James Randi Educational Foundation

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James Randi Educational Foundation
FounderJames Randi
Registration no.65-0649443
PurposePromote critical thinking and investigate claims of the paranormal, pseudoscientific, and supernatural
Key people
James Randi, Chairman, Board of Directors and Acting President
Rick Adams, Secretary, Board of Directors
Daniel "Chip" Denman, Board of Directors
US $887,595 in 2013. Decrease Decrease[1] US $1,293,878 in 2012. Decrease[2] US $1,564,266 in 2011.[2] US$852,445[3][4] (2009) Decrease 38% on 2008. Increase 17% on 2009.[5]

James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) is an American grant-making institution founded in 1996 by magician and skeptic James Randi. As a nonprofit organization, the mission of JREF includes educating the public and the media on the dangers of accepting unproven claims, and to support research into paranormal claims in controlled scientific experimental conditions. The organization announced its change to a grant-making foundation in September 2015.[6]

The organization previously administered the One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge, a prize of one million U.S. dollars to anyone who could demonstrate a supernatural or paranormal ability under agreed-upon scientific testing criteria. JREF also maintains a legal defense fund to assist persons who are attacked as a result of investigating or criticizing those making paranormal claims.[7]

The organization has been funded through member contributions, grants, and conferences, though it ceased accepting memberships after 2015. For several years the JREF website published the blog Swift, which included news and information as well as exposés of paranormal claimants.[8]


The JREF officially came into existence on February 29, 1996, when it was registered as a nonprofit corporation in the State of Delaware in the United States.[9] On April 3, 1996, Randi formally announced the creation of the JREF through his email hotline.[10] It is now headquartered in Falls Church, Virginia.[11]

THE FOUNDATION IS IN BUSINESS! It is my great pleasure to announce the creation of the James Randi Educational Foundation. This is a non-profit, tax-exempt, educational foundation under Section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code, incorporated in the State of Delaware. The Foundation is generously funded by a sponsor in Washington D.C. who wishes, at this point in time, to remain anonymous.

— The Foundation, Randi Hotline, Wed, April 3, 1996

Randi says Johnny Carson was a major sponsor, giving several six-figure donations.[12]

The officers of the JREF are:[13]

  • Director, Secretary, Assistant Secretary: Richard L. Adams Jr., Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
  • Director, Secretary: Daniel Denman, Silver Spring, Maryland.

In 2008 the astronomer Philip Plait became the new president of the JREF and Randi its board chairman.[14] In December 2009 Plait left the JREF due to involvement in a television project, and D.J. Grothe assumed the position of president on January 1, 2010,[15] holding the position until his departure from the JREF was announced on September 1, 2014.[11]

The San Francisco newspaper SF Weekly reported on August 24, 2009, that Randi's annual salary was about $200,000.[16] Randi resigned from JREF in 2015.[17]

The One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge[edit]

In 1964, Randi began offering a prize of US$1,000 to anyone who could demonstrate a paranormal ability under agreed-upon testing conditions. This prize has since been increased to US$1 million in bonds and is now administered by the JREF. Since its inception, more than 1,000 people have applied to be tested. To date, no one has been able to demonstrate their claimed abilities under the testing conditions, all applicants either failing to demonstrate the claimed ability during the test or deviating from the foundation conditions for taking the test such that any apparent success was held invalid; the prize money remains unclaimed. However, in 2015 the James Randi Educational Foundation said they will no longer accept applications directly from people claiming to have a paranormal power, but will offer the challenge to anyone who has passed a preliminary test that meets with their approval.[18]

The Amaz!ng Meeting[edit]

From 2003 to 2015, the JREF annually hosted The Amaz!ng Meeting, a gathering of scientists, skeptics, and atheists. Perennial speakers include Richard Dawkins, Penn & Teller, Phil Plait, Michael Shermer and Adam Savage.

Podcasts and videos[edit]

The foundation produced two audio podcasts, For Good Reason which was an interview program hosted by D.J. Grothe, promoting critical thinking and skepticism about the central beliefs of society. It has not been active since December 2011.[19] Consequence was a biweekly podcast hosted by former outreach coordinator Brian Thompson in which regular people shared their personal narratives about the negative impact a belief in pseudoscience, superstition, and the paranormal had had on their lives. It has not been active since May, 2013.[20]

The JREF also produced a regular video cast and YouTube show, The Randi Show, in which former JREF outreach coordinator Brian Thompson interviewed Randi on a variety of skeptical topics, often with lighthearted or comedic commentary.[21] It has not been active since August 2012. In November 2015, Harriet Hall produced a series of ten lectures called Science Based Medicine for the JREF. The videos deal with various complementary alternative medicine subjects including homeopathy, chiropractic, acupuncture and more.[22]

The JREF posted many of its educational videos from The Amaz!ng Meeting and other events online. There are lectures by Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Carol Tavris, Lawrence Krauss, live tests of the One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge, workshops on cold reading by Ray Hyman, and panels featuring leading thinking on various topics related to JREF's educational mission on the JREF YouTube channel.[23] JREF past president D.J. Grothe has claimed that the JREF's YouTube channel was once the "10th most subscribed nonprofit channel of all time",[24] though its status in 2013 was 39th and most non-profits do not register for this status.[25]

The foundation produced its own "Internet Audio Show" which ran from January–December 2002 and was broadcast via a live stream. The archive can be found as mp3 files on the JREF website[26] and as a podcast on iTunes.[27]

Forum and online community[edit]

As part of the JREF's goal of educating the general population about science and reason, people involved in their community ran a popular skeptic based online forum[28] with the overall goal of promoting "critical thinking and providing the public with the tools needed to reliably examine paranormal, supernatural, and pseudoscientific claims".[29]

On October 5, 2014, this online forum was divorced from the JREF and moved as its own entity to International Skeptics Forum.

In 2007 the JREF announced it would resume awarding critical thinking scholarships to college students after a brief hiatus due to the lack of funding.[30]

The JREF has also helped to support local grassroot efforts and outreach endeavors, such as SkeptiCamp, Camp Inquiry[31] and various community-organized conferences.[32] However, according to their tax filing, they spend less than $2,000 a year on other organizations or individuals.[33]

JREF Award[edit]

James Randi announces Susan Gerbic has won the JREF prize for 2017.

The JREF Award "is given to the person or organization that best represents the spirit of the foundation by encouraging critical questions and seeking unbiased, fact-based answers." Some of the recipients include the following:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2013/650/649/2013-650649443-0a4828e8-9.pdf[bare URL PDF]
  2. ^ a b http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2012/650/649/2012-650649443-0924dfee-9.pdf[bare URL PDF]
  3. ^ "990 Form from 2008 for The James Randi Educational Foundation(cite line 12)" (PDF). Foundation Center.[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ "2009 Form 990" (PDF). GuideStar. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
  5. ^ "Form 990 for 2010" (PDF). GuideStar. Retrieved 12 September 2011.
  6. ^ "JREF Status". James Randi Educational Foundation. JREF. Retrieved 3 September 2015.
  7. ^ Dunning, Brian (2013-07-23). "Skeptoid #372: Prove Your Supernatural Power and Get Rich". Skeptoid. Retrieved 2014-01-04.
  8. ^ "JREF Swift Blog". Retrieved 2016-03-31. JREF Swift Blog
  9. ^ "Department of State: Division of Corporations – Entity Details – The James Randi Educational Foundation". Archived from the original on 2014-01-10. Retrieved 2012-03-03. Delaware Dept. of State, Division of Corporations official website, Corporation Name Search: "The James Randi Educational Foundation. Incorporation Date / Formation Date: February 29, 1996. Entity Type: Non-Profit or Religious."
  10. ^ "Home". JREF.
  11. ^ a b "Los Angeles Office Closed". James Randi Educational Foundation. September 1, 2014. Retrieved 2014-09-02.
  12. ^ James Randi. "A Good Friend Has Left Us". JREF. Archived from the original on 2009-07-09. John was generous, kind, and caring. The JREF received several checks — 6-figure checks
  13. ^ "filing with Florida State Department". Florida Department of State Division of Corporations. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  14. ^ "Phil Plait New JREF President". Retrieved August 8, 2008.
  15. ^ James Randi. "Exciting Times at The JREF". JREF News. Retrieved December 21, 2009.
  16. ^ "The Demystifying Adventures of the Amazing Randi". Archived from the original on 2012-10-11. Retrieved September 5, 2009. SF Weekly, August 24, 2009, online version, p. 2: "One of his friends, Internet pioneer Rick Adams, put up $1 million in 1996."
  17. ^ "About James Randi". JREF. 2015. Retrieved 2016-12-26.
  18. ^ Board of Directors of The James Randi Educational Foundation. "JREF Status". James Randi Educational Foundation. James Randi Educational Foundation. Retrieved 15 October 2016.
  19. ^ "For Good Reason podcast Episode Archive". James Randi Educational Foundation. December 12, 2011. Archived from the original on April 21, 2015.
  20. ^ "Consequence Podcast". James Randi Educational Foundation. May 15, 2013. Archived from the original on July 9, 2013. Retrieved 2013-07-02.
  21. ^ "The Randi Show". Youtube.com. Retrieved 2013-07-02.
  22. ^ Hall, Harriet. "Science Based Medicine". JREF. Archived from the original on 2021-12-11. Retrieved 14 June 2016.
  23. ^ "JREF Video Channel on YouTube". Youtube.com. Retrieved 2013-07-02.
  24. ^ D.J. Grothe. "Enjoy the JREF on YouTube".
  25. ^ "YouTube Top 100 Most Subscribed Non-Profit & Activism Channels List – Top by Subscribers". Archived from the original on 2018-04-04. Retrieved 2018-12-14.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  26. ^ "Internet Audio Show". The James Randi Educational Foundation. 3 January 2002.
  27. ^ The James Randi Educational Foundation (3 January 2002). "Internet Audio Show". iTunes.
  28. ^ "Forum Homepage". forums.randi.org/. Retrieved 2014-04-04.
  29. ^ "Educational Programs". randi.org. Retrieved 2014-04-04.
  30. ^ "The James Randi Educational Foundation Scholarships". Randi.org. 2009-04-20. Retrieved 2009-06-15.
  31. ^ "Finance Camp". Finance Camp.
  32. ^ "JREF Offers a Number of Scholarships and Grants for Students, Educators and Local Skeptic Groups". Randi.org. Retrieved 2013-07-02.
  33. ^ "JREF tax filing 2012" (PDF). Guidestar.org. Retrieved 2013-11-07.
  34. ^ "2017 JREF Award". JREF. Retrieved 2019-02-28.
  35. ^ "2018 JREF Award". JREF. Retrieved 2023-02-28.
  36. ^ "2020 JREF Award". JREF. Retrieved 2023-02-28.
  37. ^ "JREF Award". JREF. Retrieved 2023-02-28.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]