Letters

$1,000,000 Challenge!

I recently watched a lecture on TED by acclaimed “magician” and skeptic, James Randi that inspired a little research and an equal measure of my own thinking about the subject of faith healers, homeopathy, and the place of critical thinking within modern culture.  I would say I am a somewhat critical thinker, and my conclusion–led by the scientific method–was a surprise.

Background: James Randi, after a very successful career in Entertainment began his Educational Foundation, which decries all public profession of faith healing, psychic ability, paranormal acumen, etc.  His intent is to foster a better educational model for those who will inherit our country, to teach people how to think critically, and to end the suffering of those who have chosen to believe in said psychics and witch doctors.  I am basically completely in favor of this scenario (although I would simply point a student in the direction of a good accredited academic establishment) UNLESS there is something about the mission which doesn’t hold true within the structure of its challenge: that is, if there is something which, in the world of science and the scientific method that proves a psychic power… or which proves that a human being BELIEVING in such, is in certain instances demonstrably better off than if he did not have access to that power… then I am not in favor.

Though my argument may need some additional research, I am fairly sure I have found a counter argument to the claim of James Randi that a psychic reader only does damage.  Here is my article.  The following is a letter I have written to James Randi… now recorded in the Bureau of Letters.  (I also suggest that the $1,000,000 get spent on the generation of the BENSHOOK foundation for innovation and architectural healing.)

Here is the letter, as sent to James Randi at his foundation, today:

I wrote an article which in certain measure meets the requirements of your $1,000,000 challenge… though I do not profess any psychic or paranormal abilities.  I might profess a mental and cognitive ability that–through basic logic–has found a somewhat gross paradox in the structure of your claims.  I am a lover of science, a classicist, have studied the history of science, and somehow still arrive at the conclusion that what you would call paranormal may very well exist within the constraints of the scientific method.  In other words, the method that a good skeptic would use.  Here’s a link to my article, about you.
I would be happy to speak publicly about this idea, as well as become a media presence for this purpose.
It seems to me that you are coming to the end of your life… and perhaps it would create quite a legacy to give the $1,000,000 prize to someone like me, who has appropriated the right argument for the coexistence of science and what we might call “psychic powers…” I would also agree to use the money for a new foundation of my own, which I have imagined for a long time, whose mission would be based in fostering innovation and mass produced architectural solutions for those in need, such as the Haitians right now.  I do hope you find the time to read my note.

Sincerely yours,

Benjamin Shook