As was briefly announced at The Amazing Meeting #13 in July, the James Randi Educational Foundation is changing focus. The new plan is announced on their website.
The JREF will be awarding grants to worthy applicants.
Starting in 2016, we will be making grants to non-profit groups that we believe are promoting activities that encourage critical thinking and a fact-based world view. We expect to make a small number of grants each year totaling approximately $100,000 per year. We will NOT accept suggestions, applications or proposals for these grants. We hope they will come as a pleasant surprise to the recipients, just as Randi’s MacArthur foundation grant was a pleasant surprise to him.
The Million Dollar Challenge to paranormal claims will continue but in a slightly different way.
Effective immediately, JREF will no longer accept applications directly from people claiming to have a paranormal power. We will however offer our Challenge to anyone who has passed a preliminary test that meets with our approval. We will provide example protocols early next year. Of course, any established psychic may always contact JREF to be tested directly (preferably with an independent, third party TV crew.)
After decades of a clear monetary offer to produce sound evidence of the paranormal (even back to the days of Houdini), the world has NEVER been given even such evidence. This is telling. Psychics and those who claim to possess special powers are deluding themselves or would rather gain financially from those that believe without testing. It’s quite clear. But, the door remains open to anyone who disputes that and can show that such activity is more than skill or luck but is truly beyond normal. We encourage those claimants to attempt the test for the good of humanity and for you to substantiate your extraordinary story.
The JREF will cease taking memberships and donations. It will become a much more quiet, behind the scenes means of support for science-based thinking.
With the retirement of Mr. Randi, it is the end of an era. It’s inevitable. On a personal note, I have worked with (and for) the JREF in the past year. (My involvement ended early this month.) It is difficult and sad to face change in the skeptical community as our founding fathers have aged and some have passed. The remaining deserve to enjoy the rest of their lives. They have given us a great deal and have been astoundingly successful in educating the public about charlatans and misleading claims.
The community has greatly expanded from this original foundation and now exists in small groups and efforts all over the world. And, it exists in the mission and actions of many individuals. I count myself in that and will continue that mission to support reason, sound evidence, skeptical thinking and scientific progress.
To that end, Doubtful News will remain a premier online source for a skeptical view of questionable claims.We do this because it’s the right thing and we are passionate about it. If you wish to help in that mission and help us grow, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. There is a lot to do – a LOT – to continue that critical and necessary voice in society.
May new leaders emerge, new organizations form and existing ones strengthen, and new projects be launched.