As a minor postscript to my three-part posting on the JREF Million Dollar Challenge FAQ, I wanted to mention one other detail. Throughout the FAQ, JREF assures the reader that it really does want to test all applicants and that it will bend over backward to treat applicants fairly. Some may wonder why I didn't quote these statements.
The simple answer is that I can't quote everything, and I selected the passages that struck me as most problematic for the applicant. The more involved answer is that these reassurances do not carry any legal weight.
JREF may very well believe that it is entirely reasonable and fair in all of its actions. But what one party to an agreement believes to be reasonable and fair may seem most unreasonable and unfair to the other party. In a one-sided power relationship, there is no way for the aggrieved party to have his grievances addressed. In a more balanced relationship, where power is allocated to both sides, an aggrieved party can seek redress.
It should be clear from the FAQ that the million dollar challenge is a one-sided arrangement. While JREF administrators may behave in a way that seems reasonable and fair to them, the applicant who disagrees with their decisions has no legal recourse.
An analogy would be a dispute between a taxpayer and the IRS. The IRS may believe it handles such disputes with impeccable fairness and reasonableness, but if a given taxpayer disagrees, what can he do about it?
But at least the IRS has a taxpayer advocate who can be appealed to. The million dollar challenge does not provide for any appeal process or any mediation. All the power rests with JREF. The only power the applicant has is to walk away - an option that a great many applicants apparently exercise.
If JREF wanted to protect the rights and interests of applicants, rather than just paying lip service to fairness, they could set up an independent mediator who would oversee disputes. This would go a long way toward making the process more balanced and giving disgruntled applicants some right of redress.
In the absence of any such arrangement, protestations of fairness and reasonableness amount to nothing but window dressing.