'Top' psychics offered $1M to prove powers
While high-profile medium James Van Praagh has yet to take the bait, a self-proclaimed Toronto psychic says she's considering taking up a $1-million challenge to prove her abilities.
"I would say yes, I would take [the] challenge because I have enough faith in my own abilities if I was available," Toronto-based psychic Nikki told CBC News.
"I am the real thing so I don't have to worry about this stuff."
The challenge is being made by the Florida-based James Randi Educational Foundation, founded by magician and skeptic James Randi to educate the public and media on the dangers of accepting unproven claims, and to support research into paranormal claims in controlled scientific conditions.
Although the $1-million US challenge has been around for years, Randi recently reissued the challenge, directing it at celebrity psychics including Van Praagh and Allison DuBois, after their appearance on ABC's Nightline show.
"The challenge is open to everyone, famous or not, but the high-profile operators are getting rich by preying on people's grief and guilt about loved ones who have died. It's really despicable," Randi told CBC News via email.
"Hopefully, the JREF's Million Dollar Challenge makes people think twice when they hear psychics claiming they can predict the future or talk to the dead," Randi said. "If psychics can really do what they say they can, why hasn't anyone taken our million dollars?"
Nikki said she would first need to learn more about the details of the test and the $1-million prize before agreeing.
"I don't like skeptics," Nikki said. "They not only put psychics down, they put everybody down. They don't know enough about predictions."
But Nikki said her track record of predictions over the past 20 years validates her abilities, which, according to her website, includes prognosticating the Sept. 11 attacks, the Japan tsunami and the deaths of Michael Jackson, crocodile hunter Steve Irwin and Anna Nicole Smith.
Randi said the conditions of each test for the challenge are designed on exactly what each of the psychics claim they can do. They are negotiated, in consultation with outside experts, and mutually agreed to by both the person being tested and by the foundation.
He said the conditions would be different for someone claiming they could read minds compared to someone who said they could bend spoons mentally or predict the future.
"The important thing is that the test is set up to prevent cheating. The so-called 'psychics' must not be able to look up information about a person in advance, and they must not be able to pry information out of someone with vague and leading questions," he said.
Randi said, so far, the foundation has heard nothing from Van Praagh or Allison DuBois — or any other celebrity psychic.
Randi, who gained fame for taking on televangelist Peter Popoff and Israeli spoonbender Uri Geller, said since the challenge was established, hundreds of psychics all over the world have taken up the offer.
"Most of them have been convinced that they'd pass the test and win the million, yet every time we've tested them under scientific conditions, their 'powers' seem to have disappeared. Hey, that's a good trick," he said.