The Future of the James Randi Educational Foundation September 3, 2015

The Future of the James Randi Educational Foundation

Earlier this year, James Randi announced that he would be retiring from the James Randi Educational Foundation. That came a few months after the organization closed its Los Angeles office and let go of its Executive Director.

(Randi, who was profiled by the New York Times around that time and featured as the subject of a new documentary, said he wasn’t entirely stepping out of the public spotlight.)

With all the changes, though, there was question of what would become of JREF.

Now we have some answers:

The Board has decided that it will convert the foundation into a grant making foundation.

Starting in 2016, we will be making grants to non-profit groups that we believe are promoting activities that encourage critical thinking and a fact-based world view. We expect to make a small number of grants each year totaling approximately $100,000 per year. We will NOT accept suggestions, applications or proposals for these grants. We hope they will come as a pleasant surprise to the recipients, just as Randi’s MacArthur foundation grant was a pleasant surprise to him.

What about the Million Dollar Challenge (to be paid out to anyone who can demonstrate paranormal abilities)?

We plan on continuing the Million Dollar Challenge as a means for educating the public about paranormal claims.

Effective immediately, JREF will no longer accept applications directly from people claiming to have a paranormal power. We will however offer our Challenge to anyone who has passed a preliminary test that meets with our approval. We will provide example protocols early next year. Of course, any established psychic may always contact JREF to be tested directly (preferably with an independent, third party TV crew.)

According to the group’s most recently available financial statements (from 2013), they have about $2 million in the bank. So $100,000 a year would last for a while.

They haven’t announced if they’ll host another TAM conference, but that seems unlikely. My understanding is that this won’t come as much of a surprise to longtime TAM-goers, who seemed to be expecting an announcement of this nature after the July conference. Still, as someone who’s attended a couple of TAMs myself, I’m sad to see it end.


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