Has anyone attempted the Randi Challenge counting on luck?

Let’s say I get 1000 interested people. We all go and take the Randi Challenge on some aspect of paranormal ability; a test of ESP, for example. None of us have ESP.

Surely, out of the 1001 of us, at least a couple are going to get lucky enough to register a false positive? Logic dictates that it must happen with a high enough sample of people.

Yes, but can you repeat it? That is the trick, you see. If it can’t be repeated, at will, then it is either luck or a scam. The Randi Challenge requires repeatability.

It is possible to design a test for certain types of ESP for which the odds are much greater than 1000:1 of a false positive. Tests are designed individually for each applicant, as each applicant’s claims are unique. Most applicants never even come to an agreement with the foundation over what the proper test should be, and zero applicants have even passed the preliminary test. Part of the application process requires providing notarized statements from professional people that are not your friends that you can do what you say you can do. Randi is not just screwing around.

To take the Randi challenge, you need to get by a pre-test.

As I recall, the final test is set up so there’s a 1/1,000,000 chance of hitting it by chance alone.

Suppose the pre-test has 1/1000 odds.

So for example, you tell Randi that your special ability is to guess a random number that he’s thinking of. In the pre-test, they pick a random number between 1 and 1000 that you have to guess. In the final test, they pick a number between 1 and 1,000,000.

So your odds of getting the prize are 1 in 1 billion, assuming that Randi doesn’t renege.

With those odds, you are probably better off saving yourself the trouble and buying a few lottery tickets.


I am not completely certain, but ISTM that he applies this selectively. If you sound sane but mistaken (say you think you can dowse) it doesn’t seem you necessarily get asked for this. If you sound like a total whackjob (“I can make the moon change it’s course across the sky with my mind and two bananas”) then you’ll get asked for notorized statements quick smart.

At least one applicant, LostAngeles, (I’m drawing from memory here) applied and took the preliminary test. She stated she did not believe those gadgets that are supposed to enhance CD audio performance worked, but she would try to guess which CDs were “treated” from those that were not anyway.

She failed. The only difference between her and other candidates was her LACK of belief in a paranormal power!

[smart arse mode] They all have [/smart arse mode]

On further review I see you can now be completely certain!