# Does the Randi million really exist?

I thought that this was an interesting question raised by someone and would like to have an open discussion about it. Apparently the Randi foundation gives proof* to anyone who is trying to win the million dollars. I don't know how many people have tried this but I don't think the number is insignificant. Now, is there any record of anyone ever complaining about that the proof of the existence of the money was not reliable? If the proof was doubtable, wouldn't many have complained about this? And not only to the Randi foundation, but even announced it on the internet?

Do you think this is a valid way of reasoning? Does it give a strong support to the alternative that the funds in fact do exist? If not, why?

*How you give "proof" of ownership of any funds in this world I don't know, but im sure there are ways that are defined as valid.

arildno
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I suggest you send a mail to the law firm Goldman&Sachs, which, by JREF's own statements (to be found on its site), is the firm managing the legal aspects of the JREF money.

I once read an article in Skeptical Inquirer magazine which described a Larry King show with Randi and this "psychic" named Sylvia Brown. Randi challenged this woman to undergo his million dollar test, she agreed. (It should be noted that the participants and the testers agree to the test method beforehand.) Anyway, Randi even asked Larry King to ensure that Brown would go through with it, in order to legitimize it for his audience. Nevertheless, she backed out, citing that she didn't need a million dollars (Randi proposed she give it to her favorite charity) and Larry King never followed up on it. I believe that the test is designed in such a way that before you can compete for the Million $, you must pass a preliminary. I think nobody has even passed the preliminary. Maybe someone can clear that up. When asking if Randi's million is real, you should ask yourself what his motives would be to lie about the money. Is he trying to suppress the existence of the supernatural? Now that is absurd. Fredrik Staff Emeritus Science Advisor Gold Member kcballer21 said: I believe that the test is designed in such a way that before you can compete for the Million$, you must pass a preliminary. I think nobody has even passed the preliminary. Maybe someone can clear that up.
You're right about that. There is a preliminary test, and no one has ever passed it. You can read more about that at www.randi.org.

There's also a lot of information about Sylvia Browne at that site. Just do a search for her name and you'll see.

Phobos
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kcballer21 said:
I once read an article in Skeptical Inquirer magazine which described a Larry King show with Randi and this "psychic" named Sylvia Brown. Randi challenged this woman to undergo his million dollar test, she agreed. (It should be noted that the participants and the testers agree to the test method beforehand.) Anyway, Randi even asked Larry King to ensure that Brown would go through with it, in order to legitimize it for his audience. Nevertheless, she backed out, citing that she didn't need a million dollars (Randi proposed she give it to her favorite charity) and Larry King never followed up on it.

I read the transcript of that interview. Larry King definitely favored Brown over Randi. It also seems that Brown did better than Randi in that discussion, even though I think she's wrong and he's right.

Ivan Seeking
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lundq said:
How you give "proof" of ownership of any funds in this world I don't know, but im sure there are ways that are defined as valid.

Provide a copy of the account statement that shows the name of the account owner, a date, the total value of the account, the institutions which hold the funds, and the associated account numbers. The official letterhead from the reporting institution should also be included. Any less is hearsay and speculation.

In short, provide a legal copy of the quarterly statement.

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Ivan Seeking
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kcballer21 said:
When asking if Randi's million is real, you should ask yourself what his motives would be to lie about the money. Is he trying to suppress the existence of the supernatural? Now that is absurd.

Lets see, just for starters, does Randi accept donations? Where did the million come from? Who is earning the interest/dividends on the money?

Has Randi's challenged gained him any notoriety? How does he make a living?

Except for his one appearance on Happy Days in the 1970's, I don't remember The Amazing Randi doing much. Why the automatic trust?

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Chronos
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Randi does not have the paranormal reward market cornered. A number of other groups make similar offers - e.g., Association for Skeptical Inquiry, UK, 12k pounds; Australian Skeptics, $100k. Aside from proof of the existence of such rewards, what constitutes and who decides what is 'proof'? Is anything 'provable'? Another dude by the name of Hovind, a creationist, offers a$250k reward to anyone who can 'prove' the theory of evolution. I don't see that one being collected anytime soon either. It seems logical to conclude such offers are designed to attract more publicity than petitioners. btw, I happen to have a standing offer of $1,000 for the return of the jackpot winning powerball ticket I lost in the Chicago area. I give £100 plus a sofabed (reasonably good condition) to anyone who can prove that you really lost the ticket. £200 plus a signed photo of Weird Al Yankovich to anyone who can disprove the existence of a teapot in orbit around Saturn. Fredrik Staff Emeritus Science Advisor Gold Member Chronos said: It seems logical to conclude such offers are designed to attract more publicity than petitioners. There are lots of prizes available to people who can "prove" something, and it's always up to the person or organization who offers the prize who decides what they mean by "proof". In Randi's case, his requirements are never unreasonable. For example, a guy who claimed to be able to tell the difference between the positive and negative end of a battery, by dowsing, was challenged to do exactly that in a double-blind test. He would get the money if he's successful 36 times of 40. The crackpot prizes are very different. My favorite is Victor Zammit's prize. He offers a lot of money (I don't remember how much) to anyone who can refute the evidence that he presents for life after death. This "evidence" is a book full of anecdotes about "supernatural" events, and a lot of the people that the book mentions have been dead for decades. To win the prize you have to convince a group of Zammit's friends that you have refuted "the evidence" (meaning every single anecdote in the book), beyond any doubt (not just reasonable doubts). Zammit's prize is of course impossible to win. Randi's is probably impossible to win too, but only if there are no people with real paranormal abilities. If there are such people (and their powers are strong enough), they can easily win the JREF$1 million prize.

Chronos said:
Randi does not have the paranormal reward market cornered. A number of other groups make similar offers - e.g., Association for Skeptical Inquiry, UK, 12k pounds; Australian Skeptics, $100k. Aside from proof of the existence of such rewards, what constitutes and who decides what is 'proof'? Is anything 'provable'? Another dude by the name of Hovind, a creationist, offers a$250k reward to anyone who can 'prove' the theory of evolution. I don't see that one being collected anytime soon either. It seems logical to conclude such offers are designed to attract more publicity than petitioners. btw, I happen to have a standing offer of \$1,000 for the return of the jackpot winning powerball ticket I lost in the Chicago area.

Exactly such tests with money at stake by their very nature have zero credibility, and have no place in any serious discussion to my mind.

Ivan Seeking
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Who here has written to Randi et al requesting the required information? There is no reason why this can't be resolved.

arildno
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Ivan Seeking said:
Who here has written to Randi et al requesting the required information? There is no reason why this can't be resolved.
Why haven't you written to Goldman&Sachs yourself?

Fredrik
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Ivan Seeking said:
Who here has written to Randi et al requesting the required information? There is no reason why this can't be resolved.
I E-mailed (jref@randi.org) and asked what kind of documents they send to those who ask for proof. They told me what I told you (that the document is an account statement), and said that if I just give them my address, they'll send me a copy.

Since I consider this resolved already, I declined. (Don't say it's "very telling". I have already explained why I don't think it's necessary).

Fredrik
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Overdose said:
Exactly such tests with money at stake by their very nature have zero credibility, and have no place in any serious discussion to my mind.
Did you feel the same way about e.g. the X-prize? They recently handed out the award, didn't they? Why wouldn't these skeptics' associations be willing to do the same?

Don't forget that there's always money involved. Every scientist gets paid by someone. That's no reason to believe that they cheat with their results. (There may of course be other reasons, but money alone is not enough). I don't think the money makes these tests any less credible. The only thing that really matters is the methods they use, and anyone can see that Randi's methods are good, while e.g. Zammit's are not.

Ivan Seeking
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