James Randi’s Million Dollar Challenge, Intelligent Designer’s Elusiveness

http://web.randi.org/the-million-dollar-challenge.html

1.1 How long has this Challenge been open?

The Challenge was first introduced in 1964 when James Randi offered 1,000 of his own money to the first person who could offer proof of the paranormal. During a live radio panel discussion, James Randi was challenged by a parapsychologist to "put [his] money where [his] mouth is", and Randi responded by offering to pay1,000 to anyone who could demonstrate paranormal powers in a controlled test. The prize has since grown to One Million Dollars.

1.2 How many people have applied for the Challenge?

Between 1964 and 1982, Randi declared that over 650 people had applied. Between 1997 and 2005, there had been a total of 360 official, notarized applications. New applications for the Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge continue to be received every month.

1.3 Has anyone ever passed the preliminary test?

No.

1.4 Has anyone taken a formal test?

Yes. However, the vast majority of applicants and claimants for the Million Dollar Challenge have not taken a formal test, because none of them have passed the preliminary phase of the Challenge.

I would generally think in light of this, paranormal phenomenon are mostly non-existent. I have a lot of skilled gambling friends (some have made millions) and the question of prayer or paranormal phenomenon occasionally comes up when they consider it as a possible angle to make more money. The consensus is that no skilled gambler made money using the paranormal or prayers.

Nevertheless, there are surprisingly modest numbers of Christians who are skilled gamblers who use mathematics to extract advantage in the gambling world. Perhaps the most known names are Doyle Brunson (became a Christian after miraculous healing) and Kevin Blackwood, the others are anonymous for good reasons.

It doesn’t seem that miracles follow any formula, but it seems there are events way out of expectation which some could call miraculous, imho. There was some paranormal phenomenon in my family. I don’t like to talk about it too much because it was creepy. Materialism was in many ways a safer place to be psychologically for me, and hence my interest in science rather than seances, but I think there is a sinister spiritual realm out there for sure which generally eludes the scientific method.

If there is an active spiritual realm out there, it is taking great pains to elude James Randi’s challenge, otherwise James Randi is right, there is no paranormal realm. Analogously, if there is an Intelligent Designer, like paranormal phenomenon, He is avoiding direct means of communicating His existence and has chosen to leave designs and remain mostly out of notice ever since the act of creating the designs. If the Intelligent Designer communicated through the heavens as in the account of Moses, we might not be having the debates we’re having…

I think highly of James Randi’s challenge and for its exposure of many charlatans. I think most religious beliefs are rooted in superstition, coincidence, irrationality and gullibility. I especially saw the casinos profiting from these human weaknesses, and I admit I indirectly profited by other people’s gullibility since I preyed on the casinos who preyed on the gullible.

That said, neither can I run away from personal experience or observation. I briefly met astronaut Charles Duke when he spoke at Campus Crusade for Christ. He walked on the moon, was an Annapolis Naval Academy and MIT Engineering graduate. He was a skilled fighter pilot and then found fame and fortune before becoming a Christian. After his conversion, he testifies of having his prayer for a blind girl answered by when her sight was restored. He probably wouldn’t pass the James Randi challenge either, but neither, given Duke’s career accomplishments, does he have much incentive to be making up fanciful stories, especially in an increasingly anti-Christian climate.

The most successful gamblers I know hate superstition and use of intuition, they love cold hard numbers and rationality. But still, many of the highly successful professional gambler’s I know are split over whether they believe in the paranormal or not. It seems this question is something all their high powered math cannot conclusively answer given the little evidence we have in hand.

439 thoughts on “James Randi’s Million Dollar Challenge, Intelligent Designer’s Elusiveness

  1. Petrushka

    So in all the decades since Rhine, why the fuck hasn’t anyone done any?

    You seem impervious to the demonstrated fact that they have, so …

    As I have repeated, no experiment in science is perfect wrt controls. None. Saying what amounts to “no psi experiment has been perfect” is a case of selective hyperskepticism and demonstrates confirmation bias. Others, including two rather famous skeptics, have admitted that by the normal standards of scientific evidence, psi has been positively demonstrated.

    There is simply no way, however, any evidence or argument can penetrate the minds of those ideologically committed otherwise. There will always be some imperfection in the controls one can point to, or some site claiming to debunk the evidence, etc., or some other justification that will provide the plausible deniability required to keep one’s worldview beliefs intact.

  2. William J. Murray: As I have repeated, no experiment in science is perfect wrt controls. None. Saying what amounts to “no psi experiment has been perfect” is a case of selective hyperskepticism and demonstrates confirmation bias.

    No it isn’t. The experiments have to be competent and they have to be replicable.

  3. William J. Murray: There will always be some imperfection in the controls one can point to, or some site claiming to debunk the evidence, etc., or some other justification that will provide the plausible deniability required to keep one’s worldview beliefs intact.

    You fail to mention that every time the controls are tightened, the phenomenon disappears. Now, in a field with thousands of instances of deliberate fraud, what is a reasonable person to believe?

    Quit your effing whining and find someone interested in doing competent research.

  4. William J. Murray: Others, including two rather famous skeptics, have admitted that by the normal standards of scientific evidence, psi has been positively demonstrated.

    Given a large enough population you’ll always see some whackaloons ( http://www.uncommondescent.com) – appealing to outliers is not an argument. Our inability to replicate PSI results and its zero impact in engineering and technology show us its value.

  5. Richardthughes: by the normal standards of scientific evidence, psi has been positively demonstrated.

    There’s a bit of controversy about the “normal standards of scientific evidence. The usual statistical significance model is simply inadequate in cases where there is no well understood mechanism. It may be an indicator that further research would be fruitful, but statistical significance without a mechanism is not very convincing.

    ETA:

    Consider that the usual standards implies that there is a five percent chance that the phenomenon is due to chance. If you are doing decades of tests with thousands of subjects, you will, by chance alone, find individuals who consistently score above chance.

    Let’s see how those people do as investment counselors.

  6. Finally, william finds an ally.

    When it comes to what is called paranormal phenomena, I can speak as a witness in many ways. One particular case about a year past was semi-public levitation, pinned down by another liberating power, and leading to rescue and deliverance. I see no in principle reason why spoons cannot be bent by such means, similarly in contexts where no credible possibility of trickery obtains. There are more things in heaven and on earth than are dreamed of in your philosophy. KF

    http://www.uncommondescent.com/science/the-blatant-confirmation-bias-and-gullibility-of-materialists/#comment-563279

    Levitation, spoon bending, the works.

    I find it a trifle puzzling that KF says in one post that he sees no reason in principle why spoons cannot be bent, and in follow-up post says:

    All I have ever claimed about spoonbending is that quite a number of people have been involved in spoonbending parties that have accomplished the same thing that Shermer accomplished and that others at the same party accomplished, and which I also accomplished.

    ETA:

    The follow up is not KF. Sorry.

  7. How can “no possible trickery obtain” when people have the spoons in their hands?

  8. There is simply no way, however, any evidence or argument can penetrate the minds of those ideologically committed otherwise. There will always be some imperfection in the controls one can point to, or some site claiming to debunk the evidence, etc., or some other justification that will provide the plausible deniability required to keep one’s worldview beliefs intact.

    Pretty good advice to UD (if only it were so intelligently targeted).

    Only I wouldn’t suggest that ID or the other wooish junk at UD really involves plausible deniability. Denying that the evolutionarily-entailed derivation found in life is extremely compelling evidence (& not for design) requires the avoidance of the evidence and/or its importance, especially by demanding the detailed answers that have never been possible, due to the loss of information through time (needless to say, their lack of any meaningful evidence is “unimportant”).

    Oh well, just project your own precommitments onto others, and it’s all fine, isn’t it?

    Glen Davidson

  9. petrushka (quoting KF): One particular case about a year past was semi-public levitation, pinned down by another liberating power, and leading to rescue and deliverance.

    A successful suppression of levitation: two miracles cancel each other out.

  10. WJM has a video of a spoon bending party which he provided as evidence. It too features a successful psychic suppression of an otherwise irresistible spoon bending force.

  11. keiths, earlier in the thread:

    Instead, I’m doing something more intelligent and less William-like: I’m weighing two possibilities against each other and picking the one that is more likely to be true:

    1. Psi is real, but it just so happens that its effects are indistinguishable from those that would have been produced by fraud or error, and they disappear when the experimental design is improved to reduce the likelihood of fraud or error.

    2. Psi isn’t real, and the effects in question are due to fraud or error.

    Objective, intelligent observers can see that #2 is far more likely to be true, just as they can see that #2 below is more likely to be true:

    1. Perpetual motion machines are possible; it’s just that the effects are indistinguishable from those that would have been produced by fraud or error, and they disappear when the experimental design is improved to reduce the likelihood of fraud or error.

    2. Perpetual motion is impossible, the 2LoT remains true, and the “perpetual motion” results are due to fraud or error.

    Think, William.

    William,

    Do you think that physicists are being closed-minded about the possibility of perpetual motion? Or do you think, as I do, that it’s far more likely that the physicists are right, and that people like Joe Newman are wrong?

    Now ask yourself the same questions about psi. The situation is the same.

  12. I am single-handedly protecting the entire universe from instant destruction.

    You’re welcome.

  13. keiths: Even more oddly, he designs in a way that mimics unguided evolution.

    Mung: So?

    Elizabeth: So you can’t infer a designer from biology.

    That doesn’t follow. You fail.

  14. I have a dream that one day Mung, phoodoo and Gregory will grow some cojones and actually defend their own views at TSZ, rather than lamely swiping at others’.

    Not holding my breath, though.

  15. It would appear that keiths has lost his hard-wired empathy for others. Shame. He was such model for us all. But then we discovered he was hardwired for other things. He won’t say what. Hard-wired for cowardice maybe.

  16. Mung:
    It would appear that keiths has lost his hard-wired empathy for others. Shame.He was such model for us all. But then we discovered he was hardwired for other things. He won’t say what. Hard-wired for cowardice maybe.

    Says the chickenshit who always runs back to UD instead of engaging here. Poor Mung. All hat, no cattle.

  17. Adapa complains that I prefer not to cover my self in chickenshit.

    whatever.

    Now that lizzie is back the slum spews forth in all it’s glory.

  18. Mung:
    Adapa complains that I prefer not to cover my self in chickenshit.

    Since all you do is fling shit why are you surprised you end up covered in it?

  19. Richardthughes:
    Adapa,

    I don’t know, I’ve never seen him happy.

    You should catch him when he’s posting his lies and bullshit and egging Joe G on over at UD. He’s happy as a pig in slop.

  20. Adapa: You should catch him when he’s posting his lies and bullshit and egging Joe G on over at UD.He’s happy as a pig in slop.

    That’s good. Nothing wrong with him escaping to a fantasy world for some relief.

  21. Rich:

    I don’t know, I’ve never seen him happy.

    ‘Self-loathing’ is the term that comes to mind.

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