Will Any Medium Win the $1 Million Challenge?
ABC News, July 30, 2002
By Buck Wolf
— Offer $1 million to anyone who can prove their psychic powers, and a man might knock on your door swearing that he can glow in the dark.
August ushers in National Psychic Week and if you can levitate, communicate with the dead — or even bend spoons with your mind — a cool million is waiting for you.
The James Randi Educational Foundation is reminding the psychic community of the large cash prize awaiting the person who can prove his or her paranormal prowess under controlled conditions.
“This is easy money for the thousands of people out there who claim to have special powers,” says paranormal investigator James Randi. “Prove it. Take our money. Please. Operators are standing by.”
Mediums Rarely Face Scientific Scrutiny
You’d think today’s top psychics — who make bold claims about their abilities on TV — would quickly step forward for the million-dollar payday. But John Edward, who relays messages from the deceased on the SciFi channel’s hit series Crossing Over, has yet to accept.
But Randi says Browne has subsequently been uncooperative.
As for Miss Cleo, Florida’s attorney general sued her earlier this year, alleging that the Jamaican shaman, among other things, wasn’t even Jamaican.
Sparky the Psychic Dog
Who does go after the million-dollar prize? About three dozen people each month write, e-mail or bang on Randi’s door, claiming they have supernatural powers. Randi and his associate, Andrew Harter, have seen it all:
One California man insisted that his dog, Sparky, could read his mind.
A Chinese couple insisted their little girl could read what was written on a piece of paper inserted into the child’s ear.
A dentist stepped forward to claim he could tell whether a battery was charged by holding it to his throat.
Another guy wanted to prove his telekinetic powers by jumping out of an airplane without a parachute and surviving.
About 30 people apply to be tested each month, Harter says. About a third of them claim to be dowsers — people who think they can find water, gold coins or drugs using a tool such as a forked stick.
Many folks are stepping forward these days to say they can manipulate TV personalities to say whatever they want. “This one guy kept saying, ‘I can make Oprah say Randi’s name.’ And you couldn’t convince him otherwise,” Harter says.
“Self-delusion can be very powerful.”