My friend DJ Grothe, president of the James Randi Educational Foundation, has an article at HuffPo challenging famous “psychic” — read: fraud — James Van Praagh to take Randi’s million dollar challenge and demonstrate his alleged paranormal abilities under proper scientific observation. Here’s his letter to Van Praagh:
Mr. James Van Praagh:
I’m sure you received my letter of Sept. 9 encouraging you to accept the James Randi Educational Foundation’s Million Dollar Challenge by agreeing to demonstrate your claimed psychic powers in a fair, mutually-agreed-upon test, under conditions that would prevent cheating. The certified letter was confirmed to have been picked up from your local post office.
We also sent the letter to you via email. During the week prior to that, our challenge to you was covered by ABC News and Time.com. AOL News reached out to you for an answer, but you didn’t reply to them either. All this time, you have refused to give an honest answer to the question of whether or not you’ll accept our challenge.
It seems odd that you won’t return our messages. After all, if you can really do what you claim, we’re offering you one million dollars and a chance to prove wrong everyone who doubts you, including those of us at the James Randi Educational Foundation. If your ‘psychic powers’ are real, hiding from our offer makes as much sense as throwing away a winning lottery ticket.
So, we can only guess at why you haven’t answered.
Perhaps it’s because what you do is not “psychic” at all, but a stale and repetitive performance of cold-reading techniques, in which you throw out vague guesses and then repeat back to your audience things they’ve already told you or things that are simply obvious, all while claiming their dead relatives are speaking to you.
Perhaps it’s because your well-worn tricks actually fall flat quite often, such as when you had aspectacular failure on the Australian Channel Ten program The Circle.
Perhaps it’s because you were just exposed on ABC’s Primetime Nightline for stuffing your reading of an ABC correspondent with personal facts that were publicly available with a simple internet search, but which you claimed were revealed to you by spirits.
Perhaps it’s because you have given so many people bad information that you were even called outby Barbara Walters on The View for falsely warning her that she had a serious health problem.
Or perhaps you have nothing to fear, and you have just been too busy to collect our million dollars.
Will you accept our challenge? We hope you will make the time to give us, and the media, your answer.
James Randi Educational Foundation
Even “Psychic Nikki” could accurately predict that Van Praagh is going to dodge this challenge, without using tarot cards or pawing through goat entrails.