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Kathryn Novak
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PA
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MSNBC posted an article about his "supernatural" testing. You can find it here:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4331962/
If anyone sees my sanity, please return it to

me.
Jeff J.
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Those poor folks who get their channeling or aura, etc. messed up just because they are being tested.

That's the difference between testing science vs. nonsense.

He has offered that prize as long as I can remember (it started out at $10,000). It's amazing how delusional some people can be.

His website is http://www.randi.org. Great site.

Jeff
Tantrik
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You should really read the whole "challenge." I can't imagine why anyone except an egotistical fool would take part. It literally says that Randi can say ANYTHING about participants and they will have no recourse. That means he could easily lie and misrepresent facts and his victims couldn't do anything about it.

His test is not scientific. If it were, he would appoint a panel that would have full ability to determine if someone was successful. As it is, he and his victims decide, and he is far more clever at coming up with an "out" than his victims.

Speaking of victims, he has, of course, admitted that he had people depend upon him when he lied to them with totally false astrology predictions. As far as I know, to this day he has never apologized for his misrepresentation. Nice guy.
MrCyNic
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Quote:
On 2004-03-09 01:01, Tantrik wrote:
You should really read the whole "challenge." I can't imagine why anyone except an egotistical fool would take part. It literally says that Randi can say ANYTHING about participants and they will have no recourse.


It says no such thing. It says that "all data (photographic, recorded, written, etc.) gathered as a result of the testing may be used freely by JREF in any way that Mr. Randi may choose."

This does not give him any right, nor does it express any desire on his part, to falsify or misrepresent that data.

Quote:
That means he could easily lie and misrepresent facts and his victims couldn't do anything about it.


Actually, here's what the document really says:

"When entering into this challenge, the applicant surrenders any and all rights to legal action against Mr. Randi, against any persons peripherally involved, and against the James Randi Educational Foundation, as far as this may be done by established statutes. This applies to injury, accident, or any other damage of a physical or emotional nature, and/or financial, or professional, loss or damage of any kind. However, this rule in no way affects the awarding of the prize."

If you're suggesting that this clause gives Randi the right to falsify test documentation or to lie about a claimant's performance, I'd have to point out the line about "established statutes." Perhaps someone with a legal background could clear that up.

Furthermore, your use of the word "victims" here constitutes a yellow-card offence.

Quote:
His test is not scientific. If it were, he would appoint a panel that would have full ability to determine if someone was successful.


The JREF does not conduct the formal tests. Those are left to independant, scientifically qualified bodies. Furthermore, it is specified that "all tests must be designed in such a way that the results are self-evident, and no judging process is required. We do not design the protocol independently of the applicant, who must provide clear guidelines so that the test may be properly set."

Quote:
As it is, he and his victims decide, and he is far more clever at coming up with an "out" than his victims.


Once the parameters are set, Randi takes no part in the formal testing process, and has no power to amend or "spin" the results.

Quote:
Speaking of victims, he has, of course, admitted that he had people depend upon him when he lied to them with totally false astrology predictions. As far as I know, to this day he has never apologized for his misrepresentation. Nice guy.


A blatant ad hominem attack, without relevance to the discussion at hand. Your opinions on what you may have heard about the man's past conduct have no bearing on the legal or scientific implications of the challenge.

Cheers,

Cy.
Tantrik
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"all data (photographic, recorded, written, etc.) gathered as a result of the testing may be used freely by JREF in any way that Mr. Randi may choose."

"the applicant surrenders any and all rights to legal action against Mr. Randi"


In other words, Randi if you sign up for a "test," Randi can legally say anythiing about it, true or false, and you can't do anything. That's exactly what I posted.



"all tests must be designed in such a way that the results are self-evident, and no judging process is required. We do not design the protocol independently of the applicant, who must provide clear guidelines so that the test may be properly set."

To which I said that Randi is far better at designing these things than victims of his "test." The results must be "self-evident" within the parameters designed by Randi and approved of by his unknowing victim(s). That is exactly what I posted.

And, as I posted, to the best of my knowledge he still has not apologized for his disingenuousness, although he has admitted it in writing. How is describing that wrong?
Jonathan Townsend
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Okay, let's bring this into the arena of constructive dialog;

What do you suggest?

Someone makes a claim of some ability. How would you phrase the request for a clear specification of the ability so a good experiment can be designed to show that the odds of a positive result are less than one in twenty and can be interpreted as significant?

Likewise how would you suggest phrasing the idea that in discussing the findings of the experiment, that all interview and observations will be made available for inspection so other experimenters can verify the tests were designed and performed in a way that would test the phenomena?
...to all the coins I've dropped here
MrCyNic
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Quote:
"the applicant surrenders any and all rights to legal action against Mr. Randi"


In other words, Randi if you sign up for a "test," Randi can legally say anythiing about it, true or false, and you can't do anything. That's exactly what I posted.



I understand your opinion, and I'm not attacking you for it. What I am doing is questioning your interpretation of the document. I don't see how reserving the right to publish the test data implies reserving the right to retroactively modify that data or to falsify the results. The JREF does not have the final word on test results, and can neither modify nor suppress them. If someone wins, they get the money whether Randi likes it or not, and no matter what he says about it. This is very clearly stated in the rules.

It's pretty clear that no one at the JREF wants to get sued, but I still come back to the fact that there is full co-operation with the applicant on the test protocol. The formal testing is not carried out by the JREF, nor do they say whether or not the prize has been won. An appointed independent scientific body does that. The prize goes out no matter what Randi or anyone else has to say about it. Even if the JREF resorted to the kind of tactics you're suggesting (and I see no evidence that they could or would do so), the results would stand, the paranormalists would have proven at least one serious point and scientists the world over would suddenly have something new and very exciting to think about.

Quote:

"all tests must be designed in such a way that the results are self-evident, and no judging process is required. We do not design the protocol independently of the applicant, who must provide clear guidelines so that the test may be properly set."

To which I said that Randi is far better at designing these things than victims of his "test."



You see, to me this is an enormously sweeping and heavily loaded statement. Show me some specific evidence that applicants are being taken for a ride and I will definitely consider it.

By the way, just so I'm clear on this, are you still holding to your claim that the testing procedure is unscientific? Could you elaborate on that?

Quote:
The results must be "self-evident" within the parameters designed by Randi and approved of by his unknowing victim(s). That is exactly what I posted.



Again, I heard you the first time and I'm in no way attacking you personally. Once more, I would dispute your reading and selective quotation of the document. The protocols are not "designed" by Randi and blindly "approved" by the applicant. They are arrived upon in full co-operation, in the interest of bullet-proofing the testing procedure and providing a definitive and unquestionable result. Clearly, this is in everybody's interest.

Quote:
And, as I posted, to the best of my knowledge he still has not apologized for his disingenuousness, although he has admitted it in writing. How is describing that wrong?


As I mentioned, I'd need to see some legal or scientific relevance to this portion of your argument (over and above a simple personal attack) before accepting it into the discussion. I've never met Randi, so cannot comment on whether or not he was then, or is now, a "nice guy." Relate it to the legal or scientific status of the challenge.

Cheers,

Cy.

*Edit* I've just received an email from a lawyer friend of mine that, for me, clarifies the issue. According to him, the terms and conditions of the Randi Challenge "would not permit [the JREF] to libel someone simply because he was an entrant".

Thanks to Tantrik and others for an interesting discussion, which has given me several things to think about.
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