Dodging questions, James Van Praagh won't even talk to dead people about JREF's Million Dollar Challenge

Laguna Beach, Calif.—James Van Praagh has made himself rich by claiming he talks to the dead on daytime TV and at pricey ticketed seances—but he wouldn’t talk at all when ‘the dead’ actually turned up at his $100-a-head seminar to ask why he won’t prove his psychic powers.

A video released today by the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) shows a small horde of costumed ‘zombies,’ carrying signs reading “Van Praaaaaaagh” and “talk to us, we won’t bite,” shambling up to the building where Van Praagh’s “Spirit Circle” was set to begin, and asking to speak with him. Led by JREF President D.J. Grothe, the groups asks why Van Praagh is dodging questions about whether he’ll accept the Foundation’s million-dollar challenge to prove his claimed psychic medium abilities.

Van Praagh’s representatives first promise to get someone to talk with the group, but instead have the group kicked out by security.


Van Praagh has refused to answer emails and certified letters about the JREF’s challenge, and has refused to comment to the media. JREF representatives say they’ve seen nothing that distinguishes Van Praagh’s performances from common psychological tricks traditionally used by magicians and phony psychics.

“If James Van Praagh is making his living by faking psychic powers and pretending to speak to people’s deceased family members, that’s truly shameful,” said D.J. Grothe, JREF president and a former professional magician. “That’s why we put a million dollars on the line and gave him the opportunity to prove he can really talk to dead people.”

“It seems that when James Van Praagh is asked to prove his ‘psychic’ powers, even dead people get the silent treatment.”