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18 MIN READ TIME

Letter from the Editor

—KENDRICK FRAZIER

Issues in Science and Skepticism

To mark our fortieth anniversary, we invited distinguished scientists, scholars, and investigators associated with the Skeptical Inquirer and Committee for Skeptical Inquiry to give us their thoughts. In contrast to earlier anniversaries emphasizing our founding leaders, this time we gave priority to scientists and skeptics who have come to prominence in the skeptical world in more or less the last twenty years. We had such a resounding response that we have decided to do two anniversary issues: in this first one we present a series of insightful essays on Issues in Science and Skepticism; in the next we will present personal Odysseys in Scientific Skepticism.

In this brief space, we can’t begin to summarize all the issues and provocative ideas you will find in these pages. They vary widely. Here are just a few. Bill Nye calls for putting science and reason to work against science deniers and biblical literalists and preventing an impending climate catastrophe. We used to be a nation of innovators, he notes; with regard to climate we may have stalled, but our old get-it-done determination can be reinvigorated. Neil deGrasse Tyson describes what science is and isn’t. Not fooling yourself is the crucial starting point. Another lesson: the objective truths that science eventually establishes—after much to and fro—exist outside your own personal perception of reality. “They are true whether or not you believe in them.” Lawrence M. Krauss warns of the dangers of ignorant demagoguery and calls for more open questioning in all aspects of public and private life.

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About Skeptical Inquirer

40th Anniversary Celebration ISSUES IN SCIENCE & SKEPTICISM BILL NYE NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON LAWRENCE M. KRAUSS and more!

Other Articles in this Issue


NEWS AND COMMENT
One of the biggest gaps between science and public perception
Let’s face it. Baseless alternative medicine and the people who
In May, a man named Paul Salo launched a crowdfunding
Discoveries about the planets and our most famous dwarf planet,
Longtime Bigfoot chronicler, advocate, and field researcher John Green has
Manhattan’s Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) isn’t the first place
INVESTIGATIVE FILES
Joe Nickell, PhD, is a historical, paranormal, and forensic sleuth
PSYCHIC VIBRATIONS
Sheaffer’s “Psychic Vibrations” column has appeared in the Skeptical Inquirer
NOTES ON A STRANGE WORLD
Massimo Polidoro is an investigator of the paranormal, lecturer, and
THE SCIENCE OF SCIENCE COMMUNICATION
Why Really Smart People Are Often the Most Biased in Their Opinions
BEHAVIOR & BELIEF
Stuart Vyse is a psychologist and author of Believing in
SCIENCE WATCH
Kenneth W. Krause is a contributing editor and “Science Watch”
SKEPTICAL INQUIREE
Benjamin Radford is a research fellow at the Committee for
ISSUES IN SCIENCE & SKEPTICISM
We had another Reason Rally in Washington, DC, this year
If you cherry-pick scientific truths to serve cultural, economic, religious,
Twenty years ago, I became actively involved in the skeptical
“ These are the times that try men’s souls.” This
I am delighted to contribute an essay to celebrate the
Around 1992, I discovered a new sphere to explore— skeptical
I have always been somewhat skeptical. Even when I was
When I was a child, the conversations around the dinner
For 99 percent of the past several hundred thousand years
It is easy to find milestones in the history of
“ What will you do if your conventional medical colleagues
REVIEWS
Suspicious Minds: Why We Believe Conspiracy Theories. By Rob Brotherton
Faith vs. Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible. By
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
In “Creators of the Paranormal” (May/June 2016), Joe Nickell refutes
THE LAST LAUGH
September 1976: The mystery-mongering TV series In Search Of… first