Skeptic movement in flux

I’ve noticed over the past year, many changes in the skeptical community. There has been a huge surge in communication, podcasts and internet activity that allowed for growth and exchange among the 3 groups – Center for Inquiry (Skeptical Inquirer/CSICOP/CSI), Skeptics Society (Shermer’s Skeptic) and JREF (Randi’s). I always thought they each provided a different perspective and approached the philosophy with different tools and, certainly, different personalities. That is a great thing. What felt even greater was the recent sense that the cross-pollination could make for a united, more influential movement. Old wounds were being forgotten.

I’ve met lots of great skeptics over the past 10 years that I have been following these groups. It’s pretty awesome for us to be able to frequently come together in the same place. That’s becoming more and more frequent. We now visit each others neighborhoods (mostly in Las Vegas, I think) and mingle. Nice.

I don’t know what is going on at CFI these days. I’m skeptical of both sides (multiple sides, perhaps). See Hemant’s post on this. But, in this case, change is good. CFI needs a freshening up. Dr. Kurtz has great influence and vision but the guards must change. (25 years is the limit at any one job.) I firmly believe that organizations like this are HARD to manage. The ideas spark disputes and the opinions are contentious with all those geniuses in the room.

All I can say is, this is a fantastic community. I think we might have just turned and faced the same direction – forward. I hope so.

Edit: fixed some typos. 6/5/09

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Fluent in science, animals, paranormal culture. Expert in weird news.

0 thoughts on “Skeptic movement in flux

  1. I think it’s important to note that CFI isn’t just Skeptical Inquirer/CSICOP/CSI. It’s also Free Inquiry magazine/Council for Secular Humanism, the Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion and others.

    1. Absolutely. That makes them different than the other groups but it perhaps also makes them prone to factions over what is more important and how these groups should or should not be integrated. I’ll admit, I’m not sure I understand where the lines get drawn. The humanism bled right into SkepInq. I haven’t worked out the interaction between them all.

  2. The difficulty with any small organization, particularly one that is non-profit and therefore idealistically driven, is that it easily slides into a cult-of-personality embodying one person’s vision. It is a healthy and necessary growth spasm for the organization to grow beyond that.

    I was particularly heartened by one of the other luminaries of Skepticism, James Randi, when he loosened the reins of the JREF. Healthy new blood can invigorate an organization which relies too heavily on the talents and charisma of one person.

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