I’m sure I don’t have to tell you there are skeptics in the world when it comes to any sort of paranormal ability. We all love a good superhero movie, but when it comes to believing it could happen in real life? Most people would raise at least one eyebrow.
That went (more than) double for magician James Randi, who started the Million Dollar Challenge in 1964. At first, it was the $1000 challenge, then the $10,000 challenge, until finally internet pioneer Rick Adams donated the big kitty, but the challenge was always the same – prove, under controlled scientific conditions, that you have paranormal abilities.
In over 50 years of trying, not one of the more than 1000 contestants even made it to the second round.
People applied by first filling out a notarized application and then, if selected, working with the James Randi Educational Foundation to design a specific testing protocol. The protocol, once agreed upon, was used to run a preliminary test. If that was passed, the person would have to pass a formal test in order to win the cash.
No one ever made it to the formal round.
There are critiques to be made, the most convincing one pointing out that the challenge required contestants to prove a 1 in 1000 change of success, which is unreasonable even within the bounds of scientific rigor. But when Randi lowered it to 1 in 100, still no one could do it.
The challenge ended in 2015, after 50 years with no winner. The foundation was converted into a grant-making organization that promotes “activities that encourage critical thinking and a fact-based world view.”
Randi and his skepticism were in good company – in 1923, Harry Houdini offered $10k of his own cash to any medium who could prove they were actually communing with the dead. Houdini, and Randi after him, wanted to highlight the stark distinction between entertainers doing harmless tricks for a paying audience and artists who preyed on the vulnerable.
Do you believe in the paranormal? If so, why do you think no one has ever been able to prove it exists?
My two cents, a lot of these so-called abilities would be tough to demonstrate in a scientific arena. I mean, how would a medium prove they saw a ghost?
Don’t tell me I’m right or wrong. Just sage your house and think about it.
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