‘Psychic Nikki’ backs away from JREF’s Million Dollar Challenge PDF Print E-mail
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Toronto-based 'psychic' breaks her promise to contact JREF; now says she's "not available" to have her abilities tested

LOS ANGELES—'Psychic Nikki,' the Toronto-based psychic who claimed she'd be willing have her abilities tested for the Million Dollar Challenge offered by the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF), now says she's "not available" to be tested.

"It's not surprising that Nikki isn't willing to have her abilities tested under fair conditions," said JREF President D.J. Grothe. “Of the hundreds of so-called psychics and other paranormalists who have accepted our challenge and agreed that our tests were fair, not a single one was able to demonstrate any special ability whatsoever. These professional 'psychics' are either deluding their clients or deluding themselves."

Nikki first said she'd be willing to take the JREF's Million Dollar Challenge in a CBC News story on Aug. 30.1

The JREF called Nikki on Sept. 2, requesting an email address to send her information about the Million Dollar Challenge. After CBC News published a followup story2 on Tuesday, Sept. 6, Nikki returned the JREF's call, leaving a message in which she promised "I will try to contact you in the next couple of days for sure." The JREF called her back within an hour, again offering to send information about the Challenge and answer her questions.

A full week after Nikki promised to call the JREF "in the next couple of days," she still had not responded.

Instead, she seemed to be backing away from the Million Dollar Challenge on Friday, when she said on CFNY-FM in Toronto, "I didn't tell CBC I would do the test for sure, I said [I would] if I was available... I'm not available."3 She went on to say, "I don't have to take [the JREF's] stupid test … I don't want a million dollars."4

These are the reasons Nikki gave for avoiding the JREF's Million Dollar Challenge, and the JREF's response to each:

"I have no time [from] now until next year."5

This is an obvious dodge, as Nikki was unable when asked to describe the plans that prevented her from taking the test, even over the next few days.

"[Randi] doesn't have the million dollars."6

The JREF's Million Dollar Challenge account is held with the investment firm Evercore in New York, and the bank statement is available on the JREF web site. ABC News recently verified the status of the account for an episode of Primetime Nightline in which the prize money was offered. ‘Psychic Nikki' never raised this concern to the JREF, nor responded to the JREF's repeated attempts to reach her and answer her questions.

"How valid are [the] tests? … This is like a lie detector test... someone could be faking it."7

Tests for the Million Dollar Challenge are developed by the 'psychic' or paranormalist together with the JREF, mutually agreed upon, and conducted by an agreed-upon third party. The tests the JREF agrees to are designed to make results obvious and objective, without requiring subjective evaluation or judging—in short, they are nothing like a lie detector test.

Nikki would know this if she had responded to the JREF's repeated offers to answer her questions and send her more information. She told both CBC News and CFNY-FM that she had questions and wanted more information before agreeing to the test. Yet the JREF has twice left voicemail for her, asking for an email address to provide more information and offering to answer her questions, and she has not asked any questions or provided a way for the JREF to send her information. It appears she would rather remain confused in order to make excuses.

"This test is controlled, that's why I don't want to take it"8

The JREF suspects this is the real reason Nikki doesn't want to have her abilities tested for the Million Dollar Challenge. Tests for the Challenge are conducted under fair, controlled observing conditions which eliminate the possibility of cheating, in order to determine whether the claimed powers are in fact real or whether the person being tested performs no better than chance. 'Psychic' practitioners like Nikki typically rely on conversational techniques called "cold reading," which exploit well-known cognitive biases in the minds of their clients in order to give the subjective impression of psychic abilities, when, in fact, no such abilities have been used.

References:
  1. CBC News, http://www.cbc.ca/m/touch/news/story/2011/08/30/psychic-challenge-randi-nikk.html
  2. CBC News, http://www.cbc.ca/news/offbeat/story/2011/09/06/psychic-challenge-nikki-randi.html
  3. CFNY-FM, Dean Blundell Show, Sept. 9, 2011, timecode 49:42 in the file available at http://www.edge.ca/DJsandShows/TheDeanBlundellShow/Audio.aspx
  4. CFNY-FM, Dean Blundell Show, Sept. 9, 2011, timecode 59:20 in the file available at http://www.edge.ca/DJsandShows/TheDeanBlundellShow/Audio.aspx
  5. CFNY-FM, Dean Blundell Show, Sept. 9, 2011, timecode 50:20 in the file available at http://www.edge.ca/DJsandShows/TheDeanBlundellShow/Audio.aspx
  6. CFNY-FM, Dean Blundell Show, Sept. 9, 2011, timecode 53:25 (repeated at 56:50) in the file available at http://www.edge.ca/DJsandShows/TheDeanBlundellShow/Audio.aspx
  7. CFNY-FM, Dean Blundell Show, Sept. 9, 2011, timecode 54:40 in the file available at http://www.edge.ca/DJsandShows/TheDeanBlundellShow/Audio.aspx
  8. CFNY-FM, Dean Blundell Show, Sept. 9, 2011, timecode 56:00 in the file available at http://www.edge.ca/DJsandShows/TheDeanBlundellShow/Audio.aspx
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The James Randi Educational Foundation was founded in 1996 to expose charlatans and help people defend themselves from paranormal and pseudoscientific claims. The JREF offers a still-unclaimed million-dollar reward for anyone who can produce evidence of paranormal abilities under controlled conditions. Through scholarships, workshops, and innovative resources for educators, the JREF works to inspire this investigative spirit in a new generation of critical thinkers. | www.randi.org