Monday, August 14, 2006

Jennifer's Magic Vagina

There's a guy called James Randi who used to be a professional magician but is now more famous for debunking fakes and frauds. Famously, he has put up a $1 million dollar prize to anyone who can prove psychic ability under laboratory conditions. Not unsurprisingly, the prize remains unclaimed.

Until now.

Recently, Jen Dziura, New York comic and blogger, posted an open letter to Mr Randi on the McSweeney's humour website in which she suggests an experiment to prove that she has a vagina with proven psychic ability. As she explains:

'A statistically significant even number of volunteers will be recruited to participate in the test. Volunteers should be male, heterosexual, and unknown to me, and should have at least $5 on their person. Each volunteer will be assigned to a group: 'vagina' or 'no vagina.'

'In every trial, the volunteer will be seated within a short walking distance of a hamburger stand. Volunteers in the 'vagina' group will also be seated within a short walking distance of my vagina. Volunteers in the 'no vagina' group will have a leaden wall placed between them and my vagina. To ensure that the 'no vagina' group is not motivated by even the suggestion of my vagina, I will not be seen by them, and my voice will be conveyed only through a voice-altering device that masks my gender.

'For each trial, I will ask the volunteer if he will buy me a hamburger. I predict that volunteers in visual proximity of my vagina will be at least 50 percent more likely to comply than those separated from my vagina by a leaden barrier. '

You can read the full text here on the McSweeney's Site.

Since then she's been inundated with calls and emails ... from a worrying number of people who seem to think it's a real challenge. "I just wrote a humour article for a humour website", she explains, "and I've just been taking it from all sides here. There are the people who have written to me very seriously to tell me that I 'don't understand the scientific method'. And for people who do understand the scientific method, these people are very gullible!"

Here's a recent e-mail:

"Would not your experiment merely suggest that male psychology is more suggestable to a woman who is visable (sic) and in person than one who is hidden by a barrier? ... I wonder (if you're serious) how your experiment differs from a psychological experiment and enters the realm of the paranormal."

If she's serious?

Is he serious?
Photo of Jen by Ryan Brenizer

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