Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal

Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal

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Encyclopedia
The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI), formerly known as the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), is a program within the U.S.
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 non-profit organization
Non-profit organization
Nonprofit organization is neither a legal nor technical definition but generally refers to an organization that uses surplus revenues to achieve its goals, rather than distributing them as profit or dividends...

 CFI
Center for Inquiry
The Center for Inquiry is a non-profit educational organization with headquarters in the United States whose primary mission is to encourage evidence-based inquiry into paranormal and fringe science claims, alternative medicine and mental health practices, religion, secular ethics, and society...

, whose stated purpose is to "encourage the critical investigation of paranormal
Paranormal
Paranormal is a general term that designates experiences that lie outside "the range of normal experience or scientific explanation" or that indicates phenomena understood to be outside of science's current ability to explain or measure...

 and fringe-science claims from a responsible, scientific point of view and disseminate factual information about the results of such inquiries to the scientific community and the public." CSI was founded in 1976 by Paul Kurtz
Paul Kurtz
Paul Kurtz is a prominent American skeptic and secular humanist. He has been called "the father of secular humanism." He is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the State University of New York at Buffalo, having previously also taught at Vassar, Trinity, and Union colleges, and the New School for...

 to counter what he regarded as an uncritical acceptance of, and support for, paranormal claims by both the media and society in general. Its philosophical position is one of scientific skepticism
Scientific skepticism
Scientific skepticism is the practice of questioning the veracity of claims lacking empirical evidence or reproducibility, as part of a methodological norm pursuing "the extension of certified knowledge". For example, Robert K...

. CSI's fellows have included many notable scientists, Nobel laureates
Nobel Prize
The Nobel Prizes are annual international awards bestowed by Scandinavian committees in recognition of cultural and scientific advances. The will of the Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, established the prizes in 1895...

, philosophers, educators, authors, and celebrities. It is headquartered in Amherst, New York
Amherst, New York
Amherst is a town in Erie County, New York, United States. As of the 2010 census, the town had a total population of 122,366. This represents an increase of 5.0% from the 2000 census. The town is named for Jeffrey Amherst, a British Army officer of the colonial period...

.

Name change


When the organization was formed in 1976, the original name proposed was "Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal and Other Phenomena" which was shortened to "Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal." The initial acronym, "CSICP" was difficult to pronounce and so was changed to "CSICOP." According to James Alcock
James Alcock
James E. Alcock is a Professor of Psychology at York University . He has been a professor at York since 1973. Alcock received his BSc from McGill University and a PhD in Social Psychology from McMaster University...

, it was never intended to be "Psi Cop", a nickname that some of the group's detractors have taken up.

On November 30, 2006, the organization further shortened its name to "Committee for Skeptical Inquiry" ("CSI", pronounced C-S-I.) The reasons for the change were to create a name that is shorter and more "media-friendly", to remove "paranormal" from the name, and to reflect more accurately the actual scope of the organization with its broader focus on critical thinking, science, and rationality in general.

The formation of CSI


In the early 1970s, there was a significant upsurge of interest in the paranormal in the United States. This generated concern in some quarters, where it was seen as part of a growing tide of irrationalism. It was against this backdrop that CSICOP, as it was to become known, was officially launched by philosophy professor Paul Kurtz
Paul Kurtz
Paul Kurtz is a prominent American skeptic and secular humanist. He has been called "the father of secular humanism." He is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the State University of New York at Buffalo, having previously also taught at Vassar, Trinity, and Union colleges, and the New School for...

 at a specially convened conference of the American Humanist Association
American Humanist Association
The American Humanist Association is an educational organization in the United States that advances Humanism. "Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism and other supernatural beliefs, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that...

 (AHA) at the Amherst campus of the State University of New York at Buffalo
University at Buffalo, The State University of New York
University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, also commonly known as the University at Buffalo or UB, is a public research university and a "University Center" in the State University of New York system. The university was founded by Millard Fillmore in 1846. UB has multiple campuses...

  on April 30 and May 1, 1976. In 1975 Kurtz had previously initiated a statement, "Objections to Astrology
Astrology
Astrology consists of a number of belief systems which hold that there is a relationship between astronomical phenomena and events in the human world...

," which was endorsed by 186 scientists and published in the AHA's newsletter The Humanist, of which Kurtz was then editor. In addition, according to Kurtz, the statement was sent to every newspaper in the United States and Canada. The positive reaction to this statement encouraged Kurtz to invite "as many skeptical researchers as [he] could locate" to the 1976 conference with the aim of establishing a new organization dedicated to critically examining a wide range of paranormal claims. Amongst those invited were Martin Gardner
Martin Gardner
Martin Gardner was an American mathematics and science writer specializing in recreational mathematics, but with interests encompassing micromagic, stage magic, literature , philosophy, scientific skepticism, and religion...

, Ray Hyman
Ray Hyman
Ray Hyman is a Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon, and a noted critic of parapsychology.-Career:...

, James Randi
James Randi
James Randi is a Canadian-American stage magician and scientific skeptic best known as a challenger of paranormal claims and pseudoscience. Randi is the founder of the James Randi Educational Foundation...

, and Marcello Truzzi
Marcello Truzzi
Marcello Truzzi was a professor of sociology at New College of Florida and later at Eastern Michigan University, founding co-chairman of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal , a founder of the Society for Scientific Exploration, and director for the Center for...

, all members of the Resources for the Scientific Evaluation of the Paranormal (RSEP), a fledgling group with objectives similar to those CSI would subsequently adopt. Kurtz was successful in his aims; RSEP disbanded and its members, along with others such as Carl Sagan
Carl Sagan
Carl Edward Sagan was an American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, science popularizer and science communicator in astronomy and natural sciences. He published more than 600 scientific papers and articles and was author, co-author or editor of more than 20 books...

, Isaac Asimov
Isaac Asimov
Isaac Asimov was an American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books. Asimov was one of the most prolific writers of all time, having written or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000...

, B.F. Skinner, and Philip J. Klass
Philip J. Klass
Philip Julian Klass was an American journalist and UFO researcher, known for his skepticism regarding UFOs. In the ufological and skeptical communities, Klass tends to inspire strongly polarized appraisals. Klass has been called the "Sherlock Holmes of UFOlogy"...

 joined Kurtz to form CSICOP.

Position on pseudoscience


CSI considers pseudoscience
Pseudoscience
Pseudoscience is a claim, belief, or practice which is presented as scientific, but which does not adhere to a valid scientific method, lacks supporting evidence or plausibility, cannot be reliably tested, or otherwise lacks scientific status...

 topics to include yogic flying, therapeutic touch
Therapeutic touch
Therapeutic touch , also known as Non-Contact Therapeutic Touch , is an energy therapy which practitioners claim promotes healing and reduces pain and anxiety. Practitioners of therapeutic touch state that by placing their hands on, or near, a patient, they are able to detect and manipulate the...

, astrology
Astrology
Astrology consists of a number of belief systems which hold that there is a relationship between astronomical phenomena and events in the human world...

, fire walking, voodoo magical thinking, Uri Geller
Uri Geller
Uri Geller is a self-proclaimed psychic known for his trademark television performances of spoon bending and other supposed psychic effects. Throughout the years, Geller has been accused of using simple conjuring tricks to achieve the effects of psychokinesis and telepathy...

, alternative medicine
Alternative medicine
Alternative medicine is any healing practice, "that does not fall within the realm of conventional medicine." It is based on historical or cultural traditions, rather than on scientific evidence....

, channeling
Channeling
Channeling, or channelling, can refer toscience*Channelling , the process that constrains the path of a charged particle in a crystalline solid.*metabolite or substrate channeling in biochemistry and cell physiology.law...

, Carlos hoax, psychic hotlines and detectives, near-death experiences, unidentified flying objects (UFOs), the Bermuda Triangle
Bermuda Triangle
The Bermuda Triangle, also known as the Devil's Triangle, is a region in the western part of the North Atlantic Ocean where a number of aircraft and surface vessels allegedly disappeared under mysterious circumstances....

, homeopathy
Homeopathy
Homeopathy is a form of alternative medicine in which practitioners claim to treat patients using highly diluted preparations that are believed to cause healthy people to exhibit symptoms that are similar to those exhibited by the patient...

, faith healing
Faith healing
Faith healing is healing through spiritual means. The healing of a person is brought about by religious faith through prayer and/or rituals that, according to adherents, stimulate a divine presence and power toward correcting disease and disability. Belief in divine intervention in illness or...

, and reincarnation
Reincarnation
Reincarnation best describes the concept where the soul or spirit, after the death of the body, is believed to return to live in a new human body, or, in some traditions, either as a human being, animal or plant...

. Its position on pseudoscience has been quoted favorably by the National Science Foundation.

Activities


According to CSI's charter, in order to carry out its major objectives the Committee:
  1. maintains a network of people interested in critically examining paranormal, fringe science, and other claims, and in contributing to consumer education;
  2. prepares bibliographies of published materials that carefully examine such claims;
  3. encourages research by objective and impartial inquiry in areas where it is needed;
  4. convenes conferences and meetings;
  5. publishes articles that examine claims of the paranormal;
  6. does not reject claims on a priori grounds, antecedent to inquiry, but examines them objectively and carefully.


CSI conducts and publishes investigations into Bigfoot
Bigfoot
Bigfoot, also known as sasquatch, is an ape-like cryptid that purportedly inhabits forests, mainly in the Pacific Northwest region of North America. Bigfoot is usually described as a large, hairy, bipedal humanoid...

 and UFO
Unidentified flying object
A term originally coined by the military, an unidentified flying object is an unusual apparent anomaly in the sky that is not readily identifiable to the observer as any known object...

 sightings, psychics
Parapsychology
The term parapsychology was coined in or around 1889 by philosopher Max Dessoir, and originates from para meaning "alongside", and psychology. The term was adopted by J.B. Rhine in the 1930s as a replacement for the term psychical research...

, astrologers, alternative medicine
Alternative medicine
Alternative medicine is any healing practice, "that does not fall within the realm of conventional medicine." It is based on historical or cultural traditions, rather than on scientific evidence....

, religious cults, and paranormal or pseudoscientific claims.

Media response


Many of CSI's activities are oriented towards the media. As CSI's former executive director Lee Nisbet wrote in the 25th-anniversary issue of the group's journal, Skeptical Inquirer
Skeptical Inquirer
The Skeptical Inquirer is a bimonthly American magazine published by the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry with the subtitle: The magazine for science and reason....

:
This involvement with mass media continues to the present day with, for example, CSI founding the Council for Media Integrity in 1996, as well as co-producing a TV documentary series Critical Eye hosted by William B. Davis
William B. Davis
William Bruce Davis is a Canadian actor, known for his role as The Smoking Man on The X-Files. He has also appeared in Stargate SG-1 as Damaris, a Prior of the Ori and as Mayor Tate on Smallville...

 (the actor who played the Smoking Man in The X-Files
The X-Files
The X-Files is an American science fiction television series and a part of The X-Files franchise, created by screenwriter Chris Carter. The program originally aired from to . The show was a hit for the Fox network, and its characters and slogans became popular culture touchstones in the 1990s...

). CSI members can also be seen regularly in the mainstream media offering their perspective on a variety of paranormal claims, and in 1999 Joe Nickell was appointed special consultant on a number of investigative documentaries for the BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

. In its capacity as a media-watchdog, CSI has “mobilized thousands of scientists, academics and responsible communicators” to criticize what it regards as “media's most blatant excesses.” While much of this criticism has focused on factual TV programming or newspaper articles offering support for paranormal claims, CSI has also been critical of programs such as The X-Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which its members believe portray skeptics and science in a bad light and help to promote belief in the paranormal. CSI’s website currently lists the email addresses of over ninety U.S. media organizations and encourages visitors to “directly influence” the media by contacting “the networks, the TV shows and the editors responsible for the way it portrays the world.”

Following pseudoscientific and paranormal belief trends


CSI changes its focus with the changing popularity and prominence of various aspects of what it considers to be pseudoscientific and paranormal belief. For example, as promoters of intelligent design
Intelligent design
Intelligent design is the proposition that "certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection." It is a form of creationism and a contemporary adaptation of the traditional teleological argument for...

 have increased their efforts to have this teaching included in school curricula in recent years, CSI has stepped up its own attention to the subject, creating an "Intelligent Design Watch" website and publishing numerous articles on evolution and intelligent design in Skeptical Inquirer and on the Internet.

Health and safety


An issue of particular concern to CSI are paranormal or pseudoscientific claims that may endanger people's health or safety, such as the use of alternative medicine in place of science-based healthcare. Investigations by CSI and others, including consumer watchdog
Consumer watchdog
A consumer watchdog is an individual or organization that supports consumer rights; the term may refer to:* Consumer organization* Watchdog journalism* Consumer Watchdog , a private consumer rights advocacy group in Botswana...

 groups, law enforcement and government regulatory agencies,http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/NEWS/2006/NEW01446.html have shown that the sale of alternative medicines, paranormal paraphernalia, or pseudoscience-based products can be enormously profitable. CSI says this profitability has provided various pro-paranormal groups large resources for advertising, lobbying efforts, and other forms of advocacy, to the detriment of public health and safety. Other organizations concerned with health care claims include Quackwatch
Quackwatch
Quackwatch is an American non-profit organization founded by Stephen Barrett with the stated aim being to "combat health-related frauds, myths, fads, fallacies, and misconduct" and with a primary focus on providing "quackery-related information that is difficult or impossible to get elsewhere."...

 and the National Council Against Health Fraud.

Humor


As referenced by CSI member Martin Gardner, a maxim regularly put into practice by the organization is H. L. Mencken
H. L. Mencken
Henry Louis "H. L." Mencken was an American journalist, essayist, magazine editor, satirist, acerbic critic of American life and culture, and a scholar of American English. Known as the "Sage of Baltimore", he is regarded as one of the most influential American writers and prose stylists of the...

's "one horse-laugh is worth a thousand syllogism
Syllogism
A syllogism is a kind of logical argument in which one proposition is inferred from two or more others of a certain form...

s." Skeptical Inquirer has carried such articles as reports on the success rate of past years' tabloid "psychic predictions" and coverage of the Australian Skeptics' "Bent Spoon Award
Bent Spoon Award
The Bent Spoon Award is an award given by Australian Skeptics, "presented to the perpetrator of the most preposterous piece of paranormal or pseudoscientific piffle". The name of the award is a reference to the spoon bending of Uri Geller...

s" (winners are notified by telepathy and must pick up their trophies by paranormal means).

Independent Investigation Group


The Independent Investigations Group IIG is a volunteer-based organization founded by James Underdown in January 2000 at the Center for Inquiry
Center for Inquiry
The Center for Inquiry is a non-profit educational organization with headquarters in the United States whose primary mission is to encourage evidence-based inquiry into paranormal and fringe science claims, alternative medicine and mental health practices, religion, secular ethics, and society...

-West (now Center for Inquiry-Los Angeles) in Hollywood, California. The IIG investigates fringe science
Fringe science
Fringe science is scientific inquiry in an established field of study that departs significantly from mainstream or orthodox theories, and is classified in the "fringes" of a credible mainstream academic discipline....

, paranormal
Paranormal
Paranormal is a general term that designates experiences that lie outside "the range of normal experience or scientific explanation" or that indicates phenomena understood to be outside of science's current ability to explain or measure...

 and extraordinary claims from a rational, scientific
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

 viewpoint, and disseminates factual information about such inquiries to the public.

IIG offers a $50,000 prize to anyone who can show, under proper observing conditions, evidence of any paranormal, supernatural
Supernatural
The supernatural or is that which is not subject to the laws of nature, or more figuratively, that which is said to exist above and beyond nature...

, or occult
Occult
The word occult comes from the Latin word occultus , referring to "knowledge of the hidden". In the medical sense it is used to refer to a structure or process that is hidden, e.g...

 power or event. The IIG is involved in designing the test protocol, approving the conditions under which a test will take place, and in administering the actual test. All tests are designed with the participation and approval of the applicant. In most cases, the applicant is asked to perform a simple preliminary demonstration of the claimed ability, which if successful is followed by the formal test. Associates of the IIG usually conduct both tests and preliminary demonstrations at their location in Hollywood.

The IIG is expanding, offering skeptic groups across the world the opportunity to become an affiliate. In 2011 the IIG added groups in Atlanta, GA (IIG Atlanta), Denver, CO (IIG Denver), and Washington DC (IIG DC).

Humanism


CSI is a member organization of the International Humanist and Ethical Union
International Humanist and Ethical Union
The International Humanist and Ethical Union is an umbrella organisation embracing humanist, atheist, rationalist, secular, skeptic, freethought and Ethical Culture organisations worldwide. Founded in Amsterdam in 1952, the IHEU is a democratic union of more than 100 member organizations in 40...

 and endorses the Amsterdam Declaration
Amsterdam Declaration
The Amsterdam Declaration 2002 is a statement of the fundamental principles of modern Humanism passed unanimously by the General Assembly of the International Humanist and Ethical Union at the 50th anniversary World Humanist Congress in 2002...

 on the principles of modern secular humanism
Secular humanism
Secular Humanism, alternatively known as Humanism , is a secular philosophy that embraces human reason, ethics, justice, and the search for human fulfillment...

.

Awards to fellows


CSI awards the Robert P. Balles Annual Prize in Critical Thinking
Critical thinking
Critical thinking is the process or method of thinking that questions assumptions. It is a way of deciding whether a claim is true, false, or sometimes true and sometimes false, or partly true and partly false. The origins of critical thinking can be traced in Western thought to the Socratic...

. The first award was shared by CSI fellows Ray Hyman
Ray Hyman
Ray Hyman is a Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon, and a noted critic of parapsychology.-Career:...

 and Joe Nickell
Joe Nickell
Joe Nickell is a prominent skeptical investigator of the paranormal. He also works as an historical document consultant and has helped expose such famous forgeries as the purported diary of Jack the Ripper. In 2002 he was one of a number of experts asked by scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr...

 and by Andrew Skolnick
Andrew A. Skolnick
Andrew A. Skolnick is an American science and medical journalist and photographer. He was an associate news editor for the Journal of the American Medical Association.-Education:...

 for their reports in 2005 on CSICOP's testing of Natasha Demkina, the girl who claimed to have X-ray eyes.

Publications


CSI publishes the magazine Skeptical Inquirer, containing articles on skepticism, pseudo-science and the paranormal, as well as reports on experiments conducted to test alleged paranormal phenomena. Skeptical Inquirer was founded by Marcello Truzzi, under the name The Zetetic and retitled after a few months under the editorship of Kendrick Frazier
Kendrick Frazier
Kendrick Frazier is a science writer and editor. He was the editor of Science News for several years. Since 1977 he has been the editor of Skeptical Inquirer, the journal published by the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry [CSI. He is a member of the executive council of CSI, an international...

, former editor of Science News
Science News
Science News is an American bi-weekly magazine devoted to short articles about new scientific and technical developments, typically gleaned from recent scientific and technical journals. Science News has been published since 1922 by Society for Science & the Public, a non-profit organization...

. Cecil Adams
Cecil Adams
Cecil Adams is a name, possibly a pseudonym, designating the American author of The Straight Dope, a popular question and answer column published in The Chicago Reader since 1973. Ed Zotti is Adams' current editor....

 of The Straight Dope calls Skeptical Inquirer "one of the nation's leading antifruitcake journals". In addition, it publishes Skeptical Briefs, a quarterly newsletter published for associate members.

Standards of evidence


An axiom often repeated among CSI members is the famous quote from Carl Sagan: "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." (This was based on an earlier quote by Marcello Truzzi "An extraordinary claim requires extraordinary proof", who traced the idea back through the Principle of Laplace to the philosopher David Hume
David Hume
David Hume was a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist, known especially for his philosophical empiricism and skepticism. He was one of the most important figures in the history of Western philosophy and the Scottish Enlightenment...

.) CSI members argue that none of the paranormal claims have met the strictest standards of scientific scrutiny.

Umbrella organization


A transnational non-profit umbrella organization
Umbrella organization
An umbrella organization is an association of institutions, who work together formally to coordinate activities or pool resources. In business, political, or other environments, one group, the umbrella organization, provides resources and often an identity to the smaller organizations...

 called the Center for Inquiry
Center for Inquiry
The Center for Inquiry is a non-profit educational organization with headquarters in the United States whose primary mission is to encourage evidence-based inquiry into paranormal and fringe science claims, alternative medicine and mental health practices, religion, secular ethics, and society...

 encompasses both CSI and the Council for Secular Humanism
Council for Secular Humanism
The Council for Secular Humanism is a secular humanist organization headquartered in Amherst, New York. In 1980 CODESH issued A Secular Humanist Declaration, an argument for and statement of belief in Democratic Secular Humanism...

, as well as other organizations such as the Center for Inquiry - On Campus national youth group and the Commission for Scientific Medicine and Mental Health. While these organizations share headquarters and some staff, they each have their own list of fellows and their own distinct mandates. CSI generally addresses questions of religion only in cases in which testable scientific assertions have been made (such as weeping statues or faith healing
Faith healing
Faith healing is healing through spiritual means. The healing of a person is brought about by religious faith through prayer and/or rituals that, according to adherents, stimulate a divine presence and power toward correcting disease and disability. Belief in divine intervention in illness or...

). The Council for Secular Humanism explicitly fosters humanism
Humanism
Humanism is an approach in study, philosophy, world view or practice that focuses on human values and concerns. In philosophy and social science, humanism is a perspective which affirms some notion of human nature, and is contrasted with anti-humanism....

 and secularism
Secularism
Secularism is the principle of separation between government institutions and the persons mandated to represent the State from religious institutions and religious dignitaries...

.

List of CSI fellows (past and present)


The inside front cover of each issue of the Skeptical Inquirer lists the CSI fellows. (* denotes the Fellow is a member of the Executive Council)
  • George O. Abell
    George Ogden Abell
    George Ogden Abell was an astronomer at UCLA. He worked as a research astronomer, teacher, administrator, popularizer of science and education, and skeptic. Abell received his B.S. , M.S. and Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology...

  • James Alcock
    James Alcock
    James E. Alcock is a Professor of Psychology at York University . He has been a professor at York since 1973. Alcock received his BSc from McGill University and a PhD in Social Psychology from McMaster University...

    *
  • Marcia Angell
    Marcia Angell
    Marcia Angell, M.D. is an American physician, author, and the first woman to serve as editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine...

  • Isaac Asimov
    Isaac Asimov
    Isaac Asimov was an American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books. Asimov was one of the most prolific writers of all time, having written or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000...

  • Kimball Atwood IV
  • Robert A. Baker
    Robert A. Baker
    Robert Allen Baker Jr. was an American psychologist, skeptic, author, and investigator of ghosts, UFO abductions, lake monsters and other paranormal phenomena. He wrote 15 books and is a Past Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.-Early life:Baker was born in 1921 in the little community...

  • Stephen Barrett
    Stephen Barrett
    Stephen Joel Barrett is a retired American psychiatrist, author, co-founder of the National Council Against Health Fraud , and the webmaster of Quackwatch. He runs a number of websites dealing with quackery and health fraud. He focuses on consumer protection, medical ethics, and scientific...

  • Irving Biederman
    Irving Biederman
    Irving Biederman is an American vision scientist specializing in the study of brain processes underlying humans' ability to quickly recognize and interpret what they see. He has a Ph.D...

  • Susan Blackmore
    Susan Blackmore
    Susan Jane Blackmore is an English freelance writer, lecturer, and broadcaster on psychology and the paranormal, perhaps best known for her book The Meme Machine.-Career:...

  • Bart Bok
    Bart Bok
    Bart Jan Bok was a Dutch-American astronomer.He was born in the Netherlands, but spent a good deal of his childhood days growing up in what was then known as the Dutch East Indies. He was educated at the Leiden and Groningen Universities. In 1929 he married fellow astronomer Dr...

  • Mark Boslough
    Mark Boslough
    Mark Boslough is a physicist most famous for his April Fools' Day 1998 joke involving Pi. To poke fun at New Mexico's legislature for attempting to require schools to teach creationism, he wrote an article claiming that Alabama state legislature voted to change the value of the mathematical...

  • Henri Brach
  • Jan Harold Brunvand
    Jan Harold Brunvand
    Jan Harold Brunvand is an American folklorist. A professor emeritus of the University of Utah, he best known for spreading the concept of the urban legend, a form of modern folklore...

  • Mario Bunge
    Mario Bunge
    Mario Augusto Bunge is an Argentine philosopher and physicist mainly active in Canada.-Biography:Bunge began his studies at the National University of La Plata, graduating with a Ph.D. in physico-mathematical sciences in 1952. He was professor of theoretical physics and philosophy,...

  • Robert Todd Carroll
    Robert Todd Carroll
    Robert Todd Carroll , Ph.D., is an American writer and academic. Carroll has written several books and skeptical essays but achieved notability by publishing the Skeptic's Dictionary online in 1994.-Early life and education:...

  • Sean B. Carroll
    Sean B. Carroll
    Sean B. Carroll is a Professor of Molecular Biology, Genetics, and Medical Genetics at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He studies the evolution of cis-regulation in the context of biological development, using Drosophila as a model system...

  • Milbourne Christopher
    Milbourne Christopher
    Milbourne Christopher was an American illusionist.President of the Society of American Magicians, an honorary vice-president to the Magic Circle, and one of the founding members of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, Christopher authored several books, including a biography of Harry Houdini, and...

  • Frederick Crews
  • John R. Cole
  • K.C. Cole
  • Francis Crick
    Francis Crick
    Francis Harry Compton Crick OM FRS was an English molecular biologist, biophysicist, and neuroscientist, and most noted for being one of two co-discoverers of the structure of the DNA molecule in 1953, together with James D. Watson...

  • Richard Dawkins
    Richard Dawkins
    Clinton Richard Dawkins, FRS, FRSL , known as Richard Dawkins, is a British ethologist, evolutionary biologist and author...

  • L. Sprague de Camp
    L. Sprague de Camp
    Lyon Sprague de Camp was an American author of science fiction and fantasy books, non-fiction and biography. In a writing career spanning 60 years, he wrote over 100 books, including novels and notable works of non-fiction, including biographies of other important fantasy authors...

  • Geffrey Dean
  • Cornelis de Jager
  • Daniel Dennett
    Daniel Dennett
    Daniel Clement Dennett is an American philosopher, writer and cognitive scientist whose research centers on the philosophy of mind, philosophy of science and philosophy of biology, particularly as those fields relate to evolutionary biology and cognitive science. He is currently the Co-director of...

  • Ann Druyan
    Ann Druyan
    Ann Druyan is an American author and producer specializing in productions about cosmology and popular science. She made substantial contributions to the PBS documentary series, Cosmos, and was the wife of late scientist and educator, Carl Sagan.-Film career:Along with Carl Sagan and Steven Soter,...

  • Paul Edwards
    Paul Edwards (philosopher)
    Paul Edwards, born Paul Eisenstein, was an Austrian American moral philosopher.-Life and career:Edwards was born in Vienna in 1923 to assimilated Jewish parents, the youngest of three brothers....

  • Sanal Edamaruku
    Sanal Edamaruku
    Sanal Joseph Edamaruku is the founder-president of Rationalist International. He is also the president of the Indian Rationalist Association. He is the editor of the internet publication Rationalist International, author of 25 books and numerous articles....

  • Kenneth Feder
    Kenneth Feder
    Kenneth L. Feder is a professor of archaeology at Central Connecticut State University. He has authored several books on archaeology and criticism of pseudoarchaeology such as Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience in Archaeology...

  • Barbara Forrest
    Barbara Forrest
    Barbara Carroll Forrest is a professor of philosophy at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana. She is a critic of intelligent design and the Discovery Institute.- Biography :...

  • Antony Flew
    Antony Flew
    Antony Garrard Newton Flew was a British philosopher. Belonging to the analytic and evidentialist schools of thought, he was notable for his works on the philosophy of religion....

  • Andrew Fraknoi
    Andrew Fraknoi
    Andrew Fraknoi, M.A., is an astronomy professor at Foothill College and the 2007 California Professor of the Year awarded by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. Fraknoi also won the Astronomical Society of the Pacific's...

  • Kendrick Frazier
    Kendrick Frazier
    Kendrick Frazier is a science writer and editor. He was the editor of Science News for several years. Since 1977 he has been the editor of Skeptical Inquirer, the journal published by the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry [CSI. He is a member of the executive council of CSI, an international...

    *
  • Christopher C. French
  • Yves Galifret
  • Martin Gardner
    Martin Gardner
    Martin Gardner was an American mathematics and science writer specializing in recreational mathematics, but with interests encompassing micromagic, stage magic, literature , philosophy, scientific skepticism, and religion...

  • Luigi Garlaschelli
  • Maryanne Garry
  • Murray Gell-Mann
    Murray Gell-Mann
    Murray Gell-Mann is an American physicist and linguist who received the 1969 Nobel Prize in physics for his work on the theory of elementary particles...

  • Thomas Gilovich
    Thomas Gilovich
    Thomas D. Gilovich is a professor of psychology at Cornell University who has researched decision making and behavioral economics and has written popular books on said subjects. He has collaborated with Daniel Kahneman, Lee Ross and Amos Tversky....

  • Stephen Jay Gould
    Stephen Jay Gould
    Stephen Jay Gould was an American paleontologist, evolutionary biologist, and historian of science. He was also one of the most influential and widely read writers of popular science of his generation....

  • Susan Haack
    Susan Haack
    Susan Haack is an English professor of philosophy and law at the University of Miami in the United States. She has written on logic, the philosophy of language, epistemology, and metaphysics. Her pragmatism follows that of Charles Sanders Peirce.-Career:Haack is a graduate of the University of...

  • Harriet Hall
  • C.E.M. Hansel
  • David Helfand
    David Helfand
    David J. Helfand is chair of the Department of Astronomy at Columbia University as well as the co-director of the Columbia Astrophysics Laboratory. He has also served as part of the university's Physics Department. His stated research interests include radio surveys, the origin and evolution of...

  • Douglas Hofstadter
    Douglas Hofstadter
    Douglas Richard Hofstadter is an American academic whose research focuses on consciousness, analogy-making, artistic creation, literary translation, and discovery in mathematics and physics...

  • Gerald Holton
    Gerald Holton
    Gerald Holton is Mallinckrodt Research Professor of Physics and Research Professor of the History of Science, Emeritus, at Harvard University.Born 1922 in Berlin, he grew up in Vienna before emigrating in 1938...

  • Ray Hyman
    Ray Hyman
    Ray Hyman is a Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon, and a noted critic of parapsychology.-Career:...

    *
  • Leon Jaroff
  • Stuart D. Jordan
  • Sergei Kapitsa
  • Philip J. Klass
    Philip J. Klass
    Philip Julian Klass was an American journalist and UFO researcher, known for his skepticism regarding UFOs. In the ufological and skeptical communities, Klass tends to inspire strongly polarized appraisals. Klass has been called the "Sherlock Holmes of UFOlogy"...

  • Lawrence M. Krauss
    Lawrence M. Krauss
    Lawrence Maxwell Krauss is an American theoretical physicist who is professor of physics, Foundation Professor of the School of Earth and Space Exploration, and director of the Origins Project at the Arizona State University. He is the author of several bestselling books, including The Physics of...

  • Harry Kroto
  • Ed Krupp
    Ed Krupp
    Edwin C. Krupp is an American astronomer and author. He has been the director of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles for over thirty years, since first taking over the position in 1974 from his predecessor, William J...

  • Paul Kurtz
    Paul Kurtz
    Paul Kurtz is a prominent American skeptic and secular humanist. He has been called "the father of secular humanism." He is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the State University of New York at Buffalo, having previously also taught at Vassar, Trinity, and Union colleges, and the New School for...

  • Larry Kusche
    Larry Kusche
    Lawrence David Kusche is an American author and pilot. He had been a commercial pilot, flight instructor, instrument-rated pilot, instrument instructor and librarian by the time he wrote The Bermuda Triangle Mystery - Solved and The Disappearance of Flight 19 .Larry Kusche was born in Racine,...

  • Leon Lederman
    Leon M. Lederman
    Leon Max Lederman is an American experimental physicist and Nobel Prize in Physics laureate for his work with neutrinos. He is Director Emeritus of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois, USA...

  • Jere H. Lipps
    Jere H. Lipps
    Dr. Jere Henry Lipps has been a professor at the University of California at Berkeley in the Department of Integrative Biology since 1988 and Curator of Paleontology at the UC Museum of Paleontology. Lipps is also a past director of the museum and chair of the department...

  • Scott O. Lilienfeld*
  • Lin Zixin
  • Elizabeth Loftus
    Elizabeth Loftus
    Elizabeth F. Loftus is an American psychologist and expert on human memory. She has conducted extensive research on the misinformation effect and the nature of false memories. Loftus has been recognized throughout the world for her work, receiving numerous awards and honorary degrees...

  • John Maddox
    John Maddox
    Sir John Royden Maddox, FRS was a British science writer. He was an editor of Nature for 22 years, from 1966–1973 and 1980-1995.-Career:...

  • David Marks
    David Marks (psychologist)
    David F. Marks is a psychologist who is largely concerned with four areas of psychological research - health psychology, cognitive psychology, parapsychology and IQ score variations...

  • Paul MacCready
    Paul MacCready
    Paul B. MacCready, Jr. was an American aeronautical engineer. He was the founder of AeroVironment and the designer of the human-powered aircraft that won the Kremer prize...

  • Mario Mendez-Acosta
  • Kenneth R. Miller
    Kenneth R. Miller
    Kenneth Raymond Miller is a biology professor at Brown University. Miller, who is Roman Catholic, is particularly known for his opposition to creationism, including the intelligent design movement...

  • Marvin Minsky
    Marvin Minsky
    Marvin Lee Minsky is an American cognitive scientist in the field of artificial intelligence , co-founder of Massachusetts Institute of Technology's AI laboratory, and author of several texts on AI and philosophy.-Biography:...

  • David Morrison
  • Richard A. Muller
    Richard A. Muller
    Richard A. Muller is a noted American professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley. He is also a faculty senior scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.-Career:...

  • H. Narasimhaiah
    H. Narasimhaiah
    Hosur Narasimhaiah was a physicist, educator, freedom fighter and rationalist from Karnataka, India. He was popularly known as HN. He was conferred Padma Bhushan by Government of India in 1985.-Early life:...

  • Joe Nickell
    Joe Nickell
    Joe Nickell is a prominent skeptical investigator of the paranormal. He also works as an historical document consultant and has helped expose such famous forgeries as the purported diary of Jack the Ripper. In 2002 he was one of a number of experts asked by scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr...

  • Jan Wilem Nienhuys
  • Less Nisbet
  • Steven Novella
    Steven Novella
    Steven P. Novella is an American clinical neurologist, assistant professor and Director of General Neurology at Yale University School of Medicine...

  • Bill Nye
    Bill Nye
    William Sanford "Bill" Nye , popularly known as Bill Nye the Science Guy, is an American science educator, comedian, television host, actor, mechanical engineer, and scientist...

  • James Oberg
    James Oberg
    James Edward Oberg is an American space journalist and historian, regarded as an expert on the Russian space program.-Biography:...

  • Imgard Oepen
  • Loren Pankratx
  • Robert L. Park
    Robert L. Park
    Robert Lee Park , also known as Bob Park, is an emeritus professor of physics at the University of Maryland, College Park and a former Director of Public Information at the Washington office of the American Physical Society...

  • Jay Pasachoff
    Jay Pasachoff
    Jay Myron Pasachoff is an American astronomer. Pasachoff is Field Memorial Professor of Astronomy at Williams College and the author of textbooks and tradebooks in astronomy, physics, mathematics, and other sciences.-Biography:...

  • John Allen Paulos
    John Allen Paulos
    John Allen Paulos is a professor of mathematics at Temple University in Philadelphia who has gained fame as a writer and speaker on mathematics and the importance of mathematical literacy...

  • Massimo Pigliucci
    Massimo Pigliucci
    Massimo Pigliucci is the chair of the Department of Philosophy at CUNY-Lehman College. He is also the editor in chief for the journal . He is known as an outspoken critic of creationism and advocate of science education.-Biography:...

  • Steven Pinker
    Steven Pinker
    Steven Arthur Pinker is a Canadian-American experimental psychologist, cognitive scientist, linguist and popular science author...

  • Phil Plait
  • Massimo Polidoro
    Massimo Polidoro
    Massimo Polidoro is an Italian writer, journalist, television personality, and the co-founder and executive director of the Italian Committee for the Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal .-Early life and career:...

  • Anthony Pratkanis
    Anthony Pratkanis
    Anthony R. Pratkanis is Professor of Psychology at the University of California in Santa Cruz, California. Pratkanis is an expert on economic fraud crimes, terrorist and dictator propaganda, marketing and consumer behavior, and subliminal persuasion.-Career:...

  • W. V. Quine
    Willard Van Orman Quine
    Willard Van Orman Quine was an American philosopher and logician in the analytic tradition...

  • Benjamin Radford
    Benjamin Radford
    Benjamin Radford is deputy editor of the science magazine Skeptical Inquirer, former editor-in-chief of the Spanish-language magazine Pensar, which was published in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and a columnist for Skeptical Inquirer magazine Skeptical Briefs newsletter, Discovery News, LiveScience.com...

  • James Randi
    James Randi
    James Randi is a Canadian-American stage magician and scientific skeptic best known as a challenger of paranormal claims and pseudoscience. Randi is the founder of the James Randi Educational Foundation...

  • Milton Rosenberg
  • Carl Sagan
    Carl Sagan
    Carl Edward Sagan was an American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, science popularizer and science communicator in astronomy and natural sciences. He published more than 600 scientific papers and articles and was author, co-author or editor of more than 20 books...

  • Wallace Sampson
  • Amardeo Sarma*
  • Richard Saunders
    Richard Saunders (skeptic)
    Richard Saunders is an Australian skeptic, podcaster and professional origamist. He has received recognition by the Australian Skeptics with a Life Membership in 2001 for his contributions to the organisation...

  • Évry Schatzman
    Évry Schatzman
    Evry Léon Schatzman was a French astrophysicist.His father, Benjamin Schatzman, was a dentist born in Tulcea, Romania and emigrated at a young age with his family in Palestine. Schatzman began his studies at the École Normale Supérieure in November 1939...

  • Eugenie Scott
    Eugenie Scott
    Eugenie Carol Scott is an American physical anthropologist who has been the executive director of the National Center for Science Education since 1987...

    *
  • Glenn T. Seaborg
    Glenn T. Seaborg
    Glenn Theodore Seaborg was an American scientist who won the 1951 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for "discoveries in the chemistry of the transuranium elements", contributed to the discovery and isolation of ten elements, and developed the actinide concept, which led to the current arrangement of the...

  • Thomas Sebeok
    Thomas Sebeok
    Thomas Albert Sebeok was a polymathic American semiotician and linguist.- Life and work :...

  • Elie A. Shneour
  • Seth Shostak
    Seth Shostak
    Seth Shostak is an American astronomer. He grew up in Arlington, VA and earned his physics degree from Princeton University and a Ph.D...

  • Simon Singh
    Simon Singh
    Simon Lehna Singh, MBE is a British author who has specialised in writing about mathematical and scientific topics in an accessible manner....

  • B. F. Skinner
  • Robert Sheaffer
    Robert Sheaffer
    Robert Sheaffer , in Chicago, IL is a freelance writer and a prominent investigator of unidentified flying objects, Christianity, academic feminism, and many other subjects...

  • Dick Smith
  • Robert Steiner
  • Victor J. Stenger
    Victor J. Stenger
    Victor John Stenger is an American particle physicist, outspoken atheist, and author, now active in philosophy and popular religious skepticism....

  • Karen Stollznow
    Karen Stollznow
    Karen Stollznow is an Australian writer, linguist, podcaster and skeptic. She is a columnist for both Skeptic and Skeptical Inquirer magazines and is host on two different skeptic podcasts...

  • Jill Tarter
    Jill Tarter
    Jill Cornell Tarter is an American astronomer and the current director of the Center for SETI Research, holding the Bernard M. Oliver Chair for SETI at the SETI Institute.-Education:...

  • Carol Tavris
    Carol Tavris
    Carol Anne Tavris is an American social psychologist and author. She received a Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of Michigan, and has taught psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles and the New School for Social Research...

  • Dave Thomas
    Dave Thomas (physicist)
    Dave Thomas is a physicist and mathematician, mostly known for his writings and research on the paranormal .Thomas is a graduate of the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, with a bachelor's degree in mathematics and...

    *
  • Stephen Toulmin
    Stephen Toulmin
    Stephen Edelston Toulmin was a British philosopher, author, and educator. Influenced by Ludwig Wittgenstein, Toulmin devoted his works to the analysis of moral reasoning. Throughout his writings, he sought to develop practical arguments which can be used effectively in evaluating the ethics behind...

  • Neil deGrasse Tyson
    Neil deGrasse Tyson
    Neil deGrasse Tyson is an American astrophysicist, a science communicator, the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space, and a Research Associate in the Department of Astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History...

  • Marilyn vos Savant
    Marilyn vos Savant
    Marilyn vos Savant is an American magazine columnist, author, lecturer, and playwright who rose to fame through her listing in the Guinness Book of World Records under "Highest IQ"...

  • Steven Weinberg
    Steven Weinberg
    Steven Weinberg is an American theoretical physicist and Nobel laureate in Physics for his contributions with Abdus Salam and Sheldon Glashow to the unification of the weak force and electromagnetic interaction between elementary particles....

  • E. O. Wilson
    E. O. Wilson
    Edward Osborne Wilson is an American biologist, researcher , theorist , naturalist and author. His biological specialty is myrmecology, the study of ants....

  • Richard Wiseman
    Richard Wiseman
    Richard Wiseman is Professor of the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom.Wiseman started his professional life as a magician, before graduating in Psychology from University College London and obtaining a Ph.D...

  • Benjamin Wolozin*
  • Marvin Zelen

  • Controversy and criticism


    CSI's activities have garnered criticism, in particular from individuals or groups that have been the focus of the organization's attention. TV celebrity and claimed psychic Uri Geller
    Uri Geller
    Uri Geller is a self-proclaimed psychic known for his trademark television performances of spoon bending and other supposed psychic effects. Throughout the years, Geller has been accused of using simple conjuring tricks to achieve the effects of psychokinesis and telepathy...

    , for example, was until recently in open dispute with the organization, filing a number of unsuccessful lawsuits against them. Some criticism has also come from within the scientific community and at times from within CSI itself. Marcello Truzzi
    Marcello Truzzi
    Marcello Truzzi was a professor of sociology at New College of Florida and later at Eastern Michigan University, founding co-chairman of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal , a founder of the Society for Scientific Exploration, and director for the Center for...

    , one of CSICOP's co-founders, left the organization after only a short time, arguing that many of those involved “tend to block honest inquiry, in my opinion. Most of them are not agnostic toward claims of the paranormal; they are out to knock them. [...] When an experiment of the paranormal meets their requirements, then they move the goal posts.” Truzzi coined the term pseudoskeptic to describe critics in whom he detected such an attitude.

    Mars effect


    An early controversy concerned the so-called Mars effect
    Mars effect
    The Mars effect is a name often used to refer to a reported statistical correlation between athletic eminence and the position of the planet Mars relative to the horizon at time and place of birth...

    : French statistician Michel Gauquelin
    Michel Gauquelin
    Michel Gauquelin was a French psychologist and statistician. Along with his first wife Françoise Schneider-Gauquelin , he conducted statistical research in an attempt to develop a scientific basis for astrology.-Early interest:Although he was highly critical of certain areas of the art, Gauquelin...

    ’s claim that champion athletes are more likely to be born when the planet Mars is in certain positions in the sky. In late 1975, prior to the formal launch of CSICOP, astronomer Dennis Rawlins
    Dennis Rawlins
    Dennis Rawlins is an American astronomer, historian, and publisher.-Polar controversies:While studying historical magnetic declination data in polar regions, Rawlins was surprised to find that there were no such data from the 1909 expedition of Robert E. Peary, eventually leading him to become...

    , along with Paul Kurtz, George Abel
    George Abel
    Competitor for CanadaGeorge Gordon Abel was a Canadian ice hockey player. He played centre for the Edmonton Mercurys, representing Canada in the 1952 Winter Olympics, and won a gold medal....

     and Marvin Zelen (all subsequent members of CSICOP) began investigating the claim. Rawlins, a founding member of CSICOP at its launch in May 1976, resigned in early 1980 claiming that other CSICOP researchers had used incorrect statistics, faulty science, and outright falsification in an attempt to debunk Gauquelin’s claims. In an article for the pro-paranormal magazine Fate, he wrote: "I am still skeptical of the occult beliefs CSICOP was created to debunk. But I have changed my mind about the integrity of some of those who make a career of opposing occultism."
    CSICOP's Philip Klass responded by circulating an article to CSICOP members critical of Rawlins' arguments and motives; Klass's unpublished response, refused publication by Fate, itself became the target for further criticism.

    Attempt by Church of Scientology to discredit


    In 1977, an FBI raid on the offices of the Church of Scientology
    Church of Scientology
    The Church of Scientology is an organization devoted to the practice and the promotion of the Scientology belief system. The Church of Scientology International is the Church of Scientology's parent organization, and is responsible for the overall ecclesiastical management, dissemination and...

     uncovered a project to discredit CSICOP (as it was then called) so that it and its publications would cease criticism of Dianetics
    Dianetics
    Dianetics is a set of ideas and practices regarding the metaphysical relationship between the mind and body that was invented by the science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard and is practiced by followers of Scientology...

     and Scientology
    Scientology
    Scientology is a body of beliefs and related practices created by science fiction and fantasy author L. Ron Hubbard , starting in 1952, as a successor to his earlier self-help system, Dianetics...

    . This included forging a CIA
    Central Intelligence Agency
    The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

     memo and sending it to media sources, including The New York Times
    The New York Times
    The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

    , to spread rumors that CSICOP was actually a front group for the CIA. A letter from CSICOP founder Paul Kurtz was forged to discredit him in the eyes of parapsychology researchers.

    Natasha Demkina


    In 2004, CSICOP was accused of scientific misconduct over its involvement in the Discovery Channel
    Discovery Channel
    Discovery Channel is an American satellite and cable specialty channel , founded by John Hendricks and distributed by Discovery Communications. It is a publicly traded company run by CEO David Zaslav...

    's test of the "girl with X-ray eyes," Natasha Demkina
    Natasha Demkina
    Natalya Nikolayevna Demkina , usually known under the hypocoristic naming Natasha Demkina, is a Russian woman who claims to possess a special vision that allows her to look inside human bodies and see organs and tissues, and thereby make medical diagnoses...

    . In a self-published commentary, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Brian Josephson
    Brian David Josephson
    Brian David Josephson, FRS is a Welsh physicist. He became a Nobel Prize laureate in 1973 for the prediction of the eponymous Josephson effect....

     criticized the test and evaluation methods and argued that the results should have been deemed "inconclusive" rather than judged in the negative. Josephson, the director of the University of Cambridge's Mind-Matter Unification project, questioned the researchers' motives saying, "On the face of it, it looks as if there was some kind of plot to discredit the teenage claimed psychic by setting up the conditions to make it likely that they could pass her off as a failure."
    Ray Hyman, one of the three researchers who designed and conducted the test, published a response to this and other criticisms,
    and CSI's Commission for Scientific Medicine and Mental Health also published a detailed response to these and other objections, saying that biasing the odds against Natasha was appropriate because her claims were unlikely to be true.

    Rebuttal to general criticism


    On a more general level, CSI has been accused of pseudoskepticism
    Pseudoskepticism
    Pseudoskepticism refers to arguments which use scientific-sounding language to disparage or refute given beliefs, theories, or claims, but which in fact fail to follow the precepts of conventional scientific skepticism...

     and an overly dogmatic and arrogant approach based on a priori
    A priori and a posteriori (philosophy)
    The terms a priori and a posteriori are used in philosophy to distinguish two types of knowledge, justifications or arguments...

     convictions. It has been suggested that their aggressive style of skepticism could discourage scientific research into the paranormal. Astronomer Carl Sagan wrote on this:


    Have I ever heard a skeptic wax superior and contemptuous? Certainly. I've even sometimes heard, to my retrospective dismay, that unpleasant tone in my own voice. There are human imperfections on both sides of this issue. Even when it's applied sensitively, scientific skepticism may come across as arrogant, dogmatic, heartless, and dismissive of the feelings and deeply held beliefs of others ... CSICOP is imperfect. In certain cases [criticism of CSICOP] is to some degree justified. But from my point of view CSICOP serves an important social function – as a well-known organization to which media can apply when they wish to hear the other side of the story, especially when some amazing claim of pseudoscience is judged newsworthy ... CSICOP represents a counterbalance, although not yet nearly a loud enough voice, to the pseudoscience gullibility that seems second nature to so much of the media.

    See also

    • Australian Skeptics
      Australian Skeptics
      The Australian Skeptics is a non-profit organisation based in Australia which investigates paranormal and pseudoscientific claims using scientific methodologies.-History:...

    • New Zealand Skeptics
      New Zealand Skeptics
      The New Zealand Skeptics comprises a network of New Zealanders including magicians, teachers, scientists, health professionals and many others from all walks of life...

    • Indian CSICOP
      Indian CSICOP
      Indian CSICOP is a well-known rationalist group based at Podanur, Tamil Nadu, India. Founded by Basava Premanand Indian CSICOP is in the forefront of the rationalist campaigns in India which attempt to expose perceived miracles and to eradicate superstitions.Indian CSICOP is an affiliate of the US...

    • Irish Skeptics Society
      Irish Skeptics Society
      The Irish Skeptics Society is a scientific sceptic organisation based in Ireland. It was launched in 2002 and publishes a newsletter called Skeptical Times....

    • James Randi Educational Foundation
      James Randi Educational Foundation
      The James Randi Educational Foundation is a non-profit organization founded in 1996 by magician and skeptic James Randi. The JREF's mission includes educating the public and the media on the dangers of accepting unproven claims, and to support research into paranormal claims in controlled...

  • The Skeptics Society
    The Skeptics Society
    The Skeptics Society is a nonprofit, member-supported organization devoted to promoting scientific skepticism and resisting the spread of pseudoscience, superstition, and irrational beliefs. The Skeptics Society was originally founded as a Los Angeles-area skeptical group to replace the defunct...

  • Föreningen Vetenskap och Folkbildning
    Föreningen Vetenskap och Folkbildning
    Vetenskap och Folkbildning or The Swedish Skeptics' Association, abbreviated as VoF, is a Swedish skeptics' association. It was founded in 1982 with the purpose to raise the general public's awareness of scientific methods and results...

  • Watchdog journalism
    Watchdog journalism
    Watchdog journalism aims to hold accountable public personalities and institutions, whose functions impact social and political life. The term "lapdog journalism", for journalism biased in favour of personalities and institutions, is sometimes used as a conceptual opposite to watchdog...

  • Investigative journalism
    Investigative journalism
    Investigative journalism is a form of journalism in which reporters deeply investigate a single topic of interest, often involving crime, political corruption, or corporate wrongdoing. An investigative journalist may spend months or years researching and preparing a report. Investigative journalism...

  • IIG

  • External links