Czech skeptics offer reward for proof of paranormal phenomena

Poster advertising a mind reading act from circa 1900.
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Mind reading and dowsing among topics covered, but tests must meet high standards

Prague, Jan 4 (ČTK) — The Czech skeptic club Sisyphus has offered a reward of 10,000 Kč to anyone who would prove the existence of paranormal phenomena in an experiment, and it would recommend the successful applicants, if some appeared, for a worldwide $1 million prize.

The global prize is sponsored by the James Randi Educational Foundation, and having the recommendation of a professional scientist or univerity faculty member such as the ones found in a national skeptical association is one of the criteria for consideration, although other options exist. James Randi is a stage magician who has long sought to debunk the idea that anyone including stage magicians have supernatural powers.

The applicants may undergo tests in areas such as clairvoyance, telepathy and rhabdomancy, also called dowsing.

"In accordance with the world skeptical thinking, the Czech skeptic club keeps its mind open to phenomena which we consider extremely improbable or impossible but many people are convinced that they exist and some believe they are capable of proving the existence of these phenomena and capabilities," Sisyphus writes on its website.

It says the applicants should propose an experiment based on which the given phenomenon or capability would be verified.

Sisyphus would adjust the experiment's course to bring it in harmony with scientific methods and prevent it from being influenced by either the applicants or the expert supervisors.

The experiments will be video recorded. The costs, such as special materials or the rental of a specific location, will be covered by the applicants. If someone is successful in proving paranormal phenomnena then the cost of the experiment will be reimbursed in addition to the prize money.

The criterion of a successful experiment is its result corresponding to the 1:1000 probability that the same result may occur by sheer chance.

Excluded are experiments that could endanger people or animals, that are at variance with ethics and good morals or violate laws, and also magicians' tricks and experimental healing of diseases, Sisyphus said.

Its call follows up the recent European skeptical prize organized by the Belgian SKEPP club in cooperation with European skeptical group ECSO last year.

A Czech participant in it was popular clairvoyant Stanley Bradley, or Stanislav Brázda, who used a divining rod to ascertain whether there are flowers or stones in closed boxes. Neither Bradley nor any other contestants in the European event succeeded in meeting the criteria set for a successful try.

This story was updated to correct the amount of the prize offered by the James Randi Educational Foundation and to clarify the rules.

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