Marcello Truzzi

Marcello Truzzi

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Marcello Truzzi was a professor of sociology
Sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

 at New College of Florida
New College of Florida
New College of Florida is a public liberal arts college located in Sarasota, Florida. It was founded originally as a private institution and is now an autonomous honors college of the State University System of Florida.-History:...

 and later at Eastern Michigan University
Eastern Michigan University
Eastern Michigan University is a comprehensive, co-educational public university located in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Ypsilanti is west of Detroit and eight miles east of Ann Arbor. The university was founded in 1849 as Michigan State Normal School...

, founding co-chairman of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal
Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal
The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry , formerly known as the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal , is a program within the U.S...

 (CSICOP), a founder of the Society for Scientific Exploration
Society for Scientific Exploration
The Society for Scientific Exploration, or SSE, is a professional organization of scientists and other scholars committed to studying unusual and unexplained phenomena that cross traditional scientific boundaries and may be ignored or inadequately studied within mainstream science...

, and director for the Center for Scientific Anomalies Research.

Truzzi was an investigator of various protoscience
Protoscience
In the philosophy of science, a protoscience is an area of scientific endeavor that is in the process of becoming established. Protoscience is distinguished from pseudoscience by its standard practices of good science, such as a willingness to be disproven by new evidence, or to be replaced by a...

s and 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...

s and, as fellow CSICOP cofounder 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...

 dubbed him, "the skeptic's skeptic." He is credited with originating the oft-used phrase "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof."

Biography


Truzzi was born in Copenhagen
Copenhagen
Copenhagen is the capital and largest city of Denmark, with an urban population of 1,199,224 and a metropolitan population of 1,930,260 . With the completion of the transnational Øresund Bridge in 2000, Copenhagen has become the centre of the increasingly integrating Øresund Region...

, Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

. His family, a group of circus
Circus
A circus is commonly a travelling company of performers that may include clowns, acrobats, trained animals, trapeze acts, musicians, hoopers, tightrope walkers, jugglers, unicyclists and other stunt-oriented artists...

 performers, moved to the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 in 1944. His father, Massimiliano Truzzi, was an outstanding juggler. Truzzi served in the United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 between 1958 and 1960; he became a naturalized citizen in 1961.

Truzzi founded the skeptical journal Explorations and was invited to be a founding member of the skeptic organization CSICOP as its co-chairman with 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...

. Truzzi's journal became the official journal of Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal
Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal
The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry , formerly known as the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal , is a program within the U.S...

 (CSICOP) and was renamed The Zetetic: it remained under his editorship. About a year after the founding of CSICOP he left the organization after receiving a vote of no confidence from the group's Executive Council. Truzzi wanted to include pro-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...

 people in the organization and pro-paranormal research in the journal, but CSICOP felt that there were already enough organizations and journals dedicated to the paranormal. 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...

 became the editor of CSICOP's journal and the name was changed to 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....

.
After leaving CSICOP, Truzzi started another journal, the Zetetic Scholar. He promoted the term "zeteticism" as an alternative to "skepticism
Skepticism
Skepticism has many definitions, but generally refers to any questioning attitude towards knowledge, facts, or opinions/beliefs stated as facts, or doubt regarding claims that are taken for granted elsewhere...

", because the term "skepticism", he thought, was being usurped by what he termed "pseudoskeptics". A zetetic is a "skeptical seeker". The term's origins lie in the word for the followers of the skeptic Pyrrho
Pyrrho
Pyrrho , a Greek philosopher of classical antiquity, is credited as being the first Skeptic philosopher and the inspiration for the school known as Pyrrhonism, founded by Aenesidemus in the 1st century BC.- Life :Pyrrho was from Elis, on the Ionian Sea...

 in ancient Greece
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 and was used by flat-earthers
Flat Earth
The Flat Earth model is a belief that the Earth's shape is a plane or disk. Most ancient cultures have had conceptions of a flat Earth, including Greece until the classical period, the Bronze Age and Iron Age civilizations of the Near East until the Hellenistic period, India until the Gupta period ...

 in the 19th century. Skeptic's Dictionary
Skeptic's Dictionary
The Skeptic's Dictionary is a collection of cross-referenced skeptical essays by Robert Todd Carroll, published on his website skepdic.com and in a printed book. The skepdic.com site was launched in 1994 and the book was published in 2003 with nearly 400 entries. As of January 2011 the website has...

 memorialized Truzzi thus: “Truzzi considered most skeptics to be pseudoskeptics, a term he coined to describe those who assume an occult or paranormal claim is false without bothering to investigate it. A kind way to state these differences might be to say that Marcello belonged to the Pyrrhonian tradition
Pyrrhonism
Pyrrhonism, or Pyrrhonian skepticism, was a school of skepticism founded by Aenesidemus in the 1st century BCE and recorded by Sextus Empiricus in the late 2nd century or early 3rd century CE. It was named after Pyrrho, a philosopher who lived from c. 360 to c. 270 BCE, although the relationship...

, most of the rest of us belong to the Academic skeptical tradition
Academic skepticism
Academic skepticism refers to the skeptical period of ancient Platonism dating from around 266 BC, when Arcesilaus became head of the Platonic Academy, until around 90 BC, when Antiochus of Ascalon rejected skepticism. Like their fellow Pyrrhonists, they maintained that knowledge of things is...

.”

Truzzi was skeptical of investigators and debunker
Debunker
A debunker is an individual who attempts to discredit and contradict claims as being false, exaggerated or pretentious. The term is closely associated with skeptical investigation of, or in some cases irrational resistance to, controversial topics such as U.F.O.s, claimed paranormal phenomena,...

s who determined the validity of a claim prior to investigation. He accused CSICOP of increasingly unscientific behavior, for which he coined the term 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...

. Truzzi stated:
Truzzi held that CSICOP researchers sometimes also put unreasonable limits on the standards for proof regarding the study of anomalies and the paranormal. 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...

 writes: "In recent years he (Truzzi) has become a personal friend of 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...

; not that he believes Uri has psychic powers, as I understand it, but he admires Uri for having made a fortune by pretending he is not a magician."

Truzzi co-authored a book on psychic detectives entitled The Blue Sense: Psychic Detectives and Crime. It investigated many psychic detectives and concluded: "[W]e unearthed new evidence supporting both sides in the controversy. We hope to have shown that much of the debate has been extremely simplistic." The book also stated that the evidence didn't meet the burden of proof demanded for such an extraordinary claim.

Although he was very familiar with folie à deux
Folie à deux
-Further reading:*Halgin, R. & Whitbourne, S. Abnormal Psychology: Clinical Perspectives on Psychological Disorders. McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0072817216...

, Truzzi was very confident a shared visual hallucination could not be skeptically examined by one of the participators. Thus he categorized it as an anomaly. In a 1982 interview Truzzi stated that controlled ESP (ganzfeld) experiments have "gotten the right results" maybe 60 percent of the time. This question remains controversial. Truzzi remained an advisor to IRVA, the International Remote Viewing
Remote viewing
Remote viewing is the practice of seeking impressions about a distant or unseen target using paranormal means, in particular, extra-sensory perception or "sensing with mind"...

 Association, from its founding meeting until his death.

Truzzi died from cancer
Cancer
Cancer , known medically as a malignant neoplasm, is a large group of different diseases, all involving unregulated cell growth. In cancer, cells divide and grow uncontrollably, forming malignant tumors, and invade nearby parts of the body. The cancer may also spread to more distant parts of the...

 on February 2, 2003.

Pseudoskepticism


Marcello Truzzi popularized the term pseudoskepticism in response to skeptics
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...

 who, in his opinion, made negative claims without bearing the burden of proof of those claims.

While a Professor of Sociology at Eastern Michigan University
Eastern Michigan University
Eastern Michigan University is a comprehensive, co-educational public university located in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Ypsilanti is west of Detroit and eight miles east of Ann Arbor. The university was founded in 1849 as Michigan State Normal School...

 in 1987, Truzzi discussed pseudoskepticism in the journal Zetetic Scholar which he had founded:
The term has found occasional use in fringe fields where opposition from those within the scientific mainstream or from scientific skeptics is strong. In 1994 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:...

, a parapsychologist who became more skeptical and eventually became a CSICOP fellow in 1991, described what she termed the "worst kind of pseudoskepticism":
Commenting on the labels "dogmatic" and "pathological" that the "Association for Skeptical Investigation" puts on critics of paranormal investigations, 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:...

 of the Skeptic's Dictionary
Skeptic's Dictionary
The Skeptic's Dictionary is a collection of cross-referenced skeptical essays by Robert Todd Carroll, published on his website skepdic.com and in a printed book. The skepdic.com site was launched in 1994 and the book was published in 2003 with nearly 400 entries. As of January 2011 the website has...

 argues that that association "is a group of pseudo-skeptical paranormal investigators and supporters who do not appreciate criticism of paranormal studies by truly genuine skeptics and critical thinkers. The only skepticism this group promotes is skepticism of critics and [their] criticisms of paranormal studies."

"Extraordinary claims"


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...

 popularized this as "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence".
However, this is a rewording of a quote by Laplace which goes, "The weight of evidence for an extraordinary claim must be proportioned to its strangeness." This, in turn, may have been based on the statement "A wise man, therefore, proportions his belief to the evidence" by 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...

.

Books by Truzzi

  • Lyons, Arthur and Marcello Truzzi, The Blue Sense: Psychic Detectives and Crime, The Mysterious Press, 1991. ISBN 0-89296-426-X.
  • Truzzi, Marcello (ed.). Chess in Literature, Avon, 1974. ISBN 0-380-00164-0.

Obituaries

  • Carroll, Robert Todd
    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:...

    . "In Memoriam"
  • Coleman, Loren. "Marcello Truzzi, 67, Always Curious, Dies". 2003.
  • Kurtz, Paul
    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...

    . "Skeptical gadfly Marcello Truzzi - 1935-2003", Skeptical Inquirer, News and Comment - Obituary. May–June, 2003.
  • Martin, Douglas. "Marcello Truzzi, 67; Sociologist Who Studied the Supernatural, Dies". The New York Times, February 9, 2003, Section 1, page 44.
  • Mathis, Jo Collins. "Expert on the Paranormal Dies: Longtime EMU Sociology Professor Marcello Truzzi Explored 'Things That Go Bump in the Night'". Ann Arbor News, February 9, 2003.
  • Oliver, Myrna - "Professor Studied the Far-Out From Witchcraft to Psychic Powers". Los Angeles Times, February 11, 2003, Home Edition, p. B.11.
  • Smith, Paul H. - "Marcello Truzzi: In Memoriam"
  • "Marcello Truzzi, Sociologist was Student of Magic". Detroit News, February 12, 2003.

See also

  • Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience
    Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience
    The Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience , edited by Dr William F. Williams, "identifies, defines and explains terms and concepts related to the world of "almost science"...

     (2002).
  • Sextus Empiricus
    Sextus Empiricus
    Sextus Empiricus , was a physician and philosopher, and has been variously reported to have lived in Alexandria, Rome, or Athens. His philosophical work is the most complete surviving account of ancient Greek and Roman skepticism....

  • Charles Fort
    Charles Fort
    Charles Hoy Fort was an American writer and researcher into anomalous phenomena. Today, the terms Fortean and Forteana are used to characterize various such phenomena. Fort's books sold well and are still in print today.-Biography:Charles Hoy Fort was born in 1874 in Albany, New York, of Dutch...

  • Thomas Kuhn
    Thomas Kuhn
    Thomas Samuel Kuhn was an American historian and philosopher of science whose controversial 1962 book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions was deeply influential in both academic and popular circles, introducing the term "paradigm shift," which has since become an English-language staple.Kuhn...

  • Michael Polanyi
    Michael Polanyi
    Michael Polanyi, FRS was a Hungarian–British polymath, who made important theoretical contributions to physical chemistry, economics, and the theory of knowledge...

  • Strong programme
    Strong programme
    The strong programme or Strong Sociology is a variety of the sociology of scientific knowledge particularly associated with David Bloor, Barry Barnes, Harry Collins, Donald A. MacKenzie, and John Henry. The strong programme's influence on Science and Technology Studies is credited as being...

  • Science Wars
    Science wars
    The science wars were a series of intellectual exchanges, between scientific realists and postmodernist critics, about the nature of scientific theory which took place principally in the US in the 1990s...


External links



Truzzi's writings
  • Truzzi, Marcello. "On Pseudo-Skepticism". The Anomalist, USA, 2005.
  • Steveknightspost. "Emails from Marcello Truzzi".
  • Truzzi, Marcello. "An End to the Uri Geller vs. Randi & CSICOP Litigations?". Psi Researcher No. 21. (originally in Parapsychological Association Newsletter)
  • Truzzi, Marcello. "Reflection on the reception of unconventional claims of science". Frontier Perspectives, vol. 1 number 2, Fall/Winter 1990. (ed., copy located at: Marcello Truzzi on Zeteticism)
  • Truzzi, Marcello, and Massimiliano Truzzi. "Notes toward a history of juggling". Bandwagon, Vol. 18 No. 2, March–April 1974.
  • Truzzi, Marcello. "Massimiliano Truzzi's Act". Juggling Hall of Fame, July 1996.
  • Truzzi, Marcello. "Project Alpha
    Project Alpha
    Project Alpha was an elaborate hoax orchestrated by the stage magician and skeptic James Randi. It involved planting two fake psychics, Steve Shaw and Michael Edwards, into a paranormal research project. During the initial stages of the investigation, the researchers came to believe that the...

    : Sabotage". Skeptical Inquirer, 8(2)187.


Other