James Randi Educational Foundation

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The James Randi Educational Foundation ( JREF ) is a non-profit organization of the Skeptics Movement founded by James Randi in 1996 after he left the CSICOP in 1994 . The Society's goals are to conduct scientific research into parascience and to educate the public and media about the consequences of accepting paranormal and supernormal claims. Because of this, society is often attacked by people who claim to have supernatural abilities.

The JREF is best known for the reward of one million US dollars for those who can demonstrate paranormal abilities under scientific conditions.

Headquartered in Fort Lauderdale , Florida , and funded through membership fees, donations, and the sale of books and videos . Randi updates the JREF website every Friday with a comment entitled Swift: Online Newsletter of the JREF .

On August 4, 2008, James Randi resigned from the position of President. His successor is Phil Plait .

The Million Dollar Challenge

In 1964, Randi made a promise to anyone who could prove paranormal abilities under objective conditions that he would pay out of pocket for $ 1,000. He later increased the amount to $ 10,000. Since then, the prize money has continued to rise, eventually reaching a million dollars. Since then, nobody has been able to demonstrate paranormal skills and thus secure the prize money.

The condition for participation is that both parties - both Randi and the candidate - agree in advance on when a test will be rated as a “success” or “failure”. This demand is seen by skeptics as the reason why so many people who claim to have paranormal abilities do not want to take part in the challenge. If Randi and the candidate do not agree, a third person can be called in, who then decides on the rules.

Similar challenges from other organizations are published online by JREF.

After James Randi's retirement into private life, the "One Million Dollar Challenge" was discontinued in January 2015. Instead, the Board of Trustees decided to use the foundation's capital to financially support projects that encourage critical thinking and a factual worldview.

Criticism and changes to the conditions of participation

Randis critics claim his challenge is insincere. Randi would make sure he never had to pay out the money. The JREF counteracts this accusation by pointing out that the money is verifiably available (in the form of a securities account at Goldman Sachs ) and that it must be given to a winner in accordance with applicable law in accordance with the contract.

Some critics see the immediate rejection of some applicants as an indication of Randi's insincerity. For example, in 1999 a German aspirant - Rico Kolodzey - applied for the award. Kolodzey claimed he could feed on light alone and agreed to demonstrate this under scientific test conditions. Randi replied that Kolodzey was a liar and a swindler and declined to test the claim as the claim was apparently completely absurd and untestable. Five years later, the eligibility requirements were changed so that claims that the test object put itself in physical danger will no longer be considered for the One Million Dollar Challenge.

Despite Kolodzey's rejection and the changed conditions of participation, Randi challenged the Australian Ellen Greve , who claims in books and lectures that she had been living on “ light food ” for over 12 years, on July 1, 2005 , to take part in the one million dollar challenge to take part and to prove their claim that they do not need any “material” food to live. Greve refused.

On May 19, 2006, Randi made another exception to the rule and began privately negotiating a test with Kolodzey. After 100 days of negotiating the test conditions with no result, Randi went public, commenting that Kolodzey had withdrawn from the test after loudly complaining about not being tested.

Ray Hyman , Fellow and member of the Executive Committee of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal , said in reference to Randi's challenge that in science, a single test is not enough to assess a matter. "Evidence in science requires reproducibility ."

In March 2007 the organization changed the test conditions and admission criteria again. Above all, the preliminary tests were abolished. Candidates must also have performed public screenings and be supported by a member of the academic community. These requirements can easily be met by anyone who has won one of the local, smaller prizes.

These changes were necessary primarily because most of the contenders were not in full sanity or were unable to demonstrate their skills to their own satisfaction. The processing of these inquiries represented both a large amount of time and damage to the candidates. Furthermore, the award was intended from the outset for the most prominent paranormalists who should be forced to prove their claims under laboratory conditions. The Foundation had come to the conclusion that the complicated and costly admission process had lost sight of this task and that it had to focus again on targeting paranormalists in a targeted and aggressive manner in order to give them little excuse for not taking the tests want to ask.

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Florian Aigner: Nothing but lazy magic on derstandard.at, August 6, 2008
  2. Discover Magazine: Randi's big shoes to Phil
  3. ^ JREF website
  4. http://web.randi.org/the-million-dollar-challenge.html
  5. http://web.randi.org/home/jref-status
  6. Alternative Science: Randi runs away ( Memento of March 6, 2005 in the Internet Archive ).
  7. Alternative Science: Randi's letter ( Memento of March 6, 2005 in the Internet Archive ).
  8. ^ Conditions of participation changed in September 2004 ( Memento from September 25, 2004 in the Internet Archive )
  9. ↑ Conditions of participation for the challenge
  10. ^ Yet another free-energy farce ( Memento from June 14, 2012 in the Internet Archive ).
  11. Skylaire Alfvegren: The problem with James Randi and his foundation on the paranormal, pseudoscientific and supernatural