The End of the James Randi Challenge

After ten years the James Randi Educational Foundation is discontinuing its 1 million dollar paranormal challenge.

The James Randi Educational Foundation Million-Dollar Challenge will be discontinued 24 months from this coming March 6th, and those prize funds will then be available to generally add to our flexibility. This move will free us to do many more projects, which will be announced at that time.

I’m disappointed, because that means in two years we will lose one of the best anti-woo tools in the arsenal. That is, the offer of 1 million dollars to any woomeister who can prove their paranormal abilities are real in a controlled scientific test in order to shut them up. Otherwise it wasn’t that helpful, as the real prominent fakers knew better than to actually put their livelihood on the line as they describe:

Our expectations at first were that we’d attract major personalities by this means, but they’ve avoided having to take the test by simply not applying; those who have actually applied are generally honestly self-deluded persons who have difficulty stating what they can do, which can be understood if they really don’t know what they’re experiencing; we at JREF have gone through involved procedures to help them recognize their problems. Usually, they have indicated that they don’t know what real scientific rules are, when it comes down to their actually being properly tested.

But for two more years at least we’ve still got this ace up our sleeve. There is still time to apply all you woos out there!

This means that all those wishing to be claimants are required to get their applications in before the deadline, properly filled out and notarized as described in the published rules.

Ten years is long enough to wait. The hundreds of poorly-constructed applications, and the endless hours of phone, e-mail, and in-person discussions we’ve had to suffer through, will be things of the past, for us at the JREF.

Those who believe they have mystic powers now have two full years to apply… Let’s see what happens.


  1. I’m not sure why they needed a 2 year lead time on the cancellation… surely anyone who qualifies would have seen it coming?

  2. Brendan S

    But reading about the tests and such all the time, and the people who take the challenge, I really understand where they’re coming from. Some of the stuff on the website sounds super painful.

    I think that the experiment that’s happened here is enlightening to all of the woo and anti-woo alike. I propose that the reason that none of the real ‘big name’ people haven’t come forward, because they KNOW they aren’t legit. They don’t maintain any delusions that what they do is real. The only people who actually believe they have some kind of supernatural power are the truly delusional. I think that’s a powerful conclusion that can be drawn from this.

  3. Just when the believers were about to come up with that one thing which would have taken the prize hands down, too. Oh well….

  4. My psychic powers are telling me that on March 7, 2010, Sylvia Browne will issue a statement claiming that Randi was afraid to test her psychic abilities.

  5. But for two more years at least we’ve still got this ace up our sleeve. There is still time to apply all you woos out there!

    I accused Greg Laden of turning a squirrel into a duck the other day on his blog. That’s pretty mystical! Maybe you should let him know to get his application in and we can all split that cool million? LOL!
    Dave Briggs :~)

  6. It is an awful lot of time and money to invest in helping a few self-deluded folks. Can’t wait to see what they do use the money for.

  7. Richard

    I’ll be sad to see the offer go. BTW, is it just for humans, or can Rupert Sheldrake’s dog apply?

  8. So science and reality win…and on my 43rd birthday.


  9. Sorry, it’ll be my 45th birthday. This English comp prof needs better reading comprehension.

  10. A Lurker

    On the bright side, we don’t have to worry that the challenge might eventually be ran by an incompetent after Randi dies.

  11. Crudely Wrott

    @ Brendan S:

    Bingo, buddy. The lasting legacy of the JREF challenge may indeed be just that.

    Wow. Imagine

  12. When I first read this, I was sort of disappointed to, but this is really just in keeping with their new PR strategy. The ticking clock gives the whole thing some much needed urgency that just wasn’t being fulfilled by having the challenge but no serious applicants.

  13. Lucas McCarty

    I can chloroform large mammals with my armpits.

    This must surely meet the criteria for the challenge? No? What about the ability to perpetually breath in, never out? If they can’t explain what happens to all that air, do I win?

  14. Pierce R. Butler

    I predict the prize will remain unclaimed as of 3/6/10.

    JREF can contact me on 3/7/10 to find out where to mail the check.

  15. I predict that on 3/7/10, there will be someone who claims that JREF discontinued the prize because he was just about to win it.

  16. I have 1000 dollars in my bank and I’ll give it to the winner of the JREF challenge. How hard it is to get a couple million dollars to sit in a bank account? The JREF started in 1964 after Randi put in 1000 bucks and donors started pouring in. If I were a billionaire the JREF payout would be 48 million (million bucks for every year nobody has won it.) They could add the extra million from the interest and pocket an extra million or so for their activities. Oh, to be a billionaire…

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