CSICOP – Investigating Paranormal Claims

The following provides excellent questions about the basis of CSICOP, who they
are, what they are after and how they work.
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From: John W. Ratcliff <[email protected]>
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Subject: Irrational Mind Control Cult

Date: 25 May 1995 15:54:25 GMT
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Have you ever wondered, like me, why it is that some of the members of these
newgroups are here?  I mean, isn’t it kind of queer, that if you don’t believe
in UFOs, or are not even interested in investigating the phenomenon, you would
hang out in a discussion area devoted to the subject?

Why is it that these person’s messages seem to contain only ad hominem
attacks, insults, outright character assasination, and a repeated profession
of their personal belief in their own reality labryinth?

I mean, I certainly understand why they don’t believe in UFOs and such.
Really I do.  What I *don’t* understand is why they care if anybody else
*does*?  Or even if a person even remains an agnostic on the subject? I think
I know the answer, and it has a great deal to do with primate psychology, a
lot of it drawing strong parallels to monkeys marking their territory with
fecal matter, but I won’t belabor that point.

If you ever wondered about the people who belong to these fundamentalist
religious mind control cults called “skeptical societies”, and what motivates
them to control how you, I, and everyone else thinks, read further.

Have you noticed yet that the members of these sketpics cults, and their
public posts here, sound so much like any other religious fanatic shouting
down hearsy and blasphmemy against their dogma?

Perhaps this is *exactly* what they are doing……..

                       CSICOP as Religion

Today, the U.S. government is publicly out of the UFO phenomenon business.

Most of the debunking torch has been passed to a private group called the
Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal
(“CSICOP”). CSICOP boasts an impressive roster of scientific and technical
consultants, many of whom hold professorships at prestigious universities.

CSICOP has inspired the creation of local branches (parishes, churches, what
have you) usually known as “skeptical societies”.  CSICOP publishes a
quarterly journal called ‘The Skeptical Inquirer’ (Which is neither skeptical,
nor inquiring, but we will get to that in a moment)

Note, that the act of joining CSCICOP involves a profession of religious
       that material reductionism is sufficient to explain all aspects of

       that the entire breadth and depth of ‘reality’ is already KNOWN,

       that the complete and utter limits to our concepts of space and time
       have become embedded in rock, since invoking the name of the messiah

       that all anomalies, or even the phenomenon of human consciousness, are
       understood, and any aspect of human consciousness that does not fit the
       reductionist paradigm is by definition, delusion, illusion, and mental

Membership implies a profession of faith that evolutionary theory, genetic
theory, and physics are fixed, and completely known.  Yet, given the recent
explosion of understanding in anomalies in quantum physics (quantum-
coherence), complexity theory, and artificial life research, it becomes
evident to even the casual observer that much yet remains that we do not know.

Still, admission to CSICOP requires that you abandon intellect and free-
thought at the door, to join the inquisitional style crusade against heretics
who dare ask questions which hound the fringes of reductionism.

A basic premise upon which CSICOP operates is that UFOs are not proven to be
extraterrestrial craft (actually a true position, yet while there is no proof
they are extraterrestrial craft, overwhelming proof exists that some sort of
unknown phenomenon does exist).

CSICOP also debunks all other phenomena that is considers phony or
‘pseudoscientific’, (regardless of the status, quality, or rigor of the
investigation done by the originating scientists).

It brands any effort to seriously study UFOs as ‘pseudoscience’ – a term it
bandies about freely.

Since science is not a subject, but rather a method, it is completely
inaccurate to label the study of any phenomenon as ‘pseudo-science’.

Still, occasionally seeing the light of this logic flaw, CSICOP is more than
forthcoming at attacking any scientist who would dare to become interested in
any of these damnable subjects.

Quickly leaping to character assassination, and ridicule, neither of which are
part of the scientific method, last I checked.  (Recently an epistimologist,
Stan McDanial, wrote a scathing report on how NASA has handled the research on
anomalous artificats found on Mars.

The entire fiasco is quite laughable, because a broad range of what I will
loosely term ‘scientists’ appear to have suffered a complete and total loss of
curiousity, over what are unquestionably some damn funny looking rocks
(actually mountain sized rocks) on another planet.  The psychology of it is
all so fascinating, and we are reminded of Neitche’s statement in “The
Twilight of the Gods”:

“With the unknown, one is confronted with danger, discomfort and worry; the
first instinct is to abolish these painful sensations.  First principle: any
explanation is better than none….  The search for causes is thus conditioned
by fear.

The question “Why?” is not pursued for its own sake but to find ‘a certain
kind of answer’ — an answer that is pacifying, tranquilizing and soothing.”

The influence of CSICOP today is quite strong.  In addition to its presence in
universities through CSCICOP affiliated faculty, CSICOP has exerted influence
in the media.  Celebrity astronomer Carl Sagan, for example, is listed as a
Fellow of CSICOP.  Other Fellows have included Bernard Dixon, European editor
of ‘Omni’ Magazine (a bastion of scientific rigor); Paul Edwards, editor of
the Encyclopedia of Philosophy; Leon Jaroff, managing editor of Discover
magazine; Phillip Klass, senior avionics editor for Aviation Week & Space
Technology magazine; and the late B. F. Skinner, author and famous
behaviourist who did so much to promote the stimulus-response model of human
behaviour in our own generation.

CSICOP has gained a following primarily because the organization successfully
promotes an image of objectivity.  In CSICOP’s statement of purpose, for
example, we read the following words:

“The Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal
attempts to encourage the critical investigation of paranormal and fringe-
science claims from a responsible, scientific point of view and to disseminate
factual information about the results of such inquiries to the scientific
community and the public … The Committee is a nonprofit scientific and
educational organization.”

The Committee sounds like a wonderful organization.  The world can greatly
benefit from objective research into UFOs and paranormal claims.

It is especially important for serious researchers to sort out the legitimate
from the fraud, and that is not always easy to do.  Sadly, CSICOP does not
provide the objectivity needed to accomplish that task.

The result of a CSICOP investigation has always been, to my knowledge, an
utter debunking.  By committing lies of ommision, conducting open character
assasination, and failing to ever accept, or even consider, witness testimony,
exactly as stated.

Usually witness testimony is simply ‘concluded as being’ something other than
that which witness testimony stated as being observed. This has puzzled those
people who cannot understand how some evidence can possibly be rejected if it
is looked at objectively.  The solution to this puzzle comes by discovering
who started CSICOP and why.

CSICOP was founded in 1976 under the sponsorship of the American Humanist
Association.  The American Humanist Association is, of course, dedicated to
advancing the philosophy of ‘humanism’.

‘Humanism’ itself is difficult to define because it often means different
things to different people. Essentially, humanism is a school of thought
concerned with human interests and human values as opposed to religious
interests and values.  It deals with questions of ethics and existence from
the perspective of human beings as physical entities on Earth.

‘Religious humanists’ will have spiritual and theological concerns, but will
approach them from a human-centered focus asopposed to the God-centered or
spirit-centered orientation of most religions.

The best known form of organized humanism in the United States today is called
‘secular [non-religious] humanism’.  Secular humanism admits only the reality
of physical existance and rejects spiritual or theological reality.  It is a
philosophy of strict materialism.  Many secular humanists adhere to the
stimulus-response model of human behaviour.

The founding and current chairman of CSICOP is Paul Kurtz, professor of
philosophy at the State University of New York at Buffalo.  For many years,
Mr. Kurtz had served as the editor of ‘The Humanist’ magazine. He was one of
the drafters of the ‘Humanist Manifesto II’ and authored a book entitled ‘In
Defense of Secular Humanism’.  (And even recent promotional literature for
CSICOP rings of a fundamentalist call to arms, an ideological challenge, to
rise up against the heretics and blasphemers against the purely materialistic
model of an alleged, assumed, ‘out there’, Etic reality.

More frightening yet, a cry against self-discovery, or even acceptance of
personal human consciousness. And, most frightening of all, outright attacks
against that group of society who suffers the most unfortunate fate of all,
that of actually having aspects of the ‘paranormal’ enter their personal

Now, those who have their psyche assaulted by seeing a UFO are branded as if
witches at an inquisition.  These intrusions into people’s lives all must be
treated as afronts to secular humanism, which assumes that any such occurances
simply *cannot* occur, and are the signs of deranged minds.  Bring out the
torchs now Paul, it’s getting hot in here.)

Paul Kurtz’s book is interesting because it expresses some of the doctrines
and goals of the organized secular humanist movement.  Those doctrines and
goals are significant in light of the role that Professor Kurtz and other
secular humanists have played in founding CSICOP.  On the subject of spritual
experience, Professor Kurtz wrote:

“Humanists reject the thesis that the soul is separable from the body or that
life persists in some form after the death of the body.”

(Militant athieism at it’s best.  Actually, I find it ironic how strongly
secular-humanists defend their right to believe their entire existance is
meaningless.  The powerful belief that human beings are nothing more than
genetic robots, automatons, whose consciousness is a mere artifact of
evolution.  At the minimum it seems there is little room for agnosticism in
the core of CSICOP’s ranks.  More to the point, existance of a human soul is
an open question in light of the fact that no reasonable explanation can even
begin to account for human consciousness, and anomalies abound worthy of
further research.

Additionally, experiences such as OBE’s, NDE’s, or mystical revelations, are
labeled immediately as ‘delusion’ and ‘illusion’ by secular humanists, which
completely misses the point in the first place.

Exactly, *what* is it about human consciousness which produces these
experiences. Fortunately there is now a new publication “The Journal for
Consciousness Studies” which is not afraid to ask these hard questions.)

According to the Humanist Manifesto II:

“Rather, science affirms that the human species is an emergence from natural
evolutionary forces.  As far as we know, the total personality is a function
of the biological organism transacting in a social cultural context.”

This, my dear reader, is a blantant expression of religous faith, without even
the slightest acknowlegement for the profound nature of consciousness itself,
nor any room it seems for the slightest bit of agnosticism. Anomalies in human
consciousness and evolution ABOUND.  And *are* being researched (not, it
seems, by CSICOP forces since they believe they already have *all* of the
answers, a priori to doing any actual scientific investigation).  This mindset
denies any inquiry, which is, by *their* definition anti-science.  How
predrawing specific conclusions, and eschewing scientific research can be
called “pro-science”, is beyond me.

Such ideas are fine for those who choose to believe them (your religion, is
your religion afterall).  The point I am making is this: individuals and
organizations which actively promote such ideas will find it difficult to be
genuinely objective when they investigate evidence which flatly contradicts
their established view (religious faith).  They have declared, a priori to any
evidence, what they will believe and what they will reject.  I hardly need
point out again how unscientific this is.

Objectivity is even more difficult when those same people actively seek to
Manifesto II’:

“We affirm a set of common principles that can serve as a basis for united
action — positive principles relevant to the present human condition.  They
are a design for a secular society on a planetary scale.”

(Now, I ask the reader.  What are you going to do, after CSICOP has spread
it’s religion over the entire world, if you have the terrible misfortune of
actually seeing a damned UFO?, or have an OBE?, or an NDE?, or a mystical
experience which transends all other experience you have had in your entire

Simple, you check yourself into the mental hospital, for secular-humanist
reconditioning, probably some sort of mind numbing therapy which will wash
these violent illusions, and delusions from your head.

But, *IF* you persist in daring to accept any portion of your personal
experience into your own emic reality tunnel, WATCH OUT!  You will be branded
and hunted downlike the damnable witch you must be.  Thrown out of all
professional organizations, never to work again.  But, hey, wait a minute,
isn’t that a pretty fair description of how things work today?)

We see in the above quote that there exists a united intention among many
secular humanists to create a worldwide secular society.  The founding chaiman
of CSICOP, Professor Kurtz, helped draft the document which announces that
intention.  There is nothing wrong per se with having such a goal.

It is common for activist religions and philosophies to try to shape the world
in their own images.  There is, however, a price to be paid for such activism:
CSICOP and its affiliated skeptic groups (parishes) lose their credibility.

They have to be viewed as advocates for a certain point of view, not as
disinterested investigators. They are prosecutors in the courts of inquiry,
not the judges and juries.

A few good quotes:

“One of the greatest achievements of the human mind, modern science, refuses
to recognize the depths of its own creativity, and has now reached a point in
its development where that very refusal blocks its further growth.  Modern
physics screams at us that there is no ultimate material reality and that
whatever it is we are describing, the human mind cannot be parted from it.”
                                            Roger Jones, Physics as Metaphor

“Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it.”
                                            Niels Bohr

“The sum total of all minds is one.”        Erwin Schrodinger, Mind and Matter

“I don’t ‘believe’ anything.”          John Gribben, In Search of
                                       Schrodinger’s Cat

“Belief is an obsolete Aristotelian category.” Dr. Jack Sarfatti

“In addition to a ‘yes’ and a ‘no’, the universe contains a ‘maybe’.”,
                                            Dr.  David Finkelstein

“It is venturesome to think that a coordination of words (philosophies
are nothing more than that) can resemble the universe very much.”
                                            Jorge Luis Borges

“I seem to be a verb.”                      Bucky Fullmister

“Well, what I am partly saying is that those words (materialist) are a
bit out of date, because the contemporary understanding of material is
very different now from the way it used to be.  If we consider what matter
really is, we now understand it as much more of a mathematical thing.  When
these catagories ‘materialist’, ‘idealist’ etc. were first coined, people
thought of matter as a much more defined thing, something which is ‘there’,
and then you combine that with mysterious mind stuff which is floating around,
which would be seperate from it.  But I think that matter itself is now much
more of a mental substance;… So before we have a deeper understanding of
what is really going on, to talk about things in these terms is almost
certainly limiting and inappropriate.”,     Penrose

Clark: “Your reply basically, if I dare to summarize it, is that we are
        going to have to forge new categories for thinking about these things
        now, rather than trying to squash them into the old ones in
        inappropriate ways.”

Penrose: “I entirely agree with that, and words like ‘materialist’ are already
          too outdated now to have any kind of real meaning”


From the first issue of “The Journal of Consciousness Studies”

We have in this discussion, repeatedly run into the brick wall of what is or
is not admissable to science in regards to conscious observation.  The terms
‘anecdotal’ evidence have been bandied around with nary a consideration of the
fact that anything which we do  not personally experience is, by definition,

Meanwhile, UFO reports pile on high, and paranormal phenomena, such as
statistical PK, continue to amass a body of data of such quality that only
stubborness seems to keep the scientific community as a whole from grappling
with the problem.

Fortunately there is now a new, and sincere focus, in the scientific community
to grapple with the epistomological problems surrounding consciousness

“The Journal of Consciousness Studies”.

In the first issue I would strongly recommend all those interested in reading
the article entitled:

“The Scientific Exploration of Consciousness : Towards an Adequate

by Willis Harman, Institute of Noetic Sciences, 474 Gate Five Road,
Suite 300, PO Box 909, Sausalito, CA 94966-0909

Abstract: The statement below is an outgrowth of a retreat at Tomales Bay,
California, December 3-6, 1992, at which fifteen scientists and philosophers
attempted to explore the question of an appropriate epistemology for
consciousness research.  Contributions were made by the scholars listed
belowand others; the final synthesis was performed by Willis Harman.

The statement is submitted to the broader scientific community, and to the
concerned public, to stimulate dialogue about a long-standing question, and to
foster interest in an ever-deepening scientific study of consciousness.
Basically the question is:

How does it happen that our powerful methods of scientific enquiry appear so
ill-suited to the study of consciousness?  If understanding our own
consciousness is so central to understanding anything else, will we not have
to take this question more seriously than has been the case so far?

This is an excellent, and important article, that I would strongly suggest all
students of the universe to take a look at.

Subscription rates: Volume 1 (1994) two issues per annum.  Prices
include postage.  Individuals $25.00

Send order to:

Professor Jonathan Shear,
Journal of Consciousness Studies, Dept. of Philosophy
Virginia Commonwealth University
Richmond, Virginia 23284-2025
Tel/Fax: 804-282-2119
e-mail: [email protected]

Make checks payable to “Imprint Academic”