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article imageOp-Ed: Psychic Patricia Putt to be tested today for the JREF prize

By Bart B. Van Bockstaele     May 6, 2009 in Science
Patricia Putt, a woman who thinks that she can find out personal details about people by simply being near them and listening to their voices will do a preliminary test which may lead to her winning the coveted 1 million dollar JREF prize.
The idea for the JREF prize comes from the brain of world-renowned magician and paranormal investigator James Randi, a Toronto native who lives in Florida. This prize is awarded:
to anyone who can show, under proper observing conditions, evidence of any paranormal, supernatural, or occult power or event.
The idea behind the prize is a simple one. A large number of people believe in paranormal powers. Scientists have tried to find these powers for decades now and they have all been disillusioned. Yet, many people continue to believe in them. By making the amount so high, these tests -which do usually not interest the general public- becoming more exciting, leading to more publicity and a larger audience. This ensures that more people will learn of the success or failure of these tests, leading to a better educated, wider public.
Patricia Putt, a well-known psychic, had contacted the James Randi Educational Foundation a while ago in order to be tested for the million dollar prize.
In order to be tested, the applicant must –of course- apply. A test protocol for a preliminary test will then be developed in mutual agreement between the JREF and the applicant. The reason for this is that, by their very nature, no one knows what paranormal powers are, and while the JREF must be as sure as reasonably achievable that genuine powers are being tested, the applicant must feel comfortable with the testing protocol in order to maximize her/his chances to demonstrate her/his powers. The protocol must also make sure to test the powers that the applicant thinks he or she has.
Today, 6 May 2009, Patricia Putt will take the preliminary test. As always, the JREF is not involved with the test itself. She will be tested at Goldsmiths University by Professor Christopher French, Professor Richard Wiseman, and psychology students Panka Juhasz, James Munroe, Suzanne Barbieri, and Fabio Tartarini.
"It's great that Patricia has agreed to be tested and accepted the protocol," said Professor Wiseman, "In my experience, the vast majority of psychics and mediums back down before this point, so this is going to be a relatively rare and exciting experiment. My hope is that all will go well with the procedure on the day and thus we will get a clear result one way or the other."
The reason that this is news, is that the demonstration of genuine paranormal powers would create a new science in a field that is now regarded by most scientists as a graveyard for dim-witted wishful thinkers. A successful test would bring even more wonder and mystery into the world than there already is, and could potentially have great applications.
Mrs Putt says that she can find out personal information about people by simply being close to them while listening to their voices.
During the test, she will meet a series of volunteers who will read a text from William Blake’s ‘The Auguries of Innocence’. They will be wearing heavy clothing, wrap-around sunglasses and they will not be permitted to look at Mrs. Putt during the reading, in order to avoid subconscious clues.
Mrs. Putt will then write a lengthy “reading” about each volunteer. This will take most of the day. Once this is done, the volunteers will be asked to choose the reading that they think is their’s. The readings will be numbered. In order to make sure that everything is properly documented, the whole procedure will be taped on video.
Mrs. Putt will have passed the test if five or more of the volunteers are able to identify their own reading. In that case, a protocol will be developed for a final test that could lead to her winning the JREF prize.
We should remain realistic, and not keep our hopes up too much. So far, not a single applicant has been able to pass the preliminary test. Nevertheless, since the vast majority of applicants doesn’t even make it to this point, this is an important event. Regardless of the outcome, the science of paranormal phenomena will advance today, even if only a little.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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