Wednesday, July 15, 2009

TAM7 Million Dollar Challenge - Connie Sonne

I have just returned from The Amaz!ng Meeting 7 (TAM7). Much to do in catching up. But first this.

As you may know, the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) has long administered the Million Dollar Challenge (MDC). In hopes of verifying objectively observable paranormal, supernatural, or psychic phenomena, James Randi offered $1,000,000.00 to anyone who prove such abilities.

Potential claimants of the million dollar prize complete an application and the application is processed by the JREF. In the application, the claimant states what they can do and the extent to which they can do it.

The JREF and the MDC claimant then design a test (protocol) that will allow the claimant to demonstrate their ability. The claimant must pass a preliminary test and a final test. The protocol is carefully designed to prevent fraud or trickery on the part of the claimant or the JREF. Both parties must sign their agreement to the protocol.

Claimants who make if as far as the preliminary test have so far failed. Without exception, as far as I know. Although they agree to the protocol before the test, their failure in the test compels them to find fault with the protocol. If it does nothing else for them, the actual test opens claimant's eyes to previously-hidden inadequacies in the protocol. Sadly, the test rarely drives claimants to the conclusion that their psychic abilities do not exist.

On Sunday, July 12, an MDC preliminary test was made of claimant Connie Sonne. Connie Sonne's claimed ability was dowsing. The test was made shortly after the close of TAM7 in the same conference room at the South Point Hotel Casino and Spa.

TAM7 attendees were allowed to witness the test live in the room, provided they signed and swore an oath of audience silence. All cell phones off (not set to vibrate--off). No noise, no disturbance, and an assurance of swift removal for any violation. All this out of respect for the claimant and the administration of the protocol. Hundreds of TAM7 attendees watched live, more watched online via a live streaming on the web.

I was there, in person, about 40 feet from the Connie Sonne and JREF MDC administrator, Banachek.

The short version of the protocol is this: a single deck of cards was sorted by suit. The face cards were removed. Each card was placed in a small envelope. Each small envelope was placed in a slightly larger envelope, so that each card was secure in two envelopes. The cards of each suit (clubs, hearts, spades, and diamonds) were then placed in a larger envelope. This part of the protocol was completed in advance of the test and the collection of envelopes remained in the hands of a private security company until the administration of the test.

Banachek opened, in succession, the large envelope for each of three suits. For each suit, Banachek laid out the 10 envelopes (cards 1-10, where 1 is represented by the ace) directly in front of Sonne. Banachek then rolled a 10-sided die. Sonne then doused to find the card that matched the roll of the die.

When the clubs were laid out, the result from the rolled die was 3. When the hearts were laid out, the result from the rolled die was 7. When the spades were laid out, the result from the rolled die was 1. Sonne dowsed for each card. She made her selections. Then came the moment of truth.

More in the comments.

UPDATE: Here's the official JREF report.


Dean Baird said...

After the result shown in the video, all the other envelopes were opened. All the cards in all the suits were verified. After nearly an hour taken to administer the entire protocol, Connie was thanked for her participation.

The room of silent TAM7 attendees then broke into polite, but enthusiastic applause. Until that point, only a rare, renegade cough broke through the HVAC noise in the very large conference room.

To a person, the people I talked to after the test admired Connie Sonne for agreeing to test live in the presence of a skeptical audience.

After initially indicating that the spirits who guide her decided that this was not the moment for her to shine, she now claims that she was cheated by Banachek.

See post #271.

To this end, she joins countless others who have agreed to the protocol, failed, and then blamed the protocol.

I can assure you that I was there and the protocol was solid. Banachek is a man of integrity and he administered the protocol smoothly under a significant degree of pressure. My heart was racing a bit through the entire process. I am, like many skeptics, eager to see evidence of the paranormal.

Instead, Connie Sonne has revealed herself to be just another loser.

Stevie Ray said...

The reason for Connie's Nil Results is obvious - THE CARDS SHOULD HAVE BEEN WET!