Why has no one won any of the other non-Randi prizes?

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I have already created a thread about why no one won Randis million dollar prize, but there are other prizes too. I should first clarify that I am convinced that there are at least some mediums and psychics that are real, due to the evidence from psychical research. My question for everyone on Psiencequest: If there are real mediums and psychics, then why has no one won any of the other non-Randi prizes?
Here are some of the prizes I has found, and links to information about them:

Australian Skeptics:
https://www.skeptics.com.au/about/activities/challenge/
https://www.skeptics.com.au/wp-content/u...llenge.pdf

New Zealand Skeptics:
https://skeptics.nz/challenge/rules
https://skeptics.nz/challenge

The rules in the contests by the Australian and New Zealand Skeptics seems quite fair. An independent judge is agreed upon by both the applicant and the skeptic organisation. The test is designed and agreed upon by both the applicant and the skeptic organisation. The only things I thought was remarkable are the very high odds one has to beat, one in a million, and the fact that all costs for arranging the contest is paid by the applicant. Also media representatives will be invited to the contest in the New Zealand challenge, but in the australian challenge the media contact only takes place if mutually agreed.

The Swedish Humanist Association (known as "Humanisterna" in Swedish):
Here is an article about the challenge from 2007 in a swedish newspaper. It is in swedish, but it can be translated with Google Translate, and although the translation isn't perfect, it in this case gets all the important facts correct: https://www.aftonbladet.se/nyheter/kolum...akarringar
The challenge seems to be still going on and one can read about it on the Swedish Humanist Association's website: https://humanisterna.se/kristallkulan/ The translation that Google Translate creates seems to be completely correct in this case.
https://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kristallku...anisterna) According to Wikipedia, the prize is inspired by Randi's "Pigasus Award". However, there is no source given for that claim.
The test that is mentioned in the newspaper article sounds fair to me.

Scientific American:
One can read more about this contest in a book by Houdini: https://archive.org/details/magicianamon...ew=theater
The commitee that was making the decisions included two psychical researchers that was paranormal proponents. However, this contest was only about either creating a spirit photograph or producing "an objective psychical demonstration of physical character as defined, and of such sort that permanent instrumental record may be made of it's occurence".

Magazine publisher Hugo Gernsback's prize, and Joseph Dunninger's prize:
One can read more about this in an article in Sceptical Inquirer, that can be found here: https://cdn.centerforinquiry.org/wp-cont...36/p35.pdf
The journal published by Gernsback offered 1000 dollars in a contest. There was also ananother contest with 10.000 dollars by Dunninger, according to Skeptical Inquirer.
Most of the issues of the magazine that held the contest, Science and Invention, can be read here: https://worldradiohistory.com/Electrical...menter.htm
Here are some information about Dunninger's contest: https://worldradiohistory.com/Archive-El...927-02.pdf page 905.
Here is the journal where Gernsback's contest was started, with lots of information about it: https://www.worldradiohistory.com/Archiv...923-06.pdf page 109, 111 and 203. Interestingly, Gernsback claims in the journal that some psychic phenomena are scientifically proven facts.
Here is an article about Dunninger from the magazine Life in 1941: https://books.google.se/books?id=kkwEAAA...&q&f=false
Here is an book by Dunninger that can be burrowed from Internet Archive's library, where he claims that telepathy is a scientifically proven fact: https://archive.org/details/whatsonyourm...7/mode/2up
Since Gernsback and Dunninger believed in paranormal phenomena, they were not ordinary pseudoskeptics. However, this could perhaps explain why no mental mediums won the contest, since it is difficult to prove that the veridical information is due to communication with spirits and not due to living agent ESP.

Contests held by Joseph Rinn:
Joseph Rinn arranged several contests, one of them in the journal Science and Invention.
Here is the journal where Rinn's contest was started, with lots of information about it: https://www.worldradiohistory.com/Archiv...3-08-I.pdf page 321 and 411.
Here are newspaper articles about two other contests Rinn arranged, including reactions from psychical researches Hyslop and Lodge. Hyslop seems to claim that the contest is impossible to win since even the best mediums sometimes fails, and also since mediums has difficulty performing well when they get nervous:
https://ia600307.us.archive.org/20/items...797521.pdf
https://ia600307.us.archive.org/20/items...646814.pdf
https://ia600307.us.archive.org/20/items...954660.pdf
Here is two reviews of a book by Rinn, that shows that Rinn was an extremely dishonest person, just like Randi. The review by Salter also mentions Rinn's contests, and seems to imply both that they are impossible to win with Rinn's conditions, and also that one has to view the contests within the context of Rinn's dishonesty, and in my interpretation at least he seems to imply that the contests are a fraud:
https://ia600307.us.archive.org/20/items...3to100.pdf
https://ia600307.us.archive.org/20/items...ril015.pdf

GWUP's contest:
I also found this thread on Psiencequest about a german challenge. https://psiencequest.net/forums/thread-n...andi-prize
The challenge is organised by an organisation called GWUP with the website www.gwup.org but I could not find much information about the challenge there.
The only information I found was that "der Psi-Tests", which I suppose is the contest, started in 2004.
There is also a picture of Randi with german text on the frontpage of the GWUP website, and Google Translate translates it as:
"Since my good friend Amardeo Sarma
and his hard-working team strive
to help science, I have admired their
commitment from afar. Even at 89
years old, I am still looking for a way to
help the GWUP and my many good
friends in this part of our beautiful blue
planet. Keep up the good work and
rest assured that your efforts will save
minds - and even lives. I thank
you very much.
James Randi
magician, illusionist, author, skeptic"
So the prize seems to be connected to Randi.
They has written about the challenge in an issue of their journal. One can buy a PDF copy of it for 5.99 euro here:
https://gwup.org/zeitschrift-skeptiker/a...ker-3-2018

SPR contest:
I also found a contest SPR ran in 1947, that was mentioned in this post: https://psiencequest.net/forums/thread-j...8#pid21898
This contest is interesting, because unlike the other contests, this one was not created by skeptics but instead by psychical researchers, and the Research Officer of the Society for Psychical Research was the one that was judging if the results was correct or not. This contest was only for physical mediumship though.
One can read more about this contest on the pages 86, 94 and 153-154 in the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research Volume 34 from 1947-1948 here: http://iapsop.com/archive/materials/spr_...947-48.pdf
I don't see a reason to take the skeptic challenges seriously at first glance, but I suppose it gives us a warning that celebrity mediums may not have a consistent enough talent and might be committing fraud.

But if we are asking about prizes then it seems we need to take monetary gain into account...so what about the documented cases where the medium could have gone off to make money but instead worked with organizations like the SPR? IIRC this was the case with Piper for example. The practice of mediumship is also not limited to Spiritualism but is a global phenomena.

Beyond that, I dislike this either-or idea of winning a cash prize according to particular judges. If Bigelow were to do a prize I'd expect to be able to get a score of some kind to let us know whether there was any potential talent there or just outright fraud/delusion.

The reality of mediumship should be judged through rigorous study, but the question of whether a medium is so good they can amass a large degree of wealth might be judged partially by none of them winning a cash prize if said prize was set up fairly.
'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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Hi Wanderer, to add a touch of sarcasm, it seems that the other debaters here have already established that if any competition fails to prove the existence of claimed paranormal abilities, it must be because the competition is unfair. It couldn't possibly be because the claimed paranormal abilities don't exist. Long live Occam's razor.
I can think of a number of reasons:

1 no one can do what is claimed;
2 people can do it but not consistently or on demand:
3 mediums are frightened of public ridicule by organisations they don’t trust;
4 they don’t need the money:
5 even if they are genuine, mediums think they will be misrepresented;
6 the conditions they are expected to perform under are not what they require;
7 the do not need the endorsement of sceptical organisations;
8 they are happy to do their work to a standard that satisfies their clients.


There are probably loads more. 
There are a few examples where mediums/psychics  have been examined by sceptical organisations and misrepresented. Why put oneself in a position where the chance of winning seems small but the consequences of failing for any number of reasons could be public humiliation?
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The biggest part of the answer may be that the well-known inconsistency of the phenomena (even with the best mediums) makes "scientifically" testing them a very difficult proposition. The best mediums were very aware of that. And this was apparent early on in psychical research history. As they are aware today, making this inherent characteristic of paranormal functioning probably the main reason why these skeptic challenges are generally ignored.

From Michael Tymn's blog post at https://whitecrowbooks.com/michaeltymn/e...unication/:

Quote:"In an article published in the December 1925 issue of the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, Dr. Hans Thirring, professor of physics at the University of Vienna, reported on his research with several mediums, primarily the brothers Willy and Rudi Schneider. “I had not believed in the existence of metapsychic phenomena at the commencement of our research, but when I saw how easily a mere suspicion could be turned into an exposure, I became sceptical of the sceptics, and resolved to study these matters a little more closely,”

Thirring goes on to report on many sittings with strong phenomena, many with weak phenomena, and some with no phenomenon at all. “These sittings confirmed an observation which we had already made a year ago: periods of poor phenomena by the medium were alternating with periods of strong phenomena, while the control conditions remained constant,” he wrote of sittings with Willy Schneider (below) during 1924 and 1925.

While Thirring concluded that many of the phenomena he observed were genuine and beyond trickery, the lack of consistency was a major detriment to the research.  A number of other committee members lacked the patience and understanding to deal with the negative sittings and they gradually withdrew.  At the same time, the inconsistency prevented Thirring and the few who remained on the committee from reaching any definite conclusion.  Moreover, some actual fraud by one of the alleged mediums studied by the committee influenced certain committee members to believe that Willy Schneider was simply more cautious and skilled than other tricksters. It was all beyond natural law and so it had to be a trick of some kind, even if it was not obvious to the committee members.

The inconsistency in phenomena was much the same with other well-known mediums, including D. D. Home, Eusapia Palladino and Leonora Piper.  All seem to have had their bad days or their bad periods, which frustrated the researchers."
(This post was last modified: 2023-10-10, 03:27 PM by nbtruthman. Edited 1 time in total.)
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(2023-10-10, 01:51 PM)sbu Wrote: Hi Wanderer, to add a touch of sarcasm, it seems that the other debaters here have already established that if any competition fails to prove the existence of claimed paranormal abilities, it must be because the competition is unfair. It couldn't possibly be because the claimed paranormal abilities don't exist. Long live Occam's razor.

Except a few of us have said we're fine with the idea of a prize, especially if we can get a report on how close someone comes to winning such a prize.

Fundamentalist atheist-materialists, and pseudo-skeptics generally, shouldn't be the ones judging such things though.

Also two can play at this game - if the American Psychological Association published a book that speaks favorably of Psi and even somewhat on Survival research that means it's settled science....right?
'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: 2023-10-10, 05:42 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel. Edited 2 times in total.)
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Why is the prize - any prize - the deciding factor in most skeptical arguments? It is the go-to response and I suspect that is because the starting assumption is that all mediums, psychics, clairvoyants, etc., are charlatans so would be tempted by the money.

There is a wealth of research out there that gets conveniently ignored when this subject comes up. And if proponents do happen to point out the often unfair constraints and conditions of the prize rules and methods, then that's just what proponents would do, right? Yet people like Julie BeischelBruce Greyson and the University of Virginia DOPS have been conducting peer-reviewed research for years. In the UK I attended meetings of a group of dedicated researchers and other interested parties from the scientific and medical community (SMN) - a quick look at their membership and conference speakers will show that they are serious people with serious qualifications and experience. I could list many more examples, articles, books, videos all pointing to serious research and evidence yet we repeatedly see the debate dragged back to "why hasn't the prize been won?".

Personally, I have no problem with fake psychics being exposed. I hope we can rid the field of charlatans and would encourage true skepticism. But if skeptical organisations are the sole arbiters, the people who set the rules and judge the results, then I tend to assume there is an ideological motive behind the show.
I do not make any clear distinction between mind and God. God is what mind becomes when it has passed beyond the scale of our comprehension.
Freeman Dyson
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(2023-10-10, 01:51 PM)sbu Wrote: Hi Wanderer, to add a touch of sarcasm, it seems that the other debaters here have already established that if any competition fails to prove the existence of claimed paranormal abilities, it must be because the competition is unfair. It couldn't possibly be because the claimed paranormal abilities don't exist. Long live Occam's razor.

"Occam's razor", if used thoughtfully instead of being invoked as a kind of skeptical sledgehammer, would probably support the conclusion that the best explanation is the most simple: that psychic phenomena exist.
I do not make any clear distinction between mind and God. God is what mind becomes when it has passed beyond the scale of our comprehension.
Freeman Dyson
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(2023-10-10, 07:20 PM)Kamarling Wrote: Why is the prize - any prize - the deciding factor in most skeptical arguments? It is the go-to response and I suspect that is because the starting assumption is that all mediums, psychics, clairvoyants, etc., are charlatans so would be tempted by the money.

There is a wealth of research out there that gets conveniently ignored when this subject comes up. And if proponents do happen to point out the often unfair constraints and conditions of the prize rules and methods, then that's just what proponents would do, right? Yet people like Julie BeischelBruce Greyson and the University of Virginia DOPS have been conducting peer-reviewed research for years. In the UK I attended meetings of a group of dedicated researchers and other interested parties from the scientific and medical community (SMN) - a quick look at their membership and conference speakers will show that they are serious people with serious qualifications and experience. I could list many more examples, articles, books, videos all pointing to serious research and evidence yet we repeatedly see the debate dragged back to "why hasn't the prize been won?".

Personally, I have no problem with fake psychics being exposed. I hope we can rid the field of charlatans and would encourage true skepticism. But if skeptical organisations are the sole arbiters, the people who set the rules and judge the results, then I tend to assume there is an ideological motive behind the show.

Yeah if someone won the Randi Prize the commentary would shift to how Randi got fooled, or how he wasn't present when the judging was done, or some other excuse.

This is shown by the blatant disregard or slandering of academics - a few who you listed - who have come out in favor of Psi and/or Survival's existence.
'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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(2023-10-10, 01:51 PM)sbu Wrote: Hi Wanderer, to add a touch of sarcasm, it seems that the other debaters here have already established that if any competition fails to prove the existence of claimed paranormal abilities, it must be because the competition is unfair. It couldn't possibly be because the claimed paranormal abilities don't exist. Long live Occam's razor.

There does exist a lot of evidence within psychical research that there are genuine mediums and psychics. So the explanation that the claimed paranormal abilities don't exist is not in my opinion the easiest explanation, since one would then have to also explain away the evidence that there are genuine mediums and psychics. If there would not have existed any evidence that there are genuine mediums and psychics, then I would have agreed with you.

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