Help to Make The Season Bright
James Randi Educational Foundation’s annual end-of-year fundraising
initiative, The Season of Reason, supports our important work combating
harmful paranormal and pseudoscientific beliefs.
half of our annual support comes during this critical year-end period
and we couldn't continue our operations without it. This year, we are
asking you to help us raise $220,000 to support the JREF’s grassroots
and educational programs that will be the backbone of the JREF’s work in
JREF is an independent non-profit and all donations are used for the
sole purpose of promoting critical thinking to the public and advancing
our skeptical, pro-science mission. Your Season of Reason contribution
will help us teach students to think critically about the world, support
skeptical grassroots campaigns, and take on public figures and
celebrities who promote dangerous nonsense.
Donate today to help us reach our goal!
a one-time donation of $100 or more or pledge an on-going monthly
donation of $25 or more during the Season of Reason and you will receive
this limited-edition, hand-made, three inch diameter, ceramic ornament.
The design on the 2011 Season of Reason ornament is James Randi as
"SkeptiClaus" based on a fantastic photo taken at The Amazing Meeting
2011 by Ingrid Laas. Randi really enjoys the design.
annual Season of Reason ornaments are a collector’s item. Hundreds of
JREF supporters participated in last year’s Season of Reason, and by
doing so again this year, you will add to your collection. Don't miss
your chance to keep your collection, and the JREF, going strong.
Zombies Bring Challenge to Celebrity “Psychic Medium”
Van Praagh has made himself rich by claiming he talks to the dead on
daytime TV and at pricey ticketed seances—but he wouldn’t talk at all
when ‘the dead’ actually turned up at his $100-a-head seminar to ask why
he won’t prove his psychic powers. The JREF brought a small horde of
costumed ‘zombies’ to a resort in Laguna Beach where Van Praagh’s
“Spirit Circle” was set to begin. Our video of the encounter has been
featured at the Los Angeles Times, Forbes, the OC Weekly, the Laguna Beach Patch, and the Huffington Post.
Watch the video at Randi.org and see behind-the-scenes photos from the event.
For Good Reason returns: Richard Dawkins on Faith, Biology, and Skepticism
JREF president D.J. Grothe’s For Good Reason
podcast returns this week with a wide-ranging conversation with Richard
Dawkins at The Amazing Meeting 8 in Las Vegas. Dawkins talks about
applying skepticism to religious claims. He explores the concept of
“untestable” claims and how to address them in a scientific way. He also
discusses whether atheism is a necessary result of skepticism. He says
anyone should be willing to accept the reality of a claim if it is
proven through scientific testing. He also discusses exobiology,
including the likelihood that life exists elsewhere in the universe and
whether or not it has been shaped by evolution through natural
selection. Plus, he touches on storytelling and whether fantastical
stories can make children more credulous.
“Psychic Sally” Backs Down From U.K. Challenge
For Halloween, the JREF threw our million dollars behind a challenge to infamous U.K. medium Sally Morgan. Morgan has been mired in controversy
since attendees at her events reported hearing people in the back of
the theater who seemed to be feeding her lines, presumably through a
writer Simon Singh, in collaboration with the Merseyside Skeptics and
parapsychologist Chris French, devised a test based on contacting
spirits via photographs of the deceased, a feat that Morgan claims to
perform in each of her stage shows. Morgan predictably declined the challenge via her attorney—and The Guardian, The Telegraph, and The Liverpool Echo exposed her retreat.
JREF’s 2011 Educator Grants Awarded
JREF provides grants each year to help educators develop and improve
critical thinking and scientific skepticism programs in the classroom
and beyond. We’re proud to provide support for two very exciting
projects this year, by Brian Barnes of the University of Louisville, KY,
and David Robinson of Wilson High School in Western New York. Barnes is
developing a critical thinking rubric for paranormal investigation and
leading a series of student trips to the “haunted” Waverly Hills
Sanitarium to put those skills into practice. Robinson is bringing new
materials and equipment into his earth science classroom to expand his
curriculum on astrology.
Read more about their projects!
A New Volunteer In The Philippines
all over the world gain money and fame by claiming supernatural powers
and abilities, and the JREF challenges them to put their powers to the
test. We at the JREF are very excited to announce that Red Tani, a
skeptical leader involved with the Filipino Freethinkers, has
volunteered to help create a stronger presence for the Million Dollar
Challenge in the Philippines.
Kyle Hill Appointed JREF Research Fellow
JREF is pleased to announce the appointment of Kyle Hill as our latest
research fellow. Hill graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree
in Environmental Engineering and is now pursuing a master’s degree in
Communication with a focus on science, health, environment, and
sustainability. As a fellow, Kyle Hill will conduct research on the
ways people process science information they discover online, with the
goal of applying his findings to the JREF’s mission of promoting
skepticism and critical thinking.
Read more about Hill and his projects as a JREF fellow.
Calling All Teachers!
If you are a teacher who makes critical thinking, skepticism, or information literacy part of your curriculum, we want to hear from you.
Whether it's kindergarten or graduate school, many educators have battle-tested lists of books, movies, videos clips, demonstrations,
games, and activities used to make the skeptical perspective more
accessible and compelling. It may be YouTube, Scooby-Doo, Flim-Flam!, Encyclopedia Brown, or The Demon Haunted World. Tell us what you are using and how you use it!
and let us know what’s in your skeptical education toolkit. We’ll share
your great ideas and experience with other teachers and parents, and
use what you know works to improve the JREF’s educational materials.
Fighting Witchcraft Allegations in Africa
JREF will be working with Nigerian skeptical activist Leo Igwe and
other activists on the continent of Africa to execute a public
enlightenment campaign in the region and to lobby both African
governments and international institutions such as the UN to take
measures to stop witch hunts and witchcraft accusations and to protect
victims of witchcraft-related abuse. Read more about the situation in
these Randi.org posts by Leo Igwe:
JREF Supports SkeptiCamps in Washington, D.C. and New Hampshire
JREF has been a big supporter of SkeptiCamps all over the world, ever
since the second SkeptiCamp more than three years ago in Castle Rock,
Colorado. SkeptiCamps are free, participant-driven conferences for
skeptics who wish to share their expertise and ideas with each other.
All registrants help make the conference happen, whether by delivering a
presentation themselves or by helping with logistics. They always turn
out to be educational, inspirational, and a ton of fun. In the last
month, the JREF has supported SkeptiCamps in Washington, D.C. and New Hampshire.
Beth Goodbody Wins JREF iPad and eBook
Congratulations to Beth Goodbody of Virginia, who won an iPad 2 and eBook version of James Randi's classic Flim-Flam! Psychics, ESP, Unicorns, and Other Delusions. Beth's name was selected at random out of 5987 total contest entries. Thank you to everyone who participated!
JREF has been working to digitize the classic works of skepticism for
modern eBook audiences. If you’d like to see the books we have on offer
and read them for yourself, visit our download page!
- November 12: James Randi gave the keynote presentation at the Carl Sagan Day celebration at Broward College North Campus in Florida.
- November 19-20: Visit the JREF table at Skepticon IV! (with Michael Blanford and JREF volunteers)
- November 28: Max Maven interviews James Randi at the World-Famous Magic Castle in Hollywood, Ca.
- December 7: James Randi speaks at University of Colorado Physics Department's science colloquium.
Top Posts from the Randi.org Blog
JREF In The News
- Wall Street Journal, October 29, 2011
Want to Bust Some Ghosts? There's an App for That
Grothe, president of the James Randi Educational Foundation in Los
Angeles, which promotes critical thinking, likens ghostly apps to tea
leaves. "Just five years ago, ghost hunters were the silly goofballs
trying to spook themselves with a night camera," Mr. Grothe says. "Now
they're the old fuddy-duddies who are trying to keep the status quo."
- The Drum | ABC News 24 Australia, November 3, 2011
Paranormal success is a psychic's only power
have applied, but so far no applicant has won the prize. This, says
Randi, is because these healers, psychics and astrologers are either
deluded or deceptive. The "cruel farce" of paranormal business, he
argues, relies on tricks, suspension of disbelief, ignorance and
desperation: grieving or unhappy customers, paying good money for
consolation or hope.
- USA Today, October 28, 2011
Magicians say their craft makes them see faith as just hocus-pocus
isn't automatic that if you learn magic you'll become a skeptic of the
supernatural," said D.J. Grothe, president of the Virginia-based James
Randi Educational Foundation, which debunks supernatural claims and was
founded by Randi. "But knowing magic does give you a leg up on how the
mind works and how easy it is to be deceived. And from there, skepticism
can be a fortunate result."
- The Guardian, October 27, 2011
Sally Morgan challenged to prove her psychic powers on Halloween
Halloween challenge is backed by the US paranormal investigator James
Randi, and qualifies as the first step towards claiming a million-dollar
prize established by the James Randi Educational Foundation for any
psychic who can prove their "gift" to be real.
- Los Angeles Times (Show Tracker), October 26, 2011
'Zombies' challenge James Van Praagh to speak to the dead
taking advantage of the bereaved," said D.J. Grothe, who led the ragged
horde of sign carrying living dead, "he's not helping them overcome
their loss but he's getting them stuck in their grief."
- io9, October 21, 2011
Must Watch: Bill Nye, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Pamela Gay, and Lawrence Krauss discuss our future in space
owe it to yourself to set aside 53 minutes to watch a veritable
scientific dream team talk about humanity's future in space.... The
subjects raised are consequential, the discussions thought provoking,
and the opinions of the panelists refreshingly diverse (and often
- Gizmodo Australia, October 23, 2011 | Neil deGrasse Tyson, Lawrence Krauss And More Talk Higgs Boson, Private Space Ventures And Pluto
...this panel from TAM 2011, held earlier this year in Las Vegas, contains a great deal of intriguing discussion on a number of topics, ranging from global warming, the Higgs Boson and privately-funded space exploration.
- McGill Daily, November 7, 2011
The bullshit detector
tradition of magicians using their experience in trickery to expose
duplicitous frauds continues to this day, most notably with James
Randi.... The JREF puts its money where its mouth is, and offers a
million U.S. dollars for any claim that holds up under double-blind
testing. The foundation takes every claim at face value, and asks the
question: “If this is true, then how can we prove it?”
- Skeptics’ Guide To the Universe | SiriusXM Radio, October 29, 2011 | Interview with Banachek about the Million Dollar Challenge on on Primetime Nightline
- Svengali Magic, November 6, 2011 | Svengali Magic #021 – James Randi
- Bluffton Today (blog), November 5, 2011 | Astrology and Homeopathy
- Surrey Skeptics, November 4, 2011 | What is skepticism? D.J. Grothe explains
- Calgary Herald, November 3, 2011 | Take On Randi (Letter to the Editor)
- Go386.com, November 1, 2011 | Mentalist ready to read your thoughts at Daytona Festival of Magic (Interview with Banachek)
- MLive.com, October 31, 2011 | WDIV's Paula Tutman thinks she's seen a ghost...in Pontiac haunted house attraction
- Derren Brown Blog, October 30, 2011 | Testing Psychics
- GhostTheory, October 30, 2011 | Halloween Night: Psychic Sally Morgan Challenged-Updated
- Doubtful Newsblog, October 29, 2011 | Ghost-Hunting Tools: I call them “phoney”
- The Telegraph, October 28, 2011 | Psychic challenged to prove her powers
- Daily Grail, October 28, 2011 | Another Day, Another Randi Challenge
- Skepacabra, October 27, 2011 | News From Around the Blogosphere
- Religion News Service, October 27, 2011 | Magicians say their craft makes them see faith as just hocus-pocus
- OC Weekly, October 25, 2011 | James Van Praagh, Psychic to the Stars, Confronted by "Zombies" in Laguna Beach
- Huffington Post Weird News, October 25, 2011 | Skeptical 'Zombies' Attack Alleged Psychic James Van Praagh (VIDEO)
- Penn & Teller Tell A Lie | Discovery Channel, October 26, 2011 | Appearance by James Randi (not available online)
- Skepchick, October 25, 2011 | Zombies to James Van Praagh: Talk to Us!
- Bad Astronomy | Discovery News, October 27, 2011 | Psychics leave me in shambles
- Pharyngula | FreeThoughtBlogs, October 25, 2011 | Psychics have a moral responsibility to address the zombie scourge
- Friendly Atheist, October 26, 2011 | James van Praagh Can’t Talk to Dead People
- SkepticBlog (Daniel Loxton), October 25, 2011 | JREF Recruits Zombie Horde to Carry Psychic Challenge
- Laguna Beach Patch, October 26, 2011 | Activist Zombies Call Shenanigans on Psychic!
- Richard Dawkins Foundation News, October 26, 2011 | Skeptical 'Zombies' Attack Alleged Psychic James Van Praagh
- Paul Harris Online, October 27, 2011 | Zombies vs. James Van Praagh
- A Quantum of Knowledge, October 25, 2011 | Zombies vs. Psychics
- Kingston Whig Standard, October 28, 2011 | Telling times for mediums
- Inside Science, October 26, 2011 | Is Your House Haunted, Or Are Your Senses Being Taunted?
- NewsyType.com, October 25, 2011 | Zombies ask pyschic to prove he talks to dead people
- MoneyWeek, October 26, 2011 | The gold bull market: the 144-day moving average works again
- The Concordian, October 25, 2011 | Paranormal or paranoia?
- DVICE | SyFy, October 21, 2011 | Watch awesome science celebrities discuss our future in space
- High Power Rocketry, October 22, 2011 | JREF’s TAM 9 meeting in Las Vegas - panel discussion
- Token Skeptic, October 22, 2011 | Melbourne SkeptiCamp 2011 – Token Skeptic Vodcast
- The University Leader, October 27, 2011 | The logic behind mentalists
- Freethought Arizona | Tucson Citizen, October 21, 2011 | Happy Doomsday... Again!
- Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine, October 20, 2011 | Our Future in Space – panel at TAM 9
- Doubtful Newsblog | Skeptic Magazine, October 18, 2011 | JREF blasts Anderson Cooper show; Skeptic voice omitted
- The Skeptical Teacher, Oct. 16, 2011 | Educator Grants Available from the James Randi Educational Foundation!
- It’s Forty Two!, October 16, 2011 | Winning Hearts and Minds for Skepticism