For several decades, the James Randi Educational Foundation offered to pay out a substantial amount of money to anyone who could prove they had supernatural or paranormal abilities. A testing method would be agreed upon in advance; if the person passed the test, the money was theirs. The prize money eventually grew to $1 million… and, of course, it was never claimed.
The challenge effectively ended in 2015 when JREF became a grant-giving organization. The money was still there, but the group was no longer just accepting applications from anyone. It’s not clear if anyone has even tried to win the money since then.
But now the Center for Inquiry Investigations Group is stepping in with a challenge of their own. And if anyone can prove their psychic abilities are real, it could be worth $250,000. (They’ve actually been offering this challenge for years with a prize of up to $100,000. The prize went unclaimed. Now they’re upping the value.)
“We’ve been waiting for twenty years now for someone to come along and blow our minds, and while many have tried, no one has proven they can actually do what they say they can do,” said James Underdown, CFIIG founder and Executive Director of Center for Inquiry West in Los Angeles. “Maybe all the real superpowered folks were just waiting for us to raise the stakes. Hopefully a quarter million bucks will do it.”
“And just to help get the word out, we’re also offering a $5000 referral prize to the person who sends us a winning challenger,” added Underdown. “So you don’t even need to have magic powers to get some extra cash. You just have to know someone who does.”
In response to a question about how this challenge compares to the JREF one, Jim Underdown told me, “We consider Randi one of our mentors and deeply appreciate his guidance over the years.”
The most interesting part of the application may be the part of the agreement that says, bluntly, “I understand previous applicants have experienced public embarrassment, humiliation or other emotional states after their demonstration’s negative result, and I am willingly risking the same.”
Hey, that’s honesty for you. If you want to take the test, then you need to be prepared to deal with the public repercussions of failing the test.
The group says it has actively reached out to Tyler Henry, whose Hollywood Medium show airs on E! But for whatever reason — I can’t imagine why — he hasn’t responded. Seems odd given how much global publicity he would receive for doing exactly what his show claims he can do…
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