Skepticism Evolves—and So Does the Paranormal | Pocketmags.com

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Skepticism Evolves—and So Does the Paranormal

It is easy to find milestones in the history of skepticism. 1976 is important, of course. It’s the date that the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI), formerly known as CSICOP, was founded. Before that, in 1952, Martin Gardner’s great skeptical work was published. His book, eventually titled Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science, is still in print, still selling, and still good. The Australian Skeptics was founded in 1981. And, way back in time, the great skeptic David Hume’s Treatise of Human Nature “fell dead-born from the press” in 1739. It didn’t stay dead, of course; Hume’s arguments are still powerful today.

My own involvement with skepticism began in 1985. In my home state of Queensland, Australia, the creation scientists were on the march. With a fundamentalist premier (corresponding to a U.S. governor) and a fundamentalist minister for education, creationist demands for inclusion in school science teaching looked irresistible. I remember looking at some of their literature and noting that a vast mass of evidence seemed on the verge of sweeping away evolution. What’s more, their claims were referenced to genuine scientific papers.

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