Friday, October 21, 2005

Prizes galore

Now, someone's offering a whole bunch of money for proving the superiority of one theory over another. I say "a whole bunch" because my keyboard does not have a key for the type of currency involved, I do not even know what said type of currency is.

Anyway, what is it with offering prizes for proof? I think it all goes back to James Randi's Million Dollar Challenge, though I'm not sure. The religion challenge was spurred by Kent Hovind's challenge to prove evolution, early in the life of this blog I wrote about a prize for proving the Earth is not the center of the universe.

There's a key difference between all these other challenges and Randi's. Randi is not asking anyone to prove an abstract claim, just demonstrate claimed paranormal powers, and, as the rules state:
Applicant must state clearly in advance, and applicant and JREF will agree upon, what powers or abilities will be demonstrated, the limits of the proposed demonstration (so far as time, location and other variables are concerned) and what will constitute both a positive and a negative result. This is the primary and most important of these rules.
There is no need to assure the fairness of the judges as other challenges do, because there is an insistence that the demonstration of the power be clear enough that anyone can tell whether the thing happened or not. If Hovind et al was inspired by Randi, it's surprising they can't see this basic difference. Now, if they'd offer money for some specific piece of evidence, then we'd be talking.

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