Committee for Skeptical Inquiry
Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI), formerly known as the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), is a U.S. non-profit organization whose stated purpose is to "encourage the critical investigation of paranormal 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 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. CSI's fellows have included many notable scientists, Nobel laureates, philosophers, educators, authors, and celebrities.
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 at a specially convened conference of the American Humanist Association (AHA) at the Amherst campus of the State University of New York at Buffalo on April 30 and May 1, 1976. In 1975 Kurtz had previously initiated a statement, "Objections to Astrology," 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 sceptical researchers as [he] could locate" to the 1976 conference with the aim of establishing a new organisation dedicated to critically examining a wide range of paranormal claims. Amongst 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. Kurtz was successful in his aims; RSEP disbanded and its members, along with others such as Carl Sagan, Isaac Asimov, and Philip J. Klass joined Kurtz to form CSICOP.
According to CSI's charter, in order to carry out its major objectives 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.
CSI conducts and publishes investigations into Bigfoot and UFO sightings, psychics, astrologers, alternative medicine, religious cults, and paranormal or pseudoscientific claims.
Skeptical Inquirer is the official journal of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. Six times per year Skeptical Inquirer publishes critical scientific evaluations of paranormal and fringe-science claims and informed discussion of all relevant issues along with news and book reviews .
Awards to fellows
CSI awards the Robert P. Balles Annual Prize in Critical Thinking. The first award was shared by CSI fellows Ray Hyman and Joe Nickell and by Andrew Skolnick for their reports in 2005 on CSICOP's testing of Natasha Demkina, the girl who claimed to have X-ray eyes.(Skeptical Inquirer 2006)
Partial list of CSI fellows (past and present)
The inside front cover of each issue of the Skeptical Inquirer lists the CSI fellows. Those that are also noted magicians are:
- Milbourne Christopher
- Martin Gardner
- Ray Hyman
- Joe Nickell
- James Randi
- Richard Wiseman
- James E. Alcock
| This page incorporated content from Committee for Skeptical Inquiry,
a page hosted on Wikipedia. Please consult the history of the original page to see a list of its authors. Therefor, this article is also available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License