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40 Years of Skeptical Inquirer: Anniversary Issue with Neil deGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye, and more

August 16, 2016

Skeptical Inquirer, the groundbreaking magazine that laid the foundations of a lasting movement for rationality and critical thinking, celebrates forty years of skepticism with a special anniversary issue, featuring some of the biggest names in science and reason reflecting on the movement’s efforts to combat dangerous and false beliefs and offering constructive critiques for how best to move forward.

Skeptical Inquirer was founded in the fall of 1976 by what was then known as the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), led by Paul Kurtz, Carl Sagan, Isaac Asimov, James Randi, Ray Hyman, and other brilliant thinkers. Its goal has always been to advance reason and critical thinking for a general audience and to challenge the extraordinary claims of those who promote pseudoscience and the paranormal, from UFOs and ghosts to climate change denial and so-called “alternative” medical quackery.

In this landmark anniversary issue, this generation’s skeptic leaders offer their earnest and at times critical thoughts on the accomplishments of the skeptical movement and how it must adapt for the next forty years. “Plunge into this intellectual, real-world thought-fest,” advises longtime editor Kendrick Frazier. “Drink deeply. Think well.”

Highlights include Neil deGrasse Tyson, who extols the self-corrective nature of science and its centrality in maintaining an informed democracy. “Science Guy” Bill Nye ignites a passion for reason in order to confront the catastrophe of climate change and the industry of denial that seeks to “hoodwink” the public. Physicist Lawrence Krauss emphasizes the importance of questioning prevailing wisdom, particularly from journalists, so that Skeptical Inquirer “wouldn’t be as necessary in the future.”

On the critical side, psychologist Scott O. Lilienfeld cautions skeptics against insularity, arrogance, and cultivating an us-versus-them mindset. Doubtful News creator Sharon Hill advocates for a “reboot” of the movement, which she says has become weakened by in-fighting among groups and individuals. And philosopher Daniel Dennett warns against allowing skepticism to swing too far in the direction of cynicism, which he says saps enthusiasm and threatens a free society.

Skeptical Inquirer will continue to mark its fortieth anniversary with the next issue, focusing on “Odysseys in Scientific Skepticism” from even more skeptic leaders. The September/October 2016 issue is available on newsstands and in the Apple, Google, and Amazon app stores. For more information, visit http://www.csicop.org/si.

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Skeptical Inquirer is the official journal of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI), a scientific and educational program of the Center for Inquiry. CSI encourages the critical investigation of paranormal and fringe-science claims from a responsible, scientific point of view. Learn more about CSI and SI at http://www.csicop.org.

The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to both the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, the Council for Secular Humanism, and will soon be home to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science. The mission of CFI is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Visit CFI on the web at http://www.centerforinquiry.net.