Well, yesterday was quite a day. As many of you may know, the James Randi Educational Foundation has a standing offer of $1 million to anyone who can prove that they have psychic or mediumistic abilities.
A few months ago the JREF asked if Chris French (Goldsmith University) and I would carry out an initial test of a medium named Patricia Putt. We went back and forth about the protocol, and eventually settled on an experimental design. Basically, Patricia would carry out readings for 10 strangers, and then all of the participants would be presented with all 10 readings and have to select the one that best described them. To cut down on possible sensory cues, the strangers were not allowed to interact with Patricia, and asked to wear a graduation gown and facial mask.
Chris and his wonderful team (Panka Juhasz, James Munroe, Fabio Tartarini and Suzanne Barbieri) put in a huge amount of time sorting out the logistics of the experiment and making sure that it all ran smoothly on the day. Chris and Panka in particular worked especially hard on the project and so deserve the credit for makng it happen.
Patricia was a joy to work with, and carried out the readings as promised. I sat in the room with Patricia as she wrote her readings and sent the occasional twitter update .
None of the participants were able to correctly identify their reading, and so the results do not support Patricia’s claim. However, to her credit, she took it on the chin and said that she felt that the test had been a fair examination of her abilities.
More info about it all on Randi’s site here.
Oh well. Any thoughts?