1.1 How long has this Challenge been open?
The Challenge was first introduced in 1964 when James Randi offered 1,000 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?
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.