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Prize Awarded PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

My excellent scientist friend Gyula Bencze informs me that this year's Student Essay Competiton sponsored by Természet Világa – the major Hungarian science journal – held its award ceremony on Saturday, March 7, at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. The annual James Randi Prize was awarded to a junior highschool girl, Andrea Palfi of Krudy Gyula Gymnasium in Nyíregyháza, Hungary. The title of her essay was: "Radiesthesia: Harmful environmental effect or fake?" The term “radiesthesia” refers to what we call “dowsing” or “divining” – usually with a forked stick, two pieces of wire, or a pendulum. Andrea’s essay was an empirical study of the effect, for which she hired four different dowsers to find “earth radiation” effects in her apartment. These independent studies of course gave four contradicting results, which raised the question posed in the title of the essay. Her well-written piece will be published in Természet Világa very soon, bringing her what may be only her first publication in a science journal.

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Young people need more critical thinking education and awareness
written by DZiemke, March 20, 2009
It's so great to see young people taking up science-based learning and critical thinking. Even if she doesn't go into science or engineering as a career, these skills can help everyone.
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written by FirstTimeCaller, March 20, 2009
Ok, I have to admit my heart skipped a beat when I saw the title "Prize Awarded" on the JREF site! I knew it couldn't be what I thought it was... and my sensibilities have been restored upon hearing the details.
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FTC...
written by jdodd74, March 20, 2009
...same here! I double checked the calendar to make sure it wasn't April 1 yet before I continued reading!

Congratulations to Andrea!
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written by Willy K, March 20, 2009
My sister told my that dowsing was REAL because she saw someone do it!

I used a phrase reserved for siblings. I told her she was a fraking idiot. She hasn't mentioned it to me since, though I suspect I didn't change her mind. smilies/cry.gif
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written by jerrybuch, March 20, 2009
Andrea is my new hero. It's exciting to see a young person not only question the validity of superstition, but to actually have the nerve to test it out a la James Randi and see for herself that it has no truth. Thank you, Randi, for sponsoring the award, or at least being the inspiration for it.
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written by Noneoftheabove, March 20, 2009
@Willy K
My sister told my that dowsing was REAL because she saw someone do it!

I used a phrase reserved for siblings. I told her she was a fraking idiot. She hasn't mentioned it to me since, though I suspect I didn't change her mind.

On the one hand, she would be right in as far that it is an actual behavior that certain people exhibit. On the other hand, you should get some friends round to chase invisible leprechauns and try to convince her that that's real. (Recruit some friends she doesn't know)
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written by Fontwell, March 21, 2009
Ok, I have to admit my heart skipped a beat when I saw the title "Prize Awarded" on the JREF site! I knew it couldn't be what I thought it was... and my sensibilities have been restored upon hearing the details.
smilies/grin.gif

I must be getting to be an old hand, the thought never even crossed my mind.
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I Wish!
written by Blizno, March 21, 2009
"written by FirstTimeCaller, March 20, 2009
Ok, I have to admit my heart skipped a beat when I saw the title "Prize Awarded" on the JREF site! I knew it couldn't be what I thought it was... and my sensibilities have been restored upon hearing the details.?"

I would be THRILLED to read that the James Randi $1Mil has been awarded to somebody for conclusively demonstrating that a formerly woo-woo practice is actually real. What a treasure for science to find a brand-new avenue to research!!

If magic is folly, it will never satisfy a properly created trial (although Randi himself showed how easily even the most analytical of scientists are prone to being deceived by sleight-of-hand). This only reinforces the critical importance of carefully crafted double-blind experiments being performed in sufficient numbers for dispassionate statistical analysis before claiming any glorious breakthrough in our understanding of reality.
I'm still waiting to hear the results of the studies showing that ghosts actually do haunt castles. Until then, I'll assume that ghosts do not haunt castles and do not exist.

I guess I'll just have to keep investigating the world that we can measure.
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written by BillyJoe, March 22, 2009
I must be getting to be an old hand, the thought never even crossed my mind.


You must be like me - it would never enter my head that the prize could possibly ever go, so I made no connection either.

BJ
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