Since 1986, James Randi, through his Educational Foundation, has been offering a one million dollar prize to anyone who can prove their paranormal powers in a simple test. Prior to that he offered lesser amounts. Of course, so far, nobody has won the prize.
There has been no shortage of applicants though, so many that Randi has decided to change the rules a little. Too many of the applicants are either deluded dowsers or just mentally ill, so to weed out the kookiest kooks and just leave the prime kooks the rules now stipulate that the applicants must have a media presence. They don’t have to be world famous, they just have to have been in the media spotlight with their supposed powers.
The other, more interesting, change to the rules is that the JREF are now going to actively pursue some of the more famous flim-flammers. Not only is Randi going after famous kooks to get them to take the challenge, he’s also on the lookout for behaviour which could constitute a criminal offence.
So to help Randi with his new goals (not that he needs my help but the delusions of grandeur are talking to me again) I’ve decided to compile a list of the more infamous tricksters that I think he should be going after:
- Uri Geller – famous for his spoon-bending trick in the 70s and 80s, the last I heard he was offering business advice based on crystal woo. Randi’s been after him before and I doubt he’ll ever take the test, but it’s worth a shot.
- Sylvia Browne – Montel Williams’ favourite “psychic” who is now even more famous for being wrong a lot. She’s a fake and it hurts people. She has agreed to take the Randi Challenge but has since been playing dodge ball.
- Allison Dubois – the psychic whose claims of helping law enforcement agencies solve crimes and missing person cases inspired the TV show Medium, even though the claims have never been verified. She has refused the challenge before because she thinks Randi is “senile” and “unintelligent”.
- Maharishi Mahesh Yogi – The creator of Transcendental Meditation and the whole Yogic Flying phenomenon. If he can really fly, and not just bounce about on springy mats, why not prove it to Randi?
- James Van Praagh – Not only does he claim to be a psychic, he even gives lessons in becoming a medium. Most “mediums” will say it’s not something that can be taught, but not James. Perhaps he can teach Randi?
- Avani Water – There are many purveyors of so-called “oxygenated water”, but I picked this one because it’s Canadian. They claim that ” Tests and actual surveys [yes, actual surveys!] concluded that the added oxygen helps to promote good-health”. They also claim that “No, AVANI does not contain ANY chemicals.” What, not even water?
- Russell Grant – I had to mention at least one astrologer, so why not a brit? A mediocre TV celebrity who used to specialise in astrology but has since expanded into tarot and numerology. It’s about time someone put his “skills” to the test.
- Dr Stefan Schmidt – He claims he has proved that people can tell when they’re being stared at, even over CCTV. That should be easy for Randi to test, right?
- Maureen and Clayton Marolly – A Montreal couple whose living room has become very oily. They claim that people who bring religious icons leave with oily religious icons. That has to be testable.
Some may claim that the new rules makes it even harder to win the one million dollar prize, but that makes no sense. If someone really did have paranormal powers, fame would find them even if they didn’t want it and there would be no excuse for not taking the challenge.