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Was CSICOP ever scientific and is CSI truly sceptical?
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CSICOP:
Committee for Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal

CSICOP (Committee for Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal) pronounced 'Sigh Cop', now known as CSI is a powerful sceptical organisation founded by Paul Kurtz in 1976. Its stated objective is a "critical investigation of paranormal and fringe-science claims". The organisation publishes the Skeptical Inquirer (circulation 50,000) on a bi-monthly basis and other sceptical publications. (2011 income $1.6 million)[1]

CSICOP was a classic misnomer as is CSI

  1. The was no Committee, just a panel originally under chairman-for-life, Paul Kurtz, recruiting prestigious scientists or nominating loyal and useful supporters as CSICOP Fellows.
  2. There was no Investigation - no quest for answers just confirmation of beliefs.
  3. Though they were anti-paranormal, CSICOP's antipathy extended beyond the paranormal.
  4. And most discomfiting of all, CSICOP was and CSI is not scientific. Perhaps this is understandable as most of their work was the impossible task of 'proving' a negative and this required debunking rather than an open minded quest for knowledge. Unlike, scientific journals (and even astrological Journals, like Correlation), the Skeptical Inquirer excludes articles by proponents of opposing views.
  5. Even CSI's claim to being sceptical is questionable. Some prominent members practice a kind of vigilante para-science rather than scepticism in the literal sense.

Reincarnation as CSI: a less scientific, broader & more media friendly title.

Critics of CSICOP called the organisation the Keystone CSICops (Rawlins 1981) or the 'thought police' or the 'paradigm police' informing the public what is heresy and what to believe. In 2006, CSICOP, renamed themselves CSI, (Committee for Skeptical Inquiry) and quietly dropped any presumptuous claim to being scientific. By removing the long authoritarian-sounding title and dropping paranormal, CSI officially hope to become more 'media friendly' and have a broader scope to investigate "controversial or extraordinary claims." (Frazier 2006) When you read the history, you have to wonder if the the name change might also have been to distance the organisation from the stigma of a checkered past.

To some Scientists CSICOP are dedicated to debunking metaphysical evidence and publicity

"CSICOP is an ideologically motivated debunking organisation..." Dr Rupert Sheldrake, biologist and author of more than 80 scientific papers and 10 books including the best-selling Science Delusion. Letter published in the Times Higher Education Supplement. (Sheldrake 2004)
"The major interest of the Committee was not inquiry but to serve as an advocacy body, a public relations group for scientific orthodoxy"... "Doubt is the skeptical approach; the debunker's approach is denial. True skepticism which is a part of science consists of doubt preceding inquiry, and that essentially takes the position of non-belief rather than of disbelief." ~ Marcello Truzzi, was a Professor of Sociology, original co-chairman of CSICOP and first editor of CSICOP's in house journal. (Marcello Truzzi 1989)

CSICOP co-ordinated activities to counter scientific evidence that may support astrology

Further evidence that CISCOP's methods have sometimes put personal sceptical beliefs over science comes from an account from Dennis Rawlins, a co-founder of CSCICOP and the questionable attempts to refute the work of psychologist, Michel Gauquelin in the 1970s. Later in the 1980s, CSICOP were involved in encouraging, funding, guiding and publicising the Carlson test. However, both activities have boomeranged. By removing the sampling errors, both experiments have provided strong evidence that supports astrology! Over the last thirty years, Geoffrey Dean has become widely known as the most active critic of astrology. As a CSICOP fellow some of the oversights in his findings must be considered in the light of the culture of the organisation. Meanwhile in the UK Richard Dawkins, another CSICOP fellow made a series of unscientific rants and assaults mainly on Sun-Sign newspaper astrology and precession in articles and on TV between 1993 and 2007 in spite of being the first holder of Oxford's Charles Simonyi Chair of Public Understanding of Science.

The Gauquelin Affair
The Inside Story from Whistleblower & a Co-Founder of CSICOP

CSICOP originated in 1975 when Kurtz persuaded 186 leading scientists to sign a manifesto entitled "Objections to Astrology". It was published in the Humanist and circulated to three thousand newspapers in the USA. They claimed that any mechanism for astrology was impossible with the "vast distances" between planets and described astrologers as charlatans. None of the signatories were prepared to be interviewed on the topic afterwards.(Kurtz 1975)

Unfortunately, for CSICOP, the manifesto was published with a supporting article which included "a misconceived attack (by Lawrence Jerome) upon the claims of the prominent French neoastrologers Michel and Francoise Gauquelin. Almost none of the signers read Jerome's analysis before publication."[2]

Using large samples, psychologist, Michel Gauquelin had demonstrated a highly significant correlation between the position of a planet at birth and eminence in certain professions and sports. Moreover, Gauquelin's findings had been replicated by a group of Belgian sceptics known as the Comité Para.[2]

Kurtz and his newly formed sceptical organisation could not ignore this challenge. Evidence supporting astrology would be acutely embarrassing for him not only after his public denounciation of astrology, but also "having alleged that it had led to no less than 200 suicides and even had something to do with the rise of fascism. And so followed CSICOP's first attempt to replicate a paranormal claim according to accepted scientific practice. It was also to be its last. It was a total disaster. The percentages in the large control sample studied by a CSICOP team turned out to be the same as those of the Gauquelins."[3]

Revelations of Dennis Rawlins, Associate Editor of Skeptical Inquirer

Dennis Rawlins, astronomer, historian, author and a co-founder of CSICOP, served on CSICOP's Executive Council from 1976 to 1979. Until 1980 he was an Associate Editor of Skeptical Inquirer. He was co-opted by Kurtz to perform the calculations and analysis of the Gauquelin replication data. Rawlins found a serious problem: the results supported Gauquelin's findings. When he tried to bring this to the attention of the Committee, a bitter dispute broke out. Rawlins charged that 'errors' had been made and that Kurtz had undertaken a Watergate-style cover up. Rawlins was forced out of CSICOP and went public with his experiences.[2]

Starbaby - CSICOP investigates Gauquelin
"They call themselves the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal. In fact, they are a group of would-be debunkers who bungled their major investigation, falsified the results, covered up their errors and gave the boot to a colleague who threatened to tell the truth." Dennis Rawlins, one of the co-founders of CSICOP in an article in Fate (October 1982) exposing CSICOP's attempts to debunk Michel Gauquelin.

"EVER SINCE it came into being the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) has proudly proclaimed itself the scourge of the 'new nonsense': astrology, ESP, UFOs and other phenomena of which it does not approve. Its pronouncements on these and other subjects have received widespread attention and uncritical acceptance in the news media."

"Critics such as Fate, professional parapsychologists and moderate sceptics like former CSICOP co-chairman Prof. Marcello Truzzi, sociologist at Eastern Michigan University, have questioned the Committee's commitment to objective, scientific investigation of paranormal claims and have accused some CSICOP spokesmen of misrepresenting issues and evidence. But such dissenting views were little noticed by media writers eager to headline sensational -- although frequently unsupported -- debunking claims."
(Rawlins in Fate Magazine)[2]

Counter-Accusations from CSICOP

Naturally counter-accusations were levelled at Rawlins by his previous colleagues at CSICOP with much quibbling about the details of the fall-out. In an attempt to exonerate CSICOP and Kurtz of the affair, a founding fellow of CSICOP, crusading sceptic and writer for the Skeptical Inquirer, Philip Klass argued that Rawlins was something of a loose cannon, an excessively hard-line sceptic and that CSICOP is better off without him anyway.(Klass 1981)

Klass suggests if anyone covered up or falsified CSICOP's 'attempt' to replicate the Gauquelin data, it was Rawlins. However, Klass neatly skirts around the fact that Rawlins was only commissioned by Kurtz to do the astronomical calculations and statistical analysis. Kurtz oversaw the collection of data. It is very easy to bias a result by selecting only data that fails to comply with the hypothesis - that Mars falls in an angular zone of eminent sports stars. (Anyone could verify the diurnal position of Mars through chart services using Placidus houses at the time).

Gauquelin stipulated that his theory did not apply to certain types of athletes in particular basketball players who at the time were selected for their height over athletic prowess. Yet, Kurtz included a large number of basketball players. In fact, Kurtz was so successful in selecting sports stars who did not comply with Gauquelin's theory that the end result was that Mars was negatively found at the angles. CSICOP's result was statistically significant to a high level. So in his bungling, Kurtz had produced a false evidence that actually favoured the existence of a celestial correlation even if it was in the opposite direction to Gauquelin and quite evidently faked. So it would appear to Gauquelin that Rawlins who presented the results that he had been dishonestly tampering with the data even if Gauquelin was polite enough not to phrase it that way. However, it was Kurtz who was engaged in sampling bias and had delegated his hardline sceptic to front the scam.

Dennis Rawlins, remained sceptical of the paranormal, but his testimony confirms what critics of CSICOP have long suspected: that the organization is committed to perpetuating a position, not to determining the truth.[2]

How CSICOP anonymously masterminded the Carlson Test


Kurtz's covert counter to Gauquelin. CSICOP, by proxy.

CSICOP'S public debacle over Gauquelin hit them badly and resulted in a number of resignations and defections.[3] It was a double shock that an organisation who claimed to promote 'good science' should have resorted to underhand methods to suppress evidence and that their attempts to debunk his experiments replicated Gauquelin's results.

As result of this public set-back, CSICOP decided to abandon their own testing. It now became imperative for Kurtz to provide evidence to counter the positive impact of Gauquelin's results favouring astrology without risking CSICOP's name by public association with the project. The task fell to a young physics undergraduate student at the University of California, named Shawn Carlson. His advisor, physicist Richard Muller, is a CSICOP Fellow. With the outward appearance of independence,[4] CSICOP would be protected if this test also backfired.(Kurtz 2006)

The infamous "Carlson" Double-Blind Astrology test

On the basis of his experiment, Carlson claimed that qualified astrologers could not match test subject's birth charts with the results of the California Psychological Inventory (CPI) any better than by chance. The study was published in Nature in 1985, widely circulated in the Press and is still cited on the web as the strongest evidence that natal astrology is no better than chance. (Carlson 1985) At first the conclusions were questioned by renown Psychology Professor, Hans Eysenck. (Eysenck 1986) However, recent research (Ertel 2009) shows that the astrologers were able to rate matches between psychological profiles and birth charts in a blind test with a level of success that cannot be explained by chance. Their performance was statistically significant to the level of p=.037. This result had been hidden when an unrelated test with a different sample size was used to divide a large sample into three smaller samples. (Currey 2011)

The astrologers trusted Carlson, the master magician

Carlson initially led astrologers to believe that he was favourable towards astrology. During the experiment, he claimed in a signed letter to astrologer, Erin Sullivan [undated ca.October 1981] that the preliminary results appeared to favour "the astrological thesis. Near, but not there yet." After the test was published, Carlson wrote in a letter to Jayj Jacobs entitled Rebuttal [mailed 21 January 1987]: "Mr Lewis is half correct on this point. It is true that I was indeed biased. But I wanted the experiment to work." One reason that Carlson did not 'put his cards on the table' or revealed the involvement of CSICOP, was that had the astrologers believed that Carlson had a hidden agenda against astrology when he began this experiment, they would not have participated. (Vidmar 2008)

However, the evidence suggests that Carlson had a high level of bias against astrology before and after the experiment:

Did Carlson have a hidden agenda before his Double-Blind Astrology Test?

  1. Prior to the experiment, Carlson was a professional magician. At the age of 16, he supported himself as a street psychic and player of Three-Card-Monte (also known as Follow the Lady). This card trick is often used as a scam and requires mastery of the art of misdirection. Vidmar speculates that this was the model used when asking astrologers to pin a CPI onto one of three horoscopes and why the astrologers felt so duped afterwards. Perhaps they were trying to find the "Lady" who was not there! (Vidmar 2008)

    In mastering the art of deception and misdirection, he would have naturally been inclined towards the magician's mind-set which assumes that a phenomenon that defies conventional explanation is always a trick or an illusion with a mechanistic explanation. Scepticism has become almost synonymous with the profession which includes founder members of CSICOP: James Randi, Gardener, Hyman and Truzzi and prominent sceptics like Penn & Teller (USA) or Derren Brown (UK).
  2. Carlson's mentor, Richard Muller who acted as an advisor and funded the project was a sceptic and member of CSICOP.
  3. Paul Kurtz, Chairman for life of CSICOP claimed his committee encouraged Carlson to do the test. (Kurtz 2006)
  4. John Maddox, editor of Nature who published the experiment was a CSICOP Fellow.
  5. Geoffrey Dean, CSICOP Fellow and professional sceptic advised Carlson on the experiment in California and subsequently by mail from his home in Australia.[6]
  6. In his 'Astrology Experiment Detailed Outline', Carlson wrote that he intended to publish the experiment in the "Skeptical Inquirer", which he described as a "nationally respected scientific journal". Carlson's plan and his glowing description of the in-house journal for CSICOP suggested he was familiar and well-disposed to its policy of debunking the type of experiment he was supposedly hoping would be favourable to astrology. (vidmar 2008)
  7. Carlson or his advisors imposed unreasonably high levels of proof for the size of his sample and nature of this psychological experiment.
  8. Carlson's conclusion in his experiment was not supported by the evidence.
  9. Unlike Michel Gauquelin, Carlson has refused to share his data. This does not suggest a constructive even-handed approach.
  10. Carlson made excuses when psychology (CPI) failed by his standards, but was happy to reach a negative conclusion about astrology.
  11. After publication, Carlson has been active with CSICOP and the James Randi Education Foundation. In 1999 he was awarded the MacArthur Foundation 'genius' Fellowship of $290,000. Winners are nominated anonymously to be chosen by an anonymous panel. However, it is known that Murray Gell-Mann was a director of the Foundation 1979-2002 and was also a CSICOP fellow. During his term of office several other CSICOP members received the award including Richard Muller in 1982 and Randi in 1986.
    Of course a sceptic will argue that Carlson's ultimate views on astrology were as a result of this experiment. However, this would be disingenuous given Carlson's history, intentions, supporters, protocols, sampling errors, conclusion in his test and his subsequent protection of the experiment. No part of the his experiment could possibly justify a 'Paul on the road to Damascus conversion' to become a life-long dedicated sceptic deeply involved with Randi and CSICOP.

CSICOP gives priority to influencing the Media over scientific research

The CSICOP organisation is not infrequently taken to have an authority that it does not deserve. Such organisations are in reality pressure groups, taking every chance they can get to press their beliefs in the media, often in ways that have been characterised as misleading. Representatives of the media need to be on their guard against this kind of thing. ~ Professor Brian David Josephson, physicist Cambridge University and Nobel Laureate (2004) Scientists' unethical use of media for propaganda purposes. (Josephson 2004)
So though CSICOP/CSI retain the word investigation or inquiry, scientific research is not done as a matter of policy. Influencing the media is a central role. CSICOP's Manual for Local, Regional and National Groups (1987) contains no scientific citations. While only three pages cover scientific investigation, seventeen pages are devoted to PR and "handling the media". (Hansen 1992)

This is done by a combination of slick PR campaigns and active cultivation of contacts in the media. On the same day that the Carlson Test appeared in Nature, both 'The San Francisco Chronicle' and 'The Times' (London) ran articles and Carlson was interviewed by a CBC Canadian radio. Leon Jaroff, an editor for Time, was made a CSICOP Fellow and wrote an article featuring James Randi. Other tactics involve organised complaints about TV shows that treat the paranormal in a neutral way or a proposal to alert members whenever a live call-in program covered the paranormal on the radio.

In 1996, CSICOP formed the "Council for Media Integrity" - a pressure group where members are encouraged to bombard producers and advertising sponsors if the programme content does not comply with their beliefs. CSICOP also requested help from supporters to acquire stock in major TV networks: CBS, NBC, Fox, ABS and Time Warner in order to influence their coverage as shareholders. (Kendrick 1997)

The media has changed. Nowadays, a number of full-time Wikipedia editors (claiming to be scientists) patrol the Encylopedia and make in excess of ten thousand edits per year to ensure that scientism prevails. By tag-teaming, re-writing the rules and banning neutral editors, fringe subjects like astrology are effectively trashed, inconvenient facts covered up and bad science white-washed under the cloak of anonymity. What we now know is that this was part of a coordinated campaign of 90 "Guerrilla Skeptics" supported by the James Randi Educational Foundation and according to the mastermind behind it, "other foundations". Given its murky history and heavy endowment, it is hard not to wonder whether CSI is also behind this covert co-ordinated propaganda campaign.

Is CSICOP/CSI a positive influence?

"Surveys show that over half the adult population in the U.S. have had psychic experiences and believe in the reality of the phenomena. . . . Those who have had the experiences but encounter the debunking attitudes of apparent "scientific authorities" are likely to conclude that science is a dogma and inapplicable to important aspects of their lives. . . . Ironically, CSICOP's activities will likely inhibit scientific research on the paranormal and might potentially foster an increased rejection of science generally." (Hansen 1992)
Surprisingly, I believe that sceptical organisations are valuable. Without their criticism there are no boundaries on claims. Critical thinkers improve our understanding of the metaphysical. However, when critical thinking is replaced by faith that must be upheld at all costs, then the group is no different from a fundamentalist religion. When research and evidence are secondary to debunking and denial, the group is promoting anti-science. So while those who believe in every fringe theory without question are harmless lunatics, those who seek to quash evidence for metaphysics simply because it is inconvenient or distasteful are a menace to progress.

References

  • Blackmore, Sue (1994) Women skeptics. In L. Coly & R. White (Eds.), Women and parapsychology (pp. 234-236). New York: Parapsychology Foundation.
  • Carlson, Shawn (1985) A Double Blind test of Astrology, Nature ~ Carlson S. (1985) Vol.318, 5 December 1985
  • Currey, Robert (2011) U-turn in Carlson's Astrology test, Correlation. Vol.27 (2), July 2011
  • Ertel, Suitbert (2009) Appraisal of Shawn Carlson's Renowned Astrology Tests, Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol.23, #2.pp.125-137
  • Eysenck, Hans (1986) Critique of "A Double-Blind Test of Astrology", Astro-Psychological Problems, Vol.4 (1), January 1986. Eysenck wrote "The conclusion does not follow from the data".
  • Frazier, Kendrick (1997) CSICOP to Become Shareholder in TV Networks Skeptical Inquirer. Volume 21.3, May / June 1997 "We are deliberately targeting each of the four major television networks, which is to say, the well-known media conglomerates Westinghouse (CBS), General Electric (NBC), NewsCorp (Fox), and Disney (ABC),"
  • Hansen, George (1992) CSICOP and the Skeptics: An Overview. The Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research Vol. 86, January 1992
  • Josephson, Brian (2004) Scientists' unethical use of media for propaganda purposes. Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge
  • Frazier, Kendrick (2006) It's CSI Now, Not CSICOP Skeptical Inquirer, via CSICOP.org. December 4, 2006
  • Klass, Philip (1981); Crybaby Klass' counter Rawlins' accusations against CSICOP. Klass writes that Prof. R.A. McConnell, University of Pittsburgh, founding President of the Parapsychological Association, ... wrote that he believed the "Rawlins report is certainly true in broad outline and probably true in every detail...He has created a document of importance for the history and philosophy of science." McConnell quoted an "unnamed scientist" as claiming that "Rawlins has uncovered the biggest scandal in the history of rationalism." McConnell characterized CSICOP as "an intellectually dishonest enterprise."
  • Kurtz, Paul, Jerome, Lewis, Bok, Bart, (1975). Objections to Astrology: A Statement by 186 Leading Scientists, The Humanist, September/October 1975
  • Kurtz, Paul (2006) Science and the Public: Summing Up Thirty Years of the Skeptical Inquirer, Skeptical Inquirer, September 2006.
  • Rawlins, Dennis (1981) sTARBABY , Fate, No: 34
  • Sheldrake, Rupert (2004) Distorted Visions. Letter published in the Times Higher Education Supplement. December 17 2004.
  • Sheldrake, R. (2013) The Science Delusion. Hodder & Stoughton, London. p.327
  • Truzzi, Marcello (1989) Reflections on the Reception of Unconventional Claims in Science. November 29, 1989 Colloquium. [The following article originally appeared in "Frontier Perspectives" (vol. 1 number 2, Fall/Winter 1990), the newsletter of The Center for Frontier Sciences at Temple University.
  • Vidmar, Joseph (2008) A Comprehensive Review of the Carlson Astrology Experiments, Correlation, a refereed journal of research in astrology, Volume 26 (1) 2008.

Footnotes

  1. ^ Form 990 Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax 2011 Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, Inc. Total Revenue: $1,649,787 Total Expenses: $1,965,032. this includes $73,764 to the "Media/Investigation Program and the Institute Program" 15 August 2012.
  2. ^ Rawlins, D (1981): sTARBABY, Fate, No: 34,
  3. ^ Skeptical Investigations. Has CSICOP Lost the Thirty Years War? - Part II (retrieved August 2013) The Gauquelin Effect by Guy Lyon Playfair
    "The Fate revelations led to numerous defections from CSICOP. One of the first was New Zealander Richard Kamman, co-author with David Marks of The Psychology of the Psychic (1980) in which they discuss the persistence of false beliefs, noting that once formed, the belief in question 'biases the observer to notice new information that confirms the belief, and to discount evidence to the contrary'. This, they said, was a 'self-perpetuating mechanism' of belief-reinforcement and resistance to criticism."
  4. ^ Kurtz, P. (2006). Science and the Public: Summing Up Thirty Years of the Skeptical Inquirer, Skeptical Inquirer, September 2006. CSICOP never mentioned their involvement at the time of the Carlson test or claimed credit in the aftermath. It was not until 20 years after publication of Carlson's paper that Paul Kurtz finally 'admitted' that CSICOP 'encouraged' Carlson to do this project.
  5. ^ Pseudosceptics, pseudoskeptics or pathological skeptics tend to use scientific-sounding language to defend a pre-conceived ideological point of view either without supportive evidence or by referring to cherry-picked or anecdotal evidence. The philosopher, Friedriche Nietzsche described the "bourgeoise pseudo-skepticism" of a lapsed preacher as being "self-satisfied, bigoted, and prejudiced" There is no impartial search for truth as the final answer is already 'known' before any inquiry. I have tried to avoid these terms as they are pejorative and better to address the case rather than ad hominem.
  6. ^ From personal correspondence Robert Currey with Dean 15/July 2010: "I was in California at the time Carlson was doing his experiment, was able to discuss it with him in person and subsequently by mail, and was able to meet some of the astrologers involved in it."

Robert Currey
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CSICOP Fellows
most well-known as sceptics

Too male and too pale?

CSICOP Fellows really are fellows. <15% are female. (<6% 1990)
Most happen to be elderly bearded white men.

From Communism to Scientism

Paul Kurtz, (21 December 1925 - 2012) the founder of CSICOP was a Professor of Philosophy. Surprisingly for someone who placed such a high value on science, he had no scientific qualification. He was in many ways an extreme idealist, becoming a communist in his youth and he later pioneered "secular humanism" - a form of religion without the supernatural.

According to R. Joseph Hoffmann, chair of the Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion and associate editor of Free Inquiry (of which Kurtz was editor-in-chief) "His 40 books are largely accessible to a popular audience, and while not lacking in depth are not prolific in insight. His appeal was always to the village atheists, the town sceptics, the debunkers and grumps of small-town America. His local heroes were ... common sense unbelievers."
http://rationalist.org.uk/articles/2110/prometheus-bound
  • Sue Blackmore - author, journalist and psychologist. She earned her Phd. in Para-Psychology and though an atheist practices Zen. She has had papers published in Correlation, the Journal of the Astrological Association (GB).
  • Geoffrey Dean - Chemist, Writer & Professional Sceptic. Dean was author of Recent Advances in Natal Astrology (1977) and has had papers published in Correlation, the Journal of the Astrological Association (GB).
  • Richard Dawkins - God-fearless (militant atheist), evolutionary biologist, author & author of the God Delusion.
  • Christopher French - Psychology Professor & former editor of The Skeptic Magazine. French has collaborated with Dean on astrology experiments.
  • Andrew Fraknoi - Astronomy Professor
  • Paul Kurtz - Philosophy Professor & founder of CSICOP
  • Richard Muller - Physics Professor & mentor to Shawn Carlson as a student.
  • James Randi - Magician and professional sceptic. Randi is known for his Million Dollar prize that now appears to be more of a publicity stunt than a test of the Paranormal. see
  • Benjamin Radford - Deputy Editor of Skeptical Inquirer & so called CSI 'Research Fellow'
  • James Maddox - Editor of Nature & publisher of the Carlson paper.
  • Neil deGrasse Tyson - Astrophysicist & Television presenter. Tyson once claimed that "astrology was discredited 600 years ago with the birth of modern science." though he never explained what occurred 600 years ago that discredited astrology. This was before Copernicus, an astrologer, was born and long before astrologers, Galileo and Kepler took astronomy and science to a new paradigm.
  • B.F.Skinner - Pioneer of behaviourist psychology.
  • Simon Singh - Journalist and author. In 2010, Singh was sued (unsuccessfully) by the British Chiropractic Association. Singh wore his lucky tie for his appearance in court - bless him!
  • Phil Plait - known as the Bad Astronomer and professional sceptic. Former President of the James Randi Educational Foundation (2008-2010)
  • Richard Wiseman - Former magician and psychology professor.
Note: Not all sceptics are pseudosceptics.[5] While there appears to have been a rotten culture at the core of CSICOP as evidenced by the history, I have no reason to suppose that the culture of CSI is the same today. I have come across many CSICOP Fellows directly and indirectly. A number notably Chris French, Sue Blackmore, Ed Krupp and Phil Plait appear to be genuine sceptical scientists who are willing to investigate the evidence with a critical eye and change their position according to the evidence.
"There are some members of the skeptics' groups who clearly believe they know the right answer prior to inquiry. They appear not to be interested in weighing alternatives, investigating strange claims, or trying out psychic experiences or altered states for themselves (heaven forbid!), but only in promoting their own particular belief structure and cohesion" ~ Sue Blackmore (Blackmore 1994), CSICOP Fellow.



"Self appointed inquisitions, like the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, try to ensure that the subjects are not taken seriously in the respectable media, deprived of funding and excluded from university syllabuses." ~ Rupert Sheldrake, biologist (Sheldrake 2013)
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