# Randi ups the ante

1. Dec 8, 2004

### Phobos

Staff Emeritus
http://www.cnn.com/2004/TECH/science/12/06/supernatural.skeptic.reut/index.html [Broken]

Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
2. Dec 9, 2004

### James R

Randi's million dollar prize has been up for grabs for a number of years now.

3. Dec 9, 2004

### Kerrie

Staff Emeritus
i am not sure i understand this guy's stand on the paranormal...is he for or against it? or is he the type saying, "i will believe it when i see it"? with the example of astrology, the test would be doomed to fail because astrology is not a science...but if these skeptics had some education on the subject, then perhaps they would stop trying to "prove it" and perhaps understand its use...

as for being psychic, doesn't edgar cayce have an entire library in Virginia Beach that has documentations on his abilities?

many skeptics have made up their mind to claim that some of these abilities are not possible. our CURRENT VERSION AND ABILITIES within the realm of science may not be advanced enough to prove some of this stuff as valid, or give some kind of logical explanation. i think many forget our science is constantly a work in progress and not a final method of understanding our universe...

and please don't assume by my post i am an advocate for voodoo magic as my quote says below:

4. Dec 9, 2004

### Tom Mattson

Staff Emeritus
Randi does not believe in anything paranormal, but neither does he deny the possibility. The famed "Randi's Million" is offered to anyone who claims paranormal abilities and can demonstrate it under controlled conditions. So far, all psychics, spoon-benders, and soothsayers have declined to subject themselvs to the scrutiny, which says a lot. If I were really psychic, I'd gladly retire from my "1-900" dial-a-fortune job to collect a cool million.

Randi has a website which has a message board that is currently being terrorized by lifegazer.

Last edited: Dec 9, 2004
5. Dec 9, 2004

Randi doesn't have to worry too much about someone winning his $1,000,000 IMHO. :tongue2: (On an aside, the most recent South Park made fun of psychic detectives, credulity, and the "Dead Zone" main character. Funny stuff! ) 6. Dec 9, 2004 ### Ivan Seeking Staff Emeritus There have been quite a few reports of reproducible laboratory results showing that people can sense when they're being watched. We need to hook up Randi with these guys. They can probably use the funding. Last edited: Dec 9, 2004 7. Dec 9, 2004 ### Ivan Seeking Staff Emeritus Something else that bothers me about Randi It seems to me that subjects like entanglement still qualify here. We have a mathematical model forced by conservation of spin, but do we have any proven physical models to account for the "spooky action at a distance"? I think this still qualifies as unexplained phenomena. Until we have a proven TOE, if we ever do, I declare that existence itself is a phenomenon that goes beyond science and I win the million dollars. I can prove that I exist. Of course, this doesn't count, right? And communication between humans and other animals by means of pheromones doesn't count either, right? This mode of communication was once hidden among other ESP claims, but now that it might be true - that we communicate with each other via pheromones - this doesn't count either, right? Does proof in retrospect count? Last edited: Dec 9, 2004 8. Dec 9, 2004 ### The_Professional 9. Dec 9, 2004 ### Tom Mattson Staff Emeritus Links fixed. 10. Dec 10, 2004 ### Kerrie Staff Emeritus Ivan, I totally hear what you are saying...it's almost like these folks have "selective hearing". Not once do you ever hear an acknowledgement that our current version of science is limited to what we know. Instead, it is regarded as the absolute, but only absolute within our current knowledge and understanding. Do they not realize we still have a lot of room for growth? 11. Dec 10, 2004 ### Overdose 'any phenomenon beyond the reach of science"? lmao well plenty of things are beyond the reach of science at this point in time, but it cant be proved that they will ALWAYS be beyond the reach of science untill the paradigm draws it last breath or the human race simply dies out. Of course Rhandi knows this, and yet again the unclaimed million is supposed to stand as a testiment to the fact that 'nothing is beyond the grasp of science' of course thats complete BS we simply dont know how far science can stretch its self at this point in time. This is really cheap trick, and im sure it will no doubt convince alot of impressionable people that everything can be known through science. Well done Rhandi, doing his best to put intellectual and scientfic thought back a few hundered years as useall. Last edited: Dec 10, 2004 12. Dec 10, 2004 ### arildno I suggest you actually read what Randi says, rather than lapping up Sylvia Browne's version of it. 13. Dec 10, 2004 ### Tom Mattson Staff Emeritus Why should that bother you? That quote only makes Randi's case look better! Allow me to explain... First, the quote is from the headline, not from Randi's website. The rules for the actual million dollar challenge are described here: http://www.randi.org/research/challenge.html Second, despite the fact that what you quoted aren't Randi's words, there is an interpretation of those words that is intended by Randi. But it is not the interpretation that you and Kerrie give. You two seem to think that Randi's challenge writes off anything that is "beyond the reach of science" as flim flam. That reflects a total misunderstanding of what he actually says. Randi's challenge stipulates that claimants' powers must be observable by a third party, not explainable in terms of current scientific knowledge. That is, both parties agree on the claim, and then the claimant has to actually do it under (mutually agreed-to) controlled conditions, in front of observers not connected to the JREF. The fact that some things are beyond our scientific knowledge actually works against Randi, because if someone can really do something that is not currently explainable, but will be explainable once future discoveries are made, then that person can collect the million despite the fact that he is not in fact endowed with supernatural powers. Last edited: Dec 10, 2004 14. Dec 10, 2004 ### NateTG Technically, anything that is repeatable is science. Hence, as soon as something is demonstrated under the JREF conditions, it's, more or less, covered by science. Of course, that particular plum of poor phrasing is from the journalist rather than Randi. The challenge is only for psychic, supernatural, or paranormal activity. That means that strictly physical phenomena are generally excluded. Moreover, the rules are created so that there must be consensus regarding the demonstration before JREF money gets involved, so there is an 'out' in the sense that JREF can stipulate unreasonable terms for the experiment in addition to the 'out' of refusing to recognize an unexplained phenomenon as psychic, supernatural, or paranormal in nature. 15. Dec 10, 2004 ### Kerrie Staff Emeritus i really don't appreciate you insulting my posts by referring to Sylvia Brown. this shows you as biased individual, a terrible flaw to have-especially since you have been "recognized" as a science advisor. your words are much better accepted when coated with honey as oppossed to vinegar. Tom~thank you for clearing that up better. At least you know how to communicate a good point without being degrading. Overdose, I have to agree with your message here. 16. Dec 10, 2004 ### Phobos Staff Emeritus Oops. I was thinking that the "prize" was smaller before now. Never mind! 17. Dec 10, 2004 ### Chronos It used to be$10,000, which was offered by Randi personally. When he formed JREF several years ago a number of people and groups donated to the prize fund and the ante was upped to a cool mil.

18. Dec 11, 2004

### Ivan Seeking

Staff Emeritus
Were pheromones a psychic mode of communication before they were discovered?

I also consider existence itself to be supernatural. Prove me wrong.

Last edited: Dec 11, 2004
19. Dec 11, 2004

### Ivan Seeking

Staff Emeritus
"James Randi, through the JREF, will pay US\$1,000,000 to any person who can demonstrate any psychic, supernatural or paranormal ability under satisfactory observing conditions. Such demonstration must take place under these rules and limitations".

So he doesn't require that such powers can be shown to exist, he requires that one person can demonstrate it as their own power. So proof alone, say from a large study, wouldn't matter?

Sylvia Brown

Last edited: Dec 11, 2004
20. Dec 11, 2004

### Ivan Seeking

Staff Emeritus
Okay lets see if we can get a bite on this. I have emailed a personal request to a Dr Schmidt who claims proof of the ability to know if being watched. A link to Randi's challenge was included. I will follow up with more later. Here is some more information about this issue. I want to see one of these guys put head to head with Randi and see what happens.
http://www.csicop.org/si/2001-03/stare.html

http://www.halfbakery.com/idea/Sixth_20Sense_20Eraser

I don't really know much about this particular claim but it has been in the news from time to time over the last few years.

Last edited: Dec 11, 2004
21. Dec 11, 2004

### Ivan Seeking

Staff Emeritus
Okay one last point. Why wouldn't a demonstration of entanglement meet the challenge; because its not my own magic powers? Is this a supernatural phenomenon until we have an explanation, or does the term supernatural no longer apply since we know that this actually happens?

Last edited: Dec 11, 2004
22. Dec 12, 2004

### James R

Kerrie:

He's the "believe it when there's reliable evidence for it" type. Randi is not interested in how people think something might be possible (e.g. how ESP might work, or how the stars might influence our lives). All he says is: "Show me that your ESP or astrology or whatever works under conditions set up to prevent fraud or mistaken impressions."

Thus, if you claim to be able to heal people by laying your hands on them, for example, Randi says "Prove it." He would test your claim by selecting a large enough random group of ill people, splitting them into a control group and a test group, getting you to try to heal the test group while leaving the control group alone, and then comparing outcomes to find if your supposed healing power gives statistically better results than doing nothing. If it does, you get the million dollars. Randi doesn't care whether your healing power comes from special mind powers, alien implants, channelling Rama the Guru, or whatever. He just wants you to prove you can do what you say you can do.

Surprisingly, practically no professional psychics, astrologers or other people who make money from their supposed paranormal abilities ever take up Randi's offers to be tested for the million dollars, despite the fact that such tests are always worked out by agreement with the test subject. Think about why that may be.

Wrong. It doesn't matter how astrology works. It only matters that it works - or not. If you can show that astrology actually does any of the things it claims (e.g. predicts the future, predicts people's personality traits, etc.), then you can collect the million. You don't need to explain how it works.

What use is something which doesn't work?

Probably. Edgar Cayce, from memory, was a fraud, though.

Right! That's why the first step is simply to show that effects are real. Then we can try to work out how they work.

Science is typically much more amenable to change than pseudosciences.

23. Dec 12, 2004

### Kerrie

Staff Emeritus
not to take this thread off topic, but what do you know about astrology? like i said, it's not a science, thus cannot be proven. can you prove psychology? it's the same kind of thing, but many don't understand it because they lap up what they are fed instead of finding out on their own.

you are making a claim from memory? this statement sounds like your opinion formed by biased assumptions. before you make comments like these, i suggest you do some unbiased reading on both sides of the subject

we can't prove these effect if our current version of science cannot measure them.

that depends on what kind of change and who is conducting.

http://twm.co.nz/sciencebias.htm [Broken]

and this one:

Science and corporations

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24. Dec 12, 2004

### Janitor

It makes you wonder about televangelists who call out healings among their listening audience. The most recent example I have seen of someone doing this was Rev. Richard Roberts, the son of the famed Oral Roberts, a frequent guest on Larry King's show. The younger Roberts was shown by God that, "a woman wearing a dark-colored top, you woke up with a sore lower back this morning. That pain is GOING AWAY right now!" [Disclaimer: it's been long enough that I don't remember the exact words, but what he said was that sort of thing.]

Why wouldn't Rev. Roberts take Randi's test, and then hand over the million dollars to missionary work? Hmmmm. Kind of makes you think.

25. Dec 12, 2004

### Fredrik

Staff Emeritus
I understand that the author of this article probably meant something other than what he's actually saying, but as it stands, this statement couldn't possibly be more wrong. All of the claims that the Randi challege applies to are within the reach of science. If someone e.g. claims to be able to bend a spoon with his mind, this is a claim that's extremely easy to prove if it's actually true. It's certainly not beyond the reach of science.

What the author probably had in mind is that scientists wouldn't be able to explain these phenomena if they did exist. This is true, but completely irrelevant.

Astrologers make claims and predictions that are very easy to test.

Sure, there are plenty of things that are currently beyond the reach of science, but the Randi challenge only deals with claims that are very easy to prove if they're actually true.

No it's not. What gave you that idea? Randi would never make a claim like that, and neither would any actual scientist.

I hope not. The purpose of the Randi challenge is to get people to start thinking, not to stop thinking.

He usually requires an actual demonstration, but I think he has offered to make an exception in a few specific cases (like the afterlife experiments performed by Gary Schwartz at the university of Arizona).

I think the last thing you said is one of the reasons, but there are others that are more relevant. For example, entanglement is not something that millions of people ever believed in for no good reason. Also, it has never been the case that a majority of the people who studied the phenomenon were using unscientific methods in order to get desirable results instead of reliable results.

The difference between science and pseudoscience is only a matter of what methods are being used. It has nothing do to with what subject is being studied.

One thing that all claims that the Randi challege applies to have in common is that they can be studied using scientific methods.

Wrong. You don't have to understand a phenomenon, or directly measure it to prove that it exists. Here's a very simple example of what I'm talking about: Imagine an island that's been isolated from the rest of the world for hundreds of years. Everyone on that island is deaf because of a genetic defect that they all share. No one on the island knows anything about physics. One day a boy is born who isn't deaf (a "mutant"). As he grows up, the people start to notice that this boy seems to be able to do things that the rest of them can't. For example, he seems to be able to "supernaturally" sense when someone tries to sneak up on him from behind. Some people believe that what they've heard about this boy can't be true. For example, the boy himself says that he can sense when two rocks are slammed together behind his back, even when he's blindfolded. The skeptics laugh at this "absurd" claim and demand proof.

If you were one of the people on that island, would you be able to give it to them?

Of course you would. You wouldn't have to explain what sound is. You wouldn't have to measure it's frequency or its intensity. All you would have to do is to instruct the boy (using sign language) to raise his hand every time someone slams two rocks together, and then have the skeptics blindfold him, and start slamming rocks together behind his back.

That would be good science.