Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Million Dollar Challenge

After a recent discussion, I have been thinking about the million dollar challenge offered at the JREF. For those of you who don't know about it, James Randi has a million dollar prize available for anyone who can prove any supernatural claim under scientific conditions. If memory serves, the idea originated as a challenge specifically to Sylvia Brown, a popular psychic and pretty obvious fraud in my opinion. At some point, he opened the challenge up to anyone making supernatural claims. 

When I first heard about this challenge, I thought it was amazing, any time I am in a debate with someone who claims something supernatural, I can just say "If you are correct, why not just go get your million bucks?" Of course, it doesn't really work this way. People will always just retort that he is cheating, or that he will never give up the money, some people even claim that he is psychic and is blocking their powers.

Then there is the young earth creationist version of this challenge, when I heard this I obviously had a host of reasons why that challenge is bogus, and of course, anyone on the other side of things will just say the same thing about Randi's challenge. 

The whole thing is a bit of a bummer, but it leaves me wondering what good the million dollar challenge really is. Does it have any real power to convince anyone of anything? Or will most of the people it is designed to convince be able to ignore it? It seems to me that it's really only good as a rallying cry for skeptics, which is nice I guess, but I had hoped for it to be so much more.

This is a huge bummer, anyone feel like convincing me I'm wrong? That would be awesome!

1 comment:

  1. Just because the other side has a bogus challenge, it doesn't make the significance of Randi's challenge any less.

    I see that Randi's challenge is a publicity stunt for skepticism, but at least it is a fair publicity stunt. Of course, for anyone who can tell the future or read minds, there are plenty of ways to quickly earn a million dollars with such power. If I won the lottery, I think it'd be funny to start a psychic reading business immediately after just for the instant cred I'd have.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...