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Squirreled away in James Randi’s latest newsletter is a rather large piece of news – the million dollar challenge for claims of the paranormal will end in two years:

It was March 6th, 1998, when the JREF Million-Dollar Challenge first came into existence. That’s almost ten years ago. It’s always been a simple, direct, matter: do what you claim you can do of a paranormal nature, and walk away with the prize. Our expectations at first were that we’d attract major personalities by this means, but they’ve avoided having to take the test by simply not applying; those who have actually applied are generally honestly self-deluded persons who have difficulty stating what they can do, which can be understood if they really don’t know what they’re experiencing; we at JREF have gone through involved procedures to help them recognize their problems. Usually, they have indicated that they don’t know what real scientific rules are, when it comes down to their actually being properly tested.

All this is obvious to anyone who has followed the action over the last decade. Now, while the JREF earns a certain income from having the prize money very conservatively invested, that sum could certainly be used more productively if it were made freely available to us.

As of March 6th, 2010 – twelve years after the challenge was first offered – it will be.

The James Randi Educational Foundation Million-Dollar Challenge will be discontinued 24 months from this coming March 6th, and those prize funds will then be available to generally add to our flexibility. This move will free us to do many more projects, which will be announced at that time.

Those who have looked at the challenge in detail would probably disagree with Randi’s assertion that application has “always been a simple, direct, matter”…but I’m hoping to discuss those issues more in the near future. Randi asserts that the move is definitely not because of concerns about about the safety of the prize money.