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Old 4th February 2005, 08:15 AM   #1
KRAMER
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$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Here's another email exchange I've just stopped participating in, from someone who refuses to apply because when he wins, "the bonds might be worthless". He refuses to even state his claim, and continues to demand information on the prize fund.

...and he just keeps comin' at me...

=============================================

Hello,
On your website, it states:
"The prize is in the form of negotiable bonds held in a special
investment account."

>and=

"At the formal test, in advance, an independent person will be
placed in charge of a personal check from James Randi for US$10,000. In the event that the claimant is successful under the agreed terms and conditions, that check shall be immediately surrendered to the claimant, and within ten days the James Randi Educational Foundation will pay to the claimant the remainder of the reward, for a total of US$1,000,000. One million dollars in negotiable bonds is held by an investment firm in New York, in the "James Randi Educational Foundation Prize Account" as surety for the prize funds. Validation of this account and its current status may be obtained by contacting the Foundation by telephone, fax, or e-mail."

My questions surround the form the money is in, and how it will be
delivered. The $10,000 will be delivered in check, which means I
will have access to use it all once the check clears; is this correct?
The bonds I will not have access to, on the other hand... Where do the bonds come from (what corporations issued the bonds), what are the interest rates on the bonds, and when is the maturity date on the bonds? I.e., When will I have access to the $1mil, and how much money can I expect on a monthly basis generated from interest?

Thank you. - Sean Connelly


===========================================

Randi's reply...

Immediately convertible into money.

That's all I'm going to get involved in.

Apply, or don't apply.

James Randi.


===========================================

Hello,

There is no problem, just a lack of understanding. You are the one making the offer, so I want to be clear on what you are offering. I'm not asking for consolation - I'm just asking for clarification. You state that you are offering 1 million dollars, in the form of negotiable bonds. It is a logical step to ask about the bonds. The questions aren't aimed for consoling me, they are aimed at getting more specific detail about the bonds. Who issued the bonds? What are their annual fees/rates? And when is the maturity date? Anyone who is serious about the challenge would ask these questions. I believe they are fair questions, and relevant to the challenge.

- Sean Connelly


============================================

At this point, Randi told the guy that he would not divulge any further data regarding the prize fund, and to "deal with Kramer".

I wrote to introduce myself, and got this in return...

Hello,
Randi said the negotiable bonds were "Immediately convertible into money.". I'm trying to figure out the actual WORTH of the bonds. Normal bonds are issued by corporations or the government, and have an anual fee that the issuer will pay the person who owns the bonds, and they have a maturity date for when the issuer is required to pay the principal. For example, if the bonds principal totals to $1mil, but they don't mature for another 40 years, then they're almost worthless to me. So technically Randi COULD say the bonds are worth $1mil, but in reality they are pretty worthless. However, I doubt that's the
case. I was trying to get some actual facts and numbers to work with.

I assume the $10,000 delivered in check can be immediately cashed. I'm wondering who issued the bonds (what corporations), what the anual fee is, and when the maturity date is. Like I said, I think these are very relevant to the challenge. If my reward is a bunch of worthless bonds, then it's pointless. Do you see my perspective?

Thanks for offering your help.- Sean Connelly


==============================================

My reply:

So far, sir, you're just full of baloney. That's OUR perspective.

Apply or go away. We don't have to prove anything to you. The Challenge application, once signed, becomes a contract. If you understood what a contract is, you wouldn't be needling us about your fears over not getting the million dollars.

If you really have a claim, you'll apply.

Do you have a paranormal claim, sir?

More emails like this one and we'll just be convinced you're not serious about the Challenge. Let us know if you have any intention whatsoever of actually applying. Otherwise, you can just stop these emails right now, as we will NOT be responding
to any more of your diatribes about the prize fund.

-Kramer, JREF Paranormal Claims Dept.


=============================================

Hello,
I don't understand what I did to make you angry. All I'm doing is
asking questions about the bonds. I haven't CLAIMED anything, and I'm only asking questions. The definition of what a "bond" is can be found on the internet. If I really have a claim, and the bonds are worthless, why would I apply? I really don't care whether you believe my claims or not, and I really don't care
whether I can convince you. I care about the money. Your
organization is offering the money, and your organization parades
around like it would be so easy for someone with real paranormal
abilities to get the money. What sort of attention did you expect? I am asking about the bonds. This is a logical series of questions.

You are not offering 1 million cash - you are offering 1 million in
negotiable bonds. Who issued the bonds, what are the rates, and when do they mature? Usually the skeptic is suppose to wait until the crazy person actually makes a paranormal claim before telling them they're full of it. I'm not talking about the paranormal - I'm talking about money.

- Sean Connelly


=============================================

Exactly. You haven't even submitted a claim. We don't even know what you do, except that you're obsessed with the Million Dollars' very existence. The answers to all your questions about the bonds is this: NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS.

The Challenge states that One Million Dollars will be awarded to
anyone who proves the existence of paranormal phenomenon. That's all you need to know. The Challenge application is a contract. So show some respect for the Challenge and its assurances, and you'll begin to get some respect from US in return, and maybe even some respect for your claim, should you ever choose to submit one.

I'm not answering any more questions about the funds. APPLY, or go away.

-Kramer, JREF Paranormal Claims Dept.


==============================================

Hello,

I would like to have respect for the Challenge and it's assurances,
except that I've researched the history of the Challenge, and the
skeptics of the Challenge bring up valid points. Randi is quick to
instruct others to read things carefully, think with a skeptical mind,
and research until all the facts are present. But once that same
level of scrutiny is focused on him, he immediately turns to insults
and ultimatums. Yes, I am skeptical if the money is accessable in
cash form. The same way you're skeptical if I can demonstrate anything paranormal. The cure is to research and investigate - which is what you are doing with JREF - and it's what I am doing by e-mailing you and asking you questions.

With everything that JREF, Randi, and yourself have presented, it is very possible that the bonds have very low rates, are backed up by unstable corporations, and won't mature for another 40 years. If I somehow won them, they could liquidate in a week, and I would be left with LESS money. You have provided me with nothing to make me think otherwise. Therefore, I am skeptical of YOUR claims. But "skeptical" doesn't mean I secretly judge something, then front a public image to make myself sound balanced. "Skeptical" means I investigate before making a decision. So that's what I'm doing by asking questions about
the bonds. I'm investigating.

If this is a fair challenge, and you aren't hiding any tricks,
loopholes, or backdoors, then my request for information wouldn't be a big deal. Instead you reply with "NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS", and "Apply or go away"... now what am I suppose to think? Basically, you're telling me you won't divulge any information until I sign my name on the very application I skeptical of.

YOU are offering the challenge. So I'm asking for clairification on
what YOU are offering. If you don't want this kind of attention, then stop parading the challenge around publically and implying that it proves paranormal phenomenon don't exist. I am open to the idea of applying, but I refuse to apply if the bonds are worthless. I do not know if the bonds are worthless or not. The only thing I have gotten from these e-mails is that they are "convertiable to money", and that I should have "respect for the Challenge and it's assurances".

You have an extraodinary claim that you will give $1mil to the person who proves paranormal phenomenon exist. I am asking for some extraodinary evidence to back that up. Is this not what you preach?

- Sean Connelly


=============================================

Sir, you clearly have no intention of applying, and never did.
Goodbye.

-Kramer, JREF
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Old 4th February 2005, 08:36 AM   #2
IXP
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Kramer,

He does have a point in that the present value of the bonds could fall dramatically if interest rates were to suddenly increase, a situation which is very likely in the near future.

I think it is a valid question of whether the prize, when awarded, will consist of bonds with a present value of $1M or whether that would be the value at maturity, meaning that the present value would be dependent on the maturity date, the rating and the interest rates of the bonds.

IXP
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Old 4th February 2005, 08:49 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally posted by IXP
Kramer,

He does have a point in that the present value of the bonds could fall dramatically if interest rates were to suddenly increase, a situation which is very likely in the near future.

I think it is a valid question of whether the prize, when awarded, will consist of bonds with a present value of $1M or whether that would be the value at maturity, meaning that the present value would be dependent on the maturity date, the rating and the interest rates of the bonds.

IXP
No. He doesn't have a point. The prize is a cash (dollars) prize. The form that cash takes while still in the possession/control of Randi is not relevant.

Quote:
The Challenge states that One Million Dollars will be awarded to anyone who proves the existence of paranormal phenomenon.
That's a contract. If someone manages to win the prize, Randi owes him the million.
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Old 4th February 2005, 08:51 AM   #4
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I think I'll withdraw a bit, and keep the rest in bonds...
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Old 4th February 2005, 09:17 AM   #5
KRAMER
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Rule #8

Here is Rule #8 of the JREF One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge (not the JREF "MAYBE" ONE MILLION DOLLAR CHALLENGE, or the JREF "NEGOTIABLE BONDS THAT MAY OR MAY NOT BE WORTH ONE MILLION DOLLAR" CHALLENGE, but the real and actual JREF ONE MILLION DOLLAR PARANORMAL CHALLENGE)...

At the formal test, in advance, an independent person will be placed in charge of a personal check from James Randi for US$10,000. In the event that the claimant is successful under the agreed terms and conditions, that check shall be immediately surrendered to the claimant, and within ten days the James Randi Educational Foundation will pay to the claimant the remainder of the reward, for a total of US$1,000,000. One million dollars in negotiable bonds is held by an investment firm in New York, in the "James Randi Educational Foundation Prize Account" as surety for the prize funds. Validation of this account and its current status may be obtained by contacting the Foundation by telephone, fax, or e-mail.

Why is this so difficult for people to comprehend, and accept?

The Challenge will pay the claimant "...the reward, for a total of $1,000,000."

Where does it state that the claimant will get bonds instead of a million bucks?

We're awarding One Million Dollars. Nowhere does it state that the winner will receive bonds of any kind. The reference to bonds was a miserably failed attempt to communicate the validity of the fund's existence. Instead of offering confidence to the applicant, as was its' sole intention, it has most often served only to draw suspicion and contempt.

Curious, too, that 99% of it comes from people who never submit an application, don't you think?

Ya know what I think, folks? I think this is all a bunch of crap.

The prize is for One Million Dollars. The prize is NOT for One Million Dollars in bonds.

I just can't figure a way to make it any more plain than that.

If you don't believe that you'll get the Million Dollars, don't apply.
We feel no obligation whatsoever to jump through hoops to convince the applicant that the million bucks exists. We send our most current fund confirmation letters from Goldman Sachs to any applicant who requests one.

And guess what? Of the 100 or so potential applicants who requested them since I've been here, not one, NOT A SINGLE PERSON who received the Goldman Sachs letter, then sent in an application. A paltry few summoned the fortitude to send me emails stating that they STILL don't believe the money exists, but by and large, once we send the confrimation letters, we never hear a peep from them again.

Now THINK: What does this tell us?

Here's what it tells ME: NONE of these people will ever be satisfied, NONE of these people will actually apply, FEW (if any) of them are sincerely interested in participating in a controlled experiment that might verify their claim, and ALL of these people are wasting my time, bar none.

So, for me, I've arrived at the exact same place Randi has been since the earliest days of the Million Dollar Challenge: APPLY, or go away.

We prefer you'd APPLY, but we won't play endless email games in an effort to convince you to do so.
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Old 4th February 2005, 09:39 AM   #6
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Sorry Kramer, I concede, I was wrong.

This, however, is the source of the confusion:

Quote:
At JREF, we offer a one-million-dollar prize to anyone who can show, under proper observing conditions, evidence of any paranormal, supernatural, or occult power or event. The prize is in the form of negotiable bonds held in a special investment account.
Perhaps it should be rephrased as: "... we offer a one-million-dollar cash prize..." "the prize money is held in the form..."

After all how many times have you gotten this one?

"You have won one of the following prizes...", the least of which is "a $2000 vacation at one of our resorts". Did you expect that you would be able to collect $2000 in cash, or would it be a 2-week off-season stay in a condo that they couldn't rent (transportation not included)?

Sorry again, I should have looked further into the rules.

IXP
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Old 4th February 2005, 10:14 AM   #7
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Re: Rule #8

Quote:
Originally posted by KRAMER
Why is this so difficult for people to comprehend, and accept?

...

Now THINK: What does this tell us?
Misdirection. The classic tactic of the deceiver.

I think that they do comprehend and accept it. They just want to divert attention from their own claims. They don't want to apply, because they know that if they are tested properly, they will lose. They know it, Kramer.

They only want to talk about their ability in broad terms, but when we get down to the nitty-gritty, they start realizing that they will never be able to pass any properly designed test, be it JREF's or not.

That's why John Edward, before he agreed to be "tested" by Schwartz, made damn sure that he only had to perform better than the average person - that is, someone totally unskilled in cold reading. Of course John Edward can perform better than those people!

But not with JREF. So, they use the money to come up with excuses, because the money is such a promenint factor in the JREF challenge.

"The money's not there." Oh, yes, it is. What can you actually do?

"The money's in bonds." No, it isn't. What can you actually do?

"The money's tainted." Rubbish. What can you actually do?

And so on, and so forth.

It's misdirection, nothing else. They understand the money perfectly.

Top Excuses for not taking the Randi Challenge
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Old 5th February 2005, 11:32 AM   #8
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I outline in my first e-mail the source of the "confusion":

"The prize is in the form of negotiable bonds held in a special
investment account."

and

"...James Randi Educational Foundation will pay to the claimant the remainder of the reward, for a total of US$1,000,000. One million dollars in negotiable bonds is held by an investment firm in New York..."

That does not say CASH, that says BONDS. Negotiable bonds. Bonds. Not cash. There IS a difference. If it is cash, then change the rules on the challenge page to say CASH.

~Sean
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Old 5th February 2005, 11:54 AM   #9
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Also,
I just noticed that you edited the emails I sent you before posting them on here. Do you do this with all the emails? For the skeptics out there who are interested in the exact conversation, without Kramer butting in with his two cents explaining why I'm an idiot, and why he is right (which of course, he never did in the emails to me), I've uploaded a literal transcript:

http://s91683501.onlinehome.us/randi.html

Compare that to the image he's protraying on this forum.

~Sean
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Old 5th February 2005, 12:00 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by peebrain
Also,
I just noticed that you edited the emails I sent you before posting them on here. Do you do this with all the emails? For the skeptics out there who are interested in the exact conversation, without Kramer butting in with his two cents explaining why I'm an idiot, and why he is right (which of course, he never did in the emails to me), I've uploaded a literal transcript:

http://s91683501.onlinehome.us/randi.html

Compare that to the image he's protraying on this forum.

~Sean
I'm not sure what you complain about. It's been explained to you. You - apparently - don't have a paranormal claim you want tested.

So......?
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Old 5th February 2005, 12:07 PM   #11
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What I'm complaining about is that Kramer will take the time to explain to everyone in the forum the answer to my questions, but he doesn't have time to give me the same respect in an e-mail. Hell, he could have just copy/pasted what he wrote on the forum into the e-mail... or he could have linked me to the forum pages that explain it. Instead, he tells me I'm full of sh*t (which he edited out of the emails he posted), and ignores me because I have no intention of applying - which again, isn't relevant to the questions I presented. Notice how none of YOU have intention of applying, yet he answers your questions.

Apparently I used the wrong channel of communication - I should have publically asked the questions, instead of privately.

~Sean
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Old 5th February 2005, 12:42 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by peebrain
What I'm complaining about is that Kramer will take the time to explain to everyone in the forum the answer to my questions, but he doesn't have time to give me the same respect in an e-mail. Hell, he could have just copy/pasted what he wrote on the forum into the e-mail... or he could have linked me to the forum pages that explain it. Instead, he tells me I'm full of sh*t (which he edited out of the emails he posted), and ignores me because I have no intention of applying - which again, isn't relevant to the questions I presented. Notice how none of YOU have intention of applying, yet he answers your questions.

Apparently I used the wrong channel of communication - I should have publically asked the questions, instead of privately.

~Sean
Well, here you are in a very public forum. Ask away. And since you're here, I wonder if you would mind answering a simple question. Do you have a paranormal claim?

I may be wrong, but the only reason I can see why you would ask these questions if you don't have a claim is because you wish to imply that Randi is somehow being dishonest. You would not be the first to do that.

And has already been explained, the contract specifically states that if a claimant wins the challenge they will win a million dollars. If Randi breaks the contract, the claimant could sue him into poverty. The point of showing what form the million dollars is in is simply to provide an easily provable way that the money does in fact exist. Obviously it would be financially idiotic to keep that amount of money in a simple savings account.

Kramer's job (as I understand it) is to respond to claimants, not to answer financial questions. It is a waste of his time to respond to endless questions about money from someone who has no intention of applying for the money.
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Old 5th February 2005, 02:00 PM   #13
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What Tricky said.
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Old 5th February 2005, 10:15 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by Tricky
I may be wrong, but the only reason I can see why you would ask these questions if you don't have a claim is because you wish to imply that Randi is somehow being dishonest. You would not be the first to do that.
Just to play... I've read on these forums that a number of people that claim to have paranormal abilities have refused to take the challenge claiming that the money doesn't exist or that JREF won't actually pay out $1 million even if you win. If I see a woo claim this, I might be skeptical and decide to check it out. So I might send an email to JREF asking about the prize, and ask some question about the bonds to make sure that there isn't some trick like the woos claim.

So I would be asking not because I wish to apply or to imply that Randi is dishonest, but toverify the woo's claim about the challenge being a trick of some sort.

So if Randi and Kramer refuse to answer these questions, I might begin to believe that the woo is right and there is some trickery involved. And the responses also support the woo's claims that the challenge is a sham because, as Sean put it, the JREF replies with "insults and ultimatums" and stonewalling, etc. So it begins to look like the woos a right and the challenge is a sham or trick.

Quote:
Originally posted by Tricky
Kramer's job (as I understand it) is to respond to claimants, not to answer financial questions. It is a waste of his time to respond to endless questions about money from someone who has no intention of applying for the money.
It seems Randi and Kramer could have saved themselves a lot of time and trouble by simply replying, "The bonds are kept to make sure that there is money available to pay a prize winner, JREF will actually pay the prize winner a total of US $1 million." Or, at the very least, direct the person to a web page that addresses the questions. Wouldn't that have been much less of a waste of time?
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Old 5th February 2005, 11:39 PM   #15
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What DevilsAdvocate said.

Why assume the questioner has a hidden agenda to make the Foundation look bad, and then jump through so many hoops in the answer that you end up making the Foundation look bad yourself?

"The prize will be paid in cash.
Until the prize is won, it's being stored as bonds. This is for a number of reasons, one of which is that it's easier for an independent entity to confirm that bonds exist than it is to confirm that the cash exists."

Does that sum it up?
If it does, why not just say that instead of all this "apply, or go away" righteous indignation malarkey?
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Old 6th February 2005, 07:08 AM   #16
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Well, since the JREF agreement states that payment will be made (sans the actual word "cash") in clear, unequivacal language... I would assume that any questions about the veracity of the funds being available are generated by:

1) Someone that didn't read the agreement
2) Someone that doesn't trust the agreement/organization
3) Someone that's looking to find a way to raise doubt about the funds
4) Someone incapable of lucid thought

Besides, the agreement states that the applicant that wins will be paid $1,000,000. Period, the end. I'd take that in cash, negotiable bonds, check, gold bullion, etc. Who cares what the medium is? (pun intended )

Truthfully, the VERY last thing I'd want is a million in cash or negotiable instruments handed to me. I'd insist on an electronic transfer of funds.

(edited to add last sentence.)
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Old 6th February 2005, 07:12 AM   #17
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Which, by the way, sidetracks me and brings me to another point I've been meaning to raise. Posters keep saying things like "If the medium doesn't want the money, they can simply donate it back to JREF or a charity."

I don't think it's that simple. I think there are tax implications to receiving a million bucks that donation of the entire amount wouldn't solve. I could be wrong about that, but I'm pretty sure I' m not.

Anyone know?
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Old 6th February 2005, 08:23 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally posted by peebrain
What I'm complaining about is that Kramer will take the time to explain to everyone in the forum the answer to my questions, but he doesn't have time to give me the same respect in an e-mail.
I agree. Treating with respect ANY person who ask questions would be imperative. Granted, after, perhaps, several hundreds of people asking the same, one gets tired. But thats not the problem of the one who is asking, but a problem of etiquette from both Kramer and Randi.

Being nice doesnt hurt.
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Old 6th February 2005, 08:33 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally posted by jmercer
Which, by the way, sidetracks me and brings me to another point I've been meaning to raise. Posters keep saying things like "If the medium doesn't want the money, they can simply donate it back to JREF or a charity."

I don't think it's that simple. I think there are tax implications to receiving a million bucks that donation of the entire amount wouldn't solve. I could be wrong about that, but I'm pretty sure I' m not.

Anyone know?
I"m not a tax expert, nor do I play one on TV. However, I think it would cause you big problems. With most non-profits--including the JREF--, you can donate 50% of your adjusted gross income. So if you won the million (I'm just using the million, not any income the winner would have also had, nor any deductions the winner would normally take) you could donate $500,000 and not pay taxes on that money. If you donated all 1 million, you'd still have to pay taxes on the other $500,000.
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Old 7th February 2005, 10:09 AM   #20
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I can clear up a couple of things about non-profit donations and the financial transparency of the JREF Challenge. I work at a good sized non-profit in fundraising specializing in gifts that require long term financial planning, so I know quite a bit about the IRS and the ins and outs of charitable giving.

1) Charitable Donations:
It is true that you can only deduct cash charitable donations made to qualified non-profits up to 50% of your adjusted gross income (AGI). (Gifts of stock or other property are usually only deductible up to 30% of your AGI). However, if you wanted to take the challenge and donate the prize you could easily do so with no negative tax consequences. You are only taxed on income that you actually take possession of. If you wanted to donate the prize, you would just ask JREF to transfer the prize money not to you, but directly to the charity of your choice. JREF is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization so there would be not negative tax consequences for JREF, you never received any money so no taxes consequences for you either.

2) The form the money is held in. I agree that people who hound JREF for details on how the prize is being held are trying (in a very poor manner) to trip JREF up. JREF is a tax exempt org. So they are required by law to have a level of financial transparency. That means that the public can request things like an annual report and copies of JREF's 990 (the tax return non-profits file). Got to http://atgdata.fdncenter.org/990search/search.php to look up JREF's 990. Contained within these types of documents is enough information to verify that the organization does indeed have enough assets to cover the prize if necessary. The contract between the claimant and JREF is binding enough that JREF has to pay the prize if someone wins it. As a savvy consumer all you need to do is verify that the organization holds enough assets to cover the prize. Also, if JREF was not able to hold up its end of the bargain the IRS would likely investigate and possibly pull JREF's tax exempt status. Rest assured the money is there.

3) For Sean (aka pea-brained) About Bonds:
The JREF prize seems to be held in a way that is similar to an endowment fund. Non-profits often create reserves of assets called endowments to build up enough money to take care of the organization in the case of bad financial times, or to save up money for a project down the road, like building a new facility or starting a large new program that would require a lot of capital. Endowment funds are held separately from the other money coming in and out of an organization. For example, The JREF prize money is being held separately from the general operating funds of the organization. This prevents JREF from accidentally spending the prize money on the light bill. It is never a good idea to just let large sums of money sit in a savings account for years and years, so most non-profits invest their endowment funds. The way they invest it is really not important. JREF invests in bonds which is fine. If they have to pay someone they will liquidate 1 million in bonds and pay the claimant. I know you are going to ask "What if the bonds cannot be easily liquidated?" Well, that would be incredibly stupid on JREF's part. No one would invest in illiquid assets if they knew they may need to get to the money quickly. If JREF did not pay a winning claimant in a reasonable amount of time they would be open to a law suit for breech of contract. Non-profits do not like getting involved in law suits so you can bet the assets can be easily liquefied. The claimant will be paid. JREF states that the funds are held in bonds so that a claimant can feel at ease about the ability of JREF to pay. That JREF will do so id going above and beyond the requirements of the law and the generally accepted practices of good responsible non-profits. It is an enormous act of good faith on JREF’s part.

While I certainly cannot speak to the specific of JREF’s fundraising and financial practices, I can speak to general questions about non-profit business administration. Sean, I would be happy to provide you with any other info on non-profit financials you would like.
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Old 7th February 2005, 10:34 AM   #21
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Awesome, thanks :-D.

So, your understanding of how JREF is functioning, is that when someone wins, the claimant won't win the bonds, but JREF will liquidate the bonds into cash and pay the claimant with the cash. Is this correct, Kramer?

I was under the impression that the prize was the BONDS themselves.

~Sean
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Old 7th February 2005, 11:04 AM   #22
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Keri, that was masterfully put, and an education to me.

Peebrain, I don't know where you got the idea that the bonds would be the prize, but the quote (provided by YOU) reads:

Quote:

One million dollars in negotiable bonds is held by an investment firm in New York, in the "James Randi Educational Foundation Prize Account" as surety for the prize funds.
You will be paid if you win - that's why it's being held as "surety" by a third party, that's why it's a contract, and that's why there's a public financial disclosure of assets available. Asking for more detail is utterly irrelevant.

As has been asked before in this thread:

What is your claim?
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Old 7th February 2005, 11:07 AM   #23
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Let me add my thanks, Keri.

I got 501 (c)(3) status for the PTO of my son's elementary school, but no one ever donates much to us, so I didn't really know the rules for donation.
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Old 7th February 2005, 11:53 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally posted by jmercer
You will be paid if you win - that's why it's being held as "surety" by a third party, that's why it's a contract, and that's why there's a public financial disclosure of assets available. Asking for more detail is utterly irrelevant.

As has been asked before in this thread:

What is your claim?
Right; all of that is clear now that we've discussed it in this thread. It wasn't so clear before when I was emailing Randi and Kramer, and they told me to "Apply or disappear", etc... And actually, it still isn't completely clear because neither Kramer nor Randi have confirmed what others have said. I do feel a little more at ease though :-).

Why is my claim so important? Perhaps it's important because I am raising valid points, and instead of dealing with the points that I've raised, you'd rather write me off as another whacko. The easiest way to do this is to listen to my wild and crazy claim, and then laugh at me and ignore my questions. Like I've continued to say - my claim isn't relevant to the validity of my questions.

Thankfully, there exists people surfing this forum who know what they're talking about, and are willing to help me answer my valid questions. Thank you to everyone who has been patient with me, and helped me to understand the inner workings.

~Sean
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Old 7th February 2005, 12:30 PM   #25
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Quote:
So, your understanding of how JREF is functioning, is that when someone wins, the claimant won't win the bonds, but JREF will liquidate the bonds into cash and pay the claimant with the cash. Is this correct, Kramer?
I want to be clear, I do not work for JREF, sit on their board of directors, or sit on their finance committee. I do not know for sure what they would or would not liquidate to pay a winner. However, I do know from looking at their 990 they have over a million in assets, a million of which is restricted (presumably restricted for prize winners) and that if a claimant fulfilled their end of the contract (i.e. won the prize). JREF would both be legally required to pay and have the ability to do so.

Again though, I would like to stress that while it may seem hostile to not answer your questions, JREF really only has to provide materials like their 990. They are not responsible for explaining them to every individual. You must obtain the education necessary to understand them yourself, (or seek the advice of someone who has that education to help you understand them). This may seem stand-offish. But consider that non-profits always have more work to do than time and money to do it with. Sometimes that means prioritizing and saying that they are going to focus their attention on the most important matters before them. Explaining the financial intricacies of a prize you are not eligible for (because you have not made a claim and filled out the appropriate paperwork) is not likely at the top of their list. Please try to be respectful of their time. A good way to do this is to do some research on your own first before asking the president of an organization to help you. It shows that you are not just trying to be a nuscience. JREF told you right up front that they would divulge more about the prize if you showed you were serious about winning it by submitting a valid application. This is reasonable because the only people who should be really concerned about the financial state of the prize, are people who may be able to win it.

I am glad that you are interested in learning more about things you are skeptical about (the prize). I am happy to answer any questions I can. But just incase your motives are not pure, I would like to stress (in an effort to protect JREF), that I do not work for them or have any knowledge about how they run their organization that is not available to the public. Please do not, at any time, try to claim I speak for JREF. That would be disrespectful to me, and JREF. I just know a lot about how non-profits work in general but the only non-profit that I can speak for is the one I work for. To be clear, I do not represent JREF.
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Old 7th February 2005, 12:31 PM   #26
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That's about what I thought would happen.
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Old 7th February 2005, 02:05 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally posted by Keri
...Please try to be respectful of their time. A good way to do this is to do some research on your own first before asking the president of an organization to help you. It shows that you are not just trying to be a nuscience...

...To be clear, I do not represent JREF.
Yes, I understand you don't represent JREF. I was asking if Kramer could confirm what you were saying, and I wasn't trying to imply that you represented them.

I think I was (and still am) being respectful. If Kramer doesn't have time to answer my questions - fair enough. But then how does he have enough time to post edited versions of our emails in the forum, and answer my question in the forum "behind my back" (in a sense) - but not in our emails. Copy/pasting takes all of 20 seconds. Just as long as it takes to type "You're full of ****, Apply or go away". *shrug*

I still question the existance of the money, but I'm satisfied with the answers provided to continue to pursue the money. It's still possible it's a scam, but it's "unlikely" the scam would include worthless bonds. Again - thanks for your help and patience. I won't be replying to this thread in the future unless Kramer posts with useful accurate information about JREF.

~Sean
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Old 7th February 2005, 02:08 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally posted by peebrain


I still question the existance of the money, but I'm satisfied with the answers provided to continue to pursue the money. It's still possible it's a scam, but it's "unlikely" the scam would include worthless bonds. Again - thanks for your help and patience. I won't be replying to this thread in the future unless Kramer posts with useful accurate information about JREF.

~Sean
Why do you question the existence of the money?

Why do you think it's a scam?

What does the JREF gain by not having the money except public disgrace should the challenge be won?

Do you think the bank holding the bonds is in on the scam?
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Old 7th February 2005, 03:44 PM   #29
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Quote:
peebrain wrote:
I still question the existance of the money
I know you will not be posting further, but I cannot resist providing this information. Please click on http://12.39.246.46/650/650649443/65...200312_990.pdf JREF's 990 from 2003. (Their 2004 990 will be due to the IRS the 15th day of the 5th month after their 2004 fiscal year ends).

If you look at page 3 of the 990 you will see:
Line 59 column B (end of the year) Assets ($ they have) = $1,878,457.00
Line 66 column B (end of the year) Liabilities (debt they must pay) = $8,391.00
Line 74 column B (end of the year) Net Assets (money they have minus what they owe in debt) = $1,878,457.00

So you can clearly see they have well over $1 million dollars. If they are lying they are lying to the IRS and then are stupid enough to file that tax return with at least two organizations that act as watch dogs to weed out bad charities (guide star and the foundation center). Also, I do not know the state laws of Florida, but in most places an organization with finances over $25,000.00 would be highly encouraged if not required to have their financials audited by an independent accounting firm on a yearly or bi-yearly basis. Since JREF receives grants (and most grant making foundations require an audit). I am almost certain that the numbers provided to the IRS have been audited. You can be about as sure that JREF has the money as you are that the bank has yours.
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Old 7th February 2005, 03:53 PM   #30
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this guy is a nuisance here, too

Quote:
The easiest way to do this (call me a 'wacko') is to listen to my wild and crazy claim, and then laugh at me and ignore my questions.
No, the easiest way to see you are a nuisance and a wacko, is to have you participate on these forums and make post after post of nonsense, in the middle of which, what do we see:

"I'm satisfied with the answers provided to continue to pursue the money." - posted by peebrain, who is finally, at last, revealing that he is really interested in the money, and has a paranormal ability that will manifest itself shortly in a Challenge Application, notarized and official?

OK, peebrain, here's my humble opinion:
You really were given the best answer possible under the circumstances, originally by the Amazing Randi himself.

Apply or go away.

You did neither, unfortunately.
Now, let's see if you live up to your last comment:

"I won't be replying to this thread in the future unless Kramer posts with useful accurate information about JREF."

Kramer is not going to post a word further to you, that's my prediction!

Next case.
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Old 7th February 2005, 04:42 PM   #31
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Quote:
Originally posted by jmercer
Well, since the JREF agreement states that payment will be made (sans the actual word "cash") in clear, unequivacal language...
So why not make it even more clear and unequivocal by adding the word "cash"? It'd take, what, about ninety seconds of KRAMER's time.

Quote:
I would assume that any questions about the veracity of the funds being available are generated by:

1) Someone that didn't read the agreement
2) Someone that doesn't trust the agreement/organization
3) Someone that's looking to find a way to raise doubt about the funds
4) Someone incapable of lucid thought
Of those, only #2 doesn't assume some incompetence or maliciousness on the part of the questioner, so only #2 is one I would consider reasonable. The questioner might be incompetent or malicious, but up until now, we have no reason to believe so.

So, that said, why would the questioner trust the JREF? That's why there are contracts - to minimize the amount of trust required between two parties. Certainly the JREF doesn't trust any applicant; why should the JREF expect any applicant to trust them?

Quote:
Besides, the agreement states that the applicant that wins will be paid $1,000,000. Period, the end. I'd take that in cash, negotiable bonds, check, gold bullion, etc.
Well, okay, but you are not every applicant.
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Old 7th February 2005, 05:29 PM   #32
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this individual is not an applicant, yet

beleth remarks:
Quote:
Well, okay, but you are not every applicant.
From the very first contact with this guy, the point has been made over and over and over (and in more ways than one):

JREF will not enter into this discussion just to satisfy people's "curiosity" -- Apply or don't.

Sean did not apply. He is not anyone with "standing" and he got the attention he deserved --- all in all, Sean has been treated pretty well considering he's being a major pain in the a$$. What he did is drag this out in public, and I for one am more convinced than ever before the guy is a loser.
I hope he does apply, then we can really laugh at him!

Who wants to guess what his paranormal claim is going to be now? It should be a doozy.
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Old 7th February 2005, 06:43 PM   #33
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Quote:
Originally posted by Beleth
So why not make it even more clear and unequivocal by adding the word "cash"? It'd take, what, about ninety seconds of KRAMER's time.
Because by citing a disbursement, JREF has to comply with that specific method unless they can get permission from the winner. The way it's written now, they can hand over a check, wire the money, you name it. It would be a very unusual step to explicitly require a disbursment in cash.

Regarding the rest of your comments... well, that's why I made them multiple choice. Everyone gets to choose their own interpretation of Kirk's motivation.

And thank goodness I'm not an applicant in any form.
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Old 7th February 2005, 07:10 PM   #34
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Re: this individual is not an applicant, yet

Quote:
Originally posted by webfusion
From the very first contact with this guy, the point has been made over and over and over (and in more ways than one):

JREF will not enter into this discussion just to satisfy people's "curiosity" -- Apply or don't.
Which is a very arrogant position to take.

Imagine you're apartment-hunting. You go to a particular rental office and they have a sign on the door that says "We will not show you an apartment just to satisfy your 'curiosity' -- Rent from us or don't."

Would you ever even consider renting from a place like that? You probably wouldn't even open the door and set foot inside. Even if you did, that sign certainly sets a very bad first impression for any discussion you might have with the landlords!

Quote:
Sean did not apply. He is not anyone with "standing" and he got the attention he deserved
Um... what?

Since when do you need "standing" to be treated civilly?

Is the JREF only really interested in talking to Sylvia and Geller? Are all these other applicants and potential applicants just fleas to be annoyed with and squashed as quickly as possible?

I guess I have no idea what you mean by that comment.

Quote:
all in all, Sean has been treated pretty well considering he's being a major pain in the a$$. What he did is drag this out in public, and I for one am more convinced than ever before the guy is a loser.
I hope he does apply, then we can really laugh at him!
No. He has not been treated very well at all. He asked a valid, if nit-picky, question, and his only responses have been curt and uncivil.

It saddens me that this is how well-respected members of the skeptical community treat people we know nothing about.
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Old 7th February 2005, 07:30 PM   #35
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I think Sean asked legitimate questions. I don't think that it was clear as to how the prize, if awarded, would be paid.

Here's why:

1) Originally, on the web page: http://www.randi.org/research/

it said that:

"The prize is in the form of negotiable bonds held in a special investment account."

right after the sentence:

"At JREF, we offer a one-million-dollar prize to anyone who can show, under proper observing conditions, evidence of any paranormal, supernatural, or occult power or event. "

[Note: As of February 6th, that sentence was no longer on that web page. Apparently someone else also agreed it was confusing.]

2) On this web page: http://www.randi.org/research/challenge.html
in rule 8 it states:

"At the formal test, in advance, an independent person will be placed in charge of a personal check from James Randi for US$10,000. In the event that the claimant is successful under the agreed terms and conditions, that check shall be immediately surrendered to the claimant, and within ten days the James Randi Educational Foundation will pay to the claimant the remainder of the reward, for a total of US$1,000,000. One million dollars in negotiable bonds is held by an investment firm in New York, in the "James Randi Educational Foundation Prize Account" as surety for the prize funds. Validation of this account and its current status may be obtained by contacting the Foundation by telephone, fax, or e-mail."

It would be clearer if the words "by check" were added. For example:

"within ten days the James Randi Educational Foundation will pay to the claimant the remainder of the US$1,000,000 reward by check, for US$990,000."

Between the information on the above two web pages it isn't clear if the prize would be paid to the winner by check or by transferring ownership of the bonds.

--

Several people in this thread had suggested that no one has the right to ask questions about the prize until they have signed the application. That makes no sense. The application is an agreement that requires the applicant to give up legal rights and take on additional and potentially very expensive obligations.
See rule 6 on web page http://www.randi.org/research/challenge.html:

"All expenses such as transportation, accommodation, materials, assistants, and/or all other costs for any persons or procedures incurred in pursuit of the reward, are the sole responsibility of the applicant. Neither the JREF nor JR will bear any of the costs."


Why would anyone give up legal rights and take on a potentially expensive obligation when they still have questions about the challenge?

Several people in this thread tracked down the JREF's 990s and provided convincing evidence that the bonds are probably not junk bonds. But before they did so … consider this:

In a *worse case scenario* these could have been junk bonds where the issuer had already defaulted on the interest payments and was in no position to make good on the face value of the bonds when they matured. In that scenario, it may not have been worth it for an applicant to:

* take the time off from work and give up income to prepare for and take the challenge
* pay for all the "challenge related expenses"

This could very well have added up to be more than the value of the junk bonds. As I'm sure all the readers of this thread had noticed, there appears to be no limitation in the application as to how much the "challenge related expenses" can add up to, nor any indication that the applicant would have any control or say over the expenses.

Lastly, if Randi and his associates really do not want any questions from people until they have already signed the application ( a legal agreement where they give up certain legal rights and take on certain obligations (like all "challenge related expenses") ) then they should say so on the web site. Instead they say, as per "rule 8" on http://www.randi.org/research/challenge.html:

"Validation of this account and its current status may be obtained by contacting the Foundation by telephone, fax, or e-mail."

They don't mention that only people who have already signed the application can ask questions, do they?

And when the JREF did get a question, instead of just taking literally 60 seconds to answer it, simply by saying that the prize, if awarded, would be paid out by check in US dollars payable to the bearer … they must have wasted at least an hour playing head games.

Nothing wrong with looking before you leap. I think Sean asked some smart questions.

I respect the JREF's mission in most of the cases they describe on their web site -- but I don't think they served their cause well by how they treated Sean.

Shera
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Old 7th February 2005, 09:10 PM   #36
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I agree with Beleth and shera (welcome to the forum, by the way). Sean deserved a better answer than what he got.

A lot of unbalanced people apply for the million, or pester the foundation and the forum with stupid questions, but let's not forget the whole point of all this. We're not here to debunk a bunch of crazies, we're actively trying to find evidence of the paranormal. Right?

So how come when someone asks a few legitimate questions in a very polite manner, he's told he's full of baloney (or $hit, maybe) by the person who he's been told he is to deal with. And when he turns to this forum for clarification (and perhaps to defend himself), webfusion calls him a "major pain in the a$$" and a "loser?" Seriously, dude, you should be ashamed of yourself and I hope you apologize.

Ugh, I need to go count to ten or something.
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Old 7th February 2005, 09:36 PM   #37
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Quote:
Originally posted by Shera

Lastly, if Randi and his associates really do not want any questions from people until they have already signed the application ( a legal agreement where they give up certain legal rights and take on certain obligations (like all "challenge related expenses") ) then they should say so on the web site. Instead they say, as per "rule 8" on http://www.randi.org/research/challenge.html:

"Validation of this account and its current status may be obtained by contacting the Foundation by telephone, fax, or e-mail."

They don't mention that only people who have already signed the application can ask questions, do they?


Sean contacted the foundation, and was provided with a copy of a statement from the independant financial institution holding the fund. That is the standard response due him as per the website's stated rules. After receiving this statement, Sean wanted more proof of the money's existence. He was told that more proof could be provided if and when he became an applicant. Until that time, the statement copy he had already received fulfilled the foundation's obligations to any casual request.

The main point here is that Sean has not applied for the challenge. It is entirely likely that Sean will never apply for the challenge. Certainly, most people here believe he never had any intention of applying for the challenge. At this point, the ball is in his court. His only method of returning it is via a notarized application.
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Old 7th February 2005, 09:52 PM   #38
webfusion
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I don't know about you...

Quote:
... let's not forget the whole point of all this. We're not here to debunk a bunch of crazies, we're actively trying to find evidence of the paranormal. Right?
Well, allow me to say -- I am most certainly here to see the debunking and laugh myself silly and ridicule the woo woos!!!

At a certain level, yes, being a skeptic means being open-mided to the possibility of paranormal. However, being a rational, thinking and educated human also requires us not to get carried away too far into that realm. Kramer can go over in that area, Randi can, that's their chosen profession. I'm just a guy with a keyboard, who comes in here for laughs.

Why? Because there is no paranormal and those who bring forth their claims into the harsh light of day are only the tip of the planet's woo woo iceberg ------- The million dollars isn't going to be paid EVER, in my opinion. Yeah, it is available, but won't be claimed, because the applications for the Challenge are ludicrous, each one more funny than the next!

Sean didn't even apply (yet) and I'm perfectly comfortable sitting here laughing at him! The whole thing about the money was (and is) hilarious enough. I happen to agree that "apply or go away" was about the best advice offered in response to his entire train of thought.

It took Randi all of two seconds to deal with this guy peebrain.
And it took Sean all of a million words to get to the same point he started at --- sitting around in front of his computer trying to figure out what to do next! Go for it, Sean, apply!!!

Here's the money -- Randi has it stashed away in that vault !!!


Let's see your Application, OK? We need the entertainment, this week has been slow for woos.

===============================
Shera, Rebecca, Beleth are waiting for evidence of the Paranormal? Get yourselves real lives...

Go watch a movie or something to chill out --

BOOGEYMAN I hear is a really wild ride!!!
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Old 8th February 2005, 06:06 AM   #39
rebecca
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Re: I don't know about you...

Quote:
Originally posted by webfusion
Well, allow me to say -- I am most certainly here to see the debunking and laugh myself silly and ridicule the woo woos!!!
Wow. I'm sure that Randi and Kramer are thrilled that they've dedicated their lives to delivering a few yucks to some brainiac with an Internet connection as opposed to serious education of the public concerning science and pseudoscience. I'm sure they'll print out your little posting and hang it on the wall to give them hope when they're bogged down under a mob of ignorance.

Regardless of how you get your jollies, the JREF is a serious organization with good people who are trying to make a difference in the world. As someone who supports that mission, it is my ethical duty to help in whatever way I can. In this case, that means showing believers of the paranormal that skepticism
is about thinking critically about the world around you, not about mocking them. Also, it is cases like this which can help show the average believer that skepticism is not a blind devotion to other skeptics. I value this board because it promotes a level of discourse that forces us all to rethink our attitudes and beliefs. Well, by "us" I mean those of us who are prepared to "think" in the first place, let alone "rethink."

Quote:
Originally posted by webfusion
At a certain level, yes, being a skeptic means being open-mided to the possibility of paranormal. However, being a rational, thinking and educated human also requires us not to get carried away too far into that realm. Kramer can go over in that area, Randi can, that's their chosen profession. I'm just a guy with a keyboard, who comes in here for laughs.
Yes, it's best not to "get carried away" so far that we're polite to people. I mean, really, what has the world come to when we can't beat someone down a bit? All people who apply are obviously frauds who are out to steal our delicious treasure and make us look silly, right? Oh, sure, some may genuinely believe they have some sort of power but are uneducated in the ways of critical thinking, but they should be mocked for that. It's the best way to enlighten someone -- I'm pretty sure that's how most elementary schools teach the multiplication tables these days. Ah, and some applicants may be mentally unstable, of course, but studies show they respond best to being called "woos" and laughed at. Particularly before you hear what they have to say.

Quote:
Originally posted by webfusion
===============================
Shera, Rebecca, Beleth are waiting for evidence of the Paranormal? Get yourselves real lives...
Yes, thank you, the three of us will take your advice and go get real lives. I'll start by taking your lead (I assume you mean that you have one of these "real lives") by insulting a stranger on the Internet for my own entertainment. Like you, I'll choose someone who I believe is a mentally deficient troll (though I do have a bit more evidence for my belief, so I hope that still qualifies). So! Webfusion, you have the intelligence, grace, and tact of a malfunctioning toaster oven. We're all a little stupider for having read your posts.

Hey, you're right! It feels great to have a life. And to think, I was going to go outside today and interact with people face to face! Thank you, webfusion.
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Old 8th February 2005, 07:58 AM   #40
webfusion
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brainiac with an internet connection

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Seriously, dude, you should be ashamed of yourself and I hope you apologize.

Ugh, I need to go count to ten or something.
Count to a million or something!

I'm not apologizing for anything, not to mr peebrain and not to you. This isn't about me, or what my 'take' on the JREF challenge is ----- this is about one particular case of someone (Sean Connelly) failing miserably to accept the answer given and persisting to annoy. He was and still is full of sh*t -- no less than hundreds of others who beat a path to the Amazing Randi thinking that they are "gonna show him a thing or two"

Well, newsflash, Randi knows it ain't gonna happen! He is 100% confident the money will remain forever in that bank vault and KRAMER is going to continue to post stuff that offers the optimum amount of smiles!

Serious pursuit of the paranormal?
Yeah, like the Yellow Bamboo.
Or TC Albin.

Give me a break. Get serious yourself.
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