Why did no one ever win the Randi Million Dollar Challenge?

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Why did no one ever win the Randi Million Dollar Challenge? I have read several critical articles and blog posts about the challenge, and the psi-encyclopedia article about it, but I have not found any real reason for why no one ever won.
Here are some of the articles and blog posts:
https://psi-encyclopedia.spr.ac.uk/artic...-challenge
https://weilerpsiblog.wordpress.com/rand...challenge/
https://weilerpsiblog.wordpress.com/2011...challenge/
http://dailygrail.com/features/the-myth-...-challenge
https://michaelprescott.typepad.com/mich...lenge.html
The articles and blog posts mostly focuses on why experimental parapsychology cannot be replicated in front of the JREF, and why parapsychologists therefore cannot win the prize. That does not explain why, if there are any psychic or medium alive that can win the prize, none of them has won it.
There are only two possible reasons I have been able to think about for why no one won the prize. One possible reason is that the contract one is forced to sign involves two things that in combination may be a problem:
"4. Applicant agrees that all data (photographic, recorded, written, etc.) gathered as a result of the setup, the protocol, and the actual testing, may be used freely by the JREF."
"8. When entering into this challenge, as far as this may be done by established legal statutes, the applicant surrenders any and all rights to legal action against Mr. Randi, and/or against any persons peripherally involved, and/or against the James Randi Educational Foundation. This applies to injury, and/or accident, and/or any other damage of a physical and/or emotional nature, and/or financial and/or professional loss, and/or damage of any kind. However, this rule in no way affects the awarding of the prize, once it is properly won in accord with the protocol."
This means that theoretically the JREF could change the data if it turned out that the medium or psychic gets correct results, and there was no possiblity to take any legal action against the JREF because of this. However, this sounds a bit farfetched. I wonder if that really is the reason for ostensibly genuine mediums or psychics did not take part in the contest.
The only other reason I can come up with for why someone would not attempt winning the prize is if their abilities were unstable and unreliable, so that they don't work all the time, but only sometimes. In that case they would not want to take part in the contest since they cannot be certain whether they will win or not, and if they don't win their reputations will be very damaged since the JREF will claim that they lack paranormal abilities. It seems reasonable to me that genuine mediums and psychics could have better and worse days.
According to Alan Gauld's Mediumship and Survival: "It was true that on an off-day, Phinuit would ramble and flounder hopelessly, would fish for information, and if given any, would blatantly serve it up again as though it had been his own discovery. But when he was on form he could, with hardly any hesitation or fishing, relay copious communications from the deceased friends and relatives of sitters, communications which would turn out to be very accurate even in tiny details, and far too accurate for the hypothesis of chance or of guesswork from the appearance of the sitters to seem in the remotest degree plausible." https://www.esalen.org/ctr/mediumship Phinuit was the medium Leonora Piper's control. If Piper, one of the greatest mental mediums of all time, had better and worse days, then that would probably also be the case for lesser mental mediums.
According to this paper that @RViewer88 linked to in another thread, one layperson that investigated D.D. Home claimed in a letter that: "On the one hand I am convinced, that Hume's [sic] sickly organism does possess a force which can act at a distance from that organism, and at that distance it produces strange phenomena. On the other hand I am equally strongly convinced that at times, when this power, which is independent of his will and controls him rather than being controlled by him, is not sufficient, leaves him, weakens and disappears . . . he . . . helps the deficiencies of the force with the aid of his leg or hemd under the table." So it seems that even D.D. Home, by many considered the greatest physical medium of all time, had better and worse days. Then it seems reasonable to assume that this also applies to many lesser physical mediums.
I have no doubt that there were in the past genuine psychics and mediums, like Leonora Piper, Gladys Osborne Leonard, and D.D. Home, since this has been shown by psychical researchers, but does all of this mean that there are no genuine psychics or mediums alive that has stable and reliable paranormal abilities? My question for everyone at Psiencequest is: What do you think?
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  • Larry
I think Randi was a fraud who would've done [almost?] anything to make sure nobody won the prize.

Now if Bigelow offers a similar prize with reasonable measurement conditions agreed upon discussion with proponent academics I will be more critical if no one can win. However even then I don't think this invalidates the paranormal though it should make one wary of any person claiming miraculous abilities.

But to give an example of claims I'm wary of - I remain unconvinced by the Bengson psychic healing stuff. I have his book and his teaching CD and there is just something off about the whole thing...

Edit: Having read Prescott's take-down of the Randi $1M challenge I don't think you properly characterize what he wrote. Prescott doesn't just talk about the nature of psychic powers and how they may not be "on command", he also goes deep into the varied manipulative aspects of the challenge that allow them to screen out anyone who might win beforehand.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


(This post was last modified: 2023-09-18, 03:17 AM by Sciborg_S_Patel. Edited 4 times in total.)
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  • Raimo, Ninshub
(2023-09-18, 02:34 AM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: I think Randi was a fraud who would've done [almost?] anything to make sure nobody won the prize.

Now if Bigelow offers a similar prize with reasonable measurement conditions agreed upon discussion with proponent academics I will be more critical if no one can win. However even then I don't think this invalidates the paranormal though it should make one wary of any person claiming miraculous abilities.

But to give an example of claims I'm wary of - I remain unconvinced by the Bengson psychic healing stuff. I have his book and his teaching CD and there is just something off about the whole thing...

Edit: Having read Prescott's take-down of the Randi $1M challenge I don't think you properly characterize what he wrote. Prescott doesn't just talk about the nature of psychic powers and how they may not be "on command", he also goes deep into the varied manipulative aspects of the challenge that allow them to screen out anyone who might win beforehand.

Fortunately there are plenty of other opportunites for "mediums" to earn easy money by proving their abilities for example:
  • The Indian Rationalist Association offers a prize to those who can demonstrate supernatural abilities. The reward amount has varied over the years.
  • Australian Skeptics have an ongoing challenge, offering a cash prize to anyone who can prove paranormal abilities under controlled conditions.
  • The Swedish Humanist Association (known as "Humanisterna" in Swedish) had a challenge where they offered a reward to those who could prove supernatural or paranormal phenomena.
  • New Zealand Skeptics also had a challenge for those claiming to have supernatural powers.

No wait, nobody have won those prizes either. How can that be, the challenges must all be frauds then. Mediums are real and those who wants evidence are frauds, hmm....
(This post was last modified: 2023-09-18, 09:32 AM by sbu. Edited 1 time in total.)
Why this general failure to easily replicate big effect size psychic phenomena?
Skeptics will scoff, but I think human paranormal abilities are to a large part controlled and suppressed by spiritual forces beyond this world, such that they cannot be used by humans to readily prove survival of death or other tenets of the spiritual world-view. The reason for this is the underlying purpose of life in the physical, where humans are supposed to struggle to find enlightenment - it's not supposed to be easy, from just witnessing miracles performed by psychic or physical mediums. Accordingly, psychic phenomena are mostly with rare exceptions relegated to rare, marginal and mostly uncontrollable effects that just hint at the truth of spirit. We are supposed to struggle for understanding, some of the lessons to be learned. The system, the nature and rules of our physical reality, are "rigged" to accomplish that.
(This post was last modified: 2023-09-18, 03:00 PM by nbtruthman. Edited 4 times in total.)
(2023-09-18, 09:23 AM)sbu Wrote: Fortunately there are plenty of other opportunites for "mediums" to earn easy money by proving their abilities for example:
  • The Indian Rationalist Association offers a prize to those who can demonstrate supernatural abilities. The reward amount has varied over the years.
  • Australian Skeptics have an ongoing challenge, offering a cash prize to anyone who can prove paranormal abilities under controlled conditions.
  • The Swedish Humanist Association (known as "Humanisterna" in Swedish) had a challenge where they offered a reward to those who could prove supernatural or paranormal phenomena.
  • New Zealand Skeptics also had a challenge for those claiming to have supernatural powers.

No wait, nobody have won those prizes either. How can that be, the challenges must all be frauds then. Mediums are real and those who wants evidence are frauds, hmm....

Seems like people who would also try their best to make sure no one succeeds.

As for evidence, we have lots of it. One doesn't have to believe it but it seems silly to claim that receipt of prize money is the determining factor for whether mediumship - or any other paranormal phenomena -  is real.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


(This post was last modified: 2023-09-18, 03:22 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel. Edited 1 time in total.)
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(2023-09-18, 02:49 PM)nbtruthman Wrote: Why this general failure to easily replicate big effect size psychic phenomena?
Skeptics will scoff, but I think human paranormal abilities are to a large part controlled and suppressed by spiritual forces beyond this world, such that they cannot be used by humans to readily prove survival of death or other tenets of the spiritual world-view. The reason for this is the underlying purpose of life in the physical, where humans are supposed to struggle to find enlightenment - it's not supposed to be easy, from just witnessing miracles performed by psychic or physical mediums. Accordingly, psychic phenomena are mostly with rare exceptions relegated to rare, marginal and mostly uncontrollable effects that just hint at the truth of spirit. We are supposed to struggle for understanding, some of the lessons to be learned. The system, the nature and rules of our physical reality, are "rigged" to accomplish that.

Sadly I think this is akin to saying Creationism is true because Satan put those fossils in the ground.

Also the idea that this world offers learning opportunities seems quite wrong, or at best only partially true.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


(2023-09-18, 03:19 PM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: Seems like people who would also try their best to make sure no one succeeds.

Just to head off complaints that skeptics are trustworthy here's a few resources for why I said someone open-minded to Psi & Survival like Bigelow offering a prize for demonstration of paranormal ability would be better:

Starbaby Scandal

Dennis Rawlins (former member of CSICOP)

Quote:I used to believe it was simply a figment of the National Enquirer's weekly imagination that the Science Establishment would cover up evidence for the occult. But that was in the era B.C. -- Before the Committee. I refer to the "Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal" (CSICOP), of which I am a cofounder and on whose ruling Executive Council (generally called the Council) I served for some years.

I am still skeptical of the occult beliefs CSICOP was created to debunk. But I have changed my mind about the integrity of some of those who make a career of opposing occultism. I now believe that if a flying saucer landed in the backyard of a leading anti-UFO spokesman, he might hide the incident from the public (for the public's own good, of course). He might swiftly convince himself that the landing was a hoax, a delusion or an "unfortunate" interpretation of mundane phenomena that could be explained away with "further research."

=-=-=

Scientists' unethical use of media for propaganda purposes

Brian Josephson (Nobel in Physics)

Quote:This web page is intended to draw the attention of scientists, the media, and the public to a problem that, while being very familiar to some, is probably unknown to the majority of visitors to this web page.  Propagandising of the kind described in the following bypasses the normal carefully considered processes of science, and may well create a distorted impression in the mind of the unsuspecting reader or viewer.

=-=-=

Skeptical about Skeptics
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


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(2023-09-18, 03:19 PM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: Seems like people who would also try their best to make sure no one succeeds.

As for evidence, we have lots of it. One doesn't have to believe it but it seems silly to claim that receipt of prize money is the determining factor for whether mediumship - or any other paranormal phenomena -  is real.

Prize challenges are designed to encourage proponents of paranormal phenomena to demonstrate their claims under controlled conditions. The fact that these prizes remain unclaimed suggests that, when subjected to rigorous testing, these phenomena don't manifest as claimed.
(2023-09-18, 06:12 PM)sbu Wrote: Prize challenges are designed to encourage proponents of paranormal phenomena to demonstrate their claims under controlled conditions. The fact that these prizes remain unclaimed suggests that, when subjected to rigorous testing, these phenomena don't manifest as claimed.

Assuming the people very likely to be materialist-atheist fundamentalists conduct genuine tests...which I simply don't believe...
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


(This post was last modified: 2023-09-18, 06:15 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel.)
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(2023-09-18, 06:15 PM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: Assuming the people very likely to be materialist-atheist fundamentalists conduct genuine tests...which I simply don't believe...

Questioning intentions without evidence is akin to the very skepticism you criticize. It's important to focus on the evidence and testing process rather than presuming bias.

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