The Million Dollar Challenge
Every year a few individuals apply for the James Randi Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge. These individuals must prove scientifically that they can demonstrate a supernatural or paranormal ability. To date, over 1 000 people have applied. Currently no one has been able to successfully demonstrate a paranormal or supernatural ability.
Why it matters
- The videos below give an example of how people can easily be led astray. Over the past several years magnetic / hologram and ion bracelets have been sold to countless individuals and endorsed by several sports athletes. By giving a short demonstration to a potential buyer that involves a misleading application of physics, the customer is led to believe that the bracelets being sold make them stronger. The con is performed as follows:
- The potential buyer is instructed to stand on one leg with their arms stretched out to their sides.
- The seller then press down on one of the outstretched arms of the potential buyer causing them to fall over.
- The process is repeated but with the potential buyer wearing or holding onto the “special” bracelet.
- At this point the seller then press down on the same outstretched arm of the potential buyer but with the force directed inward as well.
- As a result, the potential buyer is kept standing on one foot, with the belief that the bracelet gives them the power of strength and stability.
- Billions of dollars are spent every year by individuals that believe someone or something will: give them insight into the future, help them discover past lives or give them superhuman powers. All too often, the individuals that buy these products are led astray by pseudo-science and/or misrepresentation of statistics. By simply looking at what is being offered from the view point of a scientist and using a little statistics you can see easily determine when you are being lied to.
- The 2012 challenge involving one variation of these bracelets can be seen below:
- Watch James Randi’s explanation of how the con is performed below:
Show What You’ve Learned?
Using the information provided above, answer the following questions.
- In the video of the 2012 test, why couldn’t the applicant for the million dollar challenge simply show that the bracelet was successful 10 out of 20 times?
- Why does the person performing the test apply an inward force on the person?