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The Death of Our Beloved Colleague Martin Gardner

May 24, 2010

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We have received the unwelcome news that our longtime friend and colleague Martin Gardner died on May 22. He was ninety-five.            

Gardner, a brilliant polymath, was (and always will be) a hero to skeptics and science-minded people worldwide.            

“Martin would not have wanted to know how devastated I am at the news,” said James Randi, in a perhaps typical expression of grief. “I can’t quite picture my world without him. That man was one of my giants, a very longtime friend of some 50 years or more. He was a delight.”

Gardner’s 1950 book Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science is still the classic examination of pseudoscience and pseudoscientists. It remains in print, still relevant today. In 1976 he became a founding fellow of CSICOP, now the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and an original member of SI’s Editorial Board. He followed Fads and Fallacies with Science: Good, Bad, and Bogus and many subsequent compilations of essays and reviews.

He published scores of memorable books in mathematics, philosophy, science, literary criticism, and critiques of fringe science. He was probably most famous for his long-running “Mathematical Games” column in Scientific American, where his curious, whimsical, original mind delighted readers everywhere.

After he retired his SA column, we invited him to do a regular column for the Skeptical Inquirer, and he did so from 1983 to 2002 (“Notes of a Psi-Watcher,” later titled “Notes of a Fringe-Watcher”). He also published a series of books based in part on it. He recently resumed his SI column on an irregular basis. Martin mailed his last column to me May 12, only ten days before he died. His cover letter gave no indication of failing health. I answered immediately to tell him how much I enjoyed it. We will publish it in our September/October issue, along with tributes from his colleagues.            

Kendrick Frazier, Editor