Skeptics Society
The Skeptics Society, one of the major American groups
challenging claims to paranormal and supernatural reality
which it considers largely in the realm of pseudoscience, was
founded in 1991 by Michael Shermer, Pat Linse, and Kim Ziel
Shermer. Michael Shermer, formerly a professional cyclist,
completed his Ph.D. in the history of science in 1991. A former
member of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of
Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), he felt that much more
could be done in public education in this area by an organization
that was located in the media nexus of Los Angeles and aggressively
used radio and television as educational tools. He
also wanted to launch a periodical that would allow for articles
presenting more in-depth treatments of subjects and original
research articles. Shortly after its founding, the society
launched a quarterly newsstand magazine, Skeptic, which has a
circulation of 40,000.
While focused upon claims of a psychic or occult nature, and
the investigation of claims of supernatural miracles, the society
has also involved itself in a variety of controversial issues of a
scientific, psychological, historical, and religious nature, where
no claim of paranormal or miraculous phenomena is present.
Thus, while attacking such phenomena as claims to spirit contact
or UFOs, the society has also attacked Holocaust denial as
pseudo history and joined in the general denigration of minority
religions (popularly called cults). Any issues that arise in
public debate and include a crucial element of scientific (or social
scientific) information in their resolution is considered an
area of consideration.
The society currently pursues its expansive program
through a monthly lecture series at the California Institute of
Technology; an annual conference; a weekly radio show, ‘‘Science
Talk,’’ on the Southern California NPR affiliate, KPCC;
and a national weekly television show on the Fox Family Channel.
The society carries out its education through a book service
that sells skeptical literature and cassette tapes. The Skeptics
Society may be contacted at P.O. Box 338, Altadena, CA 91001.
Its website can be found at
Shermer, Michael. Denying History. Berkeley University of
California Press, 2000.
———. How We Believe The Search for God in an Age of Science.
New York W. H. Freeman and Co., 2000.
———. Why People Believe Weird Things. New York W. H.
Freeman and Co., 1997.