The James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) has just directed its Million Dollar Challenge toward the celebrity "psychic mediums" featured on last night’s episode of ABC’s Primetime Nightline: Beyond Belief.
“James Van Praagh and Allison DuBois have turned the huckster art of ‘cold reading’ into a multi-million-dollar industry, preying on families’ deepest fears and regrets,” said James Randi, founder of the JREF and a renowned magician and skeptic who also appeared in the episode. “They should be embarrassed by the transparent performances they revealed to the world on last night’s show.”
The JREF’s Million Dollar Challenge Director, Banachek, also featured in the episode, said, “We’re issuing a challenge to these fakers: for once, show that you can get this supposedly supernatural knowledge without cheating. If one of you can demonstrate your ‘psychic’ abilities on randomly chosen strangers—not celebrities—under mutually-agreed conditions, without relying on known cold-reading techniques such as fishing around with vague questions, and without just using Google—we will donate our million dollars to you or to the charity of your choice.”
In last night’s episode on “Psychic Powers,” self-proclaimed psychic medium James Van Praagh performed a reading on Good Morning America anchor Josh Elliott. Elliott initially appeared surprised by Van Praagh’s accuracy before finally revealing that “every talking point of the reading” seemed to have been lifted from a two-year-old interview with Elliott that was available through a simple internet search. When Van Praagh was asked to repeat his performance on the spot with an ABC producer, he declined to try, claiming he had become too tired.
In a later scene, “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” reality-show actor Allison DuBois, also billed as the inspiration for the TV drama Medium, performed a similar reading on ABC News correspondent David Wright. Self-proclaimed medium Rebecca Rosen also performed a reading, and both readings focused on Wright’s family and his late mother. Wright was surprised by their accuracy and said they revealed “details that don’t pop up on Google.” Yet, shortly after the show aired, a Twitter user posted a link to a New York Times wedding announcement that contained the relevant details about the Wright family.
So what do you think? How soon after Hell freezes over will these "psychics" accept Randi's challenge?