The Psychic Challenge turns 25!
Most visitors to Wanaka’s iconic attraction, Puzzling World are well aware of the visual and mental treats on offer but this month marks the 25th anniversary of one if it’s lesser known products – the $100,000 Psychic Challenge.
In 1994, Stuart Landsborough, creator of Puzzling World and longtime member of the NZ Skeptics Society offered a reward for any psychics or mind readers to sit with him, read his thoughts and find a promissory note for $50,000 hidden on the property.
The first challenger was a middle-aged lady from Southland who travelled the country offering psychic readings. After her interview she indicated that the location of the promissory note was in front of Puzzling World's iconic Tumbling Towers. To prove the existence of the note she was then taken to its true location – in the middle of Stuart’s glass-house, hundreds of metres away!
The next challenger offered a reading over the phone where the note’s location was deemed to be “under a spreading tree” in front of the “maze hedges”. A decent guess but somewhat misguided especially as tall, slender poplar trees lined the property and the maze is in fact made of wood!
And so, over the next decade six attempts by mediums of every ilk, including psychics, diviners, spiritualists and the devoutly religious tried and failed to scoop the prize money offered.
In 2006 in the face of growing media interest in this field, Stuart decided to increase the reward to $100,000, split the notes into two and decrease the search site from 200 to just 100 metres.
In March 2009, an Israeli Psychic became the first to try for the inflated prize total and declared he wouldn't need to "search" for the hidden notes because he "knew" their location. With a book full of his written "thoughts from a higher spirit" he rifled through office shelves and under sofas before admitting defeat thus becoming the challenge’s seventh failed attempt.
The website, psychicchallengenz.com was also launched that aims to question psychic ability, offers reviews of live psychic performances (including local shows from Sensing Murder’s psychics) and a full run down of the rules, past challengers, links and commentary on the dangers of this particular form of “exploitainment”.
With a potential visit from the team behind the popular book and podcast Skeptics Guide to the Universe later in the year, there’s sure to be more attention thrown towards the challenge which, as its founder says is just as well.
“We’ve been waiting several years for another challenger to come forward”, says Stuart “…..and I won’t be alive forever, so if you’re a Psychic and believe in your abilities please get in touch, I challenge you!”