The One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge
One million dollars is yours. All you have to do is capture scientifically credible proof that a single ghost exists, or otherwise demonstrate concrete evidence of the paranormal.
James Randi—AKA The Amazing Randi—is a former stage magician and paranormal skeptic who for the last 50 years has offered a hefty cash prize to anyone who could demonstrate the paranormal in a scientifically controlled test. Randi began with a $1,000 offer of his own money in 1964, and currently offers the $1 million award through The James Randi Eductional Foundation, an organization “founded in 1996 to help people defend themselves from paranormal and pseudoscientific claims.”
So far, the level of paranormal proof the Challenge requires has been hard, if not impossible to reach. According to Randi, “Between 1964 and 1982 . . . over 650 people had applied [for the award]. Between 1997 and 2005, there had been a total of 360 official, notarized applications. New applications for the Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge continue to be received every month.”
Not only has no one ever been able to claim the money, but only a handful of people have even passed the preliminary test needed to qualify for an experiment in a more formal research setting. Yet, there’s always hope. In fact, if you think you’ve got a ghost of a chance of providing sufficient evidence of the paranormal to win the prize, the Foundation will even allow you to help design your own “test protocols”:
“Neither the Foundation nor the claimant can force a testing procedure without the approval of the other party. In fact, applicants are encouraged to formulate their own protocol. However, if the protocol you submitted with your application does not qualify as a sufficient test of the claimed ability, the JREF will develop alternate testing protocol that you may agree to. The testing procedure is a negotiation. If at any time it a deadlock is reached, the application process will be terminated, and neither side will be blamed or considered at fault. On occasion, an applicant may agree to a protocol previously designed by the JREF for testing various paranormal claims. Most of the time, however, new test protocols are developed jointly between the applicant/claimant and the JREF so that each party agrees to the terms of the test.”
Why does Randi offer this award? On his foundation’s website he says, “We need your help to create a world where everyone has access to the tools of science and critical thinking, and charlatans can’t get rich by deceiving people. You can make a difference by becoming a member, taking action with us to stop paranormal and pseudoscientific frauds, or joining us at the Amaz!ng Meeting, the world’s premier gathering of skeptical thinkers.”
Great riches continue to await anyone who can convince those skeptics that the world is made up of more than the eye can see. Good luck!