Prologue- I’ve made the Skeptic Challenge as a response to the Psychic Challenge. I trust you’ll see its failings.The following is a transcript of “The Skeptic Challenge” video on Youtube, with additional annotations. Commentary is being edited for publication in a future blog to follow.
My name is John Benneth and I will pay one thousand dollars to any person who can demonstrate, under conditions similar to James “the Amazing” Randi’s Psychic Challenge, that the Psychic Challenge is a valid offer for proof of psychic powers, the paranormal, the supernatural, homeopathy or anything else but Mr. Randi’s own illusions. Such demonstration must take place under the following rules and limitations which are in essence identical to those of the Psychic Challenge. Applicants or anyone offering proof must agree, that in believing that the Psychic Challenge is the quintessential acid test for claims of the paranormal, they must also believe that their own claims can withstand reciprocity and be tested by the same rules, conditions, limitations demands of the Psychic Challenge, and that this, The Skeptic Challenge, is the quintessential acid test of atheism.
If you hold the Psychic Challenge out to be a common standard for judging the paranormal, then you must agree then that the conditions are universal, logical and held in common, in the public domain, without copyright, not patentable or proprietary, like the code duello, to be used by anyone and everyone when examining an unusual claim or answering a challenge. It is understood then, that in responding to this, the Skeptic challenge, you believe the terms for the Psychic Challenge, which you are seeking to validate, derive from common logic and are definitive of the best known method’s by which to determine the truth of a claim. Therefore, you must believe that similar rules and limitations must apply in establishing the truth of any claim, including those made by the Psychic Challenge itself, herein that Mr. Randi has one million dollars to award for evidence of those things he challenges.
Put plainly and simply, I, John Benneth and one thousand dollars say that Mr. Randi does not have one million dollars for proof of claims of the paranormal or anything else but his own illusions.Listen carefully to what I have to say, and if you possess an open, clear and objective mind, by the end of this video you too will agree with me and millions of others that the Psychic Challenge is a hoax.
Once again, although the award is smaller, and the challenge is made by me, except for slight changes in wording where needed to maintain the relevance of the charge, the rules for the Skeptic Challenge are the same as they are for the Psychic Challenge.
Rule Number One: According to Randi this is the first and the most important of the limitations, conditions and rules for establishing a claim. The prospective applicant, hereafter referred to as you, and I must agree, what constitutes proof for the validity of the Psychic Challenge, 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.
Rule # 2 I will only accept an actual agreed upon performance of proof. Anecdotal accounts will not be accepted or considered to be potential proof. Unless they can show qualified and independent disposition of funds, records such as bank statements will not be accepted or even considered.
Rule #3 I will consult competent counsel when expert evaluation of the claim is required. I have no interest in theories or explanations of what constitutes validity for the Psychic Challenge; if you attempt to provide me with that kind of garbage, it will be denied, dismissed and thrown away.
Rule #4 You as a prospective applicant must agree that photographs, recorded, or written, and material collected as a result of contact with me about the Skeptic Challenge, the application and records of inquiries belong to me and may be used by me for my pleasure unless otherwise agreed upon and stipulated.
Rule #5 After an agreement is reached/ on what constitutes proof, no part of it can be changed in any way without agreement by John Benneth – in writing.
Rule #6 If you are too far away or I don’t have the time, you will be required to reveal your evidence in a location that can be attended by my representative. This preliminary investigation is to determine if you are likely to have the proof needed to perform as promised, using our agreed protocol. To date, no applicant has passed this preliminary investigation, and this has eliminated the need for a formal investigation. There is no limit on the number of times you may re-apply, but re-application can take place only after a year has passed since the completion of the preliminary investigation.
Rule #7 Your expenses such as transportation, accommodation, materials, assistants, and/or all other costs for any persons or procedures incurred in pursuit of the reward, are the sole responsibility of you the applicant. I will not bear any of the costs.
#8 When entering into this challenge, as far as this may be done by established legal statutes, in applying for the Skeptic Challenge you must surrender any and all rights to legal action against me, and/or against any persons peripherally involved. This applies to injury, accident, physical damage, emotional suffering, financial loss, professional loss, or damage of any kind. However, this rule in no way affects the awarding of the prize, once it is properly won in accord with the agreed upon protocol.
#9 At the formal investigation, in advance, an independent person will be placed in charge of a personal check from John Benneth for one percent of the award, same as in the Psychic Challenge. In this case that would be ten whole dollars. In the event that the claimant is successful under the agreed-upon terms and conditions, that check shall be immediately surrendered to the claimant, and within ten days, I will pay to the claimant the remainder of the reward, for a total of $1,000. One thousand dollars in cash is held at this time in the form of a personal check made out by me as assurance of the prize funds. Validation of this money and its current status may be obtained by contacting John Benneth through Bandershot on Youtube or this website, johnbenneth.wordpress.com.
A note by me here. I have seen what is claimed to be a bank statement that is offered as proof of the Psychic Challenge. After Randi qualified me as an applicant I called Goldman Sachs, the investment firm touted as holding the account, and I talked to Naomi Shapiro, who Randi claimed was the account manager for the Psychic Challenge. Ms Shapiro could not me tell anything about it, much less validate it. It was soon after that that Mr. Randi complained that Goldman Sachs’s attorney called him and ordered him to stop using their name on his website. Randi’s evidence of proof of the Psychic Challenges is currently NOT on Randi’s website, but on a website that features magic tricks. The validity he claims is now relegated to a small dark corner of the Internet, on a website entitled “magicandillusion.com.” So please don’t bother offering a bank statement from Goldman Sachs or an invitation to call Naomi Shapiro as proof. It’s already been checked out and found to be false. The psychic challenge is just an illusion constructed by a failed magician who has a long history of miscalculating his tricks and becoming victimized by them. After spending his early years in a body cast, he has had to be rescued from the outside after being locked in a safe, let out of jail or handcuffs. The Psychic Challenge is not the first time one his illusions has turned on him, having had to be saved from drowning, suffocation, a noose and burning, cut out of a straight jacket & untied from a tree.
#10: Copies of the Skeptic Challenge application are available free of charge to any qualified person who requests it, or it can be downloaded from the Internet, at Bandershot.com or my blog johnbenneth dot wordpress dot com.
# 11: This offer is made by me on the behalf of NO other person or organization. Although others may become involved in the examination of your claim and may add their reward money to the total offered, I, John Benneth will manage the challenge. As in the Psychic Chlalenge I will not entertain any demand that the thousand dollars be deposited in escrow, displayed in cash, or otherwise produced in advance of the test being performed.
I love this next one. This is what Randi requires, so by terms of the Psychic Challenge, it must be the standard of truth. Whereas Randi inistss on an “academic”, since the Skeptic Challenge is in essence a challenge of atheism, I have replaced the witnessing of special powers by an “academic” with the witnessing of a skeptic’s special powers of validation by a Christian Science practitioner.
Rule #12: This offer is NOT open to just anyone. Before being considered as an applicant, you must satisfy two conditions. First, you must have a “media presence,” which means you have been published, written about, or are known to the media in regard to your claimed abilities or powers to validate the Psychic Challenge. You can established this by producing articles, videos, books, or other published material that specifically addresses your claim. Second, you must produce at least one signed document from a Christian Science practitioner who has witnessed, predicted or divined your power or ability of Psychic Challenge validation.
#13: National origin, gender, age, race, and educational background are not factors for acceptance.
#14: This prize will continue to be offered until it is awarded or until the Psychic Challenge dies. Should the Psychic Challenge still be offered and the Skeptic Challenge remain uncollected at the time of my death , the administration of the prize will pass into other hands, and it is intended that it continue with the full force of my mandate as if I was GOVERNING FROM THE GRAVE. I added that. This next part, rule #15, Randi puts in all caps, so I will too and use fewer words.
Rule #15: YOU MUST AGREE WITH ME WHAT WILL DEMONSTRATE PROOF FOR THE PSYCHIC CHALLENGE.
#16: A notarized form found at Bandershot.com or on my blog at johnbenneth.wordpress.com must be accompanied by a brief, two-paragraph description of your demonstration. Upon a protocol being developed, that description may be extended. (pause)
Please do not burden me with theories, philosophical observations, jokes, insults, previous examples, anecdotal evidence or other comments. I am only interested in an actual demonstration of proof for the Psychic Challenge. Oh yes.
An additional note here: There will be no special rules, exceptions, conditions, standards, or favors granted to you without my consent in advance. If you refuse to agree to meet the rules as outlined here, you will not be considered here to have ever been an applicant. Complete agreement with these rules will be the ONLY way for you to graduate from “applicant” to “claimant.”By signing, notarizing and submitting the printed form, you signify agreement with all of the above rules. Be advised that you should conduct proper and secure tests of your own to determine whether your abilities or claims are actually valid.This application will be signed by John Benneth and returned to the applicant by mail after a test protocol has been mutually agreed upon, and a test date and location have been determined.
IMPORTANT: Only claims that can be verified by evidence under proper observing conditions will be accepted. Also, John Benneth will NOT accept claims of anonymous donors such as “Richard Adams, III,” the existence of bank accounts or negotiable bonds in Randi’s name at Goldman Sachs, the validity of Naomi Shapiro, unilateral conditions, Atheism, debunking, ghostbusting, MacArthur Genius awards, causing disbelief in God, peer review, or the gold standard of science as proof that James “the Amazing” Randi has a million dollars for proof of the paranormal. John Benneth will also NOT accept evidence that is likely to cause injury of any sort to Randi or anyone else, such as web pages, temper tantrums, withholding of air, food or water, or the use of illicit materials, drugs, or dangerous devices, or evidence that is meant to insult, defame, discredit or intimidate. Write to me with your preliminary evidence at Bandershot on Youtube.com, and if it passes as having potential validity, I will send you a mailing address to which you can send your application form.Once again, the conditions for this, the Skeptic Challenge, mimic and mock the conditions, terms, rules and limitations held forth in the Psychic Challenge. Compare them and you will see that there is no substantial difference.If you once believed the Psychic Challenge to be the gold standard for questioning the paranormal, then the Skeptic Challenge must now be the gold standard for testing Atheism. Are not the words psychic, paranormal and supernatural merely secular terms for Man’s spiritual abilities? Does anyone but an atheist not belive that God is the greatest paranormalist of them all?
All potential applicants to the Skeptic Challenge must have watched the Youtube video. Thank you for watching and good luck.
Copyright John Benneth, 2007