List of prizes for evidence of the paranormal
The purpose of offering prizes for evidence of paranormal abilities is to publicly challenge those who claim to possess such abilities to demonstrate that they in fact possess them, and are not fraudulent or self-deceptive. The paranormal challenges, often posed by groups or individuals who self-identify as "skeptics" or "rationalists", are mutually agreed upon beforehand between the challengers and the claimants. A challenge is usually divided into two steps, the first being a "preliminary test" or "pre-test", where claimants can show their purported abilities under controlled conditions before a small audience, before being admitted to the final test. Sometimes these pre-tests have a smaller prize attached to them. Several local organisations have set up challenges that serve as pre-tests to larger prizes such as the JREF's One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge or the 2012–2013 SKEPP Sisyphus Prize (for one million euros).
In 1922, Scientific American made two US$2,500 offers: (1), for the first authentic spirit photograph made under test conditions, and (2), for the first psychic to produce a "visible psychic manifestation." Harry Houdini was a member of the investigating committee. The first medium to be tested was George Valiantine, who claimed that in his presence spirits would speak through a trumpet that floated around a darkened room. For the test, Valiantine was placed in a room, the lights were extinguished, but unbeknownst to him his chair had been rigged to light a signal in an adjoining room if he left his seat. Because the light signals were tripped during his performance, Valiantine did not collect the award.
Since then, many individuals and groups have offered similar monetary awards for proof of the paranormal in an observed setting. Indian rationalist Abraham Kovoor's challenge in 1963 inspired American skeptic James Randi's prize in 1964, that has since grown out to the One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge. In 2003, these prizes were calculated to have a combined value of US$2,326,500. As of January 2015[update], none of the prizes have been claimed.
|1963–1978||Abraham Kovoor (deceased 1978)||100,000 LKR||(Approx $1500 USD as of 2015-01-03) Kovoor initiated the Abraham Kovoor's challenge starting in 1963. He inspired others like Randi and Premanand.||Yes|
|2000–present||Alfredo Barrago's Bet (CICAP)||€50,000||(US$67,922 approx) "... shown at least a "phenomenon" produced by "medium, seers, sensitive etc." of paranormal nature."||Yes|
|1997–present||Asian Rationalist Society of Britain, Lavkesh Prasha||£10,000||"[T]o any person who could prove to possess magical powers before the media and scientists." The initial amount of £2,000 was increased fivefold in 2006 to attract more applicants.||Yes|
|Association for Skeptical Enquiry||£12,000 (N/A)
|(Undated) For proof of psychic powers.
(US$600 approx in 2012–2013) Awarded to anyone who passed the British preliminary test to the Belgian Sisyphus Prize.
|1980–present||Australian Skeptics||A$100,000||(US$101,374 approx) For proof of the existence of extrasensory perception, telepathy, or telekinesis.||Yes|
|1976–present||Basava Premanand (deceased 2009), Indian Skeptic / Indian CSICOP||100,000 INR||(US$2,190 approx) Offered after Abraham Kovoor fell ill with cancer in 1976. Premanand's magazine and organisation have continued the challenge after his death in 2009.||Yes|
|2011–present||Daniel Zepeda||MX$20,000||"To anyone who can show, under proper observational and replicable conditions, evidence of a paranormal, supernatural or occult power for which science has no answer."||Yes|
|Eesti Skeptik||€10,000 (2008–present)
|(US$1300 approx) To anyone who can prove paranormal abilities.
Awarded to anyone who passed the Estonian preliminary test to the Belgian Sisyphus Prize.
|2007–2009||Eng. Sanad Rashed and Ahmed Khaled Tawfik||US$5,000||For proof ouija boards function as claimed.||Yes|
|Fayetteville Freethinkers||US$5,000 (N/A–present)
A house (2012–present)
|"[F]or a demonstration of supernatural claims".
Since 2012, a house is offered to anyone who can catch a Bigfoot.
|2008, 2014||Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations, Narendra Nayak||200,000 INR (2008)
1,000,000 INR (2014)
|Correctly answer 21 out of 25 questions relating to future election results (intended for astrologers, but open to anyone).||Yes|
|1987–2002||Gérard Majax, Henri Broch, Jacques Theodor||€200,000||International Zetetic Challenge. Mediums and clairvoyants were challenged to show their powers, but all 275 candidates failed.||Yes|
|2004–present||Gesellschaft zur wissenschaftlichen Untersuchung von Parawissenschaften||€10,000||(US$13,000 approx) To anyone who can prove paranormal abilities.||Yes|
|2000–present||Independent Investigations Group||US$100,000||"[T]o anyone who can show, under proper observing conditions, evidence of any paranormal, supernatural, or occult power or event." The person who refers a successful applicant to the IIG earns US$5,000. Previously, the prize was US$50,000.||Yes|
|1995–present||Indian Rationalist Association, Sanal Edamaruku||100,000 INR||To anyone who could prove the 1995 "Hindu milk miracle" was, in fact, a miracle. Since 2002, it includes "anyone who can provide scientific evidence for iridology".||Yes|
|1964–present||JREF One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge||US$1,000,000 (since 1996)||Launched by James Randi as $1,000 in 1964, raised to $10,000 by 1980, to $100,000 by 1989, and finally to a million in 1996. Since the launch of the James Randi Educational Foundation, applications are processed and tests prepared and conducted by a committee.||Yes|
|N/A||Kazakhstan Commission for the Investigation of Anomalous Phenomena||US$1,000||||Yes|
|1996–present||Les Sceptiques du Quebec||CA$10,000||(US$10,132 approx) "Just a small fact, observable or verifiable through experiment" of a paranormal phenomenon. Also serves as a preliminary test to the One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge of the JREF. Originally, Les Sceptiques had their own separate prize of CA$750,000.||Yes|
|N/A||New York Area Skeptics||US$2,000||Awarded to the successful completion of the JREF One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge.||Yes|
|(At least since 2001)||North Texas Skeptics||US$12,000||"[T]o any person (...) who can demonstrate any psychic or paranormal power or ability under scientifically valid observing conditions."||Yes|
|1966–2005||Philip J. Klass (deceased)||US$10,000||For proof of an extraterrestrial visit to the Earth.||Yes|
|N/A||Raul Jaanson||€6,000||(US$8,000 approx)||Yes|
|1985–present||Science and Rationalists' Association of India, Prabir Ghosh||2,500,000 INR||Prabir Ghosh will award the prize "to any person of this world who can demonstrate his/her supernormal power by performing any one of the following activities without taking help of any hoax/trick at my designated place and circumstances." The initial amount was 2 million INR.||Yes|
|1922||Scientific American||US$2,500||Two US$2,500 offers: (1) for the first authentic spirit photograph made under test conditions, and (2) for the first psychic to produce a "visible psychic manifestation."||Yes|
|1999–present||Sima Nan||1,000,000 CNY||(US$157,500 approx) "[T]o anyone who can perform one act of "special ability” without cheating." Can be won in conjunction with the JREF One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge prize.||Yes|
|2002–present||SKEPP Sisyphus Prize||€10,000 (2002–2012)
|The original Sisyphus Prize was €10,000. For the duration of one year, 1 October 2012 until 30 September 2013, an anonymous Antwerp businessman raised the prize €1,000,000, while several European skeptical organisations attached their pre-tests to it. Afterwards, the regular Sisyphus Prize was continued and raised from €10,000 to €25,000.||Yes|
|1989–present||Skepsis ry (Finnish Association of Skeptics)||€10,000||(US$13,584 approx) For anybody in Finland who can produce paranormal phenomena under satisfactory observing conditions or prove that she/he/it is an extraterrestrial by providing a DNA (or equivalent) sample for investigation. Money partially from astronomer Hannu Karttunen and magician Iiro Seppänen.||Yes|
|2012–present||Sri Lankan Rationalist Association||1,000,000 LKR||(US$7,675 approx) Professor Carlo Fonseka renewed Abraham Kovoor's challenge.||Yes|
|1988–present||Stichting Skepsis||€10,000||To anyone who wants their "alternative diagnoses" (including kinesiology, electroacupuncture, bioresonance therapy, Therapeutic Touch, observing auras, clairvoyance, iridology, pendulum dowsing, astrology) to be tested; winning the pre-test earns €500. Skepsis' first challenge in March 1988 was ƒ10,000 to any "psychic surgeon" who could remove chairman Cornelis de Jager's appendix.||Yes|
|1994–present||Stuart Landsborough (New Zealand Skeptics)||NZ$100,000||(US$75,000 approx) "[T]o anyone who could prove by psychic ability that they can indicate the exact location" of two halves of a promissory note hidden within an area of 100 metres inside Stuart Landsborough's Puzzling World. Over the years, the search area has been reduced from 5 kilometres to 100 metres and the prize doubled, but the note split in two to reduce the chance of winning by sheer luck. Contestants have to donate NZ$1,000 to charity if they fail.||Yes|
|N/A||Swedish Humanist Association||100,000 SEK||(US$15,421 approx) To anyone who can demonstrate a paranormal or supernatural ability for which no scientific explanation can be found.||Yes|
|1989–present||Tampa Bay Skeptics||US$1,000||"[T]o anyone able to demonstrate any paranormal phenomenon under mutually agreed-upon observing conditions."||Yes|
|1984||Tarksheel Society||1 crore (10 million) INR||(US$162,032 approx) To anyone who can perform any of 22 specified "miracles". The entry fee is 10,000 INR. In 2012, 1 crore INR was also offered to anyone who could correctly predict the election results in five Indian state assemblies.||Yes|
|2014–present||Český klub skeptiků Sisyfos||1,000,000 CZK||To anyone who can prove to possess paranormal abilities in areas such as clairvoyance, telepathy, telekinesis, rhabdomancy, etc.||Yes|
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