do was show their abilities under controlled conditions, where cheating and other non-supernatural forces were controlled for. And no one could do it: no one could even come close.

Or can they? Two years is a long time to prepare. If you can move things with your mind, if you can predict the future, if you can even see an aura: now is the time to prove it. All you need to do is get a local media outlet or other qualifying skeptics group to check out and report on/preliminarily witness a demonstration of your power in action. The rules are simple, sensible, and open to public scrutiny. We’re waiting… but now we won’t be waiting forever…

17 Responses to Randi’s 1 Million Dollar Skeptical Challenge to End in 2 years: What Will Woo Do?

  1. bbbertie says:

    Did you check out the $250,000 available to anyone who can prove Evolution which has been up for grabs since 1990 (I think it was originally $10,000 but out of the guy’s own personal means)?


    Still unclaimed..

  2. Bad says:

    Yes, everyone is familiar with Hovind’s prize. The difference is that Randi’s prize isn’t a scam.

    Randi’s prize is designed in such a way that participants specify what they can do, and everyone agrees ahead of time exactly what will constitute success in proving a paranormal ability. The claimant says what they can do that defies explanation, and then agrees to the controls of natural phenomena that might provide alternative explanations. A test is designed such that the outcome requires no judging: it either passes or fails.

    Hovind’s prize relies wholly on conditions that Hovind makes up, most of which themselves reveal a deep ignorance of what science is or even what evolution is… and the outcomes are judged by a panel of unnamed creationists rather than the outcome of any specific well designed test. Hovind never even specifies what he would consider evidence: as far as I can tell, it all boils down to whatever he personally considers “obvious.” His definition of evolution isn’t even halfway coherent: most of his list doesn’t even have to do with biological evolution. All have been well established with far more than enough empirical evidence. Anyone in Hovind’s shoes could pose the same dishonest challenge against anyone claiming that the earth is round and simply deny all the evidence with the same sorts of nonsensical excuses Hovind gives.

    Randi’s money is fully documented and held in the hands of a neutral party per strict and fully open legal documents. Hovind’s money is held by a “rich friend” who remains nameless.

    You are really trying to compare these things? That’s quite a joke.

  3. cubiksrube says:

    Yep, very nicely put. The Foundation’s still doing plenty to encourage education and critical thinking, and I’ve no doubt they’ll be savagely going after the same band of hucksters for many years yet.

    And evolution *has* been demonstrated, conclusively, over many years of study, with miles and miles of supportive evidence, which has satisfied just about everyone who’s spent any time studying it and has any idea what they’re talking about. Hovind’s criteria have nothing to do with anything.

  4. david johnson says:


    cfi nostradamus usa

    to see how we stopped Randi’s challenge

  5. Bad says:

    Er, that didn’t bring up anything about stopping the challenge, but it did bring up a lot of people worrying over your sanity. I guess that if you are this davidambus character that, from reading your work, you’re the sort of person that convinced JREF that people claiming to be psychics would know enough to stay away from any test of their claims, while people ranting on about Nostradamus who can barely even put of coherent sentence together, much less describe what their ability is, were taking up the lion’s share of their time.

    So, congratulations on wasting everyone’s time, I guess.

  6. Randi, Nostradamus, and the Truth, as verified by senior
    researchers at Princeton University…..

    In 1558., Nostradamus, writing to Henry the King, mentions the Chaldean Alphabet.

    “After Noah, of him and of the universal deluge, came Abraham, 1080 years later, which was, according to several, the greatest astrologer and the initiator of the first Chaldean alphabet.”

    The use of the 1080, signifies the correctness of the Chaldean System, since 1080 represents the universal truth, and has been mentioned by Plato, and others. In fact – current estimates of the total number of elemental particles is – 10^80th power. In Greek, both “Holy Spirit” and “Earth Spirit” have the value of 1080.

    “The concept of natural numbers rests on an archetypal foundation. It represents a preconscious pattern of thought common to all human psyches, and therefore constitutes the basis for transmitting knowledge to a greater degree than mythological images.” ….Carl Jung….

    In quantum physics, natural numbers are considered to be the ultimate structural element of being.

    The events described in this news article, represent the first scientific verification of precognition through the dreaming function. The dream, correctly interpreted, and appropriate number values related to the drawing in the NY Lottery, on 10/10/1988…


    Chaldean numerology: http://www.crystalinks.com/numerology.html

    Over the years, csicop.org , Randi, and many other
    skeptics were asked to review all details of this, and
    other number coincidences. Mainly, no interest by them.

    The concept of “meaningful coincidences” was advanced
    by Carl Jung, and Prof. W. Pauli, Nobel laureate, physics, who
    concluded that acausal events, i.e., synchronicities, are
    the balance to cause and effect, in our reality.

    They agreed that number is a primary archetype of order
    in the human mind, that is, it is preexistent to consciousness.

    Jung, “man has need of the word, but in essence number
    is sacred.”

    Pauli, “our primary mathematical intuitions can be
    arranged before we become conscious of them.”

    “entelekk” – numomathematics

  7. Bad says:

    Over the years, csicop.org , Randi, and many other skeptics were asked to review all details of this, and other number coincidences. Mainly, no interest by them.

    Probably because they proved to be without merit on closer examination. But if you are convinced that they were not, you are welcome to present some sort of demonstration of this claimed principle, or establish that these coincidences really were events out of the ordinary that cannot be accounted for by the usual PETWHAC.

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  12. Caleb Garren says:

    I’m happily coming from Germany, while my parents – esp. my mother – have english forefathers. So I believe to be western European with some Anglo-Saxon influence. This thoughts about the German people seem to be extremely unaffirmative for my ears; I’d think, American people could learn much from how Germany is handling its crisis so far.

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