3rd September 2008, 04:50 PM
Mr. Koenig has applied for the Challenge with the claim that he will be able, on October 31st, 2008, to record instances of Electronic Voice Phenomenon (the voices of the dead) in Lake Helen, Florida.
Mr. Koenig has met the academic affidavit and media presence requirements.
Mr. Koenig requested that we use the 10/31/08 demonstration as his final Challenge test rather than the preliminary. That request has been denied.
Mr. Koenig has been informed that, as of yet, his claim does not meet the requirements for a Challenge test as it requires subjective interpretation and does not rely upon objective, quantifiable evidence. However, we are not dismissing his claim outright, and are awaiting responses that will either show us how there will be quantifiable evidence and leave the file open and negotiable, or how there cannot be, in which case the file will be closed.
Stick around for more information on this claim.
11th September 2008, 01:30 AM
Thank you for your continued patience and interest.
I have reviewed your Challenge application and, from what I am seeing, your claim would not qualify for the Challenge as yet. I'd like to ask a few questions in order to verify whether or not this is the case.
Your claim is the ability to record EVPs. However, you are giving the demonstration in a completely uncontrolled environment that you will have access to prior to the demonstration. What is there to stop either you or us from rigging the setup?
How will we verify that you do not simply have an audio player on your person?
Let me put this in a clearer manner -
There is a mentalist/magician named Mark Edward. (You can see his site at themarkedward.com, if you wish). As part of his show, Mr. Edward performs seances wherein he "contacts the dead" in an audible and visible manner. However, Mr. Edward is a magician. The seances are part of an act. They would not be testable for the Challenge. Yet they would appear, if one were watching both, to be identical to the claim you are making.
So what stops yours from being a simple magic trick?
Additionally, we do not allow anyone to skip the preliminary Challenge test. Your request that we do so is denied.
Thank you again for your continued interest.
Thanks for your response. After watching my email for something in the last couple of weeks my wife and I thought that we wouldn't be hearing from you.
I am sorry that we had posted something on The Magic Cafe about our frustration when we arrived home earlier this evening. We had written it while flying home (9 Hours plus) and I posted it before getting to my email accounts. I usually only check in the AM so I'm happy I caught this one tonight. ( It's too late to edit the Cafe Post but I will post that you have contacted me asap). I was also pointed toward a youtube video taken at dragoncom or something like that, that seemed to show some confusion about my application between members of the JREF. Still wondering about that.
As far as it being a simple magic trick, well you probably have to ask everyone about that don't you? And it would be very easy for Randi to spot that. That is basically what he does, correct?
As far as solving the audio player problem, my lovely wife insists that I NOT BE NAKED! (Just kidding, but she did say it)
However, I find no problem with being searched.
Would you like me to elaborate on what would be the fairest method( In my opinion) to be implemented to assure fairness?
I have some time tomorrow after the Jet lag if that's OK?
Thanks again for your communication!
I am looking forward to the Challenge.
Just got rolling this morning, but I do have some time to answer your questions to make sure that the test is 100% fair.
I am more than happy to subject myself to any kind of search to avoid any shenanigans on my part. I trust that the JREF will not sabotage the demonstration, but if they want to be examined that is fine with me too.
I will contact the President of the Orlando IBM, Craig Fennessy, and ask him to insure that I am using NO MAGIC TRICKS. I understand that Randi is also an advanced magician and he could also assist in spotting anything "Tricky". The JREF could also select any expert in the field if they chose to. I have no problem with that.
Audio experts from Universal Studio's, Disney, Full Sail, or any other professional company will be brought in to assure that no electronic deception is used. The JREF could select the company of their choosing if they desire and the company is professional.
All devices will be subject to search and analysis.
The area of the test can be monitored by a neutral third party prior to the test to insure no deception.
I have suggested the experts that I am aware of in these areas, since they are all located here in Central Florida, and it seems that they would be capable of the task and the expenses would be much more affordable for me. If the JREF has other experts in mind that would make sure this is 100% fair then we might use them.
I hope this answers your questions? I am available for any of your thoughts and ideas as to insure a fair test.
Thank you for your continued interest.
The main problem with the demonstration you have suggested still hasn't been addressed - it is subjective, and gives no true quantifiable evidence.
For instance, let's say that we move forward with your demonstration. While at the site on Oct. 31st, you pick up something on the tape recorder. To you, it sounds like a woman's voice. To me, it sounds like a bird. To you, the voice is saying "Help me," whereas to me it sounds like "Caw, caw, caw."
We can argue about which it is for all time, but in the end, you have your interpretation and I have mine.
All Challenge claims must be demonstrations that require no judging on the part of the JREF, the claimant, or anyone else. For instance, there is the case of the recent applicant Pavel Ziborov, who claims to be able to tell the contents of envelopes. For the demonstration, he will either be able to or be unable to. There is no judgment on the part of the JREF, there is no judgment on the part of Pavel. It will simply be either success or failure according to the numbers and nothing more.
I do not see how your claim can qualify in this way.
Thank you again.
I do see your concern and I have several good ideas that may alleviate any confusion as to the success of the test. Unfortunately it is getting late here in Orlando and I must be getting to bed soon, but I promise to begin resolving this issue first thing in the morning and while at Universal Studios tomorrow. I should be able to email the solution to you tomorrow evening. Several people have already offered some good plans that seem to work. Please be advised that I am NOT talking about some squeaky little background noise. The "Voices' will be extremely audible and recognizable as to the content of their message. If not, I myself would not be wasting my time.
BTW ... Thanks for "your" time. I know you have much to do at the JREF and I am confident that we can come to an easy understanding as to the nature of a successful test. Thanks again for accepting the media and academic portions of the application. I hope to concentrate all available time to insuring the best and fairest test anyone can hope for.
I've been notified that there is a thread that allows the JREF Forum members to make comments and suggestions. Is that the same thread that was started by MagicGorilla/ Topher Higgins who was kicked off of the Magic Cafe, or is there another thread?
I have received some visitors comments that were very good but I'm not too good at navigating the JREF site yet. Their viewpoints will be priceless as I work on the protocols, if that is the correct term at this time.
Here is the first part as I prepare the Protocol
Firstly .. THE PLACE
The place is the Cemetery at Lake Helen Florida. It is actually closer to the city of Cassadaga and many people refer to it as theirs. It isn't, even though many of their former residents are buried there. The particular grave site is referred to as The Devil's Chair. It is a brick chair designed to be between two graves, placed there for meditation and other purposes. There are three similar chairs in total. This is the one on the uppermost part of the hill. The chair is at least 300 yards from the nearest residence just off hand. It is towards the center of the cemetery. There seem to be no other buildings in the immediate area. (I haven't searched the woods on the far side)
The Chair is not hidden in any way. It is in plain view from all angles.
Thank you for your continued interest.
You have yet to illustrate how this test will be ojective and quantifiable. Until you do so, protocol negotiations cannot begin as you do not as yet have a viable claim.
Please forward information detailing how you plan to alter your claim so it fits the standards of claims accepted for the Million Dollar Challenge.
Again, if you are unable to do so, your Challenge file will be closed. If that is the case, you will be free to reapply one year from the date of the closing of your file.
Thank you again.
Thanks Alison for you response!
I would love to alter my claim to fit the standards of the claims accepted for the Million Dollar Challenge. Where are these standards listed so I can conform?
Isn't how the test will be objective and quantifiable part of the protocol? I'm a bit confused about this. I have been getting some great advice from the JREF Forum. Do you recommend I continue receiving their help or not?
My thoughts were to allow James Randi Himself to be the final word on what was acceptable as to the outcome, good or bad.
Thank you for your continued interest.
As I said in my previous e-mail, the standard is simply that the claim must be testable, and that the results must be self-evident. And as to where this is stated, I suggest that you read the Million Dollar Challenge FAQ, particularly items 2.3 and 5.1, at the following URL:
There are multiple problems with your specific claim that are addressed in the FAQ. For example, you are offering EVP as the claim, yet EVP works off a prior assumption - that there are ghosts.
Also in 2.3, you will see the example of causing happiness as a paranormal power. In the FAQ, this power is called untestable because there is no way to objectively gauge someone's level of happiness. Similarly, there is no objective way to gauge ghostly activity (assuming ghosts even exist, which takes us back to the previous issue).
To answer your question - no. The potential for objectivity and gathering of quantifiable evidence is in the claim itself, not in the protocol.
Unless there is additional information about your ability that you have not yet given, this claim is untestable in objective conditions.
And finally, Mr. Randi is not a part of initial protocol negotiations. Mr. Randi only becomes involved in Challenge claims after an initial protocol draft is completed and agreed upon between myself and the applicant.
I will read the sections you've mentioned. I did not know the frequently asked questions were not covered in the rules that I'd read on my application.
I'm not sure that I limited myself to, or even used the word "ghost"? I think I used the word "entity".
I also did not limit myself to EVP. I am much more confident using ITC as I'd stated in the statement with EVP(As I know it) as more of a backup.
I will read the new sections that you've referred me to and make the proper refinements in the statement.
I want to make sure this is a very fair and thorough test.
I am comparing what you have posted on the JREF sire and my initial claim here.
I. I. David Koenig. will contact a Paranormal Entity and communicate with it in an intelligent and
understandable manner. Reasonable questions will be asked and answered. This communication
will be recorded with Instrumental TransCommunication and Electronic Voice Phenomenon
(ITC and EVP) methods. Conventional video recording will also be used to verify contact in
addition to Still Photography. Other scientific devices will also be used to determine and verify
any unusual presences at the location.
II. This Demonstration will take Place 10/31/2008 at Lake Helen Florida. I will make contact on
that date as a preliminary test and then again on 10/31/2009 to complete the Million Dollar
Challenge , unless the JREF would like to forgo the preliminary test and go straight to the
Challenge on 10/31/2008. I would prefer to go straight to the Million Dollar Challenge and not
waste any time.
There seems to be a difference. I want to use new ITC methods and not strictly old EVP ones. I also did not use the words "voices of the dead".
You have made it clear that the JREF does not believe in Demons, Ghosts or whatever. Making me provide a defense for that is not fair. I'm referring to an Entity.
I am working on the description of the demonstration now. I think/hope the Time and Place issues are resolved.
Is this more along the lines of what you want?
I will sit on the Devil's Chair in the Lake Helen Florida cemetery, near Cassadaga. (On 10/31/2008)
I will "summon" if you will, the presence of paranormal entities by simply asking them to manifest themselves. I will ask several questions that require intelligent answers. I will also attempt to broadcast these question on several different frequencies also. The first will be the entity's name. The questions will be asked in several languages. (The most difficult portion for me)
Several Instrumental TransCommunication devices will be"ON" and recording.
Interpreters will be on hand to listen for responses to the questions.
The videos, tapes and other ITC recordings will be examined for Paranormal Evidence.
Basically a straight forward Paranormal investigation.
If the Entity or Entities give their name and answer intelligently, then the test is a success.
If the entity actually gives a prediction that verifiably comes true (And I am in no way promising this) that would put the whole thing "Over the Top" ... it's happened before.
I will elaborate further if needed.
It is my desire to make this a fair test!
Thank you for your continued interest.
I ask again - how is recording a name and responses to questions paranormal? If you say "Because they came from a paranormal entity," then I have to ask how you know that it's a paranormal entity. And then you have to show me the evidence that any paranormal entity exists whatsoever. Again, you're still working off a prior assumption. Changing the word from "ghost" to "paranormal entity" does nothing for your cause.
Again, no matter what is captured it is a subjective interpretation - and I don't mean just because of what the "paranormal entity's voice" says, but also because whether or not it is paranormal in the first place is up for subjective interpretation.
This is simply not how Challenge tests are conducted.
I am asking you to, once more, please clarify how this test could ever be objective in any way. And if you are again unsuccessful, then I see no reason to leave your Challenge file open.
Thank you again.
1st December 2008, 09:27 AM
The following e-mail was sent by Jeff Wagg to David Koenig:
Based on your recent posts on several forums, I'm am closing your application permanently. You have repeatedly demonstrated that you have not acted in good faith, and we will not waste our time with you.
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