JREF to Appear on ABC’s Primetime Nightline

Wednesday night’s Primetime Nightline on ABC will focus on “psychic abilities.”

Besides interviewing “psychics” like James Van Praagh, though, ABC producers also spoke with the folks at JREF — James Randi, DJ Grothe, Banachek, and Jamy Ian Swiss. Smart move.

They also taped the “first-ever open Million Dollar Challenge event where hundreds of New York City psychics were invited to take [JREF's] tests.” (And you would think news would’ve broken if anyone won the prize…)

The preview clip is below:

Will it be a complete fluff piece? One commenter at JREF predicts how this will all go down:

… after 59 minutes, here will be the summary: “So are psychic abilities real? The truth is — we just don’t know. Goodnight, everyone.”

I’m thinking that commenter knows the future better than anyone ABC interviewed for their piece… but we’ll see if the producers tell the truth instead of leaving viewers with an ambiguous lie.

Speaking of JREF, there are some great pictures of The Amazing Meeting 9 taken by Ingrid Laas over on their website.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • http://diaryofamessylady.wordpress.com/ Lauren

    Shows like that always end with ambiguity. Bugs the crap out of me!

    • Valhar2000

      Has there ever been a show that did well by consistently telling their audience things they don’t want to hear?

  • Stoph

    Unrelated to the post, but the first thing that popped up when I opened this page was an add for ChristianMingle.com.  I think they may be advertising to the wrong demographic.

    • Kevin_Of_Bangor

      Just because you are an atheist doesn’t mean you cannot get involved with someone of faith.

    • GentleGiant

      Stop using Internet Explorer, start using Firefox or Chrome. Then install Adblock Plus = no more ads!

      • Kevin_Of_Bangor

        Well ad’s help pay for bandwidth and while Chrome is fast is just sucks the big one when it comes to customizing and Firefox I just do not like. I’ve tried it over and over and their font just sucks big time. I also don’t like the feel of it. I’ve been using IE since it first came out and I will deal with the ad’s because I can ignore them.

        People love to slam IE but I’ll keep on using it.

        • GentleGiant

          That is, of course, your prerogative. :-)
          I’m not sure what your complaint is about the costumization of Chrome compared to IE?
          As for the fonts… which font? This website looks the same to me in both IE and Chrome (minus the ads in Chrome).
          The font used in e.g. the drop down menus? Also looks the same to me… Arial it looks like. That can be changed if you like…

          The ads, they are technically still there, just not shown in Chrome or Firefox with Adblock installed, so no revenue lost (also, don’t you have to actually click on them for them to provide revenue?).

          • Heidi

            The revenue is actually lost. A webcomic artist I trust had to ask people to turn off their ad blockers while on his site, because it was costing him revenue.

            • GentleGiant

              It would seem that there are two kinds of ads. “Impressions” and click-ads (for lack of a better term). So adblockers only matter when it comes to impression ads (assuming you wouldn’t click on the other ads anyway).
              I hate ads, however, they’re distracting, especially if they have blinking or shifting text/imagery, and here at home I prefer as clean a screen as possible.
              I think the only ads I could tolerate are the small text google ads off to one side.
              I know it might cost a bit of revenue, but I’d rather donate once in a while to a site I frequent often than having to be burdened with ads all the time.

  • Kevin_Of_Bangor

    Many times when my mother was alive we both called each other at the exact same time. Neither of us has planned to call each other, it was just a random act. I’ve also had this happen with my sister’s more than once and my daughter. We just choose to call one another at the same time for unknown reasons.

    My mom and her sister have also more than once purchased the same birthday card for their mother even though they lived over 1800 miles apart. Same taste or just a coincidence? maybe but for it to happen more than once, I don’t know.

    Our family has often discussed this and tried to figure out why it happens but we have never attempted to do a scientific study and I doubt we ever will. Mom is no longer alive but the phone stuff still happens often with my daughter and the card thing has happened more than once as well. Again, I don’t’ know if it is just coincidence.

    As an atheist I still think other life is out there and my mother used to tell me I was born in a green egg because my favorite color is green but I’ve always had this connection to outer space and I do have a huge fascination with alien life.

    Does my family have some sort of alien DNA that allows us to communicate and think of one another over a vast distance? Maybe, maybe not.

    I just know I cannot explain how over my past 41 years these things have happened. I just know they do.

    • Anonymous

      This sort of thing happens to everyone. It’s just a creepy coincidence.

    • Kevin S.

      I’ve called my girlfriend at the exact same time she was calling me many times before.  The other day, my sister and I both made the same neutron star joke about how dense one of our cats had gotten.  Similar people are going to run into more coincidences.

    • Curt Cameron

      Once in college I was studying late at night, when for some inexplicable reason I felt this overwhelming feeling of concern for my grandmother. A few seconds later, my phone rang. With a feeling of anxiety, I answered it. It was a wrong number.

    • Edmond

      With 7 billion people on the planet, that kind of thing is going to happen occasionally.  It isn’t unusual, or creepy, or even amazing.  With those kinds of numbers, it should be expected to happen.  The odds are for it.

    • Anonymous

      As Dr. Scott Lilienfeld said during his guest spot on ‘The Infidel Guy’ show, what would be _really_ extraordinary is if such coincidences NEVER happened.

  • http://www.bricewgilbert.blogspot.com Brice Gilbert

    I love that skeptics would get angry if the show ended in some sort of ambiguous zone, but why do some of them get so angry at atheists in the skeptical movement then? If they are so sure that psychics can’t actually do what they say they do how is that any different than religious claims? There are plenty of psychics who claim to only get accurate visions when the universe wants them to. You can’t disprove that! Much in the same way we can’t disprove some God who’s outside the universe.

    • http://twitter.com/summerseale Summer Seale

      Actually, as an Atheist and a skeptic, I have to say that there is a great deal of a difference.

      The difference is that religious people claim that God can break the laws of physics, chemistry, etc… and psychics claim that *they* can do the same thing.

      There is no such thing as “psychic energy” or any other mumbo jumbo. The laws of our entire scientific experience tell us this, no matter how much people want to “believe” otherwise. Mere “thought” does not affect matter in any way whatsoever. And material things do not “send vibrations” to the human brain in terms of intent or any other such thing. In the exact same vein, minds cannot send out “waves” to each other. There is no physical phenomenon in the universal body of our studies and experiments which have proven an iota of this that it is even remotely possible. If you actually understand physics and how atoms, particles and waves actually work, you would understand this to be completely true.

      It’s far easier to claim that there is some sort of amorphous, non-descriptive, supreme being which exists out there somewhere in the universe and to leave it at that deist level and say that we just don’t know than it is to say that Joe Smith down the street cannot do something we know to be completely physically impossible.

      • http://www.bricewgilbert.blogspot.com Brice Gilbert

        How do you know there aren’t as of now unknown waves that come from an Alien race that wants key people in on our planet to know about things? We just aren’t advanced enough to detect them yet.  This claim is of course ridiculous, and yes the person making the claim is the one who should provide evidence for this and until they do we have no reason to accept the claim. Why can’t the same apply to God? Even a deistic God. The universe as we know it right now can be explained pretty well using natural explanations. We don’t need to resort to any definition of a God whether it be outside the universe or not.

        That’s sort of irrelevant though  is there are no atheists in the skeptic movement that rail on a non-descriptive deist God. We are criticized for examining claims by Christianity and beliefs about the nature of God that are very specific.

        • http://twitter.com/summerseale Summer Seale

          Again, as I said: the difference is that religious people claim that God can perform “miracles”, and psychics claim that *they* can perform miracles.

          • Anonymous

            So shouldn’t we be *more* sceptical of God than of psychics? With the psychics, we have evidence that they at least exist.

            • Michael Appleman

              Actually we only have evidence that people exist who call themselves psychics :)

              • Anonymous

                Yeah. Thanks, that’s what I meant.

        • Michael Appleman

          How do we know? We don’t know. Show  us some hard evidence and we may entertain the idea. Until then there is no reason to.

          • http://www.bricewgilbert.blogspot.com Brice Gilbert

            Exactly. It seems rather obvious that the same applies to God. I don’t see how that isn’t skepticism.

            • Anonymous

              On the same note of not all skeptics being atheists, not all atheists are skeptics. There are a lot of atheists out there who still believe in all kinds of nonsense woo without evidence. Believe me I’ve met a few and it always surprises me even though it shouldn’t.

              Everyone’s got different beliefs, even if they don’t always make sense or create cognitive dissonance.

  • Sven

    A REAL psychic would know the outcome before he/she started the show. So that’s not realy, is it?

  • http://twitter.com/TominousTone Tom Lawson

    Again, at least ABC is keeping bullshit in primetime. I have faith that the show will not end like that.


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