James Randi’s Million Dollar Paranormal Prize to Continue after all.

By | August 5, 2009

James Randis Million Dollar Paranormal Prize to Continue after all

I just came from Las Vegas where I saw Criss Angel’s magic show. Lot’s of disappearing acts plus  dance and surreal costumes by the Cirque Du Soleil people. Odd but interesting. Fun show.

Speaking of magic, Greg over at the Daily Grail has this:

Last year the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) announced that the famous ‘Million Dollar Prize’ challenge for claims of the paranormal would come to an end in 2010. If you had been honing your skills in preparation for a dash at the money, rest easy: the JREF has now announced that they have reversed their decision, and the Challenge will continue:

Last year, we announced that the MDC would end in March 2010 due to the strains on time and effort of the JREF staff. However, after much discussion, we have decided not to terminate the Challenge. Instead, we are in the process of examining how it can be improved, streamlined, and made more efficient so that we can continue to use it to test claims of the paranormal.

However, we haven’t made any final decisions about it yet; we’re taking our time and making sure we do this right. When next March comes around we will roll out the new and improved Million Dollar Challenge. So never fear! We will continue to test the claims and examine the evidence, and we will always strive to ensure that reality – as it usually tends to do – wins out.

Hopefully the “streamlining” of the MDC takes into consideration some of the criticisms I raised in my article “The Myth of the Million Dollar Challenge“. But if not, at least skeptics can now continue to look on in wonder, completely surprised at the fact that in a population of 5 billion and counting, there are actually some odd /delusional people in the world.

6 thoughts on “James Randi’s Million Dollar Paranormal Prize to Continue after all.

  1. Ann

    Want to win Randi’s money before it goes into extinction, if it does?

    Have Randi, the great magician, duplicate exactly what Nina Kulagina did with matchsticks. Or have him do the same type of photography that Ted Seros did.

    No, don’t have him talk about, because he talks a lot and does that well. He has already criticized these people and he has come with a lot of ideas how these people did their “tricks.” But, let’s see DO IT!

    Have him do what these people did in front of, around and in the middle of scientists watching him all the time just as was done with Ted Seros and Nina Kulagina. Let’s see Great Randi baffle some some good observers, not an audience, most of whom just want to be entertained, or could care less.

    1. Xeno Post author

      The way it works, I believe, to get the million dollars, is that Kulagina or Serios would have to do their claimed paranormal feats in front of Randi and a team of scientists/slight of hand experts under conditions which prevent trickery.

      “In an New Scientist article ‘The Chance of a Lifetime’ (24 March 2007), an interview appears with the noted mathematician and magician Persi Diaconis. During the interview Persi mentioned that Martin Gardner had paid him to watch Ted Serios perform, during which Persi caught Ted sneaking a small marble with a photograph on it into the little tube attached to the front of the camera he used. ‘It was’, Persi said, ‘a trick.'” – wiki

      Regarding Kulagina, wikipedia says “the Cold War-era Soviet Union had an obvious motive for falsifying or exaggerating results in the potential propaganda value in appearing to win a “Psi Race” analogous to the concurrent Space Race or arms race.”

  2. Ann

    Yes, I know Randi’s rules. (No, he doesn’t rule!) But, his rules doesn’t stop him from being the super-critic that he is. For every single paranormal event, psychic phenomena, or anyone or anything that is out the realm of the strictly material or normal, he has got an argument.

    My point is simply he is way-out-of-line. He is not a scientist, nor is he a man of any particular amount of education or learning. I doubt even if he is well read. He is first of all, above all, an entertainer. Yet, he is supposed to be an expert about events that has baffled legitimate scientists! Why? Because he was/is an entertaining magician that once made a living baffling audiences! Being a good thief doesn’t make him a master of thievery. He just was never caught.

    Concerning Kulagina?

    The US did not get involved in the “Psi Wars” until after Sheila Ostrander and Lynn Schroeder published “Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain” after their visit to the USSR in 1970. It was all top secret stuff. But, in 1973 when Soviet conservatives wrote, “Parapsychology – fact or fiction?” which slammed Ostrander and Schroeder as only trying to get research money (Schroeder is a well-recognized parapsychologist), now that was a stunt. After Voice of America aired excerpts of the book and the Soviets found out that Soviet researcher Naumov was a book’s source, he was arrested and sent to Siberia. US didn’t get involved until the public and Congressmen got worried about the Soviets were moving ahead in the spy-psi game in about the mid-1970s Nina did most her stuff in the 1960s or earlier. She wasn’t a propaganda gimmick.

  3. Ann

    Ok, so I’m beating a dead horse, but this is about Nina:

    Note the different arguments.

    di Massimo Polidoro, a skeptic:

    “As for Nina Kulagina, the conditions under which she operated were far from acceptable from the view of basic scientific standards. Tests were frequently carried out at her own home or in hotel rooms; no tight controls were ever applied, owing to the fact that a demonstration might take several hours of preparation (i.e. concentration by Nina) and even then, there was any guarantee of success. [Now the catcher:] Also, when anyone who has a background in magicians’ techniques watches these films, they cannot avoid the feeling that she is using standard conjuring techniques: a magnet hidden on her body to move the compass needle; a thread or a thin hair to move objects across the table; a small mirror concealed in her hand to read signs with numbers and letters being held behind her. …” [You see how the magician JUST KNOWS (at least speculates from his list of magical tricks) how its done, but of course he or any other skeptic seldom show how its done in front nosy scientific observers.]

    From a biographer:

    Brian Haughton in “The Psychic Powers of Nina Kulagina”

    “In 1969, film footage of Kulagina’s abilities was shown at the First Moscow International Conference on Parapsychology. Kulagina was investigated by a number of scientists, both Soviet and American, and precautions were taken to eliminate the possibility of trickery through concealed magnets or threads, as well as drafts of air. On film, she moved matches, a cigarette, and a ping pong ball, among other items. Occasionally, burn marks would appear on her hands or her clothes would catch fire …”

    Now, which writer is closer to the truth? Well, you know my opinion.

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