List of prizes for evidence of the paranormal

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Could a wristband product improve a person's balance? A pre-test of the One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge during TAM 2012.[1]

Paranormal challenges, often posed by groups or individuals who self-identify as skeptics or rationalists, publicly challenge those who claim to possess paranormal abilities to demonstrate that they in fact possess them, and are not fraudulent or self-deceptive.[2]

Process[edit]

The Czech Skeptics' Club Sisyfos offers €125,000 to anyone who can prove paranormal phenomena.[3]

After establishing procedures and measures of success 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.[4] 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[1][5][6] or the 2012–2013 SKEPP Sisyphus Prize (for one million euros).[7][8]

History[edit]

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."[9] 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.[2]

Since then, many individuals and groups have offered similar monetary awards for proof of the paranormal in an observed setting.[2] Indian rationalist Abraham Kovoor's challenge in 1963 inspired American skeptic James Randi's prize in 1964,[10] which became the One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge. In 2003, these prizes were calculated to have a combined value of US$2,326,500.[11] As of January 2015, none of the prizes have been awarded. The James Randi paranormal challenge was officially terminated in 2015.[12] As of 2018, these prizes combine to approximately US$1,024,215. However, they take place in multiple countries and the conditions to be met may vary considerably.

List of standing prizes[edit]

Date Location Challengers Offered prize Equivalent in dollars Details Status
2014– Czech Republic Czech Skeptics' Club Sisyfos 3,383,333 Czech koruna $160,671 To anyone who can prove to possess paranormal abilities in areas such as clairvoyance, telepathy, telekinesis, rhabdomancy, etc.[3] Unclaimed
1999– China Sima Nan 1,000,000 Chinese yuan $157,913 "[T]o anyone who can perform one act of "special ability” without cheating."[13] Unclaimed
1984– India Tarksheel Society 10,000,000 Indian rupees $150,110 To anyone who can perform any of 22 specified "miracles". The entry fee is 10,000 INR.[14] Unclaimed
2000– United States Independent Investigations Group 100,000 dollars $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.[15] Previously, the prize was US$50,000.[2][16] Unclaimed
1980– Australia Australian Skeptics 100,000 Australian dollars $75,820 For proof of the existence of extrasensory perception, telepathy, or telekinesis.[17] Unclaimed
1985– India Science and Rationalists' Association of India, Prabir Ghosh 5,000,000 Indian rupees $75,055 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."[18] Unclaimed. However, the challenger has admitted that they don't possess that amount of money.[19]
1994– New Zealand Stuart Landsborough, New Zealand Skeptics 100,000 New Zealand dollars $70,791 "[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.[20] Contestants have to donate NZ$1,000 to charity if they fail.[21] Unclaimed
2000– Italy Alfredo Barrago's Bet, CICAP 50,000 Euro $60,737 "[...] shown at least a 'phenomenon' produced by 'medium, seers, sensitive etc.' of paranormal nature."[22] Unclaimed
2002– Belgium SKEPP Sisyphus Prize 25,000 Euro $30,368 The original Sisyphus Prize was €10,000. Between 2012 and 2013, for the duration of one year, an anonymous Antwerp businessman raised the prize €1,000,000, while several European skeptical organisations attached their pre-tests to it.[8][23] Afterwards, the regular Sisyphus Prize was continued and raised from €10,000 to €25,000.[4] Unclaimed
2013– Great Britain Association for Skeptical Enquiry 12,000 British pounds $16,535 For proof of psychic powers.[2]
Unclaimed
2015– Russia Harry Houdini Prize 1,000,000 Russian rubles $16,096 The prize is awarded for demonstrating paranormal or supernatural abilities under conditions scientifically valid experiment.[24][25] Unclaimed
2001– United States North Texas Skeptics 12,000 dollars $12,000 "[T]o any person ... who can demonstrate any psychic or paranormal power or ability under scientifically valid observing conditions."[2][26] Unclaimed
1997– Great Britain Lavkesh Prasha, Asian Rationalist Society of Britain 10,000 British pounds $13,779 "[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.[27][28] Unclaimed
2008– Estonia Eesti Skeptik 10,000 Euro $12,147 To anyone who can prove paranormal abilities.[29] Unclaimed
2004– Germany GWUP 10,000 Euro $12,147 To anyone who can prove paranormal abilities.[30][31] Unclaimed
1989– Finland Skepsis ry (Finnish Association of Skeptics) 10,000 Euro $12,147 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.[32] Unclaimed
1988– Netherlands Stichting Skepsis 10,000 Euro $12,147 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.[33] Skepsis' first challenge in March 1988 was ƒ10,000 to any "psychic surgeon" who could remove chairman Cornelis de Jager's appendix.[34] Unclaimed
Unknown– Sweden Swedish Humanist Association 100,000 Swedish krona $11,550 To anyone who can demonstrate a paranormal or supernatural ability for which no scientific explanation can be found.[35] Unclaimed
1996– Canada Les Sceptiques du Quebec 10,000 Canadian dollars $7785 "Just a small fact, observable or verifiable through experiment" of a paranormal phenomenon.[5] Unclaimed
2012– Sri Lanka Sri Lankan Rationalist Association 1,000,000 Sri Lankan rupees $6341 Professor Carlo Fonseka renewed Abraham Kovoor's challenge.[36] Unclaimed
Unknown– United States Fayetteville Freethinkers 5000 dollars $5000 "[F]or a demonstration of supernatural claims".[37] Unclaimed
1976– India Indian Skeptic, Indian CSICOP 100,000 Indian rupees $1501 Formerly moderated by Basava Premanand, deceased in 2009. Offered after Abraham Kovoor fell ill with cancer in 1976.[38] Premanand's magazine and organization have continued the challenge after his death in 2009.[39] Unclaimed
1995– India Indian Rationalist Association, Sanal Edamaruku 100,000 Indian rupees $1501 To anyone who could prove the 1995 "Hindu milk miracle" was, in fact, a miracle.[40] Since 2002, it includes "anyone who can provide scientific evidence for iridology".[41] Unclaimed
2011– Mexico Daniel Zepeda 20,000 Mexican pesos $1074 "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."[42] Unclaimed
1989– United States Tampa Bay Skeptics 1000 dollars $1,000 "[T]o anyone able to demonstrate any paranormal phenomenon under mutually agreed-upon observing conditions."[2][43] Unclaimed
2012– United States Fayetteville Freethinkers A house Unknown A house is offered to anyone who can catch a Bigfoot.[44] Unclaimed
2018– Belgium Mythbusters 2 Kudos K*2 Two full Kudos are offered to anyone who can scientifically proof you will be suggested as a friend to any give unrelated Facebook-account you often visit.[45] Unclaimed

List of defunct prizes[edit]

Date Location Challengers Offered prize Equivalent in dollars Details Status
1964–2015 United States JREF, One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge 1,000,000 dollars $1,000,000 Launched by James Randi as $1,000 in 1964,[46] raised to $10,000 by 1980,[47] to $100,000 by 1989,[48] and finally to a million in 1996.[49] Since the launch of the James Randi Educational Foundation, applications were processed and tests prepared and conducted by a committee.[46] In 2015 the challenge was officially terminated. Unclaimed. A participant dubbed "Yellow Bamboo" claimed they passed an unofficial preliminary test, but the JREF determined the test wasn't conducted or recorded as specified.[50][51]
1987–2002 France Gérard Majax, Henri Broch, Jacques Theodor, International Zetetic Challenge 200,000 Euro $242,949 Mediums and clairvoyants were challenged to show their powers, but all 275 candidates allegedly failed.[52] Unclaimed
1928–1995 United States Joseph Dunninger, Houdini Magical Hall of Fame 31,000 dollars $31,000 To anyone who can cause a suspended pencil in a sealed box to write a message on a pad of paper, also in the box.[53][54] Unclaimed
2012 India Tarksheel Society 1,000,000 Indian rupees $15,011 To anyone who could correctly predict the election results in five Indian state assemblies.[55] Unclaimed
2014 India Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations 1,000,000 Indian rupees $15,011 Correctly answer 21 out of 25 questions relating to future election results. Intended for astrologers, but open to anyone.[56] Unclaimed
1985–1988 United States Paranormal Investigating Committee of Pittsburgh 10,000 dollars $10,000 "[T]o anyone who can demonstrate successfully a psychic claim in a controlled examination."[57][58] Unclaimed
1966–2005 United States Philip J. Klass 10,000 dollars $10,000 For proof of an extraterrestrial visit to the Earth.[59] The prize was discontinued when Philip J. Klass passed away in 2005. Unclaimed
2007–2009 United States Sanad Rashed, Ahmed Khaled Tawfik 5000 dollars $5000 For proof ouija boards function as claimed.[citation needed] Unclaimed
2008 India Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations 200,000 Indian rupees $3002 Correctly answer 21 out of 25 questions relating to future election results. Intended for astrologers, but open to anyone.[60] Unclaimed
1922 United States Scientific American 2500 dollars $2500 Two $2,500 offers: (1) for the first authentic spirit photograph made under test conditions, or (2) for the first psychic to produce a "visible psychic manifestation."[2][9] Unclaimed
Unknown–2005 United States New York Area Skeptics 2000 dollars $2000 Awarded to the successful completion of the JREF One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge.[citation needed] Unclaimed
1963–1978 Sri Lanka Abraham Kovoor 100,000 Sri Lankan rupees $634 Kovoor initiated the Abraham Kovoor's challenge starting in 1963. He inspired others like Randi and Premanand. He passed away in 1978.[10] Unclaimed
2012–2013 Estonia Eesti Skeptik 500 Euro $607 Awarded to anyone who passed the Estonian preliminary test to the Belgian Sisyphus Prize.[61] Unclaimed
2012–2013 Great Britain Association for Skeptical Enquiry 400 British pounds $551 Awarded to anyone who passed the British preliminary test to the Belgian Sisyphus Prize.[7] Unclaimed

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Richard Saunders (6 September 2012). "The Million Dollar Challenge at TAM 2012". JREF Swift Blog. James Randi Educational Foundation. Retrieved 8 January 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Robert Todd Carroll (19 June 2014). "Randi $1,000,000 paranormal challenge". The Skeptic's Dictionary. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  3. ^ a b "Paranormální výzva". Falešní hráči (in Czech). The Real Bohemian. 2014. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
  4. ^ a b "Sisyphus prijs". SKEPP website (in Dutch). SKEPP. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  5. ^ a b "Défi sceptique : bourses de 10 000 $ et un million de dollars américains" (in French). Les Sceptiques de Québec. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
  6. ^ Corinna Sachs (12 October 2004). "Übersinnliche Phänomene im Test" (PDF). Quarks & Co (in German). WDR. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  7. ^ a b "The Sisyphus Prize Pre-Test. Rules for applicants to ASKE". ASKE website. Association for Skeptical Enquiry. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
  8. ^ a b Joep Engels (30 September 2012). "Win een miljoen met het lezen van tarotkaarten". Trouw (in Dutch). Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  9. ^ a b Bird, J. Malcolm (December 1922). "A Square Deal for the Psychics". Scientific American. Vol. 127 no. 6. New York, NY: Scientific American Publishing Company. pp. 388–389, 443–445 – via HathiTrust.
  10. ^ a b "Abraham Kovoor". Thought & Action. Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
  11. ^ Larsen, Claus (September 2003). "Get Rich Quick or Save the World". Skeptic Report. Archived from the original on 23 March 2007. Retrieved 7 March 2007.
  12. ^ The Million Dollar Challenge
  13. ^ Mainfort, Donald (March 1999). "Sima Nan: Fighting Qigong Pseudoscience in China". Skeptical Inquirer. Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. 9 (1). Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  14. ^ "Our Challenge – Win Rupees 1 Crore". Tarksheel Society. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
  15. ^ "The IIG $100,000 Challenge". IIG website. Independent Investigations Group. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
  16. ^ ANP/AFP (30 May 2012). "Ghostbusters: is Hollywood a spiritual 'vortex'?". Radio Netherlands Worldwide. Retrieved 4 January 2015..
  17. ^ "The $100,000 Challenge". AS website. Australian Skeptics. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
  18. ^ Prabir Ghosh (22 June 2010). "Challenge to all 'supernatural' and 'paranormal' power holders/ astrologers etc". SRAI website. Science and Rationalists' Association of India. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  19. ^ "page 03 - KOLKATA Edition - salam duniya epaper kolkata - salam duniya epaper kolkata". salamduniya.in.
  20. ^ Stuart Landsborough. "What is the Psychic Challenge?". Stuart Landsborough's $100,000 Psychic Challenge. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  21. ^ Stuart Landsborough. "Rules of the Challenge". Stuart Landsborough's $100,000 Psychic Challenge. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  22. ^ "Telefono Antiplagio". Antiplagio.org. 2000. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
  23. ^ Jan Bosteels (3 July 2013). "Hoe meet je iets dat niet bestaat? SKEPP voert eerste test van 1 miljoen uit". Knack (in Dutch). Retrieved 6 January 2014.
  24. ^ Правила премии (in Russian). Премия имени Гарри Гудини. Retrieved 2015-08-03.
  25. ^ Шутова Е. (2015-07-24). Миллион за колдовство. Наука → Мракобесие (in Russian). ЗАО «Газета.Ру». Retrieved 2015-08-03.
  26. ^ Gregory H. Aicklen; John F. Blanton; Prasad N. Golla; Mike Selby; John A. Thomas. "The North Texas Skeptics Paranormal Challenge". NTS website. North Texas Skeptics. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  27. ^ Indo-Asian News Service (7 December 2005). "NRI group gets cracking on Asian occultists in Britain". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  28. ^ Indo-Asian News Service (14 January 2006). "Asian rationalists in UK dare tantriks". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  29. ^ Martin Vällik (16 March 2008). "10000 €". skeptik.ee (in Estonian). Eesti Skeptik. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  30. ^ Nestler, Ralf (21 August 2009). "Die Macht der Strahlen". Zeit Wissen (in German). Zeitverlag Gerd Bucerius. 5. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  31. ^ "Eine kurze Geschichte der GWUP" (in German). GWUP website. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
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  34. ^ Paalman, Jan (September 1988). "Psychochirurgie. Opereren met blote handen". Skepter (in Dutch). Stichting Skepsis. 1 (3): 28.
  35. ^ "Kristallkulan". SHA website (in Swedish). Swedish Humanist Association. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  36. ^ Padma Rao Sundarji (27 November 2014). "What is it with us and scandalous Swamis?". The Daily Mirror. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
  37. ^ "About the Fayetteville Freethinkers". Fayetteville Freethinkers. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  38. ^ Basava Premanand (15 October 1998). "The Challenge". Indian Skeptic website. Indian CSICOP. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  39. ^ Basava Premanand (29 August 1998). "Rules for the Paranormal Challenge". Indian Skeptic website. Indian CSICOP. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  40. ^ Chris Lefkow (22 September 1995). ""Milk Miracle" – or "Mass Hysteria"?". The Nepal Digest archive. Agence France-Presse. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
  41. ^ Lewis Wolpert (22 March 2002). "Science: a magical show of scepticism". The Independent.
  42. ^ Daniel Zepeda (17 August 2011). "Reto Paranormal de Papá Escéptico" (in Spanish). Papá Escéptico. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  43. ^ "$$$ Challenges". TBS website. Tampa Bay Skeptics. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
  44. ^ "A local group is offering a big reward". Global Broadcast Database. 18 April 2012.
  45. ^ "WILL VISITING SOMEONE'S FACEBOOK PAGE PUT YOU ON THEIR "PEOPLE YOU MAY KNOW" LIST?". unknown. 6 July 2017. Retrieved 9 June 2018.
  46. ^ a b "The Million Dollar Challenge". Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  47. ^ Timothy Ferris (23 November 1980). "Nonfiction in brief". The New York Times.
  48. ^ "Are you psychic?". St. Petersburg Times. 2 April 1989.
  49. ^ Wendy Grossman (9 December 1996). "Science: Putting psychics to the test. An arch-sceptic is offering $1m in a challenge to belief in the paranormal, writes Wendy Grossman". The Independent. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  50. ^ Randi, James (October 17, 2003). "Yellow Bamboo Analysis". Swift (newsletter). JREF.
  51. ^ Randi, James (October 3, 2003). "Yellow Bamboo is Bent". Swift (newsletter). JREF.
  52. ^ "Z comme zététique, ou le pourfendeur du paranormal" (in French). Agence France-Presse. 8 September 2006.
  53. ^ Gibson, Walter B. (August 1977). "$31,000 Magic Challenge". Houdini's Magic Magazine. Vol. 1 no. 1. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Stories Layouts & Press Inc. pp. 18–22, 92.
  54. ^ Hagarty, David A. (c. 1981). On the Inside at the Houdini Magical Hall of Fame. Niagara Falls, Canada: Magic Museums Limited. p. 29.
  55. ^ Neel Kamal (20 February 2012). "Assembly elections: Predict winners and win Rs 1 crore!". The Times of India. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
  56. ^ "'Astrologers biggest losers in 2014 Elections' – Humanists". The Siasat Daily. 21 June 2014. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
  57. ^ Bee Paul Hirschl. "In pursuit of the paranormal". Google News Archive. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 9 October 2015.
  58. ^ Dorma McHattie. "Psychic Illusionist Program". Google News Archive. Beaver County Times. Retrieved 9 October 2015.
  59. ^ Klass, Philip J. (1975). UFOs Explained. New York: Random House. pp. 355–359. ISBN 9780394492155. OCLC 979190.
  60. ^ Jeevan Mathew Kurian (13 June 2008). "He beats holy men at their own game". Thaindian News. Indo-Asian News Service. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
  61. ^ Martin Vällik (1 October 2012). "1 miljon eurot, kasvõi nõiavitsaga pildamise eest". skeptik.ee (in Estonian). Eesti Skeptik. Retrieved 6 January 2015.

Further reading[edit]

  • Christopher, Milbourne (1975), Mediums, Mystics & the Occult. Thomas Y. Crowell Co.
  • (in Dutch) Nanninga, Rob (1988), Parariteiten – een kritische blik op het paranormale. Het Spectrum.
  • Radin, Dean (2006), Entangled Minds: Extrasensory Experiences in a Quantum Reality. Paraview Pocket Books.