Rules changed to encourage new applications and ensure anyone with actual paranormal abilities could win the million-dollar prize
Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.—The James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) announced on Wednesday that the organization’s famed Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge would be opened to more new applicants, with a lower bar for entry. The JREF holds $1 million in an investment account at a New York financial firm1, ready to be awarded to anyone who can demonstrate a paranormal ability under fair conditions that prevent fraud or error. The prize has grown from just $1,000 since it was established more than 40 years ago by magician and skeptic James Randi, and it has yet to be claimed.
Before today, applicants for the prize were required to submit press clippings and a letter from an academic to demonstrate the seriousness of their application. Now, applicants will only have to submit one or the other—demonstrating that somewhere, at some point in time, some independent person has taken their claim seriously. Applicants who cannot provide this evidence have a new, third option: submitting a public video that demonstrates their ability. The JREF will choose some of these video applications for further testing. This option gives potential applicants without media or academic documentation a way to be considered for testing, and allows the JREF to use online video and social media to reach an even wider audience with the Challenge.
[Read the new rules]
“We have a longstanding commitment to investigate paranormal claims in a fair and scientific way,” JREF President D.J. Grothe said. “The Million Dollar Challenge is a tool that people everywhere can use to evaluate paranormal and pseudoscientific claims, by asking, ‘if this claim were true, why hasn’t someone proven it and won the million?’ We hope the changes announced today will make it even more effective.”
Although those offering the prize are skeptical of all claims of psychic powers, and every applicant tested so far has failed, the tests are designed to be easy for any genuine psychic to pass. Professional statisticians and scientists work with applicants to develop tests that minimize the possibility of charlatans winning by mere chance, while also minimizing the possibility of any actual psychic losing by “bad luck.”
“Some applicants have agreed on what we all considered to be fair rules for the test, failed, and then said the tests were too hard,” said Banachek, director of the JREF’s Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge and one of the world’s leading mentalists. “But our tests are always winnable if you’re a psychic who can really do what you claim. Even if your third eye isn’t 20/20, or you’re an astrologer whose stars aren’t the brightest in the sky, we will work with you to develop a protocol that you can pass if your claimed ability is real.”
- Statement, Evercore Wealth Management
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The James Randi Educational Foundation exposes charlatans and helps people defend themselves from paranormal and pseudoscientific claims. The JREF offers a still-unclaimed million-dollar reward for anyone who can produce evidence of paranormal abilities under controlled conditions. Through scholarships, workshops, and innovative resources for educators, the JREF works to inspire this investigative spirit in a new generation of critical thinkers. | www.randi.org