James Randi Offers $1M Award for Proof of Expensive Speaker Cables

In summary, Randi has offered US$ 1 million to anyone who can prove that a pair of $7,250 Pear Anjou speaker cables is any better than ordinary (and also overpriced) Monster Cables. Pointing out the absurd review by audiophile Dave Clark, who called the cables 'danceable,' Randi called it 'hilarious and preposterous.' He added that if the cables could do what their makers claimed, 'they would be paranormal.'"
  • #1
robphy
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"James Randi Posts $1M Award On Speaker Cables"
http://science.slashdot.org/science/07/10/04/1354224.shtml

elrond amandil writes
"James Randi offered US$ 1 million to anyone who can prove that a pair of $7,250 Pear Anjou speaker cables is any better than ordinary (and also overpriced) Monster Cables. Pointing out the absurd review by audiophile Dave Clark, who called the cables 'danceable,' Randi called it 'hilarious and preposterous.' He added that if the cables could do what their makers claimed, 'they would be paranormal.'"

http://www.randi.org/jr/2007-09/092807reply.html#i4
http://gizmodo.com/gadgets/speaker-cables/7250-speaker-cables-turn-you-into-a-dancin-fool-302478.php
http://www.pearcable.com/sub_products_anjou_sc.htm
 
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  • #2
There isn't any way to prove one is better than the other since sound quality is objective. However, as the owner of overpriced speaker cable (although not nearly this overpriced), an improvement in audio quality is very achievable by upgrading connections. Feeding a $50 speaker with a $7,000 cable or a $2 cable makes no difference, but if the speaker is say...$30,000 then there would be a huge difference. Not even Mr. Randi could dispute that.
 
  • #3
"Human hearing has its limits, but gullibility has none"
 
  • #4
Oh for the love of...$7,250 for cables? NASA doesn't even pay that price for wiring. There is a sucker born every minute. Whoever did those reviews needs to be shot.
 
  • #5
The good ones are the 'power cleaners' that reconfigure your mains power!
Of course you can't hear the difference straight away because your equipement has to relearn how to work on the clean power so you have to use them for a few weeks to hear any difference.
 
  • #6
mgb_phys said:
The good ones are the 'power cleaners' that reconfigure your mains power!
Of course you can't hear the difference straight away because your equipement has to relearn how to work on the clean power so you have to use them for a few weeks to hear any difference.
I can't say I have ever heard that one. You would think that claims like that would raise some red flags to pretty much anyone.
 
  • #7
FredGarvin said:
Oh for the love of...$7,250 for cables? NASA doesn't even pay that price for wiring. There is a sucker born every minute. Whoever did those reviews needs to be shot.

although, the military would if it was labeled 'priority'

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601070&sid=aY5OQ5xv9HR8
 
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  • #8
I decided long ago that hard core audiofiles are all imagining things. :biggrin:
 
  • #9
while sitting on the couch with a laptop I lost control.. It (the laptop) went bonkers, when I got it all back the title to this thread hqd been deleted! I just barely saw it, I know it was about James Blandi. Sorry for the disruption!

Ok, I now have my contacts in and have corrected my other error. It is Randi, not Blandi...sheesh Murphy has me by the...
 
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  • #11
I have only owned one Monster Cable. It was a free upgrade for my fairly pricey vocal mike. No biggie, but it was a nice heavy cable that resisted tangling on stage.

I have a pretty impressive stereo, and my speakers are fed through the largest-diameter zip-cord that will fit in the connectors. Having built, restored, and repaired quite a number of tube amps over the years, I can tell you that the speaker wire is about the last thing I'd lose sleep over. Much more important is the quality of the components early on in the signal chain, because signal degradation cause by such components gets amplified over and over again.
 
  • #12
FredGarvin said:
I can't say I have ever heard that one. You would think that claims like that would raise some red flags to pretty much anyone.

http://www.audaud.com/audaud/MAY01/EQUIP/equip1MAY01.html only $2000.
They were even testing them on a CD transport!
( a cd player that puts out the digital data stream for the amp to turn into analogue.)
 
  • #13
I wonder if Randi considered that it would be cheaper to buy the $7250 cable and find out for himself if it's any better than to pay someone else $1 million for their opinion.
 
  • #14
Moonbear said:
I wonder if Randi considered that it would be cheaper to buy the $7250 cable and find out for himself if it's any better than to pay someone else $1 million for their opinion.
Randi isn't a dummy. I think his money is pretty safe. Like I said, I've spent a lot of time and effort fixing up tube amps. Randi is safe and the chislers are dead.
 
  • #15
Moonbear said:
I wonder if Randi considered that it would be cheaper to buy the $7250 cable and find out for himself if it's any better than to pay someone else $1 million for their opinion.

IMO, Randi owes the decendents of Einstein, Podolsky, and Rosen, one million dollars.
 
  • #16
turbo-1 said:
Randi isn't a dummy. I think his money is pretty safe. Like I said, I've spent a lot of time and effort fixing up tube amps. Randi is safe and the chislers are dead.

That, or he's a partner in the company selling the cables and stands to make more than $1million if people are inspired by this scheme to run out and buy these cables just to see if they can get $1 million for just a $7250 investment. :biggrin:
 
  • #17
I was laughing about this with an EE friend of mine from NY. He just sent me a link to this story from EDN news (make sure to press "skip add" if the story doesn't pop up):

http://www.edn.com/blog/1700000170/post/1150015315.html

They also mention a couple other dandies that have come from the audiophile ranks. My new personal favorite is the cryogenic outlets.
 
  • #18
Ivan Seeking said:
IMO, Randi owes the decendents of Einstein, Podolsky, and Rosen, one million dollars.

"Imagination without knowledge is ignorance waiting to happen."

Einstein et. al actually knew stuff and where pretty skilled at what they did. I find it hard to accept this here.
 
  • #19
My point is that entanglement might as well be called supernatural. We certainly don't have a mechanism to explain it, and I think it qualifies by any standard that Randi uses for his sham prize.
 
  • #20
kev1829 said:
There isn't any way to prove one is better than the other since sound quality is objective.
I think you mean subjective, but in any case, you can always do a double-blind taste-test and see which tests better. I'd also be willing to bet money (not a million dollars) that the difference is not statistically significant.
 
  • #21
Ivan Seeking said:
My point is that entanglement might as well be called supernatural. We certainly don't have a mechanism to explain it, and I think it qualifies by any standard that Randi uses for his sham prize.

Except that it is not. Mechanism or not, it can be investigated and measured through experimental observations. If it can, it cannot possibly be supernatural, since that would, per definition, be outside the realm of science and its methodology of investigation.

Actually, Randi is not the judge on attempts made to win the prize. It is an independent third part.

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.

http://www.randi.org/research/index.html
 
  • #22
Moridin said:
Except that it is not. Mechanism or not, it can be investigated and measured through experimental observations. If it can, it cannot possibly be supernatural, since that would, per definition, be outside the realm of science and its methodology of investigation.

That is a completely arbitrary definition. In fact it is at the root of the sham. What you are are effectively saying is that any phenomenon that can't easily be studied isn't real. That, or you are arbitrarily defining what is and isn't real before you start.

It just happens that entanglement is easily reproduced, but if it isn't magic, then tell me exactly how it works - describe the physical mechanism.

Actually, Randi is not the judge on attempts made to win the prize. It is an independent third part.

And who selects the contestants?
 
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  • #23
That is a completely arbirtrary definition. In fact it is at the root of the sham. What you are are effectively saying is that any phenomenon that can't easily be studied isn't real. That, or you are arbitrarily defining what is and isn't real before you start.

It is not an a priori assertion. I am saying that a phenomena that can be studied is a part of the natural world, and science is therefore applicable, thus not making it supernatural. I do not assert the inverse of this. Just because a phenomena cannot be studied right now says nothing about is realness.

It just happens that entanglement is easily reproduced, but if it isn't magic, then tell me exactly how it works - describe the physical mechanism.

That is the point - it is not magic because it is easily and accurately reproduced without any deception.

And who selects the contestants?

Anyone can apply to have their claim tested. No restrictions whatsoever. This public statement is just a way for him to ask if the proponent of a specific claim would like to apply.
 
  • #24
Moridin said:
It is not an a priori assertion. I am saying that a phenomena that can be studied is a part of the natural world, and science is therefore applicable, thus not making it supernatural. I do not assert the inverse of this. Just because a phenomena cannot be studied right now says nothing about is realness.

So then you agree that we have no clear line between natural and supernatural, and in any given case, it may only a matter of whether or not a phenomenon is easily studied.

That is the point - it is not magic because it is easily and accurately reproduced without any deception.

It is a real phenomenon that has no natural explanation. Therefore, by any science that we have, it is supernatural.

Anyone can apply to have their claim tested. No restrictions whatsoever. This public statement is just a way for him to ask if the proponent of a specific claim would like to apply.

That doesn't mean a claim will be accepted for the challenge.

I hereby challenge Randi and am making the claim that supernatural phenomena exists, and that entanglement is the proof. Do you think I'll be hearing from Randi? Or do I need to fill out a form? With whom do I get to argue my point if I don't hear back?
 
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  • #25
Supernatural simply means that something is above nature.

http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/supernatural

"of or relating to an order of existence beyond the visible observable universe"

Entanglement is not related to an order of existence beyond the visible observable universe, since it can indeed be observed in a rigorous setting. We can currently not explain the exact mutation of avian flu into a global pandemic. We can (and have) observed it, but not explain it yet completely. Does that make it supernatural? I would say no.

I hereby challenge Randi and am making the claim that supernatural phenomena exists, and entanglement is the proof. Do you think I'll be hearing from Randi? Or do I need to fill out a form? With whom do I get to argue my point if I don't hear back?

There is only one way to find out.
 
  • #26
Moridin said:
Supernatural simply means that something is above nature.

http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/supernatural

"of or relating to an order of existence beyond the visible observable universe"

The mechanism for entanglement meets that criteria exactly.

Entanglement is not related to an order of existence beyond the visible observable universe, since it can indeed be observed in a rigorous setting.

We are talking about the mechanism. We all know it happens. That is the point.

We can currently not explain the exact mutation of avian flu into a global pandemic. We can (and have) observed it, but not explain it yet completely. Does that make it supernatural? I would say no.

We can explain every physical step in the process of mutation, or at least we can in principle, however we cannot explain the mechanism for entanglement, not even in principle. We seem to lack the fundamental physics needed to explain it. So the two are completely different problems.

Maybe I will apply... and then call my lawyer.
 
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  • #27
May I plug in my input here and state that just because we haven't figured out the cause for something does not make it supernatural. Our ignorance does not equate to supernatural. I know I'm extrapolating by saying everything has its natural cause, but I feel like stating that something is supernatural because of our own ignorance of its cause is fallacious reasoning.
 
  • #28
Ivan Seeking said:
IMO, Randi owes the decendents of Einstein, Podolsky, and Rosen, one million dollars.

Ivan Seeking said:
My point is that entanglement might as well be called supernatural. We certainly don't have a mechanism to explain it, and I think it qualifies by any standard that Randi uses for his sham prize.
Just because you can't "explain" something doesn't mean it's "supernatural" in the sense that Randi is trying to uncover. And entanglement can be demonstrated by anyone (anyone trained that is)--no special "magical" abilities required. Nature provides the magic. (Now if you could control entanglement--use it to send FTL messages for example--now that would be something.)

While it might be hard to verbally define a line between natural and supernatural, it's clear that Randi has his sights on the cranks, quacks, con artists, and nutballs who claim to have magical powers beyond those of ordinary folk.

Randi seems to be a "hot button" of yours for some reason. Why does the fact that Randi exposes these crackpots left and right bug you so much? For someone presumably interested in the standard roster of the "unexplained" I'd think you'd appreciate his willingness to test folks and weed out the fakers.

By the way, I think Randi's modified his challenge so that he now targets the high-visibility targets. It was a waste of resources to test all those poor deluded applicants.
 
  • #29
By the logic (apparently) used by James Randi, nothing that can be reproduced and then studied can be counted as supernatural. Just something natural that we haven't necessarily explained yet. On the other hand, he requires that before a phenomenon be eligible for his prize, that it be reproducible under controlled circumstances, which in turn, invalidates it as a candidate for 'supernatural'.
 
  • #30
I corresponded with Randi by email and was convinced that he is a man with a mission that does not include an open mind to discovery. He leaves people with the impression that everything in the universe can be explained; less a few semantics. To me this is like dropping an atom bomb on physics. And, got to say it, frankly, he came off like a nut, but maybe I just caught him at a bad time.

That said, I do agree that he exposes many crackpots, and for that he deserves credit. In fact, long ago, before I corresponded with him, I was a Randi fan. I still remember his appearances on Happy Days and Johnny Carson. And his and Carson's debunking of Geller was pure poetry.

As for supernatural, the word has no meaning. Either a phenomenon is real or not. There is no such thing as supernatural, so the challenge uses a loaded statement as the premise, and the debate in this thread demonstrates this point - "supernatural" can mean whatever we want.
 
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  • #31
I suggest that Randi has no way to draw the line in the sand that he wishes to draw because modern physics has no way to draw the line either.
 
  • #32
There is no such thing as "supernatural" that actually exists. It's our own ignorance of the causes of things that makes us use the tag "supernatural." Again, just because we can't explain something yet does not make it above nature. I don't know how anything could be above nature. That just seems like adding a layer for the sake of adding a layer.
 
  • #33
Ivan Seeking said:
I corresponded with Randi by email and was convinced that he is a man with a mission that does not include an open mind to discovery. He leaves people with the impression that everything in the universe can be explained; less a few semantics. To me this is like dropping an atom bomb on physics.
So you think Randi is anti-science? That's an interesting opinion. (I don't share it.)

As far as having a mission and being "open-minded" to discovery, that kind of depends on the topic. What's he's skeptical of includes the usual crackpot roster: mind-readers, spoon benders, psychics, astrologers, human magnets. And apparently he is willing to test such claimants.

On those topics I (me, not Randi) am extremely skeptical--the burden of proof is entirely on them. I go further in that I wouldn't even waste the time listening to talk of such things. Life is too short to listen to yet another "faith healer" or "remote viewer" or "metal bender". I'm glad that someone enjoys the challenge of "debunking" such things; I'm too interested in all the real stuff that I don't quite understand.

(The more I hang out with magicians, the greater my disinterest in these fakers. These guys do really amazing things--things that blow Uri Geller and company out of the water. And after seeing enough real magicians in action, it's incredibly hard to take the high-profile fakers seriously.)
 
  • #34
It is a real phenomenon that has no natural explanation. Therefore, by any science that we have, it is supernatural.

As a final blow to this assertion, science cannot explain the underlying natural causes in detail to things such as homosexuality. This does not suggest that homosexuality is a supernatural concept. It is not, because it can be investigated and observed in the natural world.
 
  • #35
LightbulbSun said:
May I plug in my input here and state that just because we haven't figured out the cause for something does not make it supernatural. Our ignorance does not equate to supernatural. I know I'm extrapolating by saying everything has its natural cause, but I feel like stating that something is supernatural because of our own ignorance of its cause is fallacious reasoning.
Agreed. To me that sounds like the reasoning people used before the invention of the scientific method. It was a dark time, indeed.

Now Ivan, I do see that this creates somewhat of a catch-22, but the catch-22 isn't Randi's, it is part of the claim of "supernatural" phenomena. The prize isn't a sham, it is the people who claim "supernatural" phenomena that are the sham. Randi made the rules, but he made them to focus on a specific type of claim and yeah, he's pretty confident that no one will ever win. The point of the contest is to shine a big spotlight on the sham that is the claim of "supernatural" phenomena.
 
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