A Skeptic’s Guide to Podcasts
Skeptical Inquirer Volume 33.6, November / December 2009
As most of the readers of the Skeptical Inquirer probably know, podcasts are audio shows that are made available as downloadable digital files, often through free subscription services such as Apple’s iTunes. Over the last few years, the podcast has become an exciting medium for skeptics to reach out to new audiences while continuing to educate their existing members. Magazines, books, and television shows are no longer the only ways that people can get their regular fix of critical thinking and skeptical inquiry.
While there are so many great new podcasts promoting skepticism, here is a survey of some of the best and most popular. They vary in length and format: some are very short and feature just one person; others are long-format interview programs. While almost all are free, some require a paid subscription or a fee to listen to its archives. Some of the skeptical podcasts are humorous and involve a lot of banter, and some have specific themes, such as cryptozoology or conspiracy theories. The thing they all have in common is that they reach out to new people with a critical, rational, and scientific point of view toward pseudoscientific and paranormal claims.
The Conspiracy Skeptic
Started in late 2007, The Conspiracy Skeptic is hosted by Canadian Karl Mamer, an expert in conspiracy theories. The show focuses on various conspiracy theories, such as those promulgated by Alex Jones about the New World Order, those on the Moon landing hoax, and HIV/AIDS denialists’ theories that HIV/AIDS is a government plot. He also has had shows about The Illuminati, the Bilderberg Group, vaccine conspiracy theories, and many more. Most shows are about a half hour and feature Mamer speaking on various topics rather than featuring expert guests on a regular basis.
The Geologic Podcast
Hosted by musician and comedian George Hrab, The Geologic Podcast features a monologue by Hrab, comedy sketches, and news about general developments in science and skepticism. Hrab doesn’t apply his skepticism merely to the paranormal or the pseudoscientific; he often turns a skeptical eye on religion with his regular humorous feature “Religious Moron of the Week.” This podcast is very funny, often containing adult humor. With episodes running about an hour in length on a weekly basis, this show is a favorite among skeptical podcast lovers.
The Infidel Guy Show
Started by trailblazer Reginald Finley in 1999, The Infidel Guy Show paved the way for Internet audio outreach about skepticism and related subjects. Most shows feature a listener call-in interview with an authority in a given field. While the majority of episodes focus on skepticism of religion and on atheism, many episodes have explored topics more central to the organized skeptical movement’s interests: psychics, ghosts, cryptozoology, and the like. Although listening to recent episodes is free, one must become a gold member ($8.50 monthly or $75 annually) to hear most of the episodes from over the last decade.
Logically Critical was “intended to encourage critical thinking in everyday situations without the hassle of checking facts at the library.” The podcast ceased production in late 2007, but all previous shows are still archived online and available for free. The show often focused on one theme per episode and featured the host speaking on the topic at hand. Skeptically themed episodes included shows on ghosts, ancient monsters, the power of suggestion, the Law of Attraction, and the best-selling New Age book The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. Each episode is about a half hour and still worth a listen.
Point of Inquiry
As the host of Point of Inquiry, the weekly podcast of the Center for Inquiry (of which the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry is a vital part), I often assume the role of “devil’s advocate” with my guests. The podcast was founded in late 2006, and almost two hundred episodes are available for free online as well as through iTunes and other podcatchers. While the program frequently focuses on topics in religion, ethics, philosophy, and public policy, it also concentrates on traditionally skeptical topics such as Bigfoot, ghosts, UFOs and alien abduction, pseudoarchaeology, psychic investigation, and alternative medicine in addition to a number of shows on conjuring and its relationship to skepticism. Each episode features a long-form interview with a leading thinker in science, skepticism, or philosophy, and most of the biggest names in the skeptical movement have appeared on the show, including Michael Shermer, James Randi, Joe Nickell, Ray Hyman, and Kendrick Frazer, as well as a number of Nobel Prize-winning scientists and other leading public intellectuals.
The podcast of the Young Australian Skeptics, Pseudo Scientists, has a pronounced fun and youthful vibe. The show begins with an often humorous short audio clip of some purveyor of pseudoscientific nonsense followed by a shout of “That’s Impossible!” It is hosted by Alastair Tait and features Jason Ball (a Center for Inquiry campus leader who recently spoke at CFI’s World Congress), Jack Scanlan, Jacqui Williams, Elliot Birch, and others. The podcast airs a couple times a month; each episode is over an hour in length and includes interviews, book reviews, and other segments, including witty banter among the hosts about skepticism and irrational trends in Australia and around the world.
Quackcast’s Web site declares it “A podcast review of Quacks, Frauds and Charlatans. Oops. That’s not right. That should be Supplements, Complementary and Alternative Medicine i.e. SCAM.” Generally running over an hour, each episode features a critical and skeptical exploration of alternative medicine topics, such as herbal remedies, chiropractic, homeopathy, traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, Reiki, therapeutic touch, the medical efficacy of prayer, and even questions like “can high doses of Vitamin C shorten the duration of the common cold?”
Reality Check Podcast
Considered a Canadian version of the Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe (see below), Reality Check Podcast is produced by the Ottawa Skeptics and features skeptical banter from some of the group’s members, including Jonathan Abrams and Xander Miller. The show focuses on various skeptical topics, such as the Moon landing hoax conspiracy theory, Bigfoot, various alternative medicine claims, pyramidology, and feng shui, and also features regular interviews of some of the leaders in the skeptical movement. Reality Check, like many of the other podcasts listed here, is a great example of what independent skeptical groups can accomplish even if they lack the resources of a national skeptical organization.
The Skeptic Zone
Sponsored by the organization Australia for Science and Reason, The Skeptic Zone is hosted by Richard Saunders. Each episode generally runs over an hour with multiple segments. Saunders frequently interviews luminaries of the skeptical movement, such as Joe Nickell, and engages in news reports and panel discussions with co-hosts Rachael Dunlop, Joanne Benhamu, and Eran Segev, among others. The Skeptic Zone shows how the new medium of podcasting allows for worldwide skeptical outreach with minimal investment relative to print publishing.
The skeptical movement owes a lot to “Derek and Swoopy,” hosts of the first skepticism podcast, which started in April 2005. Skepticality is now the official podcast of Michael Shermer’s Skeptical Society. In September 2005, Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer, mentioned Skepticality during his keynote address about the iTunes music store. On that same day, co-host Derek Colanduno suffered a brain aneurysm. As a result, no new shows were produced until August 2006, after he had recovered, and now episodes appear about twice a month. The shows average an hour and feature interviews with famous skeptics, such as James Randi, Ben Radford, and Joe Nickell, in addition to skeptical and science news and extemporaneous chitchat between the co-hosts.
The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe
One of the top skeptical podcasts on iTunes, The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe, is a one-hour weekly talk show produced by the New England Skeptical Society, in association with the James Randi Educational Foundation. It is hosted by Dr. Steven Novella, professor of neurology at Yale University, along with his two brothers, Bob and Jay Novella, Rebecca Watson (founder of skepchick.org), and Evan Bernstein. Each episode features many segments, including a guest interview and a segment called “Science or Fiction,” in addition to a lot of light and witty conversation. The show covers a broad range of skeptical topics but generally avoids applying skepticism to religious faith claims except during some of the satire and jokes, which are a popular component of the banter among the co-hosts.
Started in October 2006, Skeptoid is a “weekly pro-science, anti-pseudoscience podcast” hosted by Brian Dunning. Episodes average about ten minutes in length, and each features Dunning expounding on a topic of interest to skeptics, such as pseudoscientific products and consumer frauds, urban legends, alternative medicine, and conspiracy theories. His short episodes are well-researched, and when taken collectively, very comprehensive. Dunning’s podcast is a shining example of what one skeptical activist with a computer, a microphone, and an entrepreneurial spirit can accomplish for the skeptical movement.
Though hardly comprehensive, this list shows the array of skeptical audio that is available for your enjoyment on the Web and on your iPod or other MP3 player. Now more than ever, it is easier for you to share skepticism with those around you by turning them on to these podcasts.
D.J. Grothe is president of the James Randi Educational Foundation. He is also the former Vice President and Director of Outreach Programs for the Center for Inquiry and associate editor of Free Inquiry magazine. He hosted the weekly radio show and podcast Point of Inquiry, exploring the implications of the scientific outlook with leading thinkers.
The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI), formerly known as the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), is a program within the transnational American non-profit educational organization Center for Inquiry (CFI), which seeks to "promote scientific inquiry, critical investigation, and the use of reason in examining controversial and extraordinary claims."Paul Kurtz proposed the establishment of CSICOP in 1976 as an independent non-profit organization (before merging with CFI as one of its programs in 2015), 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 notable scientists, Nobel laureates, philosophers, psychologists, educators and authors. It is headquartered in Amherst, New York.
In the early 1970s, there was an upsurge of interest in the paranormal in the United States. This generated concern in some quarters[which?], where it was seen as part of a growing tide of irrationalism.[full citation needed] In 1975, secular humanist philosopher and professor Paul Kurtz had previously[when?] initiated a statement, "Objections to Astrology", which was co-written with Bart Bok and Lawrence E. Jerome, and endorsed by 186 scientists including 19 Nobel laureates and published in the American Humanist Association (AHA)'s newsletter The Humanist, of which Kurtz was then editor. 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 skeptical researchers as [he] could locate" to the 1976 conference with the aim of establishing a new organization dedicated to examining critically a wide range of paranormal claims. Among 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.
RSEP disbanded and its members, along with others such as Carl Sagan, Isaac Asimov, B.F. Skinner, and Philip J. Klass, joined Kurtz, Randi, Gardner and Hyman to formally found the Committee for Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP). Kurtz, Randi, Gardner and Hyman took seats on the executive board. CSICOP was officially launched at a specially convened conference of the AHA on April 30 and May 1, 1976. CSICOP would be funded with donations and sales of their magazine, Skeptical Inquirer.
The formal mission statement, approved in 2006 and still current, states:
The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry promotes science and scientific inquiry, critical thinking, science education, and the use of reason in examining important issues. It encourages the critical investigation of controversial or extraordinary claims from a responsible, scientific point of view and disseminates factual information about the results of such inquiries to the scientific community, the media, and the public.
A shorter version of the mission statement appears in every issue: "... promotes scientific inquiry, critical investigation, and the use of reason in examining controversial and extraordinary claims." A previous mission statement referred to "investigation of paranormal and fringe-science claims", but the 2006 change recognized and ratified a wider purview for CSI and its magazine, Skeptical Inquirer, that includes "new sciencerelated issues at the intersection of science and public concerns, while not ignoring [their] core topics". A history of the first two decades is available in The Encyclopedia of the Paranormal published in 1998 by S.I. editor Kendrick Frazier.
Paul Kurtz was inspired by the 1949 Belgian organization Comité Para, whose full name was Comité Belge pour l'Investigation Scientifique des Phénomènes Réputés Paranormaux ("Belgian Committee for Scientific Investigation of Purported Paranormal Phenomena"). In 1976, the proposed name was "Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal and Other Phenomena" which was shortened to "Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal." The initial acronym, "CSICP" was difficult to pronounce and so was changed to "CSICOP." According to James Alcock, it was never intended to be "Psi Cop", a nickname that some of the group's detractors adopted.
In November 2006, CSICOP further shortened its name to "Committee for Skeptical Inquiry" (CSI), pronounced C-S-I. The reasons for the change were to create a name that was shorter, more "media-friendly", to remove "paranormal" from the name, and to reflect more accurately the actual scope of the organization with its broader focus on critical thinking, science, and rationality in general, and because "it includes the root words of our magazine's title, the Skeptical Inquirer".
According to CSI's charter, 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".
An axiom often repeated among CSI members is the quote "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence", which Carl Sagan made famous and adapted from an earlier quote by Marcello Truzzi: "An extraordinary claim requires extraordinary proof". (Truzzi in turn traced the idea back through the Principle of Laplace to the philosopher David Hume.)
According to CSI member Martin Gardner, CSI regularly puts into practice H. L. Mencken's maxim "one horse-laugh is worth a thousand syllogisms."
CSI publishes the magazine Skeptical Inquirer, which was founded by Truzzi, under the name The Zetetic and retitled after a few months under the editorship of Kendrick Frazier, former editor of Science News. Cecil Adams of The Straight Dope calls Skeptical Inquirer "one of the nation's leading antifruitcake journals". In addition, it publishes Skeptical Briefs, a quarterly newsletter published for associate members.
CSI conducts and publishes investigations into Bigfoot and UFO sightings, psychics, astrologers, alternative medicine, religious cults, and paranormal or pseudoscientific claims.
Main article: CSICon
CSICOP has held dozens of conferences between 1983 and 2005, two of them in Europe, and all six World Skeptics Congresses so far were sponsored by it. Since 2011, the conference is known as CSICon. Two conventions have been held in conjunction with its sister and parent organizations, CSH and CFI, in 2013 and 2015. The conferences bring together some of the most prominent figures in scientific research, science communication and skeptical activism, to exchange information on all topics of common concern and to strengthen the movement and community of skeptics.
CSI has also supported local grassroot efforts, such as SkeptiCamp community-organized conferences.
Response to mass media
Many CSI activities are oriented towards the media. As CSI's former executive director Lee Nisbet wrote in the 25th-anniversary issue of the group's journal, Skeptical Inquirer:
CSICOP originated in the spring of 1976 to fight mass-media exploitation of supposedly "occult" and "paranormal" phenomena. The strategy was twofold: First, to strengthen the hand of skeptics in the media by providing information that "debunked" paranormal wonders. Second, to serve as a "media-watchdog" group which would direct public and media attention to egregious media exploitation of the supposed paranormal wonders. An underlying principle of action was to use the mainline media's thirst for public-attracting controversies to keep our activities in the media, hence public eye.
Involvement with mass media continues to the present day[when?] with, for example, CSI founding the Council for Media Integrity in 1996, and co-producing a TV documentary series Critical Eye hosted by William B. Davis. CSI members can be seen regularly in the mainstream media offering their perspective on a variety of paranormal claims. In 1999 Joe Nickell was appointed special consultant on a number of investigative documentaries for the BBC. As a media-watchdog, CSI has "mobilized thousands of scientists, academics and responsible communicators" to criticize what it regards as "media's most blatant excesses." Criticism has focused on factual TV programming or newspaper articles offering support for paranormal claims, and programs such as The X-Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which its members believe portray skeptics and science in a bad light and help to promote belief in the paranormal. CSI's website currently[when?] lists the email addresses of over ninety U.S. media organizations and encourages visitors to "directly influence" the media by contacting "the networks, the TV shows and the editors responsible for the way [they portray] the world."
Following pseudoscientific and paranormal belief trends
CSI was quoted to consider pseudoscience topics to include yogic flying, therapeutic touch, astrology, fire walking, voodoo, magical thinking, Uri Geller, alternative medicine, channeling, psychic hotlines and detectives, near-death experiences, unidentified flying objects (UFOs), the Bermuda Triangle, homeopathy, faith healing, and reincarnation. CSI changes its focus with the changing popularity and prominence of what it considers to be pseudoscientific and paranormal belief. For example, as promoters of intelligent design increased their efforts to include it in school curricula in recent years, CSI stepped up its attention to the subject, creating an "Intelligent Design Watch" website publishing numerous articles on evolution and intelligent design in Skeptical Inquirer and on the Internet.
Health and safety
CSI is concerned with paranormal or pseudoscientific claims that may endanger people's health or safety, such as the use of alternative medicine in place of science-based healthcare. Investigations by CSI and others, including consumer watchdog groups, law enforcement and government regulatory agencies, have shown that the sale of alternative medicines, paranormal paraphernalia, or pseudoscience-based products can be enormously profitable. CSI says this profitability has provided various pro-paranormal groups large resources for advertising, lobbying efforts, and other forms of advocacy, to the detriment of public health and safety.
the Center for Inquiry is the transnational non-profit umbrella organization comprising CSI, the Council for Secular Humanism, the Center for Inquiry - On Campus national youth group and the Commission for Scientific Medicine and Mental Health. These organizations share headquarters and some staff, and each have their own list of fellows and their distinct mandates. CSI generally addresses questions of religion only in cases in which testable scientific assertions have been made (such as weeping statues or faith healing).
Independent Investigation Group
The Center for Inquiry West, located in Hollywood, California Executive Director Jim Underdown founded the Independent Investigations Group (IIG), a volunteer-based organization in January 2000. The IIG investigates fringe science, paranormal and extraordinary claims from a rational, scientific viewpoint and disseminates factual information about such inquiries to the public. IIG has offered a $50,000 prize "to anyone who can show, under proper observing conditions, evidence of any paranormal, supernatural, or occult power or event", to which 7 people applied from 2009-2012.
In Praise of Reason Award
"The In Praise of Reason Award is given in recognition of distinguished contributions in the use of critical inquiry, scientific evidence, and reason in evaluating claims to knowledge." This is the highest award presented by CSI and is often presented at the CSIcon conferences.
|1982||Martin Gardner||Awarded in Atlanta, GA "'In honor of his heroic efforts in defense of reason and the dignity of the skeptical attitude.'"|
|1984||Sidney Hook||Presented at Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA by CSICOP Chairman Paul Kurtz.|
|1985||Antony Flew||Awarded in London by Paul Kurtz, "'[I]n recognition of his long-standing contributions to the use of methods of critical inquiry, scientific evidence, and reason in evaluating claims to knowledge and solving social problems."|
|1986||Stephen Jay Gould||Presented at the University of Colorado, Boulder "'In recognition of his long-standing contributions to the use of the methods of critical inquiry, scientific evidence, and reason in evaluating claims to knowledge and solving social problems'".|
|1987||Carl Sagan||Pasadena, CA CSICOP awards banquet|
|1988||Douglas Hofstadter||Presented at the Chicago CSICOP conference|
|1990||Cornelis de Jager||Presented at the Brussels 1990 CSICOP conference|
|1990||Gerard Piel||Awarded at the Washington D. C. conference March 30-April 1.|
|1991||Donald Johanson||Awarded at the 15th Anniversary of CSICOP in Berkeley, CA|
|1992||Richard Dawkins||Presented at the CSICOP Dallas, TX Convention|
|1994||Elizabeth Loftus||Awarded at the CSI Seattle Conference June 23–26 "For her research in memory and eyewitness testimony."|
|1996||Leon Lederman||Awarded at the First World Congress in Amherst, NY, presented by Cornelis de Jager|
|2000||Lin Zixin||Lin Zixin was awarded in absentia.|
|2001||Kendrick Frazier||Awarded at the first Center for Inquiry International Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. Frazier "spoke of his feelings... 'I am more a toiler in the editorial fields than an inhabitant of the lofty spires of academia, so that makes me all the more appreciative".|
|2002||Marvin Minsky||Awarded at the Fourth World Skeptics Conference (June 2002) in Burbank, California.|
|2003||Ray Hyman||Presented at the Albuquerque conference by friend James Alcock. "Ray Hyman, from whom I-and I am sure all of us-continue to learn so much."|
|2004||James Alcock||Presented at the Center for Inquiry - Transnational Conference in Toronto, Canada. Vern Bullough presented Alcock with the award. Alcock stated that many scientists do not care about pseudoscience as they don't see it as a threat on science, but he reminds the audience that "fundamentalist religious viewpoints" and "alternative medicine" are "very real threats".|
|2009||James Randi||Presented at the 12th World Congress in Maryland. Paul Kurtz presented the award saying '“Your greatest quality is that you are an educator, a teacher. You have shown that the easiest people to deceive are PhDs, a great insight to all of us. You expose myths and hoaxes.... You stand out in history.”'|
|2011||Bill Nye||Presented at CSIcon New Orleans conference. Eugenie Scott stated "If you think Bill is popular among skeptics, you should attend a science teacher conference where he is speaking" it is standing room only. She continues by saying that no one has more fun as Nye when he is "demonstrating, principles of science."|
Founded at the 1996 World Skeptics Congress in Buffalo, NY, the Council for Media Integrity gives these awards that were named in inspiration by Carl Sagan's book, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark. The Council is made up of by scientists, media and academics, all concerned with the "balanced portrayal of science". The Candle in the Dark Award is presented to those who show "outstanding contributions to the public's understanding of science and scientific principles" and to "reward sound science television programming". The Snuffed Candle Award is awarded to those "for encouraging credulity, presenting pseudoscience as genuine, and contributing to the public's lack of understand of the methods of scientific inquiry." The Council urges TV "producers to label documentary-type shows depicting the paranormal as either entertainment or fiction". The council also provides the media with contact information of experts that would be willing and able to answer questions and be interviewed for paranormal topics.
|1997||Bill Nye and Dan Aykroyd||Nye received the Candle in the Dark Award for his "lively, creative... endeavor". Aykroyd "was presented in absentia the Snuffed Candle Award for hosting Psi Factor and being a "long-time promoter ... of paranormal claims" Following the awards, Joe Nickell wrote to Aykroyd asking for the research behind the "cases" presented on Psi Factor. Particularly a claim that NASA scientists were "killed while investigating a meteor crash and giant eggs were found and incubated, yielding a flea the size of a hog".|
|1998||Scientific American Frontiers and Art Bell||Hosted by Alan Alda SAF's episode "Beyond Science" was singled out by the Council for Media Integrity for its examination of the paranormal. Art Bell was recognized by the Council for "perpetuating conspiracy myths... and mystery mongering". When Bell learned of the award he replied "A mind should not be so open that the brains fall out, however it should not be so closed that whatever gray matter which does reside may not be reached. On behalf of those with the smallest remaining open aperture, I accept with honor."|
|2003||Edgar Sanchez reporter for the Sacramento Bee and Larry King||Awarded at the Albuquerque, New Mexico Conference. Sanchez received the Candle in the Dark award for his column "Scam Alert" where he has written about Nigerian scams, car-mileage fraud and phony police detectives. King received the Snuffed Candle award for '"encouraging credulity, presenting pseudoscience as genuine'".|
Robert P. Balles Prize
CSI awards the Robert P. Balles Annual Prize in Critical Thinking annually. The $2,500 award is given to the "creator of the published work that best exemplifies healthy skepticism, logical analysis, or empirical science". Robert P. Balles established this permanent endowment fund through a Memorial Fund. Center for Inquiry's "established criteria for the prize include use of the most parsimonious theory to fit data or to explain apparently preternatural phenomena."
|2005||Andrew Skolnick, Ray Hyman and Joe Nickell||The Girl with X-ray Eyes||Shared the first award for their 2005 reports on CSICOP's testing of Natasha Demkina, a girl who claimed to have X-ray eyes.|
|2006||Ben Goldacre||For his column in The Guardian U.K. newspaper, Bad Science||Columns include "Dyslexia 'cure' fails to pass the tests", "Bring me a God helmet, and bring it now", "Kick the habit with wacky wave energy", "Brain Gym exercises do pupils no favors" and "Magnetic attraction? Shhhh. It's a secret"|
|2007||Natalie Angier||The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science||"[S}he thoughtfully explores what it means to think scientifically and the benefits of extending the scientific ethos to all areas of human life."|
|2008||Leonard Mlodinow||The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules our Lives|
|2009||Michael Specter||Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives|
|2010||Steven Novella||Body of work including The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe podcast, Science-Based Medicine, Neurologica, Skepticial Inquirer column The Science of Medicine and the "tireless travel and lecture schedule on behalf of skepticism"||'“The truly most amazing thing is he does this all on a volunteer basis.”' According to Barry Karr "'You may be the hardest worker in all of skepticism'"|
|2011||Richard Wiseman||Paranormality: Why We See What Isn’t There||"Wiseman is not simply interested in looking at a claim... He is interested in showing us how easy it is for us to be deceived and how easily we can be fooled and fool others."|
|2012||Steven Salzberg and Joe Nickell||Salzberg's column for Forbes magazine, Fighting Pseudoscience and Nickell's book The Science of Ghosts - Searching for Spirits of the Dead||"Salzberg regularly shines the light of reason on the false or dubious claims ... with a clear and accessible voice, and with a healthy dose of humor." And "Accessibility and humor, along with unmatched rigor and curiosity, are what famed Joe Nickell, ... has been bringing to his work for decades."|
|2013||Paul Offit||Do You Believe in Magic? The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine||"Offit is a literal lifesaver... educates the public about the dangers of alternative medicine, may save many, many more."|
|2014||Joseph Schwarcz and to the creators, producers, and writers of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey||Is That a Fact? and Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey||"Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey opened the eyes of a new generation to humanity’s triumphs, its mistakes, and its astounding potential to reach unimagined heights.... Is That a Fact? unflinchingly takes on all manner of popular misinformation."|
|2015||Julia Belluz||Vox.com||"We need more people in the media doing what Julia Bellux does... "|
|2016||Maria Konnikova||The Confidence Game||"The Confidence Game could not have come at a more crucial time, as the general public is overwhelmed day in and day out by attempts to play on their biases and prejudices[.]”|
Responsibility in Journalism Award
CSICOP seeking to acknowledge and encourage "fair and balanced reporting of paranormal claims" established the Responsibility in Journalism Award in 1984. Frazier stated that "There are many responsible reporters who want to do a good job in covering these kinds of controversial, exotic topics." Beginning in 1991, CSI began awarding in two categories, "print" and "broadcast".
|1984||Leon Jaroff and Davyd Yost||Jaroff as managing editor of Discover magazine established the Skeptical Eye column. Yost of the Columbus, Ohio Citizen Journal specifically for a story about a poltergeist.||Frazier said of Yost "In the mold of careful, responsible journalism... [he made] a special effort to get outside expert opinion". Philip Klass stated that Jaroff has "'political courage'" for his column that offers "useful perspectives... of claims of the paranormal".|
|1986||Boyce Rensberger and Ward Lucas||Rensberger, science reporter for Washington Post and Ward "anchor and investigative reporter KUSA-TV Channel 9 Denver"||Presented at the University of Colorado, Boulder, "'In recognition of contributions to fair and balanced reporting of paranormal claims'".|
|1987||Lee Dembart, Ed Busch, and Michael Willesee||Dembart from Los Angeles Times, Willesee, Australian journalist and Busch, Texas radio talk-show host||Presented at Pasadena CSICOP award banquet.|
|1988||C. Eugene Emery, Jr. and Milton Rosenberg||Emery is a science and medical reporter for the Providence Journal and a contributor to SI. Rosenberg is the host of Extension 720 a program on WGN-Radio in Chicago||Presented at the Chicago CSICOP conference Emery researched claims of faith-healer Ralph A. DiOrio and wrote about the results in his journal.|
|1990||Stephen Doig||Science Editor for the Miami Herald||Awarded at the Washington D. C. conference March 30-April 1st.|
|1991||Keay Davidson||Science editor for the San Francisco Examiner With co-writer Janet L. Hopson who were both recognized for their work into the investigation of the claims of Koko the talking ape.||Print Category - Awarded at the 15th Anniversary of CSICOP in Berkeley, CA|
|1991||Mark Curtis||Reporter for WEAR-TV Channel 3, Pensacola, Florida||Investigation into the Gulf Breeze UFO incident exposing trick photography. Awarded at the 15th Anniversary of CSICOP in Berkeley, CA|
|1992||Andrew Skolnick||Associate editor of Medical News & Perspectives for the Journal of the American Medical Association||Presented at the CSICOP Dallas, TX Convention|
|1992||Henry Gordon||Columnist, magician and author||Presented at the CSICOP Dallas, TX Convention|
|1994||Jack Smith||Columnist with the Los Angeles Times||Awarded at the CSI Seattle Conference June 23–26|
|1996||Phillip Adams, Piero Angela and Pierre Berton||Presented at the First World Congress in Buffalo, NY the 20th Anniversary of CSICOP.|
Frontiers of Science and Technology Award
|1986||Paul MacCready||AeroVironment||Presented at the University of Colorado, Boulder "'In recognition of his innovative and creative contributions to technology and his outstanding defense of critical thinking'".|
|1987||Murray Gell-Mann||Presented at Pasadena CSICOP award banquet.|
Public Education in Science Award
In recognition of distinguished contributions to the testing of scientific principles and to the public understanding of science.
Distinguished Skeptic Award
|1990||Henri Broch||Awarded for "his pioneer work with Minitel and making scientific critiques of the paranormal available to a wider audience in France. Presented at the Brussels 1990 CSICOP conference.|
|1991||Susan Blackmore||Awarded at the 15th Anniversary of CSICOP in Berkeley, CA|
|1992||Evry Schatzman||Presented at the CSICOP Dallas, TX Convention|
|1994||Philip Klass||Awarded at the CSI Seattle Conference June 23–26|
|1996||James Randi||Presented at the First World Congress in Buffalo, NY the 20th Anniversary of CSICOP.|
|1998||Amardeo Sarma||Presented at the Second World Congress|
|2000||Barry Williams, Joe Nickell||Presented at the Third World Congress held in Sydney, Australia. Williams was recognized for his "yeoman service to organized skepticism".|
|2001||Harlan Ellison||Presented at the Fourth World Skeptics Conference in Burbank, CA.|
|2002||Marcia Angell||(citation needed)|
|2003||Jan Harold Brunvand||Presented at the Albuquerque, New Mexico Conference|
Presented to founder and chairman of CSICOP, Paul Kurtz "'In recognition of your wisdom, courage, and foresight in establishing and leading the world's first public education organization devoted to distinguishing science from pseudoscience'". Award was given April 26, 1986 at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
The Martin Gardner Lifetime Achievement Award
Awarded to author and entertainer Steve Allen at the First World Skeptic Congress held in Buffalo, NY 1996. Allen was recognized for his lifetime achievement "in cultivating the public appreciation of critical thinking and science".
The Isaac Asimov Award
Established to acknowledge the contributions to humanity and science by Isaac Asimov. This award is given to those who has "shown outstanding commitment and ability in communicating the achievements, methods, and issues of science to the public".
|1994||Carl Sagan||Janet Asimov when informed that Carl Sagan would be the first recipient of the Isaac Asimov Award, "There is no one better qualified... than his good friend and colleague Carl Sagan. Isaac was particularly fond of Carl. He was also in awe of Carl's genius, and proud that he was so adept at communicating science to the public... thank you for remembering my beloved husband in this way."|
|1995||Steven J. Gould||Presented at the First World Congress in Buffalo, NY the 20th Anniversary of CSICOP|
The Pantheon of Skeptics
In April 2011, the executive council of CSI created The Pantheon of Skeptics, a special roster honoring deceased fellows of the Committee who have made the most outstanding contributions to the causes of science and skepticism. This roster is part of an ongoing effort to provide a sense of history about the modern skeptical movement.
|The Pantheon of Skeptics|
|George O. Abell||astronomer and popularizer of science|
|Steve Allen||entertainer, author, critic|
|Jerry Andrus||magician and writer|
|Isaac Asimov||biochemist and author of science and science fiction|
|Robert A. Baker||psychologist|
|T. X. Barber||psychologist|
|Bart J. Bok||astronomer|
|Milbourne Christopher||magician and writer|
|Francis H. Crick||Nobel laureate molecular biologist|
|L. Sprague de Camp||science fiction author and skeptic|
|Martin Gardner||columnist and popularizer of mathematics and science|
|Stephen Jay Gould||evolutionary biologist, and historian of science|
|D. O. Hebb||neuropsychologist|
|Leon Jaroff||science writer and editor|
|Philip J. Klass||engineer, journalist, and UFO skeptic|
|Paul Kurtz||philosopher, skeptic and prominent secular humanist|
|Paul MacCready||scientist, engineer, inventor|
|John Maddox||biologist and science writer|
|William V. Mayer||biologist|
|Walter McCrone||microscopist and expert in forensic science|
|Ernest Nagel||philosopher of science|
|W. V. Quine||philosopher and logician|
|Carl Sagan||astronomer and science popularizer|
|Wallace Sampson||professor of clinical medicine, alternative medicine skeptic|
|Glenn T. Seaborg||Nobel laureate in chemistry|
|B. F. Skinner||psychologist|
|Victor Stenger||particle physicist and philosopher|
|Stephen Toulmin||philosopher, author, and ethicist|
List of CSI fellows (past and present)
The inside front cover of each issue of the Skeptical Inquirer lists the CSI fellows. (* denotes the Fellow is a member of the Executive Council)