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CSICOP Timeline

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The Editors

Volume 25.3, May / June 2001

A timeline of CSICOP's 25-year history

1976

April 30-May 1

CSICOP founded at conference on “The New Irrationalisms: Antiscience and Pseudoscience,” SUNY-Buffalo.

1976-fig1

Fall

Vol. 1 No. 1 of The Zetetic (the Skeptical Inquirer) published.

1977

Aug. 9

First meeting of CSICOP Executive Council, New York City. It calls upon NBC television for balance in its treatment of paranormal, files complaint against Reader’s Digest for distortions on alleged psychic phenomena, files complaint with FCC against NBC for total bias in 90-minute quasi-documentary “Exploring the Unknown.”

Dec. 12

Time publishes “Attacking the New Nonsense,” how a committee of skeptics (CSICOP) is challenging paranormal claims.

1978

February

CSICOP calls NBC response to CSICOP complaints about “Exploring the Unknown” “unacceptable,” requests presentation of contrasting viewpoint.

1978-april

April

The Zetetic renamed the Skeptical Inquirer starting with Vol. 2 No. 2, Spring/Summer 1978.

April

Chairman Paul Kurtz announces that CSICOP has generated “tremendous enthusiasm” among scientists, scholars, media, and the public. CBS and ABC have produced programs presenting committee’s viewpoints.

July 13

CSICOP establishes a Canadian section.

Fall

Skeptical Inquirer increases publication frequency from semi-annual to quarterly.

Fall

FCC reports preliminary decision rejecting CSICOP complaint against NBC’s “Exploring the Unknown"; CSICOP appeals.

Dec. 5-6

CSICOP meets in Washington, D.C., meets with staff of House Science and Technology Committee, praises ABC-TV for network special “The Supernatural: Fact, Fiction, or Fantasy?” in which CSICOP members participated.

1979

January

CSICOP lodges complaints against NBC-TV for program “The Amazing World of Psychic Phenomena.”

April 27

CSICOP files appeal in U.S. Court of Appeals against the FCC’s rejection of committee’s complaint against NBC under the Fairness Doctrine for “Exploring the Unknown.”

1980

1980-Jan

January

Skeptical Inquirer (Winter 1979-80) publishes four-part special report on claimed “Mars Effect,” addressing a controversy that began before CSICOP was founded and will continue for several years more.

1981

May

CSICOP’s fifth anniversary. Paul Kurtz notes progress and challenges.

May

CSICOP statement urges police against accepting claims of so-called “police psychics.”

October 22-24

CSICOP Executive Council approves policy statement on sponsoring research, testing individual claims, and conducting investigations, pointing out that organizations, as such, rarely conduct research. The first two of seven points: “1. CSICOP, as a body, does not directly engage in the testing of psychics, research on paranormal phenomena, or investigations on related matters. 2. But CSICOP does encourage such research by its individual members and qualified others.”

1982

1982-Feb

February

Scientific American publishes Metamagical Themas article by Douglas Hofstadter about Skeptical Inquirer, contrasting its type of inquiry with that of National Enquirer; SI circulation subsequently leaps.

June

First approved local chapter of CSICOP established, Bay Area Skeptics.

Dec. 9-10

CSICOP Executive Council meets in Atlanta. Gives Martin Gardner “In Praise of Reason Award,” holds news conference on psychics and “psychic detectives,” sets initial guidelines on local groups.

1983

April

George Abell, Paul Kurtz, and Marvin Zelen publish a reappraisal of the “Mars Effect” experiments (SI Spring 1983).

Oct. 28-29

CSICOP holds first international conference since its founding, returning to the SUNY-Buffalo campus. Theme: “Science, Skepticism, and the Paranormal.” Seven symposia. Commentator Piet Hein Hoebens calls it CSICOP’s “coming of age.”

1984

Nov. 9

CSICOP, in news conference at California Academy of Sciences, calls on newspapers to carry a disclaimer on their astrology columns. Mails statement, material to 1,200 U.S. newspapers two weeks later.

1984-Nov

Nov. 9-10

CSICOP Conference “Paranormal Beliefs: Scientific Facts and Fictions” held at Stanford University. Sessions on “Space-Age Paranormal Claims,” “The Psychic Arms Race,” and “Psychic Claims.” Keynoter: Sidney Hook.

December

Skeptical Inquirer expands pages to include 20 percent more editorial material; circulation about 17,000.

1985

June 28-29

CSICOP International Conference, “Investigation and Belief,” held at University College, London. CSICOP Executive Council holds joint meeting with French group in Paris, presents news conference with Science et Vie magazine.

Fall

CSICOP announces 20th Anniversary Fund, a major capital fund-raising campaign, B.F. Skinner, honorary chairman.

1986

1986-April

April 25-27

CSICOP 1986 conference held at University of Colorado, Boulder. Theme: “Science and Pseudoscience.” Keynote address: Stephen Jay Gould.

1986-Spring

Spring

CSICOP celebrates 10th anniversary. SI marks it with special essays by CSICOP Fellows such as Isaac Asimov and Carl Sagan.

Fall

Skeptical Inquirer announces it is expanding scope to include topics not necessarily related directly to the paranormal and pseudoscience.

1987

Feb. 1

Carl Sagan publishes “The Fine Art of Baloney Detection,” in Parade magazine, with a laudatory sidebar about CSICOP and Skeptical Inquirer. SI circulation rises as a result.

April 3-4

CSICOP Annual Conference, Pasadena, California. Symposia on extraterrestrial intelligence, animal language, medical controversies. Simultaneous sessions. Keynote speaker: Carl Sagan, “The Burden of Skepticism.”

1987-Fall

Fall

Skeptical Inquirer announces a permanent expansion to 112 digest-size pages per quarterly issue. Ten-year index published.

1988

March 21-April 3

CSICOP delegation visits China, lectures in Beijing, Xian, Shanghai, tests Qigong masters plus children and others alleged to have psychic powers.

Sept. 1

CSICOP wins first (and till-then only) court case brought against it. In U.S. District Court in Hawaii plaintiff Gharith Pendragon loses on all contentions and is ordered to pay the CSICOP defendants fees, costs, and earlier-imposed sanctions.

1988-Nov

Nov. 3-4

CSICOP 1988 Conference “The New Age: A Scientific Evaluation,” held at Hyatt Regency O'Hare, Chicago. Keynote speaker: Douglas Hofstadter. Three simultaneous sessions at times.

December

CSICOP publishes statement “CSICOP, Groups, and Spokespersons” about relationships with groups listed in SI and who may or may not speak for CSICOP.

1989

Oct. 20-23

First in a series of CSICOP Seminars “Skeptical Inquiry: A Critical Examination of Parapsychology,” held at SUNY-Buffalo, with James Alcock and Ray Hyman as faculty; 3-credit certificate of achievement awarded upon completion.

December

Skeptical Inquirer announces new, expanded effort to give more attention to science, critical inquiry, and science education in addition to investigations of paranormal claims. New graphic design implemented.

1990

March 30-April 1

1990 CSICOP Conference, Washington, D.C., “Critical Thinking, Public Policy, and Science Education” Keynote speaker: Gerard Piel. Banquet speaker: Richard Berendzen.

December

CSICOP announces construction has started on a building, the Center for Inquiry, to house CSICOP and Skeptical Inquirer (as well as Free Inquiry) on a site adjacent to SUNY-Buffalo Amherst campus.

1991

May 3-5

1991 CSICOP Conference at Claremont Hotel, Berkeley/Oakland Hills, California. Sessions on controversies in hypnosis, subliminal pseudoscience, pop psychology, catastrophism and evolution, urban legends, and teaching critical thinking. Keynote speaker: Donald C. Johanson, “In Search of Our Origins.”

June

CSICOP announces newly designed, expanded, subscription-only quarterly Skeptical Briefs newsletter.

September

CSICOP announces that Phase 1 of its new headquarters complex, the Center for Inquiry, is now fully occupied and functional.

December

Paul Kurtz, in “On Being Sued: The Chilling of Freedom of Expression” (SI Winter 1992), describes lawsuits by Eldon Byrd and Uri Geller against James Randi and CSICOP and the “difficult and perilous situation the skeptical movement now faces” as a result.

1992

1992-April

April 17-19

CSICOP holds “Magic for Skeptics” seminar, in Lexington, Kentucky, taught by Joe Nickell and Robert A. Baker.

April

SI reports that forty-two daily newspapers are now running CSICOP-recommended disclaimers with their astrology columns.

April

CSICOP announces establishment of legal defense fund to help battle harassing lawsuits filed against skeptics.

June

In “Freedom of Scientific Inquiry Under Siege” (SI Summer 1992), Paul Kurtz reports on another Geller lawsuit.

June

U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., throws out Uri Geller lawsuit against CSICOP, imposes sanctions against Geller for prosecuting the case.

Aug. 20-24

CSICOP-sponsored “The Skeptics Toolbox” annual workshop series initiated, at University of Oregon, with faculty members Ray Hyman, Barry Beyerstein, Loren Pankratz, Jeff Mayhew, and Jerry Andrus.

1992-Oct

Oct. 16-18

1992 CSICOP Conference, “Fairness, Fraud, and Feminism: Culture Confronts Science,” held in Dallas. Sessions on multicultural approaches to science, gender issues in science and pseudoscience, fraud in science, crashed saucers, and the paranormal in China. Keynote speaker: Richard Dawkins.

December

Skeptical Inquirer becomes available at quality newsstands.

1993

April

CSICOP announces plans for creation of a Center for Inquiry research library.

June

In “Our Wide and Fertile Field” (SI, Summer 1993), Editor discusses recent addition to CSICOP’s statement of mission: “It also promotes science and scientific inquiry, critical thinking, science education, and the use of reason in examining important issues.”

June 14

CSICOP wins lawsuit in Maryland. Federal jury in Baltimore finds CSICOP is not liable for statements made by James Randi about Eldon Byrd.

1994

Spring

Construction begins on Phase II of headquarters campus for CSICOP and Skeptical Inquirer in Amherst, N.Y.

June 24-26

1994 CSICOP Conference, “The Psychology of Belief,” held in Seattle. Sessions on the belief engine, how we fool ourselves, UFOs, unreliability of memory, conspiracy theories, near-death experiences, influencing courtroom beliefs. Keynote address: Carl Sagan, “Wonder and Skepticism.”

September

Skeptical Inquirer adds subtitle, “The Magazine for Science and Reason,” publishes final digest-sized, quarterly issue (Fall 1994).

Dec. 9

Uri Geller loses appeal of sanctions awarded CSICOP by district court; Court of Appeals for District of Columbia affirms the sanctions.

1995

January

Skeptical Inquirer publishes first issue in full-size magazine format, increases frequency to bimonthly (Vol. 19, No. 1, January/February 1995).

March 6

Geller case ends: CSICOP announces court settlement and first payment by Geller to CSICOP of $40,000 of up $120,000. Payment is part of settlement agreement to a court-described “frivolous complaint” made by Geller against CSICOP. The settlement ends five-year legal battle.

1995-June

June 9

New CSICOP headquarters - 15,000-square-foot Center for Inquiry educational and administrative center - is dedicated adjacent to SUNY-Buffalo Amherst, N.Y., campus. Steve Allen, Nobel laureate Herbert Hauptman, Time’s Leon Jaroff, many others participate.

July 7

Center for Inquiry-West, CSICOP’s West Coast branch office, opens in rented quarters in Los Angeles.

1996

1996-june1
1996-june2

June 20-23

First World Skeptics Congress and 20th Anniversary CSICOP meeting, “Science in the Age of (Mis)Information,” held at SUNY-Buffalo. Keynote speaker: Stephen Jay Gould. Conference Address: Leon Lederman. Lunch speaker: John Maddox. Major sessions on mass media, anti-science, The X-Files, and parapsychology, plus triple-concurrent sessions on multiple topics.

June

Asteroids Skepticus 6630 and Kurtz 6629 named for CSICOP and its founder Paul Kurtz in honor of their contributions to science education and skepticism on CSICOP’s 20th anniversary.

July

In “CSICOP at Twenty” (SI July/August 1996) Paul Kurtz reflects on the origins, growth, role, and challenges of CSICOP over its “exhilarating” two decades.

July

Report of second CSICOP delegation to China (June 1995), examining traditional Chinese medicine and pseudoscience in China, published.

1996-july2
1996-july
1996-june3
1996-june4

1997

January

CSICOP becomes shareholder in TV networks to provide leverage for its criticism of their marketing of fringe science and pseudoscience.

1997-Jan

Jan. 9

CSICOP’s Council for Media Integrity holds first meeting, in Los Angeles, with co-chairmen Glenn T. Seaborg and Steve Allen, blasts networks for distorted treatments of science.

Nov. 19

Public television airs Scientific American Frontiers episode “Beyond Science,” hosted by Alan Alda, skeptically examining dowsing, “alien autopsies,” graphology, a supposed new energy force, and therapeutic touch, guided by four CSICOP Fellows.

1998

March

CSICOP’s new Web site, www.csicop.org, is named among the World Wide Web’s top 500 Web sites (and top ten science sites) by computing magazine Home PC.

1998-July

July 23-26

Second World Skeptics Congress, “Armageddon and the Prophets of Doomsday,” held at University of Heidelberg, Germany. Plenary sessions on millennium prophecies, natural disasters, anti-science and postmodernists, and scientific skepticism worldwide, plus many concurrent sessions. Keynote speaker: Elizabeth Loftus.

Fall

CSICOP and University of Hertfordshire, U.K., announce creation of the CSICOP Research Scholarship to fund a Ph.D. student for three years to carry out research related to psychology and skepticism.

Nov. 14

CSICOP and Council for Media Integrity host conference “That’s Entertainment! Hollywood, the Media, and the Supernatural” in Los Angeles. Steve Allen speaks out against loss of cultural standards in the media. “Candle in the Dark” award given to PBS TV series Scientific American Frontiers.

1999

Feb. 26-28

CSICOP co-hosts national conference “Science Meets 'Alternative Medicine,'” Warwick Hotel, Philadelphia.

1999-March

March 1

An asteroid is named Klass 7277 after Philip J. Klass, veteran Aviation Week journalist and longtime CSICOP Fellow and UFO subcommittee chairman, for his skeptical evaluations of sensational claims about UFOs. It joins asteroids Kurtz, Gardner, Randi, and Skepticus (named in 1996 after CSICOP).

July/August

Skeptical Inquirer publishes its first-ever single-subject issue, on Science & Religion. Response is overwhelmingly positive.

2000

January

Ten outstanding skeptics of the twentieth century featured in Skeptical Inquirer (January/February 2000): James Randi, Martin Gardner, Carl Sagan, Paul Kurtz, Ray Hyman, Isaac Asimov, Bertrand Russell, Harry Houdini, Albert Einstein.

March 20-24

American Physical Society sponsors special session on “The Skep-tical Inquirer: The New Paranatural Paradigm,” an examination of pseudoscience, at its Minneapolis meeting.

Nov. 10-12

Third World Skeptics Congress - renamed Skeptics World Convention III - at University of Sydney, Australia, is rousing success. Co-sponsored by CSICOP and Australian Skeptics. Forty speakers.

November

Young Skeptics Program inaugurated by CSICOP on its Web site.

2001

2001-Jan

January

Permanent building for Center for Inquiry-West - West Coast office for CSICOP and Council for Secular Humanism - purchased in Los Angeles.

February

The Klass Files - electronic texts of back issues of Philip J. Klass’s Skeptics UFO Newsletter - placed on CSICOP Web site.

March

Skeptical Inquirer index, for entire magazine from Vol. 1 No. 1 into 2001, completed and placed on CSICOP Web site.

April 30-May 1

25th anniversary of CSICOP.

Timeline compiled by Kendrick Frazier