$1m challenge for proof of paranormal event


Noted sceptic James Randi is coming to Dublin to deliver a lecture on science, pseudoscience and exposing bogus claims, writes Dick Ahlstrom.

Have you ever seen a ghost? Do you believe in the supernatural? There is a man ready to bet $1 million you can't provide proper scientific proof of paranormal events.

The man with the standing bet, James Randi, comes to Dublin early next month to deliver a Science Today lecture entitled "Science and Pseudoscience in the New Millennium". His mission is to promote science and critical thinking while exposing and debunking phoney claims based on pseudoscience.

The lecture is the next in an ongoing series presented by The Irish Times and the Royal Dublin Society. This lecture is being held in association with the Irish Skeptics Society, and takes place next month at the RDS Concert Hall in Ballsbridge.

James Randi is one of the world's best-known "skeptics". He has spent years challenging charlatans and confidence tricksters who seek to dupe the public with dodgy claims based on humbug.

He established the Florida based James Randi Educational Foundation in 1996, a not-for-profit organisation that seeks to promote critical thinking and scepticism. His $1 million bet has stood for years but no challenger has yet been able to show, under proper observing conditions, evidence of any paranormal, supernatural or occult power or event.

The foundation holds lectures and seminars, supports and conducts research into paranormal claims using properly structured experiments and provides the public with reliable information on pseudoscientific bunkum. It maintains a comprehensive library of books, videos, journals and archival resources that are open to the public.

Randi's goals closely match those adopted by the Irish Skeptics Society. It holds monthly lectures on pseudoscientific mumbo-jumbo as a way to help people see the truth. It also calls on people to apply critical thinking and a healthy measure of scepticism when assessing claims made for products and services that have no foundation in fact and reality.

James Randi is a world-class speaker who achieves the "magic" of being both highly informative as well as entertaining. He will ask his Science Today audience on the night to beware of mystical promises, astrological claims and junk science in order to avoid the consequences of accepting paranormal and supernatural claims without questioning.

The lecture takes place at 8.30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 6th in the RDS Concert Hall, Ballsbridge. There is a ticket charge of €5 to help defray costs. To reserve a place call 1550-114706 or, from Northern Ireland, 0906-6040246, leaving your name, telephone number and stating the number of places you require (limit, four places per telephone call).

The lines will remain open until the 700 places available in the RDS Concert Hall are booked. Places can only be booked through this number, and tickets are not available from either The Irish Times or the Royal Dublin Society.

Please note that tickets will not be issued but the booking confirms your place at the lecture. Calls cost 95 cent a minute in the Republic and 60p per minute from Northern Ireland. Calls from mobile phones may be more expensive. Service provided by Phonovation (01-2844060).

See www.randi.org for more information about the James Randi Educational Foundation and www.irishskeptics.net for information about the Irish Skeptics Society.