There is a One-Million Dollar Award for Anyone that can Demonstrate that they have a Paranormal or Supernatural Ability
The One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge is offered by the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF), which says it will pay out one million U.S. dollars to anyone who can demonstrate a supernatural or paranormal ability under agreed-upon scientific testing criteria. Over a thousand people have applied to take the challenge, but none has yet been successful.
James Randi developed the idea for the challenge when, during a radio panel discussion, a parapsychologist challenged him to “put [his] money where [his] mouth is.” In 1964, Randi started offering $1,000, then $10,000 prizes. Later, Lexington Broadcasting wanted Randi to do a show called the $100,000 Psychic Prize, so they added $90,000 to the original $10,000 raised by Randi. Finally, in 1996, one of his friends, Internet pioneer Rick Adams donated US $1,000,000 for the prize.
By April 1, 2007, only those with an already existing media profile and the backing of a reputable academic were allowed to apply for the challenge. It was hoped that the resources freed up by not having to test obscure and possibly mentally ill claimants would then be used to challenge high-profile alleged psychics and mediums such as Sylvia Browne and John Edward with a campaign in the media.
On January 4, 2008, it was announced that the prize would be discontinued on March 6, 2010 in order to free the money for other uses. In the meantime, claimants were welcome to vie for it. One of the reasons offered for its discontinuation is the unwillingness of higher-profile claimants to apply. However, at The Amaz!ng Meeting 7, it was announced that the $1 Million Challenge prize would not expire in 2010. The Foundation issued a formal update on its website on July 30, 2009, announcing the Challenge’s continuation, and stated more information would be provided at a later date on any possible changes to the requirements and procedures.
As an April Fool’s prank on April 1, 2008, at the MIT Media Lab, Randi awarded the prize to magician Seth Raphael after participating in a test of Raphael’s “psychic abilities”.
In 2010, D. J. Grothe indicated his further plans to change and expand the Million Dollar Challenge, including making the application process more transparent, producing more live challenges, being more aggressive with the challenge in order to raise awareness about irresponsible pseudoscientific claims made by institutions.
On March 8, 2011, the JREF announced that qualifications were being altered to open the Challenge to more applicants. Whereas applicants were previously required to submit press clippings and a letter from an academic institution to qualify, the new rules now require applicants to present either press clippings, a letter from an academic institution, or a public video demonstrating their ability. The JREF explained that these new rules would give people without media or academic documentation a way to be considered for testing, and would allow the JREF to use online video and social media to reach a wider audience.
Since the challenge was first created by Randi in 1964, about a thousand people have applied, but no one has been successful. Randi has said that few unsuccessful applicants ever seriously consider that their failure to perform might be due to the nonexistence of the power they believe they possess