WHAT IS THE COMMITTEE FOR SKEPTICAL INQUIRY?

Who They Are

The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry is concerned with science, with scientific investigation of unusual, unexplained or controversial phenomena or ideas. The organization used to be called the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP). This organization was established in 1976 and has headquarters in Amherst, New York. It was a non-profit until 2015 and falls under the auspices of the Center for Inquiry.

Their Goal

The goal is to use scientific methods to further explore and investigate claims that are made, and then to disseminate this information to the public. The committee publishes a periodical called the Skeptical Inquirer in which they publish articles on their findings. The periodical is available in print and digital form. There are subscription fees that have to be paid to obtain access to the articles. The committee is concerned with performing critical assessment of claims that are made, some of which are in the paranormal realm.

They do include articles on such topics as psychics and other paranormal phenomena. They aim to evaluate claims without outright rejecting them. So-called fringe science is also investigated, and the committee also evaluates claims on areas of great importance to people, such as the effectiveness of drugs developed for medical purposes.

Famous Members

40 Years of Skeptical Inquirer

Founding members of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry included such notable people as Isaac Asimov and Carl Sagan. The committee also creates and produces news articles which focus on current opinions and views on science. This has included the influence of politics on science and included such controversial topics as creationism, stem cells, and “fake news”. The news in the Inquirer is generally on a topic or opinion that is being discussed in the mainstream media and the country at that time. Not only does the committee publish news articles every so often but they also hold conferences which are called CSICon.

Their Mission

Much of the committee’s concern is around the influence of mass media on the population, and the impact of media in swaying the public’s perceptions, opinions and beliefs. Over the years, the influence of mass media has become more noticeable, and thus the committee decided to establish the Council for Media Integrity in 1996.

The committee has itself used the media to offer another viewpoint on many claims and they have offered evidence to counter such shows as the X-files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which both focus on the paranormal and occult. The committee is concerned that the general public views such science fiction as being real or possibly being real, so as a result the committee provide a critical view of what is put out in the entertainment industry, in terms of plausibility and scientific evidence.

The committee tends to watch for and follow the most recent trends in society, for example when there was debate over teaching intelligent design in school curricula, they became involved and published works about intelligent design, evolution and creationism. Their idea is to offer another view, to be the skeptic and to evaluate claims from any unsubstantiated areas, such as astrology, reincarnation, voodoo, channeling and many more.