The Quantum Randi Challenge (QRC), first introduced here, exists in order to stop the spread of pseudo-science by simply teaching quantum mechanics. Here is the official version of the challenge (also published here and partially in Annals of Physics 339: 81-88). [We are still looking for people who can help to turn it into a multiplayer internet app.*]

What is a “Randi-type” challenge?

A Randi-type challenge is one modeled after the James Randi Challenge. James offers USD 1000000 to anyone that can demonstrate paranormal abilities under laboratory conditions. A Randi-type challenge has the following characteristics:

1) It cannot be overcome according to the laws of nature as observed with the scientific method.

2) If the pseudo-scientists’ claims were correct, it could be easily overcome.

3) Overcoming the challenge would give the pseudo-scientist great rewards fast.

4) Judging whether the challenge has been met or not must not depend on peer-review or anything else that could be discredited as establishment conspiracy against the truth.

Why is it Important?

Educators can point to the bare existence of the challenge to immunize the public against pseudo-science.

I) The challenge having not been overcome in spite of the large rewards (and the fact that it should be easily overcome if the pseudo-scientific claims were true) proves the claims wrong.

II) Very important: The aim of pseudo-scientists (like “intelligent design” proponents for example) is mainly to let it appear as if there are doubts about an issue, as if there is a serious controversy among experts. Trying a serious communication with them never works and only backfires by supporting their deception, painting the picture of established science being in dispute. Whenever you can, you should refuse entering into rhetoric arguments that give pseudo-science a platform to promote itself, simply by pointing to a Randi-type challenge: “We do not discuss your claims until the challenge is overcome!”

The Quantum Randi Challenge, hence forth QRC, challenges any pseudo-scientist who claims that quantum physics is not true and that quantum entanglement experiments can be explained by a classically realistic and locally causal model.

Why is the QRC a Randi-type Challenge?

It fulfills the four criteria 1-4 and has been shown effective regarding aspects I and II:

1) John Bell has proven [1], via the Bell inequality, that by quantum physics predicted and also by experimental observation confirmed measurements cannot possibly arise within a locally real world. Here is a lay-person-accessible version of that proof.

2) a) Any classically local model can on principle be simulated by today’s classical computers. In other words: That a computer can model a system is the very essence of that the system is classically real (everything depends on locally available, perhaps hidden data**).

b) The experimentally confirmed observations that are to be reproduced are simple and well defined. The challenge is to reproduce only and nothing else but the behavior of this most simple setup which is well known to violate Bell’s inequality and thus shows nature to be fundamentally quantum physical.

c) The program that needs to be written is already almost finished and published (see below). All that needs to be done is to modify the hidden variables and measurement codes in order to reflect the pseudo-scientist’s local model.

3) Instant fame is certain (and likely a Nobel Prize in physics) for whoever modified the program so that the Bell equality is violated.

4) The program, if written as a multi-player game and published on the net and if it violates the Bell inequality, would become famous via the internet without any chance for established physicists to prevent it.

I) The QRC has already been successfully employed once to disprove a pseudo-scientific model (via this email exchange).

II) Strictly scientific refutations of quantum pseudo-science indeed fueled a vicious cycle of ever more mumbo-jumbo that invites to be refuted again. This has indeed spread the doubt that pseudo-science always feeds on. The QRC has literally stopped such “discussions” here on Science2.0 and on some other internet discussion groups it has successfully avoided giving crackpots yet another stage.

The Core QRC-Algorithm:

The following picture depicts the single computer “getting started version” of the QRC, written using Mathematica5™. With this obviously very short program, the QRC is officially published! (Being published and widely known at all is the main power of a Randi-type challenge. Please help to make it known.)

The unmodified program models the experiment described in Hidden Variable Madness. Running it seldom violates the Bell inequality. Anybody with a locally realistic model of quantum physics would be able to modify just a few lines in order to make the program violate the Bell inequality 99 times out of 100 (50% is not enough - I can do that myself - see below). The program above only uses the following subroutine for analysis:

The following is an example for how anybody who claims to have a local model is supposed to modify the QRC-program. In this example, we assume that the person believes that every photon has a certain, hidden polarization vector, while each photon individually however behaves quantum mechanically when measured. As you can see, that the hidden variables are now a "real vector" does not make the program more complex, on the contrary.

The following is an example for a modification that violates the Bell and the CHSH inequality 50% of the time:

Lastly: If you think you can meet the challenge, do not contact me. The QRC is specifically designed in such a way that you can easily post it on your own blog for example, and that if it meets the challenge, it will become famous fast without established physicists being involved.


[1] J.S. Bell, "On the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox," Physics, 1(3) 1964 pp. 195-200. Reprinted in J. S. Bell, Speakable and Unspeakable in Quantum Mechanics, 2nd ed., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004; S. M. Blinder, Introduction to Quantum Mechanics, Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2004 pp. 272-277.

*If you want to help to turn the QRC into a multi-player game via Java-IDE/XML Sage or suchlike, you are very welcome to contact me, but please be sure you understand that it is not about challenging quantum physics or about making an awesome ‘app’. A “Randi type” challenge is an effective tool against pseudo-science. Please also read the linked articles first: "The programs are open source; everybody can check that the programs do not secretly establish an internet connection between Alice’s and Bob’s computers after the angles are chosen (in other words: there is no cheating via secret non-locality). If the Bell inequality is violated in this way, it will be a huge confirmation that is going to spread over the internet like a firestorm."

**Finite memory is not an excuse, because all experimental observations have finite resolution, too! “Complex geometry” is not an excuse. All geometries and topologies (e.g. the SU(2) versus SO(3) double covering important to Fermions) can be simulated in virtual reality – there is no difference to a computer about whether it simulates our usual Euclidian three dimensional world or anything else. The words “simulation” or “virtual reality” or “model” are not an excuse, because the QRC, once it is a multi-player game as described in the remarks, already constitutes a real physical system itself (computers are physical systems(!)). If a modified program could violate Bell’s inequality, that would already be a classical physical system that violates Bell’s inequality and result in fame and a Nobel Prize!

Update: Didactic part introduced and defended in:

S. Vongehr: Exploring Inequality Violations By Classical Hidden Variables Numerically.” Annals of Physics 339: 81-88 (2013), Preprint version adds section on realisms and shows programs with output:

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