Committee for Skeptical Inquiry

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Committee for Skeptical Inquiry
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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 transnational American non-profit educational organization Center for Inquiry (CFI), which seeks to "promote scientific inquiry, critical investigation, and the use of reason in examining controversial and extraordinary claims."UFO True Believers and Skeptics Clash on the Web New York Times, June 30, 1997 Paul Kurtz proposed the establishment of CSICOP in 1976 as an independent non-profit organization (before merging with CFI as one of its programs in 2015WEB,weblink A Unified Center for Inquiry, Stronger Than Ever,, Center for Inquiry, January 14, 2015, October 27, 2016, ), to counter what he regarded as an uncritical acceptance of, and support for, paranormal claims by both the media and society in general.WEB,weblink The Skeptic movement, Evans, Jules, October 3, 2012,, Jules Evans, May 31, 2017, The modern Skeptic movement, as an organised force, arguably first appeared in 1976, when the philosopher Paul Kurtz proposed the establishment of a Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) at the American Humanist Association annual convention. CSICOP launched as a committee with founder members including the magicians James Randi and Martin Gardner., Its philosophical position is one of scientific skepticism. CSI's fellows have included notable scientists, Nobel laureates, philosophers, psychologists, educators and authors.Kurtz, Paul. (1996). Skepticism and the Paranormal. In Gordon Stein (Ed.). The Encyclopedia of the Paranormal. pp. 684–701. Prometheus Books. {{ISBN|1-57392-021-5}} It is headquartered in Amherst, New York.


File:CSICOP Banquet.jpg|thumb|right|300px|The Banquet at the 1983 CSICOP Conference in Buffalo, NYBuffalo, NYIn the early 1970s, there was an upsurge of interest in the paranormal in the United States. This generated concern in some quarters{{which|date=August 2016}}, where it was seen as part of a growing tide of irrationalism.The Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, Volume 86, No. 1, January 1992{{full citation needed|date=August 2016}} In 1975, secular humanist philosopher and professor Paul Kurtz had previously{{when|date=August 2016}} initiated a statement, "Objections to Astrology", which was co-written with Bart Bok and Lawrence E. Jerome, and endorsed by 186 scientists including 19 Nobel laureates and published in the American Humanist Association (AHA)'s newsletter The Humanist, of which Kurtz was then editor. 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 examining critically a wide range of paranormal claims. Among those invited were Martin Gardner, Ray Hyman, James Randi, and Marcello Truzzi, 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.RSEP disbanded and its members, along with others such as Carl Sagan, Isaac Asimov, B.F. Skinner, and Philip J. Klass, joined Kurtz, Randi, Gardner and Hyman to formally found the Committee for Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP). Kurtz, Randi, Gardner and Hyman took seats on the executive board.Higginbotham, Adam (November 7, 2014). "The Unbelievable Skepticism of the Amazing Randi". The New York Times. CSICOP was officially launched at a specially convened conference of the AHA on April 30 and May 1, 1976.WEB, Kurtz, Paul, July 2001,weblink A Quarter Century of Skeptical Inquiry My Personal Involvement, Skeptical Inquirer, 2008-12-01,weblink" title="">weblink March 5, 2008, CSICOP would be funded with donations and sales of their magazine, Skeptical Inquirer.According to the published correspondence between Gardner and Truzzi, disagreements over what CSICOP should be showed how volatile the beginnings of the organization were. Truzzi criticised CSICOP for "acted(ing) more like lawyers" taking on a position of dismissal before evaluating the claims, saying that CSICOP took a "debunking stance". Gardner on the other hand "opposed 'believers' in the paranormal becoming CSICOP members" which Truzzi supported. Gardner felt that Truzzi "conferred too much respectability to nonsense".JOURNAL, Ward, Ray, The Martin Gardner Correspondence with Marcello Truzzi, Skeptical Inquirer, 2017, 41, 6, 57-59, Committee for Skeptical Inquiry,

Mission statement

The formal mission statement, approved in 2006 and still current, states:The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry promotes science and scientific inquiry, critical thinking, science education, and the use of reason in examining important issues. It encourages the critical investigation of controversial or extraordinary claims from a responsible, scientific point of view and disseminates factual information about the results of such inquiries to the scientific community, the media, and the public.WEB, About CSI,weblink CSI, CFI, 30 March 2016, A shorter version of the mission statement appears in every issue: "... promotes scientific inquiry, critical investigation, and the use of reason in examining controversial and extraordinary claims."WEB, Frazier, Kendrick, It’s CSI Now, Not CSICOP,weblink CFI, 28 March 2016, A previous mission statement referred to "investigation of paranormal and fringe-science claims", but the 2006 change recognized and ratified a wider purview for CSI and its magazine, Skeptical Inquirer, that includes "new sciencerelated issues at the intersection of science and public concerns, while not ignoring [their] core topics". A history of the first two decades is available in The Encyclopedia of the Paranormal published in 1998 by S.I. editor Kendrick Frazier.WEB, Frazier, Kendrick, Kendrick Frazier, Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP),weblink CSI, CFI, 28 March 2016, WEB, About CSI,weblink Skeptical Inquirer, CSICOP, 20 August 2016, In 2018, Frazier reemphasized the importance of the Committee's work by saying that "[w]e need independent, evidence-based, science-based critical investigation and inquiry ow more than perhaps at any other time in our history."JOURNAL, Frazier, Kendrick, Kendrick Frazier, In Troubled Times, This Is What We Do, Skeptical Inquirer, 2018, 42, 2, 14-15,weblinkweblink yes, 2018-06-06, 7 June 2018,


Paul Kurtz was inspired by the 1949 Belgian organization Comité Para, whose full name was Comité Belge pour l'Investigation Scientifique des Phénomènes Réputés Paranormaux ("Belgian Committee for Scientific Investigation of Purported Paranormal Phenomena").WEB,weblink Why Is There a Skeptical Movement?, Daniel Loxton, The Skeptics Society, 3, 2013, 1 September 2014, In 1976, the proposed name 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, it was never intended to be "Psi Cop", a nickname that some of the group's detractors adopted.{{harvnb|Kurtz|2001|p=42}}In November 2006, CSICOP further shortened its name to "Committee for Skeptical Inquiry" (CSI), pronounced C-S-I."CSICOP becomes CSI after thirty years". CSI. {{webarchive |url= |date=August 15, 2009 }} The reasons for the change were to create a name that was shorter, 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, and because "it includes the root words of our magazine's title, the Skeptical Inquirer".WEB,weblink It's CSI now, Not CSICOP, Kendrick Frazier, CSI website, CSI, 4 December 2006, 1 September 2014,


In order to carry out its mission, the Committee "maintains a network of people interested in critically examining paranormal, fringe science, and other claims, and in contributing to consumer education; prepares bibliographies of published materials that carefully examine such claims;encourages research by objective and impartial inquiry in areas where it is needed; convenes conferences and meetings; publishes articles that examine claims of the paranormal; does not reject claims on a priori grounds, antecedent to inquiry, but examines them objectively and carefully".WEB, About CSI,weblink CSI, Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, 7 June 2018,


An axiom often repeated among CSI members is the quote "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence",WEB,weblink Interview With Carl Sagan, NOVA Online, which Carl Sagan made famous and adapted from an earlier quote by Marcello Truzzi: "An extraordinary claim requires extraordinary proof".JOURNAL, Marcello Truzzi, On the Extraordinary: An Attempt at Clarification, Zetetic Scholar, 1, 1, 11, 1978,weblink (Truzzi in turn traced the idea back through the Principle of Laplace to the philosopher David Hume.)WEB
, On Some Unfair Practices towards Claims of the Paranormal
, 2007-05-01
, Marcello Truzzi
, Skeptical Investigations
,weblink" title="">weblink
, 2007-04-28
, yes
, According to CSI member Martin Gardner, CSI regularly puts into practice H. L. Mencken's maxim "one horse-laugh is worth a thousand syllogisms."Quoted in Gardner, Martin (1981). Science: Good, Bad, and Bogus, Prometheus Books, {{ISBN|0-87975-144-4}}, pg. vii and xvi.


File:Skeptical Inquirer.jpg|thumb|Logo of the Skeptical InquirerSkeptical InquirerCSI publishes the magazine Skeptical Inquirer, which was founded by Truzzi, under the name The Zetetic and retitled after a few months under the editorship of Kendrick Frazier, former editor of Science News. Cecil Adams of The Straight Dope calls Skeptical Inquirer "one of the nation's leading antifruitcake journals".WEB,weblink Are subliminal messages secretly embedded in advertisements?, 2007-05-01, 26 June 1987, The Straight Dope, In addition, it publishes Skeptical Briefs, a quarterly newsletter published for associate members.WEB,weblink Skeptical Briefs, 2008-09-01, 2008, Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, CSI conducts and publishes investigations into Bigfoot and UFO sightings, psychics, astrologers, alternative medicine, religious cults, and paranormal or pseudoscientific claims.{{citation needed|date=August 2016}}


File:CSICON 2011-Barbara Forrest.JPG|thumb|Barbara ForrestBarbara ForrestFile:Bill Nye lectures at 2013 CFI Summit.jpg|thumb|Bill NyeBill Nye(File:CSI Staff Halloween Party 2016.jpg|thumb|CSI Staff at CSICon Halloween Party 2016)CSICOP has held dozens of conferences between 1983 and 2005, two of them in Europe, and all six World Skeptics Congresses so far were sponsored by it. Since 2011, the conference is known as CSICon. Two conventions have been held in conjunction with its sister and parent organizations, CSH and CFI, in 2013 and 2015. The conferences bring together some of the most prominent figures in scientific research, science communication and skeptical activism, to exchange information on all topics of common concern and to strengthen the movement and community of skeptics.CSI has also supported local grassroot efforts, such as SkeptiCamp community-organized conferences.WEB, 2012-03-21,weblink SkeptiCamp, n.d.,weblink" title="">weblink 2013-05-06, yes,

Response to mass media

Many CSI 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:}}{{anchor|CforMI}}Involvement with mass media continues to the present day{{when|date=August 2016}} with, for example, CSI founding the Council for Media Integrity in 1996, and co-producing a TV documentary series Critical Eye hosted by William B. Davis.{{citation needed|date=August 2016}} CSI members can be seen regularly in the mainstream media offering their perspective on a variety of paranormal claims.{{citation needed|date=August 2016}} In 1999 Joe Nickell was appointed special consultant on a number of investigative documentaries for the BBC.{{citation needed|date=August 2016}} 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."{{citation needed|date=August 2016}} Criticism has focused on factual TV programming or newspaper articles offering support for paranormal claims, and 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.{{citation needed|date=August 2016}} CSI's website currently{{when|date=August 2016}} 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 [they portray] the world."{{citation needed|date=August 2016}}

Following pseudoscientific and paranormal belief trends

CSI was quoted to consider pseudoscience topics to include yogic flying, therapeutic touch, astrology, fire walking, voodoo, magical thinking, Uri Geller, alternative medicine, channeling, psychic hotlines and detectives, near-death experiences, unidentified flying objects (UFOs), the Bermuda Triangle, homeopathy, faith healing, and reincarnation.National Science Foundation Science and Technology: Public Attitudes and Public Understanding. Science Fiction and Pseudoscience. Relationships Between Science and Pseudoscience. What Is Pseudoscience? {{Webarchive|url= |date=2016-06-16 }}CSI changes its focus with the changing popularity and prominence of what it considers to be pseudoscientific and paranormal belief. For example, as promoters of intelligent design increased their efforts to include it in school curricula in recent years, CSI stepped up its attention to the subject, creating an "Intelligent Design Watch" websiteWEB,weblink CSI,, 2006-07-11,weblink" title="">weblink 2006-07-06, yes, publishing numerous articles on evolution and intelligent design in Skeptical Inquirer and on the Internet.{{citation needed|date=August 2016}}

Health and safety

CSI is concerned with 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 groups, law enforcement and government regulatory agencies,NEWS,weblink September 6, 2006,weblink" title="">weblink 2006-10-26, FDA Asks U.S. Marshals to Seize Dietary Supplements: Products Being Promoted With Drug Claims, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 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.{{citation needed|date=August 2016}}


Umbrella organization

The Center for Inquiry is the transnational non-profit umbrella organization comprising CSI, the Council for Secular Humanism, the Center for Inquiry - On Campus national youth group and the Commission for Scientific Medicine and Mental Health.{{citation needed|date=August 2016}} These organizations share headquarters and some staff, and each have their own list of fellows and their 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). {{citation needed|date=August 2016}}

Independent Investigation Group

The Center for Inquiry West, located in Hollywood, California Executive Director Jim Underdown founded the Independent Investigations Group (IIG), a volunteer-based organization in January 2000. The IIG investigates fringe science, paranormal and extraordinary claims from a rational, scientific viewpoint and disseminates factual information about such inquiries to the public. IIG has offered a $50,000 prize "to anyone who can show, under proper observing conditions, evidence of any paranormal, supernatural, or occult power or event", to which 7 people applied from 2009-2012.WEB,weblink IIG Challenge,, 2016-08-19, 36 Wendy PB Picture.jpg|IIG testing Power Balance bracelet in progress, October 28, 201025 Wendy PB Picture.jpg|Dominique Dawes & IIG's James Underdown discuss test protocols Oct 28, 2010


In Praise of Reason Award

"The In Praise of Reason Award is given in recognition of distinguished contributions in the use of critical inquiry, scientific evidence, and reason in evaluating claims to knowledge." This is the highest award presented by CSI and is often presented at the CSIcon conferences.WEB, Bill Nye Wins In Praise of Reason Award,weblink Skeptical Inquirer, CSICOP, 19 August 2016, {| class="wikitable sortable"! Year! Person! Notes1982|Martin GardnerDATE=1983ISSUE=3, 13, 1984|Sidney HookStanford University, Palo Alto, CA by CSICOP Chairman Paul Kurtz.SCIENTIFIC FACTS AND FICTIONS: ON THE TRAIL OF PARANORMAL BELIEFS AT CSICOP '84DATE=1985ISSUE=3, 197, 1985|Antony FlewDATE=1985ISSUE=2, 102, 104, 1986|Stephen Jay GouldDATE=1986ISSUE=1, 14, 1987|Carl SaganTITLE=CONTROVERSIES IN SCIENCE AND FRINGE SCIENCE: FROM ANIMALS AND SETI TO QUACKERY AND SHCDATE=1987ISSUE=1, 12–13, 1988|Douglas HofstadterTITLE=NEW LIGHT ON THE NEW AGE CSICOP'S CHICAGO CONFERENCE WAS THE FIRST TO CRITICALLY EVALUATE THE NEW AGE MOVEMENT.DATE=1988ISSUE=3, 226–235, 1990|Cornelis de JagerTITLE=SKEPTICISM IN EUROPE: BRUSSELS CONFERENCE TACKLES DIVERSE ISSUESDATE=1991ISSUE=2, 218, 1990|Gerard PielTITLE=SKEPTICISM IN THE LIGHT OF SCIENTIFIC LITERACYDATE=1990ISSUE=1, 8, 1991|Donald JohansonDATE=1991ISSUE=1, 16, 1992|Richard DawkinsDATE=1993ISSUE=3, 236, 1994|Elizabeth LoftusAUTHORLINK=BARRY KARRJOURNAL=SKEPTICAL INQUIRERVOLUME=18PAGES=461–462, "For her research in memory and eyewitness testimony."FRAZIER>FIRST1=KENDRICKJOURNAL=SKEPTICAL INQUIRERVOLUME=19PAGE=2, 1996Leon M. Lederman>Leon LedermanCornelis de JagerFLYNNAUTHORLINK=TOM FLYNN (AUTHOR)URL=HTTP://WWW.CSICOP.ORG/SB/SHOW/WORLD_SKEPTICS_CONGRESS_DRAWS_OVER_1200_PARTICIPANTSPUBLISHER=CSICOP, 19 August 2016, 2000|Lin ZixinTITLE=WORLDS SKEPTICS CONGRESSDATE=2001ISSUE=2, 34, 2001|Kendrick FrazierAUTHORLINK=BEN RADFORDJOURNAL=SKEPTICAL INQUIRERVOLUME=26PAGE=15, 2002|Marvin MinskyPAGE=9ACCESS-DATE=FEBRUARY 17, 2017UC IRVINE LIBRARIES>AUTHOR=GELFAND, JULIA, 2003|Ray HymanJames Alcock. "Ray Hyman, from whom I-and I am sure all of us-continue to learn so much."ALCOCKTITLE=IN PRAISE OF RAY HYMANWEBSITE=SKEPTICAL INQUIRERACCESSDATE=19 AUGUST 2016, 2004|James AlcockTransnational
Conference in Toronto, Canada. Vern Bullough presented Alcock with the award. Alcock stated that many scientists do not care about pseudoscience as they don't see it as a threat on science, but he reminds the audience that "fundamentalist religious viewpoints" and "alternative medicine" are "very real threats".GAEDDERTTITLE=SCIENCE AND ETHICS CONFERENCE BRINGS TOGETHER MINDS FROM CANADA, EUROPE, AND THE U.S.DATE=2004ISSUE=5, 5–6, 2009|James RandiPaul Kurtz presented the award saying '“Your greatest quality is that you are an educator, a teacher. You have shown that the easiest people to deceive are PhDs, a great insight to all of us. You expose myths and hoaxes.... You stand out in history.”'RANDI, KRAUSS, KURTZ HONORED WITH MAJOR AWARDSWEBSITE=SKEPTICAL INQUIRERACCESSDATE=19 AUGUST 2016, 2011|Bill Nye|Presented at CSIcon New Orleans conference. Eugenie Scott stated "If you think Bill is popular among skeptics, you should attend a science teacher conference where he is speaking" it is standing room only. She continues by saying that no one has more fun as Nye when he is "demonstrating, principles of science."

Candle Awards

Founded at the 1996 World Skeptics Congress in Buffalo, NY, the Council for Media Integrity gives these awards that were named in inspiration by Carl Sagan's book, (The Demon-Haunted World|The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark). The Council is made up of by scientists, media and academics, all concerned with the "balanced portrayal of science". The Candle in the Dark Award is presented to those who show "outstanding contributions to the public's understanding of science and scientific principles" and to "reward sound science television programming".JOURNAL, Nisbet, Matt, Candle in the Dark and Snuffed Candle Awards, Skeptical Inquirer, 1999, 23, 2, 6, The Snuffed Candle Award is awarded to those "for encouraging credulity, presenting pseudoscience as genuine, and contributing to the public's lack of understand of the methods of scientific inquiry." The Council urges TV "producers to label documentary-type shows depicting the paranormal as either entertainment or fiction". The council also provides the media with contact information of experts that would be willing and able to answer questions and be interviewed for paranormal topics.JOURNAL, Frazier, Kendrick, Kendrick Frazier, Science Indicators 2000: Belief in the Paranormal or Pseudoscience, Skeptical Inquirer, 2001, 25, 1, 14, {| class="wikitable sortable"! Year! Person! Media1997|Bill Nye and Dan AykroydCandle in the Dark Award for his "lively, creative... endeavor". Aykroyd "was presented in absentia the Snuffed Candle Award for hosting Psi Factor and being a "long-time promoter ... of paranormal claims" Following the awards, Joe Nickell wrote to Aykroyd asking for the research behind the "cases" presented on Psi Factor. Particularly a claim that NASA scientists were "killed while investigating a meteor crash and giant eggs were found and incubated, yielding a flea the size of a hog".NYE, AYKROYD RECEIVE COUNCIL'S FIRST AWARDSDATE=1997ISSUE=3, 12, 1998|Scientific American Frontiers and Art BellAlan Alda, SAF's episode "Beyond Science"{{Scientific American Frontiers>8Beyond Science?}} was singled out by the Council for Media Integrity for its examination of the paranormal. Art Bell was recognized by the Council for "perpetuating conspiracy myths... and mystery mongering". When Bell learned of the award he replied "A mind should not be so open that the brains fall out, however it should not be so closed that whatever gray matter which does reside may not be reached. On behalf of those with the smallest remaining open aperture, I accept with honor." 2003|Edgar Sanchez reporter for the Sacramento Bee and Larry KingAdvance-fee scam>Nigerian scams, car-mileage fraud and phony police detectives. King received the Snuffed Candle award for '"encouraging credulity, presenting pseudoscience as genuine'".

Robert P. Balles Prize

File:Nickell Balles Prize.jpg|thumb|right|Frazier awards author Joe NickellJoe Nickell(File:Julia Belluz receives CSI Balles Award for 2016 from Paul Fidalgo.jpg|thumb|left|Julia Belluz receives 2016 Balles Award from Paul Fidalgo)CSI awards the Robert P. Balles Annual Prize in Critical Thinking annually. The $2,500 award is given to the "creator of the published work that best exemplifies healthy skepticism, logical analysis, or empirical science".JOURNAL, Fidalgo, Paul, CSI's Balles Prize in Critical Thinking Awarded to Julia Belluz of, Skeptical Inquirer, 2016, 40, 5, 6, Robert P. Balles, "a practicing Christian" established this permanent endowment fund through a Memorial Fund. Center for Inquiry's "established criteria for the prize include use of the most parsimonious theory to fit data or to explain apparently preternatural phenomena."JOURNAL, Balles Critical Thinking Prize Awarded to Authors of UFOs, Chemtrails, and Aliens, Skeptical Inquirer, 2018, 42, 4, 11, Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, {{clear}}{| class="wikitable sortable"! Year! Person! Media! Notes2005Andrew A. Skolnick>Andrew Skolnick, Ray Hyman and Joe Nickell |The Girl with X-ray EyesNatasha Demkina, a girl who claimed to have X-ray eyes.CSICOP ANNOUNCES WINNERS OF THE FIRST ROBERT P. BALLEZ PRIZEVOLUME=26, 3, 2006|Ben Goldacre|For his column in The Guardian U.K. newspaper, Bad ScienceDATE=2007ISSUE=5, 13, 2007|Natalie Angier|The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of ScienceTITLE=CSI’S ROBERT P. BALLES AWARD GOES TO NEW YORK TIMES SCIENCE WRITER NATALIE ANGIERWEBSITE=SKEPTICAL INQUIRERACCESSDATE=19 AUGUST 2016, 2008|Leonard MlodinowThe Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules our LivesKARRAUTHORLINK=BARRY KARRURL=HTTP://WWW.CSICOP.ORG/SI/SHOW/CSIS_BALLES_PRIZE_GOES_TO_PHYSICIST_AUTHOR_LEONARD_MLODINOWPUBLISHER=CSICOP, 18 August 2016, |2009|Michael Specter|Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives|2010|Steven Novella|Body of work including The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe podcast, Science-Based Medicine, Neurologica, Skepticial Inquirer column The Science of Medicine and the "tireless travel and lecture schedule on behalf of skepticism" WEBSITE=SKEPTICAL INQUIRERACCESSDATE=19 AUGUST 2016, According to Barry Karr "'You may be the hardest worker in all of skepticism'"LAVARNWAY>FIRST1=JULIAURL=HTTP://WWW.CSICOP.ORG/SI/SHOW/CSICON_NEW_ORLEANS_2011_-_WHERE_MEETING_AWESOME_SKEPTICS_IS_AS_EASY_AS_SAYIPUBLISHER=CSICOP, 19 August 2016, 2011|Richard Wiseman(Paranormality (book)>Paranormality: Why We See What Isn’t There)AUTHORLINK=BARRY KARRURL=HTTP://WWW.CSICOP.ORG/SI/SHOW/CSIS_BALLES_PRIZE_GOES_TO_RICHARD_WISEMAN_FOR_PARANORMALITYPUBLISHER=CSICOP, 18 August 2016, 2012|Steven Salzberg and Joe Nickell|Salzberg's column for Forbes magazine, Fighting Pseudoscience and Nickell's book The Science of Ghosts - Searching for Spirits of the Dead WEBSITE=SKEPTICAL INQUIRERACCESSDATE=19 AUGUST 2016, 2013|Paul Offit|Do You Believe in Magic? The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative MedicineTITLE=CSI ANNOUNCES PAUL OFFIT AS WINNER OF THE 2013 BALLES PRIZEWEBSITE=SKEPTICAL INQUIRERACCESSDATE=18 AUGUST 2016, 2014Joseph A. Schwarcz>Joseph Schwarcz and to the creators, producers, and writers of (Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey)|Is That a Fact? and Cosmos: A Spacetime OdysseyCosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey opened the eyes of a new generation to humanity’s triumphs, its mistakes, and its astounding potential to reach unimagined heights.... Is That a Fact? unflinchingly takes on all manner of popular misinformation."COSMOS, JOE SCHWARCZ WIN SKEPTICS’ CRITICAL THINKING PRIZEWEBSITE=SKEPTICAL INQUIRERACCESSDATE=18 AUGUST 2016, 2015|Julia BelluzVox (website)>|"We need more people in the media doing what Julia Bellux does... "2016|Maria Konnikova|The Confidence GameWEBSITE=CSICOP.ORGACCESSDATE=19 MAY 2017, 2017Donald Prothero, Tim Callahan (academic)>Tim Callahan|UFOs, Chemtrails, and Aliens|This book "not only refute(s) false claims and misguided beliefs ... but more importantly they also arm readers with the tools they will need to fairly evaluate any extraordinary claim they come across"

Responsibility in Journalism Award

CSICOP seeking to acknowledge and encourage "fair and balanced reporting of paranormal claims" established the Responsibility in Journalism Award in 1984. Frazier stated that "There are many responsible reporters who want to do a good job in covering these kinds of controversial, exotic topics." Beginning in 1991, CSI began awarding in two categories, "print" and "broadcast".{| class="wikitable sortable"! Year! Person! Media! Notes1984|Leon Jaroff and Davyd YostDiscover (magazine)>Discover magazine established the Skeptical Eye column. Yost of the Columbus, Ohio Citizen Journal'' specifically for a story about a poltergeist. |Frazier said of Yost "In the mold of careful, responsible journalism... [he made] a special effort to get outside expert opinion". Philip Klass stated that Jaroff has "'political courage'" for his column that offers "useful perspectives... of claims of the paranormal".1986|Boyce Rensberger and Ward LucasWashington Post and Ward "anchor and investigative reporter KUSA (TV)>KUSA-TV Channel 9 Denver"|Presented at the University of Colorado, Boulder, "'In recognition of contributions to fair and balanced reporting of paranormal claims'".1987Mike Willesee>Michael Willesee|Dembart from Los Angeles Times, Willesee, Australian journalist and Busch, Texas radio talk-show host|Presented at Pasadena CSICOP award banquet.1988Milton J. Rosenberg>Milton RosenbergProvidence Journal and a contributor to SI. Rosenberg is the host of Extension 720 a program on WGN (AM)>WGN-Radio in ChicagoDATE=1988ISSUE=4, 425, 1990|Stephen Doig|Science Editor for the Miami Herald|Awarded at the Washington D. C. conference March 30-April 1st.1991|Keay DavidsonSan Francisco Examiner With co-writer Janet L. Hopson who were both recognized for their work into the investigation of the claims of Koko (gorilla)>Koko the talking ape.|Print Category - Awarded at the 15th Anniversary of CSICOP in Berkeley, CA1991Mark Curtis (broadcaster)>Mark Curtis|Reporter for WEAR-TV Channel 3, Pensacola, Florida|Investigation into the Gulf Breeze UFO incident exposing trick photography. Awarded at the 15th Anniversary of CSICOP in Berkeley, CA1992Andrew A. Skolnick>Andrew Skolnick|Associate editor of Medical News & Perspectives for the Journal of the American Medical Association|Presented at the CSICOP Dallas, TX Convention1992Henry Gordon (magician)>Henry Gordon|Columnist, magician and author|Presented at the CSICOP Dallas, TX Convention1994|Jack Smith|Columnist with the Los Angeles Times|Awarded at the CSI Seattle Conference June 23–261996|Phillip Adams, Piero Angela and Pierre Berton||Presented at the First World Congress in Buffalo, NY the 20th Anniversary of CSICOP.

Frontiers of Science and Technology Award{| class"wikitable sortable"

! Year! Person! Media! Notes1986|Paul MacCready|AeroVironment|Presented at the University of Colorado, Boulder "'In recognition of his innovative and creative contributions to technology and his outstanding defense of critical thinking'".1987|Murray Gell-Mann||Presented at Pasadena CSICOP award banquet.

Public Education in Science Award

In recognition of distinguished contributions to the testing of scientific principles and to the public understanding of science.{| class="wikitable sortable"! Year! Person! Notes1990Richard E. Berendzen>Richard Berendzen|Presented at Pasadena CSICOP award banquet.1991|Eugenie Scott|Awarded at the 15th Anniversary of CSICOP in Berkeley, CA1992|Sergei Kapitza|Presented at the CSICOP Dallas, TX Convention1994|John Maddox|Awarded at the CSI Seattle Conference June 23–261996|Dean Edell|Presented at the First World Congress in Buffalo, NY the 20th Anniversary of CSICOP.2000|Richard Wiseman|Presented at the Third World Congress held in Sydney, Australia.

Distinguished Skeptic Award{| class"wikitable sortable"

! Year! Person! Notes1990|Henri Broch|Awarded for "his pioneer work with Minitel and making scientific critiques of the paranormal available to a wider audience in France. Presented at the Brussels 1990 CSICOP conference.1991|Susan Blackmore|Awarded at the 15th Anniversary of CSICOP in Berkeley, CA1992|Evry Schatzman|Presented at the CSICOP Dallas, TX Convention1994|Philip Klass|Awarded at the CSI Seattle Conference June 23–261996|James Randi|Presented at the First World Congress in Buffalo, NY the 20th Anniversary of CSICOP.1998Gesellschaft zur wissenschaftlichen Untersuchung von Parawissenschaften>Amardeo SarmaTITLE=SCIENCE AND REASON, FOIBLES AND FALLACIES, AND DOOMSDAYSDATE=1998ISSUE=6, 6, 2000|Barry Williams, Joe Nickell|Presented at the Third World Congress held in Sydney, Australia. Williams was recognized for his "yeoman service to organized skepticism".2001|Harlan EllisonLAST2=RADFORDTITLE=FOURTH WORLD SKEPTICS CONFERENCE IN BURBANK A LIVELY FOMENT OF IDEASDATE=2002ISSUE=5, 5, 2002|Marcia Angell|(citation needed)2003|Jan Harold BrunvandAUTHORLINK=KENDRICK FRAZIERJOURNAL=SKEPTICAL INQUIRERVOLUME=28PAGES=7,

Founder Award

Presented to founder and chairman of CSICOP, Paul Kurtz "'In recognition of your wisdom, courage, and foresight in establishing and leading the world's first public education organization devoted to distinguishing science from pseudoscience'". Award was given April 26, 1986 at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

The Martin Gardner Lifetime Achievement Award

Awarded to author and entertainer Steve Allen at the First World Skeptic Congress held in Buffalo, NY 1996. Allen was recognized for his lifetime achievement "in cultivating the public appreciation of critical thinking and science".

The Isaac Asimov Award

Established to acknowledge the contributions to humanity and science by Isaac Asimov. This award is given to those who has "shown outstanding commitment and ability in communicating the achievements, methods, and issues of science to the public".{| class="wikitable sortable"! Year! Person! Notes1994|Carl Sagan|Janet Asimov when informed that Carl Sagan would be the first recipient of the Isaac Asimov Award, "There is no one better qualified... than his good friend and colleague Carl Sagan. Isaac was particularly fond of Carl. He was also in awe of Carl's genius, and proud that he was so adept at communicating science to the public... thank you for remembering my beloved husband in this way." 1995|Steven J. GouldDATE=1996ISSUE=5, 7,

The Pantheon of Skeptics

In April 2011, the executive council of CSI created The Pantheon of Skeptics, a special roster honoring deceased fellows of the Committee who have made the most outstanding contributions to the causes of science and skepticism. This roster is part of an ongoing effort to provide a sense of history about the modern skeptical movement.The Pantheon of Skeptics Committee for Skeptical Inquiry{| class="wikitable"! colspan="2" | The Pantheon of SkepticsPerson >| NotesGeorge O. Abell >| astronomer and popularizer of scienceSteve Allen >| entertainer, author, criticJerry Andrus >| magician and writerIsaac Asimov >| biochemist and author of science and science fictionRobert A. Baker >| psychologistBarber and Calverley>T. X. Barber psychologistBarry Beyerstein >| biopsychologistBart J. Bok >| astronomerMilbourne Christopher >| magician and writer Francis Crick>Francis H. Crick Nobel laureate molecular biologistL. Sprague de Camp >| science fiction author and skepticMartin Gardner >| columnist and popularizer of mathematics and scienceStephen Jay Gould >| evolutionary biologist, and historian of scienceDonald O. Hebb>D. O. Hebb neuropsychologistSidney Hook >| philosopherLeon Jaroff >| science writer and editorPhilip J. Klass >| engineer, journalist, and UFO skepticPaul Kurtz >| philosopher, skeptic and prominent secular humanistPaul MacCready >| scientist, engineer, inventorJohn Maddox >| biologist and science writerWilliam V. Mayer >| biologistWalter McCrone >| microscopist and expert in forensic scienceErnest Nagel >| philosopher of scienceH. Narasimhaiah >| physicistW. V. Quine >| philosopher and logicianCarl Sagan >| astronomer and science popularizerWallace Sampson >| professor of clinical medicine, alternative medicine skepticGlenn T. Seaborg >| Nobel laureate in chemistryB. F. Skinner >| psychologistVictor Stenger >| particle physicist and philosopherStephen Toulmin >| philosopher, author, and ethicist

List of CSI fellows (past and present)

The inside front cover of each issue of the Skeptical Inquirer lists the CSI fellows.WEB,weblink The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, 2010-08-18, (* denotes the Fellow is a member of the Executive Council)
{{Columns-list|colwidth=16em| }}

List of scientific and technical consultants (past and present)

The inside back cover of each issue of the Skeptical Inquirer lists the CSI consultants.{{Columns-list|colwidth=16em| }}

Controversy and criticism

missing image!
- Uri Geller.jpg -
Uri Geller filed a number of unsuccessful lawsuits against CSICOP
CSI's activities have garnered criticism from individuals or groups which have been the focus of the organization's attention.WEB,weblink The Campaign for Philosophical Freedom,, 13 August 2006, Television celebrity and claimed psychic Uri Geller, for example, was until recently in open dispute with the organization, filing a number of unsuccessful lawsuits against them.Truzzi, M (1996) from the Parapsychological Association newsletter WEB,weblink Archived copy, 2006-11-04, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 2008-06-02, Some criticism has also come from within the scientific community and at times from within CSI itself. Marcello Truzzi, 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."WEB,weblink Parapsychology, Anomalies, Science, Skepticism, and CSICOP,, Truzzi coined the term pseudoskeptic to describe critics in whom he detected such an attitude."Marcello Truzzi, On Pseudo-Skepticism" Zetetic Scholar (1987) No. 12/13, 3-4.

Mars effect, 1975

An early controversy concerned the so-called Mars effect: French statistician Michel 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, along with Paul Kurtz, George Abell 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."WEB, Rawlins, Dennis, 1981,weblink sTARBABY, FATE Magazine, 2006-06-21, Rawlins's account of the Mars Effect investigation CSICOP's Philip J. Klass responded by circulating an article to CSICOP members critical of Rawlins' arguments and motives;WEB, Klass, Philip J., 1981,weblink Crybaby, 2010-12-03, Klass's unpublished response, refused publication by Fate, itself became the target for further criticism.{{citation needed|date=August 2016}}

Church of Scientology 1977

In 1977, an FBI raid on the offices of the Church of Scientology uncovered a project to discredit CSICOP so that it and its publications would cease criticism of Dianetics and Scientology. This included forging a CIA memo and sending it to media sources, including The New York Times, to spread rumors that CSICOP was a front group for the CIA. A letter from CSICOP founder Paul Kurtz was forged to discredit him in the eyes of parapsychology researchers.NEWS, Toronto Globe and Mail, January 25, 1980, Marshall, John, Cult order sought to end scientists' criticism,

Natasha Demkina, 2004

In 2004, CSICOP was accused of scientific misconduct over its involvement in the Discovery Channel's test of the "girl with X-ray eyes", Natasha Demkina. In a self-published commentary, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Brian Josephson 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."WEB, Josephson, Brian, Brian Josephson, Scientists' unethical use of media for propaganda purposes,weblink 2006-08-31,, Ray Hyman, one of the three researchers who designed and conducted the test, published a response to this and other criticisms.WEB,weblink Cause, Chance and Bayesian Statistics: A Briefing Document, 2006-09-11,, WEB, Hyman, Ray, Ray Hyman, Statistics and the Test of Natasha, CSICOP,weblink 2013-08-31,, CSI's Commission for Scientific Medicine and Mental HealthWEB,weblink Commission for Scientific Medicine and Mental Health, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 2010-09-25, also published a detailed response to these and other objections, saying that the choice of critical level was appropriate, because her claims were unlikely to be true: I decided against setting the critical level at seven because this would require Natasha to be 100% accurate in our test. We wanted to give her some leeway. More important, setting the critical value at seven would make it difficult to detect a true effect. On the other hand, I did not want to set the critical value at four because this would be treating the hypothesis that she could see into people's bodies as if it were highly plausible. The compromise was to set the value at five.WEB, CSMMH,weblink Answer to Critics, 2006-09-11,weblink" title="">weblink 2005-02-04,

General criticism and reply

On a more general level, proponents of parapsychology have accused CSI of pseudoskepticism, and an overly dogmatic and arrogant approach based on a priori convictions.{{citation needed|date=August 2016}} A 1992 article in The Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, an organ for the Parapsychological Association, suggests that CSI's aggressive style of skepticism could discourage scientific research into the paranormal.The Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, Volume 86, No. 1, January 1992; pp. 20, 24, 40, 46, 51 Astronomer Carl Sagan wrote on this in 1995: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.BOOK
, Sagan
, Carl
, Carl Sagan
, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark
, Random House
, 0-394-53512-X
, 1995

See also



Further reading

  • BOOK

, Paul Kurtz (editor)
, Skeptical Odysseys: Personal accounts by the world's leading paranormal inquirers
, Prometheus Books
, 2001
, 1-57392-884-4
, CITEREFKurtz2001
  • BOOK

, Randi
, James
, James Randi
, 1995
, An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural
, Prometheus Books
, 0-312-13066-X
, harv
, yes
,weblink" title="">weblink
, 2014-09-04

External links

{{Skeptic Organizations|state=autocollapse}}{{Pseudoscience|state=autocollapse}}{{James Randi}}

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