Marcello Truzzi (September 6, 1935 – February 2, 2003) was a professor of sociology at New College of Florida and later at Eastern Michigan University, founding co-chairman of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), a founder of the Society for Scientific Exploration, and director for the Center for Scientific Anomalies Research.
Truzzi was an investigator of various protosciences and pseudosciences and, as fellow CSICOP cofounder Paul Kurtz dubbed him "the skeptic's skeptic". He is credited with originating the oft-used phrase "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof", though earlier versions existed.
|Born||September 6, 1935|
|Died||February 2, 2003 (aged 67)|
|Occupation||Professor of Sociology|
|Employer||Eastern Michigan University|
Zetetic Scholar (journal)
International Remote Viewing Association (advisor)
Truzzi was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, and was the only child of juggler Massimiliano Truzzi and his wife Sonya. His family moved to the United States in 1940 where his father performed with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Truzzi served in the United States Army between 1958 and 1960; he became a naturalized citizen in 1961.
Truzzi founded the skeptical journal Explorations and was a founding member of the skeptic organization CSICOP as its co-chairman with Paul Kurtz. Truzzi's journal became the official journal of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) and was renamed The Zetetic ("zetetic" is another name for "skeptic" and is not to be confused with zetetics, the study of the relationship of art and science). The journal remained under his editorship. He left CSICOP about a year after its founding, after receiving a vote of no confidence from the group's Executive Council. Truzzi wanted to include pro-paranormal people in the organization and pro-paranormal research in the journal, but CSICOP felt that there were already enough organizations and journals dedicated to the paranormal. Kendrick Frazier became the editor of CSICOP's journal and the name was changed to Skeptical Inquirer.
After leaving CSICOP, Truzzi started another journal, the Zetetic Scholar. He promoted the term "zeteticism" as an alternative to "skepticism", because he thought that the latter term was being usurped by what he termed "pseudoskeptics". A zetetic is a "skeptical seeker". The term's origins lie in the word for the followers of the skeptic Pyrrho in ancient Greece. Skeptic's Dictionary memorialized Truzzi thus:
Truzzi considered most skeptics to be pseudoskeptics, a term he coined to describe those who assume an occult or paranormal claim is false without bothering to investigate it. A kind way to state these differences might be to say that Marcello belonged to the Pyrrhonian tradition, most of the rest of us belong to the Academic skeptical tradition.
Truzzi was skeptical of investigators and debunkers who determined the validity of a claim prior to investigation. He accused CSICOP of increasingly unscientific behavior, for which he coined the term pseudoskepticism. Truzzi stated:
They tend to block honest inquiry, in my opinion. Most of them are not agnostic toward claims of the paranormal; they are out to knock them. [...] When an experiment of the paranormal meets their requirements, then they move the goal posts. Then, if the experiment is reputable, they say it's a mere anomaly.
Truzzi held that CSICOP researchers sometimes also put unreasonable limits on the standards for proof regarding the study of anomalies and the paranormal. Martin Gardner writes: "In recent years he (Truzzi) has become a personal friend of Uri Geller; not that he believes Uri has psychic powers, as I understand it, but he admires Uri for having made a fortune by pretending he is not a magician."
Truzzi co-authored a book on psychic detectives entitled The Blue Sense: Psychic Detectives and Crime. It investigated many psychic detectives and concluded: "[W]e unearthed new evidence supporting both sides in the controversy. We hope to have shown that much of the debate has been extremely simplistic." The book also stated that the evidence didn't meet the burden of proof demanded for such an extraordinary claim.
Although he was very familiar with folie à deux, Truzzi was very confident a shared visual hallucination could not be skeptically examined by one of the participators. Thus he categorized it as an anomaly. In a 1982 interview Truzzi stated that controlled ESP (ganzfeld) experiments have "gotten the right results" maybe 60 percent of the time. This question remains controversial. Truzzi remained an advisor to IRVA, the International Remote Viewing Association, from its founding meeting until his death.
Truzzi was Keynote Speaker at the 1st annual National Roller Coaster Conference, "CoasterMania", held at Cedar Point Amusement Park, Sandusky, Ohio - 1978. On the subject of riding in the front vs riding in the back of a roller coaster, he said:
The front of the roller coaster is really less stressful than the back part of the roller coaster. The first time you're worried about a roller coaster, you might be better off riding in the front, because you're not at the tail end of the whip. The average fellow getting on a roller coaster (thinks), "Oh boy, the most dangerous place must be the front, because you're right there, nobody in front of you to tell you how to act, and so on; it must be the worst place, so I'm going to get in the 'safe' part in the back." Because that's what we do: we get in the back of busses, we get in the back of planes, and so on. We figure that’s the safe part. Well, there's a certain irony here, because the guy who says, "I'm gonna prove how macho I am, I'm gonna to really conquer my fear, I'm gonna get in the toughest place", and he gets in front. When he finishes the ride, he must feel like, "Gee, it wasn't so bad, after all." Whereas that poor milquetoast fellow who gets in the back, he's probably never going to ride again. So one of the things you might predict is that people who ride in the front of roller coasters are more likely to ride again. People who ride in the back for the first time are less likely to bother to go on it again.
Truzzi died from cancer on February 2, 2003.
While a Professor of Sociology at Eastern Michigan University in 1987, Truzzi discussed pseudoskepticism in the journal Zetetic Scholar which he had founded:
In science, the burden of proof falls upon the claimant; and the more extraordinary a claim, the heavier is the burden of proof demanded. The true skeptic takes an agnostic position, one that says the claim is not proved rather than disproved. He asserts that the claimant has not borne the burden of proof and that science must continue to build its cognitive map of reality without incorporating the extraordinary claim as a new "fact". Since the true skeptic does not assert a claim, he has no burden to prove anything. He just goes on using the established theories of "conventional science" as usual. But if a critic asserts that there is evidence for disproof, that he has a negative hypothesis—saying, for instance, that a seeming psi result was actually due to an artifact—he is making a claim and therefore also has to bear a burden of proof.— Marcello Truzzi, On Pseudo-Skepticism, Zetetic Scholar, 12/13, pp3-4, 1987
The term has found occasional use in fringe fields where opposition from those within the scientific mainstream or from scientific skeptics is strong. In 1994 Susan Blackmore, a parapsychologist who became more skeptical and eventually became a CSICOP fellow in 1991, described what she termed the "worst kind of pseudoskepticism":
There are some members of the skeptics' groups who clearly believe they know the right answer prior to inquiry. They appear not to be interested in weighing alternatives, investigating strange claims, or trying out psychic experiences or altered states for themselves (heaven forbid!), but only in promoting their own particular belief structure and cohesion...I have to say it—most of these people are men. Indeed, I have not met a single woman of this type.
An extraordinary claim requires extraordinary proof.— Marcello Truzzi, "On the Extraordinary: An Attempt at Clarification", Zetetic Scholar, Vol. 1, No. 1, p. 11, 1978
In 2017, World Scientific released a book edited by Dana Richards about the correspondence between Martin Gardner and Truzzi. The book called Dear Martin, Dear Marcello: Gardner and Truzzi on Skepticism is broken up into four sections; "The Road to CSICOP", "The Demarcation Problem", "The Dissolution", and the "Return to Cordiality". The early letters from Truzzi were not preserved and the beginning of the book seems one-sided with only Gardner's letters. The editor, Richards states in the introduction the conflicts between the two men, their differing goals for CSICOP, and various people in the skeptic and paranormal communities. They discuss many topics including publishers, Geller, and the "definitions of charlatan and crankpot".
Anomalistics is the use of scientific methods to evaluate anomalies (phenomena that fall outside current understanding), with the aim of finding a rational explanation. The term itself was coined in 1973 by Drew University anthropologist Roger W. Wescott, who defined it as being the "serious and systematic study of all phenomena that fail to fit the picture of reality provided for us by common sense or by the established sciences."Wescott credited journalist and researcher Charles Fort as being the creator of anomalistics as a field of research, and he named biologist Ivan T. Sanderson and Sourcebook Project compiler William R. Corliss as being instrumental in expanding anomalistics to introduce a more conventional perspective into the field.Henry Bauer, emeritus professor of science studies at Virginia Tech, writes that anomalistics is "a politically correct term for the study of bizarre claims", while David J. Hess of the Department of Science and Technology Studies at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute describes it as being "the scientific study of anomalies defined as claims of phenomena not generally accepted by the bulk of the scientific community."Anomalistics covers several sub-disciplines, including ufology, cryptozoology, and parapsychology. Researchers involved in the field have included ufologist J. Allen Hynek and cryptozoologist Bernard Heuvelmans, and parapsychologist John Hayes.Committee for Skeptical Inquiry
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.Deaths in February 2003
The following is a list of notable deaths in February 2003.
Entries for each day are listed alphabetically by surname. A typical entry lists information in the following sequence:
Name, age, country of citizenship at birth, subsequent country of citizenship (if applicable), reason for notability, cause of death (if known), and reference.Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience
The Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience: From Alien Abductions to Zone Therapy (2000), edited by William F. Williams, "identifies, defines and explains terms and concepts related to the world of "almost science". It includes over 2000 entries, covering phenomena, people, events, topics, places and associations.Governorship of Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan was the Governor of California for two terms, the first beginning in 1967 and the second in 1971. He left office in 1975, declining to run for a third term. Robert Finch, Edwin Reinecke, and John L. Harmer served as lieutenant governors over the course of his governorship.Helen A. Berger
Helen A. Berger is an American sociologist known for her studies of the Pagan community in the United States.Ingo Swann
Ingo Douglas Swann (14 September 1933, Telluride, Colorado – 31 January 2013, New York City) was a claimed psychic, artist, and author known for being the co-creator, along with Russell Targ and Harold E. Puthoff, of remote viewing, and specifically the Stargate Project.Joseph Rinn
Joseph Francis Rinn (1868–1962) was an American magician and skeptic of paranormal phenomena.List of scientific skeptics
This is a list of notable people that promote or practice scientific skepticism. In general, they favor science and are opposed to pseudoscience and quackery. They are generally skeptical of parapsychology, the paranormal, and alternative medicine.
James Alcock, psychologist. Author of several skeptical books and articles.
Isaac Asimov, biochemist, author. Wrote or edited over 500 popular science, other nonfiction, and science fiction books, including the Foundation series. Founding member of CSICOP (now CSI).
Robert A. Baker, psychologist, author. Wrote books on ghosts, alien abductions and false memory syndrome.
Banachek, mentalist. participant in Project Alpha. Real name Steve Shaw
Stephen Barrett, psychiatrist. Cofounder of the National Council Against Health Fraud, critic of alternative medicine. Founder of the Quackwatch website.
Barry Beyerstein, psychologist. Founding member of CSICOP (now CSI).
Susan Blackmore, parapsychologist. Author, lecturer, and broadcaster.
Maarten Boudry, philosopher and author.
Derren Brown, mentalist, critic of alleged psychics and spiritual mediums.
Robert Todd Carroll, philosopher. Author of The Skeptic's Dictionary book and website.
Milbourne Christopher, magician. Founding member of CSICOP (now CSI).
Derek Colanduno and Robynn McCarthy, co-hosts of the podcast Skepticality: The Official Podcast of Skeptic Magazine.
David Colquhoun, pharmacologist and author of the website Improbable Science.
Brian Cox, physicist
Narendra Dabholkar, author and the founder-president of Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti.
Richard Dawkins, evolutionary biologist and author known for promoting the gene-centric view of evolution (in his book The Selfish Gene), coining of the term meme, and atheist activism.
Perry DeAngelis, co-founder and former executive director of the New England Skeptical Society, co-founder and former co-host of the Skeptics' Guide to the Universe podcast.
Daniel Dennett, philosopher. Author of Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life and Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon.
Jared Diamond, scientist, author and member of the editorial board of Skeptic.
Ann Druyan, popular science author and current head of the Planetary Society. Widow of the astronomer Carl Sagan.
Brian Dunning, writer and producer with focus on science and skepticism, host of Skeptoid podcast, as well as a Skeptoid spin-off video series, inFact, and producer of educational films on the subject of critical thinking.
Mark Edward, formerly worked as a psychic, currently exposes psychics and is the author of a tell-all book on that subject, member of editorial board of The Skeptics Society, invented the term Guerrilla Skepticism.
Richard Feynman, theoretical physicist known for his work in quantum mechanics.
Kendrick Frazier, Editor of the Skeptical Inquirer.
Martin Gardner, author, recreational mathematician. Writer of the long-running 'Mathematical Games' column in Scientific American, and a longstanding columnist for the Skeptical Inquirer. Founding member of CSICOP (now CSI).
Pamela L. Gay, astronomer, co-host of Astronomy Cast, assistant research professor in the STEM center at SIUE and project director for CosmoQuest.
Susan Gerbic, the founder of Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia which has the mission of improving the skeptical content of Wikipedia.
Ben Goldacre, physician, journalist. Author of the "Bad Science" column in The Guardian (UK newspaper).
David Gorski, surgical oncologist. A.k.a. Orac of Respectful Insolence. Critic of complimentary and alternative medicine.
Stephen Jay Gould, paleontologist, evolutionary biologist, historian of science, Harvard University.
Natalie Grams, German physician, writer, scientific skeptic, former homeopath, author of Homeopathy Reconsidered — What Really Helps Patients (in German)
Harriet A. Hall, physician, former US Air Force flight surgeon. Critic of alternative medicine and quackery.
Sven Ove Hansson, philosopher. Founding Chairperson of the Swedish Skeptics (Vetenskap och Folkbildning) and Editor of the organisation's journal Folkvett.
Sam Harris, neuroscientist and author.
Sharon A. Hill, founder of Doubtful News, a news site that links synopses and commentary to original news sources, and provides information to critically assess claims made in the media. She is also producer and host of the 15 Credibility Street podcast.
Christopher Hitchens, journalist and author.
Douglas Hofstadter, physicist, artificial intelligence researcher. Author of Pulitzer Prize-winning book Gödel, Escher, Bach: The Eternal Golden Braid and Scientific American column "Metamagical Themas".
Harry Houdini, magician. Critic of Modern Spiritualism who exposed fraudulent psychics and mediums and publicized their methods.
George Hrab American skeptical musician, podcaster, speaker and emcee at The Amaz!ng Meeting
Ray Hyman, psychologist, critic of parapsychology. Longstanding contributor to the Skeptical Inquirer. Founding member of CSICOP (now CSI).
Jamie Hyneman, co-creator of the TV show MythBusters.
Leo Igwe, Nigerian human rights advocate.
Edward Jenner, English physician and scientist who pioneered smallpox vaccine.
Penn Jillette magician, half of Penn & Teller duo. Co-creator and co-host of the television series Bullshit!
Teller, magician, other half of Penn & Teller duo. Co-creator and co-host of the television series Bullshit!
Barry Karr, Executive Director for the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry
Philip J. Klass, aerospace journalist. Known for his investigations of UFOs. Longstanding contributor to the Skeptical Inquirer. Founding member of CSICOP (now CSI).
Paul Kurtz, philosopher, author. Founder of CSICOP (now CSI), Publisher of the Skeptical Inquirer.
Michael Leunig, cartoonist.
Ash Lieb, artist, comedian and writer.
Scott Lilienfeld, professor of psychology, author, Consulting Editor for Skeptical Inquirer and Committee for Skeptical Inquiry Fellow
Pat Linse, illustrator. Cofounder of the Skeptics Society, Copublisher and Art Director of Skeptic magazine. Creator of Junior Skeptic magazine.
Daniel Loxton, illustrator, writer. Editor of Junior Skeptic magazine (bound into Skeptic magazine).
Tim Minchin, comedian, musician, actor. Has many songs illustrating his skepticism, most notably, Storm.
Rob Nanninga, writer and editor of Skepter.
Joe Nickell, investigator of the paranormal, author. Columnist for the Skeptical Inquirer.
Steven Novella, neurologist. Founder of the New England Skeptical Society and host of The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe podcast.
James Oberg, aerospace journalist. Critic of UFOs and claims of a moon landing hoax.
Robert L. Park, physicist, and author of Voodoo Science.
Massimo Pigliucci, professor of philosophy at City University of New York and co-host of the skeptical podcast, Rationally Speaking.
Steven Pinker, Canadian experimental psychologist, cognitive scientist, linguist, popular science author, Harvard College Professor and advocate of evolutionary psychology and the computational theory of mind.
Philip Plait, astronomer, author. Founder of the Bad Astronomy website.
Massimo Polidoro, writer, journalist. Student of James Randi, Co-Founder and Executive Director of CICAP, Research Fellow of CSICOP (now CSI).
Basava Premanand publisher of the Indian Skeptic magazine and chairman of the Indian CSICOP.
Benjamin Radford, Managing Editor of the Skeptical Inquirer, co-host of Squaring the Strange podcast.
James Randi, magician. Founder of the James Randi Educational Foundation. Notable for offering a million dollar cash reward for verifiable demonstration under laboratory conditions of any paranormal ability or event. Conceived and directed Project Alpha. Founding member of CSICOP (now CSI).
Pascual Romero, co-host of the Squaring the Strange podcast, providing evidence-based analysis and commentary on a variety of paranormal topics.
Emily Rosa, Guinness World Record youngest medical researcher; at age 11, published her study in the Journal of the American Medical Association on therapeutic touch, showing practitioners couldn't feel the "human energy field" when not looking.
Carl Sagan, astronomer, popular science author, and media personality. Advocate for SETI, founder of the Planetary Society, host of the TV series Cosmos and author of The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark. Founding member of CSICOP (now CSI).
Cara Santa Maria, a science communicator, journalist, producer, television host, and podcaster. She currently is a co-host on The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe podcast, and hosts her own podcast Talk Nerdy.
Adam Savage, co-creator of the TV series MythBusters.
Eugenie Scott, anthropologist. Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), critic of creationism and intelligent design.
Robert Sheaffer, author. UFO investigator, columnist for the Skeptical Inquirer.
Michael Shermer, historian, popular science author, founder of the Skeptics Society. Copublisher and Editor of Skeptic magazine. Also current writer for the Scientific American column "Skeptic".
Simon Singh, popular British science author.
Julia Sweeney, actress, comedian, author and performer of Letting Go of God.
Jamy Ian Swiss, magician, co-founder of the National Capital Area Skeptics; co-founder of the New York City Skeptics; contributor to Skeptic magazine; co-producer and on-stage host of Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism. on board of San Diego Association for Rational Inquiry (aka San Diego Skeptics).
Marcello Truzzi, sociologist. First editor of the Skeptical Inquirer. Critic of organized skepticism. Founding member of CSICOP (now CSI).
Rebecca Watson, founder of Skepchick blog.
Richard Wiseman, psychologist.
Paul Zenon, magician and comedian.Paul Tabori
Paul Tabori (born Pál Tábori; August 5, 1908 – November 9, 1974) was a Hungarian-Jewish author, novelist, journalist and psychical researcher. He also wrote under the name Peter Stafford. He was the brother of writer and theatre director George Tabori.Philosophical razor
In philosophy, a razor is a principle or rule of thumb that allows one to eliminate ("shave off") unlikely explanations for a phenomenon, or avoid unnecessary actions.Razors include:
Occam's razor: Simpler explanations are more likely to be correct; avoid unnecessary or improbable assumptions.
Grice's razor: As a principle of parsimony, conversational implications are to be preferred over semantic context for linguistic explanations.
Hanlon's razor: Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.
Hume's razor: "If the cause, assigned for any effect, be not sufficient to produce it, we must either reject that cause, or add to it such qualities as will give it a just proportion to the effect."
Hitchens's razor: "What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence."
Newton's flaming laser sword: If something cannot be settled by experiment or observation, then it is not worthy of debate.
Popper's falsifiability principle: For a theory to be considered scientific, it must be falsifiable.
Sagan standard: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.Piet Hein Hoebens
Piet Hein Hoebens (29 September 1948, Utrecht - 22 October 1984) was a Dutch journalist, parapsychologist and skeptic.
Hoebens is most well known for debunking the claims of psychic detectives. He worked as a Dutch journalist and investigated claims of paranormal phenomena. He was a staff member for the newspaper De Telegraaf for 13 years and a member of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.
He was an associate of Marcello Truzzi and contributed to the Zetetic Scholar regarding the claims of psychics such as Peter Hurkos and Gerard Croiset which he found to be bogus.Hoebens took his own life in October 1984.Pseudoskepticism
Pseudoskepticism (or pseudoscepticism) is a philosophical or scientific position which appears to be that of skepticism or scientific skepticism but which in reality fails to be so.Ray Hyman
Ray Hyman (born June 23, 1928) is a Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon, and a noted critic of parapsychology. Hyman, along with James Randi, Martin Gardner and Paul Kurtz, is one of the founders of the modern skeptical movement. He is the founder and leader of the Skeptic's Toolbox. Hyman serves on the Executive Council for the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.Sagan standard
The Sagan standard is an aphorism that asserts that "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" (ECREE).Skeptical movement
The skeptical movement (British spelling: sceptical movement) is a modern social movement based on the idea of scientific skepticism (also called rational skepticism). Scientific skepticism involves the application of skeptical philosophy, critical-thinking skills, and knowledge of science and its methods to empirical claims, while remaining agnostic or neutral to non-empirical claims (except those that directly impact the practice of science). The movement has the goal of investigating claims made on fringe topics and determining whether they are supported by empirical research and are reproducible, as part of a methodological norm pursuing "the extension of certified knowledge". The process followed is sometimes referred to as skeptical inquiry.Roots of the movement date at least from the 19th century, when people started publicly raising questions regarding the unquestioned acceptance of claims about spiritism, of various widely-held superstitions, and of pseudoscience.
Publications such as those of the Dutch Vereniging tegen de Kwakzalverij (1881) also targeted medical quackery.
Using as a template the Belgian organization founded in 1949, Comité Para, Americans Paul Kurtz and Marcello Truzzi founded the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), in Amherst, New York in 1976. Now known as the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI), this organization has inspired others to form similar groups worldwide.Trevor H. Hall
Trevor Henry Hall (1910–1991) was a British author, surveyor, and sceptic of paranormal phenomena. Hall made controversial claims regarding early members of the Society for Psychical Research. His books caused a heated controversy within the parapsychology community.Zé Arigó
Zé Arigó (pseudonym of José Pedro de Freitas 18 October 1921 – 11 January 1971) was a faith healer and proponent of psychic surgery. He claimed to have performed psychic surgery with his hands or with simple kitchen utensils while in a mediumistic trance, therefore he was also known as the Surgeon of the Rusty Knife. During his operations he supposedly embodied the spirit of Dr. Adolf Fritz.Zététique
Zététique (from Ancient Greek: ζητητικός zētētikós, "inquisitive", "keen") is a French term (both a noun and an adjective) for the application of the scientific method when investigating allegedly "paranormal" phenomena. It is often seen as equivalent to, or somewhat different from, the term (scientific) skepticism (French: scepticisme (scientifique)), and is widely used in the modern skeptical movement in France for self-identification.