Not content with hogging the pages of Fortean Times recently, our own Michael Glickman finds his name being further blackened in the pages of The Skeptic magazine. Meanwhile, US sceptics find a new fervour…
The Skeptic is, would you believe, a journal for sceptics, issued twice-yearly to reassure the unfaithful that there is nothing remotely odd or spiritual about our world and that all paranormal-believing freaks are merely there to be laughed at.
Last year’s much-publicised spat between ‘human circlemaker’ Matthew Williams and Michael Glickman, which culminated in Williams receiving a, er, hefty £100 fine in court, is reported with glee in their latest issue (vol. 14, no.1). Misrepresenting Glickers seems to have become a national pastime, and this report joins in with gusto, with the usual woolly accusations that he said this, that or the other wasn’t possible for humans to make, etc, when in fact he didn’t, but what the hell.
The Skeptic, scoffing at Glickers’s belief in the numerological importance of the number 29, backs Williams, as it “salutes” the rightness of his claims not being taken seriously by Glickman because “there can surely be no greater compliment than to be disbelieved on this scale”…
Meanwhile, the US-based fundamentalist sceptic group ‘CSICOP’ (Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal), which has been accused of being associated with various crop circle debunks before now and boasts pleasant characters like James Randi amongst its members, has decided that enough is enough and that it’s time to stamp out once and for all any of this paranormal or ‘fringe science’ rubbish. Their solution seems to be to buy into media shares so that they can directly influence the content of television… The following, rather frightening, statement appeared recently on their web site. (We’ve left it unedited, so you can see their wonderful spelling and punctuation and at least take heart that they’re not quite so clever as they think they are):
“CSICOP is pleased to announce that it has purchased additional shares of Viacom "A" class or voting class stock as part of it's Council For Media Integrity Stock Fund. Viacom is the parent company of the CBS Network.
In its latest effort in the battle against fringe-science TV, the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) and it's "media watch-dog" arm, the Council for Media Integrity (CMI), established the "Media Stock Fund." Aimed at providing leverage for CSICOP's response to the television industries lucrative commercial marketing of fringe science and psuedoscience, CMI is asking friends and supporters to help it aquire common stock in media conglomerate companies. The Media Stock Fund will allow CSICOP and the CMI to take part in shareholder meetings, where it can question the increasing infatuation with the paranormal in television programming.
"We are deliberately targeting each of the major television networks and well-known media conglomerates - Viacom (CBS), General Electric (NBC), NewsCorp (Fox), AOL/Time Warner (WB, Turner Broadcasting, CNN), and Disney (ABC)," says Paul Kurtz, chairman of CSICOP. "The media have now virtually replaced the schools, colleges, and universities as the main source of information for the general public. The irresponsability of the media in the area of science and the paranormal is a world wide problem. But it especially applies to the United States, where the media have been distorting science and, in particular, presenting psuedoscience as genuine science. Indeed, we are appalled by the number of 'documentaries,' which are really entertainment programs, presenting fringe science as real science."
The practice of organizing shareholder response within a company is common among advocacy groups that seek socially responsable corporate conduct through shareholder-passed resolutions. As a share-holder, CSICOP and the CMI will have opportunities to attend shareholder meetings, submit viewpoints to shareholder publications, and sponsor shareholder resolutions. While exercising these and other rights, CSICOP will be representing a broad, international constituency who support the critical investigation of the paranormal and fringe-science claims from a responsible, scientific viewpoint to the public at large. "In the future we hope the fund will allow us to make shareholder meetings into accountablility sessions for the media giants when they package superstition and psuedoscience as fact," Kurtz said.
"We realize that the media are being attacked from all sides, but we think that a plea for raising the level of understanding of science should be heard."
Should you want to scare yourself some more, the original statement appears at: