James Randi's Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge Revised to Avoid the Crazies.

For ten years, magician and skeptic James Randi had offered $1 million to anyone capable of demonstrating paranormal ability under scientific scrutiny. But recently, Randi is revising the Million Dollar Challenge.

Why? To avoid the crazies:

Ten years after stage magician and avowed skeptic James Randi first offered a seven-figure payday to anyone capable of demonstrating paranormal phenomenon under scientific scrutiny, the 79-year-old clear-eyed curmudgeon is revising the rules of his nonprofit foundation's Million Dollar Challenge to better target high-profile charlatans, and spend less time on unknown psychics, who too often turn out to be delusional instead of deceptive.

"We can't waste the hundreds of hours that we spend every year on the nutcases out there -- people who say they can fly by flapping their arms," says Randi. "We have three file drawers jam-packed with those collections.... There are over 300 claims that we have handled in detail."

http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,72482-0.html?tw=wn_culture_2 | Randi's One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge

Why, Neatorama can make 5 minutes of your time and productivity disappear easily, do we get the $1 million?

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The test itself is not impossible. The people the test asks for are not "nervous" people scared by audiences. They are fakes and charlatans, performers.

They don't want to take the test because they cannot pass the test, even though Randi allows them great leeway.

The only thing Randi asks is that they have some way to prove what they say they are doing is actually happening. That happens under scientifically controlled conditions.

We all know that magicians are not actually sawing women in half, for example. James Randi would ask the magician to saw the woman in half, then have a qualified physician inspect the sawn torso to determine that the body has actually been sawn in half, and then see if the woman can be put back together. If he does it, and she lives, the magician gets the million dollars. Case closed.

If Uri Geller can bend a spoon with his mind (an invaluable talent), then all he has to do is demonstrate that talent under scientific conditions, not under conditions controlled by himself alone, where he can fake the results.

Quackery and superstition have been around forever. Quit trying to dress up quackery and superstition as something "new age" - we don't know the whole universe. No, we don't know the whole universe, but, as they say in South Park, John Edwards is the biggest d**che in it.

It's all just the same old bulls**t, to quote Penn and Teller.
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I would imagine people who really feel they have the abilities to be tested fear that the test will be so biased against them as to be sabotaged, or perhaps that they will make a mistake (fail) and be forced to live with that mistake for the rest of their lives. In short, there are too many unknowns. There's a lot of pressure in a test like that.

For example, I happen to be very good at singing, but put me in front of an audience and I can't sing at all: I get so nervous my throat muscles tighten and I can barely squeeze enough air through my vocal chords to make sound. Just as bad, my mind blanks and I can't remember the words to the songs I'm supposed to be singing. More than 30 people attending my latest recital can attest to these facts, yet my voice professor continues to believe I should be on Broadway.

Who are we to say that psionic/supernatural talents aren't subject to the same principals as something like singing?

Also, maybe people fear fame and the loss of privacy that accompanies it. Think of the death threats someone would receive if they could prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that they had psionic/supernatural abilities. Hell, I'd bet even Edwards, etc. have received their fair share of death threats despite the lack of pure scientific evidence for their claims!

I'm not saying people like Edwards or Gellar are real, but I firmly believe that some people out there do have amazing abilities that science has yet to officially document.

Any scientist who's honest about what he does will tell you that we, as a species, have only barely scratched the surface of this universe's mechanics. In my opinion, it's extremely foolish and close-minded to immediately call-out psionic and supernatural phenomena as unreal and without rational basis.

In short: the TRUE skeptic doesn't need inarguable evidence for everything; rather, his mind is open to any possibility, no matter how outlandish it may be. But then why call him a skeptic? Because keeps an inner dialogue going, ever searching for answers. The difference between a true skeptic and a wannabe skeptic is that the true skeptic is willing to go farther to find his answers, and isn't afraid to walk on a bridge of faith every once and a while to reach his destination.
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The million dollar offer almost immediately exposes charlatans just by its existence since none will take it. Why wouldn't Uri Gellar or John Edward and the like take on the money and at least donate it to a charity? Their silence speaks loudly.
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