Many people claim to have had paranormal experiences. But one man wanted to prove these experiences scientifically that he even offered $1 million to anyone who could prove their paranormal experiences scientifically.
The $1 million paranormal Challenge, known as the Randi Challenge, offered prize money for anyone who could demonstrate a supernatural or paranormal capability under agreed scientific testing. No one ever won the prize.
Who was James Randi?
Randall James Hamilton Zwinge was born in Toronto, Canada, on August 7, 1928. Randi was a precociously gifted child. He developed his interest in stage magic at a young age. He ran away from home to join the circus, where he became a mind reader and an escape artist. (Source: Nature)
In the late 1940s, he started his career by escaping a straight jacket while hanging upside down over Niagara Falls. He repeated this act while suspending Broadway. Randi also successfully attempted this act within a block of ice. His goal was to break Houdini’s records. He wanted to be able to escape straight jackets faster. (Source: NY Times)
He became known as The Amazing and started touring with the famous theatrical rock star Alice Cooper. Cooper’s show always ended with Randi executing him. His career took a different turn by 1976. Along with mathematician Martin Gardner, planetary scientist Carl Sagan, and science fiction author Isaac Asimov, he founded the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.
He became a skeptic who investigated spiritualism and seances. Randi was known to challenge faith healers, psychics, and UFO believers. Randi’s committee started publishing the Skeptical Inquirer, a magazine devoted to the scientific investigation of paranormal or otherwise extraordinary claims.
Randi dawned an eccentric image. He sported a long white beard, making him look like a wizard, combining it with his wizard-styled hats as he took on his most enduring adversary, British Israeli illusionist and self-acclaimed psychic, Uri Geller. Randi attacked Geller’s psychokinetic spoon-bending capability. (Source: Nature)
Their relationship was known to be strangely symbiotic. Randi exposed Geller’s deception, but Geller took it as good publicity. Randi then wrote several books like Flim-Flam!: The Truth about Unicorns, Parapsychology, and Other Delusions, Testing Yourself for ESP, The Truth about Uri Geller, The Faith Healers, The Mask of Nostradamus, and The Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural. (Source: Macfound)
Randi was also the recipient of a MacArthur genius grant and has lectured globally and appeared on numerous television shows. He also founded the James Randi Educational Foundation, where he sponsored the One Million Dollar Challenge. Randi passed away at the age of 92, leaving his spouse, artist Deyvi Orangel Peña Artaega. (Source: NY Times)
The $1 Million Challenge
Since the 1960s, Randi had offered substantial amounts to anyone who could have paranormal or psychic powers. Still, through the James Randi Educational Foundation, Randi established the One Million Dollar Challenge, raising the prize to $1 million.
The contest ran up until 2015. Participants will win if they could demonstrate evidence of a paranormal, supernatural, or occult phenomenon, following scientific protocols set by the committee. Throughout the years, thousands of aspirants, but the prize was left unclaimed until Randi retired. (Source: Nature)