The Revamped Million Dollar Challenge

James Randi, the legendary skeptic, and his nonprofit group have long been willing to fork over $1,000,000 to anyone who could prove his/her supernatural abilities.

The reason for the challenge is to show that paranormal claims are a bunch of %*&# and we shouldn’t be manipulated by psychics/charlatans/John Edward trying to take our money.

So far, the people who have taken the challenge (and failed miserably) are random people that you haven’t heard of… the big names in the Psychic Industry have avoided the Challenge like the Plague.

According to Wired:

That’s a disappointment, because if [psychic Sylvia] Browne’s claims were ever to stand up to a scientific test in an adversarial process, it would be an unprecedented event in modern history, potentially changing our scientific understanding of the universe. Instead, you can buy a psychic phone call with her for $700.

But now, the Challenge is getting even better. And it’s pointing fingers.

Randi is set to unveil the revamped Million Dollar Challenge at The Amaz!ng Meeting 5 next week in Las Vegas.

(I’m going! Very excited. If you see me there, feel free to point, laugh, and say hello.)

Here’s how the *new* Challenge, set to take effect on April 1, differs from the old one:

  • Unknowns are out. Only those psychics who have a “media profile” will be able to take the Challenge. That is, there must be articles, TV reports, or references in books about your abilities.
  • Academic endorsement needed. An educated professional must stand behind the psychic’s claims when contacted. Essentially, the academic must be willing to stake his/her own reputation on the psychic’s abilities.
  • No preliminary test. With the “old” Challenge, you had to pass a preliminary test before the real test for the money took place. Not anymore.
  • Targets will be named. Instead of waiting for psychics to come to them, Randi’s foundation will be seeking out the most famous psychics and calling them out on their BS. One by one. With possible advertising in prominent newspapers.

The first four targets will include: John Edward, Sylvia Browne, Uri Geller, and James van Praagh.

Wired tried to call them for comment:

Edward didn’t respond to an e-mail query for this story; Browne didn’t return a phone call, and neither responded to several minutes of intense concentration.

Still, this will be fun. And hopefully, this will get the point of the message across much more effectively. We should not believe in such nonsense.

A reminder: We live in a country where 41% of the people believe in ExtraSensory Perception (ESP), 32% believe in ghosts, and 25% believe in astrology. We need help.

By the way, in the Wired article, notice the link they give you for John Edward. :)


[tags]James Randi, skeptic, atheist, atheism, supernatural, Million Dollar Challenge, paranormal, psychic, charlatan, The Amaz!ng Meeting 5, Las Vegas, John Edward, Sylvia Browne, Uri Geller, James van Praagh, ESP, ghosts, astrology,[/tags]

  • Jen

    Oooh, this sounds really neat. I hope the group goes after Alison DuBois, the basis of the tv show Medium. I love the show (hey, I was the one that loved Joan of Arcadia despite my non-belief) but I would love to see how she responds, plus she is really very high profile.

  • Karen

    Excellent idea! I’m really glad to hear this. From the article:

    The media’s lightweight treatment of professional psychics is a deadly serious matter to Randi. “People like Sylvia Browne have a very high profile, and she’s always going to be on Montel Williams and she’s going to be on Larry King,” he says. “And they know what’s going on, they’re smart people. They know what’s going on and they don’t care.”

    That’s so true. Jesus talked about caring for “the least of these.” Well, that’s what James Randi is doing – because that’s exactly who’s getting exploited by these professional con artists: The grieving, the uneducated, the gullible, the poor. And media personalities and interviewers who go easy on them are complicit in their exploitation by default, in my opinion.

    I hope they take Deepak Chopra on next. I’m amazed when religious people defend these frauds because “there’s a spirit world” that maybe – just maybe – they really are in touch with. That attitude is exactly the latitutde these folks need to rip people off, and believe me they’re laughing all the way to the bank. It’s disgusting.

  • Prokop

    What is so good about the revamped challenge? It just seems like it is more restrictive than the old one, which nobody could do anyways.

  • FriendlyAtheist

    They are more restrictive, but at the same time, that allows them to focus on the main culprits of these scams. It’ll be a good thing if they can call these people out on their lies– it may not do much directly, but it’ll get the conversation going in the public. Eventually, hopefully, I think it’ll do a lot of good.

  • MTran

    This is a good move, IMHO. Taking on widely recognized “psychics” and similar media darlings will get a lot more publicity and “credibility” than taking on the little ding-bats who claim some sort of special ability. Plenty of people who believe in superstitious nonsense are quite ready to call “fraud” if the purveyor is an uknown.

  • david johnson


    cfi nostradamus usa

    to see how we stopped Randi’s challenge